Last week of the Summer CSA, crazy! Don’t miss this week, we have so much wonderful produce to share 🙂 It never feels like the end for me, as the Summer CSA Season so quickly turns into the Winter CSA Season – which is also already a Summer CSA season as we are already planning for the Summer 2014 CSA! But regardless, this week always brings a lot of reminiscing for me. I think about the first week the crew arrived and didn’t know each other yet, all excited to embark on this new adventure in their lives, yet trying to figure out the ropes of the place. I think about where they are now and where this experience will bring them in the rest of their lives. I think about my expectations, and learning experiences from the new season, and how they will define next year. And of course, as we enter the last week of the Summer CSA of 2013, I can’t help but go over the season for the vegetables in my head, again and again, thinking of all the successes and difficulties that defined the year.
It’s funny, looking back on the season, I am amazed at how well the vegetables managed to do despite very difficult weather conditions. Overall this season was extremely challenging weather-wise. While we luckily have still not gotten any major hurricanes or October snow storms (yet – knock on wood), the continuous rain and down-pours that defined much of the early season had repercussions on crops that we are still feeling now at harvest time. The winter squash was a great example of this.
The sad story of winter squash: The heavy rains in the spring saturated our fields and we could not plant the winter squash until 2 weeks past our planting date. This is a big deal as it affects the plant’s limited ability to grab sunlight at our latitude and grow. After that it was even worse for winter squash. We got more rain and more rain and cool weather, and this plant is highly susceptible to fungal diseases spread through rain, and it prefers hot weather. It did not grow well in these conditions and then eventually was hit by a fungal disease in the late summer that wiped out a lot of squash and other cucurbit plants in our area: downy mildew. As if that was not enough, shortly after, around the time we would start harvesting them (early sept), we got unusually early near-frost conditions, which damages winter squash and makes it have a very short shelf life. We covered the field at the time to help prevent this, but many squash were damaged regardless. So unfortunately, at a time of year when we are usually rolling in Winter Squash, we are counting them out individually and trying to make sure there is enough for everyone. So if you were wondering why there are so few winter squash in your share, now you know why!
On the other hand, we had a lot of amazing crops this year as well. I wonder how they managed to pull through with the conditions that were presented to them, but that is where nature just amazes me. The onions, for example, were awesome. I know it seems like a long time ago, but we had big beautiful fresh onions and scallions for the better half of the season – and then storage onions to boot! The tomatoes and cherry tomatoes really pulled through for us, which is in part because our high tunnels keep our tomato crop protected from infinite rain, and keep them warm as well. This doesn’t explain why the cherry tomatoes did so well though! They were outside and kept cranking out fruit even as the vines were dying. Another major success was our fall arugula – we have had 5 weeks of amazing arugula. Not only did it grow prolifically but it did not get affected by many of the diseases that are common with arugula. I know it may have been a little too successful for everyone’s taste though 🙂 Beets, carrots, and lettuce were other great crops this year, three of my standby favorites. And I was excited to get to offer a couple of specialty lettuce mixes with pea tendrils and spinach as well. These flavorful salads are a real treat.
I could talk FOREVER about the successes and difficulties of the season, but I am NOT going to dwell on the difficulties of weather BECAUSE this season has been great for so many reasons! We have had a happy, hard-working farm crew, weather that allowed us to get some amazing crops and a lot of successful crops, great CSA distribution staff and box site hosts, and of course, over 400 awesome CSA members! So let’s call it a good year 🙂
What’s in Your Share? Week 20 CSA
Pac Choi – Beautiful in the fall! This crop loves the cold, and tastes amazing too
Spinach! – Yes, it is finally the time of year for spinach 🙂 For those of you participating in the winter csa, you can expect a lot more of this as the weather gets colder.
Green Tomatoes – Julie has a great recipe up on the blog for these this week, so if you are new to the diversity of dishes you can make with green tomatoes, check out her blog as a good starting point. Then find a friend from the south 🙂
Kale – finally, the braising greens have recovered and are going strong this week
Baby Collard Bunches – more tender than mature collards
Eggplant! – Yep, its back for a last week. We needed to harvest out every eggplant we could find before the frost, and were surprised by how many we could find at this time of year!
Thank you all for joining us this season! We really appreciate your support. I look forward to seeing you all for the Winter CSA or Summer CSA 2014!
113 Simsbury Road, West Granby, CT 06090