Many of our CSA members and customers know this fall has seen unique weather. We’ve been explaining the nuanced details to interested folks at market and here at our farmstand. This newsletter is providing a written explanation of how various stressful conditions have compounded for our crops.
We promise to share the highlights and the downfalls of the farming experience here, so beware: Photos of some ugly produce herein. (But also some usual gorgeous photos!)
Pictured above is some of our best broccoli from this fall…and it has a bad spot. Pictured below is what most of our first planting of fall broccoli looks like:
What’s going on? The end of the summer saw us in near-drought conditions. It was extremely hot and dry. This stresses the plants – all of the summer crops (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, etc.) and also the newly planted fall crops (broccoli, turnips, carrots, beets, radishes, kale, collards, cabbage, etc.). We irrigate during dry times, but that many weeks with no precipitation is inevitably stressful for the plants. They benefit from a light, overhead drink from time to time. The drought was broken with a now-ongoing onslaught of rainy and cloudy weather. Here at the farm, we have had three days of sunshine in the past two and a half weeks. This much rain stresses the plants. This little sunshine prohibits growth.
What do you get with too much rain? Vegetables rotting in the field before it’s time for harvest.
What do you get in this climate when plants are stressed? Bug problems.
Additionally, the biological boosts we give to the plants to help keep them nourished and help them fight away bugs is applied in liquid form to the plants’ foliage. What happens when it keeps raining so much? This foliar feed is washed off of the plants before the plants can benefit from it. So problems compound.
Not all is gloomy! A lot of our vegetables are still okay. The second planting of broccoli is looking good so far:
The first two plantings of turnips were severely damaged by these conditions, but the next round is looking good (so far!). Carrots are looking good at the moment:
Note: Weeding is futile in this weather, as some good intense sun is required to kill the roots of the plant that we reveal when uprooting/weeding. The cool, damp conditions just let the weeds re-root. So, please pardon the weeds in the photo above. 🙂
Greens (salad and cooking greens) are growing, albeit very slowly.
Some cabbage is okay.
It is a fall with diminished harvests, not a fall with no harvest at all. We have less at our market booths than usual, but we are still harvesting a lot a great food and filling really delicious CSA boxes. (Consider the plight of farmers in Haiti. We considerate ourselves fortunate.)
It is interesting to look at an overview of the 2016 Season so far: May/early June saw record-setting precipitation. (Remember the majority of our carrots rotting in the ground?) August was very hot and the 3rd driest August on record. September was near-record setting precipitation – and it mostly within the last half of the month. What will the winter bring? Time will tell.
We grow so many different crops for multiple reasons: So that we can provide a diverse array of flavor and nutrition for you, and also to make our farm business resilient. Thank goodness we weren’t banking on 2 full acres of broccoli this month! And we are a CSA farm for the reasons the name suggests: Community Supported Agriculture allows us to operate this farm fully in conjunction with our community. Thank you for sharing this journey (and this food!) with us!
(And if you see him at market this weekend, wish this guy a happy welcome into his fourth decade! Happy Birthday, Kyle!)
This weekend’s Farm Share will most likely include:
Fennel, Parsley, Napa Cabbage, Bok Choy (also called Pac Choi), Salad Mix, Eggplant, Sweet Peppers, and hopefully a tomato for everyone.
Optional: Spicy Jalapenos available at each pick up location
This is for our Farm Share CSA members who pick up:
~ on Saturday @ the Farmers Market @ St. Stephen’s
~ on Saturday @ the Brandermill Green Market
~ on Monday @ Summer Lake
Recipe Suggestions…also cataloged on our Recipe Page and Pinterest Page
Fennel – This may be new for you! We love the flavor of fennel and it can be incorporated in many meals in various ways. We are giving you each a large bulb, about 3-4 inches in diameter, with the tops/fronds still attached…you should make use of both the bulb and the fronds. Try: Shaved Fennel Salad (simple, and calls for Parsley), Shaved Fennel Salad with Arugula & Black Olives, Braised Fennel, Sausage & Lentils with Fennel, Roasted Fennel with Olives and Garlic , go the dessert route with Blondie Sundaes with Fried Walnuts & Candied Fennel, if it won’t overwhelm you, check out these 33 Recipes That will Make You Fall for Fennel, and here are the Top 5 Ways to Use Fennel Stalks & Fronds.
Napa Cabbage – We love this cabbage! It is great cooked (in any recipe! Just saute it up with oil and garlic), or raw in any slaw recipe. Try: Crunchy Veg Bowl with Warm Peanut Sauce, Coconut Vegetable Slaw (use our cabbage in place of the purple cabbage it calls for, and feel free to sub with the other veggies called for), Cabbage Wedges with Buttermilk Dressing, Parsley, Radicchio & Napa Cabbage Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette, Sweet & Spicy Pork & Napa Cabbage Stir Fry.
Parsley – We grow flat-leaf parsley because it has the best flavor. Try the recipes above that include Parsley, or simply slice it thinly (we like herb scissors) and add it to salads for a nice zing,add it to smoothies for a vitamin and mineral boost, make Chimichurri and toss of little of that on top of any dish (especially meat), or be really wild and make Fried Parsley to serve on top of anything. (That recipe calls for a lot of oil for a sort of deep-fry, but you can also flash-pan-fry the leaves with scant oil.)
Eggplant – Best Eggplant Parm, Easy Roasted Eggplant, and see our little (and rough!) video ofhow we roast eggplant here.
Bok Choy/Pac Choi – (Some call it Pac Choi) This cooking green is unique because of its sturdy and crunchy stems. Savor the stems! We usually eat it in a simple stir fry or braised. Enjoy it as Stir Fried Bok Choy with Ginger and Garlic, Basic Bok Choy Stir Fry, Braised Bok Choy.
This week’s harvest includes:
Arugula, Bok Choy, Beets, Broccoli, Cilantro, Napa Cabbage, Collards, Eggplant, Green Beans, Kale, Lettuce Mix, Microgreens, Okra, Parsley, Jalapeno Peppers, Shishito Peppers, Radishes, Salad Mix, Turnips…and our Organic Hearth Baked Bread (Sunny Greens, Seed, & Raisin loaves for this weekend)
2016 Market Share CSA Members: Reserve your selection online to pick up Saturday, October 8th at our farm, at the Brandermill Green Market, or at the Farmers Market @ St. Stephens.
** Everything remaining after pre-orders will be available for purchase at the Brandermill Green Market and the Farmers Market @ St. Stephens.
** From Friday noon until Monday midnight, our goods are available for purchase via Fall Line Farms and Local Roots Food Co-op — the two online farmers’ markets for our area.