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CSA Newsletter ~ Week 29

Posted 10/31/2012 2:00pm by Chris.

We've been seeing nights in the low 20's lately, and expect to do so for much of the next week. It's all we can do to get root crops out of the ground in between the heavy rains we just had, and the freezing nights that prevent us from digging root crops until the ground thaws out on top in the morning. Field broccoli is probably done for the year though it's possible we might be able to harvest more when it warms a little next week. The nights have been quite cold for a long time, in the low 20's for several hours, and that is hard on broccoli. It would have benefited from an early

Washing hakurei turnips
Washing hakurei turnips

application of row cover--a thin and transparent polyester material that adds a few degrees for added nighttime protection and extra daytime growing--but we've been so busy washing root crops that we've not had time for much else. 

We really need a root washer. Wanted to get one in August but realized that it wasn't in the cards this year. Talk about a growing pain. We've got a nice CSA now with over 400 customers, a great big new cooler, and no way to quickly wash the many tons of carrots, radishes, beets, and turnips we're racing to get out of the ground before it freezes, or before it gets so wet again that it takes forever. It was, in fact, the cooler, along with the very hot year, that put the brakes on us this year, and prevented us from spending more money on the washer we need. We'll definitely get it next year. Meanwhile, we're doing it the old fashioned way, with trays and screens and a sprayer nozzle. It takes about 10 times longer to wash crops this way. We'll probably spend 200 hours washing root crops before it's all over next month.

The carrots coming out of the field now are a mystery to us. This variety is not supposed to be particularly large, but we're thinking volumes of compost we applied this past spring might have kept the soil loose, and conditions favorable enough, for by far the biggest carrots this farm has ever seen. And the quality is great, especially with all these cold nights, which tend to make things that can stand them sweeter. Every time you see spinach in the box the next few months it will be a little sweeter as the temperatures drop and moisture stress increases. The same is true for beets; ours this year aren't the greatest, but there are enough nice ones and they're really sweetening up in the cold weather. We'll harvest them next week after we get the carrots out of the ground. 

The winter squash is not storing particularly well this year. We're not sure why, but it likely has something to do with the fact that all our squash plants, even summer squash and zucchini, were quite stressed out this year from insect pressure and record heat. We lost about 1/4 of the plants, and those that remained must not have been the happiest of campers. The yield was not very good either. The quality is good, but the shelf life is not, so we're giving it out a little quicker than we'd like, or than we would otherwise. Use it up relatively quickly and you'll be fine. 

Chris Covelli
and the Tomato Mountain Farm Team 

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