Provider Farm

From our fields, for your family


July 25, 2015

This Week's Share

The sweet peppers are coming in this week. Cubanelles are long and light green frying peppers. They are absolutely delicious fried up with our sweet white onions. We'll also have the first of our bells, Islanders are purple and Flavourburst are lime green. The pepper crop is looking pretty darned good this year, especially with a very timely weed cultivation from Max. I see lots of reds and yellows in our future if things continue down this path.

The cukes are starting to peter out, so no more bulk cucumbers will be available. We are absolutely thrilled that the next planting currently looks really great (first time in 4 years!), so we should have more going into August for the share if the downy mildew stays away.

Speaking of downy mildew, there is an alert now out in CT for downy mildew in Basil. This disease can whip through and do in a crop in no time flat, so everybody, get your basil fix now because there is no telling when it will come to an end.

Typical of deep summer, we are about to enter a little bit of a lettuce hole. Lettuce is not a fan of summertime. A typical New Englander, lettuce likes temperate temperatures, and its favorite seasons are spring and fall. On top of that, remember that week of rain we got about a month ago? Well, it rotted out about half of our lettuce planting we should have been harvesting this week. We will not be out of lettuce for long however,  as our summer lettuce planting is looking stellar and we should be back into lettuce in about a week.

The big news of the week is that our tomatoes are coming on strong in the high tunnel. Since this July has been cool (for July), they were a little slow to get the show on the road, but now that they're cruising, they actually are quite productive. Enough for a couple salads and sandwiches and to tide us over until the field tomatoes flood us in their deliciousness.

Recipe of the Week: 

Eggplant tomato stir-fry


1-2 Asian eggplants
1 onion
2-3 tomatoes
soy sauce
rice wine vinegar
sesame oil
2 tbs olive oil
a couple cloves of garlic


Chop onions and garlic. Slice eggplants into thin rounds and chop onions into small cubes. Heat oil in a pan or wok. Add onions and garlic and cook stirring until translucent. Add tomatoes and cook until soft. Add eggplants and cook until tender. Season with vinegar and soy sauce. Turn heat off and add sesame oil. Serve over rice.

Kerry's coworker at Brookfield used to make it for breakfast

It can't always be rainbows and sunshine

I only have eyes for you tomatoes!
I only have eyes for you tomatoes!

Dear Friends,

There’s no denying it now, summer is here in full force. The tomatoes ripening on the vine have made a most welcome addition to the share this past week, and it looks like there’s gonna be more on the way. The eggplant showed up a few weeks ago and now it looks like the sweet peppers are going to join in on the fun. We’ve fully moved on from our spring crops and are enjoying the best of what summer has to offer. This has been by far the most comfortable July I can ever remember in terms of temperature. While we’ve had a stray really hot day here and there by and large conditions have been temperate, and even down right chilly some nights. So far this doesn’t seem to be affecting things on the farm too negatively but we can never be so sure with all the variables out there. Often times events will occur and we won’t quite grasp their full effect until weeks and sometimes even months later.

Following along with our weekly newsletters and checking in with our Facebook or instagram page, you might get the impression that things are all sunshine and rainbows on the farm this season. While there are a lot of areas of the farm that are looking great, we do have to acknowledge the inevitable reality that everything isn’t perfect. Some years some things do better than others and this year looks like it’s going to be no different. We’re not talking total failures here, just areas that aren’t quite up to our lofty ambitions of consistent excellence. Rolling with these inevitable set backs and not getting too down about things is a constant challenge we face as farmers. We tend to feel the failures on the farm as personal failures even when it’s less than clear we could have actually done anything to prevent whatever the problem may be.

This year’s winter squash would certainly fit into the ‘less than great’ category this year. We planted over an acre of squash this season due to it’s popularity in the share over the past years. We especially tried to grow more of the  spaghetti variety as that seems to be a particular favorite that we never have enough of. From the moment the squash began germinating in the field, things haven’t seemed quite right. While the issue seems to be possibly more related to nutrient deficiency than pest or disease pressure, we have had no luck cracking the nut of what’s wrong. We’ve tried side dressing with organic fertilizer and even took a foliar sample to UConn for analysis. At this point it just seems like it’s going to be what it is. While our winter squash probably won’t be breaking any record this season, we are hopeful that we will still get a crop out of there. Farming always offers us new puzzles to puzzle.

Another thing that hasn’t gone quite as planned has been our early carrots. The carrots this year are as sweet and crispy as they have ever been but it’s hard to deny the fact that so far they’e been a wee bit dinky. While not a huge issue, this is the kind of thing we lose sleep over. Unlike the mystery that is this year’s Winter Squash the cause of the dinky carrots is clear and undeniable. Unfortunately, the blame for the small carrots rests squarely on my shoulders, or rather the shoulders of fancy new electric tractor.

As you may remember we have converted our gas engine Allis-Chalmers G tractor to electric this past season. For the most part we have been really happy with the new tractor but the electric motor has had some unexpected side effects. Mainly, I am able to go much, much slower. This is very helpful as when I am seeding with the tractor, I am able to watch the seed going into the ground and can make sure the hoppers don’t clog. However, going slower caused the carrots to be seeded far thicker than in the past. While we did our best to thin the rows, we apparently did not get them thin enough. When your carrots are too thick, they can’t reach their full potential and they stay small. On the upside, we have done a bang up job on thinning our fall carrots and we are looking forward to big carrots then. In the meanwhile, enjoy the baby carrots! Send them to camp with peanut butter for dipping, no joke, its a great combo we've discovered this summer.

Rounding out this gloomy letter is a note of caution.

First, let me say our tomatoes in the field look amazing. The plants are tall and absolutely loaded with fruit. It looks like it’s going to be a great year for tomatoes. That being said, that same villain from years past, Late Blight, has again reared it’s terrifying head in New England. Late Blight caused the Irish potato famine and is an absolutely terrible disease. It can wipe out an entire field of tomatoes or potatoes in less than a week leaving noting behind but a rotten, disgusting mess. Late Blight has been confirmed in Litchfield county CT and in a few counties in New York, New Jersey and Vermont. In order to protect our crop we apply an organically approved fungicide on a weekly basis and scout our plants routinely looking for any signs of the dreaded disease. While this is usually enough in a bad year it may not be. We have our fingers crossed but without the systemic fungicides and other intense chemical options available to conventional farmers all we can do is what we can, and hope for the best.

All that being said, there is plenty of abundance to look forward to. For once, we were thrilled when we uncovered our last planting of summer squash and cucumbers and saw beautiful dark green thriving plants. Our peppers and eggplants are gorgeous. The onion crop looks to be another stand out crop this year.   The cooking greens have been abundant. There is some fantastic food coming from the fields and lots of it for months to come!

Hannah, Mary, Marycia, Michelle, Erica and Larry

Your Farmers

Max and Kerry

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