Late Blight Arrives Early

What’s in Upic?……
Snap Peas and Snow Peas

The upic field starts its second week with snow and snap peas open for picking. Flowers are blooming early this year and we hope to open them up for next week. Snap beans are coming along as well and the first planting has flowers and the good flush of beans starting. Please remember not to pick anything that is not labeled with a sign.
Dreaded late blight has arrived to this farm. Over the weekend we discovered late blight in our potatoes. This fungus is very destructive to potatoes and tomatoes and when conditions are right can take down an entire crop in a few days. We are trying to manage the infection in the potatoes and hope to keep it localized to a few varieties but it will affect our yields considerably. Late blight is something we deal with almost every year but usually don’t see it arrive until September or October –once the affected crops are done with harvest. This year the infection is earlier and stronger than usual because infected seedlings were brought into the northeast from the Alabama to be sold at Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes. These plants quickly released spores into the air, which the cold wet weather provided the perfect conditions to spread. There is currently late blight reported from Maryland to Ohio to Northern Maine. You can read more about this problem in a NY Times article  Please try and buy your plants from local producers next year!
On a farm scale we are dealing with this fungus using two organically approved controls, one that kills the germinated spores on the leaf surface and another that kills the spores as they land on the plants. We are hoping to keep the loss to a minimum but there will be loss. If you have tomatoes or potatoes in your home garden please check you plants every few day for greasy looking splotches on the leaves and stems. When the weather is damp the splotches will be ringed by white mold. Pull these plants right away and either put them in a plastic bag and throw them away or bury them –don’t compost infected plants! The Fungus can survive in the compost pile but not underground. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on this problem in future newsletters.
We’re happy to be harvesting what we can from the fields right now. Those of you wondering when more crops will be coming in…we are too. The farm is still paying the price for five weeks of rain. There have been stories of other CSAs who have stopped harvest and distributions altogether until the crops return so for now we’ll count our blessings.
Carrots are a bright point and it looks as if we will have them for a while to come. Last week’s harvest was seeded on April 12th and, unlike many other things came in right on time –although they are a bit smaller than we like. There is nothing like a fresh local carrot after eating the stored and shipped varieties from the supermarket. My kids have been eating so many I’m thinking about having their blood sugar levels checked.
Seal Cove chevre is back in the share room as is nitrate-free bacon from Maine Farms. We are still waiting for more A to Z cookbooks…we’ll let you know when they arrive.
Frontier resturant and cinema is showing a great new film tonight and tomorrow about why we all need to eat local. Food Inc. explores the industrial food system and its effects on consumers, farmers, workers and the environment. Great interviews with Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food), as well as farmer/celebrity Joel Salatin (Everything I Want to Do is Illegal).

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