Update from the Garden

First off, this is week 13 of 18 to help you follow along. That means 5 more weeks of CSA, with our final pick up on October 10th.

You have to agree that the tomatoes are fully in season! Our cherry tomato plants are weighted in loads and loads of gorgeous gems and because of this, everyone gets 2 containers of them this week. I think I harvested 130 containers this week so far! The larger tomatoes just didn’t perform for us this year. I think they got majorly set back during the drought times and they didn’t seem to benefit enough from our drip irrigation. The cherry tomatoes made an impressive come back though.

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Hot pepper mix – we will have more next week too!

This past week, I finally finished turning in my 2nd new plot of the year – which will be used for planting squash next season. For now I will leave the grasses turned over and allow them to decompose slightly before I do a harrow or rototill… followed by bed shaping. My plan is to prepare all the squash beds this fall for planting next May 24th. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m in constant pursuit of ways to spread my work over the year and to “get ahead” for the coming season.

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Lettuces coming along nicely for the final weeks of CSA.

I also spent some time this week starting to harvest squashes. All the kuri, delicata and spaghetti are looking great. Our pie pumpkins too. Acorn are good and the mini-blue hubbards turned out well. We have very few butternut this year but I will be able to confirm that once I get to harvesting them – though they tend to mature a little later than the others.

This week’s tip: blanche and freeze
Some things can be easily blanched (boiled briefly and flash cooled) and then put away in bags or yogourt containers and into the freezer for the winter. Beets and carrots can be done this way. Kale can too. If you feel like you want to squirrel away a few things – you can google the procedure. If you have too many cherry tomatoes – give them a rinse, dry and throw them in a zip lock for a pasta over winter.

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Pretty cabbages – one of the choice items this week.

This week’s share
1 box New Potatoes (3 varieties)
1 bunch Carrots
1 bunch Beets
1 bunch Kale
2 boxes Cherry Tomatoes
1 box Grapes
4 Peppers
Hot Peppers – taken as needed
1 Choice Item (Eggplant, Beans, Shishito Peppers, Cucumbers, Kohlrabi, Cabbage)
Large ONLY: Take 2 extra items from the choice shelf

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Lush kale bunches as night temperatures cool.

Grapes
We do grow a few grapes for the family on the farm but these grapes this week came from Francie Hawkins – she has the farm on Highway 41, with the thousands of gladiolas growing out front. The grapes were actually grown by her husband, Harry Hawkins, whom many of you may know passed away about a month ago. If you knew Harry, you would know how great of a person he was and how many amazing hobbies and pastimes he enjoyed, including growing all kinds of things (often in large quantities!). Growing grapes was one of his many things and I hope you all enjoy them this week, in memory of this incredible person and mentor of mine.

This kind of grape is more tart than the typical grocery store grapes and they also have seeds. Fine for snacking if that’s your thing – cave people were fine with seeds – but here is an awesome grape syrup my mom made this week to put on top of ice cream or yogourt, etc.

Grape Syrup
Remove your grapes from the stem and place them in a pot with enough water so it doesn’t burn (possibly 1/4 cup). Bring to a boil and cover and simmer about 15 minutes until all grapes have released their juice. Strain the grapes using a sieve and a wooden spoon or perhaps some cheese cloth. Put your hot grape juice back in the pot and sweeten ideally with sugar but you can try other sweeteners. The recipe we have says 3/4 cup sugar for 1 cup juice but we used less. Boil for another 10 minutes or so until it’s syrupy. Be careful not to boil too long or it will turn to jelly. Will store in the fridge for 2 weeks.

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