Hopefully everyone is enjoying the summer crops as much as we are. There is nothing like eating the first tomato sandwich of the season. Once the eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes etc…roll in, my wife and I wish it could continue all year. However, while everyone is enjoying the summer bounty we have been concentrating on the fall.
At this point all the work has gone into producing the summer vegetables. We have planted, weeded, trellised, and watered them and now we simply harvest them as fast as we can. We watch them and hope they hold out for as long as possible. As an organic farmer, I know it is only a matter of time when downy mildew brings the cucumber season to an end or the zucchini succumbs to powdery mildew. Most of our energy these days goes into the fall planting.
We began seeding flats (trays the hold 50, 144 or 288 plants) of broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, celery and leeks on June 4th and have been planting many of the fall crops since July 4th. We plant broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower every week until mid-August. Leeks and celery are planted only once and we have started seeding the fall beets, carrots and many other crops that we grow in the spring.
This tends to be the most difficult stretch of time during the growing season. We have to keep weeding the various crops we plant weekly, while planting as many crops as we did in the spring. This coincides with the heaviest harvests of the season. The other difficulty we run into is the weather. We have to plant many of these cold weather crops in extremely hot weather which means they need to be protected in many ways.
We have to cover most of the fall crops with row covers to prevent the insects from getting to them and these newly transplanted crops need a constant supply of water. The hot weather also makes it difficult to seed crops such as carrots and have them successfully germinate. We constantly watch the weather to see if we will have a couple overcast cooler days, or maybe a day with rain to give the seeds the best chance to grow. If we have to plant, but it is extremely hot, we often use shade cloth suspended above the bed. This helps the newly seeded carrot bed remain moist and also drops the soil temperature by as much as 15 degrees.
Over the years, we have developed many techniques to help make the fall successful, but I think it will always remain the most difficult part of the season. So next time you bite into that juicy tomato, remember that broccoli is right around the corner!
This week's share consists of:
Full Share- lettuce mix, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, red beets, cucumbers, tuscan kale, zucchini, yellow onions, eggplant, carrots, basil
Half Share- lettuce mix, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, red beets, cucumbers, tuscan kale
What can I make with my share this week?? Here are a couple of ideas!
Zucchini Pudding- This recipe comes from another one of our CSA members this year and it is yummy. Even the little ones like it too!
4 cups chopped zucchini
1 cup plus 2 TB grated mild cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 cup crushed saltine crackers
½ cup butter, melted
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg (I have never added nutmeg to this dish)
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350. In a saucepan, cook the zucchini in boiling water until tender. Drain, then mash them in a large bowl. Add the cup of cheese, egg, crackers, and butter; mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and bake until the pudding thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Raw Kale Salad- http://cookieandkate.com/2014/12-favorite-kale-salads/