This week on the farm: the much needed rain came! Although rain creates the opportunity for disease, all of the plants look much better this week. The cucurbits (squash, zucchini, winter squash, cucumbers, cantaloupes, and watermelon), in particular, seem much less stressed.
Evan Shea, Eila, and I are on hand-pollination duty this week, hand-pollinating a couple varieties of winter squash that are part of our larger trial. We do this in order to ensure true seed. This season is the second grow out of the variety we bred, and it has produced some interesting results. Its productivity and disease-resistance seem fairly uniform, while squash shape and days to maturity are quite variable. We will see about taste and storage capability. It will likely take us many more seasons to narrow in on a specific shape (squatty butternut is the goal!).
Jessica and Anna Laura are busy with field maintenance: thinning, staking, and trellising.
Lalo is spending a lot of time on the tractor: prepping fields for cover cropping, seeding cover crops, and mowing spring cover crops. We had a great meeting with two soil scientists from NRCS this morning about cover cropping, animal rotation, decreased tillage, and soil health. My summary would be: we are doing a whole lot right, but we still have too much bare soil (in between rows and even in our cover cropped fields). They really encouraged us to further increase intercropping and to further decrease tillage. We agree with both recommendations but feel limited by labor and implement-cost factors.
Everyone is busy harvesting! Summer crops (unlike spring, fall, and winter crops) have very small harvest windows (usually 1-2 days), so we have to harvest much more frequently this time of year.
This week’s share: scallions, onions, leeks, garlic, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, squash, cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, choice of jalapeno or banana pepper, and an herb. There are several other crops that are just starting to come in and may be swap options or in Sustaining Member bins: eggplant, other peppers, tomatillos, and okra. Cantaloupe melons and sweet corn are a couple of weeks away.
Garlic and potatoes may be stored in the pantry now. If potatoes are stored above 50 degrees, they will sprout, so if you aren’t going to use them quickly, I would still store them in the fridge. Tomatoes are best stored on the counter. Store stem end up to keep them from going bad without you noticing! We pick tomatoes a day away from fully ripe, so unlike store-bought tomatoes (which are picked green and gassed), they will not last long. You can store in the refrigerator to keep them from going bad, but it will change their taste and texture. If you have too many but don’t have time to do anything about them, I encourage you, instead, to wash them, place them whole in freezer bags, and freeze. You can then use them later for making stewed tomatoes or tomato sauce. Store squash, cucumbers, green beans, and peppers loosely bagged in the warmest part of your fridge. They would prefer it about 50 degrees. If you leave green beans in the bag that we hand them out in, I suggest cutting a corner to prevent them from molding.
Here are some yummy summer squash/zucchini recipes: https://www.thekitchn.com/