Newsletter July 2017

Riverbend Farm CSA Newsletter Week 4 July 11, 2017
It sounds like we will be coming out of this dry phase tonight. The forecast is for an 80% chance of 1-2 inches of rain. It looks like we are in the area where the chance of tornadoes drops off but the risk of large hail and damaging winds persists. You can imagine how excited I am to get some rain… The hail and wind I could do without. That reminds me. I have to go cover the lettuce. Be right back.

The row cover won’t do much to protect the lettuce from large hail but it will keep it from being shredded by heavy rain and high winds. We missed a planting back in late May and this stuff sat around for a month before it got planted. Surprisingly, it looks pretty good. The celtuce types are going to seed but everything else looks like it might actually be lettuce some day.

The past two weeks have been filled with mulching, planting, cultivating, and watering. We have had 0.10” of rain in the last week and 1.15” in the past three weeks. Everything needs an inch of rain per week to grow. Watering was a priority.

You saw us picking up hay for mulch when you picked up the last CSA share. The contraption we were using was a hay loader. A 1940s ( or earlier) era device for picking up loose hay. The picturesque hay stacks were made with of days of yore were made with pitchforks. This machine was between that and the baler for small squares. The hay loader puts the hay on wagons and from there it was stored in barns. Our barn still has the rail and trolley up in the rafters for unloading loose hay.

Loose hay is much nicer to work with than baled hay. Bakes are heavy and need to be lugged around. The twine has to be cut so everyone needs a knife and no one carries a pocket knife anymore. The twine is treated so it can’t be left in the field. Baked hay is packed into the kales and the cut ends are sharp. Invariably some of the bales are moldy inside. And if they aren’t moldy they are dusty. Three of us picked up, moved and mulched a half an acre ( roughly (2) 70’ X 150’ city lots in an afternoon. There is no way we could have done that with baled hay.

A crop mob showed up 4th of July weekend and installed several tons of rebar for tomato stakes. It was a relatively small but hard working group. I don’t think that we have ever gotten all the tomato stakes set and driven in during a crop mob. Then a few of them went back and evened out the mulch in the last bed. It was amazing. Thanks Everybody.

We also planted about 6000 fall cabbage, broccoli, and kale plants. This is usual time to plant them. Little cabbage plants are pretty amazing. They can look awful going in and after a few days they perk up and start to grow.

We set out a second planting of about 1800 tomatoes. Back in the old days we reliably had frost in the middle of September. If it wasn’t too hard some of the tomatoes that were buried under the foliage would survive. Sometimes everything would be frozen solid. Last year we didn’t have frost until the middle of October. The last few years have had late frosts too.

Frozen tomatoes do not do me any good so having them run out in early to mid September was alright. Now they can go one a month longer. I don’t suppose that they will ripen too quickly on October but they will still be better than anything picked green and refrigerated for shipping. Of course, it might not work out. Farming is not without risks.

The newly cultivated potatoes look great. I only saw one potato bug in the whole field. The first planting of eggplant is infested with potato bugs. We will clean them up tomorrow. Two people sweep them into the middle of the row and the third person goes over them with the flame weeder. Works great and they never become resistant.

Germination on squash and beans was spotty. Delicatas are the worst but I have trouble getting them to germinate in the greenhouse. Other squash came up pretty well. Some of the new beans seed came up one in a thousand.

Eat Local Farm Tour is this weekend. The local food coops are sponsoring tours of a lot of farms in the area. Us, Farm Farm and TC farm are all within about 4 miles of each other.
This week’s CSA contains: arugula, mizuna, mustard greens, kale, french breakfast radishes, carrots, kohlrabi, peas, garlic scapes, cucumbers, eggplant, and a jalapeno pepper.
Arugula and mizuna are small and perfect. Salad.
The mustard greens really are small enough to eat in salad.
Nash’s red kale. Similar to red russian but bigger leaves.
Beautiful radishes.
The different colors of carrots have different flavors. Do a blind taste test with your kids.
There are two kohlrabi so you can cook one and eat one raw.
Pease were horrible this year. It got really hot when they were little and just burned up. The deer ate most of the survivors.
Scapes are all done for the year.
Mary is looking up a cucumber in sour cream recipe.
White eggplant are never bitter, have a mild flavor and cook up with a creamy consistency. Mary made a sort of eggplant parmesan with a layer of arugula to night. The homemade tomato sauce came right out of the freezer. It was so good.

Big night of waiting for storms ahead. Wish us luck.