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Archive for August 7th, 2007

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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Letter from John May 21, 2007

Hello Everyone,Well, the dry conditions continue, with less than 1” of rain during the past 6 weeks. Many passing storms that promised some much needed rain have not produced enough to register on the rain gauge. Everything that I sow directly into the field must be irrigated to germinate. Much time is being spent setting up and moving sprinklers and this delays us from planting and other pressing tasks. We have finished planting the potatoes and the eggplant. About 800 tomatoes have been set out and another 1600 will be transplanted out in the next few days. We will also be planting the peppers, ground cherries, celery root, and the last of the onions this week. Last night I rode the tractor planting beans until dark, ahead of some thunderstorms, which again delivered an inconsequential amount of rain. I am having a lot of trouble with a pest of the cabbage family called the flea beetle. This is a consequence of the late planting since normally the plants have 2-3 weeks to grow before the over wintering adults emerge from the soil. We are doing our best to control this plague with the various organic treatments that are available. The problem is that these agents have a short period of effectiveness and frequent spraying is required. I have also lost several hundred broccoli and cabbage plants to animal predation-turkeys, geese and ground hogs. The peas are growing nicely and the earliest varieties have just begun to flower. This means we will start picking peas in about 3 weeks, possibly in time for the first delivery. The potatoes have sprouted and the onions and the garlic are also growing nicely. It has been a very difficult start to the season, and will probably only get worse, but we are forging ahead and dealing with each new challenge that arises. Hope to see many of you at the Farm Visit in 2 weeks! Farmer John

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Letter from John May 14, 2007

Hello Everyone,It’s been about a month since the flooding rains of April, and since that time we’ve received less than ½ an inch of new rain. While it’s too soon to start crying drought, these dry conditions combined with several very warm days for early May, have been making things a bit difficult for us. Although there is still adequate moisture a few inches down, the soil surface has become very dry. This condition makes it difficult for new transplants to take root as well as delaying the germination of the many varieties of veggies that I am currently planting directly into the field. We have planted most of the 7,000 brassica and lettuce plants. Many of these we have had to water in after planting to insure their survival. Most of the peas that were planted are up and growing nicely. Unfortunately 2 early varieties of sugar snap peas did not germinate, most likely due to bad seed. This represents about 1200 row feet that should have produced 300 lbs of peas and means that the pea season will be a bit later and shorter this year. We have planted about 1,000 lbs of seed potatoes, with another 800 to go. I have the ground ready, and I hope to finish with potatoes by the end of the week. We will also be transplanting the first 900 tomato plants and about 700 eggplants in the next week. It’s also time to begin planting beans, zucchini and other summer squash, as well as cucumbers and melons. Many thanks to those who came out for the volunteer work day this past Saturday. About 1800 tomato and celeriac plants were transplanted; we covered a greenhouse, and transplanted several hundred lettuce plants out into the field. I truly appreciate the help, and I think everyone had an enjoyable day in the country. If there is anyone who was not able to attend, but would like to come out and lend a hand over the next 2 weekends, contact me at kruegerjohn@earthlink.net. That’s all ‘til next time! Meantime, hope, pray, or keep your fingers crossed for some rain.
–Farmer John

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