In your box:
After such a brutally hot and humid start to the summer, the persistent cool and dry weather of the past two weeks has been a great blessing. Daytime mosquitoes have vanished with the humidity, weeds are no longer sprouting, and I’m no longer wilting in the field. I’ve been able to get a lot of work done at getting the weeds back under control, which is especially valuable now that we’ve gone a couple weeks without rain. Weeds are greedy consumers of ground water, so in a drought you definitely don’t want them stealing any water from desirable plants.
Although it’s been dry, we’re not in a worrisome drought stage yet. We have a fairly heavy soil, which tends to hold onto ground moisture longer than a sandy soil. This backfires when we get a wet spring and it takes weeks to dry out, but saves a lot of irrigation during dry spells. I did just get the sprinklers and drip tape going this week to keep the plants chugging along, and we will be in good shape as long as we get a good rain within the next couple weeks.
The only downside to the cool weather is that many of our heat-loving crops aren’t really progressing much yet. Tomatoes have been really slow to ripen, and I’m just not seeing any color change on sweet peppers yet. Cucumbers and summer squash have been slow to boost their output (mostly a welcome thing), but the slow green bean start is a direct reflection of the cooler weather. It looks like we’ll warm up next week, and I’m optimistic we’ll still have a good tomato year as soon as it gets hot again.
This week brings my first picking of sweet peppers. We grow four different varieties, but my personal favorite is an Italian heirloom called “Carmen.” These tend to ripen to a beautiful red before other varieties, and their distinctive shape really sets them apart. We also grow a yellow heirloom variety as well as a couple of the more common bell types. Green peppers don’t have quite the same full flavor as they will when reaching their red or yellow ripe stage, but they are still plenty tasty and just as easy to use. I’m providing them in the box this week mostly to thin out the heavy crop of peppers on the plant. With fewer peppers remaining the plants will be able to ripen them fully and I’ll resume picking them in a couple weeks.
This week brings the last of our scallions after they’ve really outdone themselves this spring. We’ll still have plenty of onions to come your way, though. Next week I’ll start pulling up our sweet onions and we’ll get into the more familiar bulb onions for the rest of the year.
We welcome back head lettuce this week, thanks in large part to the cooler weather lately. Lettuce is no fan of hot summer weather, which we’re usually experiencing this time of year. But since it has been so pleasant for the past two weeks our lettuce crop is really thriving and ready to provide you with some mid-summer salads. We also have our final crop of escarole this week—if you have a hard time telling the difference, the lettuce is a lighter green with more flexible leaves.
Just a reminder—we are nearly one half of the way done with the CSA season. If you only submitted half of the total cost at the beginning of the year, please send in a check for the remainder at your convenience or contact me if you need extra time. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org / 17250 County Road 122 / New Germany MN 55367. Thanks!
Expected next week: Tomatoes, beans, head lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, sweet onion, carrots and kale.