Abbe Hills Farm CSA

  (Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
[ Member listing ]

mostly leves this week, all delicious

Greeting shareholders,

This week, we'll have lettuce, Asian greens including bok chois, yukina, and a few Chinese cabbage, and radishes.  I'd hoped to have a bit more crunch for you to balance out the leaves, but the crunchy things are just a little slower.  Expect kohlrabi and cilantro next week.

You can see photos of some of this week's vegetables on the farm Facebook page, along with a few ideas for preparing them.  If you need more ideas, you can always ask Google for some recipe suggestions.  If you are Facebook-resistant, like I have been, don't worry about checking out the farm page.  You can look at the photos and read the comments without signing up to be a member yourself.  I try to post two or three times per week, and that's where I'll put last minute information if there is anything extra you need to know on pickup days.

The rain is sure making things grow.  WOW.  So not like last year.  Even though we can't get in the field much, my workers are keeping up with the weeds pretty well and we have been able to plant most of what we planned, even if we are are month or six weeks behind schedule.  But this week, we MUST get the soil prepared, lay black plastic, mulch, and plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and winter squash.  No more delays.  It's time to get them in if we hope to harvest anything before frost.  So, hope for a few dry days.

Good news. Charlotte got a new oven.  THERE WILL BE BREAD THIS WEEK!!!  Please call or send her a note directly if you'd like to place an order.  513-659-0694.  I'm sure she'll be signing you up for shares very soon, and she expects to be here every Monday and Friday to sell her wonderful bread. 

Parking went well last week.  Please remember that we have a one-way driveway.  I saw a couple of cars going out the in.

If you know somebody who still wants to become a shareholder, have them zap me a note.  We've got plenty of share still available. 

Some of you are getting this newsletter twice, and some of you might expect to be off the list by now.  Sorry, I had trouble getting all my lists updated last week, so I'm sending to everybody just to be sure.  Hope to have it sorted out sometime this week.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

See you this week, 4:30 until 7:00. 



One Day CSA this weekend, non members welcome. Lettuce and greens are magnificent

Greetings Abbe Hills CSA shareholders and friends,
In this week between the end of the CSA season and the beginning of the winter markets in Mt Vernon, we've still got lots of wonderful garden.  So we're having a One-Day-Only-CSA this Saturday, October 27.  Many of you have already signed up, but I've got enough produce for about 25 more families and would be happy to see you this weekend if you are fearing what your life will be like without a week of fresh vegetables.
I expect that we will have brussels sprouts, leaf lettuce, chard, several kinds of delicious fall braising greens, cabbage, kale and collards, bok chois, radishes, turnips, parsley and cilantro, potatoes, purple onions, garlic, and winter squash.  The lettuce and greens are magnificent; leafy things love the cooler temperatures of fall.  We had more winter squash on the rack than I estimated last week, so there will be a couple of squash for everybody who signs up for this weekend's pickup.
Zap me back a note if you would like to be included.  If you have friends who might like to try out the CSA, this is a good opportunity to see what it is like, so please zap this note on to them.  The share price this week is $21.  Pickup at the farm, 10:00 until noon.  If you can't make it during that time, tell me and we will bag it up for you to pick up later.  Directions to the farm are at the website,
Hope to see some of you Saturday,

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,

Good fall harvest this week. Brussels need more cold nights.

Greetings shareholders,
Tomorrow, we'll have potatoes, onions, garlic, kale and collards, chard, turnips, radishes, winter squash, leaf lettuce, cabbage, the last of the sweet and hot peppers, cilantro and parsley, arugula, a few braising greens, and brussels sprouts (but only if they taste good).  Bring a lot of bags!
In addition to bags, bring your mud shoes.  They are predicting some big weather.  I hope we are able to get an inch of rain - we really, really need it for the fall crops.  (We had .2" on Tuesday night, enough to wash things off, which was great, but not enough to give them a good drink.) We don't need hail, high winds, or tornadoes, which all seem to be possibilities.  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DON'T COME TO GET YOUR VEGGIES IF IT IS STORMING!  I've got nowhere to put you and it's not safe in the shed if we have lots of lightening and/or wind.  I won't be in the shed either if it gets real bad.  If you get here and it is raining hard, please stay in your car until it passes.  If we need to stay open later to get everybody through, we will.  Check the farm's home page for last minute details. , look at "news from Abbe Hills" on the right side.  And check the Channel 9 radar to see where the storms are.
There are still a few people who need to make one more payment on their share.  The price for the whole season is $420, and $250 for half season.  Please look at your checks to see if your payments add up the full amount.  I'll have my files with me so we can compare notes on Saturday if you are in doubt.
We have more squash this week, some of which may be unfamiliar to you.  There are many resources to help you figure out what to do with winter squash, like this and this and this.  Also, HyVee has a very nice brochure right now called "Seasons" that has a big section on winter squash and some nice looking seasonal recipes.  You can pick it up at the store.  You can start eating the acorns and spaghettis that we had last week, or you can let them cure more.  The longer squash cure, often the better they are.  Unless they have a blemish, then you need to eat them before they start to spoil.
Brussels sprouts are a strange crop.  They take a very long time to reach maturity, and then they don't taste very good until they've stood through several cold nights.  We've got brussels for you, not fancy and pathetically small, unexpected since they've been in the ground since June 10.  Once again, heat and drought are to blame.  We plan to cut them this afternoon, but we're going to taste them first and if they haven't sweetened up enough, we'll save them for next week.  Don't want to give anybody an excuse to say they don't like brussels sprouts.
I was reading one of my vegetable publications this week, "Potato Grower", and noticed something amazing.  It's the "2013 Industry Handbook" issue, and there is a section listing sources for chemical and fertilizer products for potatoes.  Here are the categories they have under this heading:  adjuvants, bactericides ("-cide" means "killer"), biocides, biological insecticides, desiccants, fertilizers, foliar nutrients, fertilizer enhancement, frost protection, fumigation, fungicides, growth promoters, herbicides, insecticides, micronutrients, miticides, polymers, post harvest, seed treatment, soil conditioners, and sprout control inhibitors.  Whew!  Who knew you needed so many things to grow potatoes?!?!?  Makes me glad that you and I are eating home grown.  Our inputs are cover crops, composted chicken manure, a fungus called Spinosad that eats Colorado potato beetle, and a cultivating tractor.  No "-cides".  Ours may not be as fancy as what the big boys grow, but they sure are easier to understand.
The Indian Creek Nature Center is hosting a "permeable paving blocks" workshop for homeowners, Saturday, Oct 12, 9:00 until noon. This free event will teach you how to use manufactured pavers to craft decorative backyard walkways and patios.  Permeable pavers make a solid, dry surface that decreases runoff by allowing rain to soak into the soil below, and are one of our newest tools to help us decrease runoff and improve water quality.   For more information of if you would like to attend, call the Indian Creek Nature Center at 362-0664.
Once again, I am up for reelection as a Linn Soil and Water Conservation District commissioner.  You'll see my name on the ballot.  Hope all you early birds will vote for me.
See you tomorrow,

Fried by freeze. Pickup this week is Saturday

Greetings shareholders,
This is the week that we switch to pickup on Saturdays.  DON'T COME FOR YOUR VEGETABLES TODAY OR THURSDAY!  Instead, come on Saturday, Oct 6, 10:00 until 2:00.  I'll send you a note Friday morning to let you know what vegetables to expect.  I won't really know until then, until we start harvesting and know for sure what there is and isn't. 
Last Saturday night, remember how the weather guys had us all worried about a hard frost?  Well, it barely happened and I thought we'd really dodged the bullet for a couple of weeks.  What nobody expected was a very hard, killing FREEZE the next night, Sunday, Sept 23.  Whoever heard of a hard freeze the last week of September?   It hurt us badly, although I didn't know it for sure until about Wednesday of last week.  We lost 90% of the tomatoes and peppers, 100% of summer squash, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans.   I'm a little sad about losing the beans - we worked hard to get them nearly ready to harvest and hated to lose them so close to the goal.  Nothing to do about it now except add it to the list of crazy things that happened this season. 
In three Saturdays, we will have been together 20 weeks this season.  That means that Oct 20 will be the last pickup date.  Depending on what we still have available in the garden, I might offer the "1-Week-Only-CSA" on  future Saturdays.  It's possible.  There are miles of leafy greens, radishes, daikon, carrots, beets, kale that will eventually be big enough to harvest, especially if I can keep watering and it stays a little warm. 
See you on Saturday,

fall crops are planted, lovely tomatoes, watermelons this week

Greetings shareholders,

This week, we'll have tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, kale and collards, watermelons, garlic, potatoes, onions, beans, summer squash, cukes, herbs, hot peppers, edamames, and a few cabbages.  Whew!  Lots of stuff!  Tomatoes are really perfect right now, but the cooler nights have slowed their ripening, so they may be a little greener than usual.  Just leave them out at room temperature (NEVER put a tomato in the frig), scar side down, in one layer, uncovered, and they should fully ripen in a day or two.  Eggplants, squash, cukes, and peppers will likely be similarly affected by the cooler nights.  But the people are loving it!

Watermelons come in all sizes, shapes, and colors, and I've got almost no idea what you are going to find inside any particular melon.  You just gotta take your chances.  So far, all the ones we've dropped or kicked and just "had to" eat since they were already damaged have been wonderful.  We'll have melons for two weeks for sure, maybe three if they will keep that long in the field.   We've also got lots of cantaloupe which should be ready by next week, maybe some for this Thursday.  There might be some mud on the bottoms of the melons since they mostly formed off the plastic mulch.  Sorry for the inconvenience.  I won't be able to wash them for you.  We've only got enough energy around here to handle the melons one time.

The rain this week was welcome.  We received 1.3" on Wednesday morning, then .7" more on Friday.  Tuesday, we worked like crazy to get every inch of open space planted to fall crops, mostly greens.  A little late in the season, but we were waiting for rain and for cooler soil temperatures so the seeds wouldn't die.  I'm not convinced that there are enough fall crops, but we've got nowhere else to go that is still within reach of the irrigation, so it's the best we can do for this year.  I'm still a little afraid that the rains could end and I could be back to watering.  Hope I'm very, very wrong.

The replacement hens that have been living in the pen inside the open shed have started to lay eggs reliably.  Tonight, the few remaining old ladies in the moveable house are coming out and the young hens will be moving in.  It will be good for them to get on good pasture and out of their tiny pen for a few months.  If everybody just buys what they need for the week, I think we'll have enough to keep you all happy from now until the end of the season.  (And after.  The problem with having 120 hens is that you still get 10 dozen eggs per day, even in the blizzards.  They quickly become a burden if people don't keep eat them through the winter.)  Eggs will be in the walkin cooler.  Ask for help if you have trouble with the door.  It's tricky.

Here are the dates for vegetable pickup for the rest of the season, so you can put it on your calendar now.  Sept 10/13 (this week), Sept 17/20, Sept 24/17 (last time in the evenings). Everybody then switches to Saturdays, 10:00 until 2:00, Oct 6,13, 29, and 27.  If you're a family that's got kid soccer games those Saturdays in October and can't be back here by 2:00, we'll work something out when we get to it.  The best stuff is in October, so I want everybody to be able to take advantage of it.

See you this week.



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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