More than a Disappearing Act – 6th Harvest Week: Tue, Wed, & Thurs Delivery for July 17, 18, & 19 2012

 In Farm News

Farmer John Writes . . .                                                                                   

Greetings from Angelic Organics

The growing season is always a flurry of activity, concerns, strategies, and surprises. There are bugs, blights, winds, wilts, repairs, harvests, seeding, weeding…a multitude of preoccupations to consume our days and months. A few things come to mind that I’d like to address this week.

Crop Report, Then

Lettuce…yes, I’m going to comment on lettuce again, as it has commanded a lot of shareholder attention this season. We fill your box at the farm about an inch over the brim…really, an inch above the brim. That’s our goal, at least. Individual boxes will vary a bit, since vegetables are not a uniform size, but we strive for that level of extra fullness, and usually achieve it. The first four weeks of deliveries were packed to that level or fuller. (I don’t like when the box is overflowing by more than an inch, because closing it will crush the tender greens.) As soon as the boxes are filled, they go into a cooler where they are stored at 33 degrees until they are loaded into our refrigerated delivery truck.

We usually get a couple of boxes back from the delivery, because we send extra boxes on the truck, just in case of a mis-count. This season, we noticed that these boxes that returned with the truck were two inches below the brim! The lettuce (and to a certain extent some of the other greens) had shriveled or wilted at least 3 inches from the original fullness. Then we put these boxes that returned on the truck in shade for the rest of the day, to emulate the conditions at many of the delivery sites. By the end of the day, the box contents had shriveled another 2 inches. In other words, the box that some of you shareholders received may have been five inches emptier than the box we packed.

Besides the very dry air that boxes were inevitably exposed to during packing and also on the delivery route (with the overhead truck door opening and closing) and at the delivery site while awaiting pickup, we suspect the leafy crops have been unable to absorb moisture properly in the fields this year. (And remember, almost all moisture is on behalf of our two robust irrigation systems.) The greens do not like the intense heat, and they probably went into a state of shock at the recent high temperatures, so, they probably didn’t contain optimal moisture at harvest time, in spite of our irrigation efforts.

With more dense crops in the offing, such as corn, eggplant, tomatoes, melons, and hopefully less heat, shrinkage will not likely pose a significant problem in the future.

Crop Report, Upcoming

* Eggplant looks very abundant, but some are chewed a bit by bugs, mostly causing only cosmetic damage. Bugs are ravenous this year. Thirsty? Energized by heat? I’m not sure, but they are about as bad as I’ve ever seen them.
*Sweet Corn: as I reported in the email to shareholders, lots of earworm damage in the first two plantings, but our later plantings might escape serious infestation. Delicious corn…the heat must have helped.
* Tomatoes: you will see lots and lots of red soon.
* Peppers: you will see lots and lots of green (and other colors)…not really soon, but soon.
* Melons: I predict the heat will make them extra sweet.
* Onions: they’ll be on the small side. Even two inches of irrigation a week was not enough for them to fill out properly. Still, there will be lots of delicious onions.

The Crew this Week

I’ve never seen a crew work as diligently as this year’s crew; they take on the enormous work like it’s sport. I’ll elaborate more in a future Farm News on how we get the work done and whom the stellar people are who do it. (Maybe growing manager Chris Voss will do a guest column on this remarkable triumph of the season.)

Farmer John

Please Note: this summary is written before you receive your box—please be aware that some guesswork is involved. As always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables.

Brassicas – maybe a small cabbage
Fruiting Crops – several zucchini and cucumbers, eggplant, sweet corn, and maybe an Asian melon
Cooking Greens – bunched kale
Alliums – sweet onions
Salad Greens – lettuce
Root Crops – beets, carrots
Herbs –anise

sweet corn

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  • Sara

    Thank you a million times over for the wonderful vegetables. Each year you write early in the season that this just might be the best year ever and I think it’s wishful thinking. Spring is the time of hope when I believe everything I plant will grow and bear fruit. True to form my beans have all turned into crisp little brown sticks, but also true to form you keep on delivering on the promise! I can’t believe you have been able to produce such abundance in such a difficult year. It’s too bad that some shareholders are so out of touch that they find something to complain about. Kudos to you for your gracious response to their concerns.

  • Kristen Westman

    Oddly, we rather enjoy getting bugs in our boxes. My 5 year old has enjoyed the occasional inch-worm, which is promptly deposited in the yard. Today we unearthed an earworm. Part of my motivation for joining a CSA is so that our family could see what real organic farm produce looks like. We have learned that it is often smaller, not so uniform, blemished and perhaps a little buggy, but is much much much more flavorful. We love it, and we find it hard to enjoy the perfectly round, perfectly shiny, flavorless produce of the grocery store.

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