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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Week 8

Crew photo courtesy of Nicole Boyd
It's hard to believe we are already a third of the way through the season! Last week brought some welcome relief from the previous week's heat. The rain also allowed us to focus our energy on projects other than moving around irrigation pipes (an activity that consumed much of our time towards the end of the heat wave).

Even though the heat from a few weeks ago was trying at times, we were rewarded this past week with some rapid vegetable growth. Thursday we pulled in a very promising green pepper harvest. Our eggplant also appear to be recovering nicely from the onslaught of Colorado Potato Beetles we dealt with a few weeks ago. Hand-picking beetles off the plants, though time-consuming, seems to have paid off, as did the application of organic fertilizer. We've also been eyeing the watermelon as we collect our cucumber harvest nearby. In our impatience for summer fruit, some of us have broken open a couple of watermelons. The insides were still a very pale pink, but we should have some melons ready in a few weeks. Finally, the cherry tomatoes are looking pretty good as well. We added another level to the trellising on our Sungolds last Wednesday and were able to pluck a few ripe fruit off the vine to sustain us through the back-breaking work of tying up tomato plants. There's not enough yet to open for PYO, but we should be able to start picking in the near future.

This Monday Le Creuset will be back 3-6pm to do a cooking demo and to share information on discounts for CSA members. Hopefully this time we'll have no tornado warnings, as we did the last time they visited!

What's in the share: Lettuce, Kale, Chard, Carrots, Beets, Ailsa Craig Onions, Summer Squash/Zucchini, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Red Gold Potatoes, PYO Flowers, PYO Snap Beans, and PYO Herbs.
New this week: Green Peppers, Flamingo (pale yellow) Sweet Peppers.

*The planting of greens that is due to be harvested this week is also looking a bit weedy and hole-y (we're still feeling the effects of the massive amounts of rain we received a month ago!). We may have to skip greens again this week if it takes too long to harvest. Subsequent plantings are fortunately looking better!

Friday, July 26, 2013

CSA office voicemail not working

There's been a glitch in the CSA's phone line and we have been unable to receive any voicemails. We are working on getting this problem fixed and apologize for any inconvenience. If you need to get in touch with us, please email lholdorf@ttor.org.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Week 7


Garlic garlands makes the barn look great, smell great and keeps the undead at bay!

In spite of the heat we managed to get quite a bit accomplished this week.  The Great Garlic Harvest of 2013 has finally been completed.  All those lovely bulbs have been bunched and hung up to dry.  The barn looks really spectacular festooned in this fashion and the smell is truly incredible.  We have taken to affectionately referring to the space as ¨the garlic cave¨, and i think it should provide great peace of mind to all that Appleton Farms CSA is now vampire proof.  In about 6 weeks time the garlic will be dried and cured and ready to be sorted into seed for next year or bulbs to be distributed to our members. 

While the hot weather was very taxing on us farmers, we made sure to pay it forward with interest to the weeds.  We thinned and hand weeded beets and we made tremendous gains in clearing out the weeds in our celeriac beds.  With stirrup hoes we molested the weeds that encroached upon our winter squash.  We used string trimmers to subdue the weeds that had shot up between the beds of eggplant, and the cultivating tractors were never long idle.  The scorching weather may have jerkyed some of us farmers but it was at least as desiccating to the weeds.  So while the farmers might be looking a little frayed around the edges the fields are beginning to look almost tidy!  Good work team.

At the end of last week we dug the first of our potatoes.  Our tractor driven single row potato digger makes this task a lot easier by scooping beneath the potato plants, agitating the soil particulates and sifting the potatoes to the soil surface.  Our harvest team follows behind the tractor and a kind of scavenger hunt begins.  Most potatoes can be picked up as easily as picking daisys but to make sure that we don´t leave any good potatoes behind we also comb through the top few inches of soil in search of stragglers.  This weeks share will include buttery delicious Red Gold potatoes.

While working in the fields at Appleton, our farmers cross paths with members doing Pick-your-own almost daily.  This week we received such an outpouring  of  support from many of our members.  Your words of thanks and encouragement have a great and inspiring impact on us, especially during some of our tougher weeks.  From all of us farmers, a heart felt thank you for all the spontaneous appreciation.

What´s in the share: Lettuce, carrots, beets, napa cabbage, kale, chard, summer squash and zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli, Ailsa Craig onions, PYO flowers, PYO herbs, PYO green, purple and yellow beans.

New this week: Red Gold potatoes and eggplant.




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

No Carrot Club this Friday 7/19

Carrot Club is cancelled this Friday due to the heat. Hope to see you next week!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Week 6: Garlic Harvest and reminder about pick-up pass policy

Garlic waiting to be bunched
Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday to help with this year's garlic harvest. We've harvested, bunched and hung only about half of our garlic in the barn, but we're already almost out of room! It's a nice contrast from last year, when we lost the majority of our harvest to garlic bloat nematode. Normally, we save seed from our garlic harvest, but since all our garlic was contaminated with nematodes, we had to buy in all new organic seed last fall. Because garlic bloat nematodes can linger in the soil for up to four years, we've also been taking a lot of precautions to ensure we don't spread the pest to other fields, including sanitizing all our tractor implements after using them in last year's garlic field. If you pick up your share on Tuesdays, be sure to thank Jon (who is in the shareroom that day) for all his hard work painstakingly power-washing the harrows and plastic mulch layer after he was done with his tractor work.

With many people going on vacation over the summer, I wanted to take the opportunity to remind everyone about our pick-up pass policy. You are allowed to use a pick-up pass to switch your pick-up block up to 3 times over the course of the season. The pass is intended for use within the same week, so if you miss your Monday/Tuesday pick-up block, you can come that Thursday/Friday. Likewise, if you know you will be unable to pick up your share during your regular Thursday/Friday block, you should pick your share up earlier in the week on Monday/Tuesday. You may not use your pick-up pass to take two shares in one pick-up block. If you will be away for a week, you should make alternative arrangements for a friend to pick up your share, or you can skip the week knowing that we donate excess produce to local food pantries. We do understand that things sometimes come up at the last minute, and that Thursday/Friday folks who unexpectedly miss the last pick-up of the week only have the option of using their pick-up pass the following Monday. In such rare cases, we can allow pick-up pass usage the following Monday/Tuesday, but you would only be allowed to take the one share at a time (so you would need to come back during the Thursday/Friday block to pick up your regular share for that week).

The reason for this rule is that we make our crop and harvest plans around a certain number of shareholders coming each week. We simply aren't set up to accommodate shareholders picking up double shares in one week, particularly with the popular and limited crops. Also, because some crops have short windows of harvest and because of the perishable nature of vegetables, leftover vegetables from one week often don't translate into a surplus to use towards the next week's share. If you have any questions about this policy, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me at lholdorf@ttor.org.

Finally, remember Week 2 of the CSA when we had about 8 inches of rain? Well, we will be seeing the effect of that this week in our greens harvest. The greens beds we should be harvesting from this week got partially flooded, destroying part of the planting. Those same beds were then too wet to cultivate for several weeks, so they got overtaken by weeds. The planting after that was seeded in a field with flea beetle issues due to lack of dry space elsewhere, and on top of that, it later got partially flooded as well. Be prepared for no greens this week and possibly next week as well. The good news is that the lettuce looks terrific, so you should still be able to make salads.

What's in the share: Lettuce, carrots, beets, mini cabbage, napa cabbage, bok choi, broccoli, summer squash and zucchini, radishes, salad turnips, PYO green beans and PYO herbs.
New this week: Cucumbers, Chard, Ailsa Craig onions, and PYO sunflowers.
* Flowers got picked pretty heavily this past week, so we may need to give the plants a chance to recover this week

Be sure to check out our Recipes blog for ideas on what to do with your share. Also, shareholder Megan Sudbay has a blog about how she uses her CSA share each week that you should check out!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Week 5: Garlic Harvest and Carrot Club

Our annual Garlic Harvest is coming up this Saturday, July 13th from 9am to noon. Meet us at the CSA barn and help us to harvest, bunch and hang garlic. This event is rain or shine - if it is rainy we will work inside the barn hanging garlic. Refreshments will be provided.

Also, Carrot Club starts up again this week! Carrot Club will meet Tuesdays and Fridays, July 8th - August 16th from 2pm - 3pm. Activities are geared towards children ages 3-7. Meet at the Carrot Club sign outside the CSA barn. Parents are welcome to stay with the group, but it is not required. Read a story, play games and learn about the delicious vegetables we grow at Appleton Farms during this one hour program. Questions? Please email afeducator@ttor.org.

It was a hot week out in the fields, but I think most of the crew was happy for a break from the rain. We'll be seeing the effects of June and early July's intense rainstorms reflected in the harvest soon, with reduced or delayed yields for certain crops. In the more immediate future, a couple of greens plantings were either flooded or seeded in less desirable places due to the lack of available dry space. As a result, we'll see reduced yields and some holey greens that suffered from flea beetle damage. The first fall carrot seeding (planted in the end of June) was almost completely washed out when we got 2 inches(!) of rain overnight, so we tilled it in and reseeded this past Friday. As a result, we'll likely have a longer than usual gap between the spring and fall carrots. Two sunflower plantings also succumbed to the wet, which is unfortunate because sunflower seed is quite expensive! The winter squash field spent much of June partially underwater, and we were therefore unable to plant into part of it. While we found space in another field for most of the squash (all except the Red Kuri and gourds, which are still waiting for a home), it pushed out some of our later plantings of summer squash and cucumbers, which could mean gaps in the the summer squash and cucumber harvests. Part of the potato field also flooded, which weakened the plants in the wet areas and made them more susceptible to Colorado Potato Beetle damage. If the wet didn't already cause those potatoes to rot in the ground, then the potato beetles certainly finished them off (the plants on that edge of the field are almost completely defoliated). 

While many of our vegetables suffered from the rain, the weeds are thriving. Though I'm generally not a fan of heat well up into the 90s, this week I was thankful for it because it meant that the weeds we uprooted with the tractors, hoes and by hand had no chance of re-rooting. Now it's just a matter of tackling 24 acres of weeds that have been quickly taking over our fields!

In spite of the weather-related challenges of the past month, I think overall the farm is looking pretty darn good. Summer crops like squash and green beans are just beginning to come on, and the pepper, tomato, cucumber, and watermelon plants look really healthy. The eggplant got hit pretty hard by Colorado Potato Beetle, but I'm confident that with the TLC the crew has been giving those plants, they'll bounce back just fine. If we can just avoid anymore serious deluges washing out our newly seeded crops, we'll be in really good shape for the rest of the season!

What's in the share: Lettuce, Greens, Kale, Napa Cabbage, Bok Choi, Kohlrabi, Radishes, Fennel, Scallions, Carrots, Garlic Scapes, and PYO herbs (including dill, cilantro and basil).
New this week: Chioggia Beets, Summer Squash/Zucchini, Cabbage, PYO Flowers and PYO Green Beans.

*If you like making sauerkraut or kimchi, this is the week to do it! If you've never made either before, check out Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz for a good intro to the art of fermenting foods.