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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Week 4

View of the broccoli field
We have a couple of important announcements for next week. First of all, we will be open for the holiday Thursday, July 4th. However, our hours will shift to 11am-5pm for that day. The week of July 8th we will return to normal hours.

On Monday, July 1st, representatives from the Le Creuset store in Kittery, Maine will be in the shareroom to do a cooking demo and they will also have information about discounts on Le Creuset pots available to CSA members.

Also, we want to thank everyone who has sent in their full share payments for the season. Payment was due June 1st, and this year was the best year ever in terms of on-time payments! We are still waiting on a few outstanding balances, so if you are unsure whether or not you still owe money for your share, please check with one of the shopkeepers when you pick up your share to find out if you have a balance.

Once again, this past week was a bit wetter than we would have liked. With an additional 3 inches of rain, many of our already saturated fields flooded again for a couple of days. As all of the well-drained field space is already spoken for, we have hit a bit of a wall with transplanting. Because of the wet, currently we have no place to put the 3rd summer squash planting, gourds or the last of the winter squash (a few beds of Red Kuri squash). We've also had difficulty finding dry space to put our weekly greens and lettuce plantings. In order to make space as quickly as possible, we've been mowing in crops as soon as they are finished, but it takes time to work in the debris enough to make new beds.

Another consequence of the rain has been that the weeds have really taken off. When it is this wet, tractor cultivation and hoeing are not very effective at controlling weeds, as they re-root easily in the soaked soil. Wednesday we had a brief respite from the rain, and the fields dried out somewhat. We took full advantage and had all 3 cultivating tractors going at once while the rest of the crew hoed and hand-weeded our tomatoes, peppers and winter squash. It was a productive morning and there's no doubt we set back weed growth in those fields. However, Thursday's rain brought a new flush of tiny weeds and also helped some of those pesky weeds re-root. A farmer's work is definitely never done! Hopefully we'll have some sun this week and be able to continue attacking the lambsquarter, nutsedge and crabgrass!

What's in the share: Lettuce, Greens, Kale, Napa Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Fennel, Radishes, Hakurei Salad Turnips, PYO strawberries, PYO peas, PYO herbs, including cilantro and dill.
New this week: Carrots, broccoli, and garlic scapes.
With a lot of new and exciting items to harvest, we are taking a week off from harvesting beets, but don't worry- they will be back in Week 5!

Friday, June 28, 2013

No PYO Volunteers tomorrow

Due to the predicted thunderstorms tomorrow (June 29th), PYO Volunteers is cancelled.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Week 3

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Bluegrass Picnic on Saturday, and thanks to Old Cold Tater for entertaining us with some lovely bluegrass tunes. We had a beautiful afternoon for a picnic. Everyone seemed to enjoy the delicious desserts and the kids certainly seemed to enjoy climbing on the tractors! If you missed out on Saturday, you'll get another chance to hear Old Cold Tater (and climb on tractors) at the Harvest Dinner in October.

This week we're hoping to get the last of our winter squash, gourds, tomatillos, hot peppers, and 2nd cuke planting into the ground. The past month has been a flurry of transplanting, and while I think the crew's done a really great job keeping up with our schedule this year, as always, there are a few things that are just going to have to go in the ground a little late. June is always tough because we still have lots of things to seed and transplant, the weeds really start to take off, and suddenly we have to start spending half our days harvesting. I'm looking forward to hopefully having some time to tackle more weeding projects! I particularly have my eye on our tomato, eggplant and pepper field, and the nutsedge that is popping up in between those plants.

Nutsedge popping up through plastic mulch 

Nutsedge is a particularly tenacious perennial weed affecting several of our fields. It's a grass-like plant that grows mainly from tubers (which are edible) that send out underground stems called rhizomes. In a single year, one tuber can send out rhizomes producing 1,900 new plants and 7,000 new tubers. The tubers can remain viable for up to 3 years, and each tuber has up to 7 buds and enough energy to sprout (and sometimes re-sprout) them all. That means that even when you pull out the plant, if the tuber remains in the ground, you'll see new plants popping up in no time. Another challenge with nutsedge is that unlike many of our other common weeds (like lamb's quarter, pigweed and purslane), nutsedge is capable of poking through the thick layers of straw and the black plastic mulch that we put down in our fields to keep down weed growth. In a "nutshell" (sorry - I couldn't help myself!), controlling nutsedge organically is quite challenging - basically you just have to keep cultivating and hand weeding it in the hope of eventually just wearing it out. Fortunately, we have a fantastic crew that is ready to wage war on this persistent weed! In the next week you'll probably see us out in Field 5 hoeing and hand-weeding away.

What's in the share: Lettuce, Greens, Kale, Napa Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Fennel, Scallions, Radishes, Hakurei Salad Turnips, PYO strawberries, PYO peas (sugar snap, snow peas and shelling peas), PYO herbs.
New this week: Red Ace Beets, PYO Dill, and PYO Cilantro.

Be sure to check out our Recipes blog for ideas on how to prepare your veggies.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Reminder: Bluegrass Picnic and PYO Volunteers this Saturday!

Join us for the Bluegrass Picnic this Saturday, June 22nd from 4 to 6pm in front of the barn! Bring a blanket or lawn chairs to sit on and a dessert to share (I think I'll make some strawberry rhubarb tart!). Old Cold Tater will be playing for us and we'll have the tractors out for the kids to play on.

Also, come join us Saturday 9:00-10:30am for our new Pick-Your-Own Garden volunteers hours. This Saturday we'll be transplanting popcorn and basil. Come help us transplant and then if you didn't get a chance to pick this week because of the thunderstorms, pick your strawberries and peas!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Week 2 and Bluegrass Picnic next weekend!

The new Field 6 duck pond
The sunshine this weekend was a welcome sight for the CSA crew! After nearly 8 inches of rain over the course of last week, the fields are completely saturated, and in some spots even flooded. Our harvest trucks always seemed on the verge of getting stuck and our boots were constantly sinking into the muck. We had been hoping to finish transplanting our winter squash into Field 6 this week, but a chunk of the field is underwater (and a couple of ducks have apparently taken up residence!), so we'll have to wait until it dries out a bit and in the meantime see what we can fit in the very limited available space in another field. After the sunny weather on Saturday, some of our fields dried out enough that we were able to get some tractors running on them. With potential rain in the forecast for next week too, we had to jump on the opportunity Saturday and Sunday to try to catch up with preparing fields for planting and cultivating to keep down weeds.

Our annual Bluegrass Picnic is coming up this Saturday, June 22nd from 4 to 6pm.  Bring a picnic and come sit by the barn while listening to the CSA's favorite bluegrass band, Old Cold Tater. We'll also have the tractors out for the kids to play on!

What's in the share: Greens, Lettuce, Bok Choi, Broccoli raab, Spinach, Scallions, Fennel, PYO Sugar Snap Peas*, PYO strawberries*, PYO herbs (chives, oregano, mint, parsley)*.
New this week: Kale, Napa cabbage, Kohlrabi, PYO Snow Peas*, and PYO Shelling Peas*!

Check out our new Recipe blog for ideas on how to prepare your veggies.

*Be sure to check the pick-your-own board in the barn before heading out to the fields so you can get containers and tips on where the best picking is!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Saturday morning PYO Volunteers starts this weekend!

This Saturday June 15th we invite you to come join us in the Pick-Your-Own fields 9 - 10:30am to help us weed, hoe and maintain PYO crops. We will meet every Saturday until July 20th. Look for one of our crew at the barn at 9am, or out in the fields look for the blue sign highlighting where we are working. Most of the time working in the fields is spent either kneeling or repetitively bending over, so this work may not be suitable for those with serious knee or back issues. This work is also not appropriate for young children. See our Volunteering page for more information about PYO Volunteers and to learn of other ways you can get involved at the farm or with other Trustees properties. Feel free to email me at with any questions!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Week 1

Welcome to the first week of the CSA season! If you are assigned a Monday/Tuesday pick-up block, please pick up your share either Monday 2pm-7pm or Tuesday 11am-5pm. If you have a Thursday/Friday pick-up block, you can pick up your share either Thursday 2pm-7pm or Friday 11am-5pm. For those shareholders who are new to the CSA and were unable to attend the orientation on Saturday, please let one of the shopkeepers know when you check in and they will be happy to go over the pick-up routine as well as answer any questions you might have.

In spite of the nearly 4 inches of rain we received over the course of Friday and Saturday, there seems to be minimal damage in the fields. There was some flooding over some newly seeded greens, so we'll see soon whether that will affect germination. Everything else looks great, and we're looking forward to a strong first week.

We plan to open pick-your-own fields this week, though please note that in cases of thunderstorms (which are predicted for Tuesday), we will close the fields for safety reasons. We also may close the PYO fields during heavy rains to prevent damage to PYO crops. Wet and muddy days offer prime conditions for spreading plant diseases, as well as for compacting the soil around crops. If you ever do pick up your share on a day when PYO fields are closed, you may come back during our Saturday picking hours, which are 8am-noon. Please note that your share entitles you to pick once per week, so you may only use Saturday Pick-your-own hours if you did not pick during the week.

What's in the share: Greens (arugula, tat soi, red russian kale, baby bok choi, tokyo bekana), Lettuce, Bok Choi, Broccoli raab, Spinach, Radishes, Hakurei Turnips, Scallions, Fennel, PYO Sugar Snap Peas, PYO herbs (chives, oregano, mint, parsley).

Friday, June 7, 2013

Orientation is rain or shine!

While it looks like the rain (and mud) may prevent tours of the Pick-Your-Own fields tomorrow, we will still be at the CSA barn 9am-11am to welcome our new and returning shareholders. See you then!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Orientation and Open House this Saturday!

Easter Egg radishes -
an early season favorite
This Saturday June 8th from 9am to 11am we will be holding an Open House and Orientation at the CSA barn. New and experienced shareholders alike are welcome! Your farmers will be on hand to talk about share room procedure and, weather-permitting, will be offering tours of the pick-your-own fields. We'll also have information about educational programming at the farm, including Appleton Cooks, which is a year-round menu of programs featuring classes, workshops and farm-to-table dinners. The Dairy Store will open at 9am as well and will be offering samples of some of their delicious dairy products. In addition, the folks from Le Creuset will be on hand with information about their discount program for CSA members (30% off for all purchases over $100!).

The past two weeks have been a blur of transplanting and weeding. In order to keep up with our tasks, last week we made the dreaded shift from a 7am start to a 6am start (we'll be working a 6am-5pm schedule until September). That's because it's peak planting season - our crop schedule for May 29th alone is nearly 5 pages long, out of an 18 page schedule! In the past week we've transplanted our eggplant, main season tomatoes, PYO tomatoes, PYO flowers, most of our sweet peppers, half our watermelons, and our weekly lettuce planting. We've also seeded greens, sunflowers, beans, and edamame directly into the fields. By the end of the week we hope to have finished our peppers and watermelon, get celery and celeriac into the ground, and seed our next plantings of cilantro, dill and greens.

On the weed control side of things, we've been trying to keep our cultivating tractors running every dry moment that we've had (if you cultivate when the soil is wet, the weeds will just re-root). We've also been busy hand-weeding and hoeing our lettuce, fennel, parsnips, beets, carrots, kale, and onions. Before the end of the week we're hoping to get a second hand-weeding pass at the leeks, hoe our 4th lettuce planting, thin and weed our last bed of parsnips and if there's any time, keep plugging away at our seemingly endless task of thinning and weeding beets and carrots.

We've got ambitious plans for the rest of the week, and right now it's hard to imagine how much busier our days could possibly be. Starting next week, however, we'll be spending the entire morning (6am - noon) harvesting for the CSA, and we'll be trying to cram in all the weeding, seeding, transplanting and tractor work into the afternoons. We have an amazing crew, though, so I have full confidence that we can pull it off! The fields are looking beautiful right now, and hopefully we've laid the groundwork over the past 12 weeks for a successful 2013 season. I think all our hard work this spring will pay off in the form of a bountiful first week of CSA veggies! (Check the blog in a few days to find out what you can expect in the share next week.)