Our season definitely hit its crescendo over the last couple of weeks. It’s the beginning of September and we’re still harvesting luscious, mouth-watering strawberries, tomatoes, and melon. Sadly, those days are coming to an end. Somewhat abruptly too, I’m afraid.
A couple of weeks ago, we could barely keep up with the tomatoes and were scrambling to figure out ways to sell them. It was exciting to see the new varieties ripening each week: blush, black krim, brandywine, arbason, cherry, and belstar. Even more exciting to taste them, straight off the vine. I’ve never been a tomato-lover but these beauties converted me. Some were bursting with so much juice and sugar that they were literally exploding in the greenhouse.
And now, two entire rows of tomatoes in our field – 400 feet – are looking like a sorry mess. They came down with late season blight, which spread almost overnight. In an effort to save the greenhouse tomatoes and control the disease, all of the field tomato vines have been cut down. I cringe every time I walk past them. The gnarled vines are starting to turn black and the carpet of cherry tomatoes on the ground just makes me sad.
Likewise, the perfume-y, sugary-sweet melons that we’ve enjoyed daily for the last few weeks are afflicted by powdery mildew. In an effort to save them, the crew harvested almost 300 melons in a day. (So if you’re reading this and want a melon, call me.) Looking down the row where the melons have been discarded, it’s complete melon destruction. Melons are littered everywhere, over-ripe, split open, and swarming with flies. Not exactly the idyllic farm scene of just a few weeks ago.
On the bright side, many have tried and failed to grow both tomatoes and melons on this side of the Cascades but we managed to produce hundreds, nay thousands, of pounds of spectacular fruit. The kind that makes you swoon and shed tears of joy because it’s Just. That. Good.
Ah, to be an organic farmer. There’s only so much you can do to combat diseases. This is why organic, heirloom tomatoes cost $7 per pound.
Then again there’s nothing you can do to prevent Mother Nature from sticking her nose into your business. Take, for example, the 80 foot tree that decided to come crashing down across our driveway on Tuesday night, smashing through our fence and taking out some kale and strawberries. As if that weren’t inconvenient enough, the tree also knocked out the power, phone, and DSL service on the night before our CSA deliveries. Thankfully, Snohomish PUD was out in a jiffy and had the power restored by the wee hours of the morning.
When this kind of stuff gets me down, I like to look at the gallery of photos that I’ve compiled thus far into our season. It’s a good reminder that we’ve grown some incredible stuff, despite our recent losses. Do seasoned farmers just get used to this kind of stuff? I hope that I never get so hardened that I stop wincing at the sight of spoiled tomatoes lying scattered in the field.