CSA distribution #23 & newsletter

Our next CSA distribution will be Monday September 3 and Thursday September 6. This past week has been defined by weather, from the rainfall-that-wasn’t last weekend (forecast 1″-2″, got 0.02″) to the intense, debilitating heat of midweek (multiple days in the high 90s with strong winds and low humidity) to the impending arrival of ex-hurricane Isaac. The latter is hard to judge properly. If it drops a few gentle inches it’s quite welcome; if it pummels us with abundant heavy rain it has the potential to cause flooding, soil erosion, and crop damage. And there’s still the worry that it might leave us in a dry patch, though that’s looking less and less likely. A really fine line to walk and it’s giving us emotional whiplash as we monitor the storm’s progress.  We’ve spent the last couple of months desperately hoping that a remnant hurricane would come our way; now that it is happening, we just hope it turns out well. In any case, the farm plugs along with good produce, even if Isaac plays heck with harvesting for Monday…

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE
Green beans
These came on strong last week and should continue.
Tomatillos
Probably yes, but no promises.
Cherry tomatoes Quantity and quality will depend on Isaac; they may all split with abundant rainfall.
Slicer/sauce tomatoes
See above; Isaac is the wild card, particularly for Monday.
Okra 
This continues to produce abundantly, so those who want will get it.
Sweet pepper mix
Same as previous weeks.
Hot pepper mix
Same as last week, mix of Jalapeno, Anaheim, and Cayenne. We may start giving out some red Anaheims as they ripen; these are a bit sweeter than the greens and also very good. It’s possible a few Habaneros will be available at some point for those who want them. Let us know if you’re one of those people and we’ll be in touch as the peppers ripen. We tried a few this week and felt they weren’t ripe enough.
Garlic:
This week’s varieties will be Georgian Crystal (long stems), a good all-purpose variety, and Brickey (short stems), an interesting small-headed variety. We’ve grown the latter variety ever since an early market customer who admired our diversity and seed-saving commitment gave us a head of garlic from a line that she and her family have maintained. We named the variety after her, though we haven’t seen her for several years now, and have found it intriguing enough to keep it in the lineup.
Summer squash
Same as last week, up to a pound of young squash.
Cucumbers
The second cuke planting went much the way of the first; a quick pulse followed by a quick death. We blame the heat, as we’ve done much better in past years. Hope you liked ’em while they lasted.

COMING SOON
There hasn’t been much new in the shares lately. Blame the weather: summer stuff arrived early,  and fall stuff is going to lag behind its usual schedule because we postponed some plantings due to heat. But, we do have some Swiss chard that we can start harvesting/distributing soon. The first baby greens are just poking out of the ground, but they grow fast and may be just a few weeks away. Chinese cabbages are a bit farther in the future, but they’re worth a mention because they at least appear happy for now. Hopefully winter squash won’t appear in shares anytime soon; early distribution means premature dead vines, while late distribution means mature squash with better flavor. We have more potatoes and onions in storage, and we’ll dole those to add some diversity when shares start to seem thin.

GARLIC FUTURE
After this week we’re going to go down to one garlic variety per week for a while. This is partly a reflection of the partial crop failures in the softneck varieties; we want to ensure we have a steady supply for members through the fall plus some restaurant sales. Once we get through planting season in October, we’ll have a better sense of what’s left, and will intend to distribute a larger winter storage bundle of garlic. And some will be saved for the January 2013 share.

HERBS
We’ll stick with 4 herb bundles/full share and 2/part share this week.

Thyme
Oregano
Sage
Tarragon

Garlic chives
Orange mint
Kentucky colonel mint
Basil

Parsley
Shiso

Dill heads

HAPPY HOUR AT TREY
A while back we held an impromptu CSA happy-hour at Sycamore, which was well-attended and a lot of fun. We’d like to hold another one on Friday 9/14, this time at Trey, to celebrate their opening and patronage. We’ll show up there around 4pm and remain a few hours for dinner, welcoming any members, readers, or friends who want to join us for good food and conversation on any topic. We’re ready for a break from the farm and welcome discussions of ecology, history, food, politics, and just about anything else!

CROP FAILURES
We feel that we’re reaching a tipping point where the drought is starting to win. Our watermelon patch degraded fast (due to disease, ID not certain, but heat stress was a factor). The vines were looking beautiful and were loaded with fruit. Then, all of a sudden, they started to die; we nearly cried feeding out armloads of half-ripe melons from dead vines to the pigs. Photo on the left taken 8/25; photo in the middle was 8/30. Leaves were still perky on the morning of 8/30 (though they had been showing hints of decline on 8/29). Right now, melons sound more refreshing than bacon. Cucumbers are toast, and many of the fall items we’re trying to get established are really struggling. We transplanted kale just before last weekend’s near-guaranteed rain clouds and the week of pleasant highs in the 80s/low 90 scorching heat (high 90s/low humidity). Many of the plants aren’t real happy; some have been munched to the ground, probably by grasshoppers, which have had full access to the plants during the day because it has been too hot to leave the row cover on. As discussed above, Isaac could easily do us more harm than good by battering down mature plants, splitting or toppling tomatoes, flooding young seedlings, eroding soil, and generally making things miserable through too much of a good thing. On the other hand, it could flood out the absurd vole/mole population that’s messing with so many of our root crops. Ideally we’ll get up to 2″ of gentle rain, spread out over 24 hours or more, without too much wind. That would make us very happy.

WINTER CSA FROM HAPPY HOLLOW FARM
While our CSA schedule intends a few late fall/early winter shares (see last week’s newsletter), plus a January share for all those signing up for 2013, we don’t fundamentally do winter farming. However, if you’re addicted to the weekly fresh supply of local produce and will miss it as we wind down, we encourage you to consider the winter CSA option from our friends at Happy Hollow Farm. If nothing else, it’s a good way to experience two different CSAs in one year.

NEXT WEEK’S POTLUCK
Don’t forget next weekend’s CSA potluck, oddly enough held the same day as Happy Hollow’s (luckily no membership overlap this time of year). We hope to have a nice crowd, good weather, and great food.

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