Week Four: July 4th Update
Updated: Jul 8, 2020
Food Bank Support
This week we sent just over 40kg of produce to the Kawartha Lakes Food Source.
To reduce handling of the produce, primarily due to the ongoing pandemic, we've started delivering these donations in cardboard banana boxes that they've provided.
Despite our message last week, we were pleased to be able to provide some peas to everyone. This week our pea plants have been productive and we've been picking daily, so we're happy to let you know there should be about double the peas for everyone.
Peas are typically a cooler weather crop, seeded as soon as the soil can be worked and producing before any significant heat is present. This year has not provided those ideal circumstances. We saw a cold snap in May shortly after the peas were seeded, followed by unseasonable heat. It's hard to point to a specific cause but some subset of conditions conspired to delay their emergence by a week or so.
We also plant our peas in succession, so as one set of plants is wrapping up, a new set takes over. But due to the delayed emergence, we're seeing two successions start to overlap. More harvesting, more peas, but perhaps a shorter overall window. Time will tell...
Cucumbers, Melons, and Squash all belong to the genetic family commonly referred to as "cucurbits". This family of plant species is adored by the relentless and ubiquitous Cucumber Beetle, in our case the Striped Cucumber Beetle. In recent weeks, we've been working to manage their population as they've found their way into our squash, cucumber, and even melon crops. They'll eat leaves, turn flowers to a lace-like consistency, and chew lines into the fruit.
Our melons have been covered with insect netting that have sticky traps inside, but the nets need to be opened to allow for pollinators to do their work at the flowers. Because our cucumbers are trellised and our summer squash are so large, we aren't able to effectively "net" these crops. We've resorted to using a home-made insecticidal soap spray (just water and natural castile soap), which has been working to reduce their numbers.
Application of this spray takes some effort and strategy, as it needs to make contact with the beetles in order to be effective, while trying not to hit other benign insects in the process. We're seeing positive preliminary results but continue to monitor and adjust our strategy.
All that said, you may see some lines where a beetle sampled the skin of a cucumber, but other than that cosmetic damage, there's nothing to worry about. Some cucumbers reached a buffet status among the beetles and were taken to the compost. Those that aren't so bad, we've kept in circulation.
If you have a problem with any of the imperfections you may encounter, please let us know. We're trying to walk a line between providing truly usable produce while eliminating unnecessary waste, and value your input in helping us make these sorts of determinations.
This Week's Share
Recipe: Swiss Chard, Kale, and Spinach Soup
Serves 4-6 persons
150g fresh spinach, finely chopped
150g fresh kale finely chopped
150g fresh swiss chard finely chopped
2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 carrots chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
8 cups (2 liters) water or vegetable broth
Pinch of black pepper
1 lemon, juice
1 small handful fresh leaf parsley, finely chopped
1. Add water or broth in a pot and boil; add the chopped onion, carrots, celery and salt and cook for 15 minutes.
2. Add the rise and boil for another 10 min.
3. Add chopped spinach, kale and swiss chard and boil for another 5 min.
4. Add the lemon juice and fresh chopped parsley.
Serve the soup in bowls with a fresh chopped parsley, black pepper and lemon juice per taste.