Sunday, August 1, 2010

Porter Farm Happenings-July 31, 2010

Downy Mildew
In a little over a week we have received over 8 inches of rain at the farm! The effects of this rain can be seen all over--those of you driving down the driveway this week, take a look at the large pond that has developed by the Porter Farms sign! This water has been sitting there for ten days already! Check out the pictures that were posted on our blog!
Last week we mentioned that even though we have received a lot of rain, our vegetables were still disease free. It seems that we spoke too soon! Last Saturday morning Mike went out to inspect our cucumbers and discovered downy mildew in the plants! Downy mildew is a fungus that is easily carried by wind, and is most aggressive when heavy dews and frequent rains occur. Although it does not overwinter beyond the southernmost region of the United States, the spores are easily blown northward during the summer months.
When this disease hits, it can wipe out and kill a plant in a matter of two to three days! Symptoms first appear as pale green areas on the upper leaf surfaces, which soon change to yellow spots. A fine whitish growth will quickly appear on the lower leaf surface as well. The infected area later spreads outward, causing defoliation and poor fruit development, and later plant death (
This disease, which infects vine crops, is most aggressive in cucumbers. Our cucumbers were the first to become infected, but were quickly followed by our cantaloupes. The cantaloupes looked picture perfect last week, but now are displaying yellow and dried up leaves. The zucchini and yellow squash are also beginning to display some symptoms of downy mildew, but so far our watermelon still look great! There are mini watermelons in the field right now, so hopefully the disease will stay away for a few more weeks while they develop and ripen! Pictures have been posted on our blog of the cucumbers, cantaloupes, and watermelon.
Conventional farmers down the road from us have been trying to keep this disease at bay in their fields as well. They were spraying chemicals all week to slow down the spread of the fungus, but even these strong chemicals will not kill the fungus completely. As organic farmers, there is literally nothing we can do once this disease hits! We may try a new variety, a burpless cucumber, next year. These cucumbers are more tolerant of downy mildew. We will continue researching this and will give you updates!

What’s in this week’s bag??
• Zucchini
• Yellow Squash
• Cucumbers
• Beets
• Green Cabbage
• Caraflex Cabbage
• Romaine Lettuce

*You may notice small spots on the yellow squash and zucchini. These spots are from the hail that fell during the strong thunderstorm last Wednesday. They may not look great, but they still taste good!

Farm News
This week we continued to assess the damage from the rain. The thunderstorm last week beat up our barley that will be harvested for livestock feed. We also lost some lettuce to flooding.
Our crew spent a lot of time this week weeding the fields. The field where our earliest beets were planted became overgrown with weeds. Therefore, we decided to harvest all of the beets in this field! We hope you enjoy them!
Be on the lookout for peppers in your bags soon!

Citrus-Ginger Roasted Beets and Carrots
-4 beets, peeled and sliced
-3 large carrots, peeled and quartered
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-1/3 cup fresh pink grapefruit juice
-1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
-1 tablespoon honey
-1 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
-1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Set aside ½ cup each of the beets and carrots for the dressing. Place the remaining beets and carrots in a 9x13 inch baking dish, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with the sea salt, and toss to coat. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.
3. Bake the vegetables in the oven for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, place the reserved beets and carrots into a blender. Add the grapefruit juice, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, ginger, soy sauce, and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Blend until smooth. After the vegetables have roasted for 15 minutes, stir in the citrus sauce, then recover and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes more.


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