Fall roots redux

Soft striations in the soil from a not-so-soft storm.

Soft striations in the soil from a not-so-soft storm.

2019 Week 34, Summer CSA 12 of 26

Hello all, on this doozy of a day. I know that some of you would rather the world end in fire than in ice, but even so, I hope you have enjoyed some mid-day coolness … or even that rarer-and-rarer chance to dwell in the heat, for the way it feels when it is gone. I have a 64 fl oz stainless steel water bottle that is literally too large to hold; but it wasn’t quite big enough to hold enough water for the berry harvest today. I imagined myself something of a cartoon sieve, pouring water in, only to watch it leak out just as quickly.

We had quite a ruckus of a storm on Thursday night. Two and a half inches came down. Everything in farming is about timing, and that was just the wrong time for our freshly seeded fall roots. I left the beets, rutabaga, turnips, and radishes as they are, but bed-prepped the carrots and re-seeded to carrots and turnips. A fast-maturing variety of carrots are in the mail, and when they arrive, we’ll seed some more. We’re cutting it close at that point, but if the moisture gods are with us, I think we’ll be fine.

Due to our nutrient brew turning on the seedlings this spring, our pepper plants are not the twenty-variety trial we had planned, as we transplanted whatever made it. Still, the lack of order at harvest-time has been distinctly and positively surprising. “Is this ‘Lipstick?’ This one looks like ‘Corno di Toro Giallo,’ which was just a trial packet. How cool!” I am working on next year’s plan, which doubles the sweet peppers, as we could use some more. Also, note that the ‘Padron’ and ‘Shishito’ peppers are somewhere between a hot and a sweet type, and so I will be separating those out and moving them over with the herbs. Fried, with a dash of salt, they make a great appetizer.

Working on the 2020 plan has been quite exciting. Here is some of the news: A generally earlier spring, as the year-round CSA means we are no longer holding off until the start of June; expanded spring broccoli, plus a new sprouting type for a weekly harvest; the fall kale king thus far, ‘Madeley,’ as an Elephant Ear type to grow in the spring, while still keeping the ‘Scarlet’ kale; tripled Asian greens, including an added generation of ‘Senposai’ in summer to gap the spring chard and fall greens; better spacing of spring cabbage, and a reduction to just the quickest selections, plus a garden-gnome pointy-type for the fall; dropping of peak summer snap beans in favor of more soybeans, at least until the soil founds more confidence; the aforementioned doubling of sweet peppers; 20% more tomatoes, space-wise, with more committed to ‘Brandywise,’ which was the clear winner this spring, essentially doubling production; small tomatoes will be scythed down to just the most productive varieties; doubled okra, with ‘Fife Creek’ staying on the list for sure, and your comments helping us refine the remaining selections; an easier two-week, two-sub-generation sweet corn planting succession, with more per planting over a shorter duration, keeping ‘Kandy Korn,’ which has been the best in the field these last three years; a narrowing of flowers down to the current winners, devoting all space to them; and the removal of dry beans from the plan in order to grow more cover crops to build the soil. Not to mention a host of rock and plant-based soil correctives, plus foliar-fed backup nutrition, to translate all of this farming effort into a harvest.

While the absence of a crop might pain you, it pains the farmer substantially more, because he sees them all in the field, but never gets to harvest them. Over a decade of farm planning never gets seen. These soil correctives and foliar-fed nutrients mean an end to that. Hip hip.

For the most part, the farm is ready to move out of beta stage next year, with a better sense for the nutritional ailments of the soil and most of the timing now down — though we’ll push an earlier spring, even without plastic-based rowcover. If you know anyone who is interested in supporting this kind of farming, do spread the word. And if you don’t understand how what we’re doing is new and different, ask!

2020 shares are year-round and now for sale. (The website does not yet reflect this, but it will.) Some kind of ‘Farm Bucks’ alternative for the Farmstand will also be available. Nearly all of the expenses for 2020 happen from now until the end of 2019, which means we need your support. Pre-Dec 31st prices and discounts reflect this need. I will update the website when I have the chance with all the new news about how the CSA and farm runs in 2020, but if you have questions before then, just ask.

See you on the farm,

Expected Harvest

Taking a mid-summer break.

Bean, Cowpea Snap
Bean, Soy / Edamame
Pepper, Sweet

Onion, Fresh
Potato, Irish


Basil, Holy
Basil, Italian
Basil, Thai
Garlic, Scapes
Mint, of some flavor
Pepper, Hot
Turmeric, Frozen


Farm Honey & Ferments for sale.

Cooking Classes
Get in touch with Cecelia at cecelia.baum@gmail.com to sign-up.

Althea Bread
On break for the summer.