And, so, we are asking those who are customers or hope to be customers of our product in 2013 - what would you like us to grow more of this season?
Here is what we have heard thus far:
- tomatoes, early and often
- a good squash year
- baby carrots and well, just carrots
Give us more feedback if you have it! This is the time to hear it so we can act on it in the most effective manner. As we hear more from you, we will share our plans with you. Here is one response to the request list, future posts will focus on others.
Tomatoes, early and often
We've always enjoyed growing our heirloom tomatoes and we're always so pleased to provide them to our CSA, the farmers' market and other outlets. But, we are certain we have not come close to our capacity for this crop. Here are two things we are doing to attempt to maximize this crop for all of us:
1. Tomatoes in the high tunnel planted early
We actually did this last year, but the spray event caused us to throw all produce in the high tunnel away. It was hard to toss hundreds of beautiful salad size tomatoes into the compost. But, you do what you must. We plan on growing a similar set of tomatoes in the high tunnel this season. What last year showed us was that this could be very successful. If this works, you'll be seeing some tomatoes much earlier from us in 2013.
2. A walk in cooler
One of the things we do not yet have on the farm is a cool storage unit. What this will do is it will allow us to pick more of the tomatoes in the field and get them to more outlets. With no good place to store them and keep them fresh, we often leave good tomatoes in the field during peak season. We still intend on giving people fresh picked produce, but rather than the absurd picking rush that occurs the day of a CSA distribution, we will be able to pick some things the day before and keep them at peak condition for you. Excellent candidates for this include zucchini and summer squash. Can you imagine how it could help us to off load a couple of picking tasks to the day prior to a distribution? This could translate into more tomatoes for everyone - including opportunities to purchase extra beyond the share - or for those who are not CSA members - a chance to buy top quality heirloom tomatoes. We like it!
Our goals for 2013?
- at least 2000 lbs of tomatoes for our CSA members
- 5000 lbs total of marketable tomatoes (this includes amount above)
- production of tomatoes from July into October
- 30 varieties of tomatoes
Are these goals reachable?
In 2008, we managed to pull in approximately 4500 pounds of tomatoes and this was with a very slow start to the season and a smaller production schedule. Last year, we had crossed the 3000 pound mark and had many tomatoes on the vine when we got two early back-to-back freezes. Frosts instead of freezes has us getting 5000 pounds last year - so we can do it this year.
Historically, we have tomatoes in early August (in smaller numbers) and almost always have tomatoes later than most vendors in the Fall. Last year's production in the high tunnel tells us we can get you some tomatoes in July - and probably more than just a taste. We can do this.
And, of course, our hallmark is having a variety of tomatoes. Last year we grew 34 varieties. This year, only 30 are scheduled. I think I'm ready for a BLT.