The tomatoes are on strong and it's shaping up to be the hottest week of summer so far. We are trying a new thing with the tomatoes this year and covering the hoophouses with shade cloth for July and part of August. Growing tomatoes in a hoophouse has a lot of advantages, the biggest one being able to control how much water the plants get. This is super important because tomatoes can crack or develop blossom end rot with inconsistent watering. Keeping water off the leaves of the plants also helps slow the development of fungal diseases like blights that tend to take hold as the season progress. The downside of growing tomatoes in hoophouses is that it gets really hot in the summer, even with the sides and ends completely open. The excess heat contributes to some ripening problems in the fruits and can cause new flowers to abort and not set fruit. All this to explain why we are covering a couple of our hoophouses with shade cloth this summer to see if we get some better quality fruit for longer. So far the plants do look healthier and the tomatoes have been amazing, but it doesn't look like they are setting future fruit very well, so it's possible it's a little too shady in there. If that's the case we'll probably take it off in another week or two so we can continue to get some tomato production into late summer and early fall.
With the gorgeous slicers and cherry tomatoes in your share this week I thought this fresh salad made with cucumber and onion (totally use your sweet onion) would be delicious. It's so refreshing on a hot day too!
We were excited to try the dragon tongue bean variety this year, but are a little bummed at the yield and quality of the beans. We were hoping to let the beans develop a little longer than a typical green bean, because this variety is supposed to make for a nice fresh shelling bean. Unfortunately, this planting was totally decimated by mexican bean beetles in the last week so the plants couldn't support further development of the beans. Bean beetles are one of the hardest to control pests in organic production. The best way to control them is to hand pick the adults and larvae off the leaves of the plants, which is not the most glamorous job and takes quite some time. Another way we try to keep them from going too crazy is to quickly mow and tarp plantings we have harvested out. So hopefully the remaining bean plantings we have going this year will be able to make it to maturity before the leaves are toast. Anyway, I'm still excited to try these beans because they are supposed to have great flavor. Since they are a little more mature than the green beans you had a couple of weeks ago, make sure to cook them for a decent amount of time so they are nice and tender. I think they would be delicious paired with some of your poblano peppers in something like this:
Or check out this post for lots of great info about these beans and another recipe idea:
Our poblano and banana peppers are outstanding this year! They are quite big and would be great for stuffing or sauteing along with some onions for taco toppings. Yum!