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On the verge

Aug. 12th, 2009 | 08:53 pm

All the summer crops are on the verge of ripening for us.  We are just waiting (like harvesting all the onions while we are waiting).  It is an interesting time in the maturity of the toms, melons, corn.  We are curious how long it will take for the hundreds of green tomatoes to start blushing.  They are getting a lighter green, and a hint of pink is below the skin on some.  Tried a watermelon last Sunday and it needed more time, but I think it is close.  The seeds were just turning from white to brown before getting their coating.  The insides were sweet, but needed more color and a bit more sugar.  The corn is filled out, but the kernels haven't turned color yet.  The peppers are beginning to get loaded, but they are still green green green.  We are thinking everything will begin to pop on Saturday.  If only it would happen Thursday night, then we could start the real harvest for market and for the Garlic Festival being held in Hutchinson on Saturday.

With 5 inches of rain last weekend (yes, the drought has broken!!) and 90 degree temps now, we are being reminded of what summer really feels like.  And also realizing that our long days are just beginning.  Now it will be a race of the calendar and the first frost.  If we have an early frost, we may have only a few weeks of tomato sales.  Even now, we are around three weeks behind on the tomatoes (even the tomatoes in our hoophouse were 3 weeks late!)  and sales at market have reflected that absence.  This is when the benefits of being primarily a CSA farmer really shines through.  If we were solely wholesale/farmers market farmer, a large chunk of our income would be reliant on the tomato sales that should have been coming in the last three weeks.  We would be financially hurting and very worried.  But with the CSA model, we have flexibility in what we give people since it is seasonal eating.  Sure technically this is the season that tomatoes are ripe, but with the 3rd coldest July on record this year, our season isn't quite ready to give us tomatoes.  Certainly our members may be disappointed (along with us) but we make it up by having really nice salad mixes, broccoli, potatoes, cukes, beans and other crops that are doing well in this weather, and finally in another week or so, we all will experience the tomato deluge.  Just another reminder why the CSA model is such a sustainable business model for small-scale organic vegetable farmers.  When some crops are late or paltry, many others are abundant and everyone is happy (we hope).  

Sometimes those crops are too abundant.  It's not a bad problem to have, but we've been picking cucumbers twice and three times a week and can't keep up.  Nearly 600 pounds of cukes per week off of around 600 feet of cukes.  We are all very tired of picking cucumbers.  They are starting to peter out, so we may get a break before the 2nd planting comes in.  In the meantime, anyone have any good cuke recipes?  We've done refrigerator pickles, cuke salsa, cuke salads with onion, tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic, and now juicing them.  Chilled cucumber soup is also on my list.  Cucumber mint popsicles maybe?       

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