Abbe Hills Farm CSA

  (Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
[ Member listing ]

Very good rain, last pickup of the season. Thank you!!!

Greetings shareholders,
Tomorrow, Saturday, October 20th, 10:00 until 2:00, is the last pickup of the 2012 season.  We'll have potatoes, onions, garlic, turnips, carrots, beets, radishes, winter squash, braising greens, leaf lettuce, kale and collards, arugula, and herbs.  I haven't yet looked at the brussels, but I'll bet they aren't much better than they were last week since we haven't had any nights below freezing since then.  Find out for sure tomorrow!
No rain all summer, and now it rains four times in one week.  We're loving it, but it sure makes it hard to harvest the vegetables.  There's going to be some mud on your lettuce and other low-to-the-ground leafy things.  Sorry, but it makes me happier than the alternative, which is puny low-to-the-ground lettuce and other leafy things because they've never had a good drink in their whole lives.  (Even with irrigation.  Nothing is as good as real rain.)  We got 2.3" rain last Saturday and Sunday, then about .3" since.  We're ready for some sun today.
Because we had such nice rain and since it's going to be warm in the upcoming week and things will grow a little more, I should have lots of garden next Saturday.  Therefore, I'm planning to offer a bonus "One-Week-Only" CSA share next Saturday, October 27, 10:00 until 2:00.  The price will be $21, like the weekly price this season.  Charlotte will be here with bread, too.  It will contain lettuce, braising greens, kale, potatoes, turnips, arugula, maybe more depending on what we find in the garden.   It's a good opportunity for people who might like to join the CSA to check it out, so if you have friends who might be interested, please zap this note on to them.  There will be a signup sheet on the check-in table tomorrow, and I'll send a reminder mid-week.   If you think you're going to have veggie withdrawal problems, this might help. 
The winter farmers market in Mt Vernon starts on Saturday, November 3, and will happen more or less every other Saturday, alternating with Springville.  Charlotte and I will be at both markets each week.  Gotta have a way to keep moving all the eggs, plus you need your fresh bread.  I'll keep bringing garden as long as we have it, then produce from the hoophouse in the early spring. 
The Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development (in which everybody in Linn and Johnson counties lives) is hosting a local food banquet on November 1st.  It's usually a GREAT meal with interesting people who work on local food issues in our area.  You might like to attend to meet some of the farmers, chefs, policy makers, and environmental leaders who contribute to our local food scene.  
There is a terrible weed on this farm.  Canada thistle.  It's roots are 20 feet below the surface and therefore IMPOSSIBLE to kill with normal tillage practices.  It's stickery, obnoxious, aggressive, invasive, and yield-killing.  I hate it.  My workers hate it.  My neighbors hate it.  I've been fighting it for 24 years.  Sometimes, I would like to spray it.  There are things that will kill it, 100% dead, but they are very very bad chemicals, things you wouldn't want on your food or your yard.  But sometimes, I want to use them anyway because I am so so so sick of living with Canada thistle.  Here is a new report from Pesticide Action Network that helps to keep me from calling the Co-op and saying, "get over here and BLAST that thing out of the ground".   It's a review of many studies examining the impact of pesticides on children's health.  Enough evidence here to keep me from making that call (but I still want to).
If you have clean leaves from your yard that you would like to put on my compost pile, I would be happy to have them.  But they have to be clean.  No underpants, toy cars, cigarette butts, Pepsi cans, candy wrappers, or shoes (all of which have been delivered to this farm when I used to get leaves from the city).  Talk with me on Saturday if you are interested.
Thank your for your membership in Abbe Hills Farm CSA this season.  It's been a challenge, but it's been great.  I hope you've been happy with the food - kind, quality, and quantity.  We've done our best to give you the best that we've been able to grow.  Your kind and encouraging words, gifts, and graciousness have all been helpful to me and my workers.  We've enjoyed growing your family's food this year and look forward to doing it again.  Thank you.
See you tomorrow,

beets, turnips, squash this week. Drought continues.

Greetings shareholders,
Tomorrow, we'll have sweet peppers, chili peppers, kale and collards, cantaloupe, potatoes, garlic, onions, leaf lettuce, swiss chard, beets and tops, turnips, winter squash, a few tomatoes, and herbs.  This warm week helped the fall greens and radishes grow, but not quite enough to let us harvest today.  Maybe next Friday.
I've learned an important horticulture lesson this year.  It seems that plants can just sit and wait when they are stressed.  I always thought that they more or less continued their development on schedule, but what we've seen over and over this summer is that when it's too hot or too dry, they frequently just stop.  And wait.  And wait.  And if they don't die, they resume growth and development when conditions improve.  I've also learned that it's not so easy to use a little gas powered pump to get water out of a big pond.  About 50 things can go wrong every time you start the thing up, and usually do.  Irrigating is so life-suckingly time consuming!!!  Which made it hard for me to do really well.   That, plus 100+ degrees temp caused most plants to be water stressed much of the summer.
As a consequence, we had crops like sweet peppers and chilies that we waited for all summer.  They really got good about 2 weeks ago, which would have been fine except for the very early freeze on September 24.  We've harvested the ones that were protected by the leaves and made it through the freeze good enough, but they aren't very ripe and they won't last forever.  Enjoy them now or chop and put in the freezer.  Same story for this week's tomatoes.
We harvested the beets with their tops.   Because they were moisture stressed much of their short lives, the beets are smallish.  The tops are lovely and are delicious sautéed with a little butter and salt.   Please try them out.  Turnips are another underutilized fall vegetable.  They are best peeled, I think, and are good raw, chopped up in salad, sautéed in butter, roasted, or mashed with potatoes. 
The kale and collards are amazing, as usual this year.  It was a good year for the brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc..).  Thankfully, lettuce, radishes, and fall greens like cold, and with never-ending irrigation they will continue to grow and get more and more tasty as the nights get cooler, at least until they freeze completely solid.  We've got daikon that I'm hoping we'll be able to harvest before the end of the month, and brussels sprouts for next week.  Cold always makes them taste better. 
I'm going to give you winter squash this week, but DON'T EAT IT!!!   Most of it needs to cure in a warmish place (like in your house) for at least two weeks or more before it will be good.  But you can start carrying it home this week so you don't break your arms the last two weeks carrying it on that long walk back to the car.  Bring a heavy bag. 
The squash crop this season is especially disappointing, about one quarter of what I was expecting.  I tried growing squash on plastic mulch this year for the first time, and it was a mixed blessing.  It held moisture in the soil, but it also gave the cucumber beetles a perfectly heavenly place to hide their millions of babies.  Cucumber beetles carry a disease called bacterial wilt in their spit, and with so many of them in the field in protected places where we couldn't get to them to manage the population, the disease spread quickly and wiped out about a quarter of the plants very early.  Then, we had to make some tough decisions about weeding when it was so so so hot in July, and we decided not to risk life and limb to clean up the squash like we would have liked.  So, weed pressure cut yield at least another quarter.  Add in a little moisture stress, delayed fruit development, and an early frost, and you don't have a lot left.  I'm sorry that we won't have a huge pile of excellent quality squash for you.  I know how much everybody enjoys it.  It's at the top of my list of things to make sure we do really well next year.
Remember that Dan is bringing beef tomorrow.  Contact him if you want to place an order.  Stop and visit with him a while if you are thinking of getting a half or quarter animal for the freezer.  He is one of the best grassfed beef producers in Iowa.  We are lucky to have access to his products.
Southeast Linn Community Center is hosting a benefit dinner tomorrow night, Saturday, October 6, to raise money for scholarships for kids who participate in Parks and Recreation programs.  So many families need help with family pool passes, this fundraiser will help us get a nice little bank account to help them out next summer.  Serving pork and beef sandwiches, 4:00 until 8:00 at the Community Center in Lisbon.  $6 for adults, $3 for kids, 5 and under free.
See you tomorrow,

Lettuce ends, beets begin, another movie night

Greetings shareholders,
We will have beautiful head lettuce, kohlrabi, very nice cabbage, both green and red kale, pretty swiss chard, cilantro, stir fry greens, and the first beets this week.  We'll also be picking the last of the first crop of peas, including snap, snow, and shell peas.   You eat the whole thing, including the pod, with snap and snow peas, and just the seeds from  the inside of shell peas.  There will be different combinations available Monday and Thursday nights, depending on what we find that is in the best condition.   We'll have some Chinese cabbage, but perhaps not enough for everyone.  We planted plenty, but many of them have literally "dissolved" in the garden as they have been attacked by a fungal disease that started during the hot weather in June.  We'll rescue as many as we can, even though they aren't fully mature, and start handing them out on Monday.   We will also have a little of the end of the early broccoli and the beginning of the zucchinis. 
This will likely be the last week for lettuce until October.  We have 100's of heads in the hoophouse, but if you look in there, you'll notice that they are starting to "bolt".   Plants bolt when they change from growing leaves to growing flowers and reproductive parts.  Lettuce "knows" to begin reproductive growth when the nights are short and the days are warm, so it's starting to stretch out and become pretty unattractive.  It still tastes good, but looks funny.  Depending on how it holds up, we may still have some next week, but then we'll have to wait for cooler weather.  Lettuce in the fall is always marvelous.  And much easier to grow.
The heat in June caused lots of changes in the garden, some bad and some good  The peas all matured at pretty much the same time, even though they were planted on a schedule that should have stretched out their season at least 1 or 2 more weeks.  Plant diseases, especially those caused by fungus, went crazy in the heat.  We're having trouble with the potatoes and everything in the cabbage family.   And the bugs!!!  AGH!!!  They LOVE heat and they took full advantage of the opportunity, especially in the squashes and cucumbers.  That's all bad.  But, the onions and tomatoes are very happy, the summer squash are growing quickly, and the green beans are blooming.  All good things that come from heat.
We also will have a few garlic scapes this week.  If you remember last year, we had tons of scapes.  Scapes are the flower bud from garlic plants.  They have a very mild, lovely flavor that is pretty special, and are available only about 2 weeks per year.  We raised lots of garlic last summer, but I didn't give you any bulbs because I was saving them to plant so we could have a whopping garlic harvest this year.  Well, it was a good idea, but something happened over the winter and about 95% of the garlic we planted was killed.  Nobody seems to know what happened, but most of the garlic growers I know had the same trouble.  Actually, the only place the garlic lived in my garden was where a giant snowdrift was.  I suppose the snow acted as insulation to protect the garlic under it.  So, we'll have 2 or 3 scapes per share this week, and try again next year to get bulbs.  There's nothing better than fresh garlic.
Next week, it looks like we will have zukes, potatoes, onions, and perhaps cucumbers, the next broccoli crop, and beans. 
Remember movie night this Wednesday, July 8, as part of Heritage Days.  Garden tours start at 7:30, movie starts about 8:30.  This month's movie is "Babe", a good one for the kids.  Might as well let them stay up late every night this week!  Bring a friend and a lawn chair.  The movie is free, and popcorn sales benefit our food pantry.
Want to be a volunteer driver to deliver our excess food to Green Square Meals?  We need a few more to add to the pool.  I usually know that I'll have something to donate on Tuesday and Friday mornings and can let you know by email.  Deliveries must be made between 3:00 and 6:00 pm.  If you'd be available to help, please let me know.
We had a little less than .5 inches of rain on Saturday, all of which soaked in.  My buddy Schnackenberg says we'll have several chances to get some more this week.  Sure hope he's right.  We're needing about an inch to get the next round of crops out of the ground.
See you this week,
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