Every week throughout the growing season, the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program writes a weekly publication called the PestMinder. This newsletter is mailed to area subscriber farmers throughout Western and Central New York, and provides information about crop development, pests, weather conditions, and crop diseases. It also contains pesticide recommendations for battling various diseases and pests, as well as a small organic farming section.
After looking through the PestMinder this week, we read about some new diseases that we think may be in our vine crops and tomatoes. A vegetable specialist with Cornell University wrote a section about a new race of cucurbit powdery mildew. This mildew was observed in Athena cantaloupes in upstate New York. These cantaloupes are resistant to the other two races of powdery mildew, but not this new race.
This week’s publication also spent a great deal outlining various diseases that have been found in tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in the area. Last year, a fungal disease called Late Blight wiped out our tomato crop. This disease has been confirmed in tomatoes on a farm in Erie County and a farm in Norfolk County, Ontario. Norfolk County is located across Lake Erie from the Erie, Pennsylvania area.
This week we found signs of disease in our tomatoes. They were fine on Monday, but by Wednesday morning they weren’t. We thought that we would be able to give everyone 4 to 5 yellow tomatoes, but when we went out to harvest them, we had to overlook many because of disease spots and rot. We received 2 inches of rain on Monday, and think that the disease may have come in with the rain. Fungal diseases are air born and rain helps deposit their spores. However, what may look like late blight in our tomatoes may actually be another disease that was outlined in the publication this week. A disease called Zonate Leaf Spot, which occurs sporadically in this area, produces lesions on fruits as well.
We are not sure which disease has hit our tomatoes, but as organic farmers, there is nothing that we can do to combat it. It has been another damp growing season, which is the ideal condition for many of these diseases to flourish. Next year we are going to make more changes in the way that we grow our tomatoes, because for the third time in five years, we have had a lot of disease problems with them. Our heirloom tomatoes are always a favorite with our CSA, but unfortunately these tomatoes get diseases first. This season we planted over 10,000 heirloom tomato plants and are hoping there will be some salvageable. Next year we are going to try using double the amount of space for the same number of tomato plants. With more space between tomato rows, more air will be able to flow through the plants and keep the moisture out of them.
We have often thought about putting high tunnel greenhouses in at our farm. These greenhouses give farmers tomatoes earlier in the season, but unfortunately, researchers are starting to see that the same troubles that hit tomatoes in the field are also present in the tunnels later in the growing season.
Please enjoy the tomatoes in your bag this week. Some tomatoes are showing signs of disease quick. If you see a spot on your tomato, it may be the disease showing up after we had already picked it. Mike has been eating them all week, and just cuts around the spot if he sees one. He says they still taste good, especially after no tomatoes last year!
As the disease moves through the tomato plants, we may start to see more spots on them. We have a question for you: would you mind eating a tomato with a small spot on it that could be cut out, or would you rather us not bother harvesting these tomatoes? We would like this to be a member decision, so please let us know by either sending an email, commenting on our blog, or leaving a message on the farm answering machine by Wednesday night. After this time, we will go with the majority and make our decision.
*Look for an orchard update next week!*
With all of the rain that has been falling at the farm (another 2 inches fell on Monday), it seems like we are always trying to keep up with the fast growth of the weeds. We also spent time this week baling straw. This straw came from the harvested barley crop. Once the barley is harvested using a combine, the stems of the barley are baled and used for livestock bedding.
What’s in this week’s bag??
• Zucchini or Yellow Squash
• Tomato Berries
• Green Bell Pepper
• Cubanelle Pepper (Sweet, frying pepper)
• Yellow/Light Green Bell Pepper
• Savoy Cabbage
• Green Beans
• Sugar Baby Watermelon
• Yellow Watermelon
Balsamic Salad of Roasted Leeks and Peppers
-2 peppers, cut into chunks
-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
-generous sprigs fresh oregano and thyme
-2 cloves garlic, crushed
-generous sprinkling ground sea salt and black pepper
-1 oz. pine nuts
-1 oz. parmesan cheese
-handful of arugula
1. Place prepared vegetables and seasonings in a roasting pan along with the olive oil and balsamic.
2. Cover with wetted baking paper and scrunch over vegetables to seal.
3. Oven roast for 30 minutes until tender and just starting to brown.
4. Combine with the remaining ingredients and serve.