Week of July 9th – CSA Newsletter

I hope that everyone had a good 4th and got time to enjoy the day with family and friends. It was mostly a quiet week on the farm with the students having a mini-break but we kept plugging away at our weekly list of tasks to do. July is primetime for weeds on the farm, so we are doing our best to stay on top (but mostly catch up) of them. We’ve made it through all of our onions and now just have a few beds of leeks and shallots to get through and then we’ll move onto the next priority area. Today we welcomed some new friends to the farm. This is our third summer partnering with Challenge Workforce Solutions as a job site for youth workers as part of their Youth Employment Program. It’s been a great partnership and I’m looking forward to another summer with them as part of our team.

Our hoophouse/greenhouse crops have really been enjoying this stretch of weather and this past week we spent a good amount of time in them. Our continual pruning and trellising of tomatoes, some solid weeding and the trellising of our sweet peppers all happened.

Trellised peppers

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Week of June 25th – CSA Newsletter

Well, June has zipped right by. It’s hard to believe but the summer internship for the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems students is just about halfway over. The students continue to impress me with their work ethic and how quickly they are picking up life on vegetable farm during the summer. Last week was a big week of transplanting on the farm. We got all of our winter squash, melons and second round of summer squash and cucumbers in the ground.

A field of winter squash planted and covered.

It was a lot of work to get them planted, fertilized and covered with remay, aka row cover. We use row cover on our cucurbits (and brassicas) to protect them from pests while they are getting established. The main pest that goes after all the squash, cukes and melons are cucumber beetles. These little buggers can affect the plants in a few different ways. First, they can stunt the plant’s growth, especially when they eat the flowers. They also can transmit bacterial wilt and do damage to the fruit. There aren’t many effective organic sprays that also won’t harm our many wonderful beneficials, including bees. So, we don’t do any spraying. Instead we use cultural controls, which includes row cover. We also try to select varieties that have good disease resistance. This season we are also using a trap crop to hopefully lure the cucumber beetles away from our main crop. We have two beds of a Hubbard squash that is supposedly more attractive to cucumber beetles not covered. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that it has a positive outcome.

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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 October 8th – CSA Newsletter

Sunset over the farm!

Aah, October. What a great time of the year. The landscape is transforming as the foliage begins to turn. The days are getting shorter and Playoff baseball has begun!

Life on the farm continues to roll on by as we get closer to the end of the season. The harvest, along with cleanup projects keeps us busy these days. Besides cleaning out the hoophouses when they are ready, the next big project will be to plant next year’s garlic. I always aim for the week of Halloween to get garlic in the ground. And that is quickly approaching. I’ll keep you posted with our progress.

Nothing too exciting happened last week on the farm. I did harvest the first of our baby ginger at the end of the week to take down to the Fire Cider Celebration and Market in Press Bay Alley in Ithaca.

Baby ginger!

That was a really cool event because all of the vendors were selling the ingredients needed to make fire cider. If you’ve never had fire cider before, I highly recommend it. Especially in the winter months. It’s a traditional folk remedy that is a serious immune booster!

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Week of October 2nd – CSA Newsletter

Well, it’s finally happened….. The first frost of the year. After another beautiful start to the week, the end of last week finally returned to appropriate fall temperatures. And then over the weekend we had our first two frosty mornings. The first frost of the season is always a little bittersweet to me. I look at it as the end of the summer season of vegetables and then the true start of the fall heartiness. Lots of the fall crops that we grow begin to sweeten up as their sugars go into overdrive with the cooler nighttime temperatures. Our fall carrots (which we haven’t begun to harvest yet) really benefit from this. Even though we had these frosts, there wasn’t too much damage. I was hoping to get one more harvest of basil but it was toast this morning when I got out to the field. The only other crop that showed any significant signs of damage was our beans. We have two more plantings out in the field, one that we started harvesting last week and one that is loaded with flowers. I’m hopeful that we’ll still get some more beans but we’ll have to wait and see.

Last week we continued to our push to get ready for the winter months on the farm. Because the weather can turn to the point of no return at any moment, we are trying to get larger quantities of our root crops out of the ground. We were able to get more beets, carrots and potatoes out of the ground. Hopefully, most of the rest of them will be out by the end of the month. Another big job last week was to “top” our heirloom tomato plants.

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Week of September 25th – CSA Newsletter

Ok, so it’s September 25th. Fall is officially here and we just had our best stretch of weather all season by a long shot. These are strange times, my friends. I am definitely not complaining but we sure could have used some of these dry, warm days back in July. Aah, the life of a farmer. Loves being outside but never truly content with the weather.

Last week was a big week of visitors to the TC3 Farm. There were 3 different classes from Tompkins Cortland (2 English and 1 Environmental Science) and a group from New Roots High School. All in all, it was around 50 students out for a visit. It’s always great to have folks out for a visit and expose them to what we do at the TC3 Farm and all the hard work that the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems do during their internship. In the very least, I hope that we get folks thinking about where their food comes from and how their food choices can impact the local food system.

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