Week 9 of the CSA

photo 3In this week’s share:

  • arugula
  • summer squash
  • cucumbers
  • red cabbage
  • white satin carrots
  • fingerling potatoes (these will be dirty – they are just freshly picked and we didn’t want to damage their sensitive skins by spraying them with the hose)
  • lemon & purple basil

packed together in a clamshell:

  • tomatoes
  • cherry tomatoes
  • tomatillos
  • gherkins (learn about gherkins in this newsletter from last year)
  • jalapeño pepper

Half share members, this week is an “A” week.

Farm News & Recipes

Of all the crops we grow here on the farm the tomatoes need the most coddling. The journey begins all the way back in December and January, when I scour seed catalogs and interrogate farmer friends to figure out which varieties to buy. I make my selection based on a number of factors: flavor, size, color, days to maturity, disease resistance, growth habit, adaptability to the region. This year I settled on 10 varieties of full-sized tomatoes, 4 varieties of cherry tomatoes, and 1 grape tomato.

I seeded a tray or two of each in March, which developed into a total of 850 tomato sprouts come early May. Once they developed a couple sets of true leaves the strongest of those sprouts were plucked out of their trays and transplanted into 4-inch pots to give them more space to grow. After about a month in 4-inch pots, and after any threat of frost was gone, we began to transplant the tomato plants into the field. Through late May and early June, Keely (my tireless and intrepid intern) and I planted row after row of tomatoes until the greenhouses were finally empty. 

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Immediately after transplanting we mulched every row with straw to suppress weeds and help maintain moisture in the soil. We also drove metal poles into the ground between every third plant to serve as trellis holders. Throughout the spring and summer we strung twine between those poles in the style of the “Florida weave” to provide support for the tomatoes as they grow and become heavy with fruit. We also keep the plants growing straight and strong by pruning off suckers that spring out from the main stem. 

Now, finally, we are reaping the fruits of our labor. Tomatoes never tasted so sweet.

We’re trying our very best not to get sick of summer squash and we hope you are too. I cooked down several pounds of them in this very simple but very tasty zucchini and basil soup and put half of it in the freezer for safe keeping.

Jacques Pepin’s cabbage and basil salad will go well alongside a roasted chicken or seared steak.

Your clamshells have all the fixin’s for a great fresh salsa. Mix them all together and dig in with chips, or serve on top of a filet of light fish.