Week #12 Tuesday, September 22 – Friday, September 25

In Your Bag
Yellow Potatoes,
Delicata Squash

Onions
Garlic
Beets
Beet greens –
these are bunched separately so they pack well in your bags
Carrots
(a nice big bag of theses sweet gems  – just the right combo of sweet and carrot flavor!) 
Peppers – a pile of them – last of the season!
We’ll have shishitos, they’re the thin-skinned wrinkly ones (green and red) in a bag.  Poblanos are very deep green and tapered and the long red and yellow ones are sweet.  Look for a green bell pepper and some jalapenos too. 
Cheap Frills greens mix – good for salads or braising. 
Parlsey/Thyme/Sage bunch

Next week
Looks like next week’s bag will have some fall kohlrabi and hopefully a new crop for us – red napa cabbage.  It’s coming along and we’re crossing our fingers there will be enough to have one for everybody.  We’ve got a patch of cilantro just about ready and there will be a green of some sort, maybe arugula, maybe collards, maybe another bunch of cheap frills – and who wouldn’t like that? 

End of the Season Schedule
We have made a change in the schedule for the end of the season.  We had been planning to stretch our 14 week season out by shifting to an every other week schedule in October.  INSTEAD, we are planning to go 14 consecutive weeks this year.  Final deliveries will be Tuesday, October 6th and Friday, October 9th.  If you pick-up your vegetables every other week, you may end the week before that.  Monthly shares, look for an e-mail from Spring Hill with your final vegetable delivery dates for the season.  This change is NOT a change in the number of weeks or in the amount and variety of vegetables, simply a change in the schedule due to considerations around the pandemic.

Farm News
In this season of many challenges, we’ve had a few more curve balls thrown at us. The disease that took out our earlier plantings of broccoli also took our fall broccoli and cauliflower. We were so hoping so have a nice batch of fall broccoli and at least some cauliflower for you. Even though we had had lost about half of the cauliflower to the heavy rains that came just after planting, we were hoping to get at least one head for each of you. Nope. Celeriac too was a victim of the July rains. It just never thrived and while we hoped it would recover and size up, it’s not happening. I know there are both lovers and haters of celeriac. I fall into the love camp so I’m disappointed that this knarly fall root didn’t make it. Finally, we’ve had not just one but FIVE frosts already, all before the average frost date for our area. We covered peppers for the first four but this last one on Saturday morning was unexpected. Many of the peppers survived but, given the state of the plants after this last frost, they won’t make it through another one so we’re sending in a passel of peppers this week!  We’ve been enjoying them a lot!  We’ve been slicing them (a mix of sweets and hots) and sauteing them with onions and garlic and then tossing them on top of beans and rice, mixing them into eggs, pasta, pizza – just about anything.  Delicious!  If it’s too many peppers to eat fresh, try freezing them.  We wash them, slice them up and lay them out to freeze on cookie sheets.  Once frozen, we bag them up and use them throughout the winter.  The frosts also meant it was time to harvest the squash.  Last Wednesday we made it through the patch harvesting any squash that was close to ripe.  We would have liked another week for it, but we weren’t going to get it.  It’s all in the greenhouse now so on cold nights, we can close it up and keep the squash from freezing.     It continues to be a challenging season.  Even so, there’s been so many good meals at our place and we hope yours too!

Week #11 Tuesday, September 15 – Friday, September 18

In Your Bag
Yellow Potatoes,
Sugar Dumpling Winter Squash

Leeks, Onion (XL!) , Garlic
Carrots
(the sweet gems are just the right combo of sweet and carrot!) 
Romano Beans
Peppers – Green bells, Sweet Red and Yellow,
  Anaheims (these are the long green ones), 
  and   Jalapenos
Kalebration Kale Mix
Sage bunch
Tomatoes
Slicers & Salads, last of the season!

End of the Season Schedule
We have made a change in the schedule for the end of the season.  We had been planning to stretch our 14 week season out by shifting to an every other week schedule in October.  INSTEAD, we are planning to go 14 consecutive weeks this year.  Final deliveries will be Tuesday, October 6th and Friday, October 9th.  If you pick-up your vegetables every other week, you may end the week before that.  Monthly shares, look for an e-mail from Spring Hill with your final vegetable delivery dates for the season.   This change is NOT a change in the number of weeks or in the amount and variety of vegetables, simply a change in the schedule due to considerations around the pandemic.

Farm News
One of the first things we do each morning is check the weather, NOT BEFORE COFFEE THOUGH, NOTHING BEFORE COFFEE!)  We have several different sites we visit to see what nature has in the works, but the most frequent sites we use are NOAA, WeatherUndeground, and Paul Huttner’s weather blog on MPR. Collectively, these three sites give us a pretty good idea of what’s going on.  NOAA is the baseline.  We can count on NOAA to be quite accurate and we get the big picture in weather. Additionally, NOAA has more data, history and context than any other site.  WeatherUndeground is where we go when we want an hourly view.  So, if NOAA tells us we have a 70% chance of rain, WeatherUnderground will tell us when and how much rain is coming, and finally Paul Huttner’s blog tells us how weird everything is getting. 

One of the things we have learned over time is that weather is everything for farming.  Every year we craft very detailed plans that outline planting dates, harvest dates, and expected yields. These plans serve merely as a roadmap—we may know where we want to go, but we have no idea what we might happen along the way.  We mentioned in an earlier note that the 15 inches of rain in July completely changed our planting schedule (and subsequent anticipated harvest dates)  For example, this is what we had planned for direct seeding during the first ten days of July : dill, Romano green beans, cilantro, Kale mix, amaranth, greens mix.  As you know, some of this we squeezed in later, and some not at all.  The Romano green beans were about two weeks late getting in the ground, but we did manage to sneak them in and they have been a delightful part of the last couple of deliveries!  We also managed to protect them from last week’s (way too early) frost and as a result got a couple of extra harvest for our efforts. Of all the different types of beans we grow, this is our favorite—fantastic flavor and not readily available in the marketplace.  For us, these have been a really delicious seasonal treat!  

We are watching this week’s weather with a sharp eye.  Even though last week’s frost did in the cucumbers, the melons and the field tomatoes, there are still a couple of vulnerable crops in the field, most importantly, winter squash.  Last week’s frost burned back most of the vines and the fruits are now exposed which means if it gets cold enough to frost again, the fruits could be damaged. We would like to see, however, the squash stay on the vine as long as possible to finish ripening . So, really, this week’s work will be determined by Thursday night’s low temp.  Right now, we are looking at 37—awfully close to freezing!  We will be watching the trend– does this projection start creeping up?  If so, maybe the squash can wait.  Does it move down?  Any colder and we will drop all other plans and harvest this year’s squash.  By the way, the first of this year’s squash is in the bag.  Sugar Dumpling is an early variety that requires no curing and can be eaten right away—we already sampled and it was delicious.  Enjoy!

Week #10 Tuesday, September 8 – Friday, September 11

In Your Bag
Cabbage, Fennel
Onions, Garlic
Melon OR Cucumbers OR Zucchini
(last taste of summer!)
Romano Beans
Peppers – Poblanos, Sweet Red and Yellow,
  Green bells and Jalapenos
Collard Greens
Bright Lights Chard
Parsley bunch
Tomatoes
Romas

Coming soon!
We’re planning on the first of the winter squash next week along with leeks and potatoes.  If weather permits, we’ll try for one more week of tomatoes, maybe some carrots and greens of some sort!

End of the Season Schedule
We have made a change in the schedule for the end of the season.  We had been planning to stretch our 14 week season out by shifting to an every other week schedule in October.  INSTEAD, we are planning to go 14 consecutive weeks this year.  Final deliveries will be Tuesday, October 6th and Friday, October 9th.  If you pick-up your vegetables every other week, you may end the week before that.  Monthly shares, look for an e-mail from Spring Hill with your final vegetable delivery dates for the season.   This change is NOT a change in the number of weeks or in the amount and variety of vegetables, simply a change in the schedule due to considerations around the pandemic.

Farm News
In this first full week of September, here on the farm the signs of fall are subtle but unmistakable.  A sumac here and there, a random maple tree and the prickly ash are beginning to show some of their fall colors.

One of the more stunning sights of late summer and early fall is the massive number of dragon flies!  Every few years, it seems we have the conditions come together that allow for a rather large hatch.  While we are harvesting, we can look across the valley and see these prehistoric-like critters flying everywhere.  We don’t know much about them, but further study is a must!  In any case, we have often considered the presence of these amazing insects to be a sign of a healthy eco-system.

We just had a visit from our Natural Resources Conservation Service biologists inspecting our Monarch planting. They seemed quite pleased with the number of different species that have established themselves in the new plot.  So far, we have identified Butterfly weed; Giant  Hyssop; Partridge Pea; Bee Balm, Black-eyed Susan ; Yellow Coneflower, Lance leaf coreopsis; Yellow Coneflower, Side Oats Grama Grass and of course, lots of Common Milkweed!  We were also delighted to find several Monarch caterpillars.  We are thinking that they better get a move on it, this warm weather won’t last long!  In fact, NOAA is predicting patchy frost on Wednesday night—yikes!  If this comes to pass, it would be the earliest frost in our time on this farm.  (Currently, our earliest frost date is September 11, 1996).  Our average frost date for Vance Creek Township, Barron County is September 21, so this would be a couple weeks early. If the forecast  holds, and frost is likely, we have a plan:  cover the peppers and Romano Beans with floating row cover, pick the ripe tomatoes, and cross our fingers on behalf of the winter squash which could use another week or two of growing weather to finish nicely, but would probably be OK.  Right now, the frost does not appear to be too harsh, so we remain hopeful with an anxious eye on the forecast! 

Meanwhile, enjoy the last fruits of summer—especially the Poblano peppers.  This has come to be one of our favorite peppers!  Sauté strips of Poblano and adorn the top of a rice and tomato casserole (hotdish) for a perfect late summer comfort meal—enjoy!

Week #9 Tuesday, September 1 – Friday, September 4

In Your Bag
Melons
Yellow Onion  a biggie!! Red Onion
Yellow potatoes

Garlic
Carrots

Peppers –bell peppers, Anaheims
    Shishitos (red or green in the bag)
Cucumbers
Zucchini
– green and/or yellow
Arugula
Parsley/Thyme bunch
Tomatoes
another big week of tomatoes with a pint of salad tomatoes and a bag with romas and red slicers

Coming soon!
It’s looking like fennel for next week, probably a cabbage.  We’re thinking it will be Poblano peppers along with sweet red and yellow peppers.  We’ll keep sending tomatoes as long as we can!

A Note about Basil
Sadly the basil we hoped to send this week has basil downy mildew and is not usable.  Even planting a resistant variety – Prospera –  proved to be not enough in the high humidity of the past week.  Basil is now done for the season.

Farm News
Wow!  September.  How did that happen?  We know many of you are heading back to school as students and teachers and in other various roles and in a variety of scenarios.  We wish you all well.  It’s challenging no matter how you cut it.  

On the farm we’re looking at a transitioning of the seasons.  Some of our high temps this week are in the 60’s with lows in the 40’s.  It’s time to bring out the flannel shirts!  These next two weeks, the bags will hold the end of summer and beginning of fall.  Cucumbers and zucchini will be making their last showings of the season.  We’ve got one final planting of Romano beans that we’ll begin picking this week and we’ll keep the tomatoes coming as long as possible as their use shifts from fresh slices and salads to soups and sauces. 

We’re keeping an eye on the winter squash (looks like a good harvest!), checking in on the Brussels sprouts and fall broccoli, and eyeing the celeriac, wondering if it will size up this year.  We shall see!

This past week, my Mom sent me Mary Oliver’s book, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems and in it was this lovely poem.

Beans Green and Yellow
From “
Swan: Poems and Prose Poems”
By Mary Oliver

In fall
it is mushrooms
gathered in dampness
under the pines;
in spring
I have known the taste of the lamb
full of milk
and spring grass;
today
it is beans green and yellow
and lettuce and basil
from my friend’s garden –
how calmly,
as though it were an ordinary thing,
we eat the blessed earth.

Even as we are unable to gather this year and share stories and food, together we “eat from the blessed earth” the gifts from the land that is Spring Hill Community Farm— supported so generously by all of you.  Amidst it all, we are so very grateful.