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CSA Newsletter ~ Week 3

Posted 5/1/2012 10:10am by Chris.
Since my assertion in the Week 1 newsletter that normal weather doesn't actually happen, but rather is achieved with temperatures that are 20 degrees above or below 'average,' we've had nothing but typical spring weather with cool temperatures and moderate rainfall. Very nice and calming to have things move at a slower pace compared to the frenzied pace we needed to keep up with in March when it was so warm. Many more of our crops are outside now as well, not just in the hoop houses,* and they of course are growing very slowly and nicely with the cool weather we've been having.

This is all very good and makes for a more enjoyable experience at the farm. Cool to warm moderate weather with moderate or slightly below average rainfall is perfect. We can add water (irrigation) but we can't take it out. Even in the summer, it's better to be in the 70's than the 90's, and this includes warm-loving crops like peppers and tomatoes. They like warm-not hot-weather; in fact very few plants like it over 90 degrees. Those that live in hot places merely survive and can handle hot weather, but they do so by shutting down-not by thriving and growing, which happens when there's water around, and the temperatures are between 50 and 85 degrees. 

We're feeling pretty good about the variety in the boxes early this season. The delivery this week has a few changes from last week. It's great to see chard so early in the season. Chard can be quite delicate and sensitive to windy or rough weather, and it can be a hard crop to get to maturity. We had two or three nice looking stands of it last year only to see them shredded by varying combinations of wind, hail, and heavy rain. The warm start we had this March got our spring chard well
rainbow chard
Rainbow Chard
rooted and growing quickly in the greenhouses, and the cooler weather since then has matured it in perfect conditions. It's beautiful and a great size for salads or cooking. You can use the colorful stems separately or in tandem with the greens; just cook them a bit longer as they're a little tougher.

In addition to the chard, we harvested lettuce, spinach, and Tokyo Bekana for a very nice salad, which could also include the sweet white Hakurei turnips. Of our new Asian greens, the light green and fluffy Tokyo Bekana, and the heartier, thicker stemmed Vitamin green (not in this week's box), are our early favorites. The Yukina Savoy (looks like a cross between spinach and tatsoi) seems relatively insect-prone and didn't do as well in our earliest plantings. We're hopeful it might do better in subsequent plantings, or in the fall. On the sturdier, cooking side of things, this week's box includes kale and bok choi, both of which combine nicely with the chard for stir fries.

I should mention that we're embarking on something I think will be a big part of our future. We want to connect the best local food producers with our customers. We're going to buy and offer organic products from the local producers/farmers we've gotten to know and trust. After 20 years of farming, I've gotten to be a pretty good judge of quality and integrity with respect to local food. Additionally, our CSA has forced us to become efficient and good at marketing and delivering locally grown food. We feel we can offer this experience both to our customers and our most trusted and respected fellow producers. In the end, we, and the farms we buy from, will increase our income, and our customers will be able to choose from many high quality staples from sunflower oil to eggs to honey, and that's only the beginning. We need to take it slow. Please be patient. This should be very cool long term as we add mushrooms, milled flours, cheese, and anything else that's local, high quality, in demand, and (when it's feasible) certified organic.

*We use the terms "hoop houses" and "greenhouses" interchangeably; I'll write in a future newsletter about how and why we use them.


Chris Covelli and 
The Tomato Mountain Team

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