It’s Tomato Time!

bucket of tomatoesFarmers, our long national nightmare is over: after months of watering day and night, watching the tomatoes torture us with their stubborn greenness, imagining they would never ripen (ok maybe this was just me)… it is finally tomato time. Real tomato time, not silly little cherry tomato time.

After taking their sweet time through June and the first half of July, the tomatoes now can’t seem to stay on the vine. We went from zero tomatoes on July 20th to more than 20 pounds on July 30. And wouldn’t you know, they’re just delicious? I’m just starting to explore what to do with my bounty – luckily, the New York Times anticipated our dilemma and put out this series of summer-tomato recipes. I’m making the tomato stracciatella tonight!

tomatoes 2
It wasn’t all tomatoes, of course. Here’s a rundown of Prospect Farm’s harvests over the last two weeks:

July 20 & 23

  • cherry tomotoes: 21.4 lbs
  • tomatoes: 2.25 lbs
  • cucumbers: 2.6 lbs
  • zucchini: 10.7 lbs
  • fennel (with fronds): 0.5 lbs
  • greens (broccoli greens and kale): 0.25 lb

July 27 & 30

  • cherry tomatoes: 19 lbs
  • tomatoes: 37.5 lbs
  • zucchini: 4 lbs
  • herbs: 0.06 lb (1 oz)
  • chard: 0.06 lb (1 oz)

On July 23rd we also sold a little of our harvest to neighborhood restaurants like the Brooklyn Commune and Crossroads Cafe:

  • cherry tomatoes: 1.5 lbs
  • zucchini: 4 lbs

Weekly harvest totals:

Week 3: 43.2 lbs

Week 4: 60.6 lbs (WOW!)

Other exciting developments: We have planted eggplant, a gift from a kind friend of the Farm. And the peppers have finally started to grow in!


Harvest Week Two

Another fantastic week for harvesting at Prospect Farm! The cherry tomatoes are coming in like gangbusters and the garden has been generous with summer squash as well, including some massive zucchini! Most exciting for this novice farmer has been the basil, which is so much lovelier than any basil I’ve ever bought, whether from a grocery store or a farmer’s market. We’re growing types of basil I’d never heard of, including lime basil, with a fragrance will bowl you over!

We’re still waiting for the big tomatoes to ripen, but the first comer is starting to announce its arrival. And! – a new sight in the last ten days has been blackberries! No one was sure whether the blackberry bush would yield anything this year and it’s exciting watching them grow in.

We did not eat for free – a harvest day usually means a work day as well. We put in a few hours staking unweildy tomatoes and cleaning up the beds a bit, making sure the little things like basil don’t get completely shaded by giant things like squash leaves. It feels good to work for my food, but this tiny taste of agricultural labor is giving me a new appreciation for the effort that goes into making food on the scale of a true farm!

Here are our totals for last week’s harvests (July 13th and 16th):

Cherry tomatoes: 15.5 pounds (plus half a pound of green cherry Ts that had fallen from the vine)

Zucchini: 8.5 pounds

Cucumbers: 3.75 pounds

Kale: 1.6 pounds

Collards: 1.5 pounds

Peas: 1.55 pounds

Fennel: 1 pound

Basil: 1 oz

Total food harvested: 33.4 pounds!

Reaping what we sow: Prospect Farm’s first harvests!

It’s been 2-3 months since seeds/starter plants went into the ground, and by last week the Farm was finally ready to beginning harvesting some of the bounty! The members harvested on July 7 and July 9 (see many more pictures here).

For me – a new Prospect Farm member who had never set foot in a garden until this spring – the harvest was a  chance to draw connections in my brain between the soil, the labor I’ve put in, and the delicious food I get to eat. I also learned a lot about process – how to tell when the peas are ready to pick, the proper technique for pinching leaves off of kale or collard plants, and that it’s okay to eat the green cherry tomatoes that have fallen off the vine prematurely.

All year long Prospect Farm will be recording the bounty of its harvests for a project called Farming Concrete, whose goal is to measure how much food is grown in NYC community gardens. We’re keeping a tally of how much of each crop we harvest. Here are the first week’s approximate totals (July 7 and July 9 combined):

Cherry tomatoes: 4 lbs 3 oz (about 180 cherry tomatoes)

cucumbers: 3 lbs 10 oz

zuccini: 10 lbs 12 oz

curly kale: 10 oz

regular kale: 1 lb 7 oz

collards: 12 oz

chard: 3.5 oz

mustard greens: 5 oz

peas: 1 lb 4 oz

basil: 2.5 oz

sage: 0.25 oz

oregano: 0.75 oz

squash blossoms: 0.6 oz

Total food harvested in week one: about 23 lbs 6 oz.

Each farm member chose to take evenly divided shares of some or all of the crops harvested on either Wednesday or Saturday. For my part, I left on Wednesday evening with 15 cherry tomatoes, a few sprigs of basil and sage, a few pea pods, half a large cucumber and more greens than you could shake a stick at. I enjoyed the food all week long in tomato sauces, sage-buttered pasta, sauteed greens with garlic and lemon juice, salads and more. It’s been a delicious week and I’m looking forward to my next harvest!