Peregrine Farm News Vol. 7 #17, 6/30/10

What’s been going on?

Who would have ever thought we would be looking forward to July in hopes of escaping a heat wave? With the current forecast, the 4th Of July will be cooler than just about any day we had in June! We did finally get a little rain last night so at least for a day or so I won’t have to irrigate. We had really gotten into that daily routine of go out early, turn on the irrigation, change zones every three hours, check for leaks, back wash the filters, etc, etc. Maybe July will give us another completely different picture, it would follow with how this season had unfolded so far.

Just in time for the holiday weekend we are in nearly full tomato splendor. It took the guys all morning on Monday to pick their way through the plantings. So far it looks like this will be a fair tomato season, better than last year but not as good as some years past. We do have some fusarium wilt in this years field too, which is mostly effecting the yellow varieties, but it is not as bad or wide spread as last year. With the arrival of true tomato season also comes the sometimes overwhelming demand for Americans favorite fruit, especially from the restaurants that want to have a fresh tomato plate on the menu.

Over the years we have arrived at a careful balance of varieties and how much of each to grow, it is never enough and people always say “why don’t you grow more?” There are a number of reasons we can’t and don’t produce more tomatoes. The obvious one these days is because we have a really devastating foliar disease that will prematurely kill the plants (different from the soil borne fusarium wilt disease), we grow all our tomatoes under cover (the Big Tops and the little tunnels) to keep the leaves dry and slow the disease down. We only have so much field space under cover and don’t want to or have space to put up more Big Tops.

The real reason in my mind is that we have developed a careful balance on the farm of crops, inputs and labor that make this operation sustainable and our quality of life better. If we planted many more tomatoes it would throw that balance off. Tomatoes not only take up a lot of room but they take a lot of labor. We would spend so much time in managing the tomato crop that we wouldn’t be able to properly take care of the rest of the place. Too many eggs in a basket you know. So now we will just have to do the careful dance of trying to make sure everyone gets the tomatoes they want and hopefully not leave anyone lusting after forbidden fruit.

Picture of the Week

The tractor headed to the shop with a broken steering arm

What’s going to be at the market?

Lisianthus is here! Maybe Betsy’s favorite crop (Celosia is a close second), Lisianthus is one of the great cuts, lots of colors, and very long lasting. The Crested Celosia just gets bigger and better (crazy, felt like, “brain” flowers). Limited quantity of Zinnias and Sunflowers, but in firework type colors. Betsy’s beautiful bouquets. Plenty of yellow Asiatic (non-fragrant) and fragrant Oriental Lilies in white and pink.

Here is the tomato run down. In Reds there are plenty of early red- Ultrasweet and the first of the Big Beefs. A limited supply of Cherokee Purples and German Johnsons. In yellows and good supply of Orange Blossom and fair number of Kellogg’s Breakfast. Some very nice bi-colored, fruity Striped Germans. In green-when-ripe types the only one doing well is Green Cherokee. A fair amount of the Italian Oxheart sauce tomatoes and the first Roma’s. In cherry types there is a pretty good supply of Sungolds, with a few pints of Grape tomatoes and some new trial bi-colored Blush tiny roma shaped fruit.

Still some Summer Crisp lettuce, for maybe one more week, that crispy sweet cross between Romaine and Leaf lettuce that is hot weather tolerant, in green dappled with Red. A few more Cucumbers but they are slowing down. Some more Basil too. A few more our red onions even though they are very small this year, more like shallots. Probably the last of the aromatic, green fleshed Galia Melons a short and sweet season, the heat must have really moved them along. The first of the peppers! Jalapeno and Serrano. Padrone and Shishito. Purple Bells and lime green Cubanelles.

Hope to see you all at the market!

Alex and Betsy

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