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Archive for June, 2012

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

Beautiful, sweet Sungold tomatoes just arrived at Earl’s. They are one of the most popular early cherry tomatoes and perfect for snacking or tossing a handful into a salad.

 

Tutti Frutti Winter Squash Planting

About 100 acres of winter squash has just been planted here at Tutti Frutti Farms at Chris’s home ranch off of Santa Rosa Road. Varieties include butternut, sugar pie pumpkin, kabocha, spaghetti, baby blue hubbard, delicata, sweet dumpling, acorn, sunshine, and buttercup.  Winter squash differs from summer squash (zucchini, crookneck, etc.) because it is eaten after the seeds have fully matured and the skin has hardened.  Winter squash is typically harvested at the end of summer and beginning of fall, before the first frost of winter.  Below is a picture of the transplants being delivered to the farm.

Squash Transplants

Here is one of the fields that is being planted with winter squash.  The black plastic sheeting is used for these plants as well, providing protection from the elements and facilitating growth by trapping in heat and moisture.

Fields planted with squash transplants

These plants are quite susceptible in their early stages to predators like the cucumber beetle.  In situations where there is the danger of losing many crops to such a predator, diatomaceous earth is applied to the growing plants.  Diatomaceous earth (D.E.) is an organic insecticide composed of the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of algae.  The D.E. is so tiny and sharp that when many types of bugs come in contact with it, their exoskeletons are torn apart, exposing and dehydrating their soft innards.  After a day or so the bugs will die, but their death is not a futile one, as the dead bugs often serve as a repellant for future generations of predators.  Below is a picture of a cucumber beetle eating a previous planting of squash.

 

This is the last and final planting of winter squash for the year.

Summer Carrots

You may have noticed that your carrot tops have not been looking so great.  Carrots are now coming out of the San Joaquin Valley, where temperatures have been up in the triple digits for many days recently.  The extreme heat affects only the tops, but not the carrots themselves.   This happens every summer and is unavoidable for our major carrot growers.

Tutti Frutti and TD Willey, growers on the central coast, do have some Nantes varieties that are looking better although keep in mind  that lately it has been hot all over California.

First Day Of Summer

Today is the first day of summer, also called the summer solstice and the longest day of the year.  The Sun is directly overhead at its most northern point at “high-noon” on the summer solstice, creating more sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere on this day than any other, resulting in more growing hours of sunlight for plants. Summer solstice also marks a turning point and from now until winter solstice, the days will gradually begin to get shorter and the nights longer.  After the winter solstice the days will gradually begin to get longer and the nights shorter until the cycle starts again in June.

The length of days and nights from season to season affects the way many plants grow and what they do throughout the year. Plants are able to measure hours of darkness and how much cold or chill hours they have experienced, causing a plant to bloom, drop its leaves or experience new growth. Plants experience peaks of growth throughout the year depending on the weather and the number of daylight hours.  We use the Earth’s movement around the sun to develop planting calendars that help us determine which crops to plant at what time of year, the geography they grow best in and at what temperature.

Some summer fruits that benefit from long hours of heat are stonefruit, melons and heirloom tomatoes.  We can look forward to enjoying these treats all summer long.

Seeded Watermelon

Summer fruits- Nectarine, Heirloom Tomatoes, Rainier and Bing Cherries and Seedless Grapes

Cranberry Beans

Cranberry beans are creamy white with red streaks and have a creamy nutty flavor. They are shelling beans and only around for a short time. Look for full pods with bright colors.

Try snacking on crispy cranberry beans.

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