Abbe Hills Farm CSA

  (Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
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Send the rain our way. Raffle tickets for SE Linn Community Center

Greetings shareholders,
 
This week, we should have broccoli, cabbage, onions, dill, chard, kale and collards, summer squash, green beans, potatoes, and garlic.  We'll also try to get a few more beets out of the ground for you.   The first sweet corn has tassled so I supposed it will be ready to eat in about three weeks - later than everybody else and probably smaller ears - but amazingly yummy.
 
We need rain.  The harvests the last seven weeks have been over-the-top-abundant.  Perfect temperatures and plenty of rain will do that for you, if you can get the crops planted, which we were able to do quite well this spring.  But now the summer crops have used up most of the moisture that was stored in the upper layer of soil and they are ready for a big old drink.  I expect we will be yanked back to more realistic size harvests starting this week.  We are irrigating tomatoes, peppers, winter squash, melons, and cantaloupes, but most of the other crops are on their own.
 
It's so dry, I can't get the disk in the ground and I don't want any of my workers to run the tiller because it is dangerously dusty.  We won't be planting anything until we get at least a little rain to settle the dust and soften up the surface.  The poor hens have been stuck in the same pasture for the last two weeks - the ground is so hard we can't pull out the fenceposts to move them!  And we can't get the garlic out of the ground - keep bending the forks!  (Seems a little too much like last year.)  So, wash your car, hang out your laundry, don't mow your grass, whatever you have to do to get some rain moving in our direction.
 
Some/most of the summer squash this week will come from my friends at Local Harvest CSA near Solon.  They have too much so they are sharing with us.  Seems like all 100 billion cucumber beetles in the world came here and left everybody else alone.
 
I've got raffle tickets for Southeast Linn Community Center for sale.  Lots of great prizes, but the best part is that you get to help us support our community center, which provides food, coats, school supplies, and lots of other things to children, families, and seniors in the Mt. Vernon and Lisbon school districts.  Money from the raffle sales is used for the basic stuff - light bills, staff salaries (very puny, by the way), and building upkeep.  Raffle tickets are $1 each, but you should really just make yourself feel really good and buy them 20 at a time!
 
See you this week,
Laura

 
 

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

 

 
 

very good rain Saturday, Sauerkraut Days this weekend, next week begins second half of the season

Greetings shareholders,
 
This week, we'll have sweet corn, eggplant, zukes and squash, green beans, potatoes, onions, garlic, kale and collards, cucumbers, the beginning of the tomatoes, and a little bit of cilantro and basil.  Sounds like summer, doesn't it!
 
The Monday people will get their choice of Bodacious or Serendipity sweet corn.  Serendipity is a corn you like.  I don't grow it too often because it's usually too sweet for me.  I prefer corn that tastes a little more "corny", but I plant it sometimes to humor you.  The cool weekend slowed down the maturing of the corn, exactly when we need to open up a new patch, so the Bodacious left from last week will be for the people who like it more mature, and the Serendipity for those who like it a little new.
 
Whoooeeee!!!  What a great rain Saturday afternoon.  We were lucky to get about 1.5", nearly as much as we've had in the last two months all added together.  It came fast, and there was too much wind (your sweet corn might have mud on it because the ears are laying on the ground now), but there was little serious damage and almost all of the moisture soaked in.  It's really going to help the fall crops that we already have planted (beans, beets, carrots), plus soften up the ground to make it possible to do tillage for the next round of planting (cabbage, bok chois, kohlrabi, lettuces).  And, I get a couple of days to take the irrigation pump to town for a checkup.  The poor thing's been running 12 hours per day, 6 days per week since May.  It needs a break.
 
Mt. Vernon and Lisbon people - we need your help.  Marty St. Clair and I are responsible for getting volunteers to staff the bingo tent at Sauerkraut Days in Lisbon next Saturday, noon until 2:00.  That's after the parade, before the water balloons.  Should be a good time to have some fun, meet some new people, and donate a couple of hours to the SE Linn Community Center.  If you'd like to help us, please let Marty or me know asap.  Anybody older than 15 can volunteer - you just have to be able to hand out the cards and collect the quarters.  Profits from bingo go to the Community Center this year.  Thanks.
 
This week is your last chance to get tickets for the SE Linn raffle, with the drawing also on Saturday at Sauerkraut.  $1 per ticket.  I'd be happy if I ran out of tickets some night this week.  And you'd be contributing to a good thing.
 
See you this week.
Laura
 
 

sweet corn and eggplant, Thursday people change to Monday?

Greetings shareholders,
 
This week, we'll have sweet corn, collards and kale, cabbage, summer squash, potatoes, onions, garlic, chard, and cucumbers.  I also have a few carrots you can have, and hope to find enough eggplant for everybody to have one or two.  Green beans and bell peppers are likely in the next week or two. 
 
I planted enough sweet corn to have it for four weeks.  With the heat, of course it looks like it's all going to get ready in the next two!  The ears are small and not completely full, but it tastes great.  (Raccoon approved, too.)  We'll give you as much as my crew can pick in a morning, but I suppose that there will still be too much too fast, so there will likely be some to sell for the freezer.  I'll let you know for sure at the end of the week.  We start with Bodacious on Monday, and we'll have either more Bodacious or else Incredible for Thursday and the weekend.
 
We planted a few carrots in the hoophouse in March and finally dug them last week.  They are, of course, weird sizes and shapes.  Hope you like them anyway.  Carrots are a real treat around here.  I find them nearly impossible to grow when I really want to, and they unexpectedly survive when they shouldn't.
 
Eggplants seem to like drought, at least the plant parts like it.  The plants are beautiful right now.  Fruit set for eggplant is irregular when it gets hot, like it also is for tomatoes, beans, peppers, cucumbers.  The flowers pollinate in the mornings when it is cool, but abort in the afternoons when the temp gets in the nineties.  So, we'll keep the plants alive, harvest as many eggplant fruits as we can find, and hope for more later in the season.
 
Summer squash, melons, collards, and kale also seem to like drought and are doing amazingly well.   So far this year, we've really only had success with plants that we have set out as transplants.  Anything planted directly in the garden from seed, including beans, herbs, carrots, chard, and cucumbers, has been tough to get as many plants as we need to survive.  We continue to plant and irrigate, just in case it turns around.  Hope it's pretty soon because most of the yummy fall crops are direct seeded, and it would be just fine with me if they would grow!
 
Onions this week will be Ailsa Craig.  They are often very sweet and don't store very well, like not at all, so use them quickly.  They are about half size, so we should be able to work through the half-size pile pretty quickly.
 
If you are a Thursday person who might like to change to Monday, you can do it.  I'd like a few families to change to Monday if possible to balance out our harvest a little better.  Let me know right away if you want to make the change this week.
 
Remember the Southeast Linn Community Center fundraising raffle.  I've got the tickets.  Last year, three people who bought tickets from me won.  It could work out that way again, so don't get left behind.  $1 each.  Lots of nice prizes.   Drawing at Sauerkraut Days in August.
 
Thank you very much for all your kind notes, pictures, gifts, and blessings.  It's getting to be a tough season!  Your encouragement and assurances, plus my EXCELLENT workers, really make it easier to manage.  We just keep doing our best to make this a good garden year for you.
 
See you this week,
Laura
 
 
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