Farmer John Writes: Even More Rain…But We Have This Technique

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 12, September 4th – September 8th, 2018

Your Box This Week – Saturday Deliveries:
Please note: this summary is written before we pack your box—be aware that some guesswork is involved. Share contents often vary over the course of the week. And, as always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables.

Fruiting Crops — Winter Squash (Butternut and/or Pie Pumpkin and/or Delicata and/or Sweet Dumpling and/or Acorn), Tomato (maybe), Sweet Pepper

Cooking Greens — Brussels Sprouts Tops

Salad Greens — Arugula

Alliums —Onion

Herbs Sage, Cilantro, Anise Hyssop

Sign up for the Free CSA Meal Planning Service
Make sure you sign up for the Local Thyme CSA meal planning service we offer with your share. Local Thyme offers storage and handling tips and recipes customized to each week’s share. It has received many great reviews from our shareholders. Check out this sample recipe: Coconut Red Curry with Winter Squash, Brussels Sprouts Tops, Tofu and Lime.

From Farmer John’s Cookbook
Here is a link to storage tips and recipes for winter squash from the out-of-print Farmer John’s Cookbook:

Brussels Sprouts Are Tops
This week, we are giving Brussels sprouts tops. Very popular amongst many of our shareholders. Learn more about Brussels sprouts tops here:

Even More Rain…But We Have this Technique
Tremendous rains fell again this past week. In between rains, the air would sometimes stay muggy, sometimes become dry. A crisp, clear day might indicate no hint of rainfall by morning, but the rain might come by morning anyway–not like an old-fashioned thunderstorm, more like a roiling, vertical river.

As the season slogs towards fall, there are many tasks that need to be done that require dry, firm soil: apply compost, seed peas for fertility, plant next year’s garlic crop, lift carrots, and harvest potatoes. Herbs such as sage, thyme and cilantro need to be dry to be harvested. Crops such as spinach and radishes need to be seeded into dry soil. Lettuce and choi cannot be transplanted into mud.

We had wagon after wagon of lettuce and choi transplants that had to be planted last week, or their chances of reaching maturity were almost nil. After last Friday, two weeks of mostly steady rain were predicted—not that these predictions are always right, but sometimes it does rain most of the time for two weeks straight, sometimes more. It happened last year. It has happened this year. This past Thursday and Friday, we had a break from the storms.

On Thursday morning, the fields seemed impossibly muddy, sticky, sloshy from the prior rainstorms, impossible to till. However, I was heartened that morning by a slight breeze and a bright sun.

We have an emergency technique for drying the fields. We drive the tractor down the compacted wheel tracks that have been made with exactitude via GPS in prior trips through the field. (Without these compacted wheel tracks to drive on, the tractor would immediately sink far down into the mud.) We scuff the soil surface of the bed with our rotovator. The rotovator breaks up the sticky patina of coagulated moisture on the soil surface, resulting in thousands of small wet particles of soil, causing what seems like a 10 or 20 fold increase in the amount of soil surface exposed to sun and breeze.

Would the drying of the soil be achieved rapidly enough? It takes a few hours for this accelerated drying method to sufficiently dry the soil to then till it deep enough to properly receive transplants. If we didn’t get those transplants in then, and ten days of rain ensued, those 16,000 transplants would never reach maturity. I will add here that it did not seem possible to achieve our goal, due to the combination of the mud, air temperature, wind velocity and humidity, but I decided to try it anyway—because I know I’m not always right, and because so much was at stake. 

A few hours passed after we scuffed the soil. We then rotovated the dry-ish soil deep enough so it could receive transplants. We transplanted 3 beds of choi that afternoon. Next morning, the forecast was for rain. Miraculously, it didn’t rain. We started transplanting lettuce at 6 a.m. last Friday morning; we had 7 beds planted by 3 p.m—a record. We put in about 16,000 transplants total in that 1 1/2 day binge (plus harvesting, plus packing boxes for Saturday deliveries).

I’m writing this on Saturday morning. It is thundering and raining. The greenhouse is empty. The wagons are empty. The roots of lettuce and choi seedlings are reaching into their moist soil surroundings, making their way to your table.

Last of the lettuce

Mid-Week Weather and Box Update
We had tremendous rains over the weekend and now into mid-week, squalls of rain, rivers of rain–rain that made our house shudder. The crew has been harvesting in downpours and mud this week, in order to provide you with a sufficient quantity of vegetables for your box. Your box contents reflect somewhat the extreme weather: Brussels sprouts tops, for instance, can be harvested in wet conditions. If your box isn’t full to the brim, well — we gave it our best.


Mostly rain for the next two weeks

Haidy’s Chance of Rain” earrings

This season’s excessive moisture substantially degraded the tomato vines, causing the tomatoes to ripen in a surge. There will be few tomatoes to harvest this week, and that will likely be the end of tomato season.

Pumpkins and the Gladiolas—Farm Field Day, Saturday, September 15
It looks like we will have plenty of big orange carving pumpkins for our shareholders at the Farm Field Day coming up Saturday, September 15. And the gladiolas in the U-Pick garden look like they will be blooming then. I hope you attend. Learn more about the Field Day here:

Meet Denise Glasenapp, Our New Office Assistant
Denise has served as a pack volunteer this season and now joins us as support in the farm office. She brings with her a background in the visual arts and admires the farm’s ever-evolving creative process. She shares with us a love of words and writing and has enjoyed immersing herself in studying the philosophy in which the farm is grounded. 

Denise looks forward to communicating with shareholders and meeting in person at Farm Field Days. She is a most delightful, accommodating and engaged person.
Haidy and I feel very fortunate that we get to work with her. 

Denise’s father, Don Glasenapp, has been serving as coordinator of Angelic Organics pack volunteers for the past two seasons. Don is charismatic, responsible and insightful. I sometimes joke with Don that Denise must have taught him these favorable traits. 

My role with the farm office will gradually dwindle, as Denise takes on more and more of the shareholder communication. I’ll miss having so many warm and interesting interactions with shareholders.


From a Shareholder
“Dear Farmer John and Farm Associates,
At the half-way point (I cannot believe we are already up to pumpkins!), I wanted to thank you for healthy, full produce boxes. We are enjoying it! 
I’ve also been meaning to mention 2 other things, unrelated to the fine produce boxes.

The first is how much I enjoyed the story of the Dutch visitors! I love synchronicity stories like that. 

The second is we received a small black swallowtail caterpillar in our first delivery of fennel. I was thrilled to find it. (We looked carefully at our subsequent deliveries of fennel, parsley and dill, but did not find any more. I know you probably work to remove all insects from the produce, but we gladly welcome swallowtail caterpillars and wouldn’t be upset to find other wildlife, either.) In any case, we raised the caterpillar, it pupated, and then eclosed into a beautiful butterfly! 

Thank you for the butterfly! 

Shareholder Jill A.”

Beauty out of the box

How to Have the Best Shareholder Experience
For the best shareholder experience, visit

Let Us Know
Let the office know anything you’d like to share about this week’s box at 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, where we post exciting farm developments regularly, and shareholders post recipes, tips, and photos.

Farmer John


Angelic Organics Learning Center
The Learning Center is kicking off its Sunday Dinner at the Lodge dinner series on Sunday 9/23 featuring Chef Nicole Pederson. For tickets and more information, go to

Each dinner will feature a farm to table, gourmet, four-course meal specially prepared by an area chef. Begin your evening with a tour of Angelic Organics Learning Center’s south campus, and continue on to the Angelic Organics Lodge for cocktails and appetizers before your chef introduces the evening meal.

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