Monday, July 29, 2013

How to Pick Cherry Tomatoes, Ground Cherries and Basil

Cherry tomatoes- our cherry tomatoes are located to two areas: in the large hoop house (plastic greenhouse) in the field, and in the you-pick section, near the flowers and herbs. We will be alternating pickings between these two areas to give each area time to recover from heavy picking. In the hoop house, all the cherry tomatoes are the same variety: Sun Gold. Pick these when they are dark orange. The row in the you-pick section in the field is half Sun Gold (the first half if you are coming from the main pathway), and half Sakura. Pick the Sakura’s when they are bright red. Gently pull the tomatoes from the vine. Avoid the cracked ones, they might be over ripe.
Ground Cherries- These are a peculiar vegetable, closely related to the tomato, but much sweeter. Ground cherries get their name from the fact that you can harvest them from the ground. They are ready when the outer husk (they are also known as husk cherries) is dry and light brown. Sometimes at this point they are still attached to the plant, but often they fall off the stem when they are ripe. You can pick the ones on the ground or the brown ones on the plant. The variety we are growing is called Goldie. Peel the outer husk back and enjoy!
Basil- we have four different kinds of basil, I encourage you to try them all. They are (in order from the main pathway): lemon basil, Thai basil, Purple basil and green basil (the traditional king). We recently planted a second planting of all green basil. In years past our basil has been cut short by a disease called Downy Mildew, so this year we are hoping a second planting will come in strong just as the first is dying down.  When harvesting basil, take a pair of pruners or clippers and cut the stem just above the intersection of the main stem and a side shoot. By leaving the side shoots you are leaving a viable growing point for the plant to regenerate. Try to make your cut as close to this intersection as possible as to avoid leaving a “stump,” which will only turn brown and die back.

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