Tomatoes are in! Historically, tomatoes always arrived in members' shares during the first week of August, but Randy commented that we had such a slow start to the spring in May (remember the frost?) that it set things back slightly.
Nevertheless, we're happy to report that you'll be receiving slicing tomatoes in your share this week and most weeks going forward. We planted 3 successions of tomatoes this year in the hopes that there would be no gaps in harvests up until the first frost, so we'll see what happens.
Ironically, this is the earliest we've ever harvested watermelon, though. Randy was working up at Booth Hill when he caught a coyote smashing open the watermelon. He hoped that they would be ripe because he knew he would need to rescue the rest of the crop. We're so excited to give you a yellow watermelon in your share this week!
If you've never had yellow watermelon before, they're sweeter than the red ones because they're less acidic. We describe the flavor almost like honey. All of the watermelon varieties we grow on the farm have black seeds inside. "Seedless" watermelon have been bred to not contain black seeds, but we like to keep it classic and old-fashioned here on the farm. Plus, we think the black seed varieties just have a better flavor. Red watermelon and cantaloupe will be ready in the coming weeks.
We set aside these melons for you, and that's it for them! We'll put out the few extra we have next Saturday once all of the shares for the week have been packed. It's a short season and when we restore the 1.5 acres we're working on completing next summer, some of the land will be used to increase our melon crop because they're so coveted.
More fruit talk... check out the grapes that Randy found up on our grapevines!
These are seedless table grapes that will be ready soon. The frost stunted the grapevines, so we won't have much of a yield this year. He thinks we might be able to snip a bushel and a half basket's worth this fall, so not very much at all. Make sure you're following us on social media @laurelglenfarmllc because if they do hit the store, we'll post it there first.
And for the final fruit talk of the week, all of the raspberries and black raspberry canes have been tipped for the year.
Here is a shot of the field after cutting back the old canes. Once the blackberries are finished, we'll do the same for those. Red and golden raspberries for the fall are close behind.
Plum tomatoes are starting to ripen. We'll have a limited number of 25 lb. bulk boxes available daily beginning on Tuesday, August 8, 2023. We are not accepting pre-orders this season, so you can come into our store on a first come first served basis during our open hours and claim a box while supplies last. Boxes are 25 lbs. for $40, and you're welcome to purchase more than one if you'd like (if available). As the season progresses, more boxes will become available, and we believe we'll have a steady supply for about a month. We'll update you again next week!
Another bulk box option is tomato "seconds." Seconds are regular slicing tomatoes that are blemished or cracked, but still a wonderful option for canning, juicing, saucing, and more. You simply cut away the bad spots and use as you normally would. They typically look like this.
25 lb. boxes of tomato "seconds" are a cheaper option - 25 lbs. for $35, but still a big discount from our $3.75/lb. retail price. All of the tomato "seconds" are safe to eat - we never put any tomatoes that are unsafe to eat into bulk boxes. Most of the time they simply suffer from cracking due to rain or grew abnormally.
You're welcome to ask for a bulk box of "seconds" or plum tomatoes (or both!) when you come into the store. "Seconds" are generally slightly more abundant than plum tomatoes because we're always hauling in imperfect tomatoes.
Bulk cucumber season has now ended.
Rain brings disease, and unfortunately many of our cucumber plants have abruptly succumbed to mildew. While we do have more plantings growing, and we'll have slicing and pickling cucumbers available in our store and at markets, we'll no longer have enough to make up bulk cucumber boxes.
Thank you to everyone who purchased one. We decided not to offer pre-orders this season and we think it was very successful for us this way and for all of you! We always had enough when you came in and asked!
Thanks for allowing us to streamline our process and supporting our business decision to do away with pre-ordering. We hope you enjoy all of your pickles and we look forward to seeing what you make with your plum tomatoes (sauce, salsa, and so much more!)
Randy spent some time this week cultivating his beets. Remember how he seeds the beets with his special seeder to create the perfect spacing? That's so he can drive his cultivator between the rows. The cultivator lightly pulls up weeds between the beet rows so that you don't have to do it by hand or with chemical applications.
Finally, on Friday night Randy and I were guests of Real Food CT, which is the non-profit that rescues all of our excess food (and unclaimed shares from the week) and delivers it to food pantries to combat food insecurity. They had a benefit dinner at NewSylum Brewing Company and local chefs used our (and other farms') produce for the meals that night. It was a beautiful time and a well-deserved celebration for an organization that has such an important mission and is doing incredible work in the community. Though we can't accept volunteers on our farm as a for-profit business, we always like to direct those looking for farm volunteer opportunities to Real Food CT.
One notable item in your share this week: tomatillos!
If you've never had tomatillos, don't be nervous about using them. They're personally one of my favorite summer crops because of how easy they are to cook and work with. They taste like a fruity tomato. You can eat them raw, but they are typically cooked. Peel the husk off and wash off the sticky residue. Then, follow one of the recipes below to enjoy them. The 5-ingredient chicken dish is incredibly simple and quick to make. We also have hot peppers available in the store to pair with the tomatillos. As always, use the Library of Resources to understand them better. And be sure to post what you're making with them in our Facebook group! I'd love to repost your photos and show our followers how creatively you all cook!
This is my salsa verde from the recipe section below.
By the way, we have jalapenos and other hot peppers available in the store if you'd like to pick some up for your tomatillo creations.
To end the newsletter this week, please enjoy some pretty photos of the farm!
The new planting of beans.
Onions and pumpkins.
And gourds... didn't they get the memo that it was only August 1st?
In Your Share (Listed approximately from shortest shelf life to longest)
2 lbs. of tomatoes
1 yellow watermelon
1 lb. of beans
1 quart of tomatillos
2 lbs. of potatoes
1 lb. of tomatoes
1 yellow watermelon
1/2 lb. of beans
1 quart of tomatillos
1 lb. of potatoes
Caring For Your Share (All of this information, plus long-term storage info, can also be found in our Vegetable Library of Resources).
Store the watermelon on your counter, out of direct sunlight, where it will get airflow. We harvest them when they are ripe and ready to eat, but the melon will keep for a week.
Keep tomatoes out on the counter and out of direct sunlight, where they will get plenty of air flow. Do not put them in the fridge; it will dry out the tomatoes and change their consistency. Tomatoes continue to ripen after harvested, so use within a few days. To ripen a tomato quickly, put it in a paper bag in a dark place, like a cabinet.
Keep tomatillos in a bag in the fridge. Peel the husk and wash when ready to eat. Can be stored for a few weeks.
Store beans in a plastic bag in the fridge. Wash and blot dry when ready to use.
Store potatoes in a mesh bag in a cool, dark place such as a cabinet or pantry, and ensure that they get plenty of air flow. Do not wash until ready to use, but wipe away dense soil, if any. Keep away from onions.
The LGF Cooking Club (Recipes to try in addition to those in the Library of Resources!)
Tomatillo Grilled Cheese and Bacon Sandwiches (add tomato!)
Please note that Victoria does not work on Thursdays this season. Emails received on Wednesday night through Thursday will be answered on Fridays.
How to Change Your Pickup Day
If you need to skip your share for the week, or change your pickup day, you must provide us with 48 hours notice since we pack shares the day before pickup. Once your share has been harvested and packed, we can not cancel your pickup.
For Tuesday pickups being changed, we need to know by Sunday. Wednesday pickups, we need to know by Monday. Saturday pickups, we need to know by Thursday. You have the option to choose another of those pickup days: Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Or, you can skip a pickup and double the following week.
If you miss your pickup, we will hold your share for 24 hours after your pickup day (Monday for Saturday members), and then it will be donated to a local food pantry. With more members than ever before, we don't have the cooler space to hold onto shares longer than this. This is a great option if you accidentally miss your pickup - just come the next day.