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July 28th Markets, and a Note About Bugs

It’s been a gorgeous week on the farm. A little heat, a little cool-ness, a little rain. A lot of vegetables. What could be greater?

Planting for fall crops is in full swing. This can be tough for certain plants because they need to germinate now (when it’s quite hot) but they, by nature (being fall crops), prefer cooler weather. Just as we used a warmer for germinate in late winter/early spring, perhaps we might have to use a cooler for germination now! We do keep all these growing plant babies on the north side of a structure to keep them as cool as possible. Dan confessed yesterday that he feels slightly relieved when he looks at certain seed packs and thinks “Nope – can’t plant you anymore. There’s not enough summer left.” As in, the end of the heat is in sight.

 (See how this rooster is holding his wings out? That’s how the chickens cool themselves down. These birds are in the shade, but it’s still hot. )

Before getting to this week’s harvest list, we’d like to share some thoughts about bugs.

 If you look carefully, you’ll see a spider on this pepper.

BUGS! We love them. And we despise them. I should say we love some of them and despise a lot of them. Most folks know the friendly, aphid-eating lady bug. The happily-pollinating bees. And the cooperative praying mantis. But the squash bug, stink bug, cucumber beetle, harlequin bug, Japanese beetle, and Mexican bean beetle  give us fits. If I can step back from this business of trying to feed people, I can acknowledge that some of these creatures have quite beautiful coloring and patterns on them. But really, they destroy things. They devour cucumber plants. Okra. Zinnias. Winter squash. Green Beans. They jab the tomato orbs. They munch the chard.

What to do? There are very effective chemical treatments out there that we could put on the plants that would kill all those bugs. Dead. And the plants would grow!

The problem: the health of our family, our workers, the people that eat the food, the soil, and the watershed downstream (including the Chesapeake Bay) aside, those broad-spectrum treatments kill everything. All the bugs. Even the good ones. Even the harmless little spiders that nest among the leaves. Now, you may not be a spider lover – we can understand that. But we think the majority of people agree with us that a spider here or there is better than applying poisons that wipe out everything and compromise the health of the rest of the inter-related ecology (including us humans).

Bottom line: We don’t use those treatments. We try to plant enough extra that we can harvest what we need to harvest despite the bug damage. When that doesn’t work, we spot treat with things like castile soap (used quite a bit of that this week!), neem oil, or diatomaceous earth.  So, if you happen to see a little, harmless bug amidst our produce one day, rejoice! See it as a cause for celebration that we don’t wipe out the insect population.

The harvest for markets this week:

Beets, Bell Peppers (purple and green), Rosa Bianca Eggplant,  Black Beauty Eggplant, Jalapeno peppers,  Malabar Spinach (a delicious stand-in for real spinach during this hot part of the summer), Okra, Onions, Perpetual Spinach, Potatoes, Salad Mix, Summer Squash, Tomatoes…

…and Bread and Bouquets of Flowers.

Recipe suggestion for this week: Pasta with Roasted Vegetables, Tomatoes, and Basil. (It’s been our staple meal this week!)

Enjoy!

Please note:

* We will not be at markets on Saturday, August 11th, as we will be attending a dear friend’s wedding.

* Mid-week produce delivery to Good Health Herbs (Brandermill) for the week of August 6th will happen on Tuesday, August 7th instead of Wednesday like usual.

* There will be no mid-week produce delivery during the week of August 13th.

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