Hot and humid-but it rained!
A note on the cucumbers: Some of you have probably encountered some of our bitter cucumbers. The heat has worn the plants out. The tired plants send tiny packets of bitterness into the stem end of the cucumber fruit. Some of our varieties of cucumbers are more susceptible to this problem than others. Unfortunately, the bitter plants are the most productive. Last September, William and I enjoyed the amazing earthy taste of the Emperor Alexander cukes. A small number of plants (12!) dumped buckets of sweet cucumbers in that steady, pleasant weather. Now, that same type of plant is producing some of the bitter culprits. Good news, the dark green Straight 8’s, bright white mini cukes, and Little Leaf (mini cukes) are all delicious. Bad news, those varieties make up only 25% of the plants we have in the garden. AND…because of the weather and the fertility issues (overall stress) all of the plants have very little fruit. Those 12 plants last fall would have kept the boxes full of cukes, this summer we have over 150 plants and they aren’t producing properly!!!
Other plant also have trouble when the temperatures get about 90 degrees. Tomatoes and peppers have trouble turning flowers into fruit- (We have 10 tomato plants for every CSA member and over 10 pepper plants for every CSA member!). Frustrating, but can’t complain about the soaring temperatures and dry, crispy weather too much, right? Complaining about it doesn’t get me very far when there is still work to do!
One of the great parts of a diversified vegetable farm is that even when some crops are struggling, others are doing alright. I am absolutely in love with the cherry tomatoes plants. Even if it is more labor to pick them, they are worth it! You can taste summer as you eat the sweet juiciness of the Sungold’s and Black Cherry’s. Their colors of shining gold brilliance and deep earthy red fire beckon me as I pick them from the shimmering tomato vines. Those colors, combined with their productiveness, make me feel at peace in the garden. This is the rhythm I want to see in mid-summer.
On Monday the rain came! I was harvesting tomatoes when the first cool drops fell. I picked the cherry tomatoes faster, making sure I picked any fruit that might swell and burst from absorbing the potential downpours. William cruised through the large heirloom tomatoes, plucking plump globes from the vines. I felt like I should burst into song and pop out into a Bollywood movie set in the middle of a long awaited monsoon. Oh the joy of being soaked by gentle rains after over a month with crispy, dusty soil. We would like to request a little more rain like that, once a week would be perfect.
The rain will also provide a much needed boost to our cover crops. These are non-vegetable crops preceding and following the vegetables. They perform a myriad of tasks in the garden from suppressing weeds to attracting beneficial insects to building soil. We have planted to buckwheat, cowpeas, and millet in areas where spring crops have been removed (they are all food crops, but we are going to till them back into the soil for organic matter).
Our second succession of “green” beans has stated to produce! This week you will find a colorful mix of yellow, green and some purple beans in your box.
A simple, delicious recipe for them is:
Green beans sautéed with lemon
Lemon juice-2-3 tablespoons
Parmesan cheese-2-3 tablespoons
Wash beans. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Cook beans until they are hot through (the fresh beans don’t need much cooking, only heating). When the beans are hot add 2-3 cloves of crushed or finely diced garlic. Add lemon juice to taste (about 2-3 tablespoons). Stir until flavors are blended. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Stir in cheese. Serve as a side with just about anything.
Week 9 box
Potatoes (try rosemary roasted potatoes with the bean recipe above)
Swiss chard (for those of you who did not receive it last week)
Squash and Zucchini