Because the CSA program is rapidly filling and to make things a little easier, I’m going to switch things up a bit. From now on, the newsletter will come seperately from the availability lists. I now have 4 groups receiving CSA shares, all on different days of the week. So the Newsletter will go out once a week (what day will depend on what there is to report on) and the availability lists will go out 2-3 days before your share pickup/delivery. That way I will have a better idea of what’s available for you and I’ll be able to send the newsletter out to everyone at the same time.
So, with that, here’s this week’s report.
Most of them are doing well, but a few have been damaged by predators, in this case sparrows and mice. The crops that have suffered damage are the pea plants/pea threads, arugula, cilantro, parsley, cardoon and fennel. The predators in the tunnels are the sparrows and the mice are the ones working in the greenhouse.
To combat this, I’ve been putting out poison in the greenhouse where the mice can get to it easily (and hopefully they’ll be so busy munching on the poison that they won’t get around to digging in the trays). I hate to use poison, but I’ve tried sticky traps, electronic mouse repellers, and snap traps. The only thing in two years of fighting mice, that really does the job is poison. I lost hundreds of dollars in potential seedlings last year to mice and I just can’t afford to go through that again.
The tunnels are the easy solution. The current tunnels in production all have cold hardy crops. They will be covered with floating row cover fabric. This will help to keep the cabbage moths out as well as the sparrows. This will free up the greenhouse film I have to be used on the next group of tunnels that will be placed into production. I find that the plants get established quicker when the temperature is higher in a new tunnel, and we should have some nice dry and warm weather over the weekend.
And speaking of warm weather, it’s time to start the warm weather crops I’ve been very busy in the greenhouse. In addition to reseeding for the crops that suffered predator damage during the week and lastweek, I’ve been seeding pots to the warm weather crops. I’m not taking a chance on direct seeding, the way the weather’s been this year, I don’t believe that it will warm up and dry out soon enough for that this year. All indications so far have been that this year will be similar to the past 2 years and maybe even as bad as 1955 was (1955 was worse than the past two years as far as having a particularly cold and wet summer). So, in order that we not have to wait untill sometime in mid fall for some warm weather crops, I’m starting everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING except some root crops, in trays and containers.
To that end I’ve started Cardoon, Blue Lake and Royal Burgundy bush beans, Honey n Cream sweetcorn (the small planting I direct seeded either didn’t come up or if it did the sparrows and/or mice took it out), Cucumber – Muncher and Burpless (slicing), Mini White, Lemon, Sumpter and Albi (pickling), Zucchini – Cocozelle, Striped, Round, Yellow, Straightneck squash, Zephyr (the summer squash that looks like the bottom was dipped in either yellow or green paint and is actually a cross between a zucchini and a straightneck squash), French Pumpkin (great eating winter squash), Delicata squash, spaghetti squash, Acorn squash and butternut. I’ll be doing the next round of seeding for squash and cucumbers the first week of May.
Over the weekend I’ll be seeding more trays to tomato, pepper, eggplant and tomatillo as well as various crops such as ground cherry and some herbs. The basil will probably have to wait until later in the month or the first part of May.
In the mean time, I’ll be seeding for things like sweet mace, mints, and while I was going through my seed boxes I discovered two huge packets of celery and a good sized packet of celeriac. The celery varieties are Tender Crisp (the type you see commonly at the store) and Zwosh Krull, a leaf celery which is very strong and makes a great pairing with chicken. I have a favorite recipe for baked chicken thighs that requires the use of a strong leaf celery. Once it’s ready for harvest I’ll include the recipe in one of the newsletters.
Later this month I’ll also be starting the first of the flowers. I’m planning on growing a lot of grey stripe as well as black oil sunflowers. The grey stripe is the variety used to make salted and roasted sunflower seeds. I love my sunflower seeds and will be growing these for myself as well as any of you who like them. The black oil sunflower seed (aka BOS) I will be growing for livestock feed. BOS makes a great adiditve and it high in oils and fats, which gives the horses, goats and other herbivores a nice shiny coat as well as adding some extra calories to their ration. They’re also great for the wild birds and attract honey bees like nobody’s business.
This is also potato planting season. You will each be able to choose the type(s) of potatoes you want grown for you. I purchase my seed potatoes from Al’s Garden Center in Woodburn. I usually plant a small blue potato, Norland Red (a wonderful red potato that matures early enough that I can dig new potatoes early on) and Yukon Gold (a thin skinned yellow tender potato). Al’s also has California White (CalWhite), Red Pontiac, and they may have Russet Burbank (the common potato found in the stores). They also have Fingerling potatoes if you’d like those grown for you.
I have $20/member budgeted to potatoes. The Fingerling potatoes are $4.99/lb, the rest are $0.99/lb. You can expect around 5-7 lbs yield (average) per pound of seed potatoes (regular potatoes) depending on how big you want your taters harvested. So, if things work out, expect to get about 100 – 140 lbs of potatoes if you have me grow the regular potatoes for you (that would be from 20 lbs of seed potatoes). If you go with the fingerlings a conservative estimate of yield would be 7-10 lbs. Since the fingerlings are much more expensive, if you had me grow all fingerlings for you, you might expect 28-40 lbs.
Even though this is an all you can eat CSA, I do have to put some limits on a few crops, such as the potatoes because the seed is so expensive. Also, given the number of members I now have, that’s pretty much all the room I have available to grow potatoes in this year. I may have more room next year. In fact I probably will. But for now, up to 20 lbs of seed potato per member is all I can do.
I can grow any of the varieties listed above and in any combination as long as it doesn’t run over the budged ammount for your seed potatoes. I think Al’s carries both red and white fingerlings if you like those. I forgot to ask when I called the other day.
On Farm Activities and Farm Visits
I’ve got workshops planned and they will be available begining the first weekend of May. I’ll include the details in the next newsletter. I won’t be holding workshops on a set schedule. What I’m going to do is to make myself available on Sundays by appointment for individualised workshops. That way, if one person or a group of people would like me to give a workshop on a particular topic on a particular Sunday, I can do that. If no one schedules, I’ll just work around here or take an extra day off (I try to schedule one day or at least a part of a day to just goof off, relax, do some cooking, etc. per week).
I had wanted to open the farm up to tours this month, but with the rain things are still pretty swampy. I’m going to be covering the foot paths between the tunnels and the new tunnel beds with fresh coarse wood chips, and I’m hoping that this will provide good enough footing that people won’t have to wear knee high muck boots out here to visit. So I’m putting off the farm tours until the first week of May as well.
I will however, be taking a lot of pictures so that people can at least look at the farm online. I’ll be posting over at the farm’s Facebook page in an album of it’s own so y’all can take a virtual tour while things are still kind of sloppy out here.
Parking is very limited here, so I’ll be limiting the visits, tours and workshops. If you’d like to schedule a visit begining in May, you can do so at any time, and please schedule at least by the Friday before you’d like to come out. I’ll be available on Sundays from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm. Spots are on a first come, first served basis and if I’m giving a workshop then I won’t be available for tours on that day.
It was suggested to me the other day that I put up an album of the produce you find in your shares. I’ve started an album at the farm’s Facebook page. There are pictures of some of the produce as well as useage instructions for the produce in each picture. I’ll also be including usage instructions for the different things on the availability list each week.
You can view the album here – http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.272381389512802.65356.137416766342599&type=3
And speaking of produce, the Calçots will be here soon. Very soon. Some of you may find them in your shares as soon as next week. Because I staggered the planting and I only planted 100 lbs of bulbs, there won’t be too many to go around. Once I get a little money ahead I’m going to buy some more bags of onions and plant them. Traditionally the oinon bulbs are planted in the fall, as you would garlic, but I’m going to experiment with planting them all spring, summer and into the fall. The onions I usually buy for these are either Walla Walla Sweet or reguarl common yellow storage onions. They’re both long day length onions, so I don’t know why they wouldn’t sprout and grow. But we’ll see. Anyway, because there are now 18 CSA members, 100 onion bulbs planted, and the yield on those is 2-4 Calçots, you’ll all get a taste. If you find you like them and the planting experiment works out, there will be more later on in the year.
If you go to the album linked above, there is a picture of some of last year’s Calçots. They’re the ones that look like a cross between a Leek and a green onion.
This Week’s Recipe
This week is Rice With Aromatic Vegetables. I’m including it as a seperate attachement. I’ll be doing this with all of the recipes from now on. That way you can print them out or stash them in a folder on your computer without having to remember which newsletter they came in.
That’s if for now.