Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
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24 Jun · Mon 2013
This week, we'll have a few more onions, radishes, bok chois, red and green lettuce, Swiss chard, cilantro, Chinese cabbage, kale and collards, kohlrabi, and garlic scapes. Chard will come from the hoophouse this week, but after this, it will all be from the gardens. We're hoping the leafy greens like lettuce and Asian greens will last through next week, but heat and humidity are tough on them. They grow fast, get tall, develop more flavors, and make flowers when they think summer is here. It seems like that might be NOW!
We're going to be kind of stingy with the onions for a while, letting them get bigger before we dig too many. Our onion plants come from Texas. This year, they were pulled on April 1, put in boxes and shipped to Iowa, where they had to sit around for nearly four weeks before we were able to get the fields ready and get them planted. You might remember, there was still snow on the ground on April 1! So, they didn't do too well. In fact, we have only about 20% of the fall storage crop. So, we'll stretch out the white summer onions as long as possible and do the best we can in the fall.
Monday people, it is pouring rain as I write this, and there is a possibility that it might continue all day. My crew can't work if there is lightening, it's very slow getting around on sloppy mud, everything will have to be washed, the heat is going to build up quickly if/when the rain stops (ruins the produce quickly), and I don't like having you here for pickup if there are severe weather warnings. All leading up to a very tough day. Please check your email several times today for confirmation that we will start pickup at 4:30. There is a possibility that we might have to put off the Monday pickup until Tuesday evening. Never done that before, but today might be the day we try it. I'll keep you posted by email and on Facebook.
Stay high and dry today,
Posted by Laura @ 06:47 AM CDT
10 Jun · Mon 2013
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.
Posted by Laura @ 06:48 AM CDT
03 May · Fri 2013
Even though it's going to be dreary, we'll have a little market here at the farm tomorrow, Saturday, May 4, 10:00 until noon. I've got lots of lettuce and radishes, smaller quantities of spinach and eggs. We'll set up a table somewhere near the big shed. Just remember to keep your car on the gravel driveway! It's going to be soft everywhere else.
If you want eggs or produce during the week, just zap me a note to make sure I'm around. I've usually got some of everything on hand in the frig in my garage. Or shop at the farmers at the Mt. Vernon Farmers Market, 4:00 until 6:00 everything Thursday, at Memorial Park downtown.
The rain has been a good thing. We planted thousands of small leafy things and onions the first three days this week, and they were literally dying for a drink. The heat and relentless 72-hours of wind early in the week were tough. So, we're happy for a little rain, although the cold's not so great!
Thank you to so many of you who have signed up for the CSA this season. I really appreciate your support. Still need to register? Here's the form. If you have a friend at work or church or a relative or neighbor who has been talking about trying CSA, I sure wish you would encourage them to join Abbe Hills. We work hard to grow great food that is good for you, produced in a way that is environmentally responsible by fairly paid workers. If you know someone, or if you would like to join the CSA but can't really afford it, please let me know. We have scholarship money available I am happy to help anybody who needs a little boost. Everybody should be able to eat good food.
In response to your financial commitment to me and the farm, one of the principles to which I am commited is operating transparently so that you can know how and where and by whom your food is grown. Not all CSAs have this philosophy. If there is something you want to know about how we do things and I haven't explained it to your satisfaction, please ask me again. You are welcome to come look around any time - although you might have to work if you hang around here too long. I want Abbe Hills Farm to be a green, diverse, welcoming place where adults and kids can learn, eat, and develop community.
I'm still trying to get good at Facebook, although it is a challenge. I'm trying to remember to carry the camera with me so I can show you more of the day-to-day goings on here. Sounds simple enough, but it turns out, you can drive a tractor over a camera quite easily. And you can do it to more than one camera! We are on Facebook at Abbe Hills Farm.
See you soon,
Posted by Laura @ 12:51 PM CDT
26 Apr · Fri 2013
Greetings shareholders and friends of Abbe Hills Farm,
There is no farmers market this week, but we've got nice things so we're going to have a little market here instead. 10:00 until noon. Use the farm driveway. We'll have lots of lettuce, eggs, some spinach, arugula, and radishes. And many kittens that need to be held. Sadly, Charlotte hasn't yet solved her oven problem, so there won't be any bread. But soon, very soon, she'll be making bread for us again.
We had about 12 inches of rain this month. That's great, but really slowed us down. I'm in the field every waking minute now. The soil surface is drying, especially today in the wind, so we can get in to do the primary tillage and make the seedbeds. Then we plant. Onions, peas, and potatoes are my big projects right now, plus the seeding of hay and cover crops over the rest of the farm. And killing the current alfalfa in the places where we'll plant field corn and sweet corn in the next couple of weeks. And pretty soon, transplanting thousands of little plants waiting to get in the ground. It's busy.
The scholarship account is well funded right now. If you are hesitating about joining the CSA because of financial worries, please let me know how I can help. Bad things happen - and they are usually expensive - but you still need good food. Especially when bad things happen, you need good food! Thank you to all of you who have contributed so generously to the fund. Your donation is going to make a difference for somebody.
Here is the registration form for this season's CSA.
Hope to see you Saturday,
Posted by Laura @ 10:35 AM CDT
19 Apr · Fri 2013
Greetings shareholders and friends of Abbe Hills Farm CSA,
Market this week is at the Mt. Vernon Community Center at the east end of downtown, 11:00 until 1:00. Charlotte isn’t able to make it, but I’ll be there will bells on – and with lots of very nice lettuce, plus some arugula and spinach, and eggs.
Sadly for me, this is the last market of the winter. The regular Mt Vernon Farmers’ Market starts on Thursday, May 2, 4:00 until 6:00 at the park on the west end of downtown. Of course, the hoophouse is finally full of lovely greens now that the market is ending! I’ll be in the field (hopefully) and won’t be able to make it to market in the afternoons, so you’re going to have to come to me to get your crunch.
I have to talk about the weather. It’s awful. We received 5.25” of rain last week. The first 3” soaked in completely. Perfect. The next 2.25”, not so much. Pile on about 6” so far this week, and we’ve got a problem. Then there is the cold. And wind. And clouds. Not such a great spring so far. Although the subsoil moisture is being replenished, which is a relief. And the pond and wetland are full to the brim, so that kind of water will actually recharge the aquifer, which also makes me feel better.
My best guess is that we will need about 5 days of sun, warm, and wind to dry out the soil enough to do field preparation. After that, if it continues to be dry, we commence planting. I’ve got over 2000 lbs of seed potatoes and 25,000 onion plants ready to go. Plus thousands of little plants in the germination house and hoophouse that will soon be ready for transplanting. We’re going to be BUSY when the good weather gets here.
One good thing - I think this might be the year of broccoli. I accidentally started too much in the germination house, which might be a good thing for you. Of course, I’m not making any promises until I actually see you walking out of here with broccoli sticking out of your bag. But it looks good so far.
There is grassfed BEEF. Here is what Dan wrote:
I'm excited to be able to deliver 20 lb. boxes of mixed beef cuts to Susan Jutz's CSA delivery site in SE Cedar Rapids on Earth Day, Ap. 22. Thanks to the help from Edgewood Locker, we've been able to divvy up my harvested beef into "snow flake" boxes. (No two boxes are identical, but I try to make them all equivalent.) All boxes have 3 packages of steaks; 2 roasts; minute steaks; stew meat, (no bones); boiling beef, (contains some small bones); and at least 4 lbs. of hamburger. No organ meats. Some boxes may also contain a small package of soup bones or short ribs. The boxes are priced at $120 per box. Place orders by replying to email@example.com , or 563-516-1007 by noon on Sunday April 21. Hamburger is also available, priced at $5.50/lb., while supplies last. Liver, heart, and tongue are available at $2.50/lb, and soup bones at $3/lb.
And finally, if you want to learn to burn prairies, there is a free program (and I think there is going to be smoke) tomorrow, Saturday, April 20, 10:00 to 2:00 at the Goose Pond Natural Area near Center Point, sponsored by Linn County and the roadside people. Please call Mary today at 377-5960 (x3) to register.
You can join the CSA any time by sending me your registration and a little money.
Hope to see you at market tomorrow,
Posted by Laura @ 10:57 AM CDT
12 Apr · Fri 2013
Greetings shareholders and friends of Abbe Hills Farm,
Posted by Laura @ 02:51 PM CDT
15 Mar · Fri 2013
Greetings shareholders and farm friends,
Posted by Laura @ 04:40 PM CDT
24 Oct · Wed 2012
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, http://www.abbehills.com/
Hope to see some of you Saturday,
Posted by Laura @ 09:06 AM CDT
19 Oct · Fri 2012
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,
Posted by Laura @ 11:09 AM CDT
05 Oct · Fri 2012
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,
Posted by Laura @ 07:47 AM CDT
24 Sep · Mon 2012
This week, we'll have some combination of potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, sweet peppers, chilies, cucumbers, summer squash, kale and collards, swiss chard, leaf lettuce, watermelon, cantaloupe, and herbs. It could turn out to be a sort of skimpy week, with not everything on the list, or not much of some things. We have to wait a couple more days to see just how much damage the cold did and to know how it will affect the Thursday people.
Between cold nights and the drought, it's been hard to get the fall crops growing. I started irrigating again late last week and will continue this week. If it stays sunny and if I can get enough water in the ground, we should have some nice crops starting next week or the week after. There are kohlrabi, beets, carrots, and lots of greens trying to grow. The winter squash has more maturing to do, so I'm going to wait at least a week, maybe two, before we start to cut it. Might as well have it be as tasty as possible! There's going to be good eating the middle of October.
Remember that this is the last week that you pickup in the evenings. Starting next week, everybody picks up on Saturdays, 10:00 until 2:00. So, come tonight or Thursday, then the next time you come is Saturday, October 6. It's a long time between Monday and the following Saturday, I know, but the extra week will give the crops time to catch up to you, and you to catch up with what you've got piling up in the frig!
The young hens are laying lots of eggs, all the time, so it's finally time to eat more eggs! I'm trying to make sure that there are always a few in the walkin cooler in the big shed. I think you should be able to stop nearly any time most days this fall and find the big doors open. If in doubt, zap me a note to make sure you can get to them when you want. And remember to keep eating eggs after the CSA ends in October. Not sure what I'm going to do with 65 dozen eggs a week in November!
I've just finished a new book, "Turn Here Sweet Corn", by Atina Diffley, that I think many of you would enjoy. It's the story of her family's relationship with their farm, Gardens of Egan, near the Twin Cities. Quite a good book for both farmers and consumers. Atina was in Iowa City last week on a book tour and was a guest on "Talk of Iowa" on Thursday.
Sorry for the lateness of the newsletter. We had family things early this morning.
See you this week,
Posted by Laura @ 01:12 PM CDT
06 Jul · Mon 2009
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,
Posted by Laura @ 12:30 AM CDT