This newsletter will be brief … we are getting dinner with our folks for a belated birthday meal, and couldn’t write in the car today – because we had to drive two cars back to the city, so that we could leave one to have the window repaired – a thief smashed a window and stole Kristin’s phone and Gabe’s backpack when we were in town to celebrate his birthday.
That was a hassle and a pain, but whatever. We had glass insurance coverage, that car window had stopped working anyway, and this will goad us into fixing it finally – and Kristin’s phone had a completely lousy battery life … silver linings, hooray, we’re GLAD it happened! OK not really, but it only made us crabby for a half hour or so. And when we got back to the Farm, we took nice relaxing salty hot tub baths.
Far worse has been the discovery that squash vine borers have sneakily invaded our beautiful & robust squash plants – despite our yellow buckets of water (which are supposed to catch some and alert a farmer to the little bastards’ presence). We never caught a single borer in the traps, but with the droughty heat, we noticed a frightening percentage of the squash looking more wilty and sad than they should be … and discovered the tell-tale “frass” at the base of their main stems. Grubs have been hatching and chewing into the stems, setting up camp within, where they suck away the plants’ vitality and grow fat and disgusting while the squash plants wither away – their huge, gorgeous squash fruits never ripening.
This is the worst of all pests we face. Almost unstoppable and almost always totally lethal. Organic control methods for squash vine borers include “do not plant squash” and “pray for a miracle.” Once they have already invaded your plants, you can try surgery. We knew it wasn’t likely to work, but we had to try – checking each plant for signs of invasion, slitting open the stems where the grubs were likely to be found, stabbing them and scraping them out with a wire, and then burying the grievous wound created with moist compost, in the hopes that all the grubs were eradicated (can be several per plant), and that the vine would heal and perhaps reroot above the wound, recovering enough to allow the huge young squashes to ripen before the frosts come.
This is grim work.
We still have about half of the squash left to do surgery on, when we get back to the Farm tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes. It sucks but it’s precisely this type of thing that we have to simply do what we can, and hope for the best – feeling crappy about it doesn’t accomplish anything other than making our experience of living less pleasant – so, que sera, sera. Life is great, and we hate squash vine borers, and that’s great too. :)
In other news, we did plenty of weeding, took out an old arugula bed to plant new radishes and spinach in, and a new WWOOFer arrived today – Sean from Milwaukee, with his beagle sidekick, Athena. He’s had some experience working on farms and he’s excited to be tenting out in the wild meadow back behind our trailer/home. We found a couple of delicious, huge Chicken of the Woods mushrooms and ate, shared, and froze pounds of them. Hopefully we find similar bounties closer to box distribution day (this was last Thursday), so that we can share future fungi!
Harvest today went nicely, with help from Sean, Florian, Amy, and our new CSA member, Elizabeth.
- Cucumbers – lemon, pickling, and slicing varieties. You can guess which ones are the lemons, right? They only look like lemons, though – still taste just like cukes.
- Zucchini – it can’t stop, it won’t stop. There are a lot of wonderful things to be done with this stuff, get creative and have fun!
- Salad Turnips with greens – These are the absurdly tasty turnips that you can munch on raw like an apple! Also, try a tender little turnip green raw, they are seriously delicious. And the big ones are great cooked of course.
- Sweet corn – eat it tonight if you can, they lose sweetness quickly!
- Parsley & Basil & Dill, oh my
- Cabbage – no, not another ‘giant Napa Cabbage challenge,’ just a nice modest regular cabbage, of the Early Jersey Wakefield variety.
- Broccoli – bagged with:
- Beans – mix of dragon tongue (the purple spotted guys) & green beans
- Okra – maybe. We had a handful which we randomized into the boxes.
- Pre-Adolescent Dinosaur Kale – older than baby kale, but definitely not full grown – young and not at all tough, perfect for salads or gentle cooking.
- A Mixed Bag of Early Summer Stuff:
- Peppers – assortment of Czech black, jalepeno, & green peppers. Plus one of you got a mysterious big reddish one that I can’t figure out just now.
- Eggplant or tomato – only a little of each are ripe enough yet, so we randomized it into the boxes …
- Tomatillos – great in salsa, or nibbled fresh
PS – I just remembered that weeks ago I told you that the peas were stringless. I thought they were; yet they weren’t. But the strings were pretty slender and tender, so hopefully no one noticed my big fat lie!