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2013 Middle Way Farm CSA - Week 19
Middle Way Farm

Order

For delivery Friday, October 4. Please e-mail middlewayfarmer@gmail.com with your order (for items from all categories) by 11 pm on Tuesday night, October 1. 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. Please state your preferences for individual items. 

Standard
  • Beets - ($2.00/lb or 3 lb for $5) Standard = 1 lb
  • Cabbage (red) - ($2.00 each) Standard = 1 cabbage
  • Garlic -  ($1.00 each, 3 for $2.50) Standard = 1 bulb. See bulk pricing below. 
  • Green beans - ($3.00/lb). Standard = 1 lb
  • Yellow or Red Storage Onions - ($2.00/lb, 3 for $5) Standard amount = 1/2 lb. See bulk pricing below
  • Kale - ($2.00 each, 3 for $5) - choose from green curly leaf, red curly leaf, or green flat leaf (lacinato heirloom variety). Standard = 1 bunch. See bulk pricing below. 
  • Potatoes - Choose from blue, white (Kennebec), yellow (Bintje), blue (All Blue) or russet ($2.00/lb or 3 for $5), or yellow fingerling ($4.00/lb or 3 for $9). Standard amount = 1 pound. See bulk pricing below
  • Green and red peppers - ($.75 each or 3 for $2.00) Standard amount = 5 peppers. 
  • Cherry tomato - ($2.50 each) Standard = 1 pint
  • Juliet tomato - ($2.50 each) Standard = 1 pint
  • Roma tomato - ($2.00/lb) Standard = 1/2 lb
  • Slicing tomato - ($2.00/lb) Standard = 2 pounds
  • Sweet potatoes - ($2.50/pound or 3 for $6.50) Standard = 3 pounds. See bulk pricing below. 
  • Turnips - ($2.00/bunch or 3 for $5) Choose from purple top white or scarlet. Standard = 1 bunch
Bulk
  • Basil - 1/2 lb ($6.00) or 1 lb ($11) Storage tip: Use immediately. Do not refrigerate for longer than a few hours, will turn black when exposed to cold. 
  • Garlic  - ($7/lb) - choose softneck or stiffneck
  • Kale  - (5 bunches for $8, 10 bunches for $14). Only green curly available. 
  • Yellow or Red Storage Onions - (5 lb bag for $8.00)
  • Storage Potatoes  - Kennebec or Bintje, unwashed (5 lb bag for $8, 10 lb bag for $14)
  • Potatoes, Fingerlings - (5 lb bag for $13.50, 10 lb bag for $25)
  • Sweet potatoes - (5 lb bag for $10, 10 lb bag for $19)
Extra
  • Arugula - ($3.00/6 oz. bag)
  • Chard - ($2.00/bunch)
  • Eggplant - ($1.50 each)
Fruit
  • Apples -  ($2/lb) Storage tip: Stores longest when refrigerated
  • Peaches  - ( $2/lb) Storage tip: Ripen at room temperature. Store in fridge once ripe.
  • Pears -  ($2/lb)  Storage Tip: Ripen in a sealed paper bag. Put in an apple to accelerate ripening. 
Herbs
  • Basil -($1/oz) See bulk pricing
  • Parsley - ($2.00 each)

"Don't Farm Naked"

I visited southern Minnesota this weekend and driving north on I-35 was a little like driving deeper into fall. The trees by the highway were beginning to change, more so than they have in Grinnell. The sumac trees are turning their deep scarlet red, contrasting to the fresh green color of the grass from the recent rain. I also noticed the start of soybean harvest and occasionally the welcome presence of cover crops in fields adjacent to the highway. In the last several years, Iowa and elsewhere, there has been a big push by progressive farmers, government agencies, and non-profit organizations for row crop farmers to incorporate cover crops (back) into their rotations.  Practical Farmers of Iowa, an organization that I am a member of, has made a huge push for cover crops, including using the T-shirt slogan “Don’t Farm Naked”. Cover crops, for those of you not familiar with the term, are typically “non-cash” crops that are planted between cash crops to protect and improve the soil. Cover crops can be used at the beginning or end of the cash crop season, between plantings of cash crops, or for entire seasons in order to fallow or rest and replenish a field.  Cover crops, when they are incorporated back into the soil, are sometimes referred to as green manures, in contrast to applying “brown” manures from animals.
 
 The corn-soybean rotation (which is more like alternating than rotating) is a relatively recent part of Iowa agriculture and I like to think it will be also be considered a brief period in agricultural history. Traditional Midwestern agriculture incorporated small annual grains like oats as well as perennial hay crops like alfalfa into four to five year rotations that are still practiced today on many organic row crops farms. Cover crops are another part of a diverse rotation, with plants like perennial rye, hairy vetch, buckwheat, sorghum Sudan grass, and field peas serving to protect the soil from erosion, build up soil organic matter, break up disease and pest cycles, suppress weeds, and provide insect, pollinator, and wildlife habitat. Cover crops are either incorporated into the soil as a green manure or used as a forage crop for livestock (either by grazing or by harvesting as hay).
 
Cover crops are also a very important part of horticultural production. I was fortunate to work on a farm that emphasized cover crops and I learned a lot about what types of cover crops are available to vegetable farmers. I currently have perennial rye and hairy vetch growing on the lower slope of my garden. Rye and vetch are a classic grass-legume cover crop combo. The fibrous roots of the grass hold the soil in place and build organic matter while the legume fixes nitrogen in the soil. In fact, hairy vetch fixes so much nitrogen (more than almost any other legume, up to 160 pounds per acre) that it can provide all of the nitrogen for subsequent vegetable crops, eliminating the need for short-term nitrogen fertilizers and animal manures. My ultimate goal is to have as little bare soil as possible, whether its growing a vegetable crop, mulching, or using cover crops. Nature abhors a vacuum, and bare soil represents a vacuum that promotes the proliferation of weeds, pests, and erosion. 
 
This Week in the Share
 
Sweet Potatoes: We harvested sweet potatoes last week and they have been curing in the greenhouse since then. Sweet potatoes require high temperature and high humidity to cure (the process prepares them for long-term storage and also sweetens them). If you have not had local sweet potatoes before, you will notice that quite a few of them will be larger than what you are used to.  In 2010 (a particularly wet AND hot year), when I was working at Grinnell Heritage Farm, we had one sweet potato that weighed over 8 pounds (we called it a sweet potato baby)! The sweet potatoes that you buy in the grocery store are actually towards the smaller end of the spectrum, with the larger sweet potatoes getting processed for canning, baby food, etc. Large sweet potatoes taste just as good as smaller ones (they don’t get woody or tough with size).  Sweet potatoes will store well at room temperature for several months, but generally will not keep well into the winter. Usually they will begin to show bad spots where the skin was nicked or start to shrivel from the ends. Sweet potatoes can also be frozen. Bulk sweet potato orders are available this week and next.  For your inspiration, here are some of my favorite sweet potato recipes:
 
Sweet Potato Quesadillas
 
Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew:

4 C stock
1 onion, chopped
2 c sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes, peeling on
1 c chickpeas
1/2 c brown rice
1/2 t salt
2 c kale (spinach or swiss chard are good substitues)
1/2 c peanut butter
2 T lemon juice
optional: tamari soy sauce & chili paste

Saute onions & garlic in some stock in a large saucepan till tender. Add all stock, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, rice & salt. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Turn down the heat. Addpeanut butter & mix well. Add kale and lemon juice, cook until just tender. 
 
Baked Sweet Potato Fries
 
Garlic is unfortunately running out, so this will be the last week in the CSA! Order as much as you are interested in for storage and I’ll do my best to accommodate your order. Choose from hardneck or softneck garlic, if you have a preference.  Both will store at room temperature for several months, but softneck will store the longest.
 
Onions are also running low but will be available bulk this week and possibly next, depending on how long they last. If you don’t mind small onions, let me know, since I have quite a few small ones.
 
Storage Potatoes are available bulk this week and next. Choose from Kennebec (larger, white flesh) and Bintje (smaller, yellow flesh). varieties. I also have fingerlings available bulk. NOTE: Storage potatoes will come to you UNWASHED. They will store much longer if 1) they remain unwashed until ready to be used and 2) you are able to keep them in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag. However, they will store fairly well at room temperature (or a cool, dry part of your house) if kept unwashed. Once washed, they should definitely go in the fridge and be used within a few weeks.
 
Kale is available bulk this week and next. Kale freezes well for use in winter soups, sautés, quiches, etc. A trick for quickly stripped kale leaves from the stem: Hold a kale leaf in one hand and turn the stem on the leaf towards you. Grasp the bottom of the stem firmly with the thumb and index finger of your other hand (making an “OK” sign) and run it over the leaf quickly and firmly. The leaf will come cleanly off the stem without having to use knife! I learned this technique in a kitchen where we routinely cooked greens like kale and swiss chard for 100+ people. 
 
Fall Turnips this week and next include both traditional purple top white turnips and scarlet turnips, which have red skin and white interiors. Both come with large, lush greens that are great for cooking. Let me know your preference for which turnip (if you have one) and I’ll try to accommodate it (depending on what’s ready to harvest from each variety). Next week I’ll have bulk turnips (without greens) for refrigerator storage. I like sautéing sliced turnips in butter with garlic and including it cubed in roasted root dishes with carrots, beets, potatoes, etc.
 
Sweet Peppers for freezing &  Storage Beets for refrigerator storage will be available bulk next week. Storage beets will come UNWASHED, like the storage potatoes.
 
Winter Squash will be available next week from Table Top Farm, a transitioning to organic vegetable operation in Nevada, outside of Ames. It will likely include butternuts, pumpkins, and possibly acorn, kombocha, and a few other squash.
 
Announcements
 
Compost: Like cover crops, compost is another huge part of building healthy soil! On Tuesday I had 23 ton truckload of compost delivered to the farm from Chamness Technology in Eddyville. For the last two weeks of CSA, I will have small amounts compost available for delivery with your share. For larger deliveries, I will make a separate trip. You can also visit the farm to pick up the compost, for a reduced price. Here are the details:
 
Per 5 gallon bucket: $3 picked up, $5 delivered (minimum 5 buckets if delivered). 
Per small pick-up load (full load): $40 picked up, $70 delivered (can do 1/2 load)
Per full size pick-up load (full load): $80 picked up, $120 delivered (can do 1/2 load)
 
For reference, see application rates below:
 
Lawns: For 1/2" coverage= total area of lawn (length x width) x .04 (depth) / 324 = # of cubic yards needed
 
Gardens: For 2" coverage = total area of garden (length x width) x .16 x / 324 = # of cubic yards needed
 
Trees: For 1" coverage under drip line = total area under drip line (length x width) x .08 / 324 = # of cubic yards needed
 
Cubic yard of compost = 1600 pounds or 1/2 full size pick-up or full small bed pick-up
 
Fall leaves: I had mentioned earlier in the season that I will collect any fall leaves from your yard for use on the farm. That offer still stands and looks like it will happen well after the end of the CSA season, depending on the weather and when the leaves drop. Please let me know if you are interested (if you have not already done so) and we can keep in touch as that time approaches. I will pick-up piled or bagged leaves for free, but I am also willing to rake and collect leaves for a reasonable hourly rate. Feel free to share this offer with friends, neighbors, and family. 

Just one more week of CSA! Its hard to believe. I hope you all have enjoyed the produce this season, its been challenging and wonderful to grow it for you. 
 
Your farmer,

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

Compost

So what's with all the compost? I recently tested my soil and found it to be low in organic matter. I've also noticed throughout the season that the soil is lacking in organic matter, with various implications for plant health, water retention, etc.. Adding applying (literally) tons of compost is a quick way to add a lot of organic matter (as well as beneficial soil life) in short period of time, while also providing some plant nutrients like nitrogen and calcium that the soil is low in. Building up the soil is long-term project, but getting a large quantity of compost delivered (more than I can currently produce myself) is a definite start. 
ground cob webs

Rain!

Yes, it does still rain in Iowa. You know when you get excited about taking a photo of the rain gauge that its been a long time. 
Unripe delicata

Sweet potato harvest

Sweet potatoes are probably my favorite vegetable to harvest. They combine the excitement of potatoes (not really knowing what you're going to get) with a bigger quantity of roots per plant than potatoes. Two of the artists in residence helped with harvest this past Wednesday and we had some fun seeing what was under each plant. 
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