Tutti Frutti Late Summer Farm Tour
Written by Anthony Mirisciotta.
We began our farm tour in the morning hours on Wednesday after meeting up with Chris Cadwell at the hotel and jumping into his Honda truck gently coated with a shield of dust. Chris’s blond hair curled and fell nearly to his shoulders onto his orange T-shirt that read “Baja Sur” probably obtained on a fishing trip long ago. The first fields took us down 101 North to Los Olivos, where we were still under the early morning fog, just starting to show some breaks in the sky. “I remember this field” Ethan proclaimed from the backseat next to me “this was the field filled with bins and bins of onions” he said as he motioned out of the window towards the field. Chris pulled the truck off to the right side of the road as a dust cloud kicked up behind us, whoosh. We all jumped out of the truck and headed into the first Tutti Frutti field walk of the day.
This first field was filled with later crop peppers, the plants were all looking great and just starting to produce their first fruits. The varieties included- Cayenne, Jalapeno, Green Bells, Serrano, maybe a couple others that will pop up later! This was the field that all of his sweet onions were in not very long ago, after pulling all of those, he planted these peppers right after them. Just behind this pepper field in the same location was one of the first plantings of winter squash. Most of these plants were dead at this point with the fruits cut and scattered about, ready for picking and packing. We were able to check out a few bins and boxes that were already packed up for shipping!
After this we headed down the road a few miles to the “monster pepper field.” This is where the world famous tequila peppers are coming from right now. That is the name of the variety, they actually do not start on the plants as green, they start a whitish almost transparent and turn lavender, to full purple then on to being and orange/red if left on the plants. The tequila’s were planted next to some large orange “mandarin” bells and red lipstick peppers. Then we walked back to where the real magic was happening with the habaneros and jalapenos. These were planted before the previously mentioned peppers, and it showed. Chris had these all staked and roped together, so they grow in an actually hedgerow shape when successful. They produced this great canopy of leaves, and underneath that canopy the fruits were growing like I had never seen before. Jalapenos were growing in bunches, just packed upon one another, with great size to every single pepper.
Peppers like shade, and staking them in this manner allows them to grow together and block the heat from the soil and plants. If you were to reach down into the canopy towards the soil, you could feel the temperature change out of the sun, really phenomenal stuff! He has about 8 acres here of these wildly producing jalapenos, most of which were grown for someone that processes them, but because of the outstanding yield this year, a lot are going to come to us at Earls!
After Los Olivos, we took a trip to the heart of Tutti Frutti and visited the Lompoc fields. All of these fields are on Santa Rosa Rd, and run along the Santa Ynez River. This river had run dry for a long time due to the drought, BUT as of recently the county had released about 7 feet of water from a dam upstream, and this allowed water to flow in the Santa Ynez filling aquifers, wells and this dry river valley. About 4 feet of water was still running through this river during our trip, appeared almost as a mirage. We walked several fields of beautiful winter squash and pumpkins. All that we just getting ready to be harvested and shipped to Earls! We saw the beautiful next round of heirloom tomatoes that were planted 3 rows at a time under large shade houses that held the heat significantly but shaded the tomatoes from the direct sun.
We walked and discuss plans and harvests into the fall, more zucchini quickly manifested itself into the plan. ruské zpravodajství Chris is expecting and planning for a wet winter, it may slow things down in the spring, but his is prepared and should have no problems working around it.
It was a true pleasure and treat for me to get back into the fields and reconnect with what we are all doing here, and why. The wealth of experience and knowledge that Chris, Robert and Ethan have to share when walking the fields is extensive, and I’m very excited that I was there to take it all in.