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CSA Newsletter ~ Week 10

Posted 6/19/2012 8:10am by Chris.
Thanks to the folks who spent their Fathers Day with us for our early season CSA visit. No problem with the weather as it's not rained much in the last three weeks; and not too hot either though it was in the 80's by the for strawberry-picking and the farm tour--when 
just the right height
The strawberries are just the right height for Anna
there was no respite from the sun. All in all, things went well, and it was good to meet and connect with the people we're growing food for. 

Those who did come out got to see the challenges we're experiencing now. We're in between seasons and have had a few crop losses we don't normally have, so things are a little leaner than we'd like. As mentioned in an earlier newsletter, our zucchini/summer squash took a hit from heavy bug pressure and a few hot windy days right after transplanting. We're not going to have as much of that as we'd hoped. Usually, we have way more than we can use from three beds, and this year we planted four, but there are only about two good ones now, so we might be a little challenged there. We also had some problems with our potato crop this year as well. Many of our seed pieces (which are just potatoes) didn't come up, especially those we had cut. Potatoes less than two ounces can be planted whole, while larger pieces need to be cut. Cut pieces are susceptible to rotting, and this year we had an especially bad problem. We had hoped to have eight beds of potatoes, but in the end, we'll have closer to two. To end the bad news I'll mention the sweet potatoes, which we decided to grow this year for the first time. They propagate from plants (slips), which we stored in the cooler according to instructions until we were ready to plant. Though we watered the slips after transplanting, they all died the next day. I don't have lots of experience with this crop, but I came to the conclusion that the plants should have been allowed to acclimate more slowly from the dark/cold cooler to the bright/warm field, and that watering them immediately could not make up for this step.

On the bright side, most other things look good. Summer broccoli is shaping up nicely, many spring/Asian greens are hanging in there, and the solanaceous (tomato family) crops look great. Eggplant, peppers, tomatillos, and tomatoes are all in the same family; we plant them together each year, and this year's planting looks great so far. All the hot weather we're having should encourage a serious growth spurt as we head into summer. 

The strawberries look more like they should than they have all year. As much as they are expensive for us to grow, especially this year, we're glad to have them during this time of season when spring greens are getting harder to grow, and summer crops like tomatoes are at least a month away. It seems there's a stretch each year, usually in the first half of the season, when we have a hard time getting enough things to fill the box. A few years ago, we had potatoes and zucchini, but no greens. Now the opposite is happening. We're still learning. Eighty percent of it comes down to managing people and running a business, in this case a farm, which is especially challenging in terms of labor efficiency. 

We appreciate your patience with our growing pains. Over the course of a full year and season, it is easier for us to be productive and successful. Splitting up the big season into spring, summer, and fall (or Early, Mid, Late) seasons puts a little more pressure on to deliver every week. Mostly that is good as we know we can do better, and much of that will happen the last half of this season. It is a long year and we expect to have a strong finish.  

Chris Covelli and 
The Tomato Mountain Team

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