Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
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16 Nov · Fri 2012
Greetings shareholders and friends of Abbe Hills Farm,
Market this Saturday is in Mt. Vernon, 11:00 until 1:00, in the Community Center at the east end of downtown. I'll be bringing Thanksgiving food: eggs, small red potatoes for roasting or mashing, winter squash, lots of gorgeous brussels sprouts, garlic, carrots, turnips, beets, napa (Chinese) cabbage, regular cabbage, and kale. I'll also have vegetable roasting kits and and a new thing - stew kits - with everything you need to make leftover turkey stew in one bag. If we have time, we'll also pick some spinach on Friday afternoon, but there won't be much. (I realize I have just now set up the conditions for a food riot at the door of the gym at 11:00, but I don't know any other way to tell it.) Charlotte will be with me with lots of bread.
For those of you who ordered turkeys and plan to pick them up here at the farm, we will be open from 5:00 until 6:15 Tuesday evening. I'll also have more vegetables and eggs available for anybody who wants to stop by for last minute shopping. And Charlotte will have bread here for people who have pre-ordered. It will be dark, so bring a flashlight and park close to the shed so it's easier to get in and out. (Parking rules were suspended back in October - yeah! I no longer have to play bad cop.)
I can use egg cartons any time you want to drop them off, or bring them to market on Saturday.
We had a somewhat disappointing market in MV two weeks ago, and we think we know why. New Bo. It seems like some of you might have been seduced by the big promises and bright lights of the city. Well, you've had your fling; time to come back home. We've got everything you need for Thanksgiving at the Mt. Vernon market - bread, veggies, eggs, bakery, mushrooms, meat, jelly, donuts, honey, wine, candy, nuts, pasta, and probably more things that I'm forgetting. Plus all the crafts and gifts. And everything at our market was really created by the person standing there. And parking is easier. And you don't have to fight a crowd. And all your friends will be there. And there are snacks. What more do you need? COME BACK!!! PLEASE!!!
We'll take a week off for the holiday, so the next market will be Saturday, Dec 1, in Mt Vernon again. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. See you Saturday.
Posted by Laura @ 10:13 PM CST
09 Nov · Fri 2012
Greetings shareholders and friends of Abbe Hills,
Market this week is in Springville, 9:00 until 11:00 (note that this time is 2 HOURS EARLIER than the start of the Mt. Vernon market), at the Community Center right downtown. I'll be bringing eggs, brussels, cabbage, kale, turnips, kohlrabi, beets, carrots, garlic, and squash. I'll also have a new product, roasting vegetable kits - dump the whole thing in a pan with a little oil, roast it for 30 minutes, and serve just the right amount of beautiful fall root vegetables without having to buy a whole bag of each. Charlotte will bring bread.
We're opening a new field of brussels sprouts today. I think they are nicer than the ones that got us started. Remember, they're only good in the fall, so you should take advantage of the opportunity and enjoy them. Here is an easy and delicious way to prepare them. And another one.
If you can't make it to market, or if you need vegetables or eggs mid-week. please stop by nearly any time. I've got extras in the cooler. I'm nearly always home, but zap me a note just to make sure I'll be here when you want to come.
Fresh, organic, free range turkeys will be available Nov 19 in Cedar Rapids and Nov 20 here at the farm. If you're going to want one, please contact Susan Jutz from Local Harvest CSA right away. 319-929-5032 is her phone number; her email is above. We will be open here from 5:00 until 6:15 on the 20th. Besides pre-ordered turkeys, I'll also have Thanksgiving vegetables and eggs for sale. Charlotte is thinking of taking orders for Thanksgiving breads that you would also pick up that night.
HELP. I need egg cartons.
Here's a good article about some important research that's being done at Iowa State on the value of crop rotations. I know, sounds dull. It's not. It's important. I'm starting to think that the only way we are going to get agriculture to operate more sustainably and carefully is for people who aren't farmers - people like you - to become knowledgeable and start insisting on a more sane and responsible agriculture that embraces ecological and biological reality instead of rolling right past it. This short article is part of your education.
Hope to see you Saturday,
Posted by Laura @ 08:20 AM CST
01 Nov · Thu 2012
This week is the opening market for the winter season in Mt. Vernon. Market is Saturday, 11:00 until 1:00 at the Community Center on the east end of downtown. All the vendors are excited to start the new season. I'll be bringing eggs, brussels sprouts, cabbage, chinese cabbage, kale and collards, turnips, beets, carrots, arugula, small kohlrabi, garlic, and squash. Charlotte will bring bread.
Unfortunately, the lettuce with which I was planning to dazzle you is nearly unmarketable. I guess it must have been as cold as 21 degrees last Saturday night. That's what the National Weather Service says happened, and I think they were right. I had ice on the chicken water buckets even at 3:00 in the afternoon on Sunday. Very weird for late October. Anyway, it was cold enough to burn the lettuce leaf tips and pretty much ruin the salad. Of course, this is one more strange weather event. I can't ever remember it being so cold so early in the fall. It also burned all the mustards, chois, daikon, and radishes. So I'm going to be short on leaves and crunch this fall. Bummer. (However, not actually as bad as having a hurricane wash your house away.)
Hope to see you Saturday,
Posted by Laura @ 09:30 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
12 Oct · Fri 2012
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,
Posted by Laura @ 10:22 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
03 Oct · Wed 2012
I was in such a hurry to get outside Monday morning when I sent the newsletter, I forgot some key elements. So here is the rest of this week's news.
Veggie pickup is Saturday, 10:00 until 2:00. If you can't get here by 2:00, let me know by Friday afternoon and we'll figure out what to do about it.
There are A LOT of eggs coming out of these new hens!!! Bring your egg money on Saturday, or stop by nearly any time to get as many as you need out of the walkin cooler in the big shed. $3 per dozen. Free range, brown eggs, no hormones or antibiotics, lots of home grown, chemical free corn in their diet. (It would be illegal for me to claim organic because I am not third-party inspected and certified, but I use 99% organic practices in the gardens and fields.)
Of course, Charlotte will be bringing lovely bread on Saturday, but you could also get bread from her nearly any time during the week if you need it for something special. Her phone number is 513-659-0694.
Dan Specht is bringing more beef this Saturday. Here is his note: Hi Laura and CSA members, I will be attending the Sat., Oct. 6 CSA pick-up, and will be offering 20 lb bundles of assorted cuts for $5/lb to those who notify me in advance. email@example.com I will also have hamburger for $5/lb. I am also now making a list of folks wanting to purchase half or quarter animals for $2.25/lb plus processing fees. Harvest date is set for Mon., Oct. 29 in Arlington IA at Edgewood Locker West. Send me an E-mail or call me on my cell phone for more details or an order. 563-516-1007
Finally, I think some people still owe a little money for this season's share. I just haven't had the time or mental energy to go through all the paperwork and figure out who you are, so maybe you'll all think it through for me. The full share price this year is $420. Would you please look back in your checkbook to see if you gave me that much money for your 20-week share? I'll have the files with me on Saturday so we can compare notes when I can take a minute away from keeping the veggies stocked. Thanks.
We're starting to harvest for Saturday this afternoon, so I'll be able to let you know Friday morning what we will have this weekend. We're also getting ready for big cold Saturday night - 26 degrees according to Channel 9, 28 degrees according to my buddy Schnackenberg, and 29 degrees according to the National Weather Service. It's the Channel 9 one that's got me worried. We're going to be hustling to get the winter squash all brought inside before it could be potentially damaged Saturday night. The stuff is so precious this year - we can't afford to lose any of it!
See you Saturday,
Posted by Laura @ 09:41 AM CDT
08 Jul · Sun 2012
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.
Posted by Laura @ 10:25 PM CDT
02 Jul · Mon 2012
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,
Posted by Laura @ 08:34 AM CDT