Abbe Hills Farm CSA

  (Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
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Nice rain, end of sweet corn, wetland is nearly done

Greetings shareholders,

This week, we'll have sweet corn, eggplant, zukes, green beans, cabbage, potatoes, onions, garlic, kale and collards, cucumbers, basil and cilantro, tomatoes, and a sweet pepper.  The corn will be Serendipity on Monday, and if the last planting of Bodacious gets its act together, the Thursday people will get it.  But it pollinated at a very stressful and hot time, so I'm not sure it's going to be worth harvesting.  Just have to wait and see.  The rain today should help it.

Eggplants, zucchinis, cabbage, collards, and tomatoes seem to like the conditions we've had for the last few weeks.  They have all been quite nice.  The green beans, on the other hand, have been abysmal.  We'll take the last picking off of the first bean crop this week, then I'm knocking it down to make room for fall cabbage.  There should be another bean planting ready to pick next week or the week after. 

Peppers have started to make harvestable fruit, but not much of it, so we'll start slow.  I always like to leave as many green peppers as possible in the field so they can turn red and yellow, the stage when they taste really wonderful.  Then we can have lots of them in the fall.

All the tomatoes we've picked so far have come off the first 85 plants, planted on May 6.  There are four times that many plants that were planted on June 6.  They are setting fruit now.  We'll probably be picking from them in a couple of weeks.  If they all make it, we should have lots of tomatoes.   I'll give you just as many as we can pick.  Although I probably shouldn't be making too many big plans until I actually see red tomatoes in the box.  Might jinx it.

In addition to the 1.5" of rain that we got on August 4th, we also received .3" on Wed of last week, plus .1" on Thursday about 2 minutes after we got everybody out of here and shut the big doors.  Just in time, too, because that one came horizontally.  It's drizzling as I write this, which is great.  I've planted quite a lot of the fall crop already and it is SOOOO good to use actual rain instead of irrigation water to get the seeds to germinate.  I think they can tell the difference when it is the real thing.  Plus, the moisture makes the ground soft enough to till, which means I can get that much more garden ready for fall.  We'll be planting like crazy for the next week or two.

I took the irrigation pump to town.  It's dead.  Plum wore out.  Shot.  I didn't know a person could wear out a Honda motor, but I guess you can.  Actually, you can do it in only 10 weeks.  I bought a new pump, bigger, with a bigger Honda motor last week.  It would be a wonderful thing if it just had to sit by the side of the pond for a couple of months.

No doubt you have been noticing the work on the wetland at the end of the field west of the shed.  The original wetland had been there for 10 years, but it was riddled with muskrat tunnels and didn't hold water very well.  I had a chance to repair it and re-enroll it in a conservation program from USDA called Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP.  In CRP, marginal ground is taken out of production and restored to prairie, woodland, or wetland.  The farmer gets a rent check from USDA every year for 10 years, and the environment gets some relief.  Wetlands do lots of good things, including providing habitat for wildlife (but I still hate Canada geese), pollinating insects, and natural enemies of insect pests.  They also hold water in the uplands after a storm, which reduces that magnitude of flooding downstream.  The water they hold is released slowly, which keeps the stream below flowing more steadily. Some water soaks down even lower to recharge the aquifers from which our drinking water comes.  Wetlands also filter soil, fertilizer, and chemicals that run off from the crop ground above them, sending clean and filtered water to their streams.  And wetlands provide diversity and beauty on a landscape that has not much going on except for corn and soybeans.  All good use of taxpayer money as far as I'm concerned. 

Here's a thoughtful and reasonable commentary on drought, corn, and the next Farm Bill.  If you eat, breathe, or drink water, the Farm Bill matters to you.

I'll be gone on Monday, in Madison attending a workshop for farmers breeding crops specifically for organic farms.  I'm really looking forward to it, although I am wondering how I'm going to make it through the afternoon without a nap.  The heat wave was so brutal, there was nothing to do in the afternoons for the last month except nap, and now it's become a habit.  Hope I don't embarrass myself.  Back here at home, the farm and the Monday night pickup will be in the very capable hands of my excellent crew. 

See you later,

Laura

 

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