“Why are your tomatoes so ugly?” – a question I got last week, never something a farmer wants to hear, so I guess it is time for the tomato talk. Nothing wrong with ugly fruit (see here: http://grist.org/food/the-latest-french-fashion-eating-ugly-fruits-and-veggies/ ), but the real question is where ARE the tomatoes? Sweet Jehosaphat! It is already mid-August?! And the unfortunate truth is, they are just not there this year and will not be in any great numbers. This is sad news I’m sure for you CSA members and downright tragic for the farm’s bottom line (tomato sales are a huge part of the wholesale income).
A man once said “it’s a long road to a tomato” and that is as true for a failed crop as it is for a bumper crop. There have been many contributing factors, perhaps most importantly the Hoop House where the tomatoes have been grown here at Holcomb needed to be repaired this spring and re-skinned with plastic. I could not get these done in time to plant our main tomato crop safely under it’s rain repelling shelter. This would have made all the difference, because the wet cool weather predominating this season has been the ideal meteorological vector for one of the worst (of the MANY) tomato diseases – septoria.
10 years into farming I have not yet dealt with this disease on anything like the scale we have it this year – it’s a doozy. Our response to the first signs of it out in the field was to feed the plants and boost their immunity so they could fend off the scourge themselves ( that’s my growing philospohy in a nutshell – more on that this fall or winter when i’m feeling a bit more expansive). So we sprayed several times with a blend of Ground Fish and Seaweed and Nutrient Density Supply Company’s Complete Liquid Feed – very good stuff, look it up Home Gardeners! Without prior experience with this disease I naively thought that we would be okay.
I declined to use more drastic measures (organically “approved” fungicides, etc.) for many reasons. I feel very strongly about how we can and should grow and not exposing farm workers or CSA members to any unhealthy chemicals (organic or synthesized). I intend to live and thrive here at Holcomb by this righteous philosophy, even though it has hurt us this year. If nothing else this has been a costly way to prove to you that our practices are indeed chemical-free and there is no funny business going on in the fields.
One of the reasons I love farming so much is because it promises to keep my frantic mind occupied for a lifetime trying to learn everything that goes along with raising hundreds of varieties of crops in a changing environment. This year has yet again humbled and informed, with the tomato patching sitting out there like a report card on the fridge with a giant red “F” on it.
Time to reign this ramble in and focus on the future and the present. Several years back working on a big CSA out on Long Island we got Late Blight and had to tear all our plants out of the ground – some of my darkest days in the game. Things were pretty grim for a while until Fall rolled around and we had the greatest Fall and Winter harvests on record. The time and space freed up by euthanizing the tomatoes was put to good use and on balance the year was one of the Farm’s best. Lesson learned and perhaps to be reapplied. Our tomatoes are being reassessed almost daily, not sure how long the meager fruit will justify their existence, but i know now to look at the big picture.
Still there? O.K. here is the share this week:
Potatoes (Blue Gold aka Peter Wilcox and/or Adirondack Red)
Tomatoes (just a couple)
Beans and Rainbow Chard and Parsley and Hot Peppers (for the Box Shares)
***PLEASE TREAD CAREFULLY IN THE FIELDS. WE ARE IN TRANSITION WITH EARLY CROPS BEING TILLED IN AND FALL CROPS BEING SEEDED. DO NOT WALK ACROSS BEDS, BUT ONLY IN THE GRASS ROADWAYS OR IN THE AISLES OF THE BEDS. THANK YOU!
PYO is looking the same as last week (new items should be ready next week):
Cherry Tomatoes, BEANS, beans, BEANS, Hot Peppers, Curly and Flat Leaf Parsley, Basil (there is Thai, Lime and Italian varieties in the bed), Rainbow Chard (go to the end of the Bed!), Flowers
113 Simsbury Road, West Granby, CT 06090