This week we begin to see the return of cooler weather crops. Having these crops in August is due to the recent mild summer weather that we have experienced. The lack of sun has meant slow maturation of our eggplant, okra, and sweet peppers, so these will become more abundant in our early Fall harvests. This share is a mix of many of our favorite Asian varieties of crops for making curries, stir fries, delicious spicy and crisp summer salads, and the like. Two of our favorite crops for this share are not making the cut this week. First is the small thai eggplant called Kermit, it has been consistently attacked by flea beetle and due to some early Summer mismanagement on our part (letting weeds our grow them and not protecting effectively from the pests) the plants have gotten a bit stunted and will likely produce very little. Second is our Thai basil. Basil is a very important, long season crop for us. When we have it in abundance we are able to sell a lot and for the amount of square footage it takes up, we can make a good amount of profit. Unfortunately last year our crop was decimated by a strain of Downy Mildew that has only been in the US since 2008 and is becoming more active every year. Last year we had a great crop until mid August when we noticed a black mold on the back of some leaves and within weeks the entire crop was unsellable. This mold is not dangerous to ingest, but makes it unattractive and limits its shelf life considerably. Through a bit of research we were able to identify the problem as the Downy Mildew, we removed all the vegetation, burned it and made a plan for our 2014 season. This year we moved the basil to different fields, grew two different successions which have been planted in two different fields, sprayed organic fungicides as a preventative measure and then removed plants once any sign of disease was recognized. Unfortunately our first succession was taken almost as quickly and this past week was entirely removed and burned (this included all but 5 Thai basil plants). On Thursday we found beginning signs of the Downy Mildew on most of our second succession, so we cut it and sold it at market this past Saturday. Anyhow this week’s share will get what we can scrape out of our planting, but this may be another quick run for the basil. We are now looking at possibilities for future years and ways to avoid this crop decimation. This disease is not only affecting our farm or this immediate area, it is all along the Eastern side of the country and it is getting worse. Due to its recent inception within the US, there is still very new research being done and especially with organic practices, so we will experiment and if anything have a shorter season.
Please check out the photos below which identify each of the three chiles you receive this week. The Khmer is extremely hot, but excellent for cooking, as it is one of the most complex and delicious chiles you can find. If you want less heat cook it whole in a dish and pull it out at the end. The Aji Dulce Amarillo is a new chile for us and it is quite a bit hotter than we were expecting from its description. It has a sweet fruity flesh with a strong heat, comparable to a Serrano. The Aji Dulce is red and tastes like a habanero but is not hot and is a wonderful chile to use in addition to one with some heat, so you can get more chile flavor while limiting the heat factor. The red noodle beans are a favorite of ours and we are glad to final grow enough to share with the CSA. Please check out some of the recipes below for ideas about how to use them. Enjoy the share….Brian and Autumn
Khmer, Thai Style Chile, very hot with wonderful flavor and aroma
Aji Dulce, habanero tropical and fruity flavor with almost no heat
Aji Dulce Amarillo, sweet tropical and citrus flavor with a short intense heat