Farmer John Writes: A Fall Crop Update

Welcome to our Eighteenth Harvest Week

Please Flatten Your Boxes Properly and Return Them, Especially if You have been Stockpiling 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 flatten your box carefully. Return your empty, flattened vegetable box to your delivery site. If you receive home delivery, place your flattened box(es) in the location where your box is delivered. If you receive fruit, you’ll need to re-cycle your fruit box on your own, as the farm does not re-use the fruit boxes.

The Story I Was Planning to Write for this Week’s Farm News, But Didn’t Have Time:
It’s a story about farm interns and housekeeping that took place about twenty years ago. It’s a crazy story, so I’ll make sure to share it before season’s end. I enjoyed writing the crop report below. It is straightforward and it reminds me (and you) of what we do.

Fall Weather
The weather has been fabulous this fall—nice rains and mostly warm temperatures.

 Fall Crops
In last week’s column, I went into a bit of detail about Daikon greens and our second cutting of arugula. As cold weather approaches, I would like to let you know about more of the fall crops.

Brussels Sprouts When I gave hay rides at our last Field Day, I asked the passengers on the wagon what their favorite crop was. Many of them exclaimed “Brussels sprouts!” I planted a lot of Brussels sprouts this year. I put them in earlier than usual, as they always seem like they will mature a bit late in the season, and sometimes they seem like they might not fill properly. This year, the crop almost lurched upwards once we got it into the ground, and it grew taller than I have ever seen Brussels sprouts grow. Yet, they still seem a bit behind and have me wondering again if they will mature properly. I think they will.

Spinach is a tough crop for us to grow. I estimate that 1/3 to 1/2 of our spinach crops have failed over the past 25 years. Maybe it’s our clay soil that retains so much moisture, yellowing the bottom leaves. Maybe it’s the high pH of our soil. Spinach does not germinate well in hot weather, but hot weather often prevails when the spinach needs to be seeded in late summer for a fall crop. Another attribute of spinach, especially spring spinach—it panics when it matures in hot weather. The leaves can go from a luscious green to yellow and unusable during a hot weekend. Occasionally we get a fabulous spinach crop, which encourages me to keep trying. This fall’s spinach crop was pummeled by the recent downpour, and many leaves were damaged. We harvested it by hand, an extremely tedious, labor intensive, and costly task. I kept pushing the spinach harvest, because spinach is such a popular crop, and I wanted as many shareholders as possible to have an experience of it. Sadly, we didn’t harvest enough to offer to all of our shareholders. (This harvest was a couple of weeks back.)

Arugula I mentioned in my last column that I had seeded a few late beds of arugula, in addition to harvesting a second crop of arugula from existing beds. I almost mixed some mizuna and pac choi seed into the mix. Some of you probably remember when we did that many years back—creating a mesclun mix. I decided not to do it this season, though. (Decisions are interesting processes—what we say yes to, what we say no to…)

Laboring over pea shoots

Laboring over pea shoots

 I Also Seeded Pea Shoots I was very excited to introduce pea shoots to our box contents last season. I’m in love with pea shoots—how they grow, how they look, and how they taste. They are frost resistant and after an October frost, they will be even sweeter. I love to nibble on them in the fields and I find their fragrance enchanting. Growing and harvesting pea shoots makes me feel that the world is in order. However, a few shareholders have mentioned that they are not so keen on the pea shoots and, as is often the case, some shareholders have mentioned that they really appreciate them.

Turnips were scarred by an infestation of worms just before harvest. They were so unsightly, we put them in the swap boxes.

Parsnips did not germinate well this year, so we tilled them under. Parsnips are a very finicky crop to grow and a low-yielding crop. I seed one bed per year, which will not provide much of a parsnip experience to our shareholder community, but they are such a tasty crop, I like to grow them anyway.

Your Potatoes Rock! —from a Shareholder

Your Potatoes Rock! —from a Shareholder

Potatoes are a great crop this year, as I’m sure many of you have noticed, due to the full bags of potatoes we have been providing.

Rutabaga No rutabaga this year. We have had trouble growing rutabaga for years. It grows misshapen (or is it misshapenly?) Perhaps it just doesn’t like our soil. I remember the day this summer when I decided to forego it. I could see that we would be soon faced with a shortfall in labor, and I thought “Why add in a marginal crop that will take time and effort away from the crops that are already growing?” Farming Tip: just so you know, one of my insights into vegetable production is that if I give 90% to a crop of what it needs, it will probably yield 50% of what it could have yielded. If I give a crop 100% of what it needs, it’s likely to yield 100% of what it could have yielded.

Broccoli keeps coming on–a lovely crop this season. After we harvest the main broccoli head, the plant generates side shoots. Some of these sides shoots are generously sized.

Beets look good.

Leeks will be in your boxes soon. We used to give them in the summer, but I decided that fall was the better season for leeks.

Parsley, cilantro and (likely) sage are scheduled for our boxes in the last part of the main season.

Carrots see the light

Carrots see the light

Carrots are all out of the ground and mostly in storage. We had a pretty good yield of lovely, sweet carrots.

Bunched kale, as you have perhaps noticed, has not been in your boxes for a while. It got tired so we gave it a rest. We plan to have kale in your boxes from Week 19 through the Extended Season.

A lot of salad

A lot of salad

Lettuce We have a lot of lovely lettuce still in our fields. Some varieties of lettuce do not take kindly to frost, even light frosts. You might experience a surge of lettuce one week, because we hustled it in from the fields before it got frost damage. Actually, you are getting a lot of lettuce this week, since we are already clearing out beds of lettuce so we won’t have to cover so many beds with row cover once the frosts arrive.

Onions we have storage onions still. We’ll make sure to add an onion or two to your boxes before season’s end.

A Shareholder Writes about our Potatoes

“HI Shelley,
When I received a huge bag of your potatoes last week in my CSA box, I was excited. I had the gut reaction to make mashed potatoes since I had a craving.  After boiling 2/3 of the bag, peeling them and then mashing with a little coconut milk and some salted butter, they were so delicious that I could not stop eating them!
I made a potato leek soup with the rest of the potatoes – also delicious.
Thanks for providing such an amazing quality and tasty potato.  I stopped buying organic potatoes at Whole Foods because they were tasteless.
I look forward receiving my 2nd basket tomorrow.
~Rita”

A Shareholder Writes about our 2nd Cutting of Arugula
“The arugula is fantastic – I don’t think there are any bad leaves!  Glad to have it!
Thanks!
~Jen”

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.

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
Fruiting Crops – hot peppers
Cooking Greens – Chinese cabbage, chard
Stem Crops – kohlrabi
Alliums – garlic, onions, leeks
Root Crops – daikon radishes
Herbs – cilantro

broccoli, or cauliflower, or potatoes

 

Your Farmer, John

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