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2013 Middle Way Farm CSA - Week 2
Middle Way Farm
wet farm

Wettest May ever

I took this photo on Wednesday, at the tail end of the rains, looking west from the buffer strip back into the garden with the potatoes in the front. Although it was 'just' an inch of rain, the ground was already so saturated that it immediately pooled on the soil.
Dear CSA shareholders,

We've come out on the other side of the rain and its felt good to have a return to dry, sunny weather. I am fortunate to be growing vegetables on top of a slope, which means that I did not have flooding problems (aside from temporary pooling of water during heavy rains). Unfortunately, because part of my garden is on a slope and I had recently tilled, I did experience some damaging erosion that likely ruined a seeding of carrots and beets and I am waiting to see if the seeding of cucumbers, zucchini, winter squash, and melons that I made right before the rain started with make it (their seeds do not like damp, cool soil). Some seedings I made in late April were pounded by the heavy rain and only a portion of them made it through (only a portion of the arugula matured and pretty much all of the spinach did not). The rest will be tilled and re-seeded. Other crops made it through the rain very well and have grown significantly with the abundant moisture (onions, garlic, lettuce, radishes, potatoes, etc.). Having worked for a CSA farm for three and half years, I know that crop failures are part of every farming season. The best I can do is replant while there is still time and accept the delay in production that will result, or the possibility of not getting a crop. Part of being a CSA shareholder is experiencing both the ups and the downs of the farm and every season has its highlights and its low points. Part of the purpose of this newsletter is to keep you informed about how things are going, so you can be prepared and understand why a certain crop might not be available.

While weather is unavoidable, management decisions also play a key role in how resilient the farm is to extreme events like last week's rain. The erosion I experienced was a result of both very heavy rain and my disturbance of the soil without making good preparation for erosion. I am now convinced that in order to farm on the garden's slope, I need to be using strips of cover crop between beds, to make sure that the soil in the tilled beds stays in place, and making more extensive use of mulches on the soil surface and organic matter incorporated into the soil to increase the soil's ability to absorb and drain water without flowing downhill. I will be planting oats this week in the eroded area and over the area of the garden that has yet to be tilled. While I hope we avoid rain events similar to the one's we received last weekend, I know that in order to grow productively and responsibly I need to be prepared for the skies to open up at anytime.

Announcements

Delivery Time: Based on the schedule of one of the shareholders, I will always begin my Friday delivery before 3 pm, and after doing the deliveries last week I found it only took me about an hour total to finish. So expect delivery from here forward to take place between 3 and 4 pm. If you will not be home during that time, please leave a cooler or box outside for me to put your share in, or if you are comfortable with it, you can leave your house unlocked and I will put your share inside, in the refrigerator even!

Vacations: If you will be out of town and don't want your CSA share, please let me know in advance (no later than Tuesday night, the week of the share). I can a) not pack your share (you will not be charged), b) deliver the share to your house for a friend to pick-up or deliver directly to the friend (share items still must be ordered and it must be an address in Grinnell) (you will be charged), or c) donate a standard share to MICA ( you will be charged - I can provide receipt for tax purposes if needed).

Compost: I am happy to take kitchen scraps from your home to add to the farm compost pile. You can leave them for me at Friday delivery time either in a recyclable container or in a permanent container such as a bucket that I can return the following week. Just make sure you have a duplicate container that you can use to collect scraps during the following week before I drop off the first container. When collecting scraps, please follow these guidelines:
  • Vegetable and fruit scraps. Coffee grounds and filters. Tea bags and leaves. Plant trimmings from your garden. Houseplants. Shredded paper. Egg and nut shells. Hair and animal fur. Paper, shredded non-glossy newspaper, paper towels, and paper tubes.
  • No plastics (even one's that say compostable)
  • No meat, bones, fish, eggs, or dairy products
  • No oily foods or grease.
Grass clippings: If you bag or are able to bag your grass clippings (rather than mulching them on the lawn), I will happily take them on Fridays to use as mulch on the farm. The clippings themselves do not need to be bagged for me to take them, just near the curb (I can just pitch them loose into the bed of my pick-up). Grass clippings are probably my favorite mulch and I never seem to have enough of them. If your lawn is treated with any synthetic herbicide, pesticide, or fertilizer, than I cannot take the clippings. If you have a untreated, weedy lawn like mine, make sure that you are avoiding weed seed in the clippings as much as possible (the prime example is dandelions, which have been going to seed for several weeks and easily get mixed up in grass clippings). If you are storing grass clippings for any length of time (more than a few days) make sure they get spread out and have a chance to dry. Grass clippings in a pile quickly heat up and begin to rot and can become anaerobic, at which point they do not make a good mulch anymore.

Leaves: During the fall, I will also be available to collect leaves from your yard to add to my mulch and compost piles. Again, if your lawn is treated with any synthetic herbicide or pesticide, I won't be able to take the leaves.
 
Order

For delivery Friday, June 7th. Please e-mail middlewayfarmer@gmail.com with your order (for items from all categories) by 11 pm on Tuesday night, June 4. If you would like 1 unit of each produce item listed under "Standard" below, simply put "standard share" in the subject line. If you only want to receive the standard share each week, just put "always standard share". You can change this preference at anytime. The extra items each week will tend to be either wild edibles or crops from the farm that are of more limited availability. If you are getting the standard share, extra items will need to be ordered separately.

Produce

Standard:
  • Green garlic - 1 bunch ($2.00)
  • Head lettuce - up to 3 heads ($2.50 each)* - these have sized up so they will be larger than last week
  • Radishes - up to 3 bunches ($1.50 each)
  • Rhubarb (locally sourced, chemical free) - up to 3 bunches ($2.00 each)
  • Salad mix - up to 2 six oz. bags ($3.00 each)
  • Salad turnips - up to 2 bunches ($2.00 each)
Extra:
  • Arugula - 6 oz. bag ($3.00) - limited availability, first come first serve
  • Lamb's quarter (wild edible foraged from the farm and other locations) - 6 oz. bag ($3.00)
Storage Tips: For all of this week's produce, store in the crisper drawer of your fridge in separate, sealed plastic bags to keep them from dehydrating.  Both radish and turnips greens are edible. Cut them from the roots and store them separately if not using immediately.

Plant Starts
  • Basil plant - up to 5 plants - ($2.00) 
  • Oregano plant - 1 plant ($2.50)
  • Lacinato kale plant - up to 3 plants ($2.50 each)
Baked Goods (Sarah's Simples)
  • Please see last week's e-mail with the Sarah Simples baked goods list attached. Let me know if I need to resend it to you.
Berry Patch Farm in Nevada, one of my sources for strawberries, estimates that strawberry picking will begin June 17, so strawberries should be available for that week's CSA. Keller BerryFarm in Toledo, which is transitioning to organic, will also likely have strawberries available around that time. I'm also looking forward to black raspberry season, which should begin shortly after strawberries in late June. I have been picking black raspberries for a number of years, but this is my first year picking them on the farm. There is a small patch right next to the garden that I pass by frequently and it always reminds me how close the season is.

Your farmer,

Jordan Scheibel
middlewayfarmer@gmail.com
(641) 821 0753
black locust flower salad

Black Locust Flower Salad

The black locust flowers that were available last week made a great garnish for a salad, which I enjoyed one night with head lettuce and radishes from the garden. This is the time of year for salads. Both the head lettuce and salad mix will keep for about a week if you keep them sealed and refrigerated, so order both and enjoy a salad at lunch and dinner the whole week!
Lamb's quarter

Lamb's quarter - try it!

Of all of the wild edibles I will offer this season, I probably feel most strongly about lamb's quarter. With the failure of my first spinach planting, I look at lamb's quarter as a tastier, more nutritious substitute for spinach (its actually a relative). According to Steve Brill (see link below), "it's one of the best sources of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, and iron in the world; also a great source of trace minerals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, and fiber." While its not as juicy as spinach, lamb's quarter is good both raw and cooked. Its great in quiches, sauted in oil or butter with some garlic and onion, used in soups, or prepared any way you would spinach.Read more about lamb's quarter here.
Hakurei turnips

Salad Turnips

The turnips this week are not your typical purple top turnip. They are smaller, sweeter 'salad' turnips that can be eaten both raw or cooked. They will range in size from a radish to golf ball. The variety is called "Hakurei," which is known for its great raw flavor, sweet & fruity, and its crisp and tender texture. The hairless green tops can be eaten raw or lightly cooked with the roots. They are actually the most nutritious part of the plant. This is the variety that made me into a turnip eater! They should be available in the CSA for at least another week, if not another two weeks.
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