Here at Shilofarm the most frantically busy time is about oh say 75% over – that is the time when all the long (warm) season crops are in the ground, beds that are fallow are prepared, and about 200 acres of weeds and grass (and moles, voles, deer and birds) are managed as best as possible. Every year is the same, and every year is different. What is the same is that if you plant things in April they wait till May to grow. So, all those April plants are finally kicking into gear. The two crops that for some peculiar reason have a special spot for this are Potatoes and Tomatoes. The weird event of 2023 was a really freak frost the first week of June! How on earth it could frost after having been in the mid 90’s… well “shows to go ya.” So, those early new potatoes had a minor set back!
The biggest shock though was the big drop in membership. While it is extremely easy to develop theories about the fact, the fact remains. The big consequence is that seeds such as potatoes are ordered before the membership count is known. Interesting but not helpful, the seed suppliers are frantically beating down the email gates with great deals on seeds. The general assumption is that people are sick and tired of being stuck at home, and are going to get out and about. That means signing up for 20 weeks of veggies you like while you are gone for six of those weeks – no brain required to solve that problem.
At least three folks have wished they could have “some of your Tomatoes, those the the best Tomatoes I have ever had” or the equivalent. The best option that solves the problem of wasted capacity of big ticket items (Tomatoes, Winter Squash, Fruit – Figs for example) is to offer two options for folks.
- Get on the “What’s available” email list for Bonus Boxes. This year has literally three times the best year ever of Bean plants – literally 6 75′ rows. If you would love some large quantity of green beans to freeze or gorge on, that would be a bonus box. No, you don’t have to be a member, you just pay attention to the FB group or the email list for Bonus Boxes.
- Subscribe to a on-demand box list. There are a couple of ways that can work: if your travel schedule says “I am going to be gone all of June” then you sign up for the weeks you want. Note that this is a mix of what is available that week. If you subscribe, then the quick crops like Lettuces can be planted to match capacity. The idea is that Subscribing is farm call only, there is a bit of a premium, that is what the normal delivery charge would be.
It has also become clear that Saturday is family day for lots of folks. It looks like a “Farm Call” after work on Tuesdays say from 3-6PM would be helpful, although Monday or Tuesday bounce around as good ideas. If you are a subscriber or a bonus box person you have a vote on this.
While it sounds threatening and a problem to have the CSA size drop so dramatically, there is a distinct benefit. The garden has been letting about half the main bed area lie fallow; this change allows reversing the garden and exploiting the time to rebuild depleted beds. In an ideal universe, there will be enough time to also do some facility upgrade. Tillering of weeds into the beds has become a major labor problem, so hard edges can be put in with this time. It is also obvious that additional material needs to be brought in to some of the ‘shrinking’ beds.
Generally, these are the types of items that will be in bonus boxes:
- Tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes.
- Beans. Green beans of 6 different variates.
- Winter Squash: Candy roaster and a host of buddies. Lots of winter squash to store and keep.
- Fruit: (Figs: – there are a LOT of figs, Apples, Boysenberries, possibly raspberries though members will have first shot; Peaches, maybe.)
- Potatoes: Some of the Russet types are ‘keepers.’ There are also some interesting new varieties.
- Corn: lots of corn up already.
- Summer Squash: (Just kidding – we will have it, but very few people want extra!)
- Flowers: If you should happen to need arranged flowers, well, we have a lot of cut flowers this year.
- Watermelon: Vine ripe is wonderful.
The warm season crops probably start showing up in July. There is a “new tomato” watch going on, as well as “new potato.”
That seems to be the most important stuff – hope you have a wonderful summer!