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CSA Newsletter ~ Week 6

Posted 5/25/2012 5:39pm by Chris.
The last full week in May finds us in the middle of a fairly dry streak. It hasn't rained much at the farm for a couple weeks now, the air has been dry, and it's been windy as it often is in spring. This combination of factors has kept us busy moving irrigation pipe and pumping water. Irrigation is the number two consumer of electricity at the farm, with refrigeration being
lettuce tropicana
Ruffly 'Tropicana' lettuce
number one. On that note, we're in the process of installing a gigantic (22' x 26') cooler. It should be up and running within a week. More on that next week.

And now that we're nearing the end of May, the harvest is coming largely from the field, and we're clearing out the last of the spring hoop house crops to make way for summer tomatoes. In fact, we've already planted over 15 of our 20+ hoops with tomatoes. The rest should be planted within a week. In the field, we're in full swing with all spring and some summer crops well on their way. We transplanted zucchini a few days ago and were not quite as diligent as we should have been scouting for cucumber beetles-one of the most damaging insects to any crop. While older zucchini, winter squash, cucumber, and melon plants are not particularly vulnerable to the striped cucumber beetle, very young plants are vulnerable and can be killed in just a day or two if there are only 2-3 beetles per plant. Until the plants develop size, momentum, and a thicker skin to protect themselves, the small and delicate stems can be chewed through in a matter of hours, killing the plant. We spray using backpack sprayers and pyrethrum, a flower extract with a strong, natural insect toxin. Other summer field crops will hopefully get planted later this week. 

The spring field crops are doing great and are most of what's in the box this week. The most exciting thing is the spicy mesclun mix we harvested Sunday morning. 
Mesclun ingredients
Spicy greens (mesclun) mix
It's at a very nice age/stage of growth, and it was fairly clean so we didn't need to wash it. As I mentioned in a recent newsletter, we try to avoid washing whenever possible, and one of the best ways is to be able to harvest when the crop is clean. Of course weather and other factors often preclude this possibility. Sometimes the crop gets damaged or too old and can't or shouldn't be harvested at all. In this case we got lucky with the dry weather we've had lately, and a nice clean weed-free bed. You may notice a little dirt here and there and should certainly wash the mix before you use it, but it should be pretty clean to start. 

Otherwise, field kale is abundant, so we're giving you lots and taking lots of it to farmers markets as well. Chard is one of the few crops we're still harvesting from the hoop houses, along with the bok choi. Lettuce continues to be beautiful as we have perfect weather for it in May in Wisconsin. The other crop making a return this week is the red rain--the beautiful purple-red mild mustard/mizuna cross, and we harvested it a bit younger than we normally do. You'll notice a bit of this red rain in the mesclun mix; in fact that's where we discovered it last year. We started last season with a lot of mesclun mix. We thought it might be nice this season to single out some of our Asian greens and harvest them at different growth stages for variety in texture and flavor. Now you're seeing that every week with one or more of the vitamin green, Tokyo bekana, yukina savoy, red rain, and so on. 

We hope you're enjoying the produce. While there has been more variety this year we're still focusing on the basics and trying to make sure we've got enough potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic--and of course, tomatoes--to keep everyone happy. Variety will continue to improve, with quality and reliability always coming first.

Chris Covelli and 
The Tomato Mountain Team

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