Every year we plant over 100 different varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs and even some flowers. Basically we know that with farming you do not want to put all of our eggs in one basket (pun intended) and we plant successions of everything. If we did not plant successions of things and just planted one planting of squash or melons or watermelon or lettuce or basically most things you can think of, all of the things I just listed would already be done for the whole season. Entire successions of lettuce will bolt in the heat in the matter of a day but we know we have more because we plant head lettuce every week to try to keep a somewhat steady supply of it. When problems arise with one crop or another we do all we can to fix it within the limits of organic standards. Sometimes we loose an entire crop and none of you have a clue because, let’s be honest, would you be asking me what happened to the kohlrabi if we didn’t have it all summer?
And so this brings me to the challenges we have been having with our tomatoes and our efforts to try to bring them back to life. As you have probably noticed we have not been seeing the tomato yields or quality that we like to have. We have been perplexed as to why our tomatoes have been either not ripe at all or squishy and why the same number of plants that we harvested 20 or so trays from one week gave us about 2 trays the next week. These are big problems on the farm. We know that everyone (with the exception of Kevin’s father who strangely does not like them) is looking forward to that one summer crop, fresh red juicy tomatoes. We look forward to it too.
Our journey towards ripe tomatoes begins in April with tiny seedlings germinated on heat mats. They are then moved into pots so we can grow huge healthy plants which are then planted outside and in the ground of a greenhouse as well. Then we stake them and string them up, hours and hours of clipping tomato vines to strings to hold them up. We begin to see yellow flowers everywhere and then slowly green round tomatoes emerge and we know it will not be long until we are eating delicious tomatoes. This is how things should go and right up to the abundance of delicious tomato eating that is exactly what we did this year. There are many things that have been affecting the tomatoes. We saw some tomato horn worms that came in and ate some of the plants. This set back some of the plants as they lost flowers that had bloomed that would turn into fruits. Since we do not spray things on the farm we went through and looked for these worms and killed them by hand. We believe that another factor with the tomatoes is a calcium deficiency. Just like you and I, plants need all the necessary nutrients to thrive. We are giving the tomatoes some calcium through their irrigation lines and hoping this will help perk them up as well.
So while we are trying to address these challenges we have to also keep on focusing on the other 99 or so different crops out in the fields in order to be sure we can bring a diversity of crops to your kitchens. Please bear with us and try not to get too sick of melons as we are about to give you a LOT of those.
Margaret and Kevin
Tex-Mex Summer Squash Casserole – Submitted by farm member Carol Cohen
Chiles and cheese turn mild summer squash into a zesty, satisfying casserole. The jalapenos make this dish quite hot; if you prefer a milder version, use a second can of diced green chiles instead.
- 2 1/4 pounds summer squash, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 10 cups)
- 2/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
- 1 4-1/2-ounce can chopped jalapenos, (about 1/2 cup), drained
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 2 1/4 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, (about 7 ounces), divided
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup mild salsa
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Combine squash, onion, chiles, jalapenos, salt and 3/4 cup cheese in a large bowl. Sprinkle with flour; toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish and cover with foil.
- Bake the casserole until it is bubbling and the squash is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Spoon salsa over the casserole and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese. Bake, uncovered, until golden and heated through, 20 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and red onion.
Have a recipe you want to share with the rest of the farm members? Email it to me at email@example.com