News from the Farm | July 4, 2022

We’ve reached one of the important milestones of the summer: we’ve started harvesting peppers!

We grow a mix of peppers, sweet and spicy. To get an idea of what we grow, check out our pepper page. Regardless of the type, they are pretty pampered peppers. All of them are planted into plastic mulch (the drip tape is put down before the mulch), to keep down the weeds and keep in moisture. And all 39 rows (about 2.5 acres) are covered with shade cloth. This is primarily to protect the peppers from sunscald. Much like people, peppers get burnt in the hot summer sun, and burnt peppers aren’t sellable.

The shade cloth also reduces stress on the pepper plants, leading to higher yields, and reduces the amount of irrigating that we need to do. Despite the benefits, it’s not a common way to grow peppers, at least on a commercial scale, because of the cost involved to get it set up. It truly is a labor of love to set up the pepper canopy but despite the cost of installing the shade cloth (supplies and time), we have found that it’s worth it in order to have a good crop of peppers. Rye is in charge of this effort, which is a three to four day process. 

The first day is for measuring the field and laying poles at regular intervals. The second day is for drilling holes three feet deep, inserting 11-foot poles into the holes, and then stringing wire the length of the field between those poles.


The third (and if necessary, fourth) day is for unrolling out the cloth, securing it to the wires, and adding additional support to keep the wires and cloth from sagging. While this year wasn’t as windy as last year while getting it set up, it still was breezier than is ideal. Once set up, the shade cloth will stay up until the fall. If you join us for a pizza night (there’s one this Friday – you can sign up here) you’ll definitely see it. We still harvest peppers after we take it down, but at that point in the year, it’s not as hot, and there are many fewer daylight hours, so we don’t want to block the plants from access to the sun.

Now that the shade cloth is up, we just need to focus on irrigation and harvesting. We’re hoping for a good pepper season this year and that you enjoy your peppers.

– Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager