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Archive for August, 2007

Letter from Farmer John: August 27, 2008

Hi Everyone,

This past week’s cool and damp weather has caused new challenges for us on several fronts. Several days of overcast, drizzly weather created perfect conditions for the growth and spread of fungal diseases. Early blight in tomatoes, alternaria blight in carrots and various other fungi which affect the leaves of beets, squash, melons, and cukes all thrive under these conditions. Harvesting is made difficult because handling the plants when they are wet aids in the spread of the diseases. I will have to find the time this coming week to spray with one or more of the anti-fungal products approved for organic production. My favorite is a product called Sporan, which contains essential oils of rosemary and clove. If nothing else, the farm will sure smell great! Future deliveries of beets and carrots will most likely be made without tops, at least until second and third plantings begin to mature.

Another challenge of these wet conditions is planting the various fall crops which are direct seeded. Various varieties of veggies from arugula to spinach need to be sown in the next several weeks. I have most of the ground prepared for these crops, but the seeder does not function well when the soil is too wet. Fortunately dry weather is forecast for the next several days and I expect to plant radishes, turnips, bok choy, broccoli raab, and various types of mustard greens. Melons have begun to ripen and will be in the shares over the next few weeks as they become available in sufficient quantities.

The share for this week will be: Red leaf lettuce, beets, yellow onions, beans, cukes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, choice of escarole or Swiss chard, sweet corn(conventional), and choice of an herb.

Enjoy!
Farmer John

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Letter from Farmer John: August 14th 2007

Hi Everyone,

Last Friday we received over 2 ½ inches of rain, a lot more than I would have liked. Harvesting for the weekend markets was a bit difficult and now the fields are to wet to work the ground, so I am a little set back in planting the fall crops. On Thursday we planted a few thousand broccoli plants, the rain was at least beneficial to them.

We are continuing to harvest lots of beans and cukes and the tomatoes are also starting to come in heavily, including some of the heirloom varieties. The beans for this week will include an heirloom variety called Dragon Langerie. It is a flat wax bean with purple streaking and is quite tender and sweet. They are not a shell bean; use them as you would a normal string bean. We will also be shipping bunched adolescent lettuce, in between a baby leaf and a full sized head. It is very tender and makes a nice salad.

The share for this week will be: Tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, cucumbers, lettuce, garlic, choice of carrots or Chioggia(candy cane) beets, beans, choice of arugula or other mustard greens, sweet corn (conventionally grown-but freshly picked) and choice of an herb. There will also be eggplant for those groups which did not receive it last week as promised.

Enjoy! Farmer John

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Letter from Farmer John July 30, 2007

Hi Everyone,Last Monday brought us a little over 2” of precipitation in a slow steady rain that was able to soak into the ground. This past weekend we received about another inch. The ground is finally well re-hydrated and most everything is growing well. We have begun digging potatoes and will have a red skinned variety in the share this week. They are, as predicted, a bit small due to the dry spring and early summer. Hopefully the later varieties will be able to take advantage of the recent rains and achieve a more respectable size. We are currently in the process of planting fall crops. We will be transplanting Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower seedlings this week and seeding spinach, radishes, turnips, arugula and other mustard greens. We are also seeding lettuces, radicchio, kohlrabi in the greenhouse for transplanting in about 3-4 weeks. We have finished harvesting the radicchio and there is enough for everyone in the share this week. This time it will be the more well known round red type, although some will be a red trevisio type. We won’t have peppers this week, as I want to leave as much green fruit as possible to ripen to red, yellow and orange. Eggplant is still coming in sparingly, so there is not enough for everyone, so we will include some as an extra. Tomatoes are still not ready for at least one more week. Sorry!

The share for this week will be: Radicchio, carrots, kale, potatoes, cabbage, red onions, summer squash, cucumbers, choice of green or wax beans, lettuce (choice of various varieties), and choice of an herb- basil, parsley or dill.

Enjoy! Farmer John

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Letter from Farmer John July 23, 2007

Hi Everyone,This past week brought continued mild temperatures and another inch of much needed rain. The rain was not as helpful as it might have been, because it all fell in a little over an hour, and much of it ran off before the ground could soak it up. Soil shrinks and tightens up when it gets dry and thus resists re-hydration. In the process of digging the garlic I was able to see just how dry the soil is down deep. We were able to finish harvesting the garlic last Thursday afternoon with the help of a wonderful implement called an under cutter blade. This is a 5ft. long blade which is pulled by a tractor and slides just under the garlic lifting and loosening the soil, allowing the garlic to be easily pulled by hand. We were able to harvest all 4000’ row feet in about 5 hours; a task that would have taken 2 days using pitch forks. The crop looks good and the average head size decent- not as small as I had feared due to the dry spring. We are continuing to harvest cauliflower and have been able to do a better job with blanching the heads. I expect there will be enough for everyone again this week, if not it will be offered as a choice with broccoli or kohlrabi. As promised and predicted green beans have begun producing profusely, so they will replace the peas in the lineup this week. We have also begun harvesting cucumbers and a few peppers. The first cukes are a Kirby or pickling type, a small yellow skinned variety and an Indian type called Poona Kheera, which start out yellow and turns a rusty brown (a bit ugly frankly, but they taste good!) These will be followed in the coming weeks with regular and the long English types. Carrots are almost ready but I would like to give them another week to size up and take advantage of the recent rains. We will offer beets as the root vegetable again this week. The deer continue to cause be a great deal of grief in my tomato plots. They have eaten most of the first fruit of the early varieties. It will most likely be another 2 weeks before I have enough tomatoes to distribute.

The share for this week will be: Beans, peppers, cauliflower, cucumbers, garlic, red leaf or Boston lettuce, Swiss chard, summer squash, beets, and choice of an herb.

Enjoy! Farmer John

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Letter from Farmer John July 16, 2007

Hello Everyone,Well, the weather continues to be favorable; we received a little over an inch of rain this past week, and after 2 scorching days at the beginning of the week unusually mild temperatures for mid-July. We weren’t able to harvest the garlic last week as planned because I need to move a tractor from another field and I was unable to finish the work that I need to do with that tractor where it is now. We are also just crazy busy, with harvesting, weeding, planting etc. At the moment we are scrambling to harvest the onion crop and hang them or lay them out where they won’t get rained on to dry. We have a truly spectacular onion harvest this year- the best I’ve ever had. Now I have to make sure that they are handled properly and don’t rot. This is a bit problematic because of the lack of infrastructure that I have. We are hanging them in the greenhouse and the high tunnel greenhouse, but are quickly running out of space! We will be shipping the sweet onions again this week, because they are still abundant and don’t keep well. Look for red onions next week. There are many new items this week. Summer squash has begun and should be abundant for many weeks to come. We harvested fava beans this past Friday, but they once again yielded very poorly. They will be offered as a choice with peas. Now that spinach is done we can begin harvesting the Swiss chard, a favorite with many of you, I know. The cauliflower is a bit disappointing, as we weren’t able to keep the heads sufficiently blanched, with the long summer days. It is not as white as I would like but it still tastes good. Fall cauliflower will look much nicer, I promise!

The share for this week will be: Peas or fava beans, beets- choice of red or Chioggia (candy cane), radicchio (red round type or a green trevisio type), cauliflower, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, summer squash (zucchini or a half green half yellow type called Zephyr), sweet onion, and a choice of herb (basil, cilantro, or parsley)

Enjoy! Farmer John

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Letter from Farmer John July 9, 2007

Hello Everyone,This past week brought us about .8 inches of rain that combined with the relatively cool temps for early July has been very beneficial to the cool weather crops. The cauliflower is still not ready in large enough quantities to deliver, but we will begin cutting some heads as they size up and hold them in the cooler until next week. We do have a lot of broccoli heading up, so there should be enough for everyone. There is also still a preponderance of peas, so enjoy them while they last. The beans have begun flowering and the plants look great, so they should be right on schedule to begin just as the peas are petering out (ha-ha) The beets are still a bit small so we will wait 1 more week on them. Turnips are still in good supply. One of my market customers suggests making turnip pancakes- just substitute grated turnip for the potato in a potato pancake recipe! It might be worth a try if you can’t get your kids or your spouse to eat turnips. The zucchini has begun producing, but not enough to distribute yet. The plants look great and are full of small squash, so definitely next week…. We harvested the last of the spinach today, so enjoy it one more time; it won’t be back until the fall. What are new this week are the sweet onions. Two varieties, Walla Walla and Ailsa Craig that are the northern equivalent of a Vidalia onion, are ready. They are large and very mild, but they don’t keep well, so user them in the next 2 weeks. We will be harvesting the garlic this week so it will be in the share again in a couple of weeks after it cures a bit. The heads will be a bit small this year because of the dry spring, but it will still be quite tasty.

The share for this week will be: Red leaf lettuce, broccoli, choice of peas, spinach, choice of salad turnips, red turnips or radishes, sweet onions, choice of basil, cilantro or parsley.

Enjoy! Farmer John

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Letter from Farmer John July 2, 2007

Hello Everyone,This past week we received 6/10th’s of an inch of rain with the front that ended the scorching heat and ushered in the cool trend we are currently experiencing. Very unusual weather for early July, but it certainly makes it easier to get work done! Most everything is growing nicely. The cauliflower is beginning to head up and the plants are large and beautiful, so I anticipate harvesting for delivery next week. Zucchini, beans, and cucumbers are all doing well and should start producing in about 2 weeks. The tomatoes are flowering profusely and we should see the start of the tomato season in about 3 weeks. The beets are beginning to size up and should be ready in another week or two. In the meantime we still have an abundance of turnips and radishes! This week you will have a choice between the salad turnips, a red turnip and a long Japanese radish. I know some of you may be tired of these, but they’ll be done soon and you won’t see them again until the fall. If you remove the tops they will keep for several weeks in the fridge, until you’re inspired to use them!

This week’s share will be: Romaine lettuce, bok choy, spinach, peas, choice of broccoli or kohlrabi, fresh garlic, choice of white salad turnips, red skinned turnips, or Shunkyo semi-long radishes, and choice of herb- cilantro or parsley (basil next week!)

Enjoy! Farmer John

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Letter from John June 25, 2007

Hello Everyone!

This past week we finally got some much needed rain. Two successive evening storms dropped a total of about 1 ¼ inches of water. We could use more, but it was enough to give a boost to the many spring planted crops as they are approaching the finish line. I am continuing to run the drip irrigation heavily on the brassicas. The earliest of the broccoli varieties have begun heading in sufficient quantities to begin delivering this week. The heads are not large, but the quality looks good, considering the extreme heat we’ve had recently. Cabbage, kohlrabi and cauliflower will also be approaching harvestable size in the next few weeks. Deer damage continues to be a major problem especially on the broccoli and on the tomato plants. This is another consequence of the dry spring, as there is not as much for them to eat in the woods and field edges as there typically would be. The hayfield grasses are dry or have been cut, with little re-growth, and the deer are seeking anything with some moisture in it. Tomato plants are not really all that palatable, and I have never seen more than some occasional browsing in the past. This year I have a number of large plants that have been whittled down to nothing but stumps! We are rushing to put up the trellis netting for the tomatoes as this will impede there ability to move freely about the plants. I also have 2 beds of broccoli planted between 3 beds of tomatoes so the trellis will afford some protection to the broccoli as well. English peas are continuing to mature in abundance. Sugar snap and snow peas are beginning as well, but still in small quantities. It will most likely be a choice of pea varieties in this week’s share. We still have abundant amounts of lettuce, and there will be 2 heads of different types in the share. One is a beautiful deep red romaine named Outredgeous (As I suspected Word doesn’t like this spelling!) They are spectacular and quite large!

The share for this week will be: Broccoli, peas, scallions, choice of mustard greens or arugula, red leaf lettuce, red romaine lettuce, choice of salad turnips or radishes, choice of herb- parsley, cilantro, or dill.

Enjoy! John

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Letter from John June 18, 2007

Hi Everyone!The hot and dry trend continues and is making life very difficult for us. The Brassica family (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage etc.) is affected most of all by the stress. Plants interpret stress as potential mortality and react by rushing to reproduce themselves i.e. flowering. In the case of Bok choi, tatsoi, and napa or Chinese cabbage this means changing from a rosette form and sending up a long seed stalk, called bolting, before the plant reaches full harvest size. In the same way broccoli forms its seed head (the part we eat) while the plant is still small, producing a small head that quickly opens and develops its yellow flowers. We have run drip tape irrigation lines on all of the brassicas, something I have hesitated to do because it is only time consuming but also needs to be removed to cultivate. Some of the Napa cabbage and the Bok choi have already bolted. We will begin harvesting the Bok choi on the small side and hopefully with adequate moisture from the drip lines the napa will form heads. Lettuce family plants are prone to bolting as well, and so I have been watching these plantings diligently for any sign of revolt (or perhaps rebolt). On Friday night while harvesting lettuce for market I discovered a few escarole pants forming seed stalks, so we immediately cut all of the escarole. At this point they will hold better in my cooler than they will in the field. We will need to do the same for hundreds of heads of lettuce in the next 2 weeks. In this week’s edition of “When Animals Attack”: A marauder got into the greenhouse and wiped out about 200 melon and cucumber plants. I’m not sure if it was a deer or a ground hog, the latter is more likely to enter a structure, but deer have easier access to the plants, which were on tables. Deer have also been grazing some of my tomatoes and have destroyed a planting of early sugar snap peas. The main planting is well fenced and remains unscathed and is flowering abundantly.

This week’s share will be 2 heads of lettuce, English (shell) peas, red bok choi, tatsoi, choice of escarole or endive, parsley and either radishes or salad turnips. I had hoped to have scallions, but they are still a bit small, so we’ll save those for next week. Garlic scapes will be available for anyone who would like more.

–Enjoy! Farmer John

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Letter from John June 11, 2007

Hello Everyone, Since my last writing we’ve received a little more than an inch of much needed rain. We could use more, but it was enough to help some of the seed I’ve planted recently to germinate. The beans have sprouted beautifully and the zucchini and summer squash quite nicely as well. I was a bit nervous about the squash because it took a long time to come up and in the process of searching for emerging seed I discovered quite a few empty seed husks scattered about the surface of the beds. Some type of bird apparently has a taste for squash seed, something I’ve never seen before. Fortunately, there are only a few bare patches in my rows, and we can re-plant by hand to fill those in. We have finished planting the peppers and the eggplant and both are growing well and beginning to flower. Expect eggplant in mid to late July and peppers in early August. The early tomatoes are also growing well, flowering profusely, and setting fruit. Tomato harvest should begin in about 5 weeks The peas are flowering abundantly and there are a few ready to pick, just not enough yet to include in the first delivery. Peas will start next week and continue into early July. Sweet Potato plants arrived this past Friday and we will be transplanting them in the next few days as well as about 1500 melon and watermelon plants we started in the greenhouse. I will also be trying to sow edamame soybeans and the first of the winter squash during the next week. I hope y’all (pardon my drawl) like salads, because much of the lettuce we planted in succession has matured all at once. I have about 2000 lettuces that will need to be picked in the next 2 weeks. The share for this week will be: Red leaf lettuce, Boston lettuce, radishes, garlic scapes, and oregano. If you don’t have a use for fresh oregano, I recommend putting it in a small paper bag and hanging it in a warm place for a week or two to dry. For those new members unfamiliar with garlic scapes, they are the flower top of the garlic plant. They can be chopped finely and sautéed with other foods for a rich garlic flavor. They are also good grilled and will keep for many weeks in the refrigerator, so don’t worry about using them up quickly. Enjoy!
–Farmer John

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