In Your Share This Week
- Eggplant, Japanese
- Summer Squash
Celery: Aside from very seasonal crops like cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, or summer squash, we generally don’t put the same item in the share back-to-back. We decided to go ahead and do celery twice in a row for a few very practical reasons (in addition to the fact that celery just tastes really great!)- one is that we were noticing a blight starting to show up in the celery field. Once we see the onset of blight, its a mad-dash to harvest the good stuff as quickly as possible because it spreads like wildfire and very quickly renders the celery unusable. In addition, the celery was smack-dab in the center of a field that we are presently turning over into winter greens…so it needed to go soon anyhow, the blight just sped up our harvest timeline. I have also noticed in the past that when I have done storage trials on celery with various levels of blight, it does not hold as well and the leaves begin to yellow and the outer stems become pithy over a timeline of about two weeks. We harvested the most prime looking celery, but its possible that the above storage issues may still arise so make sure to eat it up before then!
Eggplant: We grow primarily two types of eggplant- the long, slender Japanese type that you’ve seen in the shares, and Italian bell-type (what you commonly find in the grocery store). The bell-types always take a few more weeks to reach maturity than the Japanese eggplant- but they are just now starting to ripen, so some folks might start to see the bell eggplants in the share. Enjoy!
Summer Squash: Its the end of the line for squash…the plants are old, tired, and done producing fruit for the season. So long, and thanks for all the squash!
Tomatoes, Heirloom: We proudly grow 17 different heirloom varieties! I generally group them by color…we have an exciting rainbow that includes green, red, yellow, orange, white, pink, purple, and striped. Some are rather experimental and grown in smaller quantities, and other tried-and-true favorites like Brandywine and Cherokee Purple take up more real estate. It seems to be an endless debate on whether or not you should refrigerate your tomatoes…but I say NEVER! Keep them on your counter top and check periodically for excessive softening, cracks, or other blemishes. In this heat they won’t keep as long on the counter top, but I still prefer that over the fridge. Heirlooms go from prime to overdone rather quickly in comparison to the red slicing varieties…which will sit and wait for you rather patiently without any loss in flavor or texture. The slicers don’t care as much, but do store the heirlooms upside down on the counter. The reason being that the underside (bottom) of the fruit tends to be the most delicate part- and it isn’t designed to support its own weight whilst sitting on a flat surface. As such, the bottom will essentially implode under its own weight and you are left with a tomato that appears to be sinking into the counter top. And then the fruit flies show up…no fun. So set them upside down, and the slightly tougher top and shoulders will support the weight. We also pick our tomatoes ever so slightly before they hit their prime moment- that way they will peak once they get to you. If we pick them at the exact peak of ripeness, its only a matter of a few days (we’re talking like 48 hours here) before they are cracked, soft, or otherwise sad. So…we hope we nailed the timing on the tomatoes, we want them to be the very best shortly after you take them home.
Around the farm
Row covers: We use a product widely known as remay pretty extensively around the farm. Its a spun polyester fabric that’s super lightweight and lets around 70% of sunlight through. Since we don’t use any sprays of any type here at SIO, we have to try and keep pests away by other means- which can be done with crop rotations, encouraging beneficial insects that will help ward off the ones you don’t want with things like insectary plantings, hedgerows, and companion planting, and also by physically excluding them with row covers. Whenever we transplant or direct seed a brassica crop on the farm, it immediately gets covered with remay in order to keep flea beetles away- a particularly voracious and annoying pest in the hot summer months. We also use it to cover squash and cucumbers when they’re young to keep cucumber beetles out, which devour young tender plants very rapidly, but do less harm once the plants are more established. Carrots also benefit from row covering to keep rust fly out.
In addition to keeping pests out, the Reemay also helps keep moisture and warmth in- making it a great tool for season extension. In the cooler parts of the growing season the Reemay is also used like a giant blanket that helps to insulate the crops and protect them from cold nights.
Once we pull the Reemay over the beds, we pin the edges down with old potting soil bags filled with a few scoops of dirt to weigh it down. Here on the island we seem to always have at least a light breeze (more wind in general than in the city), so we have to make sure we really have it secured well otherwise it all blows off and all our efforts were for naught.
We are really excited this year to have been a part of a large special order of a similar product thats made out of metallic netting rather than polyester…its like a really, really big sheet of screen door mesh..like 360’x25′ large! The advantages of this product are that unlike Reemay which traps in the heat (NOT what you want in the heat of summer when its already plenty hot), it lets air flow much more freely and doesn’t bake the crops. We used it to cover our kales that we are growing for overwintering production, and when we peeled it back the kales looked great!
- Future Joi Choi heads! Look for these in the share sometime around Week 17…
- Reemay over our salad mix beds. In order to keep the small tender greens looking as pretty as possible for salad mix, we keep them under cover until harvest. We peel back the Reemay, harvest what’s needed, and then re-cover the field in order to keep the flea beetles out. Without this, the salad greens would be perforated and mangled in no time!
- several successions of fall carrots underneath Reemay to help keep the carrot fly away. These will end up in the CSA shares later this season as well as the Winter Share. We have orange, purple, white, and yellow carrots.
- Insect netting over the top of little tiny radish seedlings. These are ‘storage’ radishes like Black Spanish and Watermelon that are meant to thrive for long periods of time in storage and provide a fresh juicy crunch all winter long.
The fabulous insect netting supported by galvanized hoops, which hold the netting up so the Joi Choi below doesn’t have to support it’s full weight. Many crops like squash, kale, and carrots don’t mind the weight of row covers, but Joi Choi is very picky about it and becomes misshapen and weird if the row cover is draped directly on it.
Older carrots under the Reemay. The Reemay is lightweight and bubbles up as the crop grows. We can irrigate right over the top of the Reemay and the water will pass through.