CSA Bonus Week and First Planting!

Things that survived the winter and want to be eaten! Brussels Sprouts, Savoy Cabbage, Candy Carrots, Beautiful Beets, Baby Daikon, and Komatsuna with Rapini (some folks got yummy kale instead).

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Candy Carrots
• Baby Daikon
Sweet Beets
Brussels sprouts
• Savoy Cabbage
Komatsuna Rapini or Siberian Kale or Purple Mustard Greens

COMING SOON: Spring!

It’s not every year that there’s enough overwintered produce to pick a bonus week for CSA members, but there was this year! I hope you all enjoyed the mid-winter treats!

The first of the overwintered Purple Sprouting Broccoli plants are starting to strut their stuff. Won’t be long now!

This February has been mild compared to the past two winters. Only a passing threat of snow here, and a week or so of frosty nights. No Snowpocalypse. No deep freeze. That bodes well for our earliest harvests as well as our earliest plantings.

All cleaned up and ready to plant! I can plant in the greenhouses months before I can typically plant outside. It’s much warmer and dryer inside.

Last year we weren’t able to start planting until April, a full month later than what we’re used to. But things are looking good for a mid- or late-March planting of greens, roots, and favas. Fingers crossed!

The willows are getting ready to become fireworks! In a few weeks, these fuzzy catkins will erupt in a brilliant burst of scarlet and yellow, as they get ready to blast their pollen through the cosmos. Willow pollen is one of the first important foods for baby pollinators, especially bumblebees. Pollen=protein.

I was able to get a few of the greenhouses prepped and planted this week, and I’ve started a good many flats of transplants. The season is definitely under way. The earliest crop of greenhouse sugarsnap peas are already several inches tall, and onions, celery, and lettuces are popping up. Inside I’ve got the first carrots, beets, and spinach seeded, as well as turnips and radishes. We’re just 5-6 weeks away from the first official CSA harvest of the season. And my first market day.

The Fertilizer program I’m now using on the farm: (from top) Gypsum (calcium sulfate) because plants need sulfur in order to metabolize nitrogen; Soft Rock Phosphate (calcium phosphate) from deposits of ancient sea creatures buried in clay deposits, it is broken-down slowly and utilized by soil organisms; Lime (calcium carbonate) is made up of the skeletons and shells of tiny, ancient sea creatures and balances the soil pH while providing essential calcium to soil organisms and growing plants; Dolomite (magnesium carbonate) is formed from the sediments of ancient saltwater lagoons; Azomite is mined from an ancient deposit of volcanic ash in Utah. Because it originated volcanically, it is high in a wide range of trace minerals; and last is the Chicken manure and feather meal fertilizer I use to provide necessary nitrogen to the growing plants and soil organisms.

There are still a few spaces remaining in the CSA for 2020. Click here for the CSA enrollment form. 

But if you’re not able or ready to jump in with both feet, I still have Mystery Box subscriptions as well. Click here for Mystery Box information. 

CSA Week 33

CSA Week 33

“Adirondack Red” Potatoes, Candy Carrots, Beets, Delicata Squash, Arugula, Baby Red Butter Lettuce, Green Oaky Lettuce, Garlic

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• “Adirondack Red” or “Natasha” Potatoes
Choice of Various Squashes
• Candy Carrots
• Beets
• Turnips or Daikon
• Baby Red Butter Lettuce
• Baby Green Oaky Lettuce
• Arugula
Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Parsnips, Leeks, Savoy Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts

Winter Lettuce

Had I planted just two weeks earlier in the greenhouse, or had the fall been slightly brighter and warmer, these lovely lettuce heads would be full-size by now. But, alas, the gods of farm logistics did not want it so. Nevertheless, lettuce in December is a treat, no matter the size. And the experiment proved that these varieties are, indeed highly resistant to Downy Mildew, the reason why we can’t have lettuce in winter.

I’ve observed that there are primarily two ways to approach farming; we can either work against nature, fighting natural processes, wildlife, and the environment in an effort to conquer and be productive; or we can concentrate our efforts on working with and alongside nature, doing our best to coexist while producing harvestable crops. Both methods have their simplicities and their challenges, but I choose the latter.

In the coexistence model, balance is key. This year, the farm predator population has been low. Last year, the neighbors did away with the resident coyote… and that meant trouble this year, as the rabbit population exploded. Even though a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks nested nearby and hunted regularly, there were rabbits everywhere, eating everything. When I planted peas and beans, the rabbits came out by night and munched the tender shoots to nubs… overnight half of each new patch disappeared. When I planted the fall brassicas, Cosmo and I built a low fence around them to deny them entry. The greenhouses needed to be sealed with chicken wire to keep them out or I’d have lost all the plants. Cosmo did some hunting, and Mario the Corgi/Terrier did his part, but while we did our part to control them, the population remained high. Because rabbits breed like… well, rabbits.

So I was recently thrilled to come home one night and hear a pair of Great Horned Owls hooting at each other. Typically they don’t come down from the hills, but they are most welcome to join the Barn Owls in their evening bunny feasts.

I was equally happy to hear a pair of Coyotes caroling last week. I hope they come closer, I encourage them to wander through, or even take up residence in the farm. As long as they stay out of the neighbor’s property they’ll be safe. I welcome them here.

Also new visitors, and hopefully future residents, are a pair of Ravens. They, too are rarely seen here, although their cousins the Crows and Scrub Jays and Stellar’s Jays pass through nearly daily. They may not be directly beneficial, but they definitely add character and are welcome

All these beasts add to the growing winter biodiversity on the farm; the migrating and resident songbirds, insects, and the unseen microorganisms that make this a urban oasis.

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What’s a pirate’s favorite vegetable? Aaaarugula! Not just because it’s fun to say, but because it’s high in vitamin C, so it prevents scurvy! This sowing, done outside in September, is proving its special value in its winter-hardiness, surviving the last week of night temperatures in the -teens with no protection.

There are now two weeks left of the 2019 season… and I would love to have your commitment for the 2020 season. I’m happy to make payment arrangements, and you can pay by credit card as well as by check. Here’s the link to the enrollment form.

 

 

CSA Week 32

CSA Week 32

“Natasha” Potatoes, Candy Carrots, Beets, Turnips and Daikon, Siberian Kale, Radicchio, Squashes, Garlic

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• “Natasha” Potatoes
Choice of Various Squashes
• Garlic
Beets
• Carrots
• Scarlet Turnips or Daikon
Siberian Salad Kale
Radicchio

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Stir-Fry Greens, Savoy Cabbage, Parsnips

It’s hard to believe that planting will start soon for 2020! In just two weeks, I’ll be planting the first of the carrots and greens for April in one of the greenhouses. Daylength makes a big difference in how quickly things grow… crops that take just 60-75 days in the long days of summer will take four months to reach maturity in winter and early spring. So far, the overwintered crops are looking good: Sprouting Broccoli plants are strong and holding their own, the garlic is sending up tender shoots and setting sturdy roots, and the experimental overwintered cauliflower is looking pretty good as well! If all goes well, we’ll have a creamy, white treat in April or May!

The dark days are upon us now… and we’ve just a few weeks remaining. I’ve finished with farmers market and I’m dedicating all the rest of the produce in the field to all of you.

Carrots and beets are hardy in temperatures well below freezing, but harvesting them is difficult when the ground is frozen. They become very brittle and it’s hard to get the dirt off. This means they’ll be super delicious though…

Last week was a chilly one, and the temperatures dropped well below freezing for several nights. That makes it difficult to any harvesting; while anything left outside now can handle the cold temperatures, they can’t be harvested while they’re frozen. Leaves will stay wilted and roots can’t be extracted from the ground.

Colorful radicchios are quite hardy in cold temperatures. I harvested all that were left before the Thanksgiving weekend, just to be safe. They even lose some bitterness with the cold.

But that doesn’t mean that they’re lost! It just means that they become sweeter and more delicious!

As the year winds down, and I am without any farmers market income, I appeal to you all to enroll early for next year’s CSA. I’m happy to make payment arrangements, or take credit card payments. I’m just worried about making it through the end of this year and beginning of 2020.

I am extremely grateful to those of you who have paid already, and for the continued support of you all. We wouldn’t be here without you!

Click here for the link to 2020 Enrollment Information

CSA Week 27

“Daisy Gold” Potatoes, “Sweet Dumplilng” Squash, Carrots, Beets, Fava Bean Greens, Collard Greens, Purple Mustard,  Arugula or Sorrel or Baby Bok Choy, Garlic

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• “Daisy Gold” Potatoes
• “Sweet Dumpling” Squash
• Garlic
• Beets
• Carrots
• Collard Greens
• Arugula or Sorrel or Baby Bok Choy
• Fava Bean Greens (use like Pea Shoots: sauté or make pesto)
• Purple Mustard
• Garlic

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Spinach, Brussels Sprouts, Baby Bok Choy

The days are noticeably shorter now, and fall has arrived. We finally bid the tomatoes and peppers farewell, and the cucumbers, with the first frost two weeks ago. This week we are preparing for an early Arctic Blast, as the jet stream comes down south for a visit.

Temperatures in the low- to mid-20’s were forecast for this week, so we hustled to put frost blankets and row covers on the more delicate crops, like radicchio, escarole, broccoli, and cauliflower. These fabrics don’t seem like much, but they can raise the temperature 2-4 degrees, which can be enough to keep frosty air from damaging or even ruining the crop. It means moving huge pieces of flimsy material and lots of sandbags, but if it works, it’s totally worth it.

We spent Monday afternoon covering the more delicate crops (the chicories and broccoli) in the hope that just a degree or two of protection would save them should the temperature drop into the mid-twenties, as forecast. Fingers crossed for the tiny crowns of broccoli and cauliflower that are just the size of a quarter right now, but were supposed to be ready to harvest by mid-October.

The Garlic for 2020 has arrived! 300 pounds to get in the ground pronto.

It’s not just our crops that are a month behind. Other farms are reporting the same problem, and we’re all blaming the darker, colder days of September. The last few years we’ve been blessed with August-like weather into October, but that hasn’t been the case this year. So many things that should have been ready for you to eat, simply are not.

Frost looks pretty on red or green leaves, but that frost can burst cell walls and ruin leaves, several layers down. It also turns delicate broccoli buds into black mush. Nobody wants to eat that.

So, while we have an abundance of carrots and beets, some of the bonus brassicas and greens are in short supply. In fact, there’s a wad of bad news coming, which you will receive in an email shortly. Basically, the CSA will be running about 5 weeks short of the promised 40 weeks. I’ll be offering a credit toward next year’s CSA, but that’s the best I can do, as I’ll be also cutting my farmers market season short in order to continue the CSA through Christmas.

But, anyway, the good news is that I finally got the garlic ordered and it has arrived, and we’ll start planting that for 2020 later this week. So that’s exciting.

CSA Week 23

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• “Sangre” Potatoes
• Garlic
• Beets
• Carrots
• Sweet Escamillo Peppers
• sweet Lunchbox Peppers
• Brussels Sprouts Tops
• Komatsuna (use like baby bok choy) or Purple Salad Mustard
• Parsley or Thyme
• Tomatoes or Onions

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Baby Daikon, Winter Squashes, Collard Greens

I’ll add to this post later today….

CSA Week 16

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• New Potatoes
• Garlic
• Snap Beans or Romano Beans
• Carrots
• Butter Lettuce
• Red Romaine Lettuce
• Cucumbers
• Tomatoes

• U-PICK FLOWERS

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Shelling Beans, Broccoli, Peppers, Eggplant

In the midst of all the harvesting that needs to be done, northwest farmers are also in the midst of the final push to get anything and everything planted.

U-Pick flowers are ready and waiting for you to take them home!!

Perhaps you’ve noticed that the days are getting shorter? The plants have noticed too, and their internal clocks are ticking. We are pushing hard to get all of the planting done that will carry all of us through the end of the year and into spring. There actually is a deadline; a point where plants will not grow and mature because there isn’t enough light for them to grow. While they may sit patiently and wait to be harvested in the dark, rainy days to come, they will not actually do any more growing until February.

So this week we are planting broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. Next week we plant turnips, spinach, and radishes, and in the final week of August, I’ll plant arugula, baby bok choi, and other tasty greens.

Then we water and cultivate EVERYTHING until the rainy season gets here. Which reminds me: our biggest water bill is about to arrive, at the same time that payroll is its highest and garlic seed needs to be purchased. That means that it’s time for my annual appeal and amazing CSA payment offer!

I would be most appreciative to any families who are able to prepay for their 2020 CSA Share by September 1, and those who are able to prepay can subtract 10% of their 40-week share cost. This means that a Small Share will cost $900 instead of $1,000, and a Large Share will cost $1,620 instead of $1,800. It’s a heck of a deal for you, and it’s a huge help to me!

CSA Week 11

New Potatoes, Cucumbers, Beet Greens, Cilantro, Spinach, Lettuce, Garlic, Dill, Sugarsnap Peas

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• New Potatoes
• Fresh Garlic
• Sugarsnap Peas
• Napa Cabbage or Spinach
• Lettuce
• Cucumbers

• Beet Greens, Salas Mustard, or Pea Shoots

• Cilantro, Dill, or Mint

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Cabbage, Carrots, Green Beans, Summer Squash

This has been the strangest summer weather we’ve had in quite a long stretch. Just enough rain and warmth to grow weeds like crazy, too wet to work ground well or plant, and too wet to cultivate and keep weeds in check. So we’re doing our best. Some things have been happy, others have not.

Most crops are running later than I’d hoped for. Mystery Boxes are delayed a week because things aren’t ready. But I’m thankful that there is just enough to feed everyone, and make a bit of cash at market to cover bills and payroll.

Thanks as always to all of you for being understanding!