Abbe Hills Farm CSA

  (Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
[ Member listing ]

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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