As our season winds down, I wanted to address some of the good questions I have been receiving about the changes in what’s being distributed lately, as well as give a heads up about what to expect these final two weeks. The last distribution day will be on Monday October 3rd, meaning that we have two more full weeks of distribution left. In case anyone is wondering, the season began on a Wednesday right after Memorial day, thus we are ensuring that everyone has an equal amount of pickup days. In the past, we have sometimes had seasons that have allowed us to add an extra week of pick-up, but that is not the case this year – the drought has indeed affected the length of our season.
As you can all see, there are less crops being given out, and sadly the tomatoes are all but finished. While we are fortunate to have produced a full 8 weeks of tomatoes thus far, the plants are not producing fruit. Some of the tomatoes on the lower field have caught a disease, late blight, which is a fungus that can infect the entire plant including the fruit. Because we are certified organic, we are limited in the amount of spraying, and the type of spray, we can apply to our crops, yet we have been able to counteract the potential for this disease in a number of ways. Copper fungicide, which is a natural compound, has helped reduce the spread of this disease once signs of it were present. Tomatoes are also vulnerable to blight if their foliage becomes repeatedly wet or moist. With the lack of rain, we didn’t have to worry about the weather creating the right conditions for blight and we use drip irrigation so as to not create the conditions ourselves. While the drought has certainly taken it’s toll on the farm, it is because of the commitment to building good soil health, and carefully rotated crops, that we have been able to survive the lack of rain water. Considering that the upper field is not irrigated at all, and also had a lack of rain water, I can’t think of another expression besides “incredibly resourceful” in order to fathom this.
The strategy behind our planting of corn is another example of how we have countered the drought. By planting a few varieties of corn in April, May, and June, we were able to provide enough corn that was ready to harvest after the scorching heat of July had passed. Because this corn was transplanted from the seed bed’s at Ward’s, they were more disease resistant and hardier compared to the direct seeding method. Our late plantings of lettuce and swiss chard were also able to survive the hot weather despite the lack of rain water, mainly due to some afternoon shade provided by the nearby trees. However, not all second plantings survived the drought and there were some vegetables we had hoped to provide more of, that just didn’t make it and we definitely noticed some vegetables not reaching the full size we would want before they were ready for harvesting.
While many vegetables have been hit hard by the drought — the eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, squashes, etc — the future of our field’s are bright considering how resistant, hardy, and “tough” these vegetables have shown to become when being grown organically. The eggplant may be yellowing, the tomatoes may have a few splits, and the cucumbers have…well they have put up a fight to the bitter end, at one point demanding for an unsolicited abundance in your kitchen.
So yes, we have experienced some late struggles as most farms are experiencing during this extreme drought, and though the very last week may only include 5 or 6 items, those squashes and potatoes should be as high quality as any other week of the season. As always, we are grateful that our shareholders are willing to take this journey with us – sharing in the success, or the struggle – of the season.
We look forward to seeing you all during these last few weeks,
–your CSA team