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June 24, 2018

The picklers are coming in in abundance! All you picklers out there, now is the time to make your pickles! Do not wait until August. There is a new disease that comes into the northeast in late summer and all organic cucmbers will probably be wiped out by then. Seize the day of abundant cukes! We will be selling bulk cucumber for $1.50/lb.

Four Root Farm flower shares start this week. You can still sign up for a flower share. Please contact them directly to sign up.

This Week's Share

All of a sudden, a flood of new crops! Carrots and cabbage and cucumbers, oh my! The solstice has arrived and turned on the switch. Tasty spring carrots are starting to come in , they are smaller and sweet and start out off in bunches. We should continue to have them all the way into next May (!)

The Chinese cabbage are ready. These are fantastic in Asian slaws or stir fried or put into these potsickers (really good). Be not intimidated, there are a billion slaw recipes for these on the internet. Or try this one.

We grow several other varieties of cabbage. A pointy green cabbage perfect for fresh eating, they will probably start trickling in this week. A savoy type with crinkly leaves which will trail behind, and finally a red, which always seams to take fooooooreeever to ripen. It'll probably be ready in July.

Cucumbers! The picklers are ready! Fantastic for making pickles but also a really great salad cuke too, or just snacking. Sometimes the tip that attaches to the vine is a little bitter, just chop it off or peel it there. The slicing cucumbers will follow behind shortly, they should start trickling in this week.

A lesser known crop, the fennel is ready too. Try shaving the bulb into a salad, or using it in a tomato sauce. It also fantastic sliced up and carmelised.

The crew's most favorite snackable crop is ready too! Snap peas are so tasty, you probably won't get them home without eating them all. These peas can be eaten pods and all, and really would make a fantastic stir fry with the cabbage and carrots.

Recipe of the Week: 

Refrigerator Pickles

Ingredients: 
  • 3 Lb. pickling cukes
  • 5 c. water
  • 1 1/4 c. cider or white vinegar
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. salt
  • 2 dill flower heads
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 1 tsp. pickling spice
Directions: 

Bring to a boil water, vinegar, sugar, salt. Let cool. Slice cukes into rounds and put them and the rest of the ingredients in a sterilized jar and pour cooled liquid over them. Put in refrigerator.

Credit: 
Max's former boss's Meghan Arquin's amazing pickles!

Tomato city

Expert tomato trellisers hard at work.
Expert tomato trellisers hard at work.

Dear Friends,

 If we weren’t sure if we were really farming before, there’s no doubt about it now. Buckets full of summer squash, the end of the red radishes, onions bulbing up, and weeding the days away. The longest day of the year has come and gone, and we are in full on summer mode. Shorts, iced coffee, cucumbers, and enough work to fill at least two work weeks in one. I love it. The anxiety of spring is a distant memory and we move into the frenetic pace of summer. You don’t have to worry about frosts, or how many layers to wear. There’s a ton of new crops coming in right now, carrots, sugar snap peas, cukes, cabbages and there’s even more on the way. We will be picking spring onions and dare I say early tomatoes before we know it.

 

The tomatoes are no doubt a favorite. It’s hard to get as excited about anything as we get about the first tomato. They are one of the most beloved crops we grow. There is a lot to adore about these summer classics. One thing I don’t adore is the fact that every year around this time, they grow so big they can’t support themselves and we have to go out there and build a trellis. We trellis the peas as well, but we grow way less peas and you don’t need to use as many stakes. The tomatoes get a virtually city built around them. One stake for every two plants. Metal posts at the ends of sections to help maintain the structures integrity. It’s a pretty big job but it’s necessary.


 Out in California where it never rains, they grow their tomatoes on the ground and it’s fine. They also have movie stars, forest fires, and earthquakes. I don’t know that I really want any of those things, but I must admit, I am always a little bit envious when I see fields of tomatoes out west and the plants are sprawled across the ground. It would never work for us, all that contact with the soil coupled with excess moisture would cause the tomato plants to develop all sorts of nasty diseases. It would be a proverbial petri dish of tomato killing bacteria and fungus. Kerry has also pointed out that it is way more pleasant to pick tomatoes when they’re trellised than it would be if they’re on the ground. Which is a great point since everyone on the crew would rather pick tomatoes than cucumbers.


 So here in New England where it rains, trucks rust, and plants get diseases, we build trellises (trelli?) for our tomatoes. It’s a big job but we try and break it up so it’s not as bad as it could be. There are probably as many different ways to tie up the tomatoes as there are varieties. I have seen it done all sorts of ways ranging from simple and effective to unruly and needlessly complicated. We use a method called the Florida Weave, that I happen to believe is the best way to do tomatoes in the field. It involves pounding wooden stakes into the ground in line with the plants. Once the tomatoes are staked we come through and wrap twine around the stakes in a line, doing one side, than the other. This sandwiches the plants between lines of twine and you only have to tie two knots, the knot at the beginning and the knot at the end. The job is made super efficient by the boxes of tomato twine we buy that have loops for your belt, so you can carry your twine with your hands free.


 We add another string or two of twine to the tomato stakes every week until the twine reaches the top of the stakes. Usually at this point, the tomatoes are done growing. The Sungold cherry tomatoes however, aren’t usually content with being six feet tall. They usually grow over the trellis, flop down one side and ultimately in the end kind of collapse. By the time this happens things are all but wrapped up so it’s not a huge deal. Tying tomatoes becomes a weekly task, but fortunately it gets easier every week. The first tie is the lowest and with every passing tie, you have to bend less and less. And really now that the stakes are in place the hardest part is over


 It won’t be long now before we’re starting to see the first blush of color out there and tomato basil sandwiches won’t be far behind.


 Your farmers,


Anthony, Chris, Erica, Hannah, Holly, Kerry and Max

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