In your box:
–Beans or eggplant
This week marks the unofficial start of the peak of tomato season, a glorious stretch of three or four weeks where every meal, passing car and visitor are in danger of being smothered in fresh tomatoes from the garden. I have to admit, I’m only a recent convert to the brilliance of a fresh tomato. I’ve harbored a secret aversion to raw tomatoes for many years, due mostly to the unbearable quality of most grocery store and restaurant tomatoes. It’s only after many years of intensive brain-training and tomato orientation that I’ve finally started to come around to the idea of munching on a raw tomato for little or no reason.
We grow way too many tomatoes here, but I don’t get many complaints. A lot of what I grow are special hybrids that thrive in the high tunnel I grow them in. Within a high tunnel, the tomatoes are free from wet leaves, splashed dirt, and many infections that prey upon outdoor tomatoes. The plastic layer keeps off the rain and windborn diseases, while drip tape irrigation supplied under mulch right at the base of the plants ensures adequate moisture throughout the season. I’ve also found that the high tunnels work well for heirloom varieties, which are maturing rapidly this week. My heirlooms are primarily Cherokee Purple, Valencia (orange), and Brandywine (big and red). These heirlooms don’t always look grocery-store-perfect and might have some cosmetic blemishes, but the taste is unlike anything available in a store. This week everyone will receive two heirlooms (four for full shares) as well as a handful of smaller hybrids and a few Juliet grape tomatoes.
Tomato season marks the height of my stink factor as a farmer. First, there’s the fact that a plastic-covered high tunnel traps a lot of heat. If the sun is out, it can jump to 100 degrees in the tunnels by 9am. It’s a great incentive to get out of bed early and get all the tomatoes picked before doing so becomes a threat to my health, but even with an early start it’s a sweaty experience. Then there’s the tomato tar. Tomato plants and fruits are covered with a deposit of sticky goo that turns hands, shirts, and hats a disgusting shade of yellow (you might not notice it with a plant or two, but with 250 plants it really accumulates. My hands are stained with this tomato tar until mid-September, and I go through way too many hand towels when I clean up afterwards. The final contribution to my personal tomato stink is damaged tomatoes. There’s a great feeling to a ripe, firm tomato. A past-ripe tomato, or one that has been colonized by picnic beetles, is an abomination. Every time I pick tomatoes I’ll grab maybe a dozen tomatoes that look perfect from a distance but erupt with a shower of goo like a creature from Stranger Things. So, between the sweat, my personal aura of tomato tar, and hands coated in burst tomatoes, I’m not exactly welcome in high society until the tomatoes finally slow down their harvest.
As the tomatoes ramp up their harvest, it does look like we’ll have a surplus available for canning and freezing. I offer 10 lb. boxes of meaty tomatoes for $25, so please let me know if you are interested and I can deliver those with your usual harvest. I only sell this surplus when we have enough for all of the CSA boxes, but if you can use a box or two please contact me and I’ll get those to your in the next few weeks.
Most of the Beets going out this week are really large golden ones. Gold beets can be used just like red ones with the added bonus that they don’t “bleed” and stain when you cut them open. I’ve included a recipe for whole roasted beets this week in case you’d like to use them up as a delicious side dish.
Don’t forget—our summer farm open house is coming up on Saturday the 24th from 1-5pm. Join us for farm tours, some light jobs, and a great afternoon in the country.
Expected next week: Potatoes, head lettuce, cucumbers, summer squash, sweet onion, sweet pepper, beans, tomatoes, basil.