Farm Update August 25, 2014

From Ammie Chickering, Peacework Farm

All of the field tomatoes now have late blight except for "Defiant", which was bred to be late blight resistant. On Friday, we picked all of the green tomatoes that looked good from the 3 varieties that had shown some resistance to the blight. By today, blight spots were showing on several. We will continue to monitor them and throw out the ones showing blight. If there are enough left by this Thursday & Sunday, we will put them in your shares. Please use them quickly. If blight spots develop, cut them out. The rest of the tomato should be fine if it feels firm and smells fresh.

This week's shares:

Full Shares: choice of chard or kale (chard for Newark shares), potatoes, summer squash, basil, onions, cherry tomatoes, hopefully green tomatoes, possibly tomatillos or possibly a tomatillos/hot peppers/sweet peppers choice.

Partial Shares: choice of chard or kale (chard for Newark members), cucumber, carrots, onions, cherry tomatoes, hopefully green tomatoes.

Last year, late blight wiped out all of our tomatoes before we had any ripe fruit. This year, it's been interesting (very sad but interesting) to watch its progress. The two heirlooms we grew lots of because they've shown some resistance in the past (Ruth's Perfect and Striped German) only got us an extra week or two of ripe tomatoes before succumbing. The Striped Germans make huge fruits that are slow to mature so very few of them made it. What's fascinating is the Striped German plants still look healthy but all of the fruits have been blighted. The cherry tomatoes are mostly hanging in there in their hoop house. The blight is slowly spreading on the plants but the fruits still look very good. Closing the hoop house up at night seems to be helping. We'll keep picking them for your shares as long as they last.

We began harvesting the storage onions today. Most of the tops have fallen over and started to dry down in the field, which is our cue that they are ready. After pulling them, we lay them out on bread trays in the greenhouse to let the necks dry down completely. Then we put them in wooden crates and stack them in the barn with plenty of air space between the crates. The past few years, we have had terrible luck with "sour neck": a disease that infects one leaf of the onion top and rots the corresponding layer of flesh in the onion. I read this past winter that if you purchase onion sets, you shouldn't grow them anywhere near the onions you start yourself from seeds because of possible disease contamination. We have always purchased some onion sets to get really early onions and scallions but we've always planted them in the same "allium block" with the onions, leeks, and scallions we start from seeds. For a proper crop rotation, you need to have 8 years between allium crops (which also includes garlic) on any piece of ground. To put another separate block in an 8-year rotation just to do onion sets seemed ridiculous so this year, we bought no sets and pushed to get our seedlings in the ground as early as we could. So far, we are really pleased with the quality: very little disease compared with past years.

We were delighted by a visit from Nathan Klassen yesterday and today. Nathan's family joined the CSA in the early days of Peacework Farm and Nathan began volunteering his help at the age of 12. He is now in his 4th year of running his own farm, Nith Valley Organics, in Plattsville, Ontario, Canada. He came down for the field days at Bejo Seeds in Geneva this week and to visit old friends. It's always wonderful to see Nathan and share ideas, techniques and vegetable varieties. It was also inspiring for Greg Hartt and Abe Johnson to talk to another young, enthusiastic farmer at the beginning of his career.

A couple of thank yous from this past week: our members from the Little Flower community in Rochester came with extra people on Sunday. We were able to make good progress on the weeds, especially in the winter squash in the Fairville Field. After a productive morning, we had a terrifiic lunch. Paula Vargas (who is passionate about feeding her farmers, which we truly appreciate) brought a huge spread of breads, cheeses and sandwich meats. She also brought her veggie chopper from home and made a delicious cabbage salad from Peacework veggies. New member Crystal Burris brought a luscious potato and veggie curry. Would we farmers could have napped after lunch! At least we were very well fueled to weed leeks for the afternoon.



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