We're still in the midst of summer, but it is already that time of year when many of our crew are on the verge of going back to school, some as students and some as teachers. We thought we'd try to squeeze in a photo of as many of our crew as possible before that happens (though we still didn't get everyone!). While we'll soon say goodbye to many of these wonderful folks, we'll fortunately still have lots of help from Dave P., Shaun, Rebecca and Alexis through the end of the regular season. Good thing, because there's still lots to do!
Many of you have noted how nice it is to have decent rainfall this summer. We are happy for the general health of our local ecosystem to be out of a drought, and on a more personal level, it has been wonderful to not have to spend our day off on Sunday running irrigation! However, one negative side effect of all this rain (plus cooler temperatures) is that plant diseases are a much bigger problem this year. Anthracnose has dramatically reduced cucumber, watermelon and cantaloupe yields, and late blight has already been reported in the area. While the fungal diseases in our cukes and melons caught us off-guard, leaving us unable to do anything about them, we decided to take some extra precautions with late blight.
As many of you may know, late blight is a fast-spreading, destructive disease that affects tomatoes and potatoes (it is the disease that caused the Irish potato famine). Up until this year, we have opted not to spray organic copper fungicide to prevent late blight, managing the risk for the disease instead by planting some resistant cultivars and maximizing air flow in the tomato fields to prevent favorable conditions for fungal diseases. There's also been a degree of luck, as the drought conditions of the past two seasons are not favorable for the spread of late blight.
Late last week, though, we decided that given the low yields in our popular cucumber and melon crops, it was important for us to improve our chances for a good tomato season. Tomatoes are popular in the CSA and an important source of income in the store, and we wanted to avoid a poor tomato year on top of a short cucumber and melon season. We decided to spray an organic copper fungicide called Badge X2 on our heirloom tomatoes and our orange slicing tomatoes because those varieties are not resistant to late blight. The risk of exposure to the copper is greatest for the person doing the mixing and spraying (we of course observe all the recommended precautions!), and is far less for the consumers of those tomatoes. We sprayed the lowest possible concentration of copper to minimize potential residues on the crop. None of the cherry tomatoes, or red and pink slicing tomatoes have been sprayed (the pink and red slicing tomatoes we grow are naturally disease resistant, and even though not all the cherry tomatoes are disease resistant, we do not spray in our PYO fields). While we always recommend washing any produce from the farm, it bears special noting that all tomatoes should now be washed at home before consuming.
And while tomatoes are on our mind, we thought now would be a good time to describe the different heirloom and specialty varieties we grow, as this week, the harvest looks plentiful!
Pruden’s Purple - Dark pink
Related to Brandywine, this heirloom is sweet, juicy and only mildly acidic.
Cherokee Purple - Purple and brown, with purple, brown and green interior
Complex and rich flavor with excellent texture.
Cherokee Green - Greenish-yellow shoulders with yellowish-orange bottoms
On the more acidic end of the spectrum. Great complex flavor and adds unique color to tomato salads.
Striped German - Yellow and pink striped with marbled interior
One of the sweetest, least acidic heirlooms we grow. Beautiful and delicious!
Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye - Dark pink with green striping, pink interior
This specialty tomato is sweet with heirloom-quality flavor.
Damsel - Pink slicing tomato
Similar to the flavor of pink heirloom tomatoes – sweet and rich!
Chef’s Choice Orange - Orange slicing tomato
Low acidity with good flavor and texture.
In the CSA:
- Eggplant - these have been really slow to produce this year, in part because of the cool temperatures, and in part because of Colorado potato beetle pressure. After many hours picking bugs over the past 2 months, though, the plants look great and we are finally starting to see greater quantities of fruit!
- Beets - in addition to some golden beets, we'll also have red ace and chioggia. The red ace and chioggia are grown across the street in a field that is "transitional". We have been managing the field organically since we got the lease on it last year, but it can not be certified organic until after it has been managed organically for 3 seasons.
- Tomatoes- heirloom and slicing
- Watermelon - mostly Blacktail mountain. This is probably the last week, as disease has overtaken the plants and damaged most of the fruit. We did manage to keep the crows and coyotes out for most of the season, though!
- Peppers - green and purple
- Cucumbers- our last succession planting is finally starting to produce, but the plants already look like they have the same disease that prematurely took down our earlier plantings. This will likely be the last week for cucumbers this season.
- Summer Squash
- Greens - we'll have either, chard, kale or red Russian kale available.
- Cherry Tomatoes and cocktail tomatoes - Sungold, jasper, black cherry, yellow mini, cherry bomb, red grape, Juane Flame, pink boar and bumblebee! Look low on the plants for ripe fruit.
- Hot peppers - serrano, jalapeño and ancho.
- Purple tomatillos - pick when husks are filled out.
- Husk cherries- A sweet relative of the tomato with a taste we haven't quite figured out how to describe! Pick dry husks that have fallen on the ground under the plants. To eat, remove the husk and eat the yellow fruit inside.
- Dragon's tongue beans - these beans are yellow with purple spots.
- Basil - make pesto while you still can - this time of year downy mildew usually starts to take down our basil plantings!
In the store:
Most everything we have in the CSA will also be available in the store. We will also have some red, and orange peppers and flowers. In addition, we'll have Verrill Farm sweet corn and Pete and Jen's eggs.
PYO Flower CSA:
Flowers ready this week include bachelors button, celosia, calendula, scabiosa, zinnias, verbena, amaranth, cosmos, orlaya, strawflower, snapdragons, gomphrena, calendula, tithonia, and more.
Zucchini "Noodles" With Eggplant and Tomatoes
By Katherine Sacks, from Epicurious August 2016
· 2 medium zucchini (about 1 1/4 pounds), spiralized or cut into matchsticks
· 2 medium yellow squash (about 1 1/4 pounds), spiralized or cut into matchsticks
· 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
· 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
· 1 teaspoon honey
· 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
· 3/4 cup (packed) basil leaves, chopped, divided
· 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
· 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
· 1 1/2 large long Chinese eggplants (about 3/4 pound), cut into 1/4" slices on the bias
· 2 cups cherry tomatoes, divided
· 1/4 cup pitted cured black olives, halved, divided
· 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced
Place zucchini and squash in a strainer set over a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. salt and toss to combine. Let sit 10 minutes, then shake in strainer, pressing gently, to remove any excess liquid. Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, honey, pepper, 1/2 cup basil, 3 Tbsp. oil, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a large bowl.
Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook garlic until it begins to sizzle and turn golden brown, 5–7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with dressing. Increase heat to medium-high, add eggplant and 1 cup tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is browned and cooked through and tomatoes begin to burst, about 6–8 minutes. Season with remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and transfer to bowl with dressing.
Cut remaining 1 cup tomatoes in half lengthwise and add to bowl with dressing. Add zucchini and squash; gently toss to combine. Add 3 Tbsp. olives and 2 Tbsp. basil, then transfer with tongs to a platter, letting extra liquid drain and remain in bowl. Lay mozzarella on 1 end of platter and drizzle with oil. Top dish with remaining 2 Tbsp. basil and 1 Tbsp. olives.