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Week 6 Newsletter

July 24, 2014

In your box:
–Beans
–Broccoli or beets
–Chard
–Cucumber
–Salad Mix
–Scallions
–Summer squash or eggplant or raspberries
–Tomato

It seems hard to believe, but this box completes the first third of our CSA season. We have lots of goodness still to come, of course. My personal favorite is the last third of the season, when we bring in the winter squash, fall greens, and leeks. But coming up we will welcome a whole lot of tomatoes (I had enough to give just one or two this week to whet your appetite…) and sweet corn.

Our garden plan consists of 72 beds of plants, each 200 feet long and 4 feet wide. Each bed is planted to 1-4 rows of plants, depending on the size of the crop. For just a few weeks, every single bed is planted to a growing crop. But we’re already on the descent now: both of our garlic beds have been harvested and will be prepped for strawberries next year. So that leaves just 70 beds to keep weeded and inspected for pests and disease. Small progress, but the number of beds that are tilled under and planted to a cover crop for the winter picks up rapidly over the months of August and September. It’s hard to see a beautiful bed of plants picked clean and returned to rest, but I get over the nostalgia for the harvested crop quickly when I realize I don’t need to weed it any more. Garlic is hanging up to dry for three weeks, and will be in your box by mid-August.

I’ve been taking stock on the crops we’ve lost to the flooding this spring, and it wasn’t pretty. Arugula, mizuna, spinach, cabbage, and cauliflower all died off completely, but thankfully we have a fall planting of each of those crops so we can still appreciate them this season. The biggest downer is the crop failure of all of our carrots. I planted them four times, each with 10,000 seeds, with a total germination of about ten carrots. That’s not even a percentage—it’s an insult. The villain here is the wet ground all spring, including 2-4” rains shortly after each planting. My best guess is that the carrot seeds simply rotted in the ground, inundated with too much water before they could even sprout. It’s now too late in the season to plant any more, so it looks like we will have our first ever year without any carrots. Returning members from last year will probably remember the over-abundance of carrots we harvested last year, and some might be relieved at the reprieve this season. I’ll try again next year, and hopefully we won’t set rainfall records again….

Beet seeds have a much quicker germination than carrots, and they didn’t seem to mind the soggy spring. We grow four different varieties of beets: two round red, one torpedo-shaped red, and one yellow. To store them, cut off the tops an inch or so above the root (the tops can still be used as a cooking green) and keep for a week or two in a bag or hydrator drawer in the fridge.  To prepare beets, scrub them clean but do not peel.  Try them boiled, baked, grated, or thrown into a soup.

This week you will receive either beets or broccoli. Broccoli plants form heads over a range of maturity dates, so we can’t harvest them all at once. We will keep track of which boxes receive broccoli, and we aim to give at least one head to the half shares and two to the full shares over the next couple weeks. We will also have a fall crop, which tends to have larger heads.

With a couple weeks to bulk up, the scallions seem to be finally hitting a good size. We’ll take a few weeks off of the sweet onions so we can finish off the scallion planting, but I’ve got a lot more of those beautiful onions to come.

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