Well, things are heating up. One of the good things about the heat is that the tomatoes are ripening quickly! Brad and I took a short reprieve from the sun (not the heat, though) in the greenhouse where our tomatoes have been growing widlly. As you can see in the photo at the bottom of the article, it will take quite a lot of agility to harvest them as they come to readiness over the next few weeks. Other plants, like peppers and squashes, are ripening rapidly, too.
We've also been glad for the preciptation, despite that it is as challengeing work under tearing skies as it is to work in sweltering feilds. The rain keeps the soils mosit, so the plants are strong and remain productive. And though sunny days are long and blistering, we havn't needed to use the irrigation because the soil contains a high volume of organic matter, does not become very compacted (as our tractors are light), and have "crop cover" (or weeds that help hold moisture down).
Together, the heat and percipitation represent the quantitaty of energy stored up in the atmosphere this summer. I've spent many of my hours of harvesting awestruck by the tormented skies. Clouds releasing sheets slate gray rain, bolts of white lightning, and emmitting sharp cracks of thunder. Pictured to the right, a storm passes the crest of the barn, revealing the sun above.
Sad Salad Greens
While many plants in our garden have enjoyed the heatwave, not all have thrived. I am sorry to announce that our salad greens have largely perished and it will be many weeks before we can harvest them again.
If you need orders for chicken or produce filled, contact Laurie and Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org! James@eatersguild.com is not certified to handle these kinds of requests!
Asparagus is a perennial. It's seeds are planted in the spring, but for the first two or three years, the plant can not be harvested. This is because the plant needs to develop a complex root system known as the “crown,” which stores the nutrients that the plant uses to push the asparagus spears up through the soil. Once the crown is developed fully enough, it is alright to harvest the spears of asparagus that push up during the first months of spring. At Eater's, we harvest the asparagus for six weeks. After that time, we let the plant fern out, grow woody, and store the energy that is generated during July's heat.
I said before that asparagus is a tenacious plant. It grows so vehemently in the spring because it has stored up energy to use from the previous summer. Botanically speaking, it has evolved to operate this way because having stored energy and speedily growing stalks means it can outcompete other plants during the early spring, when sunlight is still spare and chills still stunt growth.
Tomatoes... and really, everything else.
On June 28th, NPR reported that industrial farming “destroyed” the tasty tomato and discussed the book that author Trent Campbell has published that deals with the subject. The problems that the report reveal, however, are not limited to the flavor of the food. They extend through the ecological sustainability of the practice, the nutrition of the food, and the working conditions of the harvesters.
Most tomatoes are grown in Florida, despite that Florida is not really suitable for the crop. Campbell argued that most land in Florida that is used for agriculture is sandy, which means there are not natural nutrients in the soil, and so (petroleum based) fertilizers are a must. We know ecosystems, particularly aquatic systems, can not handle fertilizer runoff.
Secondly, the humidity of the state results in a higher volume of insects and therefore compels farmers to use a higher volume of pesticides. The official Florida handbook for tomato growing recommends 110 pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, many of which are “what the Pesticide Action Network calls 'bad actors'... the worst of the worst.”
Fertilizers do not make a plant nutritious. Campbell said that his “mother, in the '60s could buy a tomato in the supermarket that had 30 to 40 percent more vitamin C and way more niacin and calcium. The only area that the modern industrial tomato beats its Kennedy-administration counterpart is in sodium."
Tomato harvesters have been known to be enslaved. Campbell said that “there have been seven [legal cases] in the last 10 or 15 years ... successfully brought to justice in Florida involving slavery. And 1,200 people have been freed. The U.S. Attorney for the district in Southern Florida claims that that just represents a tiny, tiny tip of an iceberg because it's extraordinarily difficult to prosecute a modern-day slavery case."
Just to make the situation of the enslaved clear, Campbell described some details on the kind of slavery that he'd uncovered in his research. You can see those details in the report. Because of the severity of the situations that he relates, I will not quote those words here.
The Bottom Line