Friday, July 23, 2010

The great, the bad and the ugly...

Before we get to the 'official' blog post I want to thank everyone who made it out to the farm for our first annual Parker Produce CSA Picnic on Saturday. It was a great success and really helped reinforce for me how important it is that people see where their food comes from. For those who couldn't make it, all are welcome at the farm to learn the basics about your food chain. Please contact me if you would like to visit and we'll set up a time.
Thanks again also to all the folks who helped make Saturday (and our CSA in general) a success. This includes Em, John and Sue, Brittany and Jim and of course Lizzie!
Here is a photo from the day. As you can see we had great weather! Here is Lizzie showing everyone that baby chickens are nothing to be afraid of!
Now for the regular stuff. You might be frightened by the title...I certainly am frightened by the meaning behind it. First, the good. Below are three photos showing the great possibilities awaiting us. First is a quart of cherry tomatoes from all around the garden (plus two Jalapenos from the greenhouse). Brittany and I have been snacking on the odd one here and there that ripens by itself. This is a difficult time in some respects because it's a bit of a lull in the garden. The spring crops are all gone (no more lettuce till fall and I just started ripping out the broccoli plants to replant the beds to something else) and the high summer crops are just starting to trickle in. If I were a home gardener it would be different but I am a market gardener. So 100lbs of zucchini (what we pulled off the beds this week) is trickling in. If I were a home gardener this amount of tomatoes would be sufficient. Obviously this quart isn't going to go far split between 37 member families. I don't relish the thought of cutting cherry tomatoes into sections and wrapping them in cellophane :-).

But very soon this slow trickle of errant tomatoes will be a faint memory. There is a wondrous point in the summer (a normal summer) when suddenly, everything happens at once in the garden. We'll get a heavy rain, coupled with all this heat and everything will burst. Below is just a taste of the amazing sights in our garden and greenhouse. The anticipation is deafening...
That being said, onto the bad and the ugly. In case you were wondering, both words are for the same thing. Late Blight. As I predicted it has returned to Maine this summer. This is the same thing that prevented us from having any tomatoes and kept our potato yields way down last summer. It was found at a farm in Waldoboro this week and has already spread to others.
This year, Parker Produce is taking a proactive approach to try and fend off this terrible monster (if you think this is an exaggeration please feel free to look up the cause of the Irish Potato Famine...It really is terrible) while staying true to our core values. We have just begun the process of ordering a new greenhouse which I hope to have erected as soon as possible as the parts arrive. This is a huge expense (in both money and hours of work) at a horrible time but I don't want to loose all those tomatoes again. I'm not sure I could take another summer with no tomatoes. I purposely planted several varieties together in order to erect a greenhouse if this happened. I was hoping it wouldn't but there you go. I'm going to experiment with copper sulfate but NOT ON THE PLANTS. If the blight moves up the state (and really the only thing stopping that is weather and wind patterns) I will loose tons of tomatoes out in the garden. But I hope to save some in the greenhouses by covering the doorways with remay that has been soaked in copper sulfate. I have no idea if it will work but it's worth a shot. Many farmers I know who grow tomatoes in hoop houses actually got a crop last year before they succumbed to the blight. Hoop houses help...I'm hoping this extra step will too.
Onto the share. This week's contains many items with which you are familiar that don't need explanation. Beans, beans, beans. Golden Butterwax, Provider and Maxibel Bush Beans are coming in like crazy. My comments about a lull in the garden do not apply to our Bush Bean crop, thankfully. Basil, Lettuce for the full shares, Broccoli for Winterport/Newport, Chard, Collards, Zucchini, Summer Squash, French Breakfast Radishes and Purplette mini-onions (see the header of the blog for a photo of these). This last one was an experiment this year. Each year I try several new things that I've never tried with no intention of including them in the share until the next season, once I've learned about them, tasted them, harvested them, generally experimented. However, sometimes there is enough to put in the share and that was the case with the Purplette onions. Brittany and I really like the flavor and I need to know what you all think. They are great raw in salads and make a great addition to scrambled eggs if you eat them. Should I be growing these next year in more quantity? They are meant to be an early onion crop before the big bulbs of other varieties come in.
Finally, a happy thought, at least for me. Last week I wrote about Mitten Machen, the blog of one of our members, Mary (see link at right). She is doing some great things with fresh, local garden fare to prepare for winter. This is a way of life in our home too. Each week we pull a lot off the garden for ourselves and Emily and I, and now Lizzie, work like crazy all summer to put food in our chest freezer, root cellar, canning cupboard, etc. This used to be how people survived the winter. When 'cheap' oil and corn/soy subsidies disappear it might be that way again. Here is Lizzie, ever the beauty, pausing for a picture in her efforts to help daddy. She loves a good task and loves basil. Put the two together and you get several batches of pesto basil in the freezer. Voila!

1 comment:

  1. Lizzie can come to my house and help make pesto anytime! I need an assistant!