Abbe Hills Farm CSA

  (Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
[ Member listing ]

Dec 8 market in Springville

Greetings shareholders and friends of Abbe Hills Farm,
 
Market tomorrow, Saturday, December 8, is in Springville, 9:00 until 11:00, at the Community Center in the middle of downtown.  I'll be bringing eggs, plus napa cabbage, regular cabbage, turnips, and squash.  Charlotte will be bringing bread.  The other vendors will have nuts, bakery, mushrooms, and lots of different kinds of crafts that would make very nice, local Christmas gifts.
 
Good news!   Charlotte moved to Mt. Vernon.  Now you can get your hands on that delicious bread even in the middle of the week!
 
Here's an interesting little study in biodiversity that will make you think.  One of the things that gives me the greatest enjoyment is pointing out to my student workers all the zillions of different creatures that make themselves at home in our fields and gardens.  A very, very small portion of them are problematic; the rest are helping us grow good soil and good food.  As I write this, there is a Cornell biology class out in the prairie and around the pond collecting goldenrod stems with insect galls for some project they are doing.  There aren't many farms around here where that would be possible.  I'm very happy that this is one of them.
 
Hope to see you tomorrow,
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
 
 

beets, turnips, squash this week. Drought continues.

Greetings shareholders,
 
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,
Laura
 
 
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