Week of September 17th – CSA Newsletter

Even though the end of the season is in sight, the amount of work that needs to be done each week is still a pretty long list. I spent some time last week with the student interns discussing what the end of the season looks like and where our priorities lie. There are many projects that still need to get done before the ground freezes. And with how temperamental the weather can be, who knows when that will exactly happen. We’ll revisit our list weekly but some of the big projects that we have left are to sort our seed garlic, prep the ground where garlic will be planted, weed and mulch our newly planted strawberries, prep the hoophouse and greenhouse beds for winter plantings and harvest, harvest, harvest!

Last week we began to harvest beets and potatoes. The name of the game this time of the year is to try to get ahead as much as possible because we don’t want to have too many storage crops that are still in the ground when the weather really starts to turn. Another big project that we got done was to “top” all of our tomatoes growing in the hoophouses. Topping the plants means to cut off their growing point. This is an important task because we want to have as much fruit as possible ripen before the season is over. If we left the plants as is, they would still continue to put on foliar growth and fruit clusters. With the days starting to shorten and the temperatures starting to cool a bit, there just isn’t enough time to grow and ripen fruit. The topping signals to the plant that their time is almost up and they begin to put their remaining energy into ripening.

We also had a group of Ithaca College freshmen who are taking a Farm to Table seminar course out to the farm last week for a tour and Sustainable Farming and Food Systems program overview. They were a great group of students with lots of enthusiasm and seemed to have a genuine interest in having a greater connection to their food. I get a real sense of pride when we get to showcase what’s happening here at Tompkins Cortland to our bigger siblings on South and East Hill.

Ok, let’s talk about this week’s CSA share. Summer is still hanging on and that means there are still tomatoes. Along with the beefsteaks, cherries and heirlooms, there will be paste tomatoes in the share. The sweet peppers are still cranking along. I’m going to take a break from hot peppers this week but there will be another pepper to choose from. Today we harvested Shishito peppers. They are one of my all time favorites. Shishito’s are a small Japanese frying pepper that are best prepared in a hot skillet with just olive oil and a coarse salt. Just heat them up until they start to blister. No cutting or prepping is needed. There will be bunches of dill, cilantro, thyme and sage, head lettuce, the return of swiss chard, winter squash, beets, garlic and potatoes, as well. This week’s potatoes are a smaller russet and they make excellent homefries. There will also be a stir fry mix in the share. This is a mix of bok choi and tat soi. And finally, there is still watermelon. I know a few folks got some not so great watermelons. They are really tough to tell when they are ripe and I did my best to sort through them. I’ve tasted a bunch over the last month and most of them have been pretty tasty with the occasional dud. My apologies, if you have gotten a dud.

That’s it for now. Have a great week!

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