West Hartford CSA – Week 11August 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Thanks to modern plant breeding and fossil fuel powered shipping, grocery stores can sell tasteless tomatoes well into winter, making it almost easy to take them for granted. You, with a leap of faith into the CSA model, have lately found yourselves surrounded by the rich flavors and colors of peak summer tomatoes. Insodoing, you have also brought yourselves closer to the natural cycles of our region, of the land and of plant disease cycles.
About a month ago, I sounded the warning alarm that we may get a devestating tomato disease called Late Blight and now, after these bountiful weeks of tomatoes, we have indeed found the disease in our field. Within a few days of diagnosis, growers like us who are not using fungicides can generally expect all tomato plants to die. We swept into quick action, spending all day Tuesday harvesting the green and lightly colored tomatoes off the vines. We then destroyed all of the plants in order to reduce the proliferation of late blight spores. The sooner a blighted crop is destroyed, the less innoculum is present to spread to other farms, gardens and, in our case, to our high tunnerl where we still have healthy tomato plants.
What does all of this mean for CSA tomatoes? We have plenty for this week’s pick-up from the ripe fruits we harvested on Monday. We also expect to have tomatoes next week from the batch of blushing ones we harvested before destroying the plants. Our high tunnel plants are still healthy so hopefully we will continue to get a trickle of tomatoes from there as well. The fruits that we are distributing to share members have not themselves been infected with late blight and are thus still of the utmost quality.
In times like these, I often spend a split second wishing I was a different type of farmer, one who controlled the crop more heavily with sprays. And then I remember how rich a life it is to live closely with the tides of the farming season and to learn humility in the face of biological realities like late blight. I remember how good it feels to guarantee to each one of you that no dangerous chemicals have come anywhere near your food, to know that the belly of each child I’ve seen at CSA pick-ups is full of vitamin-rich, chemical-free food. I feel grateful and savor each bite of the all-elusive, supremely flavorful summer tomato.
Watermelon This variety is called Sugar Baby. It is incredibly sweet and juicy and fresh!
Slicing Tomatoes This week we decided to mix the different colors of slicing tomatoes rather than delivering them as separate items. We figured it would make the weighing at pickup go faster and, now that most people have tried the different kinds of tomatoes, you can take your pick of favorites. We know it is quite a load of tomatoes over the fast couple of weeks and we hope you’ve been able to use or freeze everything!
Paste Tomatoes We grow San Marzanos as well as a variety of other fun paste tomatoes. Don’t forget, slicers make great sauce and paste tomatoes make great slices, they are just a little different from one another. Generally speaking, paste tomatoes aren’t quite as juicy as slicers.
Basil More aroma for the kitchen.
Summer Savory The Bulgarian table is generally set with salt, paprika and savory. The best adjective I can use for the herb is, in fact, savory and it is a fantastically flavorful herb for meats or vegetables.
Green Peppers A few more peppers for summer salads and stir-fries.
Red Peppers A few of our peppers have matured to a sweet red!
Leeks Potato leek soup is delicious but summer leeks are also fantastic in many other dishes. Try caramalizing them (and I mean really cooking them for a looong time) and topping pizza or foccacia with them. They are a creamy, mild alternative to onions in almost any dish.
Summer Squash They keep on coming!
Green Cucumbers More cukes!
Tomatillos If you’ve ever had green salsa (salsa verde) then you’ve had tomatillos. Try mixing them with tomatoes for a salsa or frying them up.
Eggplant Our eggplant patch has suffered from flea beatle, leaf hopper and a bit of deer damage this season so the crop isn’t super plentiful. Only large shares are getting eggplant this week.