FARM NEWSLETTER // WEEK 5
Updated: Aug 9, 2019
We have been buuuuussssy. As you know we had hail about a week ago, and as the week has progressed we have been continually seeing damages and making repairs. As far as damage goes, it is only really apparent after a week or more past a big storm. Right after the hail storm we went out, saw lots of holes in the leaves and broken stems with parts of the plants completely detached.
Immediately following the storm the plants were still green so it wasn’t as easy to see everything. Now that they’ve spent a week drying out, we can see a lot more stems that were hit by hail are now drying out and cracking off the plant completely. We are seeing a lot more stems had knicks/ damage in them than what we thought.
We have been busy making repairs. Yesterday we had to replace about 5,000 feet of irrigation line in the tomatoes because the hail just shredded it. The way the irrigation works is that water lines run down every row in the field (called drip tape, it’s basically a thin black hose with pin prick holes). Water pressure has to build up in the irrigation lines; without the pressure the water won’t make it through to the entirety of the patch.
You can see right in the middle of this picture that the drip tape is ripped open and making a little river.
If there are larger holes in the drip tape, the lines don’t build the necessary pressure resulting in portions of the patch not being watered at all. Hence, we tried fixing the irrigation lines with connectors but every time we made a repair, the pressure would increase in the remainder of the irrigation lines and we would find more, and more, and more holes to be repaired. So we ended up replacing all the drip tape for the whole patch… 4 hours later and we have water to all the remaining tomatoes!
Unfortunately that is basically a last stitch effort. The plants need to repair themselves before they’ll keep setting on tomatoes, so until the plants have healed themselves we won’t see any more flowers. There are more tomatoes on the ground between the rows than there are tomatoes on the plants right now.
After the hail storm, I shared pictures that showed the peppers with big holes in them. They’re looking really rough. Some plants had branches completely broken off of the main stem & lying on the ground. We spent several hours one day picking off the peppers that had damage. That was very depressing; picking for hours and not having a single pepper to bring home because they’re soft and rotting.
If we leave the peppers on the plants with holes like that they’ll literally rot right off the plant and decrease the plants health. It also prevents the pepper plant from producing more peppers. When a pepper plant is loaded with peppers, and you pick off all the larger ones, it senses that and has extra energy to put into growing more flowers; more peppers. So by spending the time picking off all the broken peppers, we’re hoping that the plants will recognize that cue and start producing more flowers for us very soon! It’s not too late for them to set on, but we are dealing with about 30% of the pepper patch because a lot more than half of it is dead, either too much hail damage or standing water. They’re all starting over right now- there are barely any peppers that are even on right now and for the ones that are- they’re about the size of a quarter.
The eggplant are in that field with the peppers, so that implies the same damage to the eggplant. The plants are beat up really bad, and about half were lost in standing water before the hail anyways. I’m not sure if we’ll have eggplant at all this year.
Bright side! (Gotta look kinda hard nowadays) The spaghetti squash are stress ripening so we’ll be harvesting those sooner than later. The spaghetti squash are mostly big enough anyways- a handful are undersized and those won’t grow anymore. They’ve all transitioned into survival mode and will be putting their energy into ripening their ‘fruits’ to ensure the success of their seeds. The foliage will not grow anymore this season. There are a handful of the squash that are on higher ground that have a chance at growing more, but not the spaghetti squash.
A lot of the squash are going to be undersized, every other variety in that field has small squash. None of them are at a size we would feel comfortable including in CSAs, but there is still a small amount of hope that the squash plants that aren’t in standing water will grow a little more before the vines die and the squash ripens. The vines always die in the middle of September anyways because they pull all the energy out of their leaves and stems and push it into the ‘fruit’ because the more sugars inside of a squash the better their seed germination the following spring. It’s all about reproduction with these plants.
The pie pumpkins will be a complete loss. They’re about the size of a baseball/ softball and from the looks of the plants they won’t be growing anymore. The majority of those plants have already started to ripen, which we can tell because they don’t grow bright orange. I.e. If they turn orange; they’re not going to grow.
We are hopeful for the muskmelon. They’re pretty scarred up- but all the damage is very superficial on this first set of melons. On the small melons right now, those might just rot because the hail went into the flesh more so than just scraping the surface. I mentioned last week that some of the melons are netting- which also thickens their skin. Thank goodness for that line of defense or we could have been without any melons.
The watermelons are almost a complete loss. Between the multiple hail storms and standing water, the plants aren't producing flowers and they're not growing in size. Maybe a few hot dry days would turn them around, but I worry that even if we do get a new bunch of melons on the plants that they won't ripen before the first frost. We will be in touch about those though, we're hopeful!
This week in your CSA Share you can expect: Yukon Gold Potatoes, Beets, Summer Squash, Pickles/ Slicers, Green Onions, Sage and hopefully swiss chard.
As many of you remember, the first hail storm wrecked our swiss chard before we even got to share any of it! Now that it’s come back a bit, we’re hopeful to include that this upcoming week.
Yukon Golds are my favorite potato- and we use them for everything. My favorite thing to do with them is roast them, could be in a tinfoil packet on the grill or even just in a 9X13 pan with some chicken breasts and root crops. Remember, you can bake, boil, grill, or even shred these to make breakfast potatoes. We love potatoes in general because they’re so versatile!
Summer squash have a thinner skin than the zucchini, they are the only variety that can actually be damaged by touching their own stems and vines because of how prickly they are! A lot of time when you see them in the grocery store they’re more brown then they are yellow because they are a delicacy and don’t hold well if they’re being moved around because they’ll get scuffed and bruised. The flavor is really nice- they’re tender and can take on the flavor of the dishes you’re cooking them in really well.
Pickles/ slicers will be in the boxes this week again too. I keep track of who has received what, and will alternate them for you whenever possible. It all depends on the harvest that morning. It’s hard to say which variety we will have more of- because the plan is just to make sure to have enough of them together to add to the CSAs this week.
Green onions are coming again this week because this is almost the end of this patch. I was going to hold off a week but I know that we’re probably all in agreement when I say we’re anxious for some real onions and the green onions are as close as we can get right now.
The variety of the week is Beets! Beets!! These will be coming without the tops- because, well you know they don’t look good. The beets however look really nice! These will stain your clothes- so make sure to let them dry completely before handling them, or wear gloves when you’re cutting them so you don’t stain your hands. I love beets, especially fresh beets like this because they don’t have that earthy tone in their flavor. The fresher the beets, the sweeter they are. Fun side note- I used to work for the school district and did a lot of enrichment activities with my kiddos there in the science and nature classroom. One of the things we did was tie-die clothes with vegetables and as you can assume, the beets were the best for ‘staining’ clothes. It was a fun, messy experiment!
Here are a couple of links for recipes: >>>Beet Cake: https://www.brownfamilyproduce.com/post/beet-cake
>>>Beet Salad with Lemon Dressing: https://www.brownfamilyproduce.com/post/beet-salad-with-lemon-dressing
>>>Beet Chips: https://www.brownfamilyproduce.com/post/beet-chips
>>>Crispy Smashed Beets: https://www.brownfamilyproduce.com/post/crispy-smashed-beets
Looking forward to better weather, and hopefully a brighter season ahead! <3 ~The Farmer's Wife