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CSA Newsletter ~ Week 4

Posted 5/8/2012 2:36pm by Chris.
As we head into the 4th week of the CSA season, spring weather continues to be just about perfect. No extreme temperatures and enough rain but not too much. We were quite lucky these last few days not to get the heavy rain that was falling all around us. Some places north and south of us got as much as 5 inches in one night, and some of those places then got another 1-2 inches the next day. Generally, about 1 inch per week is sufficient for most crops--less if it's on the cool side, and more when it's hot. So 5 inches at once is 
lacinato kale
Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale
never good and actually sets the stage for all kinds of problems like disease development, plant stress from insufficient oxygen in the soil, and wet ground that is difficult to cultivate/weed. 

As you'd expect, crops are responding very well to our moderate spring weather. We're keeping our fingers crossed hoping we won't have a serious problem with cabbage flies on our maturing radishes and salad turnips in the field, which we'll harvest very soon if the bugs don't chew them up too much. Those of you who've been with us know we don't discriminate against produce with holes or that is a little chewed up by bugs, but there is a line--mostly based on crop integrity and storability--that we don't cross. We usually can get through May without too much pressure from these root-eating pests, but all the hot weather we had back in March totally threw our insect cycles off, and we even had some damage on our sweet salad turnips in the hoop houses in mid-April, over 6 weeks earlier than I'd ever seen such damage. In future years, when we're extra sharp and on top of things even better, we could protect our early root crops by using the same light polyester covers (row cover) we use for heat retention and frost protection in fall, winter, and spring. 

Speaking of insect damage, you'll see it on the Vitamin Greenleaves in this week's box. There are bug holes, but the crop otherwise is in great shape and will store as it normally would. If you can't stand looking at the holes in the leaves, cook them. Often this crop is harvested at full maturity, when it's more or less a full head with substantial stalks that are best when cooked. We cut it earlier this time, at the leafy adolescent stage, so you can use it either in salads or for cooking. 

Otherwise, this week's box includes more beautiful rainbow chard, lots of spinach (our spring hoop spinach yield has been exceptional), lettuce, and two new items. First, there'sLacinato, also called 'dinosaur', kale, the tenderest of the kales, and the easiest one to eat raw or put in salads. Second, there'sYukina Savoy, the last of the new Asian greens we've rolled out this spring. This is the first time I've ever grown it, so I'm curious to see how well it goes over. It would probably be a better test of its popularity if we had something besides greens in the box. Though our variety is much better each week and from week to week as compared to last year, we are already thinking ahead to next spring, which really begins this fall when we'll harvest tons (literally) of root crops like carrots, which store for 6 months. A little more of those crops to balance out the greens would nice. We know our greens are top notch, but there can be too much of a good thing, so we're taking notes and can promise even better variety and balance in the future. High quality and reliability are always first, and variety is a very close second. 

The strawberries are flowering like crazy and look good, so expect them extra early this year, by the first week in June. Some of our spring hoops have been totally harvested and planted with tomatoes, so you should see some of the earlier small fruited varieties by mid-July. I could go on and on, but I don't want to bore you. If you really want to know what I'm thinking and think there should be a way to find out, let us know and we'll try to figure out something along those lines. And you're always welcome to give me a call, 608.712.1585Thanks. 

Chris Covelli and 
The Tomato Mountain Team

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