Rain, Rain. Go away!

September Fifth

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We have simply had enough rain now. I typically do the writing part of the newsletters for the week on Monday nights. Last week on Monday night after I had saved and closed my word document and went to sleep, a whopping 10 inches of rain fell in the night. We woke to the reality of another Driftless area flood. Towns, farms, bridges, roads, and homes washed away in the night while I slept soundly with my windows closed.

Thankfully for us, we are located on a Ridgetop and much of the rain runs downhill. The immediate damage from last week’s flood was exposed potatoes from the hills of the potatoes washed away in the downpour of continuous rain. The rain also shredded the swiss chard leaves and turned the basil black.

The after-affects are still to be determined. The flood were followed by a week of mist, fog, and overcast with nearly 100% humidity every day. Vegetable plants, like many other people and animals, do not like to be wet all of the time. The leaves of a vegetable plant, if wet for two weeks solid will become blighted, diseased and begin to rot. Especially many of the root crops that we have yet to dig that have been sitting in wet soil for thus long. One week later, as I write this newsletter, heavy rain is falling again. We are expected to have continual rainfall through Wednesday afternoon.

The rain makes it just as difficult for the trucks and equipment to get into the fields to harvest and work. We’re feeling a little nervous about what all of this rain means for the rest of the harvest season. We were noticing that our fall spinach looks a little like it’s melting. The young and tender spinach plants are yellowing a little and look like they’re suffering from too much moisture.

If we do see a lot of rot on the produce we are harvesting this Fall, it also means that the crew will have to do a lot more selecting for quality. We will have to sift through the harvest and pull out rotten carrots from the bin and watch for rot on the beets and so forth. This extra attention to quality means that not 100% of the crop may be as perfect as we want it to be if second quality vegetables slip through our quality checks. Due to a higher percentage of second quality.  

On the positive side, we did get most of our winter squash crop harvested. The pumpkins, the acorn, spaghetti squash, and kabocha are all in. We still need to get the butternuts and sweet dumplings, but we’ll get them in over ‘hell or high-water” as they say (which has a more literal meaning than I’ve ever used that expression).

Ideally, a vegetable farm doesn’t really need much rain past September. A dry Fall is desirable on a farm. We are done planting now and any crops we had time to plant are established now. We will need dry weather in order to dig our fall root crops. Dry weather will prevent disease from rotting out our Fall Brassicas. It will enable us to cultivate and weed our Fall Brassicas. A dry Fall also means beautiful Fall Colors! Let’s all pray for a Dry Fall with sunny and cool days leading up to Thanksgiving!

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Sooooo....What's in the Box????

Sweet Peppers- Two sweet peppers per member this week. We’re still waiting for sweet pepper production to pick up. We grow mostly colored sweet peppers, so you likely won’t receive many green peppers from us unless they were accidentally picked unripe or unless there is a danger of frost and we pick them green before they have a chance to turn colors. We’re patiently waiting for all of the colorful and beautiful pepper varieties we selected to start sharing with us their true colors. C’mon peppers!

Red or Yellow Potatoes- Yes! Finally potatoes! 2.5 lbs per member this week. Freshly dug potatoes scuff easier than potatoes that have been in storage. We do not wash potatoes because they are less likely to scuff and get damaged in the washing. Unwashed potatoes also stay fresher and keep longer. After eating storage potatoes all winter, there is no comparison to a fresh-dug potato! Some potatoes were washed this week because they were so muddy at harvest. We did not wash all of them because there was so much mechanical damage from using the washing machines to wash them.

Pint Cherry Tomatoes- The cherry tomatoes are the Sun Gold variety. Sun Gold’s ripen orange. Don’t wait for them to turn red because they won’t! We love this cherry tomato variety because of how wonderfully sweet they are!

Green Beans- .75lbs of green beans/dragon tongue beans mix per member this week. Beans are best eaten fresh! Don’t try to keep them long! We washed theb beans again because they were so muddy at harvest-something we had just done for the first time last week that went well! A nice hearty helping of beans for all this week!

Yellow Onion- One nice yellow onion for everyone. Will keep just fine on your countertop.

Tomatoes- 3.5 lb bags. We grow a wide variety of tomatoes each year. About 12-15 different varieties. Some are romas (the longer more pear-shaped varieties with less water that are good for making sauce), yellow slicers, red slicers, tie-dye slicers, and the infamous herilooms that are slowly coming into season. Heirlooms usually ripen a little later in the season since they are a larger tomatoes and are not hybridized for early production. You are likely to receive a very wide selection of tomatoes over the tomato-growing season with a wide variety of colors. We recommend leaving tomatoes out at room temperature to ripen naturally. Remove them from their plastic bag and set them out on your counter or windowsill so they don’t get funky in the plastic bag and mold or rot on you. We pick tomatoes with a ‘blush’. This means that we pick anything that has any early signs of red or pink or color. Once a tomato begins to blush it will ripen fully off the vine and this still qualifies as a vine-ripened tomato. Their flavor will be much better if you just let them sit on the counter to ripen. We do not recommend putting tomatoes in the refrigerator at all, ever, unless they are nearly over-ripe and you need to buy yourself some time before you get a chance to use them up before they go bad. Refrigerators seem to suck flavor out of tomatoes as well. For the full experience, let them ripen on the counter!

Carrots- Some of Small Family Farm’s famous sweet carrots! 1 pound per member.

Napa Cabbage- These are the chinese cabbage heads in the box. The leaves, which are the harvested organ, lay side by side densely, are lime green coloured with white leaf veins and have a smooth surface. The vegetable has an oval form and weighs 3-5 lbs. It develops similar to other head-forming leaf vegetables such as cabbage or lettuce. Best eaten in an Asian slaw or very traditionally used to make kimchi.

Green Leaf Lettuce- One small head of lettuce per member this week. The lettuce was not loving the heat and rain of recent weeks, so the heads were smaller and the leaves a little tougher than we like in a head of lettuce, but this it the nature of summer lettuce.

1 Da Vinci Melons- The Da Vinci melons have a dark green rind with orange flesh. These melons should all be ripe, even though they don’t quite look like it on the outside. We lost a lot of these melons in the field because we waited too long to harvest them. It was hard to tell that they were ready because their rind was so hard and green still, but they were splitting open and going bad and perfectly ripe on the inside. Likely your Da Vinci is ripe, even though it might not look like it;)

Yellow Doll Watermelon- These are the small, yellow watermelons in your box. We ran out of Da Vinci melons, so some people (about 20 people) received two yellow watermelons and no Davinci Melon.

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper x 2- These were tucked inside your tomato bags. Hungarian Hot wax are amongst the most mild of hot peppers, but they may surprise you! Hungarian Hot wax are usually found a lime-green color, but they also ripen orange to red. We don’t want you confuse your hot pepper for a mini-sweet as we have begun sticking minisweet peppers in your CSA boxes.

MiniSweet Pepper- 1-2 very small minisweets. I know it’s a very small giving, but these guys are just starting to produce now too. Minisweets are one of my children’s favorite foods. They can eat piles of these things in one sitting. The minisweets are red, yellow and orange. The only possible issue here is that since they are small peppers, they could easily be confused for a hot pepper. But I assure you they are not hot so long as you are able to differentiate in your CSA box which is the minisweet pepper and which is the Hungarian hot wax pepper. Have fun learning your peppers!

Garlic- One beautiful bulb of garlic per member this week. We shipped a porcelain german white garlic this week. Garlic keeps well on your countertop in dry storage.

Next Week's Best Guess: watermelon, green cabbage, tomatoes, sweet peppers, onion, beets, kale, dragon tongue beans, Hungarian hot wax pepper, minisweet peppers, kohlrabi, eggplant, thyme