Recall

‘Pink Passion’ chard sure is pretty to look at. :)

‘Pink Passion’ chard sure is pretty to look at. :)

2019 Week 25, Summer CSA 3 of 26

If you forgot what hot and humid feels like — which I nearly did — today was a pretty solid reminder. The squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes, though, quite enjoy these warm nights, which speed along their growth. It is the temperature at night, in fact, which is the biggest predictor of crop growth … up until it gets too warm in the day.

On the tomato front, we planted two generations on the same date this year — earlies and ‘normals’ — with the former averaging 69 days to maturity, and the latter, 79. As it turns out, though, the disease resistant ‘normals’ average 73 days, which means we will likely have a pretty hefty early bumper crop of tomatoes once they start coming. Because the third planting didn’t transplant well, enjoy the first while we see how the yield curves. I expect — and hope — to have a superabundance early in the season, which is a great segue into the Winter CSA … and the 2020 CSA in particular.

I am super-duper excited to move the farm out of beta stage into proper youth next year, and am most excited about recoupling the decoupled Summer and Winter CSAs into just ‘the CSA.’ Although we’ll still have a Winter CSA this year, starting next year it’s just a year-round CSA that starts in June. Hip hip! For all of you interested in such a thing, you can start with the Winter CSA this winter, with a $50/adult downpayment. All remainders from the prior week, and set-asides during the week, will be out for preservation — extra blackberries and raspberries to freeze, tomatoes to can, kale to ferment, beans and cucumbers to pickle, etc. This is the way the CSA was originally designed, but it has taken a little bit of time to get there on this farm. If you can’t tell, I am so glad to finally come back to that kind of home.

A few CSA / Farm notes:

  1. This farm is your farm, Wednesdays 3-7pm. Walk the fields, walk the mowed perimeter of our corner of the property. Have a little picnic. Explore and come back with questions.

  2. If you find yourself early to the CSA, there’s a parking lot at Preddy Creek Park, not far from here, that would be great to hang-out in. Please don’t arrive before 3pm. Thanks!

  3. If you have any of those white half-gallon buckets, please help them find their way back home to the farm. :)

Cooking classes start this week, Wednesday and Thursday, 6pm. Email Cecelia — cecelia.baum@gmail.com — to sign-up. The classes are a cozy 4-6 people, and feature the week’s harvest prepared in a variety of ways. Learn all the culinary uses and ways to incorporate the farm into your meals, including vegetable substitutions. There will be 10 class-weeks spread over the summer and early fall, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 6pm, at the farm. At the end, we’ll collect all of the year’s recipes into a farm yearbook and cookbook. Sweet!

We still have room in the CSA this year. Tell your friends, we’ll love them! :) Get 10% of every dollar they send our way, sent your way.

Thank you all so much,
My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Bean, Snap
Broccoli

Roots
Carrots*
Kohlrabi
Radish, Salad

Fruit
Raspberries, Frozen
Strawberries, Frozen

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Basil, Holy
Anise Hyssop*
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Dill*
Dried Herbs
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Frozen
Oat, Milk*
Turmeric, Frozen

Staples
Popcorn

Flowers

Althea Bread
Specials of the Month:
June 19th: Einkorn
June 26th: Herbs de Provence and Olive Oil

Cooking Classes
This Wednesday & Thursday, 6pm

Watching the garlic for clove differentiation. Because of the rain, we didn’t get these in until December! last year … much later than the standard Halloween planting date. But I’m a little surprised to see them so slow in their growth, for how warm the spring was. We’ll just wait, though, until they’re ready. :) Shvelsi, Music, and Silverskin to come.

Watching the garlic for clove differentiation. Because of the rain, we didn’t get these in until December! last year … much later than the standard Halloween planting date. But I’m a little surprised to see them so slow in their growth, for how warm the spring was. We’ll just wait, though, until they’re ready. :) Shvelsi, Music, and Silverskin to come.

Left Field

The first sweet corn -- Bodacious (F1) -- starts to tassel. The tiniest little buds of an ear are also beginning to show. It generally takes 21 days from silk to harvest, so I will let you know the moment I see a preponderance of silks. My hope -- too early on this farm to be yet an aim -- was a July 4th harvest. I removed the early-earlies from the plan, but after having had a June 21st 'baby' corn harvest in 2017, suddenly I miss that date. Next year we might go back to the tiny ones to start.

The first sweet corn -- Bodacious (F1) -- starts to tassel. The tiniest little buds of an ear are also beginning to show. It generally takes 21 days from silk to harvest, so I will let you know the moment I see a preponderance of silks. My hope -- too early on this farm to be yet an aim -- was a July 4th harvest. I removed the early-earlies from the plan, but after having had a June 21st 'baby' corn harvest in 2017, suddenly I miss that date. Next year we might go back to the tiny ones to start.

2019 Week 24, Summer CSA 2 of 26

Once upon a time, I thought to name this ‘Left Field’ Farm, because the best things come out of left field. But a few farms already had that name, and so I went with Atelier, though perhaps the gist is true; this week is proving it. The best things come out of left field. So a long, curious-glancing bow to that.

What a wonderful time it was to meet you all last week. I am so very excited for this summer, and to share it with you. If you like what we have here, tell your friends! :) We’re a young farm, and in need of sales. The CSA, Farm Bucks, and Farmstand are all options, though the CSA is what truly supports us.

A field-note-free update this week because we have so many other kinds of news!

Cooking Classes: If you did not hear last week, new this year are farm focused, vegan cooking classes with Cecelia. The classes are a cozy 4-6 people, and feature the week’s harvest prepared in a variety of ways. Learn all the culinary uses and ways to incorporate the farm into your meals, including vegetable substitutions. There will be 10 class-weeks spread over the summer and early fall, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 6pm, at the farm. At the end, we’ll collect all of the year’s recipes into a farm yearbook and cookbook. Sweet!

Prices: $20 for a single class, $15 per class for 4 classes or more, or $12 per class for all 10. The first classes are right around the corner, Wednesday 6/19 and Thursday 6/20. Email cecelia.baum@gmail.com to sign-up and for additional information, or tell us in person at the CSA pick-up.

Bread: Andrew at Althea Bread will be taking a medical leave for a few months this summer. We wish him all the best in healing and health. June will be the last month for weekly loaves, but he will be back in a couple months to start again. Thank you all for your enthusiasm and understanding.

Honey: Our beekeeper Adam at Sublime Bees harvested several hundred pounds of honey this spring, and said the bees looked better than ever. The rest of their summer honey yield stays for them, but I did buy 50 jars before they were all gone. I will have them for sale at the farm, $10/jar.

Ferments: I dropped a very good quantity of kohlrabi and dill off for Katherine at Gathered Threads. In a few weeks we will have some Kohl Dill ferment for sale on the farm. I’m sooo excited! $10/jar.

Pickle Pile: As we are about 1/3rd sold, we have mucho excess on the farm right now. I will have last week’s extra greens — 100+ lbs — and beans out this week. Free to year-round members to put by for the winter; for sale to summer folk.

See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Bean, Snap
Broccoli
Pea, Shell

Roots
Kohlrabi
Radish, Salad

Fruit
Raspberries, Frozen
Strawberries, Frozen

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Basil, Holy
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Cilantro*
Dried Herbs
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Frozen
Lemon Balm
Turmeric, Frozen

Staples
Popcorn

Flowers

Althea Bread
Specials of the Month:
June 12th: Flax Seed
June 19th: Einkorn
June 26th: Herbs de Provence and Olive Oil

This fellow got stuck in the wash/pack hardware cloth. Sadly. Member Joe said that as a boy in Ohio they called them, ‘Sand Wizards,’ and a few of you also noted that they’re called ‘Cicada Killers.’ Pretty mighty in the air. We’re sorry, love, for your demise.

This fellow got stuck in the wash/pack hardware cloth. Sadly. Member Joe said that as a boy in Ohio they called them, ‘Sand Wizards,’ and a few of you also noted that they’re called ‘Cicada Killers.’ Pretty mighty in the air. We’re sorry, love, for your demise.

Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB) larvae. Mmmm. They can defoliate whole swaths of a field, so we go collect them for a 'burial at sea.' They have not been much of a problem in the past on this farm, but are a few levels higher here than 'normal' this year. The parents -- and I reckon the larva -- are very good at evolving beyond pesticides. I rather like them for that survivability.  I did not grab a photo, but I observed at least four dead, ‘black’ bodies of the larva. I have seen that many times in the Tobacco Hornworm due to a parasitic wasp, and there is online note of an egg parasite for CPB, but not yet any note about a larva parasite. I’ll keep you informed.  As a last note, this researcher is much impressed with them:  “An important thing to keep in mind is that Colorado potato beetle has a legendary ability to develop resistance to a wide range of pesticides used for its control. High predisposition to resistance development seems to be an inherent characteristic of this species. It is probably caused, in large part, by the coevolution of the beetle and its host plants in the family Solanaceae, which have high concentrations of toxins, namely glycoalkaloids (Ferro, 1993). The first instance of Colorado potato beetle resistance to synthetic organic pesticides was noted for DDT in 1952 (Quinton, 1955). Resistance to dieldrin was reported in 1958, followed by resistance to other chlorinated hydrocarbons (Hofmaster et al., 1967). In subsequent years the beetle has developed resistance to numerous organophosphates and carbamates (Forgash, 1985). Presently it is resistant to a wide range of insecticides, including the arsenicals, organochlorines, carbamates, organophosphates, and pyrethroids. Resistance crisis was temporarily abated with the introduction of highly effective neonicotinoid insecticides. However, the first cases of beetle resistance to neonicotinoids have been already observed in several field populations (Alyokhin et al., 2006; 2007; Mota-Sanchez et al., 2006).” [  http://www.potatobeetle.org/overview/#ins  ]

Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB) larvae. Mmmm. They can defoliate whole swaths of a field, so we go collect them for a 'burial at sea.' They have not been much of a problem in the past on this farm, but are a few levels higher here than 'normal' this year. The parents -- and I reckon the larva -- are very good at evolving beyond pesticides. I rather like them for that survivability.

I did not grab a photo, but I observed at least four dead, ‘black’ bodies of the larva. I have seen that many times in the Tobacco Hornworm due to a parasitic wasp, and there is online note of an egg parasite for CPB, but not yet any note about a larva parasite. I’ll keep you informed.

As a last note, this researcher is much impressed with them:

“An important thing to keep in mind is that Colorado potato beetle has a legendary ability to develop resistance to a wide range of pesticides used for its control. High predisposition to resistance development seems to be an inherent characteristic of this species. It is probably caused, in large part, by the coevolution of the beetle and its host plants in the family Solanaceae, which have high concentrations of toxins, namely glycoalkaloids (Ferro, 1993). The first instance of Colorado potato beetle resistance to synthetic organic pesticides was noted for DDT in 1952 (Quinton, 1955). Resistance to dieldrin was reported in 1958, followed by resistance to other chlorinated hydrocarbons (Hofmaster et al., 1967). In subsequent years the beetle has developed resistance to numerous organophosphates and carbamates (Forgash, 1985). Presently it is resistant to a wide range of insecticides, including the arsenicals, organochlorines, carbamates, organophosphates, and pyrethroids. Resistance crisis was temporarily abated with the introduction of highly effective neonicotinoid insecticides. However, the first cases of beetle resistance to neonicotinoids have been already observed in several field populations (Alyokhin et al., 2006; 2007; Mota-Sanchez et al., 2006).” [ http://www.potatobeetle.org/overview/#ins ]

Work and Days

I could check the numbers, but I think we have about 100 varieties of flowers on trial this year. ‘Zeolights’ and ‘Bronze Beauty’ Calendula among them. The flowers are a few weeks away from profligacy, but there will be some to start the Summer!

I could check the numbers, but I think we have about 100 varieties of flowers on trial this year. ‘Zeolights’ and ‘Bronze Beauty’ Calendula among them. The flowers are a few weeks away from profligacy, but there will be some to start the Summer!

2019 Week 23, Summer CSA 1 of 26

First things first. I have a box of new seeds to my shoulder — from Fedco and Adaptive Seeds, beets and cilantro, Lebanese Squash and new variations of kale — and in the end-of-the-day sleepiness, their simplicity hits me square with a wave of thankfulness. Everything smells and feels right in this sunset, but especially these small things that remind me of what I first felt when I got into farming … because I am already, and still, feeling them. The whole season of summer like one long work week, and yet the hours of summer, sometimes, like days, with so many riches falling from them. We start June on the opposite side of Thanksgiving, six months distant, and how appropriate a date, because how else can I — could we? — begin this new season, but with thanks?

Thank you all for being CSA members to the farm. It is you alone who found what we are doing together.

Second things second. We still have room — ample, perhaps — in the CSA. If there is anything I can do to incentivize your assistance in the filling-in of those holes, please let me know. You are welcome to 10% of every dollar referred into the CSA for your efforts. I am not on social media, but if you are, feel free to spread the word. I have pull-tab fliers and quarter-sheet fliers also available. Just say the word!

On the farm, all has been lush — but not too lush! — and busy, with some anomalous heat to speed along our crops. What looks like a snake in the grass, but has for so long been just a stick, or a strap, or a hoe, is now in fact a snake in the grass. The cedars waft their melted sap across the fields. And at night the fire flies constellate every possible tree row like lighting in the clouds. As to the crops, most of our experiments have fallen into the win side of the ledger, though a few — particularly the 3rd planting of tomatoes, and the early germination of sweet peppers — haven’t. Strange to say, but the galling feeling that comes from some of these losses turns into the excitement I feel in fall when I make the new plan. Because this time all the quarters are coming up heads.

As for that, the 2019 season is essentially in the books, and I have for a few months already been planning 2020. Strange to say, I admit, but so it goes in farming. As I have elsewhere noted, we spend the fall designing, the spring building, and the summer staying out of the way of the contraption we dreamt up. Or as others have said, first we sow, and then we reap. Here’s to the odd ease of summer — with its sane, rhythmic schedule — because what is more easy, after all this work, than reaping it? Ha.

All my best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

PS: Tell your “I’m not quite ready for a CSA” friends that the Farmstand opens this week! Thursdays, 3-7pm.

Expected Harvest

Greens
Chard
Kale
Lettuce
Asian Greens

Veggies
Bean, Snap
Broccoli
Pea, Shell
Pea, Snap

Roots
Kohlrabi
Radish, Salad

Fruit
Raspberries, Frozen
Strawberries, Frozen

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dill
Dried Herbs
Garlic, Scapes
Hot Pepper, Frozen
Mint, of some kind
Turmeric, Frozen

Flowers

Althea Bread
Specials of the Month:
June 5th: Oat Porridge
June 12th: Flax Seed
June 19th: Einkorn
June 26th: Herbs de Provence and Olive Oil

After a few bed-prep hiccups, the dry beans and corn are in. The grits / polenta corn — Tennessee Red Cob — was too fat for the push seeders I have, so I tried a new — rather, ancient in design — jab seeder, putting them in seed-by-seed. It was only a few minutes into it, sweeping my foot to cover the seed as I went, that I remembered this old line of Hesiod’s. “A few thousand years old” old, to be inexact. I don’t have my copy here, but an internet translation has it as such:   Pray to Zeus of the Underground, and to holy Demeter, that the sacred grain of Demeter may become heavy with ripeness, as you begin the plowing, laying hold of the end of the plow-handle and coming down on the backs of your oxen with a switch as they pull at the yoke-pole with their strappings.  Standing a bit further back, the servant who has the mattock should give the birds grief as he makes the seed disappear inside the earth.  Good management is the best thing for mortal men, while bad management is the worst.

After a few bed-prep hiccups, the dry beans and corn are in. The grits / polenta corn — Tennessee Red Cob — was too fat for the push seeders I have, so I tried a new — rather, ancient in design — jab seeder, putting them in seed-by-seed. It was only a few minutes into it, sweeping my foot to cover the seed as I went, that I remembered this old line of Hesiod’s. “A few thousand years old” old, to be inexact. I don’t have my copy here, but an internet translation has it as such:


Pray to Zeus of the Underground, and to holy Demeter,
that the sacred grain of Demeter may become heavy with ripeness,
as you begin the plowing, laying hold of the end of the plow-handle
and coming down on the backs of your oxen with a switch
as they pull at the yoke-pole with their strappings. Standing a bit further back,
the servant who has the mattock should give the birds grief
as he makes the seed disappear inside the earth.
Good management is the best thing
for mortal men, while bad management is the worst.

This wasn’t the first time I noticed this, but it was the first time with a camera around to get the proof: I have enormous fingers.

This wasn’t the first time I noticed this, but it was the first time with a camera around to get the proof: I have enormous fingers.

We found a few friends on the Friday Field Walk. This has been a much warmer spring than the last, and with a rain schedule permitting proper cultivation — i.e., weeding — of the fields. Carrots much appreciate the love. We’re not more than a month out — likely sooner — from their harvest.

We found a few friends on the Friday Field Walk. This has been a much warmer spring than the last, and with a rain schedule permitting proper cultivation — i.e., weeding — of the fields. Carrots much appreciate the love. We’re not more than a month out — likely sooner — from their harvest.

What governs the fall of a sparrow, one wonders. And also its rise? A bee is so inestimably light in one’s hand. It also feels infinitely precious … and for that reason weighty. How on earth, all this? Spring is a good time for these feelings of the miracle of being.

What governs the fall of a sparrow, one wonders. And also its rise? A bee is so inestimably light in one’s hand. It also feels infinitely precious … and for that reason weighty. How on earth, all this? Spring is a good time for these feelings of the miracle of being.

In it for the clouds

Maybe we don’t get into it for this reason — maybe we do. But at some point it just seems like we’re in it for the clouds. :)

Maybe we don’t get into it for this reason — maybe we do. But at some point it just seems like we’re in it for the clouds. :)

2019 Week 21, Winter CSA 12 of 12

Thank you all, you winter members of the not-quite-a-Winter-CSA CSA! It was so nice to have you here each every-other week, even if I only got to see your car come in as I prepared a field, or weeded the onions. I will be back and in one place for the summer CSA, taking a break from the heat, and enjoying all of your presences. And as to that, the Summer CSA begins in two weeks, on Wednesday, June 5th.

I was struck by two things, most, this week. First, in one week the farm will be nearly 100% full. That is, every single bed on the farm will be growing food. That blows my mind. Up first for the week, though, is a delivery and planting of sweet potato slips (12 beds), the 3rd planting of tomatoes (5 beds), the fifth planting of snap and soy beans (4 beds), and the delayed and we’re-just-going-to-accept-these-soddy-beds-as-they-are direct seeding of polenta-grits corn (18 beds) and dry beans (25 varieties over 42 beds). A new farm layout against currently producing strawberries means we’re going to hang-on mowing and tilling the berries for a bit, and plant the 3rd batch of watermelons, cucumbers, squash, and corn in the greenhouse, rather than the field.

And the second thing I was struck by: All of the great input you have had on farm crops and varieties, which I felt in my excitement for a slew of little seedlings this year: ‘Nufar’ Basil — a consensus favorite — Rainbow Jalapenos — because hot was too hot — padron & shishito peppers — because enough wasn’t — and Asian cucumbers — because they do that better, too. It’s so great to feel this excitement over your own excitement.

I don’t want to take too much from the start of summer, but there will be a bit of chard and kale added to the mix this week. Hip hip.

My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Veggies
Asian Greens
Chard
Kale
Radish, Salad

Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries, Frozen
Strawberries, Fresh

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

05/22/19

The general order of appearance of the berries is this: June 1st, Strawberries; July 1st, Blackberries; August 1st, Raspberries. Although I will be mowing and tilling the strawberries in this year — some even before we get to pick them — due to a new farm plan, we have at least one more week of harvest before they start to go. Plus, look at all these blackberry flowers. :)

The general order of appearance of the berries is this: June 1st, Strawberries; July 1st, Blackberries; August 1st, Raspberries. Although I will be mowing and tilling the strawberries in this year — some even before we get to pick them — due to a new farm plan, we have at least one more week of harvest before they start to go. Plus, look at all these blackberry flowers. :)

A good morning spent cleaning-up some of the spring greens. L-R, Scarlet Kale x 3, Nash Kale, x 1, Argentata Chard x 2, Pink Passion Chard x 1, & Gator Perpetual Spinach / Leafbeet / Chard x 1. I also seeded a later planting of Lacinato / Tuscan / Dinosaur kale, per request, which makes 2/3 of both Kale and Chard varieties new to the farm this year.

A good morning spent cleaning-up some of the spring greens. L-R, Scarlet Kale x 3, Nash Kale, x 1, Argentata Chard x 2, Pink Passion Chard x 1, & Gator Perpetual Spinach / Leafbeet / Chard x 1. I also seeded a later planting of Lacinato / Tuscan / Dinosaur kale, per request, which makes 2/3 of both Kale and Chard varieties new to the farm this year.

Scarlet Kale. Spring / Summer and Fall kales fulfill different roles, from both a farm cultural and culinary perspective. Spring kale has more cabbage worm issues — which we deal with by planting those varieties which are most resistant / unbothered — while fall kale has need for both cold tolerance and late spring bolting — because it gives us a week or two longer of spring ‘hunger gap’ harvest before it flowers. In the kitchen, I prefer a lighter kale in the spring, and a heavier one in the fall … as the cold comes on.  This particular variety, ‘Scarlet,’ is new to the farm, but comes well regarded by other growers for staying tender into summer. I’m excited to see how it fairs, so let me know what you taste.

Scarlet Kale. Spring / Summer and Fall kales fulfill different roles, from both a farm cultural and culinary perspective. Spring kale has more cabbage worm issues — which we deal with by planting those varieties which are most resistant / unbothered — while fall kale has need for both cold tolerance and late spring bolting — because it gives us a week or two longer of spring ‘hunger gap’ harvest before it flowers. In the kitchen, I prefer a lighter kale in the spring, and a heavier one in the fall … as the cold comes on.

This particular variety, ‘Scarlet,’ is new to the farm, but comes well regarded by other growers for staying tender into summer. I’m excited to see how it fairs, so let me know what you taste.

I walked the perimeter with the mower the other day, and was pleasantly surprised by several ‘new’ views of the farm. It’s always nice to step outside the fence. That cumulonimbus turned thunderhead broke about an hour later.

I walked the perimeter with the mower the other day, and was pleasantly surprised by several ‘new’ views of the farm. It’s always nice to step outside the fence. That cumulonimbus turned thunderhead broke about an hour later.

August Ambrosia

What a treat these weeks have been. Next year, when they're older and more established, the asparagus harvest goes longer. Can one really sustain the love over that duration? We'll have to try. :) Oil, 415F for 8-9 minutes, plus salt at the end. Mmmm ...

What a treat these weeks have been. Next year, when they're older and more established, the asparagus harvest goes longer. Can one really sustain the love over that duration? We'll have to try. :) Oil, 415F for 8-9 minutes, plus salt at the end. Mmmm ...

2019 Week 19, Winter CSA 11 of 12

Perhaps more picture-book than farm-note this week, but so it goes. The farm keeps filling, and it feels so amazing. Like it always does. Some early setbacks — parsnips, beets, turnips, and peppers to reseed — but also some truly — unexpectedly — gorgeous crops in the field. As always, I am in the future … seeding the second month of sweet corn, planting the late summer watermelons, trying to get a new round of sweet peppers in in time for August, and even watching the parsnip weeds with a triaging eye as to whether we will or won’t have them in 365 days. There is so much time to feel in just one glance at the farm.

A few new things at pick-up this week, including fresh spring radishes, and some Tokyo Bekana and Bok Choy Asian Greens. The last of the pickling asparagus will also be here.

See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Veggies
Asparagus
Radish, Salad
Asian Greens
… Bok Choy
… Tokyo Bekana
*
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

05/08/19, 05/22/19

Because who doesn’t marvel at a good French Breakfast radish?

Because who doesn’t marvel at a good French Breakfast radish?

Summer squash seeds imbibe the yumminess / funkiness. Among a variety of experiments this year is a field -- vs. greenhouse -- planting of squash, cucumbers, and corn. Before field seeding I have been giving them a trial bath in a nutrient stew -- fermented alfalfa and kelp, an endomycorhizzal mix, bacillus spp. and trichoderma spp., streptomyces spp., and the more common em-1 mix — to get them ready for the summer.

Summer squash seeds imbibe the yumminess / funkiness. Among a variety of experiments this year is a field -- vs. greenhouse -- planting of squash, cucumbers, and corn. Before field seeding I have been giving them a trial bath in a nutrient stew -- fermented alfalfa and kelp, an endomycorhizzal mix, bacillus spp. and trichoderma spp., streptomyces spp., and the more common em-1 mix — to get them ready for the summer.

They're coming round the mountain ... Strawberries all ready to blow-up the schedule. :)

They're coming round the mountain ... Strawberries all ready to blow-up the schedule. :)

I had been meaning to contact cooperative extension about this. Toward the end of the day, this fellow flew into the summer kitchen office like a very steady shark. The picture maybe doesn't do its size justice, as it seemed to be at least 2 inches long. at least. The closest thing I can find on the internet is the Asian giant wasp, said to be absent from Virginia, but deadly in Japan. Any ideas? It was pretty scary, in point of fact.

I had been meaning to contact cooperative extension about this. Toward the end of the day, this fellow flew into the summer kitchen office like a very steady shark. The picture maybe doesn't do its size justice, as it seemed to be at least 2 inches long. at least. The closest thing I can find on the internet is the Asian giant wasp, said to be absent from Virginia, but deadly in Japan. Any ideas? It was pretty scary, in point of fact.

There's a cute corner of the farm I have of late been calling “The Trials Triangle,” but has these last two years been a patch of tall grass. The long term plan had always been for medicinal herbs, but the idea of having a dedicated trials spot also appeals. There are a few new things we're trying this year, and this is we're they're going. Nice.

There's a cute corner of the farm I have of late been calling “The Trials Triangle,” but has these last two years been a patch of tall grass. The long term plan had always been for medicinal herbs, but the idea of having a dedicated trials spot also appeals. There are a few new things we're trying this year, and this is we're they're going. Nice.

Just add a 3% brine -- weight of salt / weight of water x 100% -- to the jar, and you have pickles. How exciting for this summer, fall, or winter. There will be the bit remaining at pick-up this week if you're looking for more to preserve / make into soup.

Just add a 3% brine -- weight of salt / weight of water x 100% -- to the jar, and you have pickles. How exciting for this summer, fall, or winter. There will be the bit remaining at pick-up this week if you're looking for more to preserve / make into soup.

We’re onto the third round of tomatoes! The first — two part — batch had 100 varieties. And I’m sure they’ll all do wonderfully. :)

We’re onto the third round of tomatoes! The first — two part — batch had 100 varieties. And I’m sure they’ll all do wonderfully. :)

Chives in the new perennial herb garden. These are a transplant from last year, while everything else is two inches tall. It feels great, though, to have a dedicated spot for the culinary herbs.

Chives in the new perennial herb garden. These are a transplant from last year, while everything else is two inches tall. It feels great, though, to have a dedicated spot for the culinary herbs.

6 Weeks

The fresh onions settle into their new home, and the garlic asks for a chicory mowing. :)

The fresh onions settle into their new home, and the garlic asks for a chicory mowing. :)

Expected Harvest

Veggies
Asparagus*
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

2019 Week 17, Winter CSA 10 of 12

Busy, busy, and out to the field. But a quick note for you all, these 6 weeks before the first week of the Summer CSA.

The beans and the radishes are up! and the soybeans are coming, as well as a trial of direct-seeded early corn and squash. The latter are part of an effort to get more roots earth-bound, and included a soaking in a new "nutrient stew" of beneficial bacteria, fungi, and fermented alfalfa and kelp. Next week the tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and corn officially go out from the greenhouse ... to complement the lettuce, kale, and chard already out there. This relatively late planting -- by my history -- is meant to balance the trouble these early crops have faced in the cold the last two years. Here’s to hoping that a better childhood will help them as adults — and what kind of parent am I to treat them so poorly so young? :) Although many of the transplants looked weak on greenhouse-exit this year, they seem to be taking to the field really well. That feels great! The onions, for example, are shaping-up, as are the broccoli family crops.

The first year of asparagus harvest is upon us, and I am watching how it all plays out. The first true day of harvest was yesterday, when we got 12 pounds on one farm walk-around. Although it takes some years before the planting is well enough established to bear a multi-week harvest, I think we have at least two weeks of picking available to us this year. Hip hip. I am still getting my bearings on this new-to-me crop, and am excited to dig in a bit to its whole story.

Starting this Sunday, 12-2pm, I will be having an "Atelier Farm CSA Open House & Field Walk." Weather dependent, it will happen the next few Sundays. If you know of anyone who might be interested in the CSA or Farmstand, send them this way! Or come yourself, if you'd like a refresher on the past, present, and future of the farm.

As always, all my thanks,
Off to plant the potatoes!

See you on the farm,
Austin

Carrots pop up. WALF (Weeks After Last Frost) 2 is a busy one, but maybe we’ll get to weeding those by the end of the week. Otherwise WALF 3 looks like a good time to thin and clean them up. The beets would like some similar attention.

Carrots pop up. WALF (Weeks After Last Frost) 2 is a busy one, but maybe we’ll get to weeding those by the end of the week. Otherwise WALF 3 looks like a good time to thin and clean them up. The beets would like some similar attention.

You tasted and you told. This year we have all the basils that you liked best, plus a new one to trial.

You tasted and you told. This year we have all the basils that you liked best, plus a new one to trial.

This year — I swear — we will find the time to get our perennial flowers out into the field, and NOT dump them in the compost. Part of this week’s plan involves the initial bed prep to make that happen. Here’s to 20-some varieties of perennial flowers for the larder.

This year — I swear — we will find the time to get our perennial flowers out into the field, and NOT dump them in the compost. Part of this week’s plan involves the initial bed prep to make that happen. Here’s to 20-some varieties of perennial flowers for the larder.

A good rain

A Whistler-Wyeth day, last year. The camera sent all its bits back to the ether, so in the meantime permit a retrospective.

A Whistler-Wyeth day, last year. The camera sent all its bits back to the ether, so in the meantime permit a retrospective.

2019 Week 15, Winter CSA 10 of 12

Happy spring, indeed! Things are changing here on the farm. To wit, I was a bit uncomfortable for a bit of moment, on my seat just now, before I emptied my back pockets of the handfuls of dirt they had accumulated. Yes, we are in new territory. And it feels — and smells — great. Not only does it smell like good weather for growing, I think it also smells like the very fact of growing itself.

The garlic shoots look magnificent in their straight greenness, as do all our newly transplanted alliums — fresh onions, storage onions, shallots, and leeks. I am still working through why the spring brassica — kale, cabbage, broccoli, and kohlrabi — do not like the out-of-doors transition, but at present they’re all alive, which is the positive opposite of last year!

These last two rains I would call “good.” By which, I really mean, great. Just 0.4” over a day, or even this last 0.15” over a late afternoon, with overcast skies, were just the kind of thing to settle a slew of transplants into their new home. For as much rain as we had last year, I don’t actually believe we ever had “a good rain.” We had many 2 inch, and 3 inch, and 4 inch storms; there was even that one day that broke the ‘dry’ spell in July, when we had a 7 inch rain. But, never the kind that settled the farm into itself. How deep-in-the-heart comforting, then, to benedict this new year with a good rain.

Time permitting, I clean the asparagus beds at the end of the week, and maybe do some mild spelunking, to see how close we are to harvest. By last year’s count, Asparagus will be ready next week … though have not had enough time on this farm to know its normal timing. I will send a note out when the harvest begins! Oh, and fresh cilantro is on the list for the week.

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

Expected Harvest

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Fresh Cilantro*

Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

Last year looks much like this year, but for the basil, which I have seeded later, to skip the late frosts.

Last year looks much like this year, but for the basil, which I have seeded later, to skip the late frosts.

Working Horse, Hauling

Working Horse, Hauling . Kate Javens. I once lived nearly across the street from a library and a museum, and on the way back with my books, I would sometimes stop in to look at this painting. This past week I pulled a 150 pound lawn roller up and down the first 5 miles of the farm. Eventually it got too heavy, and so I saved the steepest section of the farm for the tractor … but not before, having strapped the roller to my old backpacking pack, my body remembered this painting.  I remembered the title and artist, and when I googled to see if there might be a copy online, I found one at the top of a collection of excerpts from Seneca. And so, an except from that excerpt:  “You would come to know a ship's pilot in a storm and a soldier in the line of battle. How can I know with what strength of mind you would face poverty, if you abound in wealth? … disaster is the opportunity for true worth.” Seneca, Essays, Volume 1.

Working Horse, Hauling. Kate Javens. I once lived nearly across the street from a library and a museum, and on the way back with my books, I would sometimes stop in to look at this painting. This past week I pulled a 150 pound lawn roller up and down the first 5 miles of the farm. Eventually it got too heavy, and so I saved the steepest section of the farm for the tractor … but not before, having strapped the roller to my old backpacking pack, my body remembered this painting.

I remembered the title and artist, and when I googled to see if there might be a copy online, I found one at the top of a collection of excerpts from Seneca. And so, an except from that excerpt:

“You would come to know a ship's pilot in a storm and a soldier in the line of battle. How can I know with what strength of mind you would face poverty, if you abound in wealth? … disaster is the opportunity for true worth.” Seneca, Essays, Volume 1.

Expected Harvest

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

2019 Week 13, Winter CSA 9 of 12

Happy Spring everybody! It has been a busy time on the farm, which is really just to say that the farming year is here! Today was a beat-the-rain rush to get 600 feet of spring black and fall red raspberries into their new home. It doesn’t sound like much, and I suppose it wasn’t, but it took all day all the same. The black raspberries should mature in June, beginning next year; the red are a +50% continuation of last year’s middle-two varieties — Caroline and Heritage — which were the productivity winners over Joan J and Josephine. What happens with the latter two are up in the air, though I am leaning toward replacing ‘Joan J’ with some Justaberries — a Currant and Gooseberry cross — for a post-blackberry small fruit.

For a number of reasons, I did not run a true CSA this winter, as you know. One of those was the fact that I knew I would be tilling in the spinach early, in order to establish the new farm system. So, no more spinach for the winter. I was able to leave a strip of cilantro, though, which ought to be growing well as this weather warms. Not a greens replacement, but a nice thing nonetheless.

A hardy hearty reminder that we are still looking to sell the rest of the Summer CSA. If you know of anyone who might be interested, you can get 10% of every dollar they send our way, sent your way. What a deal! :) We have just a few more things to buy to finish-out the start of summer — some gravel for the entry walkway, and some wooden stakes and twine for the tomatoes, for example — but are cash short at present. The shares will sell in due time, but selling them sooner is so much better than later. :)

My best,
See you on the farm,
& Happy Spring, once more,
Austin

Just heading out with 60 pounds of living mulch seed to spread with the ‘belly rubber’ broadcast seeder. Spring sure is getting springy, here on the farm.

Just heading out with 60 pounds of living mulch seed to spread with the ‘belly rubber’ broadcast seeder. Spring sure is getting springy, here on the farm.

The black raspberry — ‘Jewel,’ in this case — ready for its new home. Here’s to an abundance of early summer — think June! — fruit; though we do have to wait an establishment year before we can indulge. :)

The black raspberry — ‘Jewel,’ in this case — ready for its new home. Here’s to an abundance of early summer — think June! — fruit; though we do have to wait an establishment year before we can indulge. :)

Part of the new row crop living mulch (RCLM) system involves sub-16” strips through a multi-species living mulch. Here is the tractor’s tiller pared way down to just a few tines to reach that goal. I haven’t tried it yet — Is the hood too close to the edges? Is there an imbalance to the tines which might cause it to rattle? — but I will the second the soil is dry enough. I’m super excited about this experiment, and hope it’s a lot more than that; not an experiment, but just the way we do things from now on.

Part of the new row crop living mulch (RCLM) system involves sub-16” strips through a multi-species living mulch. Here is the tractor’s tiller pared way down to just a few tines to reach that goal. I haven’t tried it yet — Is the hood too close to the edges? Is there an imbalance to the tines which might cause it to rattle? — but I will the second the soil is dry enough. I’m super excited about this experiment, and hope it’s a lot more than that; not an experiment, but just the way we do things from now on.

Lawn roller and ‘lawn.’ Where I haven’t rolled is where the crops grow. Where I have, is where the pathway mix lives.

Lawn roller and ‘lawn.’ Where I haven’t rolled is where the crops grow. Where I have, is where the pathway mix lives.

Myrmecochory. Back in 2010, I think, we were having a terrible time getting tomatoes to germinate at the farm I was on in Pennsylvania. We’d seed, the germination would be bad, and we’d seed again. At a certain point we saw that some of the seeds were actually missing, so we set mouse traps. But we caught no mice, and the seeds kept going on walk-about.  Finally, we found the answer. Myrmecochory, or seed dispersal by ants. Ants and seeds have a mutualistic relationship, where the seed gives good things to the ant, who takes the seed home, which is likely a place the seed wants to be.  I was getting stumped as to why I was seeing so many odd seeds germinating in our potting mix this spring. At first I thought that the new potting mix source had unclean material. But then I saw this shiso — which looks just like basil, but obviously smells differently — germinating in the kohlrabi. I very certainly did not rattle a wand of shiso seed pods over the tray, but it sure looked like I had. Seeing this, I knew almost immediately that it was ants. Not stealing, like they had before, but adulterating our beautiful kohlrabi, kale, and cabbage flats. Pretty interesting, and just a little annoying. :)

Myrmecochory. Back in 2010, I think, we were having a terrible time getting tomatoes to germinate at the farm I was on in Pennsylvania. We’d seed, the germination would be bad, and we’d seed again. At a certain point we saw that some of the seeds were actually missing, so we set mouse traps. But we caught no mice, and the seeds kept going on walk-about.

Finally, we found the answer. Myrmecochory, or seed dispersal by ants. Ants and seeds have a mutualistic relationship, where the seed gives good things to the ant, who takes the seed home, which is likely a place the seed wants to be.

I was getting stumped as to why I was seeing so many odd seeds germinating in our potting mix this spring. At first I thought that the new potting mix source had unclean material. But then I saw this shiso — which looks just like basil, but obviously smells differently — germinating in the kohlrabi. I very certainly did not rattle a wand of shiso seed pods over the tray, but it sure looked like I had. Seeing this, I knew almost immediately that it was ants. Not stealing, like they had before, but adulterating our beautiful kohlrabi, kale, and cabbage flats. Pretty interesting, and just a little annoying. :)

A new 13HP Honda on the Grillo, having swapped out the old Subaru-Robin 14HP engine. As it turns out, Subaru got out of the power equipment business a year or two ago, so there wasn’t even a replacement for the old one.  While our little tractor was out of commission, I rented a four-wheel tractor to prepare the farm. This is something we ideally do just once, and though we did it at the start of the farm, 2019 is a bit of an exciting re-start, and so I did it again. Renting the larger tractor had me think of fossil fuels, and so I went back and looked: In 2018 we used about 1 gallon of gasoline per member. In the future, production efficiencies should drop that to about 1/2 a gallon, and farm practices should drop that to about 1/6 to 1/3 gallon per member per year. Even at this point, though, the total amount of gasoline used on the farm for the tractor (per member) over the course of a year doesn’t drive the average member’s car to the farm and back on a single pick-up day.  For all my desire for a quiet, solar-charged electric engine on my walk-behind Grillo — because, how dreamy — it’s interesting to see how long the carbon emissions from the current set-up would take to equal the total emissions from mining, production, and shipping … even before it reached the farm for its first engine hour. And how those emissions would still be embedded in an electric engine and battery. Which is why biology and technique interest me so much.  Making omelettes and breaking eggs, the goal here is to establish a system that is principally to totally biological / ecological in practice, where one uses fuel to establish a system that doesn’t; or, one net-emits carbon to establish a system that net-absorbs it. This is a matter of design, from a farm and tool perspective. Though we lack on both fronts, every year shows more and more movement from more and more people. And this gets me so excited. Anyone want to build a recumbent pedal-powered flywheel-driven sickle bar mower with independent gearing for the drive and PTO shafts? The orchard and walkways would love one of those. Though, who’s to say a scythe wouldn’t work just as well.  And do note that engine fossil fuel use is just one source — sink, really — of power on the farm. There are the spring greenhouse’s heat mats and the walk-in fridge, which both run on electric power — Rappahannock at present, though I have been talking with a few solar install companies. Those are both heating and cooling, done electrically. Solar — and electricity, for that matter — does motion and light well, but heating and cooling are really its efficiency nemeses. I have plans in my mind for a passive solar hydronic heating system in the greenhouse, though it would probably require supplemental heat, and the literature is full of the system-efficiency downsides of supplemental energy. Though hot beds — think biological carbon + nitrogen + biology = thermophillic stage compost heat output — could be a homegrown solution. And, as for that, radiative fins at the top of the greenhouse, with a lightweight pump to cycle water, could possibly make that water hot enough. On the food storage front, a root cellar with a not-very-efficient-in-Virginia evaporative cooling system could work … though, being as we can only do so much, that is on the long-term if-some-funding-source-wanted-to-see-that-happen-here list, and not really on the do-this plan.  Which is all to say. We have a new engine. It runs on a gas. But we’re not the end, we’re the evolving way, and also part of a larger system / context … so I guess that’s okay for now. :)

A new 13HP Honda on the Grillo, having swapped out the old Subaru-Robin 14HP engine. As it turns out, Subaru got out of the power equipment business a year or two ago, so there wasn’t even a replacement for the old one.

While our little tractor was out of commission, I rented a four-wheel tractor to prepare the farm. This is something we ideally do just once, and though we did it at the start of the farm, 2019 is a bit of an exciting re-start, and so I did it again. Renting the larger tractor had me think of fossil fuels, and so I went back and looked: In 2018 we used about 1 gallon of gasoline per member. In the future, production efficiencies should drop that to about 1/2 a gallon, and farm practices should drop that to about 1/6 to 1/3 gallon per member per year. Even at this point, though, the total amount of gasoline used on the farm for the tractor (per member) over the course of a year doesn’t drive the average member’s car to the farm and back on a single pick-up day.

For all my desire for a quiet, solar-charged electric engine on my walk-behind Grillo — because, how dreamy — it’s interesting to see how long the carbon emissions from the current set-up would take to equal the total emissions from mining, production, and shipping … even before it reached the farm for its first engine hour. And how those emissions would still be embedded in an electric engine and battery. Which is why biology and technique interest me so much.

Making omelettes and breaking eggs, the goal here is to establish a system that is principally to totally biological / ecological in practice, where one uses fuel to establish a system that doesn’t; or, one net-emits carbon to establish a system that net-absorbs it. This is a matter of design, from a farm and tool perspective. Though we lack on both fronts, every year shows more and more movement from more and more people. And this gets me so excited. Anyone want to build a recumbent pedal-powered flywheel-driven sickle bar mower with independent gearing for the drive and PTO shafts? The orchard and walkways would love one of those. Though, who’s to say a scythe wouldn’t work just as well.

And do note that engine fossil fuel use is just one source — sink, really — of power on the farm. There are the spring greenhouse’s heat mats and the walk-in fridge, which both run on electric power — Rappahannock at present, though I have been talking with a few solar install companies. Those are both heating and cooling, done electrically. Solar — and electricity, for that matter — does motion and light well, but heating and cooling are really its efficiency nemeses. I have plans in my mind for a passive solar hydronic heating system in the greenhouse, though it would probably require supplemental heat, and the literature is full of the system-efficiency downsides of supplemental energy. Though hot beds — think biological carbon + nitrogen + biology = thermophillic stage compost heat output — could be a homegrown solution. And, as for that, radiative fins at the top of the greenhouse, with a lightweight pump to cycle water, could possibly make that water hot enough. On the food storage front, a root cellar with a not-very-efficient-in-Virginia evaporative cooling system could work … though, being as we can only do so much, that is on the long-term if-some-funding-source-wanted-to-see-that-happen-here list, and not really on the do-this plan.

Which is all to say. We have a new engine. It runs on a gas. But we’re not the end, we’re the evolving way, and also part of a larger system / context … so I guess that’s okay for now. :)

So much goodness

That rare morning, with features so amazing, even color would be gaudy.

That rare morning, with features so amazing, even color would be gaudy.

2019 Week 11, Winter CSA 8 of 12

Expected Harvest

Greens
Spinach

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

03/13/19, 03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

Last week’s tractor marathon didn’t exactly start, but ended nonetheless … with two great comments on the phone. The first, from the local mechanic, “Your timing chain is gone; down in there, gone; in the crank case, gone.” And the second, from Joel at Earth Tools, the dealer, “Jeez. You really would like a reliable machine. You’ve been having trouble with this one. Like whoever put it together did it at the end of the day, Friday. If you drop it off, I can put a Honda on it, and use yours for parts.” So, a new engine, with a new warranty, for one-third the price of a new one … plus a road trip to Kentucky. That’s the deal on tap for the end of the week. In the meantime, we will be renting a four-wheel tractor to prep the fields in a hurry.

If you have not noticed, that rain from last year never actually let up, and we have had some pretty consistent field moisture. The current situation offers an interesting option to gamble. We need the entire farm to be prepped, spread, and rolled in the next 20 days. Is this the driest we get, or is the future drier? This Friday’s forecast is for 0.2 inches … in a thunderstorm. Do we trust that simple number, which knows nothing of storm burstiness, nor the week that follows? I’m not a gambler, and so we don’t. We wait until Wednesday, rent a tractor, and prep with what is the driest soil we have in the present … and accept the future for what it is: unknown. What an interesting and great way to start the year, with acceptance.

A quick, final note. I was standing in the fields, newly warmed, just smelling them … and I had a feeling. It was a feeling about farming, but it came to me like surfing. We paddle out all winter to the big swell forming, and this takes a long time. We get used to the direction, and the pace. Then, all of a sudden, the forces change, the swell swells, and we turn around, paddle like mad men and women for that lip which holds us for the pop-up. And then we do, pop-up, and take the long slide down for autumn, where nothing comes from fighting forces, but everything comes from surfing them.

That’s what I saw, and that’s what we’re feeling … that it’s just nearly time to turn around, and paddle like mad. Woot, woot!

See you all on the farm,
Austin

Thank you all, you early members. Ginger goes on sale, and sells out, in November. I wasn’t sure, at first, if we’d have any to plant this year … but you made it happen! :)  We’re sticking with the ‘Indira Yellow’ turmeric, as it grows so well in our climate. But we are moving back to the Hawaiian ‘Bubba Baba Blue’ ginger, as opposed to last year’s Thai ‘Khing Yai,’ per yield trials from two years ago. The mature ginger, being blue, scared me a little … but we can’t reach maturity in this climate, and so never really get that seemingly-off color. Thanks again!  Oh, and for those who might be wondering, like I know some are: Ginger, apparently, originates in maritime Austronesia — think Polynesia, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.

Thank you all, you early members. Ginger goes on sale, and sells out, in November. I wasn’t sure, at first, if we’d have any to plant this year … but you made it happen! :)

We’re sticking with the ‘Indira Yellow’ turmeric, as it grows so well in our climate. But we are moving back to the Hawaiian ‘Bubba Baba Blue’ ginger, as opposed to last year’s Thai ‘Khing Yai,’ per yield trials from two years ago. The mature ginger, being blue, scared me a little … but we can’t reach maturity in this climate, and so never really get that seemingly-off color. Thanks again!

Oh, and for those who might be wondering, like I know some are: Ginger, apparently, originates in maritime Austronesia — think Polynesia, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.

The present future

In the summer, maybe, we do not find ourselves so often on our belly, looking at what the land is giving. And maybe that’s a deficit we need to correct. But in spring, yes, absolutely. I don’t think there is one spring flush of garlic that hasn’t pulled me chin to ground.  You would hardly believe it, but we’ve spent about $4k trying to install garlic on the farm over the last two years, having met significant rot each spring. The return this year, I am most happy to say, looks fantastic! — thanks, perhaps, to not mulching it, and giving the ground a chance to desiccate just a bit. We risk frost-heave and cold damage without a protective mulch, but found little-to-none of that this year. We also risk weeds! which we will attend to diligently this spring.  I recently reviewed Filaree Garlic Farm’s expansive offerings, and might spend a little bit more to identify — by growing them — varieties that are happy on our farm. For instance, although the ‘Silver White’ Silverskin may not be your favorite — fine flavor, but a softneck with many small cloves to peel — it stores the longest and has been the healthiest crop two years running. Are there others like it?

In the summer, maybe, we do not find ourselves so often on our belly, looking at what the land is giving. And maybe that’s a deficit we need to correct. But in spring, yes, absolutely. I don’t think there is one spring flush of garlic that hasn’t pulled me chin to ground.

You would hardly believe it, but we’ve spent about $4k trying to install garlic on the farm over the last two years, having met significant rot each spring. The return this year, I am most happy to say, looks fantastic! — thanks, perhaps, to not mulching it, and giving the ground a chance to desiccate just a bit. We risk frost-heave and cold damage without a protective mulch, but found little-to-none of that this year. We also risk weeds! which we will attend to diligently this spring.

I recently reviewed Filaree Garlic Farm’s expansive offerings, and might spend a little bit more to identify — by growing them — varieties that are happy on our farm. For instance, although the ‘Silver White’ Silverskin may not be your favorite — fine flavor, but a softneck with many small cloves to peel — it stores the longest and has been the healthiest crop two years running. Are there others like it?

2019 Week 09, Winter CSA 7 of 12

What a great week we’ve had, and will have! I seeded the broccoli family crops — broccoli, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi — in the greenhouse on Monday. The spring has had its way with them the last two years, but we are trying a few new things to keep them alive after transplant — a more thorough hardening-off process, a pine-based wash to prevent post-transplant desiccation, and a “we’re not in New Hampshire anymore” approach to soil moisture — i.e., the ground isn’t necessarily, and probably actually isn’t, sodden in the spring. The cabbage and the kohlrabi comprise a significant chunk of this batch, as our new fermentation partner, Gathered Threads, will be culturing them this summer. Hip hip.

This is also the week we scramble to prepare the farm for its new living mulch mix. That means we till, seed, and roll the entire annual half of the farm. I really do like how easy it is to just say a thing, as opposed to do it. Because that sure was easy to say. :) If you don’t see me in the greenhouse at pick-up, I’m out there doing that.

A reminder that we still have some shares to sell for this summer, AND that you get 10% cash back of every dollar you successfully refer into the CSA.

Enjoy the weather, &
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Spinach

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

02/27/19, 03/13/19, 03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

We’ve finally hit a string of dry weather for the orchard’s annual haircut. Welcome to the present future. One doesn’t actually prune the tree in front of you, but the tree three to five years ahead of you. Which branches will be crossing? What hormones will flow, and how will the branches angles, with this cut? I can pretty confidently say I’m not all that good at it just yet, because the feedback that makes you better, in pruning, is always a few years off.

We’ve finally hit a string of dry weather for the orchard’s annual haircut. Welcome to the present future. One doesn’t actually prune the tree in front of you, but the tree three to five years ahead of you. Which branches will be crossing? What hormones will flow, and how will the branches angles, with this cut? I can pretty confidently say I’m not all that good at it just yet, because the feedback that makes you better, in pruning, is always a few years off.

It was meant for spreading peat moss or compost … but it made it through about 30,000 pounds of rock dust before it bit the … umm. I may find a welder to fix what broke, and add some reinforcement, or not.

It was meant for spreading peat moss or compost … but it made it through about 30,000 pounds of rock dust before it bit the … umm. I may find a welder to fix what broke, and add some reinforcement, or not.

There’s a bit of foolish pride in the joy that comes in seeing one survive what one’s tools do not.

There’s a bit of foolish pride in the joy that comes in seeing one survive what one’s tools do not.

That darling hut

Time to reef the sails and throw on the windbreaker.

Time to reef the sails and throw on the windbreaker.

Expected Harvest

Greens
Spinach

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

02/13/19, 02/27/19, 03/13/19, 03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

2019 Week 07, Winter CSA 6 of 12

There were bluebirds sitting on the irrigation risers as I spread the rock dust, and there is now birdsong in the morning before the dawn. Onions are waking in their seedling trays, and I’m having to slap myself for adding another new hot pepper here, or a curious pickling cucumber there. It’s time! The new season is on, and we get to transfer our focus from design to build, and then, later, from build to ride. As always, thank you all for being along for that ride.

See you on the farm,
Austin

PS, most tangentially: I can remember the April afternoon when I learned that Gabriel Garcia Marquez had died. It is like that, too, with Mary Oliver. And so we should not let that passing pass without some kind of witnessing.

One of my favorite lines of hers is from a semi-poem — her “Sand Dabs,” which she slipped into her pocket as she walked her Cape Cod beach — and it’s what I heard in my head when I heard that she had gone:

Myself, myself, myself, that darling hut!
How quick it will burn!

(Mary Oliver, ‘Sand Dabs, Five’, Winter Hours)

And then I saw these lines, last week — translated by the most impressive Jane Hirshfield: “The moon in Japanese poetry is always the moon” — and knew that they all were sisters:

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

(Izumi Shikibu (Japan, 974?-1034?) [translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani])

And saw that the question I was asking, she had already answered:

After I published Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, people often asked me how the spiritual poetry of women differs from that of men. My answer: more imagery of houses. (The earlier poem here by Izumi Shikibu also uses the image of a house to speak of the experience of self and its boundaries.) To become the authority of one’s own household is no small thing in many women’s lives, even now, and the lives of earlier women poets are almost always marked by some fracturing with the expectations and course of ordinary life. The same is often true for men, of course, especially mystics.

Which is a much too long and digressing way to say:

Thank you, Mary.

One of the challenges of the small scale farm is designing human-powered tools to improve the health of the farm and farmer, when it comes to the farming.  After literally throwing out the first 2400 pounds of rock dust by hand — left hand, right hand, left hand, right hand — I decided there had to be a better way for the next 27,600. We’re only halfway there, but it’s pretty wild what wheels can do. Wagon + 8 buckets = 600 lbs of rock dust relatively easily rolled out to site, where 200 lbs fit into a modified — all I had was fluorescent orange gorilla tape — peat moss spreader to hit the right application rate. It’s good to do on a cold day, and it still makes you hungry … but we only do this once! :)  Here’s to doing everything we can to make 2019 rock! (Oh shoot, was that an unintended pun?)

One of the challenges of the small scale farm is designing human-powered tools to improve the health of the farm and farmer, when it comes to the farming.

After literally throwing out the first 2400 pounds of rock dust by hand — left hand, right hand, left hand, right hand — I decided there had to be a better way for the next 27,600. We’re only halfway there, but it’s pretty wild what wheels can do. Wagon + 8 buckets = 600 lbs of rock dust relatively easily rolled out to site, where 200 lbs fit into a modified — all I had was fluorescent orange gorilla tape — peat moss spreader to hit the right application rate. It’s good to do on a cold day, and it still makes you hungry … but we only do this once! :)

Here’s to doing everything we can to make 2019 rock! (Oh shoot, was that an unintended pun?)

Halfway into allium seeding — fresh onions, storage onions, shallots, perennial scallions, and leeks — plus perennial flowers, most of which are hanging-out in the walk-in for their moist-cold stratification. Everything is new for me on the farm again this year, with a new “Row Crop Living Mulch” (RCLM) 3-ft row system. Onions, in this case, get their own row, transplanted as multi-plant blocks. I’m excited to see what happens.

Halfway into allium seeding — fresh onions, storage onions, shallots, perennial scallions, and leeks — plus perennial flowers, most of which are hanging-out in the walk-in for their moist-cold stratification. Everything is new for me on the farm again this year, with a new “Row Crop Living Mulch” (RCLM) 3-ft row system. Onions, in this case, get their own row, transplanted as multi-plant blocks. I’m excited to see what happens.

Hanging-out in the greenhouse were last year’s trial polenta corn seeds, and a wee passel of garlic bulbils. If one were concerned about the transfer of soil-borne disease, saving garlic bulbils and planting from that would help — as opposed to planting from saved bulbs — though there is no cross-pollination, and they are also clones of their parent.

Hanging-out in the greenhouse were last year’s trial polenta corn seeds, and a wee passel of garlic bulbils. If one were concerned about the transfer of soil-borne disease, saving garlic bulbils and planting from that would help — as opposed to planting from saved bulbs — though there is no cross-pollination, and they are also clones of their parent.

Because it blows my mind every single year: the first onions pop.

Because it blows my mind every single year: the first onions pop.

Like we have summer

Blackberry brambles get their annual pruning. This coming summer ought to be our first for proper production. Hip hip. I’m really hoping the ‘Triple Crown’ come on well, as they were the flavor winner last year.

Blackberry brambles get their annual pruning. This coming summer ought to be our first for proper production. Hip hip. I’m really hoping the ‘Triple Crown’ come on well, as they were the flavor winner last year.

2019 Week 05, Winter CSA 5 of 12

I’m sometimes a little little slow on the uptake, but usually in the end there’s something I take up. For example: I have been through two Julys on this farm, and nearly two Januaries, which is finally long enough to realize that we have our summer like we don’t have our winter. And these gorgeous days of late winter into spring are perhaps some of the best we ever get. Because, my, how they are great. I pruned the blackberries last week on a literally breathtaking day, as windy as it was sunny. Which was where I learned my lesson. How many months can we call crisp and scintillant?

We have another new member in the summer CSA, which is great for a long list of reasons, one of which being funds for new black raspberries. As you may remember, heavy spring rains and strawberries do not mix. These black raspberries come in at the same time — early June — and will be a higher ‘altitude,’ less susceptible counter to strawberry mold. The planting window for those is right around the corner, so it feels very good to have them on order for this year — with harvest in 2020 — as opposed to missing the window and waiting until 2021 to harvest. Hip hip!

Note that the spinach looks a little like it has been through some weather — which it has. Although I would rather not use row cover on the farm — it is made from plastic, which I have been removing from the farm’s field use — a winter covering would expedite growth and prevent desiccation. I lend you my ear.

See you on the farm,
Austin

PS: My favorite holiday — Groundhog Day — is this Saturday! … Cross quarter season to the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and a relatively useful marker for the perception of change.

Expected Harvest

Greens
Spinach

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

01/30/19, 02/13/19, 02/27/19, 03/13/19, 03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

Wheels

Leopold used to walk home from his campus office mid-day to take a nap. Lover — how weak a word — of birds as he was, he was usually up and out the door at 3:30 in the morning to listen to that chorus. And thus the nap. There was a time when I don’t think I would have understood him, but a winter in the Catskills — really in winter, and really in the Catskills — corrected that. How many other miracles are we blind to?  Bird-hop in snow on the office porch. / The entirety of the earth — and being alive on it — right there. Shibboleth though the shot may be.

Leopold used to walk home from his campus office mid-day to take a nap. Lover — how weak a word — of birds as he was, he was usually up and out the door at 3:30 in the morning to listen to that chorus. And thus the nap. There was a time when I don’t think I would have understood him, but a winter in the Catskills — really in winter, and really in the Catskills — corrected that. How many other miracles are we blind to?

Bird-hop in snow on the office porch. / The entirety of the earth — and being alive on it — right there. Shibboleth though the shot may be.

2019 Week 03, Winter CSA 4 of 13

It was almost dry, for a moment there, last week. And though digging another bin of sunroot proved that it really wasn’t, that string of sunny days was our best shot in a long while to get a round of minerals out onto the farm … and so I did. The parking area is finally clear of pallets thanks to that effort — including an 8,000 pound day where we learned again how impressive wheels are, doing this all by hand and foot.

Thanks to a new member, we also have the funds to get a dumpload of basalt rock dust from a local quarry. The mode of action and the results are still under discussion, but the gist is that under strong biological conditions, and especially on “old” eroded soil like ours, it provides a missing foundation of plant health for a very long while. I am crossing all biological options off the “Do everything you can to make everything better” list, and this one comes next.

By the next CSA pick-up, the greenhouse will be up and running with onions and perennial flowers seeded in their trays. The long, disparate list of things-to-do that was a mountainside of separate springs all winter long, is about to come down into one big frothy flume. How exciting that that — the annual Spring blast-off into a new year — is (still) so exciting. I just checked the spreadsheet, and it looks like there are over two hundred new crop and flower varieties — out of over 400 total, among annuals — on the farm in 2019. Disease-resistance-paired-with-heirloom-flavor is the (Germanic, it seems) buzzword of the year, and I am quite anticipating all the comparison trials.

Spreadsheet checking got me curious, and it also looks like despite the crazy — if Thoreau was an immortal and had farmed from his 18th birthday until now, he would never have seen a year like last year — year, folks who came every pick-up got 20% more than they paid for. Meaning, missing more than a whole month still got you even, despite the farm tripping along at 20% production. See! Miracles all over.

Note: If a potentially-snowy driveway scares you, let me know another day and time that you might stop by to peruse the walk-in fridge and chest freezer. Spinach is harvest-dependent upon snowmelt, but I am aiming to give it a go Wednesday at 11am, when the leaves should have a chance to thaw.

My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Spinach — snow-melt depending

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread
Danish Sprouted Rye
Local Country Wheat
Red Corn Porridge Bread

Winter CSA Dates

01/16/19, 01/30/19, 02/13/19, 02/27/19, 03/13/19, 03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

In Latin,  carina , is the keel of a boat. In English, it is also the breastbone of a bird.

In Latin, carina, is the keel of a boat. In English, it is also the breastbone of a bird.

The place it is in

Although it might have been more efficient to wait until everything was in — Fedco and High Mowing have yet to send their seeds — I couldn’t help myself. It’s just so much fun organizing seeds for the year ahead. Here the tomatoes get piled in with like colors. I somehow failed to reduce the tomato variety count by very much at all next year — 90 planned against last year’s 98 actual varieties — although a full half of those are new and supposedly improved, with the remainder being the best of last year’s batch. I for one am very excited to approach tomato normalcy again, though the future’s never promised. I also put together a new book of our 2019 tomato varieties, should any of you enjoy a quick’ish read once it arrives from the printer.

Although it might have been more efficient to wait until everything was in — Fedco and High Mowing have yet to send their seeds — I couldn’t help myself. It’s just so much fun organizing seeds for the year ahead. Here the tomatoes get piled in with like colors. I somehow failed to reduce the tomato variety count by very much at all next year — 90 planned against last year’s 98 actual varieties — although a full half of those are new and supposedly improved, with the remainder being the best of last year’s batch. I for one am very excited to approach tomato normalcy again, though the future’s never promised. I also put together a new book of our 2019 tomato varieties, should any of you enjoy a quick’ish read once it arrives from the printer.

2019 Week 01, Winter CSA 3 of 13

A new year is a nice demarcating line to finish debriefing the old, and entertain wholly the new. And perhaps more than just ‘nice,’ it might also be instrumental in moving on from a farming year such as 2018. So let’s. :)

I have been rolling over two stones in my hands, of late. One, which I had all year, from Arundhati Roy in The Cost of Living, of her home in India, though well taken out of context most anywhere; the other, new, from Wendell Berry, on How to be a Poet (to remind myself), whose screenless entreaty is not lost on this screenfull farm note.

They are big countries, each, with many pockets of geography to settle in. The emphasis in both is mine, and are the places where I first landed. Perhaps more farmer related than farm, but the New Year is an interesting liminal space, and a very good one for greasing the joints and oiling the engine that keeps the farm-er running.

To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.
—Arundhati Roy

And from Wendell,

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
—Wendell Berry (full text and audio)

My best,
Happy New Year,
& See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Spinach

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Dried Culinary Herbs
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

Winter CSA Dates

01/02/19, 01/16/19, 01/30/19, 02/13/19, 02/27/19, 03/13/19, 03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

Solstice

I was watching the sun push through the frost-work on the greenhouse, and I felt this really strong desire to be able to see it arise. Is it possible to see that formation? Or is this something that only happens in the dark? I imagined the seat — like at a theater — the insulated coveralls, and the kind of attention one would need … and laughed. :)

I was watching the sun push through the frost-work on the greenhouse, and I felt this really strong desire to be able to see it arise. Is it possible to see that formation? Or is this something that only happens in the dark? I imagined the seat — like at a theater — the insulated coveralls, and the kind of attention one would need … and laughed. :)


2018 Week 51, Winter CSA 2 of 13

If the winter is a slow diving into depth, the solstice is when we touch bottom. What you throw upward must have, for that instant before the rising thing becomes the falling, a moment of rest. It stops. And while long ago we might have felt something start to rise in us, and called our celebration the solstice. Maybe we also felt something stop.

We live in the shallows here, as far as winter goes, but we still have our dive. And, as for that, perhaps the shorter the winter, the more we need it. Where are the old rites which properly engage this passage? It seems we farmers should have at least a week of customs to take us around this horn. But this is a farm, and we grow things. So I suppose it’s something we could just as well grow ourselves.

Happy Solstice!

Althea Bread: If you are into more bread, let Andy know. He will be dropping off more loaves this Wednesday, but only if you order!

Summer CSA: The 10% discount on the Summer CSA ends in two weeks. If that’s of interest to you, take note.

Be well,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Winter CSA Dates: 12/19/18, 01/02/19, 01/16/19, 01/30/19, 02/13/19, 02/27/19, 03/13/19, 03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

Expected Harvest

Greens
Kale
Spinach

Veggies
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Burdock
Cilantro
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread

It snowed. Neat stuff happened.

It snowed. Neat stuff happened.

The farm here is new, and the design is new and evolving. This means that the farm as a system has a lot of wavy hands in its plan. “You mow the living mulch walkways into a bag, and then you ferment it in a 55 gallon drum for a week or two, and then you —   wavy hands   — put it back out in the field at 50% dilution.” It always feels good to get the wavies out of the way. Here’s the new nutrient cart. The math on flow rate through various diameter hoses at different distances with a changing volume above was a little sketchy, but I did my best with that, and we can just make the tubes bigger or smaller if we need to. Or walk faster. :)

The farm here is new, and the design is new and evolving. This means that the farm as a system has a lot of wavy hands in its plan. “You mow the living mulch walkways into a bag, and then you ferment it in a 55 gallon drum for a week or two, and then you — wavy hands — put it back out in the field at 50% dilution.” It always feels good to get the wavies out of the way. Here’s the new nutrient cart. The math on flow rate through various diameter hoses at different distances with a changing volume above was a little sketchy, but I did my best with that, and we can just make the tubes bigger or smaller if we need to. Or walk faster. :)

Winter?

Garbling the dried herbs before they go into their jars for the winter. Despite being cautious and not drying many of the herbs this summer — while the weather was not conducive to such a venture — we have a good amount of dried herbs to work with.

Garbling the dried herbs before they go into their jars for the winter. Despite being cautious and not drying many of the herbs this summer — while the weather was not conducive to such a venture — we have a good amount of dried herbs to work with.

2018 Week 49, Winter 1 of 13

Sixty-plus degrees though today may be, welcome to the Winter CSA! How exciting. I spent a really, really lovely afternoon digging another bed of carrots, and even stopped a bit on the way back to … stop. As my friend Ferris Bueller likes to say, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

There is sugar spinach in the pile this week. Not for the tongue-in-cheek diabetic, nor those watching their sweets before the holidays. Spinach uses sugar as an anti-freeze in its leaves, which means some super — sometimes cloyingly — yummy greens at this time of the year.

I’m super excited for you guys to try the Althea Bread this week. If it’s half as good as last week’s, I will have to sell the farm to support my new lunchtime passion. If you’re not on the aforementioned sweets-free diet, try it toasted and spread with butter and the farm honey! Mmmm … Or, dipped into some rooty stew. I have had the heat off and the slow cooker on, tiny as the office is, working my way toward some winter soup for just such a purpose.

Be well,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Winter CSA Dates: 12/05/18, 12/19/18, 01/02/19, 01/16/19, 01/30/19, 02/13/19, 02/27/19, 03/13/19, 03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

Expected Harvest

Greens
Kale
Lettuce
Spinach*

Veggies
Beets*
Carrots
Celeriac
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries
Strawberries*

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Burdock
Chives
Cilantro
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Turmeric
Winter Teas*

Staples
Popcorn

Althea Bread
Sunflower-Kamut (Organic Kamut, organic bread flour, organic sunflower seeds, salt)

I thought to myself, “Maybe I should get a farmer shot before the year is out, just as a kind of reminiscence.” Scarecrow-y as the shadow-self looks, it’s there. I have sometimes been reminded of a quote in Charles Russel’s “Trails Plowed Under” (1927), when I happen to see my shadow:  “Of course a good many of these fancy men were more ornamental than useful, but one of the best cow-hands I ever knew belonged to this class. Down on the Gray Bull, he went under the name of Mason, but most punchers called him Pretty Shadow. … It comes from a habit some punchers has of ridin’ along, lookin’ at their shadows. Lookin’ glasses are scarce in cow outfits, so the only chance for these pretty boys to admire themselves is on bright, sunshiny days. Mason’s one of a kind that doesn’t get much pleasure out of life in cloudy weather. …”

I thought to myself, “Maybe I should get a farmer shot before the year is out, just as a kind of reminiscence.” Scarecrow-y as the shadow-self looks, it’s there. I have sometimes been reminded of a quote in Charles Russel’s “Trails Plowed Under” (1927), when I happen to see my shadow:

“Of course a good many of these fancy men were more ornamental than useful, but one of the best cow-hands I ever knew belonged to this class. Down on the Gray Bull, he went under the name of Mason, but most punchers called him Pretty Shadow. … It comes from a habit some punchers has of ridin’ along, lookin’ at their shadows. Lookin’ glasses are scarce in cow outfits, so the only chance for these pretty boys to admire themselves is on bright, sunshiny days. Mason’s one of a kind that doesn’t get much pleasure out of life in cloudy weather. …”

Garlic

We know it’s the end of Summer when the twin-wall polycarbonate covers the Summer Kitchen windows, and the Baker Creek catalog comes in the mail! You asked for less hot hot peppers, so I’m adding a few to the 2019 collection. Here’s to a rainbow of jalapenos for next year.  As an aside, the half-bi-nocular in the upper left was my grandfather’s, which he used to watch boats and geese on his backyard corner of the Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. My nephew saw it this summer, learned of its provenance, and asked with all sincerity: “Did my great-grandfather have one eye?”

We know it’s the end of Summer when the twin-wall polycarbonate covers the Summer Kitchen windows, and the Baker Creek catalog comes in the mail! You asked for less hot hot peppers, so I’m adding a few to the 2019 collection. Here’s to a rainbow of jalapenos for next year.

As an aside, the half-bi-nocular in the upper left was my grandfather’s, which he used to watch boats and geese on his backyard corner of the Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. My nephew saw it this summer, learned of its provenance, and asked with all sincerity: “Did my great-grandfather have one eye?”

2018 Week 48, Summer CSA Pick-up 26 of 26

Let's put this phrase to bed for the year! "Though the rains delayed us for a month ..." the garlic is in! I planted 85 pounds of some quite beautiful cloves -- from Fillaree Garlic Farm in Washington state -- this past Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Two of those efforts finished-out the last hour+ by headlamp, which was a surprisingly meditative, focused task. Only a few ounces remain, which is either a high-five to cloves-per-bulb- and pounds-per-clove- per-variety calculations … or luck. Let us go with the latter, in hope that lavish praise wins her over to our side in future ventures.

In winter, one of my favorite morning things to do is read through the variety reviews from real growers and gardeners over at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. While pondering the ‘Chinese Red Noodle Bean,’ I came across this:

I love growing "weird" things and this beans is one of my favorites. My neighbor boy, at the age of three, wanted some "wickerwich" that was growing in my garden. He showed me the beans. I picked him a big one, he took one bite and told me they weren't "wickerwich" after all. They do look a little like licorice I suppose. But he ate the whole thing, and that's great! As far as the beans themselves, I really like them. They add a beautiful color to any dish, and the bean flavor is a good one. I love how they climb, and I'm thinking about putting them against a tall fence to see how tall they'll get."

A few CSA notes …

Summer CSA: For those of you who signed-up for next Summer with a downpayment, but failed to send the post-dated checks with it, could you please do so? Your downpayment PLUS post-dated checks finalizes your order. It also permits me to possibly seek a loan with your committed dollars, which will be needed to get the CSA off the ground. If you have friends who might be interested, you are my/the farm’s best advocate, as you know the farm and you know the possible member. Get 10% of their CSA dollars for your effort, up to the cost of your share.

Winter CSA: Queen dead, queen liveth. The Summer CSA is over, but the Winter continues, every-other-Wednesday, beginning next week. Consider this a reduced, modified Winter CSA, per summer rains. The cost is $100, total … from which you may select mostly $10 chunks of items — garlic, root vegetables, herbs, frozen fruit, greens. The style is nearly identical to the Farmstand / Farm Bucks program this coming summer. If you miss a pick-up, no problem on my end, as most items are non-perishable, and no problem on your end, as you still have your ‘farm bucks’ in hand. I do not expect the Winter share to continue for very long, but should you use your $100, we can re-up or re-imagine. If money remains, but the veggies don’t, your farm bucks are good in the farmstand next summer, good in exchange for dollars in the CSA — at the value paid —, and good for the strawberries (amen) and asparagus in the spring, before the Summer starts.

Dates: 12/05/18, 12/19/18, 01/02/19, 01/16/19, 01/30/19, 02/13/19, 02/27/19, 03/13/19, 03/27/19, 04/10/19, 04/24/19, 05/08/19, 05/22/19

Also, super early stages in a possible small-scale bread / baker / bakery collaboration for next year. Let me know your thoughts.

My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Asian Greens, 2nds
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Carrots
Celeriac
Leeks
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Burdock
Cilantro
Dill
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Lemongrass
Mint
Turmeric

Staples
Popcorn

Thanksgiving get-together, sister’s new puppy, new puppy pees, picked-up puppy keeps peeing, clothes go into the washer, three pages of notes from the day go with it, momentarily confused ‘what’s this here after all the clothes are out?’ interjection, yellow owl-pellet thing sits staring, farmer finally realizes. ‘ha! i know what you are!’  Because, what wouldn’t this year try to drown? :) And what wouldn’t our wonderfully learned response be, but, ‘Ha!’

Thanksgiving get-together, sister’s new puppy, new puppy pees, picked-up puppy keeps peeing, clothes go into the washer, three pages of notes from the day go with it, momentarily confused ‘what’s this here after all the clothes are out?’ interjection, yellow owl-pellet thing sits staring, farmer finally realizes. ‘ha! i know what you are!’

Because, what wouldn’t this year try to drown? :) And what wouldn’t our wonderfully learned response be, but, ‘Ha!’

A Thanksgiving

A brown marmorated stink bug in the zen bowl. From time to time they have played random, solitary notes on the ukulele that hangs on the summer kitchen wall; but this is the first time they have ever rung the zen bell. Lunchtime, and it rang out … and so we do what one does, no matter who rings it.

A brown marmorated stink bug in the zen bowl. From time to time they have played random, solitary notes on the ukulele that hangs on the summer kitchen wall; but this is the first time they have ever rung the zen bell. Lunchtime, and it rang out … and so we do what one does, no matter who rings it.

2018 Week 47, Summer CSA Pick-up 25 of 26

What a gift we have in this institution of thanks-giving, because to me it feels too much — this giving of thanks — like a tool in the back of the barn that we had lost or hardly used, but when taken out now for the yearly planting of garlic, seems a thing we should maybe keep around. I mean, isn’t a true thanks-giving a lingering on what is present? And how much do we — by which I mean, I — live, or not live, in a hazy focus on what is absent?

And, so, of course, let me give more thanks to you. Thank you. Thank you!

And, also, I have been feeling an unexpected gratitude for the fields, who miraculously brought us this far — and further — despite their youth and a post-inundation lack of what the British farmers call ‘heart.’ Absence, of course; but, still, 25 weeks of presence.

It’s not a great shot, but this week is our best shot at getting the garlic in. And so if you don’t see me at pick-up on Wednesday, have a look around the corner, and hopefully I’m there putting the cloves to bed for the winter.

My best,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Asian Greens
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Carrots
Celeriac
Leeks
Radish, Winter
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Burdock
Cilantro
Dill
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Lemongrass
Mint
Turmeric

Staples
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

A few of the 2019 beans. "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” There's more to it than that, but the quote came to mind as I unpacked some of the 2019 bean varieties for trial. I have 2018 videos (plural) where I walked the 25 varieties on trial and commented on their height, their color, their pod formation, and their overall health. They were really looking pretty good … before they weren’t, when the rains continued and the rot came on. But, gee, I sure am excited about the 2019 beans.

A few of the 2019 beans. "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” There's more to it than that, but the quote came to mind as I unpacked some of the 2019 bean varieties for trial. I have 2018 videos (plural) where I walked the 25 varieties on trial and commented on their height, their color, their pod formation, and their overall health. They were really looking pretty good … before they weren’t, when the rains continued and the rot came on. But, gee, I sure am excited about the 2019 beans.

Rain

How exciting! I didn’t do any of the work, but it’s still pretty cool to have farm honey. Some big farmers actually import hives to pollinate their early summer squash seedings, or their orchards, for that more common matter.

How exciting! I didn’t do any of the work, but it’s still pretty cool to have farm honey. Some big farmers actually import hives to pollinate their early summer squash seedings, or their orchards, for that more common matter.

2018 Week 46, Summer CSA Pick-up 24 of 26

After the last three, this new two inches of rain delays us a bit more in the planting of garlic. But a favorite farmer and early mentor of mine, way up in Zone 5 New York, just got his cloves in the ground, so we have some permissive leeway. I can double-check the gauge, but we are inching nearer to five feet of rain for the season, which means that we are nearly literally up to our eyeballs in it. I have visions of cousins standing shoulder-to-shoulder beneath the “you must be this tall to ride this ride” sign of total accumulation, and so pretty clearly showing the ridiculousness of the rain this year. For now, that mental image will have to do. Just wild.

We had a 17F low this past Sunday morning. With forecasts saying as much, I spent Saturday harvesting the winter radishes, turnips, carrots, and celeriac, as well as some Asian greens, leeks, and herbs. Most things on the farm seem to have made it through okay, though. I made a bit of a calculated risk, and did not harvest any extra lettuce, as I already had a bin extra after last week. It also looks pretty good in the field, which means that we — tentatively — should have lettuce all the way through to the end of “Summer.”

I will spend this pick-up working through the super-modified Winter CSA and end-of-summer bulk-buy plan. The latter of which would simply consist of bulk berries, garlic, roots, etc. for sale at the last pick-up, or the week or two beyond. Let me know your thoughts.

For those searching for further uses for your turmeric, try some golden milk. Don’t skip the black pepper, as it has been shown to be critical in the absorption of the more important compounds in turmeric. Also, note that the new ashwgandha & burdock go very well together in a slow-cooker decoction for when you come in from the cold. My favorite.

Stay cozy,
See you on the farm,
Austin

Expected Harvest

Greens
Asian Greens
Kale
Lettuce

Veggies
Carrots
Celeriac
Fennel, Bulb
Onion
Radish, Daikon
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Winter*

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha
Burdock*
Cilantro
Dill
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Lemongrass
Mint
Turmeric

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

Berseem clover prickles in the sunrise after a 17F low. I harvested a few crops early, before that night, just in case they didn’t make it …

Berseem clover prickles in the sunrise after a 17F low. I harvested a few crops early, before that night, just in case they didn’t make it …

I reckon the standard farm penalty for complaints regarding the digging of carrots, should be the digging of burdock. :) I took a record of leaf size, so I don’t forget in the future plan … because they’re big!

I reckon the standard farm penalty for complaints regarding the digging of carrots, should be the digging of burdock. :) I took a record of leaf size, so I don’t forget in the future plan … because they’re big!

‘Dazzling Blue Lacinato’ kale. I am trialing 8 varieties of kale for winter-into-spring cold-hardiness this year … plus a slew more next year. Although coming from a very similar genetic place as ‘Rainbow Lacinato,’ this ‘Dazzling Blue Lacinato,’ is a bit more stable in its variation, and just looks better to me. A nice new find. Lacinato types, in general, are not renowned for their cold tolerance, but they don’t do well with the spring bugs here either, so this variety, with its better cold-hardiness, gets them in the door. Great.

‘Dazzling Blue Lacinato’ kale. I am trialing 8 varieties of kale for winter-into-spring cold-hardiness this year … plus a slew more next year. Although coming from a very similar genetic place as ‘Rainbow Lacinato,’ this ‘Dazzling Blue Lacinato,’ is a bit more stable in its variation, and just looks better to me. A nice new find. Lacinato types, in general, are not renowned for their cold tolerance, but they don’t do well with the spring bugs here either, so this variety, with its better cold-hardiness, gets them in the door. Great.

Bedtime

Bedtime — the not quite sleeping, but the farmer reads the fields to sleep — time. That chicory was lush all year.

Bedtime — the not quite sleeping, but the farmer reads the fields to sleep — time. That chicory was lush all year.

Expected Harvest

Greens
Asian Greens
Kale
Lettuce
Spicy Mix

Veggies
Carrots
Celeriac
Fennel, Bulb
Onion
Radish, Daikon
Sunroot
Sweet Potatoes
Turnip, Salad

Fruit
Raspberries

Herbs
Ashwagandha*
Chives & Garlic Ch.
Cilantro
Dill
Garlic
Ginger
Hot Pepper
Lemongrass
Mint
Turmeric

Staples
Beans, Dry
Popcorn

The Pickle Pile

2018 Week 45, Summer CSA Pick-up 23 of 26

We end the growing year as we began it, with some beautiful rains to manhandle the schedule. As I have noted in the past, the last thing we do on the farm each year is really the first thing we do for the next. Should the fields dry in time, garlic goes in the ground next week, starting our 2019 planting schedule. Two months later, everything else starts rolling in the greenhouse with the new onion seeds, the spring broccoli family crops, and the perennial herbs and flowers. But we all have our winter first — amen. And so it really does feel like bedtime on the farm, right now. Or story time …

You would not be surprised to hear that I talk to the fields around this time of year, thanking them, encouraging them, promising good treatment in exchange for good vegetables. And also talking of my dreams. Really, I am buttering them up … because after one goes through the checklist of soil remediation and science, one feels a little empty without a little heart-to-heart. And what the heart feels is thankfulness, but also a kind of powerlessness. My favorite sailor, Bernard Moitessier — on his way to winning the first round-the-world Golden Globe race, before he decided he would rather sail through the South Pacific than arrive at the finish — wrote, “People who do not know that a sailboat is a living creature will never understand anything about boats and the sea.”

How much more so — and more obviously so — for a farm, which has all the halyards and sails of a boat in its beaminess. I can’t imagine a sailor — especially one with a heart like his — feeling powerful in his boat. But thankful, yes. And alive, and blessed, and challenged. And so it is with these fields and our yearly circumnavigation.

Which brings us back to the garlic. The annual planting of garlic, as a bedtime ritual — in a mode of being that the frenzy of summer can never conjure — always feels like a benediction. Bulb by bulb.

See you on the farm,
Austin

The appropriately named “Assassin bug” does what s/he does with a wasp.

The appropriately named “Assassin bug” does what s/he does with a wasp.

A photo from a month back, but on the same theme of insect-insect interactions. A tobacco hornwoom after the parasitic wasps had their way. Two cocoon silk sacks remain. No touching on my part; this was as I found it.

A photo from a month back, but on the same theme of insect-insect interactions. A tobacco hornwoom after the parasitic wasps had their way. Two cocoon silk sacks remain. No touching on my part; this was as I found it.