Week of June 18th CSA Newsletter

Ok, so it was hot out there today! But we managed to get in most of the harvest by mid-morning. Now, if you’re new to the TC3 Farm CSA, you’ll soon find out that I end up giving a lot of weather updates and how it’s affecting the season. It’s inevitable. I won’t dive too much into it this week, but I just wanted to acknowledge that. This past week, we were kept busy with more transplanting, lots of cultivating (aka, weeding with tools) and hoophouse tomato management. We are growing 25 different varieties of beefsteak, cherry and heirloom tomatoes in a fairly intensive system. All the varieties are indeterminate, which means that they will grow as tall as we let them (or season length). We keep a single “leader” and each week we go through the houses and “sucker and trellis” the 730 plants.

Suckering and trellising tomatoes

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Week of June 11th – CSA Newsletter

Well folks, we made it! The start of the TC3 Farm CSA is here. It’s hard to believe, but we are embarking on our 5th season and I’m appreciative that you are taking this journey with us. We have a long way to go, but the farm has grown immensely since our first summer when it was me and a rototiller. It’s been a whirlwind start to the season. We broke ground about 3 weeks later than we usually do because of the cold wet spring we had and then things got unseasonably warm. Definitely a strange start to the season but we are doing our best to be resilient. There’s a great group of student interns this summer who have been working their tails off since they started at the end of May. We’ve been doing our best to get ourselves caught up. I don’t have an exact number but there are probably close to 20,000 plants in the ground already. I think we’re about a week behind at the moment and with all the uncertainties that come with farming, I’d say that’s pretty good. I could go on and on with all that we’ve been up to but that would take way too long. Some highlights so far for this season are: we have 25 varieties (700 plus plants) of beefsteak, cherry and heirloom tomatoes planted in the hoophouses, 1000 new strawberry plants got put in the ground and after last season’s complete onion failure (I don’t even want to get into it), there are 6000 onions, leeks and shallots in the ground and they are doing pretty good.

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Week of November 6th – CSA Newsletter

Well, folks, we made it. The 4th season of the TC3 Farm CSA is complete. A big heartfelt thanks to all of you for supporting the farm this year! It really means a lot.

Just like last year, the weather had a huge impact on the growing season. I know I’ve mentioned this in earlier newsletters, but after experiencing an extreme drought and extreme wet weather in back to back years, I’d take the drought over the wet 10 out of 10 times. They both have their own issues but we can do more in a dry year. A wet year like this poses a whole lot of problems. First and foremost, it’s hard to get fields prepped when it’s always raining. And that throws planting schedules off or plantings get completely missed, especially with a lot of direct seeded crops, which happened plenty of times. Then there’s the weed pressure. All plants love water and the weeds are no different. Disease pressure also tends to be a little higher during a wet season. The plants rarely had time to dry out, which made them a little more susceptible to certain diseases. Pests are pests and they will always be an issue but I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen more snails or slugs than I have this season.

Even in an extremely wet year, there were a lot of positives. This was our largest CSA membership to date. We’ve almost doubled in shares since our first season in 2014. Again, thanks to you all who have been with us since the beginning and to those who have joined over the years. I also think that our new share options worked out pretty good. It’s always a little nerve-racking to think if there is enough food each week but I think we did well in that department. Even with crop failures (I’ll get to that in a bit), there was a good amount of diversity each week. I think that there were only a few weeks out of the 22 where a new item wasn’t introduced. And let’s give a little shout out to carrots and spinach. Those are two crops that we have struggled with over the years. In previous years, there may have been 1 or 2 distributions of little dinky carrots and that definitely was not the case this season. This was also the first year that we had spinach in this shares. It definitely wasn’t as often as I would have liked (or what we had planned) but it was a start.

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Week of October 30th – CSA Newsletter

Sunrise rainbow over the farm!

Well, here we are folks, the second to last CSA pickup of the 2017 season and the night before Halloween. The wind is howling this chilly night. Where I grew up the night before Halloween was known as Mischief Night. The only mischief I’m getting into these days is eating a few too many pieces of candy corn.

This past week, we checked off another item on our end of the season list. We got our garlic planted. Garlic is the one crop that we save seed to replant the following season. We sort our bulbs when we harvest them at the end of July and the largest most uniform bulbs are saved for seed.

Garlic cloves awaiting planting
Cloves going in the ground

I usually aim to plant garlic at the end of October, using Halloween as my guide. I was feeling like it would be good to get it in last week and I’m glad that I did. We got some serious rain Saturday night into this morning out on the farm. It made for a difficult harvest today, with our feet sinking in the mud. I can’t imagine it being any better later this week because of off and on rain in the forecast. 

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Week of October 23rd – CSA Newsletter

After that brutal Monday morning last week, we had a pretty good frost Tuesday morning. There was definitely some collateral damage but all in all, the veggies were ok.

Frosty kale!

As I’ve mentioned in earlier weeks, a couple of frosts actually help to sweeten up some of our fall crops. I’m glad I was able to harvest the last of the field peppers but that third planting of beans definitely were lost and the chard didn’t make it through (a huge sigh of relief for some of you).

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Week of October 16th – CSA Newsletter

The oats/peas cover crop is coming along.

We’ve made it to the home stretch, folks. Week 19 of the CSA is upon us. There are 3 remaining weeks to the CSA season after this week. It’s been a roller coaster ride of a farm season that I’ll be sure to recap in the coming weeks.

But first, some farm updates. We finished getting the rest of the potatoes out of the ground last week. It definitely feels good to get a harvest like that done for the season. Potatoes aren’t one of the easiest of crops to harvest at the TC3 Farm. We really don’t grow enough potatoes to justify purchasing a potato harvester, so we dig our taters by using a digging fork. After loosening the soil with the forks, it’s on to our hands and knees to go searching for our “buried treasure”. It’s definitely a satisfying job but not always the easiest, especially when you have as many rocks in the field as we do.

After a beautiful weekend, today was the first real miserable day (mostly the morning) on the farm of the season. Even after all the wet weather we had this year, I can honestly say that. This was the kind of day that comes to mind when people comment to me on how awesome it must be to be working outside all the time. You know, that first really cold, wet kinda day. The one where your hands are really cold and they start to go numb while you harvest or do field work or wash veggies. Now, this isn’t a Puddles Pity Party, not in the least. I’m just saying that farmers work in all extremes to get done what needs to get done. And today that was harvesting.

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