Abbe Hills Farm CSA

  (Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
[ Member listing ]

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

 
 

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, http://www.abbehills.com/
 
Hope to see some of you Saturday,
Laura
 
 
 
 

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,
Laura
 
 

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.  www.abbehills.com , 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,
Laura
 
 

cooler week ahead. YEAH!!!

Greetings shareholders,
 
This week, we have new potatoes, lovely white onions, garlic, wonderful summer squash, cabbage. kale and collards, and the last lettuce until October.  We also might be able to get some combination of swiss chard, broccoli, and/or kohlrabi.  The last three suffered in the heat last week and aren't really the quality that I wish they were, but might be salvageable.
 
It's going to be such a relief to have cooler temperatures - for the farmer and the workers and the plants.  Lots of things can't set fruit when it is very hot, like cucumbers, beans, tomatoes.  The flowers are pollinated, but the fruits fall off within a few hours.  And everything suffers from moisture stress, even when it is well watered.  It got to the point by the end of the week that I didn't even go to the garden after lunch because I didn't want to see how it looked.  Thankfully, this week is going to be a different story, and a couple of weeks from now, we won't be able to turn off the harvest.
 
I'm sorry that there are no herbs.  Usually we would have them by now, but we've had such a hard time getting small seeded things to grow and/or survive.  Even big seeded crops like beans and squash have been challenging, and herbs have been one of the more serious causalities.  We'll try to plant some more this week so maybe we can have some for fall.  I know you need your cilantro and basil or it wouldn't be a real summer.
 
We did manage last week to plant (and keep alive, I think) a huge number of watermelon and cantaloupe transplants.  Won't that be great this fall!!!  Nothing is better than homegrown watermelon on a hot afternoon in September. 
 
Remember that Dan Specht will be delivering grass-fed beef this Thursday.  Contact him if you want to be included.  It's expensive, but very good.
 
I've got raffle tickets for the annual Southeast Linn Community Center fundraiser.  $1 each.  Great prizes.  And your support helps keep the lights on, the food pantry open, and the space available for everybody.  Our community center serves everyone in the Mt. Vernon and Lisbon school districts with emergency food, a clothing closet, senior dining, recreational opportunites for kids and seniors, transportation for people who need it, and much much more.  
 
Heritage Days this upcoming weekend.  See you there.
Laura
 
 

New potatoes, garlic, summer squash. Little bit of rain was good.

Greetings shareholders,

This week, we have new potatoes, nice white onions, kale and collards, kohlrabi, bok chois, lettuce, fresh garlic, and cabbage.  I hope we can find enough broccoli, summer squash, and beets for everybody, too.  New potatoes are potatoes that were just dug and haven't had time for their skins to cure.  The red potatoes we dug at the end of last week are SOOOO yummy, especially the skins.  Don't peel them, just brush lightly and cook them skin and all.  Unfortunately, they - like the onions and garlic, aren't irrigated, so their yield will likely be reduced from what I had expected at the start of the season.  But they are just beautiful and taste so good.   Onions and garlic seem very nice, too. 

We keep the irrigation going six days a week, but rain is better.  We had 1" last Sunday morning, then .6" on Friday night.   Finally, a week with enough rain that we could still prove it 48 hours later!   It should have boosted the beets, broccoli, and squash to finally get big enough to harvest this week.  I sure hope so.  Gardens need about 1" of rain per week - and probably more with irrigation - in order to have high yields and good quality, well-shaped fruits.  I don't know how western growers do it.   Just keeping the soil moist enough to keep things alive is a pretty big challenge.  And our pond is shrinking fast, not because of irrigation so much, but more from evaporation and wind.  Luckily, it is quite deep so it still holds lots of water, and hopefully, it will fill up in the fall so the fish will be happy over the winter.

Heat this week is going to be tough on the broccoli, lettuce, chois, but most of the other things can take it. The winter squash, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes are looking marvelous with their plastic and straw mulch.  We've not had too many disease or bug problems, but I did notice lots of damage to leaves of many things from the wind on Friday.  Chard is pretty shredded and may not be harvestable for another week.  We'll figure it out when we get to the garden.

This week, we plan to dig the garlic and get it curing.  The garlic we give you will be fresh.  If you don't want to use it right away, leave it on the counter so it can dry out a little and it will keep longer.

Unfortunately, this is the first newsletter some of you are getting this season.  I had a hard time getting my lists all set up this spring, but I think everything is figured out now.  If this is your first note from me, please check out the past newsletters to find what's been going on around here this season.

See you this week,

Laura

 

 
 
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