Friday, September 3, 2010

Potatoes, Tomatoes and Decisions

Evening all:
I'm short of pictures tonight, as well as time since I'm prepping for high winds so I'll make this brief and just include some information about certain things that need to be taken care of in the share.
First, the tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes are suffering a bit from this heat and lack of water. I don't really irrigate except when it comes to seedlings being planted out. They need a bit of a boost. Other than that I really try not to irrigate because it is very, very damaging and has long-term consequences that people haven't begun to think about (unfortunately). Thus, sometimes crops begin to become stressed. Hopefully the promised rain from the hurricane will help get us back on track.
The stress in the cherry tomatoes is showing in thin skin. The moisture is being sucked out of the cherries into the atmosphere. Also, the plant itself is unable to give up as much moisture to the fruits as it's simply attempting to survive at this point. Thus, the skins are weak on the cherry tomatoes. It is very, very important that you remove your tomatoes from their bag, look them over and rinse them lightly in a colander. This will remove any tomato juice that may be on them from any cherries that split or burst in transit. Carefully go over your tomatoes and look for signs of splitting. This is especially prevalent in the cherry tomatoes. Remove any that have split. You may wish to eat them right there is that's the only thing wrong with them. If you don't have fruit flies (sometimes at this time of year they are a menace) you can leave the rest of the tomatoes right in the colander overnight to dry. Then store them as you normally would. This is all very important as it will prolong the life of your tomatoes through the week. If you don't do this, please expect some rotten tomatoes in the bottom of your bag before too long. Isn't biology fun?
Second, Potatoes are in! We've included the first of the potato harvest in today's share. I don't have the camera or I'd include the photos I took today. Sorry. But they are the ones in the brown paper bag. Please note that potatoes do not go in the fridge. When potatoes get that cold the starch (i.e. the thing that makes a potato a potato) turns into sugar. If you've ever tried to eat one after that's happened you know not to do it. Not very appetizing. So please store them in a dark, cool place with lower humidity. Here is a link about storage of potatoes (this link applies to all of the potato varieties you'll get this season from Parker Produce. And here is a link to Johnny's Seeds page about Kennebec potatoes. Just for information about the specific variety.
Also this week is Basil, Garlic (Inchelium Red), Onions, Carrots, Zucchini and Summer Squash.
The 'Decisions' part of the title implicates our thought process as we move closer to potential frost. I realize most people probably think the idea of a frost is just silly in this heat wave. However, the average first frost date of fall in Newport is September 15th. That leaves us only two more harvest weeks prior to the potential. Thus, we have to start harvesting things as though there will be no tomorrow. Certain things in the garden can survive a frost or two...winter squash is a good example. However, some things are not tolerant of any frost at all...Tomatoes and Basil are good examples. They immediately shrivel and turn into disgusting masses of previously wonderful stuff. In fact, as soon as the nightly temperature starts to consistently drop into the 50's, tomato growth is done. (We have some in a greenhouse which gives us a buffer on that.) So we have to start harvesting very hard and you may start to get things like green tomatoes in your share. I'll try to explain when that happens but just a heads up.
Please see the link at the right about storage information from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Emily took this class last year with her sister as a fun thing to do and a great way to learn some very, very valuable information. It has proven very useful in our household. I don't agree with all of the over-protective steps they sometimes preach but the class is very valuable and exposes people to a great way to preserve the harvest. Check it out and see if you can get to know someone who wants to/does preserve food this way. You'll love going to the root cellar in the winter and finding all of your hard work of fall lining the shelves.

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