Root Down Farm Ramblings
This week is an "off" week at the farm as we are not distributing Winter Shares this week. Instead we will be getting a real chance at relaxation after a long season. We hope that all of you get to, too.
We will be back distributing shares the following week (starting with Monday the 27th). We've been hearing grumblings of another winter dominated by the Polar Vortex. Ugh. The last winter that happened the snow piled so high outside some of the farm buildings that our dogs started climbing the piles and walking on rooftops. It was a site to see, but I don't need to see it again. Here's to another normal winter. In the meantime have a great Thanksgiving (and if you're not cooking the meal make sure to help with the dishes:).
The Winter Share will kick off this week. If you have signed up for the Winter Share please check your inbox for an email from us. Remember pick up times for the Winter Share are from 3 to 6pm.
The end of this week got insanely chilly for this time of year. We were lucky that we were ahead of schedule and able to finish up important bulk harvests before the temperatures dropped to 16 degrees! We've also hurried to mulch overwintering crops (like the herbs and garlic) and also cover up other crops that will be braving it out in the fields. We also found time to celebrate the bountiful summer season we just had and appreciate each others contributions to the many successes this year. But now we are ready to start our Winter Share and the first share is going to be a doozy. We like to make the first Winter share the biggest of the season, first because we still have a large variety of vegetables and second because we love it when our vegetables make it into your Thanksgiving celebrations!
The first Winter share will include: carrots, beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes, winter squash, onions, choice of greens, scallions, garlic, cabbage, broccoli shoots, sweet and hot peppers, and eggplant. The share will also include apples from 2 local orchards.
The year 2017 always sounded weird, and I still sometimes have to check I have the right year. But now the 2017 CSA season is in it's last week and it has flown by!
**Current members don't forget to RENEW your share for 2018**
There are only 2 weeks left of the 2017 Summer Share Season and man has it flown by! We are hitting our stride right now, as long as the weather cooperates. Our minds are already partially in 2018 as we begin plans and seedings for the coming season. I've been harping about the garlic, and we got to seed it yesterday. It is in the bare ground you can see right along Roll Rd. just past the four-way stop. Soon it will be mulched and we'll see it after an entire Winter Season comes and goes.
I also want to talk up our Spring Share that starts in May of 2018 and lasts the month. The share has really 'grown' (ha) and includes some things you can't get in the Summer Share like asparagus and micro greens. It is also an early jump on carrots, basil, spinach, and a lot of other sweet stuff that just doesn't taste the same any other time of year (that's what makes Spring so special!). So if you wanna sign up make sure to mark it on your form or add it if you have already turned in your renewal form.
The Share is really starting to reflect the Fall with some summer season stragglers still holding on. The share will include: sweet potatoes, assorted winter squashes, cabbage, onions, carrots, beets, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, hot peppers, fennel, radishes and turnips, kale, edamame, leeks, brussels sprouts, tomatillos, lettuce, spinach, garlic, and the addition of scallions and parsnips.
The Fruit Share will include apples and pears.
**Don't forget to Renew your Share for the 2018 season while you are at the farm picking up your current vegetable share!**
My older sister ran track when she was in Middle School. She did the hurdles. I remember going to a track meet to watch her with my Dad, who had to explain how the different events worked (I was about 10 years old at the time). During of the field events there were some competitors running what seemed like very slowly around the track. They looked exhausted; like they couldn't run much longer. Then all of a sudden one of them started to gain speed again, and looked a bit more energized. Then the rest of the competitors started in, too. The girl out front started really running fast and pulled away from the rest. My Dad then said,"Woah, she's got good 'kick'." After an explanation by my Dad that at the end of a long race, if you can finish strong and fast that's considered your 'kick'.
So here we are at the end of the season and it's almost time for us to start our 'kick'. We still have to harvest the rest of the root crops, get the last cover cropping done, seed garlic, clean the rest of our onions, put the asparagus to rest (so it will be ready for the Spring Share next year) while continuing to harvest for the remaining summer shares. No problem.
This week's share will include:Cauliflower, broccolini, salad radishes and turnips, winter squash, cabbage, onions, carrots, beets, edamame, eggplant, peppers, all sorts of hot peppers...so plan for it:), greens, head lettuce, with the addition of brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and leeks.
The fruit share will include unpasturized apple cider for Monday (Thursday already received it), apples, pears, asian pears, and quince.
Hey all you current members: don't forget to renew your CSA share for the 2018 season starting this week. Look for an email from us with all the instructions on how to do it.
This time of year is about the time I start thinking I can relax a little and then I remember that we still have a boat load of things to do: namely get everything out of the ground! We also have next year's garlic to get into the ground and we have to do this while dancing around the usual rains that come along with the Fall season. Oh yeah. I'm trying a new approach this season, though. It's called 'Don't Get Stresses Out'. I'll let you know how that goes.
This week's share will include: carrots, beets, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, winter squash, greens, peppers, eggplant, green tomatoes, salad turnips and radishes, cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, chard, garlic and the return of edamame. The fruit share will include apples and pears.
Now, if anyone is wondering to themselves if the 12 consecutive days of over 80 degree temperatures at the end of September affected any of the crops then the answer is yes, of course it does. The leftover summer crops like the peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes that survived the harsh cold and wet that came at the beginning of September, are enjoying a second chance at life. Meanwhile, the crops that like to mature in the average temperatures for this time of year freaked, namely the broccoli and some cauliflower. We have multiple successions of broccoli planted and they came in at the same time. Luckily the heads and shoots are fine...it's just a lot all at once. The harvest window was designed to last 5 weeks; we will be lucky if it last 3, unfortunately. But the season presses on with what looks like some normal weather, and we will be starting the final push to harvest all that remains in the fields over the next 5 weeks. The changing leaves will provide a wonderful backdrop while we work.
This is what is in the share this week: onions, carrots, beets, salad radishes and turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, eggplants, kale,chard, greens, lettuce, cabbage, spaghetti and delicata and pumpkin squashes. This is also the last week for tomatoes. It's been a wonderful tomato year, and we are always thankful for that since it is always too short here in Western New York!
The fruit share will include apples, peaches, pears and grapes for Monday.
We just drove perhaps the longest distance you can in New York State for a wedding at the tip of the North Fork of Long Island. Yes, from Buffalo to the ocean and back. We were lucky to have reliable, awesome employees who could fill in on weekend duties while we spent the majority of our weekend in the car, at the wedding, and inside wineries. Poor us.
So I apologize for the delay in the share information. I know it feels like Summer finally started, but it has ended and now our cool weather loving crops are trying to mature in 90 degree heat. Let's collectively hope for the best but plan for the worst (that's the spirit:). But this is what will be in the share this week:carrots, beets, onions, salad radishes and turnips, potatoes, broccoli and broccolini, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, kale, bok choy, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, head lettuce, escarole, spinach, greens and the addition of delicata squash and green tomatoes.
The fruit share will include peaches, nectarines, pears, apples, plums and grapes for Thursday.
**Don't forget to bring your Winter Share payment with you to the farm in order to sign up! We are almost full already.**
Sometimes we joke about farming. It's everywhere. Everybody eats. Yet it seems like the majority of the population doesn't really understand how it works. I mean, I wouldn't really expect anybody to if they weren't farmers. I don't understand exactly how a Title Insurance business works, because I'm not in title insurance. So we try every share pick up to drop some knowledge, if you will, on our members. Sometimes it's about how seasons and adverse weather affects our crops, harvest techniques and harvest windows (yes there is such a thing), gardening tips, cooking tips, you get the idea. The one biggest misconception about a vegetable farm is what we have lovingly termed "The Vat" or "the Backroom". Us vegetable farmers are a different crew than the kind of farmers you see in the country growing row crops (like field corn). Our jobs take an added amount of finesse and some very specific timing. That is to say, there is no 'vat' of vegetables anywhere that we can just go grab any vegetable from. The vegetables that are in each share each week take a vast amount of knowledge, care, and timing and are dependent on the time of year and the weather. So, if there is ever a vegetable "in" or another one "out" for the week, there is a wonderful amount of information about farming wrapped up in that little change in the share. So if you ever are at the farm picking up your vegetables and have an open mind and a question, just ask:)
That being said, this weeks share will include: summer squash, salad radishes and turnips, lettuce, spinach, greens, beets, carrots, broccolini, kohlrabi, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, spaghetti squash, onions and potatoes.
The fruit share will include raspberries for Monday, plums, peaches, pears and apples. Phew.
**Winter Share Sign Ups for current members start this week in the share room**
Bububuuurrrrr! It's so frickin' cold outside I had to wear my puffy vest over top of my sweatshirt over top of my long sleeve shirt yesterday and it's looking like I'm going to do the same today! What the heck, Summer? We still officially have 2 more weeks remaining in what is supposed to be the warmest months and I'd like to be enjoying them still. The warm weather crops like tomatoes and peppers and eggplants are all relying on warmer weather, too. Instead, I'm taking this long stretch of cooler temperatures as a sign that 1) the first frost will most likely come early this season and 2) the tomatoes are quickly going to call it quits. The sudden bursts of rain that seem to come out of nowhere all week are not helping the cause, either (we received 2 inches of rain in total over the course of this past week, yuck). But this happens every year. I start kicking and screaming that the summer is drawing to a close and start refusing to take off my sandles, throw a little tantrum, start yelling at the sky, and then start saying my goodbyes to the tomatoes. I won't enjoying fresh tomatoes until they are in again next year...pouty face.
At least the share this week can put a smile on my face. This week will include: zucchini, summer squash, carrots, beets, onions, eggplant, peppers, hot peppers, broccolini, kohlrabi, celery, bok choy, greens, tomatoes, garlic and the addition of spaghetti squash and salad turnips.
The fruit share will include peaches, plums, nectarines and grapes for Monday and raspberries for Thursday.
**LABOR DAY PICK UP from 1:00 to 4:45, MONDAY SEPTEMBER 4th**
Of course you Thursday pick up people will pick up at your normal time on Thursday the 7th.
HOORAY for September. Seriously, what a wonderful time of year. The temperatures drop a little and magical things start happening. Bugs trail off, weeds grow a little slower, and more and more vegetables start coming in from the fields. The first of the onions are cured. The first of the winter squash is curing in the high tunnels, and the tomatoes are still pumping. Magical.
So here's the share this week. It's chock full: zucchini, yellow squash, onions, beets, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, scallions, broccolini, radishes, kohlrabi, kale, bok choy, chard, celery, melons, lettuce, edamame, tomatoes, and hopefully the return of sweet corn! Monday fruit will get raspberries with peaches, plums, and nectarines while Thursday will get grapes instead of the raspberries.
Every season I talk about how many things I don't get to do because of how crazy things get on the farm during the height of the season. We laugh with farmer friends about it. For basically all of May, June, and July I can count on feeling like there's not enough time, not a day off, and I have to drop most if not all my hobbies for these demanding 3 months. This year I decided I wasn't going to let this happen. I was going to drop all hobbies except for one. I was going to read a book. Granted I gave myself ALL SEASON to finish it, but I was and still am determined it's going to happen.
Now, don't get me wrong I read mostly trade journals and farm magazines and articles during the season, but that is largely work. I originally thought I needed to find some inspirational something or other to keep me going during that point in the season, but I didn't want it to be about farming. Instead I chose a work of ridiculous fiction; book #2 in a 3 part series by J.K. Rowling under her pen name Robert Galbraith called the Silkworm. To achieve success in reaching my goal I set the book in a place I would have to see it to remember to read it...in the bathroom (TMI?). I'm happy to report I am on page 270 of 455 and am still able to find a tidbit of inspiration as it applies to my life even though the story is way out there and entertaining mostly because it's fantastical.
In the story the main character describes his profession as a vocation and goes on to explain why his vocation was a cause for the break up of his last relationship: "She couldn't understand a vocation. Some people can't; at best, work's about status and paychecks for them, it hasn't got value in itself." Thanks J.K. for explaining what farming is to us: a vocation.
And this is a great time of year as summer and fall start merging! This week's share will include: zucchini, summer squash (get these while it's still warm enough for them!), onions, beets, carrots, celery, eggplant, peppers, hot peppers, scallions, kale, bok choy, lettuce, tomatoes, and the retuurn of garlic, broccolini, radishes, and spinach.
The fruit share will include Grapes (Monday only as Thursday got them last week), peaches, plums and nectarines.
Monday is the solar eclipse and for us here in the 43rd parallel it will peak at 2:34 pm with about 70 percent of the sun obscured by the moon. It won't be total darkness (sigh), but it will be awesome. There will be vegetables in the share room at that time, but at that time I will be outside the share room witnessing the event.
Beyond that the farm is ticking right along and we've actually already clipped the first of the winter squash. It of course needs to cure before we distribute it, so we're most likely looking at the first week of September for Spaghetti Squash. We are getting to the end of the weeding season, as well as the end of the majority of the bug season. This means we are turning our focus to harvest season and realizing we are running out of room for both curing and storing vegetables. It is a good problem...it means we have a lot of vegetables for our members! It also means we are again experiencing some growing pains. Nothing that can't be solved with some logic and ingenuity, but time is the actual barrier as always.
So back to those mountains of veggies; this is what is in the share this week:
zucchini, summer squash, onions, carrots, beets, scallions, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, bok choy, celery, chard, kale, greens, head lettuce, and hopefully some cantaloupe. I do have bad news for our beautiful first planting of sweet corn. A flock of black birds started destroying the ears by pecking at the kernels to the point where they have eaten the tops of almost every ear. It's a sad day because it was probably our best planting of sweet corn to date. We had to mow it in hopes of saving the next planting of sweet corn in the adjacent field. It is a good reminder to all of you that despite what the grocery stores want you to think, you are still competing for food (and that new development isn't necessarily helping us win). The plan is to hopefully get them to find food elsewhere so they leave the next planting alone. Cross your fingers.
The fruit share is a celebration of peach season combined with some plums and nectarines.
Well two inches of rain sure helped lessen the load on the irrigation this week but everything has a consequence and this time it is cover cropping the spring fields. Driving tractors on wet ground can have a huge impact on future crops because it causes compaction in the soil. Fortunately we still have plenty of time to get good cover crops established before the Fall. The rain was also a good test for our new barn roof and we're glad to say that everything is still dry.