Preserving the Harvest

Nothing like a new baby to make a few months disappear. We welcomed Malakai Wolf to the world on August 5 and it has been quite a ride adjusting to being new parents! And suddenly it’s here, the first few days of October, the Jewish holidays, the rain, the chill and the FALL!

 

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Peak Summer Harvests & Baby Rosenstein

Here we are at peak summer and all that early season work should finally be paying off. All those fruiting plants: the tomatoes and cucumbers, zucchinis and eggplants, peppers and summer squash are all ripening on the vines. The onions, garlic, shallots as well as beets have matured and can be used now. The basil and other summer herbs are still going. Now is the time to be creative in the kitchen and, if you can stand the heat, get your Farm To Table cook on.

Unfortunately, this is also the season of fungal diseases, summer pests and extreme heat- so it can be easy to get distracted worrying about your plants survival. Indeed, the game now is to see how long you can keep some of these annual plants alive and yielding before they succumb to their eventual seasonal demise and make way for the rich hearty flavors of fall.

Truth be told, one of the real skills of a grower is getting the timing right. Many of our favorite fall crops must be planted around mid-August if they are to yield before winter conditions arrive, but often those precious summer crops are still occupying garden space long past that window.

What to do? Well, the first thing is make sure to have a garden plan to serve as a roadmap and guide planting decisions over the course of the season. Edible Eden offers garden plans for any size garden that will help maximize your space over the course of the season.

If you don’t have a plan in place; consider interplanting some fall crops in and amongst your yielding plants over the next few weeks so that when they do go down your kales and cabbages will rise to the occasion and fill their space.

Here at 2601 Taney, we are thinking a lot about timing as we continue our extended baby watch. Teri was at 40 weeks a week ago and now we are trying to go about our lives knowing that at any minute labor will begin and we will need to step away from whatever we were doing and head to the hospital.

It’s a good thing we have plenty of beautiful produce to munch while we are waiting!

Stay posted for news of the soon-to-arrive baby Rosenstein and enjoy that summer produce while it’s here.

Farmer Josh

Potatoes from the Earth with Love

I love growing potatoes! Maybe more then any other crop- digging up glowing gems from out of the soil that translate into real, belly filling food feels like magic. This year we planted three different kinds of potatoes and the Red Norlands rewarded us with this message from below...

Potatoes can be harvested starting in early July- and many farmers will start digging them early for market considerations. The best for home growers however is to wait until the plant starts to die in mid-late summer and then dig up its nest of starchy treasures. If you dig them before the plant starts to die you might be missing some additional tuber set.

Different varieties of potatoes have shorter and longer growing seasons so best to plant a few different varieties and have a long harvest window.

While theoretically any piece of potato with eyes planted in the early spring can generate a plant and create more tubers- supermarket potatoes are often treated with a chemical that inhibits sprouting and not the best idea for growing your own. Seed potatoes are available from most seed suppliers. I splurge on Maine Potato Lady as they have great organic varieties and you can get smaller and larger amounts of different kinds. Not cheap however!

In any case- the heart shaped potato played a starring role in this morning's garden produce hash served with fried eggs and feta.

Hot and Wet

When was the last time you watered your garden...? Oh, you say, not since May? That may be because it has been raining pretty consistently all summer long. While I have certainly enjoyed the might and glory of our Mid Atlantic thunder storms, and it's nice to never worry about watering... the ramifications for gardening are not so great.

You might have noticed most tomato plants wearing some forlorn yellow to brown leaves around their base- those are signs of Early Blight or Septoria, fungal diseases that get worse when the plants never get to fully dry out.

I've also seen different kinds of fungal diseases on everything from bush cherries and Monarda to Columbines and Lilac bushes. Earlier this season a fungal pepper disease came through that wreaked havoc with farmers. I heard of one well-known local organic farmer who lost their entire crop of specialty hot peppers they had been growing for a local restaurant. And hot peppers are really hard to kill! They never seem to suffer the way sweet peppers do...

I've also noticed mosaic virus and downy mildew on cucumber and squash plants- these fungal diseases usually take down your squash and cukes...but not until the end of the season. With so much rain they seem to be moving faster and earlier then usual.

All this to say, every season is different, sometimes it's dry and if your irrigation system is weak or faulty you start loosing plants. Some seasons it rains every day and while we never need to worry about watering...everything dies from a fungal disease.

Here are some things to consider:

-First of all, if you have an automatic irrigation system- make sure it is not adding insult to injury by watering when all your plants want is a chance to dry out.

-It's a good idea to remove the small branches and leaves around the bases of your tomato plants to create more airflow.

-Mulching with straw could help keep fungal spores from bouncing up from the soil to the lower leaves of plants.

-If you are only seeing the beginning of fungal disease on your plants you might consider spraying some Actinovate or another organic fungicide to try to beat back the progress of the disease.

Regardless, let's enjoy the moisture and warmth while it is here and hope for a crisp fall that is just a little bit dryer...

-- Josh Rosenstein 443.547.9268 www.EdibleEdenFoodscape http://www.EdibleEdenFoodscapes.coms.com http://www.EdibleEdenFoodscapes.com