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Week 7 Newsletter

In your box:

Beans

–Beet greens

–Cabbage, broccoli or kale

Cucumber

–Head lettuce

–Summer squash

–Sweet onion

–Tomatoes

The good news this week is the survival of yours truly through all the nasty heat and humidity last week. We hit 98 degrees twice last week, and I had to stop frequently to wring myself out. The plants seemed to come through the heat wave quite well, and we picked up two inches of rain throughout the day on Saturday to keep everything growing nicely.

There are years that I dread the last two weeks of July, which are typically the hottest time of the year. Weeds are growing with reckless abandon while I have to limit my working hours to stay cool. But this year the weeds are remarkably under control, the gardens are in great shape, and I could take some nice siestas without worrying about the state of things on the farm. And—best of all—the mosquito population has finally abated, the deer flies are ending their reign of terror, and life is pretty good for this farmer.

Maybe our most welcome addition this week is our first harvest of Tomatoes! Tomatoes typically ripen slowly and tend to increase in production only gradually throughout August, but after last week’s heat wave we had a great first picking with many more to come. Most of what are ready now are non-heirloom varieties, the “Juliet” plums and specialty greenhouse varieties like “Arbason” and “Lola.” The meatier, better-tasting cultivars like “Brandywine” and “Cherokee Purple” take a few more weeks to ripen, but they should be on their way shortly. We also have a couple of orange varieties that have much less acidity and are favored by me. I’m also trying out a purplish-black variety called “Black Prince” this year that I’m excited for. I expect to have tomatoes in your box for every week from now until late September, unless we have a surprisingly early frost.

This week we finally start to welcome a couple of crops that I gave up for dead ten weeks ago: Cabbage and Broccoli. Both of them had just been transplanted out to the field just a few days before we had back-to-back nights in the 20’s on May 14th and 15th. This was pretty late for a frost, but I’d never experienced such a hard freeze that late before. The plants lost all their leaves and took a couple weeks to really come back to life. But their roots must have stayed warm enough, because they quickly regenerated and did their best to make it onto your plate. I feel a little guilty killing poor plants that have overcome such odds and only wanted to live—but I’ve found that no one wants to pay me to have a pretty garden and treat my plants like my children.

The broccoli has bounced back perfectly and will be offering its heads in your box over the next few weeks. Since it doesn’t all ripen at once, I’ll keep track of which boxes receive broccoli and make sure that everyone gets at least one head in the next few weeks. The cabbage did suffer some losses from the freeze, but it looks like we can still find one for everyone. We have two kinds of spring lettuce—a nice compact red variety and a pointy-topped kind called “Caraflex.” So over the next four weeks I hope that everyone will receive one supply each of broccoli, cabbage, kale, and chard. That should coincide with the first ears of corn coming in, so we should have some pretty hefty boxes for you for the next several weeks.

I should mention that we don’t wash the beans in your boxes but we do recommend that you do before consuming. Beans tend to get moldy once they are wet, and washing and drying individual beans for you is a little past my pay grade. But they will keep nicely in the bag in your fridge until you’re ready to wash and eat them. The beans are especially dirty this week, unfortunately—the plants are heavily laden with beans and tend to hang down to the ground, where they catch splashed-up mud from all the rain we received over the weekend.

We have another bunch of beet greens for you this week, although the beets are growing so quickly that many of them don’t really qualify as “baby” beets any more. I should be done with thinning them after one more week, and then I’ll start providing the typical beet root shortly after. I dug up a couple of potatoes over the weekend to check their progress, and it looks like they’ve done quite well this year. I’m planning to start digging those for you in two more weeks.

Expected next week: Endive, baby beet greens, summer squash, cucumbers, beans, red onion, cabbage or broccoli, and tomatoes.

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