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Tomato Mountain Newsletter - Week 28 | Summer Week 10

Posted 9/6/2017 6:06pm by Business Manager.
Whats in the box?! 
August was the first month in a long time that was below average for temperatures. It’s been a couple years since that’s happened. August was so cool, in fact, that it made our meteorological summer (June, July, August) below average for the first time since 2009.
Extra cool weather is also ushering in the fall season. Mostly, we love that as it slows things down and helps us catch/keep up. We can close the hoop houses to capture and build heat during the day, to keep tomatoes warmer/ripening. Cooler weather also gives us time to weed our carrots. That is a bit of an anxious situation for me now. We planted lots of carrots this year, 40,000 row feet to be exact. Despite the fact we did flame weed over half of them, many weeds did still survive. It’s going to take well over 1000 hours of work to weed them. That is going to be extremely challenging and expensive.
The cooler weather also keeps fall crops in prime condition. We’ve got very nice looking broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, chinese cabbage, beets, bok choi, kale, chard, lettuce, collard greens, spinach, and radishes. The only crop we didn’t successfully sow is our sweet salad turnips. Kind of a drag but not so terrible as everything else looks good.
More watermelons in the box this week, next week, and probably the week after that too. Flavor is mostly great, and texture is decent. Melons like it hot and dry, so not the best year for them, but they turned out pretty well. We’ll do them in future years for sure. Two smaller plantings will keep them around longer, with higher quality.  
Mushrooms are the next crop on our add-on plate. I’ve been looking forward to these for some time for a few reasons. First off, mushrooms are great! They’re completely different from anything else- a whole different kingdom biologically speaking. One of my favorite farmer friends, Eric Rose, of River Valley Farm, grows them. He does a great job with Cremini, Shiitake, Button, and Oyster mushrooms. Buttons are fairly common, and oysters are a bit tricky, so we’ll focus on Creminis and Shiitakes.
Logistically speaking, as always, we’re putting crop quality and freshness on top of the priority list. Eric grows great mushrooms. Freshness is up to us. The problem is the time lag between getting orders from customers, and placing the order from Eric. He needs a few days to get our order together, so we can’t wait until Tuesday afternoon as we can for other growers we buy from. If we order “blind” like we did the last time we tried this, without knowing what customer’s orders will be, we’ll either not have enough, or we’ll have too many, so as to wipe out our profits. Neither scenario is good. You can help us. Here’s how:
We’re going to start off this project by allowing people to order exactly what they want, week by week, as we have with other add ons so far.  This is possible only because Eric has agreed to let us order on Tuesdays, two days later than his normal Sunday cut off, for Wednesday delivery to us at markets (where we’ll be getting the mushrooms), for the remainder of the outdoor farmers’ market season. This way, no product gets wasted. This is a bunch of extra last minute work for Eric, but he’s willing to do it short term to help us get this all established.
By the end of October, we want to transition to an arrangement similar to what we do with eggs, with a small and a large mushroom share. Tentatively, we’re thinking of charging $6 and $11 per week, respectively. We’ll probably offer the opportunity to get all of one type of mushroom, all of the other type, or a mix, which would be a set amount of each.
Please help us out by letting us know if you’ll want mushrooms, how many, how often, and if you think you’ll be interested in the regular mushroom share once market season is over and we won’t be able to do custom ordering. Again, this all facilitates freshness, quality, and shelf life.
Finally, it is good to note that if mushrooms get left in your refrigerator beyond their normal shelf life, they actually dry down very nicely, as if dehydrated, and work very well in soups or anywhere you’d use dried shrooms! On several occasions I’ve forgotten I had mushrooms in the fridge for a couple months. They dried out and worked great. I put them in soups and pasta sauces where they worked almost better than fresh mushrooms. As long as they’re not in plastic and can dry out (a paper bag is best), it’s easy to dry and use them this way.

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