Farm Update October 22, 2016

It has been so warm lately, but we’re not complaining. The lingering end of the warm temperatures is allowing our summer crops to keep producing.

We gambled with some late season slicer tomatoes and it looks like the fates will allow us to harvest some tasty large tomatoes. The vines are loaded with green ones that are just starting to turn, so we’ll happily take the hot weather as long as it lasts.

The warm temperatures are also hastening the ripening of the butternut squash. We have three beds that were planted a week or two apart. The butternuts from the earliest planting are almost ready to pick; the skin is turning from green to tan and is hardening. In the latest bed, the squash are still medium-sized and green. If we don’t get a frost for another month, we will have a much larger harvest of the butternut.

The sweet potatoes that we harvested last week are curing in the pumphouse in high humidity and relatively high temperatures. We had a heater going in the pumphouse most of last night and will run the heater all night tonight. We have some very tasty sweet potatoes on the way!

We are still signing up CSA shareholders. If you would like to sign up for the next season, we will continue taking payments/reservations for our 16-week fall/winter CSA share program, deliveries for which will begin the middle of November and run through the middle of March 2017. Shares will cost $250 for 16 weekly deliveries.

We will have the forms at the markets this weekend, and they are also available on our website, here.

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the butternut squash are almost ready to pick !
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our late-season slicing tomatoes are also almost ready to pick

Farm Update October 15, 2016

We had a 42°F low temperature this morning and a high of 85° yesterday – a 45 degree diurnal temperature difference. It is definitely fall in southeast Arizona.

Today we are harvesting the sweet potatoes. They have been growing since May. The process involves first soaking the bed to soften up the soil (which we did yesterday), then clipping off all the vines at ground level (after this week, no more sweet potato greens until next summer), then digging up the sweet potatoes. The potatoes have to be dug carefully because they are brittle. The skins are also fragile, so they have to be handled pretty gently to avoid damage. We will then brush off the soil and put them in crates for curing.

The curing process optimally occurs at 85 to 90°F and at 90% relative humidity for 5 to 10 days. This heals the cuts and abrasions plus it initiates the creation of the enzymes that sweeten the potatoes. After the initial warm period of the curing process, the potatoes are then stored at about 60° for another six weeks or so which further develops the sugars.

We will have the uncured potatoes for sale in the market. These taste fine and can be used for cooking, but for the sweetest potatoes we will have to wait another couple of months.

We are still signing up CSA shareholders. If you would like to sign up for the next season, we will continue taking payments/reservations for our 16-week fall/winter CSA share program, deliveries for which will begin the middle of November and run through the middle of March 2017. Shares will cost $250 for 16 weekly deliveries.

We will have the forms at the markets this weekend, and they are also available on our website, here.

We’ll see you at the markets!

the sweet potato bed
the sweet potato bed

Farm Update October 8, 2016

We are transitioning to our fall crops, planting apace all kinds of roots (turnips, radishes, beets, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots), cole crops(broccoli, cauliflower) and, of course, greens such as arugula, mizuna, tatsoi, various mustards, spinach, lettuces, kales and collard greens. None of these are ready yet; the first will be some of the greens, then the radishes and turnips. The last fall planting to be ready will be the parsnips in late January.

We will also soon be harvesting two popular fall vegetables that are planted in the summer: sweet potatoes and butternut squash. We will dig a few tens of pounds of sweet potatoes today and take them to the markets this weekend. They will be uncured, but still very good. The bulk of the sweet potato harvest will be cured in the coming weeks and then stored for our CSA and for the fall/winter markets.

We are still signing up CSA shareholders. If you would like to sign up for the next season, we will continue taking payments/reservations for our 16-week fall/winter CSA share program, deliveries for which will begin the middle of November and run through the middle of March 2017. Shares will cost $250 for 16 weekly deliveries.

We will have the forms at the markets this weekend and they are also available on our website, here.

Thank you for supporting organic, sustainable agriculture in southern Arizona.

Newly sprouted ARUGULA !
Newly sprouted ARUGULA !

Farm Update April 30, 2016

The sweet potato slips arrived! They came in a box in the regular mail. I put them into a cup of water as soon as I unpacked them. As you can see in the image, they aren’t much to look at, but they will quickly start to grow once they get in the ground. Sweet potato slips are pretty tough and will grow into fine plants even when they are in rough shape. We will prepare the bed by ripping it deeply and amending with peat and sulfur to help lower the pH of the bed, along with some very well-aged goat manure. The slips then will be planted about 18in apart in a bed that is between our two red potato beds so that when the regular potatoes are harvested, the sweet potato plants can spread out and have plenty of room to grow. The plants will spread out to cover an area 8 feet on either side of the bed. Then in about 4 months we will dig the bounty! This planting should yield a thousand pounds of sweet potatoes or more if the environmental factors cooperate.

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We are continuing the sign-up for the late spring/summer CSA share program. It will consist of 16 weeks of deliveries to the markets starting the third week. of May and continuing into September. The cost will be $250. We will have the signup forms at our farm stands and available online. Please let us know if you’d like to reserve a spot or if you have any friends/coworkers/neighbors who are interested.