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2013 Middle Way Farm CSA - Week 14
Middle Way Farm

Order

For delivery Friday, August 30. Please e-mail middlewayfarmer@gmail.com with your order (for items from all categories) by 11 pm on Tuesday night, August 27. If you would like 1 unit of each produce item listed under "Standard" below, simply put "standard share" in the subject line. If you are getting the standard share, extra items as well as fruits, flowers, herbs, and wild edibles will need to be ordered separately.

Standard
  • Beets - 1 bunch ($2.50)
  • Broccoli - 1/2-1 lb ($3/lb)
  • Carrots - 1 bunch ($2.50)
  • Cucumbers - a few ($1 each)
  • Garlic (cured) -  as many as you would like ($1.00 each) Standard amount will be 1 bulb
  • White onions (cured) - choose 1/2 or 1 pound ($2.00). Standard amount will be 1/2 pound
  • Kale - as many bunches as you want ($2.00 each) - choose from green curly leaf, red curly leaf, or green flat leaf (lacinato heirloom variety)
  • Potatoes (blue) - as many pounds as you want ($2.00) Standard amount will be 1 pound
  • Green peppers - up to 5, choose your amount ($1.00 each) Standard amount will be 2 peppers
  • Salad mix - 1 6oz. bag ($3.00). Can order more than 1 but only 1 bag is guaranteed.
  • Cherry tomato - up to 3 pints ($2.50 each). Standard amount is 1 pint.
  • Juliet tomato - up to 3 pints ($2.50 each). Standard amount is 1 pint
  • Roma tomato - a few ($2.50/lb)
  • Slicing tomato - a few ($2.50/lb)
  • Zucchini -  a few ($1 each)
Extra
  • Arugula - 1 six oz. bag ($3.00)
  • Cabbage - 1 head ($2.00 each) Choose red or green 
  • Collard greens - up to 3 bunches, choose your amount ($2.00)
  • Eggplant - up to 2, choose your amount ($1.50 each)
  • Green beans - will depend on harvest ($3.00/lb)
  • Potatoes (yellowing fingerling) - as many pounds as you want ($4.00) 
Flowers
  • Mixed bouquet - sunflowers & zinnias ($3.00)
Herbs
  • Basil - as many ounces as you would like ($1/oz.)
  • Cilantro - 1 bunch ($2.00)
  • Parsley - up to 2 bunches ($2.00 each)
Storage Tips: Tomatoes should never be refrigerated! They lose their flavor when exposed to cold. Keep them on the counter and consume them as they ripen. They can be easily frozen by removing the stem end and putting in a sealed freezer bag. Potatoes and onions are now cured for storage, but the potatoes will store longer if kept in the fridge. 

Baked Goods (Sarah's Simples)
  • Please see original e-mail with the Sarah Simples baked goods list attached. Let me know if I need to resend it to you.

Dear CSA shareholders,

Seems a little late for the dog days of summer, don't you think? Just when I was thinking we would get through the rest of the summer without a heat wave one snuck up on us in late August. I don't relish working in the heat or the stress it puts on plants (especially newly emerged seedlings) but the heat will certainly benefit the sweet potatoes, watermelons, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and green beans. On the bottom of this e-mail you'll find a picture of one of the watermelons that is ripening at the farm. I'm very excited for how well the watermelons have done, a success I know has been shared by several of my friends on other Iowa vegetable farms. If it hadn't been for the raccoon, we would have enjoyed some cantaloupes by now. A number of honeydew melons are still intact and ripening, so we may yet enjoy a few melons this season. I've got my fingers crossed that the watermelons will be ready in time for next week's delivery. The process of determining ripeness in a watermelon is multifaceted. The first sign is when the small tendril located right where the stem of the watermelon connects to the vine dries up and dies. The second is that there is a well developed 'ground spot' on the side of the watermelon laying on the dirt. I'm sure you''re familiar with this circular yellow spot on all watermelons. The third and most ambiguous sign is the sound emitted from the watermelon when you tap your knuckle on it. Ripe watermelons sound hollow, unripe ones do not. This sign is the hardest to determine accurately. The dry tendril and ground spot are usually sufficient.  

Someone recently told me that Czechs call this time of year cucumber season (I'm sure Monique knows what I'm talking about! Maybe Tom, too?), which is more farm appropriate than dog days. I wish I could say its cucumber season on the farm but its looking less and less like it. Last week I mentioned that the zucchini and cucumber were beginning to peter out. Both zucchini and cucumber, undisturbed, will continue to flower and produce fruit all the way until they are killed by the first killing frost in the fall. Their production slows down significantly as the days and nights cool, but one can expect a general abundance from both plants during the hot months of summer. The difficulty I have in growing both zucchini and cucumbers organically is pest pressure. Both plants are attacked by cucumber beetles, which are small yellow insects with black spots. They arrive in the field enmass in early summer and proceed to feed and breed on members of the cucurbit (squash) family. Cucumber beetles actually overwinter in row crop fields, beginning life as southern corn rootworms. Once they mature, they fan out looking for food. The damage they cause to the plants is usually not significant enough to kill them. They do often cause damage to fruit (particularly thin skinned cucumbers), which is why you may have noticed some scarred cucumbers in your CSA boxes over the last few weeks, but the real problem they pose is the spread of disease. As they fly from plant to plant, feeding on them, cucumber beetles transmit diseases that weaken and eventually kill both zucchini and cucumbers (as well as other cucurbits), chief among them bacterial wilt and cucumber mosaic virus.

Given my past experience with these pests, I plant disease resistant hybrids as much as possible. Although they stand up better to the diseases transmitted by cucumber beetles than many vulnerable heirloom varieties, some plants do still die and the ones that survive suffer plenty of damage. Squash bugs are another big problem on zucchini. They feed by sucking the sap from the plant, resulting in leaf wilting and often death. They also damage fruit. There are several ways to control both squash bugs and cucumber beetles and limit their destruction, but timing is very important for all control methods. There are organically derived pesticides available, but many would be unwise to use on plants like cucumbers or zucchini, which are constantly being pollinated by bees that could be adversely affected by pesticides, whether they are organic or not. Others are limited in their effectiveness and require frequent application. Covering the young squash and cucumbers with row cover (a gauzy cloth cover) right at planting that lets in sunlight and water but excludes insects can help give the plants a head start and allow them to reach fruiting stage without pest pressure. Once the plants begin to flower the row cover is removed to permit pollinators to do their work. This year I didn't use row cover and a lesson has been learned! I also am learning a lot about intercropping and using companion plants that may help confuse pests and prevent them from reaching vulnerable crops. It turns out that pests may be an indicator of a poorly designed farming system, rather than a simple fact of farming. As I improve soil and develop my systems, I hope to see less and less pest pressure like what I've seen this year on cucumbers and zucchini and thus more abundant and consistent future harvests. 

I've decided to take the week off from fruit. Pears and ripe apples will soon be available in abundance, so I would prefer to let them fully mature and do a few major harvests rather than week to week harvests of fruit to have them available in smaller quantities. Meanwhile the garden is picking up with the first slicing and roma tomatoes, lots of peppers, and a new planting of salad mix. The tomatoes are consistent enough that I can offer individual varieties. Choose from cherry, juliet, roma, or slicing tomatoes. The fingerling potatoes are a new offering. They grow narrow and finger-like, and are smaller on average than most mature potatoes. They have delicate skins like new potatoes, even when mature, and very smooth texture. You can use them for roasting, boiling, baking, and potato salads. Many cooks think fingerlings are superior to regular potatoes. The increased price for fingerlings ($4 a pound instead of $2 for mature potatoes) is due to their lower yield per plant. As the season turns to fall, I am looking to offer bulk quantities of some crops for freezing and preserving. Stay tuned.
 
Announcements 
Billing: A number of you have asked me about if you need to pay more for your share now that the season has been going on for a while. I've decided, based on how orders have been coming in, that I will do a single billing at the end of the season (rather than one midseason and one at the end, as I had anticipated). This is simpler for me and allows me to put off some of that paperwork till after the growing season is over, which is helpful. I've been keeping track of everyone's individual orders and I will be giving everyone an update this week about how much credit you have left from your initial payment or how much you owe at this point. Then you can determine whether you want to wait till the end of the season to pay your full bill, or whether you would like to make a couple of smaller payments. I will leave that up to you. I don't want anyone to experience shock at the end of the season when they realized they owe more than they anticipated! 

End date for CSA: Like the start date, I've left the end date of the CSA intentionally ambiguous. My goal is to get to 20 weeks, which would put the soonest possible end date on October 11. However, as long as I can offer a substantial CSA, I will continue for several weeks longer, but probably no later than the end of farmers market (October 25). Weather (especially the first hard frost) will play a big role. 

Green Beans: I apologize for the small amount of green beans this past week. I meant to send an e-mail on Friday about it but I left town right after CSA delivery for a weekend workshop and didn't get the chance. I made a miscalculation about how much I would actually harvest this week and so I had to split a small harvest many different ways. I've leaving the green beans on the "Extra" list for now, until I feel like there are a enough to be able to offer to everyone through the Standard share. Consider this past week a taste of green beans, with more substantial amounts to come!

Pears: For those of you that ordered pears, please let me know how those work out for you. I cooled them for a full 24 hours before putting them in boxes, so I believe they should ripen within a week or so (keep them on the counter in a paper bag, better yet with an apple inside).  Since I've never grown and harvested pears, I'm learning how one actually goes about picking the fruit and ensuring that it will ripen off the tree (since tree ripened fruit is lower quality). 

I spent the weekend in Iowa City at a course called Restoration Agriculture 101, taught by Wisconsin farmer Mark Shepard. It was an introduction to a lot of exciting ideas that I hope to begin implementing on a small scale very soon in my market garden. Shepard advocates a fundamentally different approach to farming than what we see today on almost all of our conventional OR organic farms, one based on water management, perennial crops, and mimicry of native ecology. I hope to give some insights into this approach and how I hope to apply it in my operation over the next several weeks. What there is to learn about farming is endless. Its a constantly unfolding process, with each year bringing more experience and skill but still always much more experience and skill to acquire. 

Your farmer,

Jordan Scheibel
middlewayfarmer@gmail.com
(641) 821 0753

Watermelons

Watermelons are one of the few annual fruits that is often grown by vegetable growers. Unlike tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, cucumbers, and many other flowering plants I grow, watermelons do not flower and set fruit constantly over the course of the season. Rather, they flower and set fruit over a short period of time, meaning that all of the watermelons on a vine will be typically be ripe around the same time. If a grower wants to have watermelons available for a long duration, they have to do multiple plantings spread out over the late spring and early summer and/or plant varieties with different maturity dates, which means that even varieties planted on the same day will flower, set fruit and have ripe watermelons at different times. 
ground cob webs

Tree transplanter

This single row tree transplanter can be pulled behind a tractor and allows a two person team to plant long rows of bare root trees with efficiency. The guy with his foot up on it is Grant Shultz, a beginning farmer in the Iowa City area who hosted the Restoration Agriculture workshop I attended this weekend. He's already planted thousands of trees and berry bushes on his newly purchased farm, which he is converting from conventional corn and soybeans into a woody perennial system.  
Unripe delicata

Recipe ideas

Found a great article via CSA shareholder Karen Hueftle-Worley that may give you some ideas for using past, present, and future CSA produce: http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/confusing-scary-csa-vegetables-recipes
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