Week #8 Tuesday, August 25 – Friday, August 28, 2020

In Your Bag

Melons
Yellow Onions
Beets
Carrots

Garlic
Green Beans

Peppers – green bell, sweet red & yellow, jalapenos
Cucumbers
Zucchini
– green and/or yellow
Kalebrationa bunch of tender mixed kale
Tomatoes
a pint of salad tomatoes and a bag with romas and red slicers
Herb bunch – Italian parsley, thyme, basil

Coming soon!
Shishito peppers again next week. Potatoes will likely be back.  It should be another big week for tomatoes and we’ll probably have some leeks as well.  We’re hoping for another week from the melon patch and we’re keeping on eye on a planting of arugula.  Our final planting of beans will be coming in a week or two, this time it will be Romanos.  

Farm News
Every year some of the most important decisions we make are varietal selections.  Disease resistance, flavor, suitability to our valley climate, reliability, and yield are some of the important criteria we use when selecting the years vegetable varieties.  Most often, when we find something that works well, we stay with it.  There are very few things which we have control over in the garden, but what we plant is definitely one of the most important!  We are, of course, always trialing new varieties, either because it has a such a great write up and picture in the seed catalog, or other growers have given it a strong recommendation.  Sometimes, the inspiration comes from unusual places.  The Shishito pepper, for example, first came to our attention a few years ago in a cooking magazine.  (My recollection was Bon Appetit, but I could be just making that up!) In any case, we took notice and it has proven to be a reliable performer every year, and one of our favorite summertime treats Watch for another batch in a week or two.  This week’s melon, although somewhat new to us, has done well in all kinds of conditions, including last year’s near perfect growing season and now this year’s weather extremes.  This is how Johnny’s Selected seeds describes it in their catalog:
Personal-size and widely adapted. Sugar Cube lives up to its name with intensely sweet flavor. Very uniform, heavily netted 2–2 1/2 lb. fruits with deep-orange, aromatic flesh perfect for single servings. A scoop of vanilla bean ice cream dropped in the seed cavity makes a sublime summer treat. Strong disease package and long harvest window. Well-suited for northern and southern regions. Harvest at full-slip (when a gentle tug removes the fruit from the vine). High resistance to Fusarium wilt races 0–2, powdery mildew, and watermelon mosaic virus; intermediate resistance to papaya ringspot virus and zucchini yellow mosaic virus.

After the deluge of July, we didn’t know what to expect, but this week’s harvest looks solid—whew!  Watch for these little gems in this week’s delivery and savor summertime!  We are also excited about a new product this week called Kalebration, also from Johnny’s Seeds. This is less of a variety choice but a rather innovative way to grow and eat kale. The seed is several kale varieties mixed together, grown and harvested as a bunch— perfect for a summer salad. (See this week’s recipes) We planted the seeds—four to five seeds into little fiber pots which were later transplanted. The grower’s guidelines suggested direct seeding in a two inch band, but the wet conditions didn’t permit us to enter in the field in late July, so we thought we could try and transplant it, grow it for a couple of weeks on the hay rack before needing to get it into the ground.  This technique allowed us to get ample growth time for a late August harvest,  This little bunch is then harvested and banded with all the different varieties together and sent to you as is.  Let us know what you think!

Week #7 Tuesday, August 18 – Friday, August 21, 2020

In Your Bag

Melons OR Potatoeswe didn’t have quite enough melons for everyone.  Some will get our favorite potato – Satains.  They will green very quickly—please keep them in the dark.
Cabbage
Yellow Onions
Garlic
Green Beans

Peppers – Anaheims and jalapenos
Cucumbers
Zucchini
– green and/or yellow,
Kale
Tomatoes
a mix of reds and salad tomatoes
Herb bunch – Italian parsley, thyme, sage

Note:
Most produce has been rinsed at the farm, you’ll want to wash it at home. 

Coming soon!
Sweet peppers next week and probably Roma tomatoes too.  We’re hoping for green beans, carrots and melons too.  

Farm News
This week marks the halfway point of the 2020 Spring Hill season, and so perhaps a little crop report is in order.  First of all, this season has been one of weather extremes in our little valley and, as the weather goes, so goes the garden. We started out dry, which with our soils, actually worked to our advantage.  All the way from May through the end of June we were able to hit our planned planting and transplanting dates.  At the end of June, things looked pretty good—crops were in on time, weed control was excellent, and we felt really great about beginning the delivery season.  Then the rains came. For the month of July, the rains never really stopped.   As we have mentioned before, we received just shy of 15 inches during that July stretch, half of it in one single event. (This represents about half of our average annual rainfall!)  The negative impact of that kind of rain is both immediate and longer term.  Right away we lost several plantings due to drowning from crops in standing water or water-logged soil. The second planting of beets, much of the cauliflower, and fall carrots were just some of the immediate casualties.  Additionally, we missed eleven different succession plantings of crops during that time because the soil was too wet to plant.  The longer-term impact of this kind of disruption, however, is just as significant with disease and nutrient deficiencies showing up over time. Unfortunately, the broccoli that looked so good at the end of June, was hit with disease brought on by all the rain and needed to be destroyed—several thousand heads!  Also, many crops simply failed to thrive as the roots struggled for nutrients in the overly wet soil which resulted in decreased yields. Yet somehow, enough of our crops have persevered so that we have been able to pack bags with a reasonable amount of diversity.  We count garlic, cucumbers, zucchini, and early onions among the successes to date. With the drier weather of August, we were able to get some new plantings in the ground that are now thriving.  For example, after the fall carrots (Bolero, a 75 day variety) was pounded with all that July rain and failed to germinate, we ordered different variety (Napoli, 54 days) from our main seed supplier, Johnny’s Selected Seeds out of Albion Maine, and replanted. I am happy to say the carrots are now up, weeded, and looking great!  Because we missed so many July plantings, we still had land available. We rewrote our greens plan and planted more of the quick growing fall greens such as arugula and fall bunching kale.  They too are looking good.  All in all, the gardens are beginning to look normal again.  Weeds are under control, plants are healthy and vigorous, and the crop diversity remains.  There will be certainly be changes from what we have normally delivered in the late summer and fall, yet we are hopeful  that the second half of the season will be solid and the bags will be diverse and abundant.

Week #6 Tuesday, August 11 – Friday, August 14, 2020

In Your Bag
Potatoesthe yellow potatoes will green very quickly—please keep them in the dark.
Carrots
Garlic
Fresh White & Red Onions
Peppers – Shishitos (in the bag) & one sweet pepper
Cucumbers
Zucchini – green and/or yellow,
Eggplant
Bright Lights Chard
Tomatoes
Big Basil Bunch! enough for a batch of pesto

Note:
Most produce has been rinsed at the farm, you’ll want to wash it at home. 

Coming soon!
Next week, we’ll likely send some Anaheim and jalapeno peppers.  We’re hoping for a cabbage and crossing our fingers on the melons.  Another batch of green beans should be ready next week and the Roma tomatoes are starting to ripen so it won’t be long before you’ll start seeing those! 

Farm News
I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but we could use some rain out here!  I know, I know, I’ve been complaining about too much rain for weeks.  I don’t even know how it’s possible that it’s dry, but it is.  Anna arrived here on Monday morning with reports of heavy rain and stormy weather in the city, but we didn’t get any of that here.  Not that we wanted heavy rains.  Please no!  But, we could use some rain, particularly for things we’ve recently planted and transplanted.  Mike planted a bunch of cover crop and a bed of arugula a few days ago.  We also did a lot of transplanting, clearing the hay rack of all those crops that had been waiting for the fields to dry.  They get a good dose of water as they’re being planted but they could use another drink.  Having emptied the hay rack, we promptly filled it again (well, not quite filled) with newly seeded flats.    Those flats hold the final batch of transplants for the year.  One last round of beets, some fall kohlrabi and kale. 

As I write this, Mike and Erin and Anna are out in the onions beginning the harvest of the storage onions.  They’ll dry down for a few days out in the field and soon we’ll bring them up to the greenhouse to continue curing.  First, though we’ll have to get the garlic in crates to make room for those onions!

Finally the peppers are starting!  It’s not a particularly bountiful crop this year, but they’re coming along.  Everything is just a little strange out there this year, in the world and in the garden.  We’re learning to take it in stride.

Tuesday is Anna’s last work day at the farm.  We’ve looked forward to her arrival on Monday mornings and so appreciated the extra hands to help with harvesting and packing on Mondays and Tuesdays.    

As usual, deer pressure begins to increase significantly at this time of year. First of all, there are simply too many deer in our part of the county—there were eleven on our road the other night and then more in and around the gardens.  I believe we counted about 17!  The Whitetail deer has adapted well to this type of mixed land use we have in our area and management of the herd is a challenge for sure!  True to form, this year’s deer are trying out everything.  It seems as if they sample something and if it doesn’t sicken them, then thye have at it–potatoes (the vines) leeks, and onions are all on the menu!  Fortunately, we have an effective fencing system (most times) that we can move around as needed. Crops we are currently protecting are: beets, fennel, carrots, winter squash, broccoli, cabbage, melons, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, and fall greens. So, take that deer!  

Week #5 Tuesday, August 4 – Friday, August 7, 2020

In Your Bag
Red Potatoes,
Carrots
Garlic
Fresh White & Red Onions
Wax beans
Cucumbers
Zucchini – green and/or yellow,
Broccoli
Bright Lights Chard,
Tomatoes
Cilantro
Basil

Note:
Most produce has been rinsed at the farm, you’ll want to wash it at home. 

Coming soon!
I’m pretty sure we’ll have peppers of some kind for you next week.   Shishito peppers, Anaheims and Jalapenos are all looking about ready for harvest.  The bell peppers are lagging behind.  Our best guess is that their blossoms and early fruits dropped in all the rain.  They’re setting fruit now so they’ll be some of those eventually!  We are regularly checking the melons.  They are sizing up but no sign of ripeness yet.   Soon, we hope!  

Farm News
The rain has stopped at last!  What a relief.  We had 15 inches of rain in one month here on the farm.  That’s just under half of what we might expect in a year.  It was too much. 

We are beginning to dig out and that feels good.  We sat down and re-worked our fall planting plans to adjust for the fact that we were unable to get into the fields to plant for most of the last month.  Finally, we got the fields prepped and even transplanted a few of the things that have been sitting on our hayrack begging to be planted, a red napa cabbage, a green cabbage and some leeks for the fall.  Next up is a round of beets, some Bright Lights chard and a kale mix. We mowed down several plantings of broccoli that succumbed to disease in the wet conditions and, having harvested the crops in our spring field, we were able to mow down what had become a weedy mess, getting it ready for a cover crop. We may even be able to tackle some things that have been on the to-do list for weeks, it seems:  fence the winter squash, write thank you cards, wheelhoe in the cabbages, make hay, trellis the raspberries. 

It hasn’t been an easy year. I think most of us can say that.  Even though we’re not seeing some of you each week, we are so cognizant of your support of us and of this farm. We knew this year was going to be different. With the core group’s help and the support of our pick-up site hosts, we put together a plan and logistically, it’s all working. Of course we miss seeing you. Of course we miss the rich conversations and the yummy potlucks and all the work we did together. But, we’re working with what we’ve been given and we know you’re there with us. We feel that strongly and it’s important to us. We love getting your notes and e-mails and seeing the pictures you’re posting on Facebook.   They are what carries us as we head out to the field. 

It has been good eating lately though, hasn’t it? Mike and I take turns cooking and this is the time of year when it’s really fun and easy to cook. I love that.    Refrigerator pickles, roasted vegetables, simple salads, fresh salsas, coleslaw have all been making their way to our table. Kristin’s recipes, Larry & Katy’s cooking videos from the website and Jess’ compilation of recipes on Spring Hill’s website have all been useful. Check them out!

I hope you are all well.  Stay in touch.  We love hearing from you.