CSA Newsletter: Week 18 from Valley Flora!

  • Carrots - big ones (read more below for the backstory)
  • Fennel - another chance to learn to love fennel! So good sliced thinly in salad!
  • Lettuce
  • Red Onions
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Purple Napa Cabbage - a new trial variety this year, and so pretty!
  • Cilantro
  • Eggplant

Big COVID Carrots

Those of you who have been Valley Flora CSA members before might be wondering why the carrots are so monstrously huge this summer. You're used to slender little carrots from VF, not one-pound lunkers! Well, as it turns out - like so many things these days - there is a COVID backstory to our jumbo carrots. 

Our farm season starts in January with intensive crop planning that culminates in a big seed order. We purchase our seeds from a variety of companies like High Mowing Seeds, Johnny's Selected Seeds, Osborne Seeds, Uprising Seeds, Adaptive Seeds, Wild Garden Seeds, and more. We typically grow two different organic varieties of carrots: Napoli for late Fall/Winter production and Yaya for summer. Each variety does well in its respective season, staying sweet, tender and petite through the challenges of each season (Napoli excels in cold, wet weather and Yaya performs in the heat of summer).

When I placed our seed order in February, Yaya was backordered everywhere but was supposed to ship out by mid-March. That wasn't a problem, since we don't start seeding Yaya until April for our summer harvests. But then COVID hit and every home gardener on planet Earth starting buying up seeds in a panic-stricken frenzy. All the seed companies' websites crashed from too much traffic, and before you knew it many varieties that we rely on at the farm were out of stock. Shipping times for orders already in the queue were delayed by weeks as seed companies suddenly had to deal with new COVID protocols in their shipping warehouses. Our Yaya carrots got ensared in the COVID crosshairs and we didn't get our seed until May, two months late. 

Fortunately we did have Napoli seed on hand, which we had to substitute for the Yaya. Every two weeks when it was time to seed another carrot bed this spring I would cross my fingers for a package of seed at the post office, but alas, it was Napoli that went into the ground over and over again. It means that you've been eating Napolis all season, and only in the last week have we finally gotten to our first bed of Yayas for bunching (now that it's Fall :)....). I personally don't think the Napolis are as good tasting as the Yayas in the summer - not as sweet or tender - but to their credit they are very crack resistant, which means we've grown some huge carrots this season without having them split down the side. 

I've missed the Yayas but it's a great reminder that there really is an ideal moment for each and every thing on the farm. All the variety trials we do each year are worth the effort. The detailed, exhaustive crop planning I undertake each winter is for a reason and is worth the time. It also makes me grateful for all the breeders out there who are working to develop and maintain these seed lines that are a cornerstone of the farm's success. Here's to Yaya and Napoli and the countless other varieties that fill our plates each week.