Cultivation

 ‘Cherokee Long’ popcorn, with some maybe bad but definitely beautiful streaking of the kernels.

‘Cherokee Long’ popcorn, with some maybe bad but definitely beautiful streaking of the kernels.

Expected Harvest

Greens
Arugula
Bok Choy
Komatsuna
Lettuce
Spicy Mix

Veggies
Bean, Snap*
Bean, Soy*
Carrots
Fennel, Bulb*
Okra
Onions
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Salad*

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Basil, Holy
Basil, Thai
Cilantro
Dill
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Lemongrass
Mint
Turmeric

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Flowers

2018 Week 42, Summer CSA Pick-up 20 of 26

What a transportation this new weather has been. It’s hard to believe that I am on the same farm as last week, with cool greens to harvest in the morning, and a pile of crops to gather before the first frost. The farm sometimes — and I wish I knew which-times — runs up to 7 degrees colder at night than the forecast, which means this Thursday (36F) or Sunday (32F) could bring the fall’s first frost.

I am in full harvest mode with the cold-sensitive crops — like sweet potatoes, ginger, turmeric, ashwagandha, fennel, lemongrass, and hot peppers — though most of those can take a light frost before they bow out to a hard one. If anyone is particularly interested in freezing ginger or turmeric, let me know, as the technical term for the quantity we have is “oodles.”

To harvest the sweet potatoes, I broadfork the bed, which is just what I do to decompact it prior to planting. The symmetry wasn’t lost on my body, which reminded me that I did the exact same thing, in the exact same place, four months ago. Realizing this, I heard myself mumble, “Numberless perils,” halfway conjuring the lines: “Round the world! There is much in that sound to inspire proud feelings; but whereto does all that circumnavigation conduct? Only through numberless perils to the very point whence we started …” Said Melville, in ‘Moby Dick.’

Cultivation. That’s the point of all this farming. We plant our seeds, we tend, we harvest, we watch the coming frosts wash the year away, we rest, and then, rounding the cape, we do it all again. Because it permits and inspiries — and sometimes even demands — our own cultivation. I thought, as the sunset and I brought in the sweet potatoes. Work, rest, and cultivation.

See you on the farm,
Austin

 How do you spell unbelievable? This is the first year I’ve grown ‘Murasaki’ sweet potato, and really couldn’t believe the color when I unearthed the first one. The fresh washing makes them shine, so they might dull by the time you get to them, but there’s no image processing or editing here, aside from a crop.

How do you spell unbelievable? This is the first year I’ve grown ‘Murasaki’ sweet potato, and really couldn’t believe the color when I unearthed the first one. The fresh washing makes them shine, so they might dull by the time you get to them, but there’s no image processing or editing here, aside from a crop.

 What a rough afternoon, digging those sweet potatoes in a fresh breeze and a new autumn sun. Someone’s got to do it, though … / If you remember, it was a cold spring in the southeast, and our North Carolina sweet potato slip grower was several weeks late in getting them up to us. Also, we got 4 feet of rain this summer. The harvest felt fair as I went along, but the numbers don’t lie. Last year we averaged 165lbs per bed; this year, 80lbs. So interesting …

What a rough afternoon, digging those sweet potatoes in a fresh breeze and a new autumn sun. Someone’s got to do it, though … / If you remember, it was a cold spring in the southeast, and our North Carolina sweet potato slip grower was several weeks late in getting them up to us. Also, we got 4 feet of rain this summer. The harvest felt fair as I went along, but the numbers don’t lie. Last year we averaged 165lbs per bed; this year, 80lbs. So interesting …

 Because for the first time in a while my camera’s working, why not add another? ‘Cherokee Long’ again, with a few ears looking particularly glassy this year. These aren’t quite dry enough yet, so it will be just a bit before they are out for popping.

Because for the first time in a while my camera’s working, why not add another? ‘Cherokee Long’ again, with a few ears looking particularly glassy this year. These aren’t quite dry enough yet, so it will be just a bit before they are out for popping.

Autumn

 ‘Emerald’ okra gets to be mighty tall — maybe 11 feet for this one. Out in the morning for harvest, I had not noticed the moon until it caught my eye on the way up to the okra. Speaking of which: This season always brings to mind Italo Calvino’s, ‘The Distance of the Moon,’ which, back in mythological time, was approachable by boat.  Liev Schreiber reads.

‘Emerald’ okra gets to be mighty tall — maybe 11 feet for this one. Out in the morning for harvest, I had not noticed the moon until it caught my eye on the way up to the okra. Speaking of which: This season always brings to mind Italo Calvino’s, ‘The Distance of the Moon,’ which, back in mythological time, was approachable by boat. Liev Schreiber reads.

Expected Harvest

Greens
Arugula*
Bok Choy
Lettuce
Spicy Mix*
Yukina Savoy*

Veggies
Carrots
Okra
Onions
Pepper, Sweet
Sweet Potatoes

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Basil, Holy
Basil, Thai
Cilantro
Dill
Garlic
Hot Pepper
Lemongrass
Mint*
Turmeric*
Ginger*

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Flowers

2018 Week 41, Summer CSA Pick-up 19 of 26

It was 91F this weekend, which I checked the weather station to discover — when I wondered about my “let’s just catch my breath a moment” slugishness. It looks like we’re reverting to the mean, though, with the forecast calling for highs in the low to mid 60s next week. The heat has not been kind to the lettuce, but all of the other greens have taken off — Bok Choy, Yukina Savoy, Arugula, and a Spicy Mix will complement the lettuce that I did grab from bolted and bolting, but still fine tasting, plants. Field notes include, “Summer lettuce in the fall. No fall lettuce in the fall!”

I harvested some of the ginger and turmeric yesterday, and it looks great. I left the wispy roots on the bottom of the turmeric because, to me, they taste almost candied in their own right. Give them a try. If you take some of either in excitement, but never get a chance to use it in a dish … before it goes bad, put it in the freezer. Because our temperate season is not long enough to grow these two crops to full maturity, they are considered “young” ginger and turmeric, and so will not keep or dry especially well. They freeze, though!

I am still discerning the timing on the fall broccoli-family crops. The second and later round looks good, at the moment, with various kales coming in. More greens — I know — but un-devoured by harlequin bugs is a step in the right direction. This week I identified a collection of new, winter-hardy kales to try for next year — ‘Alive Vates’, ‘Western Front’, ‘Lofthouse’s Hardy Kale Grex’, and ‘Beedy’s Camden’, this last of which is out in the field right now, and is first to the pole among its current competitors. A cold-hardy kale picks longer into the winter, and will give a bit of regrowth before bolting in the spring. I should also give ‘Russian Hunger Gap’ a go, which is noted for its slow-bolt-ness, but needs some work on its overwintering (Nature and Nurture Seeds in Ann Arbor, MI — where I used to farm — is working on that one.)

One final geeky but very interesting note. I finished my cold-hardy kale list because I stumbled onto “Lofthouse’s Hardy Kale Grex” while researching the possibilities of an Atelier Farm tomato. The start of that work might be some many years down the road — one thing at a time — but this year made me increasingly interested in a landrace population for the farm. Joseph Lofthouse — of the above-named Kale — has some very good explanations on cytoplasmic male sterility, and promiscuous pollination and landrace tomatoes. Easier than writing it all out myself, and super interesting.

Be well,
See you on the farm,
Austin

PS: The CSA sign-ups go public now, so sign-up for / let me know if you’re interested in next year while we have room.

 They weren’t all this big — and I eventually broke these up to be more consumable — but obviously some were. I jump-started them in trays in the greenhouse earlier this year, but these grew outside, without plastic,  au naturel, en plein air,  etc. Now for consistency — because if they were all like this.

They weren’t all this big — and I eventually broke these up to be more consumable — but obviously some were. I jump-started them in trays in the greenhouse earlier this year, but these grew outside, without plastic, au naturel, en plein air, etc. Now for consistency — because if they were all like this.

Little wins

 Turmeric being turmeric. I think of  canyon wave striations  …

Turmeric being turmeric. I think of canyon wave striations

2018 Week 40, Summer CSA Pick-up 18 of 26

The fall weather feels pretty good, here on the farm. A breeze came in and out as I picked the raspberries yesterday, and I heard myself call it ‘refreshing.’ Imagine that, weather that’s refreshing! It beggars belief in these mid-80 days, but we are three weeks to the average first frost — last year it nipped the beans and basil on October 26th, right on schedule. Some crops like it cold — the rutabagas and carrots get sweeter — but most, not so much. I will be pulling in the lemongrass, sweet potatoes, ginger, and turmeric over the next few weeks. Today I hope to get into the sweet potatoes and lemongrass for this week’s pick-up, so ‘hip hip.’ But while we have this good heat, I will let the turmeric and ginger size-up just a little bit more.

In the midst of so much failure this year, the successes are down right beatific. The Asian greens, to wit. Yesterday morning I harvested the Bok Choy and Vitamin Green, and there was much smiling while I hauled in their green glory. Little wins.

The last of the summer crops are drawing to a close. Tomatoes — this 4th and final planting — have mostly run their course. The cherries might produce for a week more. I harvested all the final sweet peppers — mostly green — and will mow their plants in shortly. The okra will continue until frost, but their production greatly slows with the cooler days and nights. I meant to get a photo of their 10-12 foot height, and the humor of harvesting that high — next time.

In conversation with a member last week, I noted that one can reserve a spot in the CSA for next year with 25% down, and still have until the end of December to get the 10% off that comes with full payment … should that make a difference. No pushing, but note that in a week or two I open the CSA to outside interest.

See you on the farm,
Austin

PS: As I finish this note, I see a small animal just outside the farm fence. It looks like a big cat, maybe a fox … but it almost seems smaller than a fox. It’s in tall’ish grass, and too far to see, though. Through my binoculars, it becomes clear. A dark-furred, very baby deer. :)

Expected Harvest

Greens
Bok Choy*
Vitamin Green*
Lettuce

Veggies
Carrots
Celery
Okra
Onions
Pepper, Sweet
Sweet Potatoes*
Tomatoes

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Basil, Holy
Basil, Thai
Cilantro
Dill
Garlic
Hot Pepper
Lemongrass*
Mint*

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Flowers

 A monarch on some old Tithonia. I’ve added a yellow Tithonia to the list for next year, among 32 new varieties for species new and old.

A monarch on some old Tithonia. I’ve added a yellow Tithonia to the list for next year, among 32 new varieties for species new and old.

 Wet and Dry

Wet and Dry

Seeds

 I kept pulling gloves out of the bin as I searched for a lefty. Two-to-One. What happened? :)

I kept pulling gloves out of the bin as I searched for a lefty. Two-to-One. What happened? :)

2018 Week 39, Summer CSA Pick-up 17 of 26

Gabriel Garcia Marquez made it rain for four years, eleven months, and two days … but that was in a novel he wrote. This year we’re getting the real thing, novellic as it all may be. We had some lettuce in the greenhouse, growing much too large as it waited for the fields it could not move to. So, on a trial Hail Mary yesterday, that lettuce ensconced itself into old bean beds which had previously been mowed to a thin mulch. It might have been too late, but let’s hope not. That odd string of mid-90s days at the start of September bolted the first fall lettuce — remember, lettuce is a shoulder season crop that does not like the heat. Although I would normally mow that down, some of you have been antsy, so I gathered the bit that I could. A month of plantings awaits after that, plus whatever comes from the new transplants. On the rest of the greens front, Chard is out, but the Asian Greens are in. I harvested some Komatsuna and Tokyo Bekana on Monday, with Bok Choy to follow next week, and Tatsoi, Vitamin Green, and Yukina Savoy the week after that. I will narrow down the varieties in 2019, based upon my and your preferences.

Summer 2019 News!

  • I put together the 2019 Grow List / Year-in-Review. You are welcome to have a look if you are are curious about some of the farm details. If anyone wants a walk-and-talk of the farm and farm plan, we can also schedule that for some near Saturday this fall. It’s always fun for me to explain the agricultural questions this farm is asking.

  • Summer CSA

    • As a heads-up, I will be putting the Summer CSA up for sale to the wait list / general public beginning in October. You have a head start. :) If you are interested in next Summer, you may either sign-up online, or let me know in person.

    • Due to low market sales from low yields this year, I would appreciate a 25% downpayment for seeds and materials — upcoming costs include $5000 for seeds, $5000 for materials, $5000 for orchard continuation. Most of that needs to be purchased in the next few months, though the orchard -could- wait another year. The bank account isn’t zero, but it’s getting there. :)

    • Get 5% off your total with 50% down, or 10% off with 100% down … in cash, before December 31st, 2018.

    • One will be considered “signed-up” after some kind of downpayment. Again, necessity, not preference, pushes that requirement this year. “Some kind of,” means we can figure this out.

    • I am preliminarily limiting the CSA to 25 shares = 50 Adults — we sold 20 shares this year, with an “average” 15 showing each week. That’s the early limit. As the spring moves along, though, I will have a better sense as to whether I can up that to 30 shares. I’d like to.

    • The $20/adult/week price is staying still for 2019. 2020 prices might be higher due to: 1) the fact that $23-$24 went out for $20 in when 2018 was such a bad farming year, 2) an orchard — namely blackberry & strawberry — production increase in the future, and 3) some expected impact on the acutal $/adult/wk and % show/wk numbers from the introduction of Farm Bucks — see below — which will likely cut off the lower end of the curve and move it right — i.e., less light eaters, more big eaters, more often.

  • Farmstand: I will likely be dropping the Farmers’ Market next year in favor of a Farmstand. Woot!

    • It gives me more time to focus on the farm.

    • You get a better “I missed Wednesday” option.

    • Neighbors who just want some corn and tomatoes, not a CSA share, can get that.

    • Not everything will go out for sale, but all the perishable post-CSA leftovers — greens, herbs, flowers, veggies like tomatoes, etc. — plus a set-aside quantity of non-perishable items, like carrots, beets, etc. The remainder I have to save to keep the CSA happy. :)

    • Tentatively, Thursdays, 3-7pm. Let me know if there’s an obviously better day & time. This is the CSA pick-up back-up.

    • This is a 2019 trial, as the future could also simply entail someone live fermenting / pickling all leftovers for the winter, while I dry the herbs, freeze the fruit, and sell-off the flowers. But that would mean no back-up for the CSA, and no accommodation to the ‘corn & tomato’ neighbor.

    • I could imagine a future possibility in which the farmstand might be closed to all but Farm Bucks folks — 1) this limits strange strangers, 2) this helps to assure there’s something remaining for those who pay early. I don’t suspect high market demand early on, though.

  • Farm Bucks are new for 2019.

    • In essence, buy farmstand coupons at a discount, spend them as you wish.

    • Is the CSA too much food, too much money, too much on your schedule? Come to the farmstand as you like, but still support the farm.

    • This also helps with the Market to Farmstand transition on my end.

    • I’m still imagining the particulars of the implementation, but the gist is there.

    • $95 for $100 in Farm Bucks — that’s 5% off. Or $180 for $200 in Farm Bucks — that’s 10% off.

    • They expire one year after purchase, with discretionary extensions.

My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Asian Greens*
Lettuce*

Veggies
Carrots
Celery
Okra
Onions
Pepper, Sweet
Potatoes
Tomatoes

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Basil, Holy
Basil, Thai
Cilantro*
Dill
Garlic
Hot Pepper
Mint*

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Flowers

 Heavy winds, tall plants, big mess. :) The Jerusalem artichoke do their late summer thing.

Heavy winds, tall plants, big mess. :) The Jerusalem artichoke do their late summer thing.

Slosh

 So many clouds to notice in this weather!

So many clouds to notice in this weather!

2018 Week 38, Summer CSA Pick-up 16 of 26

Fall starts next week, and so what an appropriate close to the summer this rain has been. It would almost feel wrong to leave it with anything less than a 2-inch week … which we have had. It was pretty sloshy picking raspberries in the rain today, but it was windy too, which made it more adventure than routine. I hope you all are dry — or, if wet, warm like me, which has been a pretty cozy and spirited way to take in this much water, I have found.

As before, the raspberries are frozen, so as not to give you wet berry goo. We have an abundance of cherry tomatoes, which are great for hot-pop pasta — garlic, onions, hot pepper, sweet pepper in a skillet, then add a few cherry tomatoes cut in half, but a preponderance of uncut fruit, which are fun to pop in your mouth, warm and sweet. Celery is on the list for another week or two longer, so make note.

I have been working on the 2019 plan, and entering-in 2018 data as I go. I have most of the summer in, and it is good — truly — to be able to sit with the numbers, which are so much more useful than speculation. Per those numbers, the farm produced at 20% this year, a 60% reduction from last year. Wow! Something of a wipe-out. So far, though, we’ve managed $23/adult/week out for the $20 that came in. So, good news and bad news.

I am working on a “Thank you for your endurance, here’s the next summer’s discount” plan. I, of course, am also walking, looking, staring, reading, and questioning all I can to make sure that it all doesn’t happen again — should such an anomalous summer repeat itself.

I hope you all are well,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard

Veggies
Carrots
Celery
Okra
Onions
Pepper, Sweet
Potatoes
Tomatoes, Large & Small

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Holy
Basil, Thai
Dill
Garlic
Hot Pepper, Fresh & Dried
Mint, of some kind
Scallions
Shiso
Sorrel

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Flowers

 I was trying to disentangle the interaction between two variables — this farm, this year — when compared to past years. 100% is what I’ve done in the past on other farms, when looking at ‘Percent of Crop Goal’ as either pounds/row-foot/week x % weeks available, or lb/row-foot total for bulk crops. Blue is the wet 2018, Green is the friendlier 2017. Crops are sorted by 2017 % goal, low to high. Aside from Garlic, Snap Beans, and Chard, everything did worse this year. And when compared to expected goals, obviously not very well.  I only sold 40% of goal yield to the CSA, thinking that was a fair enough buffer, after looking at the 2017 numbers and upping plantings appropriately, and understanding that the soil — just the second year working on it — was at maybe 50-60% capability. I also cover cropped extensively, continued to amend according to soil tests, and adjusted crop spacing for better yields. Again, in a normal year, we should have been somewhere close to 60%.  Twice as many summer squash went into the field this year, but that that gave only 1/3 as many fruits … meaning 1/6th as much productivity. Cucurbits — squash family crops — were hit especially hard by the weather, with winter squash & watermelon at 0%, cucumbers at 16%, and summer squash at 17%. And though there were varietal winners — ‘DMR 401’ and ‘General Lee (F1)’ cucumbers lived while everything else died — and we will use them all in the future, the real work will be to improve the chemistry > physical structure > biology > ecology of the soil to improve crop health. See the far compost pile photo for a tantalizing counterpoint.  In short, 1) the farm was running at 20% this year, which was 2) a 60% reduction from last year, meaning 3) the rain was pretty gnarly, and 4) it’s the farm’s fault we’re at 50 percent, but the rain’s fault we were at 20 … momentarily excluding any thought of farm-rain interactions, and using words like ‘fault.’

I was trying to disentangle the interaction between two variables — this farm, this year — when compared to past years. 100% is what I’ve done in the past on other farms, when looking at ‘Percent of Crop Goal’ as either pounds/row-foot/week x % weeks available, or lb/row-foot total for bulk crops. Blue is the wet 2018, Green is the friendlier 2017. Crops are sorted by 2017 % goal, low to high. Aside from Garlic, Snap Beans, and Chard, everything did worse this year. And when compared to expected goals, obviously not very well.

I only sold 40% of goal yield to the CSA, thinking that was a fair enough buffer, after looking at the 2017 numbers and upping plantings appropriately, and understanding that the soil — just the second year working on it — was at maybe 50-60% capability. I also cover cropped extensively, continued to amend according to soil tests, and adjusted crop spacing for better yields. Again, in a normal year, we should have been somewhere close to 60%.

Twice as many summer squash went into the field this year, but that that gave only 1/3 as many fruits … meaning 1/6th as much productivity. Cucurbits — squash family crops — were hit especially hard by the weather, with winter squash & watermelon at 0%, cucumbers at 16%, and summer squash at 17%. And though there were varietal winners — ‘DMR 401’ and ‘General Lee (F1)’ cucumbers lived while everything else died — and we will use them all in the future, the real work will be to improve the chemistry > physical structure > biology > ecology of the soil to improve crop health. See the far compost pile photo for a tantalizing counterpoint.

In short, 1) the farm was running at 20% this year, which was 2) a 60% reduction from last year, meaning 3) the rain was pretty gnarly, and 4) it’s the farm’s fault we’re at 50 percent, but the rain’s fault we were at 20 … momentarily excluding any thought of farm-rain interactions, and using words like ‘fault.’

 Some of the cover crops come in. Buckwheat and Tillage Radish predominate, with just a bit of Austrian Winter Pea poking through. I shall edit those ratios in the future to get a little more nitrogen fixation.

Some of the cover crops come in. Buckwheat and Tillage Radish predominate, with just a bit of Austrian Winter Pea poking through. I shall edit those ratios in the future to get a little more nitrogen fixation.

 One of the experimental subjects escaped containment this year. This is Pearl Millet. It was in a biculture with soybean for a late summer in-situ mulch to roll-kill. It was slow to grow in the spring, so worried that it would be in the way of the fall crops, I mowed and tilled it in before planting. … but not all of it! And boy did it grow this summer once the heat came on. Some of it got to six feet, and started to think about spreading seed.

One of the experimental subjects escaped containment this year. This is Pearl Millet. It was in a biculture with soybean for a late summer in-situ mulch to roll-kill. It was slow to grow in the spring, so worried that it would be in the way of the fall crops, I mowed and tilled it in before planting. … but not all of it! And boy did it grow this summer once the heat came on. Some of it got to six feet, and started to think about spreading seed.

 That’s a single winter squash plant coming out of a compost pile. Some of the leaves are close to three feet across. Three feet! ‘Genetic Potential’ is something I think about a lot.

That’s a single winter squash plant coming out of a compost pile. Some of the leaves are close to three feet across. Three feet! ‘Genetic Potential’ is something I think about a lot.

Sleep

 End of the day. The  Tithonia  on the right are about eight feet tall. What does that make the sunroot / Jerusalem artichoke on the left?

End of the day. The Tithonia on the right are about eight feet tall. What does that make the sunroot / Jerusalem artichoke on the left?

2018 Week 37, Summer CSA Pick-up 15 of 26

These great rainy days who never wake; we sleep with them. And it is not hard at all to feel that we are still dreaming, as we move from mist to mist; that all the movements of our arms are like slow rivers who gather in the flowers, or the beans. I finished harvesting the raspberries just as it was too dark to see them anymore, and could not help but smile deeply at this certain kind of milestone: we have reached the point in the passage of the earth when both the sunrise and the sunset limit the hours that we can work. And how great to have this happen on a day who had neither, and so slept the whole way through — no sunrise, no sunset, just varying shades of fog.

I will be moving the raspberries straight from the fridge to freezer Tuesday morning, so expect them that way, especially as the Wednesday harvest will probably also be wet. The sweet peppers are on their way out with the summer, the okra will slow as the temperatures cool, this week’s chard is a little light, and that lovely fourth generation of tomatoes is likely to burst with the rain to come. I harvested “breakers” this morning, trying to beat the pop.

I saw a map this morning that generally listed our neck of the woods at greater than 300% of normal precipitation this summer. Too much rain + clay soil = a lack of oxygen -> the yields we saw this year. What might this coming hurricane do? There are five inches in the current forecast, on top of the 1.3 that just fell … but other models show 1 to 2 feet! I direct seeded the spinach and transplanted the fall lettuce, and put down cover crops last week. If we don’t wash away, all of the essential field work for the fall is done. Now we just tell the fields, “Hang in their Tiger,” and let what happens happen.

See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard

Veggies
Beans, Snap
Carrots
Celery
Okra
Onions
Pepper, Sweet
Potatoes
Tomatoes, Large & Small

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Holy
Dill
Garlic
Hot Pepper, Fresh & Dried
Mint, of some kind
Shiso
Sorrel

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Flowers

Holy Smoke. NOAA

Geese

 A tobacco hornworm -- a tiny one -- infected with larva parasites from a braconid wasp. The white sacks are actually small cocoons that they've woven. One might be tempted to smoosh them all -- as they can eat a whole tomato plant in a week-- but then what would the parasites infect? I tried collecting and feeding them in a cage one year, as a way to attract and breed the wasp, but I had a hard time keeping them alive with the tomato leaves and fruit that I gave them. It would have been cool, though. There is also an egg parasite, which gets it one metamorphic stage sooner, but I have never personally seen that one. While this all just happens naturally, in the future I might import biological controls for particular issues.   Pediobius foveolatus  , for instance, which the state of New Jersey releases  en masse,  controls Mexican Bean Beetle, a copper-colored lady-bug-looking pest whose yellow larva are eating all of our snap beans at the moment.

A tobacco hornworm -- a tiny one -- infected with larva parasites from a braconid wasp. The white sacks are actually small cocoons that they've woven. One might be tempted to smoosh them all -- as they can eat a whole tomato plant in a week-- but then what would the parasites infect? I tried collecting and feeding them in a cage one year, as a way to attract and breed the wasp, but I had a hard time keeping them alive with the tomato leaves and fruit that I gave them. It would have been cool, though. There is also an egg parasite, which gets it one metamorphic stage sooner, but I have never personally seen that one. While this all just happens naturally, in the future I might import biological controls for particular issues. Pediobius foveolatus, for instance, which the state of New Jersey releases en masse, controls Mexican Bean Beetle, a copper-colored lady-bug-looking pest whose yellow larva are eating all of our snap beans at the moment.

2018 Week 36, Summer CSA Pick-up 14 of 26

A hot day, a sleepy night, and so a quick note to you all. Here's what's happening on the farm.

Watering some of my brother-in-law's tropical plants last week, beside his succulents, at sunset ... I understood myself a little. Why it is I grew 100 varieties of tomatoes this year. His plants were a transportation, and so is each variety. We farmers must travel, from garden to garden, and back in time, with every historic and family seed we grow. Because how else are we to leave our patch of dirt, when it asks so much of us, but especially of our time? And where else would we want to go, if we could, but to another patch of dirt, like ours, and so known, if a little different? The stories we wouldn't even need to tell ...

The beds are clean and ready for fall/winter spinach, all we need now is some cooler weather to seed it. Spinach is a shoulder-season crop, growing in the fall and spring, and surviving winter here quite well. But it doesn't like the heat, and often doesn't bother to germinate if the soil is over 75 degrees. So, I am waiting until Thursday to give it a shot, when these 90s slide down to the 80s. To improve our chances, I will soak the seed overnight in lukewarm water, like a good rain, and then irrigate the seeds to set them in the soil properly, should it not rain on Friday. Don't get too excited, just yet, though, as all these farm things take time! :) The first baby spinach might be ready to harvest in two months.

I seeded another field to cover crops -- Buckwheat, Tillage Radish, Berseem Clover, Austrian Winter Pea, Bell Bean, and Woollypod Vetch -- just before the rain last week, and it is already starting to germinate. Awesome. This fourth planting of tomatoes looks pretty good so far, and it makes me smile, indeed, to pick properly sized fruit from big, mostly-healthy plants. I also finished cleaning/thinning the fall carrots, radishes, and turnips, and they look all right ... though we have a ways to go with them. Up to thin/clean this Thursday are the fall beets and rutabaga.

Raspberries continue -- at 15 hours a week for harvest -- and though I will offer all I can, I can't get them all this year without help. If anyone wants to pick more than I have at the CSA distribution, let me know and I will show you where they are. I am getting 'Caroline,' 'Heritage,' and 'Josephine,' but have left 'Joan J' alone. That one would be for you.

And, of course, the geese are back! Our zen bells on the farm, who, overhead honking, give us pause and a good chance to breathe, see, and not work ... as they fly on. We have also had another bird on the farm, which you might call the 'horse fly.' But they're so big, they must be birds. They flock to raspberry pickers, so note, should you be one of them.

My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard

Veggies
Beans, Snap
Carrots
Celery
Okra
Onions
Pepper, Sweet
Potatoes
Tomatoes, Large & Small

Fruit
Raspberry

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Holy
Dill
Garlic
Hot Pepper, Fresh & Dried
Mint, of some kind*
Shiso
Sorrel

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Flowers

*New This Week

 Turmeric, always so pretty. Ginger, behind it, a little less so. :) It was a wet year, as you know, when even the potatoes and carrots rotted underground. I will start to dig these come October, so let's keep our fingers crossed! 'Kentucky Colonel' mint comes in well on the right.

Turmeric, always so pretty. Ginger, behind it, a little less so. :) It was a wet year, as you know, when even the potatoes and carrots rotted underground. I will start to dig these come October, so let's keep our fingers crossed! 'Kentucky Colonel' mint comes in well on the right.

'Of red wheat and smoke'

 The 'Chinese Five Color' hot peppers really are that many colors, despite the fact that I only harvest the red for pick-up.

The 'Chinese Five Color' hot peppers really are that many colors, despite the fact that I only harvest the red for pick-up.

2018 Week 35, Summer CSA Pick-up 13 of 26

We had cool mornings last week with a 50 degree low, and in the greenhouse, at 5am working on the 2019 plan, I even had cold fingers that wouldn't type, used as they were to the summer. What better excuse than that for some warm farm tea to anchor the pre-dawn? These cool mornings brought to mind a quote I once found in Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Reverie.

For yourself, be a dream
Of red wheat and smoke
.    .    .
You will never grow old.
[Jean Rousselot,  Agrégation du temps ]

It is good to have these lines stuck inside us that we somehow never forget. In the rush of summer on the farm, there is really just one thing to remember. Don't rush. One might miss the red wheat and smoke, or the whole season of summer, or whatever it is we call their continued accumulation.

But you would not know that it was 50 degrees the other morning, when it was 94 today. The power was out -- think veggies in the walk-in fridge, fruit in the freezer, water at the bottom of the well -- which made for some excitement. When I first found this land and was building the greenhouse and mowing the pasture, before there was power and water, I came to the farm with jugs of water to drink. And I measured the temperature by how many gallons went by. One, one and a half, two gallons, or more. But today: no power, no weather station, no water, no way to measure the heat, except by shirts. A four shirt day. And it was great!

The okra loved the heat of the weekend, as did the raspberries. I think I picked 25 pounds of berries between Saturday and today, with more to come on Wednesday. 'Caroline' and 'Heritage' look very nice -- 'Caroline' has larger berries and picks at a faster rate, and also pulls from the plant slightly better than 'Heritage.' 'Joan J,' unfortunately, is a low-growing back breaker with one quarter the yield and very crumbly berries. I am considering tilling it in this fall, to make space for spring black raspberries. 'Joesphine' is just coming to maturity, with some very tasty and large berries. We'll get to those on Wednesday.

The raspberries make me happy, because everything else doesn't ... in this year that never happened. :) The large tomatoes are light again this week, but the fourth generation is almost ready for harvest, as I just started harvesting its cherry tomatoes, which are always first to show. Lettuce is out there, but still a few weeks from harvest; we have chard in the mean time for your greens fix. This last harvest of celery loved the summer's rain. If you take any this week, let me know if you would rather I cut it in half. It's that big. Basil generally succumbed to mildew for the year, but if you want any and I happen not to harvest it this week, let me know, and I can show you where it is. We're taking an edamame / soybean break for a week, as the rains -- two and a half months ago -- changed the planting schedule.

It was the best evening yet on the farm, with the heat of the day pushing a low mist above everything ...

See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard

Veggies
Beans, Snap
Carrots
Celery
Okra
Onions
Pepper, Sweet
Potatoes
Tomatoes

Fruit
Husk Cherry
Raspberry

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Holy
Cilantro
Dill
Garlic
Hot Pepper, Fresh & Dried
Mint, of some kind*
Shiso
Sorrel

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Flowers

*New This Week

Systems

 I'm still new here, so this is just the second skink I've ever seen, and the first on the farm. To the side is the shoulder-sling harvester, one of my favorite tools. A juvenile five-lined skink -- Common or Southeastern? -- per the internet.

I'm still new here, so this is just the second skink I've ever seen, and the first on the farm. To the side is the shoulder-sling harvester, one of my favorite tools. A juvenile five-lined skink -- Common or Southeastern? -- per the internet.

2018 Week 34, Summer CSA Pick-up 12 of 26

I have been thinking a lot about systems lately -- intercontextuality, feedback loops, initial conditions -- when I think about the farm. The first rule of ecology is that everything is in relationship, and so while crop breeders make all kinds of notes, it is rare to learn what kind of seeder they used in their trials. Because even the seeder matters -- and spectacularly! -- when it comes to the success or failure of any particular seed, and the crop that follows. If the genetics of a plant's seed do not play well with the seeder, everything that follows is lost. Imagine, then, the interactions between soluble cations in a bare ground, tillage-based farming system versus nutrients in bio-ecological flow in a living soil, low-no-till farming system ... and the genetics involved in the vagaries of plant-"soil" interaction. That's just something we haven't even been considering in our breeding work for the last, umm, ever.

I ran a "competitive systems trial," as I'm calling it in my notes, with the dry bean varieties this year, looking, in the end, for what does well -- but also for why it does well -- in competition / future-collaboration with a perennial polyculture living mulch. And as I took notes and started to imagine various systems-breeding programs -- like the 'Shiraz' beet, bred for organic conditions; or the recent height work on the pinto bean, which had always been a low sprawler -- I laughed out loud at myself. Pole beans! Pole beans grow long, but they can twine around corn to grow tall ... like the Native Americans had them do on this continent a thousand years ago.

And so what was evident, becomes a little blatant. The farm is a system, and as I work on building success in this particular kind of farm, I have to push through a few walls of my own training. What seems solid -- bean height, or inter-species friendliness, for instance -- is fluid. And work isn't done on isolated parts, but on a constellated whole. ... I was thinking to myself. And then today, as I was listening to a podcast conversation between two Western practitioners of Eastern Medicine -- Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine -- one of them said, "We don't treat the symptom. We treat the system." Right! We're all in this together.

As a super-fast, but related aside: We grew 98 varieties of tomatoes this year, looking for what works and what doesn't; and, sadly, we found only a few that show promise. But perhaps that's as it should be. Most of what we grew were heirloom tomatoes, which are stuck in time. Viral pathotypes are constantly evolving -- because, life -- and tomatoes would naturally evolve with them if we permitted them to. Whatever we do to fight plant death, helps us to select for death! If we allow death, we select for life.

In point of fact, the last 5 years have seen a pretty remarkable increase in, and persistence of, the US-23 pathotype of late blight -- think, a new and bad flu strain -- that heirlooms would never have met a hundred years ago. Farm health exists in a system which can naturally mitigate crop 'disease' -- though this farm still has it's work to do to be that healthy -- which means that variety selection is only part of a farm's abundance. But it's a big part!

Which is why I'm really excited to try two new tomato varieties next year -- 'Brandywise' and 'Damsel.' They are the result of recent breeding efforts to combine heirloom taste with late blight, early blight, and septoria leaf spot resistance (the three main antagonists to this farm's tomatoes). 'Brandywise,' in fact, started with 'Brandywine' -- the "best ever" in flavor, as judged by a discerning many -- and the breeders added disease resistance from there. And 'Damsel' was bred under organic conditions, which as the above explains, matters a lot. There's a sucker born every minute, but after the way our 1000 tomatoes wafted off like smoke this year, I'm in line with tickets.

A few field notes: I planted a second batch of basil for when the first succumbed to basil downy mildew -- a new disease, as of 2007/2008 -- but both were looking great, until they didn't. Basil is on its way out, unless you are okay with a little black on the back of the leaves. Let me know. Also, the kale is all done for the summer, while we have six more beds to plant for fall. In the future, I may stop kale earlier, to kick the pest populations down low enough to hopefully not gap (in time) the spring to fall planting. And, yes, we got more rain! :) Nearly an inch on Sunday night. A good portion of the carrots were rotted to goop as I harvested them on Friday, though we should have enough through November. Worse can be said of the potatoes, which I have always claimed the unanimous winner of grossest-in-the-rotten-state among all farm crops. Per the above notes, 'Elba' -- by far! -- is the best yielder under adverse conditions. See how iteration makes the farm better. Next year we plant more of that! :) The blackberries are done for the year -- though, in truth, they don't actually start producing for real until next year -- but the raspberries are just beginning.

Okay, I need to stop writing,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard

Veggies
Beans, Snap
Beans, Soy / Edamame
Carrots
Celery
Cucumbers & Squash
Okra
Onions
Pepper, Sweet
Potatoes
Tomatoes

Fruit
Raspberry
Husk Cherry

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Italian
Basil, Holy
Basil, Thai
Dill
Garlic*
Hot Pepper, Fresh & Dried
Mint, of some kind*
Scallions*
Shiso
Sorrel

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Flowers

*New This Week

 The fish was 'This Big!' You'll just have to believe me, but I counted at least 15 dragonflies dicing the sunset as I snapped this shot. I can only discern about 7 in this picture ... but it's a bad picture :)

The fish was 'This Big!' You'll just have to believe me, but I counted at least 15 dragonflies dicing the sunset as I snapped this shot. I can only discern about 7 in this picture ... but it's a bad picture :)

 My, these rainy, gray mornings in the flower patch sure are ... dreary? In reality, it feels a bit more incandescent than the picture portrays. Note that we can't do this at 6am anymore, as the nights are getting longer. Here's to slightly cooler daytime highs!

My, these rainy, gray mornings in the flower patch sure are ... dreary? In reality, it feels a bit more incandescent than the picture portrays. Note that we can't do this at 6am anymore, as the nights are getting longer. Here's to slightly cooler daytime highs!

 What I was talking about, when I talked about tomatoes and late blight. (Stolen from  Recent US Genotypes  at USABlight.org .) Also, I should note now what should have gone much earlier. 'Late Blight' is what caused the Irish Potato Famine, from a plant disease perspective.

What I was talking about, when I talked about tomatoes and late blight. (Stolen from Recent US Genotypes at USABlight.org .) Also, I should note now what should have gone much earlier. 'Late Blight' is what caused the Irish Potato Famine, from a plant disease perspective.

Green

 What doesn't a coming storm sway?

What doesn't a coming storm sway?

2018 Week 33, Summer CSA Pick-up 11 of 26

It's my favorite time of the year -- cover crop time! Cover crops -- AKA green manures -- are the crops we grow to replenish the soil before the cash crop we grow to eat. Maybe it's the green-ness in fall or spring, or the density of planting, or the good it does for the land, but cover crops make me happy.

Although I am working on a row-crop living mulch system, where most of the soil is permanently inhabited, annual cover crops still have their place. For instance, last week I seeded a mix into the first field of Austrian Winter Pea (nitrogen fixation), Buckwheat (nutrient scavenging and mineral accumulation), and Tillage Radish (pan fracturing and nutrient scavenging). This grows quickly, regenerates and maintains soil nutrition for next spring, leaves little carbonaceous residue to interfere with an early seeding of the living mulch mix (10+ species of legumes, grasses, and herbs of various stripes and purposes), and otherwise prepares the field for the spring broccoli-family crops, and the first corn, tomatoes, and squash. (Was that a one breath sentence?)

Cover crops are how we break the plough pan, add nitrogen, add carbon in its various forms, maintain volatile nutrients over the winter, protect against erosion, feed soil life, mine deeper nutrients, ramify the soil for water infiltration, and otherwise power and protect the farm. In our young case, it's also part of how we rebuild the land from eroded clay into soil. While this field's mix only grows a few months before frost, the spring mix will stay for four years. Imagine what we can do in that amount of time with the right mix of species!

At the pick-up this week, I will be cutting garlic down to size. Expect a bulb or so a week, while I figure-out just what's happening with the winter CSA. We will start with Shvelsi (a hardneck purple-stripe AKA Chesnok Red), then move into Music (a hardneck porcelain), and end with Silverwhite (a softneck silverskin). Mmmmm ...

Note that the chard is holier than the pope. But I'm still cutting it, as it's great for cooking. I will try a second planting next year, to follow two months after the first ... though the blister beetles eating the first might like the second just as well. We will see.

See you on the farm,
Austin

PS: It was an ailanthus webworm moth on the flower the other week.

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale

Veggies
Beans, Snap
Beans, Soy / Edamame
Carrots
Celery
Okra
Onions
Pepper, Sweet
Potatoes
Tomatoes

Fruit
Blackberry *most likely
Husk Cherry

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Italian
Basil, Holy, Temperate
Basil, Thai
Cilantro
Dill
Garlic
Hot Pepper, Fresh & Dried
Mint, of some kind*
Shiso
Sorrel

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile
Basil in the field ...

Flowers

*New This Week

 A cover crop of: Austrian Winter Peas, Buckwheat, and Tillage Radish.

A cover crop of: Austrian Winter Peas, Buckwheat, and Tillage Radish.

 Because sometimes we do eat with our eyes.

Because sometimes we do eat with our eyes.

Basil

 Out harvesting the flowers, I saw this little guy. It reminded me a little of the cover of the  spanish-language Neruda memoirs . And I got to thinking, like I always do about that book: In Spanish, the title is, 'Confieso que he vivido' -- "I confess that I have lived." In English, it's: 'Memoirs.' What?  Such a nice title, lost. At least we still have  Heschel's, 'I Asked for Wonder.'

Out harvesting the flowers, I saw this little guy. It reminded me a little of the cover of the spanish-language Neruda memoirs. And I got to thinking, like I always do about that book: In Spanish, the title is, 'Confieso que he vivido' -- "I confess that I have lived." In English, it's: 'Memoirs.' What?  Such a nice title, lost. At least we still have Heschel's, 'I Asked for Wonder.'

2018 Week 32, Summer CSA Pick-up 10 of 26

Just at dusk, I sat down in the greenhouse to write you this note, but immediately popped up and scurried to the hilltop. Was that a wood thrush that I heard? Then I heard it again, just above the roar of the cicadas ... maybe. Back in 1871, John Burroughs said of the more ethereal, flutey, hermit thrush: “Ever since I entered the woods ... a strain has reached my ears from out of the depths of the forest that to me is the finest sound in nature –the song of the hermit thrush.”

But I'd have to quibble, because similar as their two songs are, the wood thrush is just the right kind of lonely. In their song, you can feel the whole continent of forest that they migrate, like a long inhalation, cool, and slow, and calming -- that much land -- and only a little sad. (The hermit thrush, like Thoreau said of some November days, 'oblige[s] a man to eat his own heart.' But that's just me.) What an unexpected sunset gift, that little bird, after a near-or-actually delirious, 95 degree day on the farm.

Thank you all for doing the basil tasting last week. The results were surprisingly consistent:

  1. Aroma 2 (F1) (left, bottom) - good raw, nice tang, laid back, sour.
  2. Eleonora (left, middle) - Meh.
  3. Everleaf (F1) (left, top) - strong, too strong, good for cooking but not raw, spicy, very basily.
  4. Genovese (right, bottom) - sweet & mild, tame, perfect.
  5. Italian Large Leaf (right, middle) - Minty x 3, really nice.
  6. Nufar (right, top) - powerful, hot, great, favorite x 2

I will watch them in the field, but will likely stick with Nufar and Genovese next year, and possibly Italian Large Leaf. Again, Thanks! On that note, I am switching from an older planting of basil to a newer one. If you want to make pesto, we have oodles of basil for you to work with. Just let me know, and I can show.

I harvested some of the Husk Cherries into separate containers, so we can do a taste-test on those as well. I am not especially partial to them, but I want to be! I've planted seven kinds, and four make their appearance at this pick-up. Here's hoping I really like one of them. :) Let me know what you think.

Also, do note that we got 7 (seven!) inches of rain last week. My! Everything likes to swell in that much rain, and sometimes to bursting. ... As you may have noted with the cherry tomatoes and husk cherries. The soil is still pretty saturated, but I think there will be less spontaneous post-harvest splitting in this batch.

Busy busy,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale

Veggies
Beans, Soy / Edamame
Carrots
Okra
Onions
Pepper, Sweet
Potatoes
Tomatoes

Fruit
Blackberry
Husk Cherry

Herbs
Anise Hyssop*
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Italian
Basil, Holy, Temperate
Basil, Thai
Cilantro
Dill
Hot Pepper, Fresh & Dried
Shiso
Sorrel

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile
Basil in the field ...

Flowers

*New This Week

 All the cool kids hang out in the Anise Hyssop.

All the cool kids hang out in the Anise Hyssop.

 Wait, who wrote that? :)

Wait, who wrote that? :)

Time

 Husk Cherries get their bath. There are 4 varieties in this bucket -- Aunty Molly's, Cossack Pineapple, Goldie, & Giant Cape Gooseberry -- with 2 more, related species, on the way -- Cape Gooseberry & Poha -- and 1 failure, Ambrosia. At some point, I will have them in separate containers for a taste test. Do note: 1) one does not eat the papery husk :), and  2) one eats the yellow-orange ripe berries, not the green. Though we shall see if the green ever ripen onwards.

Husk Cherries get their bath. There are 4 varieties in this bucket -- Aunty Molly's, Cossack Pineapple, Goldie, & Giant Cape Gooseberry -- with 2 more, related species, on the way -- Cape Gooseberry & Poha -- and 1 failure, Ambrosia. At some point, I will have them in separate containers for a taste test. Do note: 1) one does not eat the papery husk :), and  2) one eats the yellow-orange ripe berries, not the green. Though we shall see if the green ever ripen onwards.

2018 Week 31, Summer CSA Pick-up 9 of 26

I seeded the last head lettuce for transplant this evening, with the plan and hope that they mature just before our first frost. The 'North Pole' and 'Rouge d'Hiver' varieties, among others, with their wintry names, had me dreaming of the colder, changed rhythm of the late fall farm. In New Hampshire, the 4th of July was the last good chance to get one's carrots in for winter. And though the compression of summer is not the same here, it is not as expansive as the prospects of sweet potatoes and hot peppers first led me to believe. We have just a few more weeks to get the roots -- beets, radishes, turnips -- seeded for winter, and then the window closes. Summer does not last forever, not even down here, where, for a particular day or two, one thinks that it might.

The lettuce had me thinking of time, because there is hardly a thing a farmer can do to a farm in the present. We seed the summer tomatoes in February, the winter carrots in July. We scour the failure of the squash in May, and then spend the rest of the summer a year ahead of ourselves, modeling adjustments we can't make until the next spring. And because we are almost always some-time else, the hot peppers surprise us, and the onions, when they almost magically appear out of the forgetfulness of that duration.

And so the present surprises us; or, it surprises me. It is July! We have hot peppers! And it is not the fall yet, or winter, or even 2019, where I have been all these months.

So, yes, the hot peppers have started to come on. 'Bulgarian Carrot', 'Sarit Gat', 'Hot Paper Lantern', and 'Czech Black' are all showing ripeness, in addition to the 'Maule's / Lady Finger' and 'Ring of Fire' from last week. How exciting!

One of your fellow members was really psyched about some of the basil last week, and was curious about the variety. Because I have six varieties in the field this year, and harvest half every other week, we couldn't quite figure which witch was which. So ... let's have a taste test! In addition to the normal basil bin, I will have six buckets out with each variety, labeled by number, so as not to sway yee judges. Let me know what you think, if you're so inclined.

Note that the last snap bean planting went on walkabout, and so we will have diminished beans until the next generations come online. (I plant a new batch every 2 weeks, and each batch historically produces for 2-3 weeks, though I only depend upon them for 2 . This one conked out after less than 1. Hrmph.)

I hope you all are well,
See you on the farm,
Austin

 

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale

Veggies
Beans, Soy / Edamame
Carrots
Okra
Onions*
Pepper, Sweet
Potatoes
Tomatoes

Fruit
Blackberry
Husk Cherry

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Italian
Basil, Holy, Temperate
Basil, Thai
Cilantro
Dill
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Fresh & Dried
Sage*
Shiso*
Sorrel

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Flowers

*New This Week

 I haven't had the chance to research this insect, as I just saw it this morning, but I'm curious ...

I haven't had the chance to research this insect, as I just saw it this morning, but I'm curious ...

 Wet weather makes fine weeding. The strawberries get cleaned-up for next spring.

Wet weather makes fine weeding. The strawberries get cleaned-up for next spring.

Dream

 Wee though they may be, they're here. Carrots!

Wee though they may be, they're here. Carrots!

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale

Veggies
Beans, Snap
Beans, Soy / Edamame
Carrots*
Okra
Potatoes
Tomato, Large & Small

Fruit
Blackberry
Husk Cherry*

Herbs
Anise Hyssop*
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Italian
Basil, Holy, Tropical*
Basil, Thai
Dill
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Fresh & Dried
Oregano*
Scallions or Chives
Sorrel

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Flowers

*New This Week

2018 Week 30, Summer CSA Pick-up 8 of 26

In the holiday film, "The Family Stone," one of the characters tells another about how he dreamt of her the night before. "You were just a little girl in a flannel night gown. And you were shoveling snow from the walk in front of our house. And I was the snow, and I was the snow. And everywhere it landed, and everywhere it covered.  You scoop me up with a big red shovel. You scoop me up."

I was always taken by his imagery, but I always wondered at the writing: would one really dream that they were snow, and not human? But there I was this last Saturday, mid-dream in my requisite post-market anti-cranky-pants nap, with a fly very adamantly trying to wake me. In my dream I was the field of tomatoes; a fly was going plant to plant, knocking them, and I was that plant and its fruit, and then the next, with the fly pushing around my leaves. There are many days when I spend an afternoon weeding, then spend a few hours more, in the night, in bed, doing the same. I have been a farmer in many a dream, but I had never been the farm.

It feels good, and finally, to start to feel the land inside me. In my kind of true, the true end of farming is not just to farm, but to dwell. And so, walloped as this year may be, that dream gave me a kind of wealth and happiness, because it gave me my farm.  And you are all a part of it. So, as always, a deep bow, and 'thank you.' Thank you.

May your tomatoes be as weighty as mine,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Fox

 It's not like farming's brain surgery, or anything like that ...

It's not like farming's brain surgery, or anything like that ...

2018 Week 29, Summer CSA Pick-up 7 of 26

Happy humid, everybody. I'm thinking a kickboard might be a good way to get down to the blackberries for picking tomorrow, if the lifeguard lets me. And, speaking of lifeguards, where were they when the fox -- it turns out, not a raccoon! -- went running off with all that sweet corn? It was at 3:23 one morning when we spent a moment with cocked heads and locked eyes, pondering each other by the cornfield. My, what sweet teeth you have. On that end, I held back last week's remaining corn from market, and will have it out again at the CSA. Although some of the sugar will have started converting to starch, it still tastes good to me, and is better than the absence the fox would otherwise have given us.

The summer potatoes have lost their leaves, so I start the digging on Monday. Carrots are soon to follow. The next generation of squash is starting-up, and it will be good -- ah, likely great -- to mow and move on from the rained-out first two. The third planting of tomatoes also looks really great, as it altogether missed the early rains which so diseased the early plantings. Watermelons continue to size-up in this heat. The same heat which will make us wait until fall for the next round of lettuce, as the spring round peters out.

I have been reviewing the spring damage and making plans for next year, as I read along and make notes from a nearly-100-year-old nugget, "Root Development of Vegetable Crops." (If you aren't into words, it has pictures.) I will spare you my geeked-out joy, but feel free to ask about new varieties of squash (Cucurbita moschata types against the squash vine borer), spring onions ('Crystal white wax', the obvious winner over the last two years), chard ('Argentata', because Essex Farm), and the like. More importantly, though, I have pretty easily found the limits of the farm's soil at this point, and am wholly revamping spacing for more appropriately sized, and less stressed, veggies. I, of course, continue to improve that fertility via the semi-provisional, fertilizer-less notion that veggie farms are not obligate material and energy sinks. We can talk about that, too.

I hope you all are well,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Beans, Snap
Beans, Soy / Edamame*
Beets
Corn, Sweet
Kohlrabi*
Okra
Tomato, Large & Small

Fruit
Blackberry

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Italian
Basil, Holy, Temperate*
Basil, Thai

Dill
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Dried

Scallions or Chives*
Shiso*
Sorrel

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Flowers

*New This Week

  Celosia argentea cristata  'Chief Rose'

Celosia argentea cristata 'Chief Rose'

Refinement

 Dear Mom. Corn Camp is really great. The counselors are nice. I wish we did more swimming. On family day, can you bring more money for the trading post? Thanks. Love, Austin. PS: We all love sleeping out in tents to watch for the raccoons who eat the corn.  Dear Raccoon. You ate three weeks of corn in a night. Wow! That's amazing, but that's enough. Your camp-mate, Austin.

Dear Mom. Corn Camp is really great. The counselors are nice. I wish we did more swimming. On family day, can you bring more money for the trading post? Thanks. Love, Austin. PS: We all love sleeping out in tents to watch for the raccoons who eat the corn.

Dear Raccoon. You ate three weeks of corn in a night. Wow! That's amazing, but that's enough. Your camp-mate, Austin.

2018 Week 28, Summer CSA Pick-up 6 of 26

I do believe that summer has officially arrived on the farm -- heat, corn, raccoons, and all. Walking back from weeding the onions last week, I heard in my heat-fever head a Nigerian fellow I once knew; he was saying, again, "Why do you walk so quickly? It's too hot to walk too fast where I come from, which is why we go slowly." And then he sauntered on behind me, the way he always had. But this time -- this out-of-the-onions, back to the greenhouse time -- I hung with him, as we moseyed on for some water and shade. Said water being the falling-in kind. Hip, hip. It feels so nice to have our seasons.

All that to say, it was warm last week. Although most crops don't actually like that much heat -- they might abort fruit, or close their leaf-mouths, resulting in poor nutrient flow, resulting in incomplete structural formation of various parts -- most diseases prefer the rain, and so I prefer the sun ... which we just had.

I'm getting antsy for some new flavors, and so will probably harvest the edamame this week, although we could wait one more. It is one of my favorite crops on the farm -- have I said this before? -- and makes me quite smiley as I pick it, but especially as I cook it, and then really as I eat it. Boil some water, add the edamame, wait four to five minutes, strain away the water, add salt, suck. Mmmmm.

We will have blackberries again this week, and likely more. Although we are a year away from their fuller harvest -- it just takes time for them to be not kids -- I hope you have enough to be happy. Per photos, as you can see, the raccoon was in the corn, and I'm now at Corn Camp. The damage was more to the future than the present, so we have a good amount this week. Enjoy! Also, we happen to have a lot of flowers right now. If you can use them, please take more.

As to the titular 'refinement.' Sometimes I look out at the farm and chafe at how unrefined it is -- in its youngness, and as compared to past farms of mine -- but then I breathe a little bit, see the future, and see the process. The summer squash at present, for instance, chafe a little; but it's the dead varieties that do, not the living. And I guess that's a kind of evolution we get to see up close.

That's the news this week,
See you on the farm,
Austin

 

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Beans, Snap
Beans, Soy / Edamame*
Corn*
Cucumber
Tomato, Large & Small
Turnip, Salad

Fruit
Blackberries*
   - Ouachita

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Italian
Basil, Holy, Tropical*
Basil, Thai

Dill
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Dried

Mint, Chocolate*
Scallions
Sorrel

Flowers

Staples
Beans, Dry
   - Carolina Crowder
   - Kenearly Yellow Eye
   - Midnight Black Turtle
   - Quincy Pinto
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile
Parsnip
Radish, Winter
Turnip, Winter

*New This Week

  Salpiglossis . So pretty in the catalogs, and so pretty in the field ... but also so few. I won't be planting this one again, but do enjoy if you happen to get the one or three that make it out of the field.

Salpiglossis. So pretty in the catalogs, and so pretty in the field ... but also so few. I won't be planting this one again, but do enjoy if you happen to get the one or three that make it out of the field.

 The hot peppers look really great this year. There are a lot of new-to-me varieties, and I'm super excited to try them all: Like the orange, 'Bulgarian Carrot,' and a new -- not 'Lemon Drop,' but we are also doing that one again -- yellow, 'Sarit Gat.'

The hot peppers look really great this year. There are a lot of new-to-me varieties, and I'm super excited to try them all: Like the orange, 'Bulgarian Carrot,' and a new -- not 'Lemon Drop,' but we are also doing that one again -- yellow, 'Sarit Gat.'

Happy 4th of July

 Should one miss pulling a garlic scape, it eventually turns into a 'bulbing' head of tiny propaga-teable garlics. Pretty awesome.

Should one miss pulling a garlic scape, it eventually turns into a 'bulbing' head of tiny propaga-teable garlics. Pretty awesome.

2018 Week 27, Summer CSA Pickup 5 of 26

Note: Due to the 4th of July falling on Wendesday, we are having the CSA pick-up this Thursday, 3-7pm. If anyone can't make this new time, let me know, and I will have a note posted on the walk-in explaining how to help yourself on Wednesday.

It was a good, busy week putting in the last of the summer crops -- a 4th planting of tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers, a 3rd of watermelons, and a 2nd of basil -- before I turn my field mind toward autumn. Although the season is just beginning for you, in a way it is just ending for me. All the way back in February, I began in earnest with the greenhouse seeding, a job I just finished this week. Whoop! Now the greenhouse turns into an herb drier for winter. In a few weeks all of the transplants will be out, we will be mostly out of range of the long, whipping tail of spring, and the summer crops will be easing whatever pains you or I now feel.

To that end, there are blossoms on the watermelons, the husk cherries are starting to ripen, the okra is just coming on, the edamame is nearly here, and some of the early sweet peppers are already sizing well in their greenness. I am making notes and adjusting for next year -- "more" is the common denominator, though I am figuratively crunching data on all facets of failure, as pressing on the gas doesn't fix a flat tire.

I hope you all are well. Stay cool. See you soon. And Happy Fourth of July!
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Beans, Snap
Cucumber
Summer Squash
Tomato
Turnip, Salad

Staple
Beans, Dry
   - Carolina Crowder
   - Kenearly Yellow Eye
   - Midnight Black Turtle
   - Quincy Pinto
Popcorn

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Italian
Basil, Holy, Temperate*
Basil, Thai

Dill
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Dried

Catmint, Persian*
Scallions
Sorrel

Flowers

The Pickle Pile
Parsnip
Radish, Winter
Turnip, Winter

*New This Week

Summer

 Variety trials continue with the flowers -- spring annual, and summer -- including these new Salvia, as well as the older Centaurea & Rudbeckia. Some varieties never germinate, some germinate but never make it out of the greenhouse, some get transplanted but never thrive, some thrive but I just don't like. It's great to walk past all these varieties, though -- flowers or cucumbers or squash -- and see, instead of deadspots or "ugly" flowers, future farm efficiencies. "Oh man, when this space gets filled with what works and I like, we'll have too much! :)" :)

Variety trials continue with the flowers -- spring annual, and summer -- including these new Salvia, as well as the older Centaurea & Rudbeckia. Some varieties never germinate, some germinate but never make it out of the greenhouse, some get transplanted but never thrive, some thrive but I just don't like. It's great to walk past all these varieties, though -- flowers or cucumbers or squash -- and see, instead of deadspots or "ugly" flowers, future farm efficiencies. "Oh man, when this space gets filled with what works and I like, we'll have too much! :)" :)

2018 Week 26, Summer CSA Pickup 4 of 26

I think the man who wrote, 'Big Fish,' was a farmer. The closing scene, when the son delivers his dying father to the river -- his father, who turns, right then, into the storied fish that can't be caught, and so wriggles off to be that way; his same father who all his life late-night backstroked in the backyard pool, or never held a glass of water tall enough to quench his thirst. Yes, the man who wrote, 'Big Fish,' must have been a farmer, I thought, as an inch-and-a-half came down in half-an-hour, and the day before was just a fever dream I wondered at -- 98 degrees at head-height, but hotter, for sure, those hands-and-knees hours in the dry beans. Whatever breaks the spell of heat -- the rain of summer; or that best harvest of summer, the fall -- makes half our life a fever dream we wonder at, says the dripping farmer. As we wriggle off like fish ...

But that was the Solstice, when I seeded the fall kale in the morning and laughed at myself smiling after autumn as I did it. One season at a time.

I am installing a more centralized herb garden this year, and so planted a slew of mints last week to make the winter tea selection more interesting -- Kentucky Colonel, Moroccan, Apple, and Citrus Kitchen mints all have a new home alongside Chocolate and Peppermint, as well as Lemon Balm, an honorary sibling. I also made plans for a new planting of black raspberries to mature in early June, the same time as our strawberries. Should we have to watch our strawberries dissolve again, the raspberries will balance them -- as well the future-future pie cherries, saskatoon, and goumi berries. I noticed that some frozen strawberries walked-off at the last pick-up. Please hold-off on taking any more, as they are for our final new members, and we have just (or almost) enough remaining. Note that I harvested perhaps 5% of the total field yield before the rains came, which is to say that everyone -- at current CSA size -- would have received 20+ gallons. This year was just a bad year on that end.

I hope you all are well,
See you on the farm,
Austin

 

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Lettuce

Veggies
Beans, Snap
Radish, Salad
Summer Squash
Turnip, Salad

Storage
Beans, Dry
   - Carolina Crowder
   - Kenearly Yellow Eye
   - Midnight Black Turtle
   - Quincy Pinto
Popcorn
Sweet Potato

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Italian
Basil, Holy, Tropical*
Basil, Thai

Dill
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Dried

Oregano*
Spearmint*
Scallions

Flowers

The Pickle Pile
Onion
Parsnip

Radish, Winter
Turnip, Winter

*New This Week

Fog

 Good morning farm. :)

Good morning farm. :)

2018 Week 25, Summer CSA Pickup 3 of 26

What a great foggy morning, here on the farm. I know it will be in the mid-to-upper 90s later today, but not now. It is foggy now, and cool, and soft here in the fields. Mornings like this one always remind me of a snowy Hemingway quote about a moose: "In a snowstorm you rode up to a moose and he mistook your horse for another moose and trotted forward to meet you. In a snowstorm it always seemed, for a time, as though there were no enemies." Yes, it's that kind of morning.

The scent of summer was out there this week -- the literal smell of the sweet corn as I walked by, and our first snap beans and summer squash to harvest; the single tiny sweet pepper, and a single okra, cheering their mates on; and the one variety of early tomatoes that ripened, mostly, by this Sunday's field walk. Some groundhogs were nibbling our carrot tops, so I pulled a few to check their progress; with the past rain, and the coming heat, we might have some in two weeks. As we lost much of the spring complement, I am quite eager to give you all a fuller spread. It's coming!

We have five shares left to sell. Get 10% of any dollar sent my way, sent your way, should you sell the share. Otherwise, yes, that's pretty cool that we've come so far by the start of this second year.

See you on the farm,
Austin

PS: This is likely the last week for fresh Milky Oats, before I put them in the drier for winter. Do take some for an infusion -- overnight in hot water, or otherwise not much longer than 6 hours.

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Lettuce

Veggies
Beans, Snap
Radish, Salad
Summer Squash* -- just one, maybe.
Turnip, Salad

Storage
Beans, Dry
   - Carolina Crowder
   - Kenearly Yellow Eye
   - Midnight Black Turtle
   - Quincy Pinto
Popcorn
Sweet Potato

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Italian
Basil, Holy, Temperate*
Basil, Thai

Dill
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Dried

Milky Oats -- the last week!
Peppermint*
Scallions

Flowers

The Pickle Pile
Onion
Parsnip

Radish, Winter
Turnip, Winter

*New This Week

 We planted 25 varieties of early tomatoes, and this one -- 'Bloody Butcher -- is the first to ripen. And at only 100 days from seeding! A few others are not far behind, though, so let's see who moves past the first round for next year. Do note that we're probably two-weeks away from general harvest, at this point. There are fruit on some of the second generation heirlooms, as well, but they are otherwise a few weeks after these Earlies.  For sure, the hardest work on the farm is the post-Sunday-field-walk kitchen research. (I lie.) A tomato-lettuce-scallion-basil sandwich for some serious note-taking. I debate posting this tease, as the full 25-variety CSA-sustaining harvest is yet to be. But this helps me plan for next year.

We planted 25 varieties of early tomatoes, and this one -- 'Bloody Butcher -- is the first to ripen. And at only 100 days from seeding! A few others are not far behind, though, so let's see who moves past the first round for next year. Do note that we're probably two-weeks away from general harvest, at this point. There are fruit on some of the second generation heirlooms, as well, but they are otherwise a few weeks after these Earlies.

For sure, the hardest work on the farm is the post-Sunday-field-walk kitchen research. (I lie.) A tomato-lettuce-scallion-basil sandwich for some serious note-taking. I debate posting this tease, as the full 25-variety CSA-sustaining harvest is yet to be. But this helps me plan for next year.

 The winter potatoes come in so well. Note the level/dipping portion of the field, where said potatoes did not survive the deluge. I re-seeded the re-seeding of beets, and the only seeding of parsnips, who also succumbed to the rain. Parsnips need some time to grow, but we should have just enough time before frost to have them ready for the Winter.

The winter potatoes come in so well. Note the level/dipping portion of the field, where said potatoes did not survive the deluge. I re-seeded the re-seeding of beets, and the only seeding of parsnips, who also succumbed to the rain. Parsnips need some time to grow, but we should have just enough time before frost to have them ready for the Winter.

 A pretty morning, out to pick beans. Carrots in the right foreground start to engorge their roots. The onions, behind them, are day-length sensitive in their bulbing, and so are collecting sunlight and top-size at this point.

A pretty morning, out to pick beans. Carrots in the right foreground start to engorge their roots. The onions, behind them, are day-length sensitive in their bulbing, and so are collecting sunlight and top-size at this point.

 You wouldn't think to look at them, but these are going to be the most beautiful crop on the farm. The turmeric emerges.

You wouldn't think to look at them, but these are going to be the most beautiful crop on the farm. The turmeric emerges.

Rooting

 On the way to somewhere else, a smooshed flower by the compost pile. By the end of summer, perhaps we will have our surfeit of color, but the winter eye still catches.

On the way to somewhere else, a smooshed flower by the compost pile. By the end of summer, perhaps we will have our surfeit of color, but the winter eye still catches.

2018 Week 24, Summer CSA Pickup 2 of 26

It was a great, busy week on the farm, doing all at once what the rain denied us. Most exciting was turning a nearly empty field full, with a third planting of tomatoes, cucumbers, and summer squash; a second planting of watermelons; and our first, and last, planting of winter squash.That makes nearly 20% of the vegetable farm, which, on a Sunday meandering, feels quite nice to look at in its sudden completion. We also greenhouse-seeded the fall broccoli-family crops -- broccoli, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi -- several weeks earlier than last year, and with the plan to do it again in a few more weeks, all with the aim of abundant broccoli, who has so far eluded this young farm. Many thanks to my dad, who came to assist a momentarily-bum-arm.

The summer farm continues to slide towards production. I harvested the first bin of snap beans this Saturday, there are a few singular summer squash ready to go, and the early tomatoes are likely less than a month from ripening. Our medicinal, nervine milky oats are almost all 'milky' as well, which to me is the true first sign of the awakening farm. This is a once-a-year- thing -- when the inner body of the oat seed metamorphoses from paper to grain, with a milky body in the interim -- so do take some for infusion while they're fresh. I will dry the remainder for winter.

Thank you so much for being here this summer,
See you on the farm,
Austin

PS: The plastic bags in the farmstand are a take-as-you-need-leave-as-you-can affair, so feel free to ...

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Lettuce

Veggies
Beans, Snap*
Radish, Salad

Storage
Beans, Dry
   - Carolina Crowder
   - Kenearly Yellow Eye
   - Midnight Black Turtle
   - Quincy Pinto
Popcorn
Sweet Potato

Herbs
Ashwagandha, dried
Basil, Italian
Basil, Holy, Tropical*
Basil, Thai

Cilantro or Dill*
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Dried
Lemon Balm
*
Milky Oats*
Scallions*

Flowers

The Pickle Pile
Beet
Onion
Parsnip

Radish, Winter
Rutabaga
Turnip, Winter

*New This Week

 A slew of "Earlies' out to trial this year -- quick, mostly Eastern European, small, red tomatoes. The second planting has the more colorful and eccentric heirlooms. This year we have 4 plantings -- 5 next year -- of 250 plants, each generation going out every 4-weeks. While that amounts to 1000 plants for 50 people -- or 20 tomato plants a person -- it's really more like 5 plants per person at their peak.

A slew of "Earlies' out to trial this year -- quick, mostly Eastern European, small, red tomatoes. The second planting has the more colorful and eccentric heirlooms. This year we have 4 plantings -- 5 next year -- of 250 plants, each generation going out every 4-weeks. While that amounts to 1000 plants for 50 people -- or 20 tomato plants a person -- it's really more like 5 plants per person at their peak.

 I take a lot of photos for records -- intentionally, and unintentionally ... such as when I wonder, "just what did the tomatoes look like last year at this time?" Here are 3 of 6 Italian Basils on trial this year.: Aroma II, Eleonora, and Everleaf (L-R).

I take a lot of photos for records -- intentionally, and unintentionally ... such as when I wonder, "just what did the tomatoes look like last year at this time?" Here are 3 of 6 Italian Basils on trial this year.: Aroma II, Eleonora, and Everleaf (L-R).

 And, Genovese, Italian Large Leaf, and Nufar (L-R). Similarly on trial are 6 Holy Basils -- 3 of which are the fruity-temperate 'Kapoor' style -- from High Mowing, Fedco, and Southern Exposure -- while 3 are the more traditional Asian tropical style -- Amrita, Rama, and one from Johnny's.  Should you ever notice and wonder about variation in the basil -- "Hrm, this one looks different from that one." -- now you know why.

And, Genovese, Italian Large Leaf, and Nufar (L-R). Similarly on trial are 6 Holy Basils -- 3 of which are the fruity-temperate 'Kapoor' style -- from High Mowing, Fedco, and Southern Exposure -- while 3 are the more traditional Asian tropical style -- Amrita, Rama, and one from Johnny's.

Should you ever notice and wonder about variation in the basil -- "Hrm, this one looks different from that one." -- now you know why.

Vantage

 Double rainbow, all the way.

Double rainbow, all the way.

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Lettuce
Sorrel

Storage
Beans, Dry
   - Carolina Crowder
   - Kenearly Yellow Eye
   - Midnight Black Turtle
   - Quincy Pinto
Onion
Popcorn

Sweet Potato

Fruit
Strawberries, frozen

Medicinal Roots
Ashwagandha
Burdock / Gobo

Culinary Herbs
Basil, Italian
Basil, Holy / Grapao
Basil, Thai

Cilantro or Dill
Garlic, Scapes
Mint, Chocolate

Hot Pepper, Dried

Flowers -- just a few

The Pickle Pile
Parsnip
Radish, Winter
Turnip, Winter

2018 Week 23, Summer CSA Pickup 1 of 26

Eleven inches of rain fell on the farm these last four weeks, and it really did feel like a mountain in cloud here at times. But even when it was worse than this -- with hurricanes transporting greenhouses or turning riverbanks into rivers, and farm beds into riverbeds themselves -- it has always felt to me that the worst thing about the rain is that it stops. Aside from a delay in fieldwork -- too wet to weed or mow or transplant or seed or prepare beds, or to do anything out there, in fact -- all the soil is still with us, and so far it looks like the only real casualties are the strawberries, which have turned to mush. Before the rain, I gathered 200 pints for the freezer, which I hope will do as blender berries for this late spring.

If you have followed the last few months of updates, you will know both that farming is a dance -- and new to this state and land, there was some stepping on feet -- and that we had a cold, dry, and at times quite windy spring. Which is to say, we are running a few weeks late. The broccoli, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi died-out several months ago in that two-week stretch of 15-30mph wind, and their replacements are a month+ behind. As I noted before, rather than delay the start of the Summer CSA, I will just accept a lighter start, and make sure we all average out on top by the end. If the numbers don't add-up come Thanksgiving, there will be a discount on either the Winter or Summer CSA. Depending upon the crop, there may also be some early limits; as, for instance, chard can't fully bear the total absence of kale.

All that said, the summer looks great at the moment, with baby beans, squash, and tomatoes all out there and waiting for a little more sun. And we also have the last fat of winter to push us into summer. Can you believe -- I can't -- that three weeks from now, the days get shorter? It's enough to make one just sit on the porch and watch the rain, and enjoy the farm, green and a little late, but there nonetheless.

Some notes for members new and old:

  • The CSA pick-up is every Wednesday, 3-7pm -- with the first one this Wednesday, June 6th. We are running an hour later this year, but will also be packing-up on-time. Please note that I mentioned to a few neighbors that they could come by, 6:45-7:00, to peruse the remainder like a typical farmstand. I really hope that one day I can have Thursday as an on-farm CSA back-up, and farmers'-market-replacing-farmstand-for-the-neighbors. For now, this is their option.
  • The driveway, after the storm, might remind you of an aerial flight over the Yangtze. Pretend you are a bird if you like, but do go slowly, as the excavating crew is waiting until things dry out to make improvements.
  • The "super free choice" model of the CSA depends upon everybody having signed-up their whole household for the farm. Exceptions are permitted, but only after discussion. Please and thank you. Because I watch the $ Out and $ In carefully -- principally to make sure you all get what you paid for -- not signing-up your whole household only raises the future costs, which unfairly punishes all. I'm pretty sure you all understand this, but I just need to make sure it's out there.
  • The "limit" on what you can take this year is "what you will eat this week." (Exceptions will arise when particular crops present them -- early tomatoes, late spring, etc.) This means that sliding all the cucumbers into your bag to pickle for late summer, or winter, won't do. However, there will be a "pickle-pile" whenever we have excess from the week before, or, in this week's case, the winter prior. Please avail yourself of it, as composting the old onions is so much less fun than seeing you run off with a bunch to pickle. Last year, I called this the "bonus bench." If there is huge demand to pickle, I will obviously have to limit it to our year-round members ... though I suspect it won't come to that.
  • So how do you pickle an onion, or other veggies for that matter? To make a live ferment, smoosh all your chopped veggies in a glass jar, add a brine of 3 tablespoons salt per quart water, set it on your counter. Done. If you get one of these super-easy gas exchange lids then you don't even have to worry about it exploding amid the forgetful rush of your life. Perfect!
  • It's summer, which means I will be at the pick-up and available to you for 4 hours every week. Because there is a numbers asymmetry -- one of me, many of you -- I generally don't respond to email or voicemail, though you can count on me reading it within a day or two. If you have questions, comments, thoughts, dreams, etc., I want to hear them and you to speak them, and the pick-up is the place to do it. Thank you so much for understanding.
  • We have one year under our belt here, and this land is still old pasture we are together turning into garden soil. Things look better this year already, and I have several prongs pushing it toward awesomeness ... but I know it's not there yet, and sometimes the veggies show it. If there is a hole in the kale, here's a million dollars that hole never tastes bad. :)

Happy spring!
See you on the farm,
Austin

 Not only the lettuce is growing on the farm this spring. Our bike helmet babies. It took many words and the closing of doors to finally get them to stop their attempt at building the nest in the farmstand.

Not only the lettuce is growing on the farm this spring. Our bike helmet babies. It took many words and the closing of doors to finally get them to stop their attempt at building the nest in the farmstand.

 Tomato stakes go in -- so easily -- in the 1st and 2nd plantings, while we wait for some drier soil to mow the clover down beside them.

Tomato stakes go in -- so easily -- in the 1st and 2nd plantings, while we wait for some drier soil to mow the clover down beside them.

 Alas, poor Galleta, we knew thee well. But I got a freezer to keep the berries frozen until now. A nice close to the Winter CSA, though. Lettuce, pea, & strawberry salad ... with a few nuts later popped on top.

Alas, poor Galleta, we knew thee well. But I got a freezer to keep the berries frozen until now. A nice close to the Winter CSA, though. Lettuce, pea, & strawberry salad ... with a few nuts later popped on top.