Journal Post for the week of August 8, 2011

VOLUME VI, JOURNAL VIII

AUGUST 8, 2011

BLUE HERON FARM JOURNAL

SO WHAT’S HAPPENING ON THE FARM THIS WEEK?

Week 8- Happy Monday! We are excited to be picking green beans today with loads of help from our interns, old interns, volunteers and CSA members. Green Beans are quite yummy but it takes quite a number of them to fill a pound and to pick enough for CSA members. People at market sometimes put their noses up to five dollars a lb for beans – but really – they are time consuming to pick and there is loads of bending over – and quite honestly not sure if beans ever make us money due to the time it takes to pick, weed and fight off the deer. The deer like to eat the tops of the plants – after we have weeded. This year we are trying out Irish Spring Soap around the whole bean row (approximately 450 ft with two rows in the bed) – It could be a wise tale but we have heard from other farmers to put this soap out and it deters deer. We will see if it does it. We can’t be row cover on it like we do lettuce because the wetness and heaviness would pass diseases around the bean plants. So please enjoy these beans this week. They are yummy and many hands and backs brought them to your table – and we are grateful for that.

We are taking a break from lettuce this week – we are in between crops and the heat has been tough on the head lettuce. And I have a feeling that folks could use a bit of break from lettuce 🙂 So this week we have the beans that are new and slicing cucumbers are just starting to come in. Adam has been diligently planting fall (?!) crops this week. All the melons and corn are growing strong – we are thinking labor dayish for both of these crops. The pastures are taking a while to grow back because of the lack of rain. We have moved up the lambs to the vegetable part of the farm and they are grazing right by Roy’s house. Feel free to visit them when you come by. Pick your own Sungold cherry tomatoes should start next week.

The field heirloom tomatoes are starting to ripen. We picked a few Juan Flamme, Rose de Berne, and Rosso Sicilians (3 out of the 25 varieties we have planted out there) this past weekend and made amazing salsa with our hot peppers and cilantro. Yum! I can not wait for the bread trays full of sun ripened warm colorful tomatoes – I would take the soft skin, fragile heirloom over our hoophouse tomatoes any day. The hoophouse tomatoes are good- they are even great, especially since you have waited a long winter and spring, they are firm and don’t mind being caressed with their smoothness but there is something to be said about a tomato that has witnessed the rain, the hail, the sun, the mist, the stresses of summer that makes it tastes so delectable. Now that we have Annie, and the fresh cheeses I am making with her milk – wowee…bring those tomatoes on.

Speaking of heirlooms are treasured crop – there is a confirmed case of late blight in Jericho – at a home garden. It is interesting that there is one – because we have been so dry. The only thing I can think of is that they watered at night. It is very important that everyone – when you are overhead watering – water early in the morning not at night – so the plants have the opportunity to dry off quickly and not stay wet – which promotes disease. The best way to water tomatoes is not to wet their leaves at all and water them with drip line or soaker hose. If you suspect late blight or not sure what disease is on your plants – UVM plant diagnostic lab can diagnosis the problem. Send your samples of any suspected plants ASAP for a positive ID to: Ann Hazelrigg, UVM Plant Diagnostic Clinic, 201 Jeffords Building, 63 Carrigan Drive, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405. If we all take good care and be vigilant – that we can save our tomatoes and potatoes. Home gardens are what brought it to VT the last time and dsestroyed many small farms (including ours) tomato crop. Late Blight is air-borne and travels on the wind and spreads in moist wet weather. Please pass this info on to other home gardeners. What Late Blight looks like: http://www.longislandhort.cornell.edu/vegpath/photos/lateblight_tomato.htm#images and http://www.longislandhort.cornell.edu/vegpath/photos/lateblight_potato.htm.

Here are some other tomato diseases that are showing up on Tomatoes now but are not nearly as devastating as late blight. IDENTIFYING DIFFERENT TOMATO DISEASES (adapted from UMass Extension vegetable notes from Vt vegetable and berry assoc)

Late blight. Classic symptoms are large, at least nickel-sized olive-green to brown spots on leaves with slightly fuzzy white fungal growth on the underside when conditions have been humid. Sometimes the lesion border is slightly yellow or has a water-soaked appearance. Leaf lesions begin as tiny, irregularly shaped brown spots and quickly grow larger: spots that are consistently small are not typical. Brown to blackish lesions develop on upper stems and leaf petioles. These stem lesions are a fairly distinctive sign of late blight and should definitely raise a red flag. Firm, brown spots develop on tomato fruit.

Septoria leaf spot. This destructive disease of tomato foliage occurs wherever tomatoes are grown. It can destroy most of a plant’s foliage resulting in sunscald, failure of fruit to mature properly, and low yields. Once infections begin, they can spread rapidly from lower to upper tomato canopy. Symptoms consist of circular tan to grey lesions with a dark brown margin that appear on lower leaves first, after the first fruit set. If conditions are favorable, lesions can enlarge rapidly, forming fruiting bodies that look like black specks, and turn infected leaves yellow then brown. With a hand lens, the specks can be seen in the center of the lesions. Fruit infection is rare, but lesions occur on foliage, stems, petioles, and the calyx. The pathogen overwinters on infected tomato debris or infected solanaceous weed hosts, and can also survive on stakes and other equipment; it is spread by splashing water, insects, workers, and equipment.

Early blight. This common disease occurs on the foliage, stem, and fruit of tomato everywhere the tomatoes are grown. It first appears as small brown to black lesions on older foliage. The tissue surrounding the initial lesion may become yellow, and when lesions are numerous entire leaves may become chlorotic. As the lesions enlarge, they often develop concentric rings giving them a ‘bull’s eye’ or ‘target-spot’ appearance. As the disease progresses, plants can become defoliated, reducing both fruit quantity and quality. Fruit can become infected either in the green or ripe stage through the stem attachment. Fruit lesions can become quite large, involve the whole fruit, and have characteristic concentric rings. Infected fruit often drop and losses of 30-50% of immature fruit may occur. On potato, foliar symptoms are quite similar though complete defoliation rarely results. The concentric rings in the lesions are fairly diagnostic for this disease, and help to distinguish it from either late blight or Septoria.

Management of Septoria leaf spot and early blight. Adequate nitrogen fertility throughout the season can help delay disease development; lower leaves become more susceptible as the nitrogen demand increases with fruit load and older leaves decline in nitrogen. Protectant fungicide sprays at regular intervals (depending on weather conditions and disease pressure) will delay onset of the disease. Many of the fungicides that are labeled for the control of late blight will also provide control of early blight and Septoria leaf spot. See the New England Vegetable Management Guide for recommendations. Both pathogens survive between crops on infected plant debris, soil, and other solanaceous host weeds and can be carried on tomato seed. Early blight can be transmitted in infected potato tubers. Rotate out of tomato crops for at least two years, control susceptible weeds, and incorporate debris after harvest. Reduce the length of time that tomato foliage is wet by using trickle irrigation, wider plant spacing, and staking. Keep workers and equipment out of wet fields where possible.

Leaf Mold. This disease can occur in the field but is most common in poorly ventilated greenhouses. Symptoms look somewhat like late blight. The high temperatures in the greenhouse make late blight less likely, but growers on hyper-alert for late blight have been concerned. Infections begin on older leaves with yellow areas visible on the upper leaf surface. Corresponding to these, on the underside, are areas of olive-green to grayish-purple fuzzy growth where the fungus is making spores. Leaves turn yellow, then brown. The disease can spread rapidly as spores disperse throughout a greenhouse on air currents, water, insects, and workers. Management: Start with certified disease free seed. Improve air circulation by adequate row/plant spacing and removal of lower leaves. Avoid the formation of water droplets on leaves by watering in the morning. Reduce relative humidity by a combination of heating and venting, especially at night. Avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization. Remove diseased leaves, place in plastic bag, and destroy. At the end of the crop cycle, remove all plant residue and destroy and disinfest the entire greenhouse.

Thanks for listening and your support. Peace, your farmers, Christine, Adam, Sadie and Delia

WHAT’S IN THE SHARE THIS WEEK: BASIL, Cucumbers, Arugula or Chard, Okra GREEN BEANS, Eggplant, sweet peppers, hot peppers, zucchini, summer squash, TOMATOES, and maybe a few other things !

Recipes

Calabrian Bruschetta from Verdura by Viana La Place

4 small Asian eggplants

Extra-virgin olive oil

3 ounces provolone or caciocavallo cheese

6 thick slices country bread

2 garlic cloves

3 red tomatoes, cored and thinly sliced

Extra-virgin olive oil

Trim the eggplants and slice them 1/4 inch thick. Arrange the eggplant slkices on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush them with olive oil. Bake the eggplant slices in a preheated 376 degree oven for 10 minutes. Turn the slices over, brush with oil, and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Using the large side of a four sided grater (or a potato peeler…), grate the cheese into long, thin strips. Grill or lightly toast the bread. Rub with the cut side of the garlic cloves and drizzle with olive oil. Place a few slices of eggplant on each bruschetta, top with some sliced tomato, and sprinkle a little shredded cheese over the top. Place the bruschetta under a preheated broiler and broil until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Layered Eggplant Casserole from Recipes from America’s Small Farms

2-3 TBS vegetable oil

1 large egg

2 TBS milk

¼ cup all purpose flour, more if needed

1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into ¼ inch thick slices

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 large tomatoes, cut into ¼ inch thick slices

4 ounces Monterey Jack or other cheese, grated

1 TBS unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 2-quart casserole. Beat the egg and milk in a bowl and spread the flour on a plate. Heat 1 TBS of the oil in large skillet. Dip each slice of eggplant into the egg mixture, and then flour on both sides. Place the slices in the skillet in a single layer and fry until golden on both sides. Continue frying the eggplant in batches, adding oil as necessary, until done. Layer the fried eggplant, the onion, the tomato, and the cheese until they are all used up; the final layer should be the eggplant. Sprinkle any remaining flour (or use another 2 TBS of flour) over the top. Dot with the butter. Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, until bubbling and the eggplant is tender. Note: instead of frying the eggplant slices, you can drizzle them with oil and bake them on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Eggplant Pulp Facts from Recipes from America’s Small Farms No one ever said eggplant pulp was pretty, but it’s a beautiful base for spreads and salads. To make it, just puncture a large eggplant in a few places and wrap it loosely in aluminum foil. Place it in a 400 degree oven until it’s soft and mushy – it’s usually ready in about an hour, but longer baking won’t hurt it. Let it cool completely, then scrape all the flesh off the skin. You’ll get about 1 ½ cups of pulp from a medium eggplant. Add whatever other vegetables and herbs you like – the eggplant’s mild taste and pleasant texture blends and binds other ingredients.

Eggplant Rounds with Cheese and Tomato Sauce adapted from D. Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

6-8 eggplant rounds per person, grilled, broiled or fried (from the skinny asian eggplants, reduce number of slices if using the large purple ones.)

3/4 cup grated or sliced mozzarella

1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola or goat cheese

about 4 cups favorite tomato sauce

chopped parsley or basil

Place the eggplant rounds on a sheet pan and cover with the cheeses. Bake at 375 degrees until the cheese melts. Serve with 2 or 3 spoonfuls of the sauce on each serving and garnish with the parsley or basil

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