Week of July 1st – CSA Newsletter Week #4

Well, folks, summer decided to arrive last week and that kept us busy, busy, busy. It was really nice to finally catch a break with the weather and have a dry spell for most of the week. I think some of the students were caught off-guard with how hot it can get out in the field without any shade but they managed to power through. We even got caught in our first summer storm. It was beautiful all day and then a storm rolled through the hills fast and hard and soaked us while we finished transplanting. Speaking of transplanting, we spent a good portion of the week doing our best to get caught up with putting plants in the ground. All in all, we got close to a half acre planted and I was able to finally get ground prepped for fall plantings. That definitely help to alleviate some of the stress I’ve been feeling.

The greenhouse tomatoes were really loving last week’s weather. In just over a month’s time most of the plants are close to 4 feet or taller and small green fruit are starter to form on their clusters. The heirloom tomatoes in one of our hoophouses are also starting to take off. I had mentioned in an earlier newsletter about getting bumblebees to help with the pollination of flowers. Well, they arrived last week (actually right before CSA pickup) and quickly went to work. The hive I ordered is big enough to pollinate for close to 10 weeks, so we should have tomatoes well into the fall. You may be asking yourself, “why does the TC3 Farm need bumblebees to help pollinate their tomatoes in the greenhouse?” Oh, I’m so glad you asked yourself that question. Tomatoes are actually self-pollinating. That means that their flowers contain both male and female parts and can produce fruit without the aid of wind or pollinating insects. Our greenhouse is fully enclosed besides a ridge vent that runs across the top of the house. We have ventilation fans that move air through the house, which in turn, moves the plants and drops the pollen in the flower. But our greenhouse tomatoes are such an important crop for us, so to ensure a stellar fruit set, we bring in bees to aid with the pollination. It’s a lot more efficient than pollinating by hand. Our hoophouse crops, including heirloom tomatoes, don’t need bees brought in because we are able to keep the sides rolled up to allow crosswind and native pollinators to enter the house. It’s a lot of fun to see the bumblebees go to work.

Ok, let’s talk about this week’s CSA share. There will be a couple of new items in this week’s choice but let’s talk about the old stand-bys. There are still black radishes and purple top turnips. As well as rutabaga, potatoes, and salad radishes. This will be the last week until late summer/early fall of the stir fry mix. But I want you to think about salads this week. In addition to more of the lettuce mix, our head lettuce was also ready this week. So there will be lots of different heads to choose from. I’m sad to say that our strawberry season is over and this will be the last week for this season. We worked really hard out in the patch to be able to get everyone a pint for this week. It was a great run, but the season had to end eventually. If you are still looking for your strawberry fix, Cobblestone Valley Farm in Preble has u-pick and Silver Queen Farm in Trumansburg does, as well. I’m not sure how much longer their season will last but it’s an option for all you berry-maniacs. The kale is finally starting to be ready and will be making it’s first appearance of the season this week. And finally, I’m hoping that the weather cooperates long enough tomorrow to give us a chance to harvest the first snow peas of the season.

Next week there should be sugar snap peas and fingers crossed the first zucchini/summer squash.

Have a great week!

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