Monday, July 1, 2013

Update from the Field

The growing season is a continuum of changes in the cycle of the seasons. However, there are moments that feel more like a significant turning point. Of course, the summer solstice is one, which just recently passed. The longest day of the year marks the true beginning of summer, and a change in the harvest reflects that.
The cool weather crops of the spring are either finished, or just trailing off, and the warm weather crops of the summer are either just coming in, or are right around the corner. You may have noticed that as mustard greens were phased out of the share, they were becoming more and more spicy. The same was true for radishes and turnips. The collards and kale are still going strong, but they too thrive in the cooler weather, and they are beginning to show signs of stress with tougher leaves and more insect damage. The tat soi and bok choi are extremely sensitive to the hot weather and were one of the first spring crops to finish. The broccoli and fennel are also on their way out. As the fennel gets stressed it sends up a woody center stem, and when the broccoli gets stressed the crown becomes less even as some of the “branches” shoot up taller than the others. The peas are also finished for the spring.
Most of these crops will be replanted in the late summer for a fall harvest, when the weather is more to their liking again. In Philadelphia, we are lucky to have this long growing season that enables us to have both a spring crop and a fall crop of similar, cool weather vegetables. Up in Vermont, where I grew up, the growing season is just too short for that, and many of the vegetables listed above can only be planted once before the winter sets in and the snow falls.
In the share we’ve recently seen the introduction of summer squash and cucumbers, two cousins that are heat loving plants that grow very quickly. In July the beloved tomatoes should be ready (now we have plenty of big green globes hanging on the plants). After that, eggplant and peppers are around the corner. Coming up in the You-Pick section, you will soon see cherry tomatoes, basil and then beans. The ground cherries and tomatillos are getting plump and will be available for you to pick soon as well.
There is a particular pairing that is present in the field right now that I encourage you all to take advantage of: cucumbers and dill. Need I say more?

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