Kopp's Crops is a family-run business specializing in maple syrup, honey and fresh vegetables. We are located 45 miles north of Minneapolis in Bradford Township on our 65 acre farm.

*Now Selling at the Cambridge-Isanti Farmers Market!*

Local Orders: For pickup in Isanti, Cambridge, Brooklyn Park or Arden Hills, please email koppscrops@gmail.com or call 763-772-7057 to place your order and arrange payment & pickup. Available products are listed in the shopping cart below.

Outside the Twin Cities: Please use the online shopping cart below. USPS shipping charges will be calculated at checkout.

For questions, please email us at koppscrops@gmail.com


Monday, August 29, 2011

For the Love of Tomatoes - Part 1 (Growing)

It’s tomato season!  It’s tomato season!  It’s finally, finally tomato season!  Tomatoes are about the last thing in the garden to reach maturity (other than some squash and our Brussels sprouts), and the most anticipated.  But throughout their long, long growing season they’re a ton of work.  You say toe-may-to, we say toe-way-too-much-work!  When the plants get about 16 inches high, it’s time to start tying them to stakes so they don’t fall over under the weight of the growing tomato clusters, and we have to keep tying the upper branches as the plant grows through the summer.  But as we’ve found out the hard way, staking alone doesn’t guarantee upright tomatoes. 
Our tomatoes (stakes & all) toppled in wind storms, two years in a row now.  The plants don’t break off, but it does cause blight, which is caused by a fungus that is almost always present in a garden, in the soil. The fungus only infects tomato plants through the leaves, when the leaves of a tipped-over plant come in contact with the ground, or when it rains and mud splashes on the leaves.  This is why we prune back 20% or so of the bottom leaves of the plants, so that there’s less chance of fungus splash-back.  And because it makes it that much easier for our preschooler to find tomatoes to munch on during her daily garden visit.  She can’t yet fit an entire Roma tomato in her mouth at once, but it’s not for lack of trying.
We also need to “sucker” the plants throughout the season, which means we pinch off the tiny branches that start forming at the intersection of larger branches.   This reduces the number of branches so that the plant puts less energy into growing braches, and more into growing the tomatoes themselves.  We get fewer, but much larger, tomatoes this way.  By this point in the year (at least up here in the soon-to-be-frozen-again Tundra), any blooms at the top of the plant won’t have time to grow fully ripe tomatoes, so we also lop off the tops of the plants.  This puts even more energy into the existing green tomatoes, helping them ripen faster.  So basically we act like the Tomato Electric Company, diverting energy to the areas of highest demand.  Too bad that pesky blight is giving us “rolling brownouts”!