Abbe Hills Farm CSA

  (Mt. Vernon, Iowa)

beef Thursday, another nice rain just in time, tomato trouble

Greetings shareholders,
This week, we have tomatoes, green beans, cabbage, eggplant, potatoes, onions, garlic, summer squash, a few cucumbers, kale and collards, some combination of red and green peppers, and parsley, basil, and dill.  The cilantro, unfortunately, is quickly becoming its older self, coriander, but we'll harvest a little of it anyway for those who have to have their cilantro fix.  We've got more cilantro in the garden that will be ready in two or three weeks.  Prize wining savoy (wrinkled) and regular cabbage, lovely beans, never-ending eggplant, and a new squash row in production.  All good.
The tomatoes and peppers, however, really have me discouraged.  I had hoped to have piles of them by now, but they are just soooooo slowwwwwww.  The peppers are small and misshapen, I guess a consequence of heat.  They are getting nicer, but it will be a few weeks before there are enough to make me feel good about what we are harvesting for you.  There are literally millions of tomatoes in the field, green.  I don't have any idea why they are taking so long to mature.  Maybe it's good, because the ones we picked yesterday after the rain are seriously cracked.  Cracking happens when tomatoes ripen in conditions of uneven moisture, which describes the past weekend.  Pretty dry, then marvelous rain, then cracked tomatoes.  I picked six - 6 - tomatoes yesterday that weren't cracked!!!  Treat your tomatoes this week, no matter what shape or color, very gently so they don't get mashed on the way home, then lay them out on the counter with the cracks facing down to keep them as long as possible.  But Monday people, you might want to plan on tomato sandwiches when you get home.  They seem to be especially juicy and easy to squish.
The rain Sunday was wonderful and just in time.  Ongoing pump trouble has kept me from irrigating as much as I needed to for the last couple weeks (fixed Saturday, finally), so I was very glad to get 1.4" yesterday morning.  Plus, I spent Saturday planting fall cover crops in many of the fields that earlier grew potatoes, sweet corn, onions, and peas.  Cover crops are crops that are grown not to harvest for food, but rather to add nitrogen from the air to the soil, to compete with weeds, to confuse pests, to feed the soil food web, to grab any plant nutrients the previous crop might have left behind, and to prevent soil erosion over the winter.  This weekend, I planted oats with sweet and crimson clover, winter rye with hairy vetch, and oats with turnips and radishes.  The rain was perfect to get everybody off to a good start.
Meat eaters - Dan Specht will be bringing beef again on Thursday.  He has an excellent product.  Here is his note. 
Things are green in my neighborhood, it rained overnight, and keeps the pastures growing.  I feel like I won the lottery. I'm going to be at Laura's Thurs. delivery to bring pre-ordered 20 lb. boxes. These are the same as the other boxes, they are about 1/4 of a 1/4, with a mix of steaks, roasts, stew meat (no bones), boiling beef (some bones), minute steaks, and hamburger. A bargain  at only  $5/lb., or $100/ box. Please e-mail your orders before noon on Thurs. I will again bring hamburger for also $5/lb., limit 5 lbs./customer, no pre-order necessary, first come first served. I also have a limited quantity of meaty soup bones that can be pre ordered for $3/ lb. If anyone is interested, please e-mail a request.
See you Thurs. and we can talk about ordering beef by halves and quarters this fall.  
Dan Specht
563-516-1007 cell
Thank you for your continued kind words, compliments, and gifts.  My confidence in my competence at farming has been rattled frequently this season, and your encouragement has been hugely helpful in keeping me going back out to the gardens.
See you this week,
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