The farm is looking and feeling great this week! After a couple of days of much-needed rain, the sun is back and things are thriving. It’s all about harvesting these days, and we’re spending the vast majority of our working time harvesting and then dealing with the resulting bounty (washing, weighing, bagging, endlessly shuffling things around in the cooler, etc.) It’s a wonderful point in the season!
Alas, one result of that little stretch of cooler, wetter weather is that the dreaded fungal disease late blight, arch enemy of tomatoes and potatoes, is on the march. According to MOFGA Crop Specialist Eric Sideman’s latest pest report, late blight has spread to more spots around the state in recent days. After the blight disaster of ’09 (we and many other farmers across New England lost our tomato crop that year), you can never be too careful, so yesterday and today I sprayed our field tomatoes with an organically-approved copper fungicide called Champ. This stuff acts as a barrier should late blight appear in our area…the spores are blown in by the wind, attach themselves to the plant, and are killed by the fungicide they encounter there. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the disease won’t show up here and if it does, that the spraying will prove effective. In the meantime, we’ll continue scouting the plants for the disease, and we highly recommend that other growers, farmers and home gardeners alike, do the same.
The eighth CSA share of the 2011 season includes the following:
2 lb bag of potatoes
1 bunch of chard -OR- kale
2.5 lbs of zucchini and/or summer squash
1 lb of beets -OR- turnips
1 lb bag of green beans (may include green, wax or purple beans)
1 sweet onion
1 quart of cherry tomatoes
1 bulb of garlic
CHOOSE ONE: Bag of beefsteak tomatoes -OR- green bell peppers -OR- eggplant
CHOOSE ONE herb: basil -OR- parsley
Remember, folks, that the garlic you get this week is fresh and not cured, so store it in the fridge and use is within the next week or so. We harvested all of our garlic last Wednesday, a long yet enjoyable process: We loosen the garlic with pitchforks, pull the plants, group 8 or 10 together, and tie them off with lengths of twine so there’s a garlic bunch on each end. We then move the garlic up to the barn and hang them from the ceiling beams to dry out. We have 3 or 4 fans going all the time and try to keep the barn doors open as much as possible to aid in the air flow for the drying process. In a couple of weeks, the garlic will be sufficiently cured and will last well into the winter right at room temperature. Many thanks to friend o’ the farm Hank Mosher who stopped by for a visit Weds. morning and helped out with the garlic harvesting!
The sweet onion in your share this week is, like the garlic, fresh out of the ground and should be kept in the fridge. Storage onions will be coming a bit later in the season! Last week, we also dug potatoes for the first time this season and are thrilled to include them in this week’s share. The variety this week is a red potato called Sangre, and there may be a few Chieftans (a yellow-skinned variety) in the mix, too. There’s just something about potatoes… They are delicious and extremely versatile, of course, but it’s more than that. I think about the long history of potato farming in this state and the fact that I have friends raised in Aroostook County who got time off from school to help with the potato harvest. There’s also the strong role the potato has played in my family, specifically the endeavors of my aunt and uncle and their work on food in general and the potato, via The Potato Museum, in particular. Three cheers for spuds!
And, don’t forget that the next farm potluck is this week! Come on over Thursday from 5-8 PM for good eats and great company. Bring a dish to share!