Farmer John Writes: People Like Potatoes

Welcome to our Seventeenth Harvest Week

Before I write about People and Potatoes, here’s a reminder about next season. (Thanks to those of you who have already signed up.)

2016 Early Signup Offer by Monday, Oct 5.
We would love for you to be with us again in 2016.  With this year’s share fresh in your experience, it’s a good time to consider joining us for next year. (We’re thinking about next year ourselves–we have laid out, composted and cover cropped almost all of the 2016 fields that will grow next year’s crops for our shareholders.) You can sign up for a 2016 share by Monday, Oct 5, for a nice discount. (If you plan to receive Home Delivery next year, you should definitely consider signing up before Oct 5, as the price will soon go up to $12 per delivery.) Details for 2016 signup are here: https://angelicorganics.com/2016-preseason-share-sale/

Note: I don’t claim that People Like Potatoes. This was my mother’s claim.

“Dear Farmer John,

This is Catherine Porter, longtime shareholder of over 20 years.

I would like to share the two attached photos and offer this explanation.

When I saw that this week’s box had a large sack of potatoes, I thought Uh, oh. I think some of last year’s potatoes are still in the pantry. Sure enough, I found two bags: one red, one blue, both holding a number of potatoes. Amazingly, the potatoes did not smell bad or have any signs of rot. In fact, I discovered that they they had happily spent the past 11 months in my dark, cool pantry growing long, lovely, curly shoots!  The longest of these shoots, a beautiful purple color, was OVER SIX FEET long–imagine!!

Why were Angelic Organics potatoes in my pantry for 11 months?  Well, I don’t really like–and rarely eat–potatoes.  I usually give my Angelic Organics potatoes to grateful, potato-loving friends.  However, last year was a difficult one for my family, as we were dealing with serious illness, and many things that normally happen did not happen.

I believe my dislike of the potato stems from eating so many of them as a kid.  I was raised on meat, potatoes, canned vegetables, and occasional iceberg lettuce–all things I perceived to be void of life.  In my late teens I gave up those lifeless foods to pursue a fresh, vegetable-based diet.  (My dislike of potatoes may also stem from being sent as a child to the dark, dank basement to “get some potatoes.”  This entailed having to put my hand into a bin of potatoes that had turned shades of green and sprouted EYES–the stuff of nightmares.)

Enough analysis of my dislike of potatoes. The point of this email is to tell you that while I still may not like Angelic Organics potatoes, I now respect them, a great deal.  Such LIFE in those potatoes!!  Who knew?

long, lovely(?), curly potato shoots

long, lovely(?), curly potato shoots

the winning potato shoot, over 6 ft long

the winning potato shoot, over 6 ft long

Fondly,
Catherine Porter, Longtime Shareholder, Evanston South”

“Catherine,
My mother…said one of her worse memories of her earlier years was when she worked at a grocery store—this probably was in the 1930’s–and she had to sort out the rotten potatoes from the good ones [and then shovel out the rotten ones.] She could not stand the smell, and my mother was not one to complain.

One of my mom’s frequent observations was “People like Potatoes.” I sometimes thought it should be the name of the documentary film about the farm, The Real Dirt on Farmer John, just because I couldn’t get it out of my head [though it made no sense at all as the title of the film.] I did suggest it as an alternate title to my short story: “Did You Kill Anyone Up Here?”

best,
John”

Note to the reader: Actually, my mother usually said it like this: “People like Potatoes, John. They do. People really like potatoes.” For those of you who knew my mother, you can probably imagine her saying it. After a while, it gets to be like a song that you can’t stop singing to yourself, even if you don’t like the song.

Potatoes Meet the Sky after a Long Season Underground

Potatoes Meet the Sky after a Long Season Underground

From a Shareholder:
“Yea! Thanks, LOVE those potatoes!”

Potatoes We don’t wash potatoes, as they keep better with the soil on them. Catherine Porter’s potato testimonial above supports this claim. (I don’t believe we’ll be giving potatoes this week, meaning you are in between potato deliveries. We have more potatoes to harvest.)

Second Cutting of Arugula…I’m a Bit Unsure
This week, we plan to harvest arugula for your box. This is arugula regrowth, meaning it’s a second cutting or second crop from the same bed. Last year, we had many successful harvests of greens re-growth, but last year we harvested all of our greens by hand, a very expensive and awkward process. I thought, when I bought a machine to harvest the greens this spring, that regrowth would be just as reliable, but it’s not. If the first crop is cut too low, the growing point is severed. If it’s cut too high, the tips of the baby leaves that are emerging are cut, and then these leaves grow out in a misshapen way. Generating regrowth from a bed is appealing, because it means we don’t have to tear up the bed after harvest and then re-seed it to establish another crop.

The story of this arugula is complicated more by the pounding, fierce rainstorm we had a couple of weeks back. The pelting rain bruised some of the arugula leaves (and other greens, too, notably the spinach.) Therefore, we have a crop of arugula that is simply lovely at first glance, but upon closer inspection, it has some leaves that are bruised, discolored and misshapen—maybe 5 % of the total—it’s hard to really estimate the number. I can walk several feet down the bed and think to myself what lovely arugula, and then find a smattering or perhaps even a profusion of bad leaves. I’m writing all of this to say that I decided I could not in good conscience tear up the arugula, and have decided that you, as a shareholder, can sort through the arugula and decide if we should have given it or plowed it under.

Lovely Looking Arugula Regrowth (not as lovely when you bend over and look closely, but imagine tilling under all this arugula)

Lovely Looking Arugula Regrowth (not as lovely when you bend over and look closely, but imagine tilling under all this arugula)

After the harvest, which will be of just the top growth of the leaves—maybe as much as the upper half–I’ll mow the crop down to slightly above the growing point and see what kind of third crop it re-generates.

As you might have figured out by now, I find this sort of challenge endlessly interesting. However, I don’t like to make you disgruntled with your box contents. I suppose you like the idea of saving fuel, time and seed when creating a harvest of arugula, but your patience might also be tested by having too many bad leaves to sort out. I’m sure that some of your opinion about the second cutting will be influenced by how much you actually like arugula.

I will add that, really, I don’t mind tilling more beds and seeding arugula a second time…I actually like almost anything that has to do with tillage or seeding, but still, I see the value in just letting the crop come back again on its own, without disturbing the soil, taking the time, and buying additional seed. I’ll also add that, because the weather is encouraging (warm), I seeded several new beds of arugula recently. This new crop should be ready near the end of the season.

The Daikon Radishes are fabulous this year, and the Daikon Greens are very lush. This week, we are going to give the greens, as they are considered a delicacy in Asian cuisine. They are seldom available commercially, as they yellow quickly in storage, but we can get them to you soon after we harvest them. We hope you appreciate receiving this treasure. Bonni at Local Thyme was very excited to learn that we are providing Daikon greens this week. Make sure to check the recipe service at Local Thyme, if you aren’t sure what to do with your Daikon greens.  (If you haven’t signed up for the Local Thyme recipe service yet, go to www.localthyme.net/register. Enter the farm code AOLTFREE under “I am a member of a CSA farm.”  Click the sign-up button.)

The Weather Last Week
Warm. Sunny. Dry. Great for working in the fields.

Farming Last Week
Walking the fields on these lovely autumn days makes me a bit ecstatic with wonder, awe and gratitude. Often, my wife Haidy and I tour the fields together—a most glorious shared experience.

A Pumpkin for Your Pleasure
We have a lot of nice pumpkins still in the field. If you get out to the farm in the next couple of weeks, take home a pumpkin and some gourds. The pumpkin field is west of the U-Pick garden.

Enjoy Fun Family Farm Experiences this Fall at the Angelic Organics Learning Center
If your kids love animals, join us for our Animal Day for Families program on Saturday, October 10 from 10:30-3:30. We’ll spend time with our chickens, goats, bees, worms, pigs and more. We’ll also make ice cream from fresh goat’s milk. It’s the last Animal Day of 2015! Pre-register on our website: www.learngrowconnect.org/events.

Let us Know
Let Shelly know anything you’d like to share about this week’s box email hidden; JavaScript is required. Please note the week and day of delivery, your site, when you picked up your box, and any comments about your box.

Please Flatten Your Boxes Properly and Return Them
The farm re-uses the vegetable boxes. Flaps are easily torn when the boxes are dismantled improperly, and then the box bottom might later burst open with fresh, organic local produce heading towards the floor. Please return your empty, flattened vegetable box to your delivery site. If you receive home delivery, place it in the location where your box is delivered.

More from Shareholders
Visit us often at www.facebook.com/angelicorganics , where we post exciting farm developments regularly, and shareholders post recipes, tips, and photos.

Saturday’s Box Contents
Please Note: this summary is written before you receive your box—be aware that some guesswork is involved. What we think we’ll put in your box might not actually end up in your box. As always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables, and remember to sort through your baby greens to eliminate any discolored leaves or weeds.

Salad Greens – lettuce, arugula
Fruiting Crops – sweet peppers, hot peppers, heirloom tomatoes, maybe winter squash
Cooking Greens – daikon radish greens
Brassicas – broccoli
Alliums – garlic
Root Crops – maybe celeriac
Stem Crops – kohlrabi
Herbs – cilantro

Your Farmer, John

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