Fall Farming

-Erika Rumbley

pumpkins2012-carol-lundeen.jpgNothing says autumn like a big ol’ squash. Before we even get to the smooth, sweet flesh, we’re drawn in by stripes and warts and splashes of color. From palm-sized Pumpkins to hefty Hubbards, these New World cucurbits inspire wonder.

Over the past ten days, the Langwater Farm Crew has faithfully stored 20,000 pounds of squash. We cut each squash from their vines and build long piles (or windrows) out of them, giving them pause in the field before they are crated up and delivered to the greenhouse for curing. For some varieties, we remove the stems (also known as ‘handles’) to ensure safe storage. On several startlingly chilly nights, we covered windrows of squash with fabric to protect their sweet, delicious flesh from damage. This season we grew 8 winter squash varieties from the traditional Acorn to the silky Kabocha and squat Buttercup. We’ll encourage you to eat butternut when it’s at its sweet best at Thanksgiving, but Delicata is sweet in September! The squash to slice open when the leaves begin to change is undoubtedly Delicata.

Delicata’s distinctive green stripes adorn a thin flesh that’s tender enough to eat! Unlike its cousins, Delicata does not need to be peeled. After it’s halved, a swipe with a spoon removes those nutty, nutritious seeds. Roast it up and you have autumn on a plate. A perfect supper after you get home from your Langwater Farm hay ride this weekend!

And the award goes to…

Kevin, Rachel, Kate & Madison showing off their awards.

Kevin, Rachel, Kate & Madison showing off their awards.

August 18th was the coveted 30th annual Massachusetts Tomato Contest and to say that our farm did well is an understatement. Farmers from around the commonwealth gathered at the Boston Public Market with their finest tomatoes. Tomatoes were judged based on flavor, firmness/slicing quality, and exterior color and shape. Langwater took 4 top prizes and we could not be more excited to be acknowledged for our hard work with our beloved tomatoes.

1st place- Red Slicing Category (variety- BHN 589)
3rd place- Red Slicing Category (variety- BHN 1021)
2nd place- Cherry Tomato Category (variety- Sungold)
1st place- Heirloom Tomato Category (variety- Striped German)

In case we haven’t made it clear, we LOVE our tomatoes here at Langwater. They are certainly one of our favorite crops to grow and sell and this has been a great season for them with perfect conditions- lots of sunshine and dry weather. Every tomato gets handpicked in the field when they are ripe and ready for eating and then goes through a grading process to ensure that every tomato we put on the shelves is up to par.

This has been a great year for beautiful heirloom and artisan varieties. Award winning Striped Germans have a beautiful red and yellow shading with a lovely smooth texture. The delightful Pruden’s Purple has a sweet, rich taste similar to a Brandywine. And of course the Speckled Roman is a beautiful mid-sized heirloom with brilliant color and excellent flavor.

No matter which variety you choose- heirloom, artisan, red slicing or cherry there’s one thing for sure- nothing beats a farm fresh tomato!

Bluebirds and Misty Mornings

It’s that time of year when thinking back on the week past is a difficult supposition.  There were misty morning harvests, bluebird songs, courting turkeys, weeding crews fighting the good fight, seeding in the greenhouse, and the happy presence of our CSA members and customers swapping recipes and stories.

A few notable accomplishments of the week that was: All our early summer fruiting crops in the ground!  Tomato I and Tomato II, Eggplant, Peppers and Hot Peppers, Cucumbers, and our first and second Summer Squash plantings.  And with the warming days we are removing more and more row cover to unveil the beautiful crops awaiting below. Remaining covers serve as a barrier for the many pests emerged this time of year- including flea beetle and cabbage worm on brassica, leaf miner on chenopods, Colorado potato beetle on Nightshade, cucumber beetle on cucurbits, and deer on most anything.

Our sweet potato crop has been planted, all of it!  During the quiet months of the winter a few of us on the crew had the opportunity to attend the New England Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Conference.  At the Sweet Potato talk we were instructed in the importance of planting vegetable slips (vegetative clippings are the standard method of growing sweet potatoes for commercial production) as soon as they arrive AND planting under cool, overcast conditions.  As luck would have it we were blessed with a rainy Wednesday when the slips arrived and a free afternoon to plant them. The planting continued on Thursday and Friday, and we were even able to add five additional beds because of the quality of our plant stock.  In addition to our current tried and true favorite, the Beauregard, we are trying Covington this year- an orange sweet potato that beat out Beauregard in blind tastings.  We’re also growing Carolina Ruby, the darker fleshed beauty you may remember from last year and O’Henry, a white-fleshed relative of Beauregard.  I’m sorry to get you all revved-up for sweets, it’ll be about four months until they are ready.  And they only grow sweeter the longer you can hold out… But I’ll let you in on a secret I discovered last week- Golden beets pair beautifully with hakurei turnips and sage in a weekday risotto.

-Liz Nolan