Angelic Organics Farm News

Week 4 - Sat- July 19, 2008

Our Newsletter web layout is currently "in development"/under construction. See Bob Writes... from first week for more details.
Angelic Organics Logo

Intern William's beautiful red SIGG water bottle was recently run over by the Bobcat during our lettuce harvest--it's cool!!(see online NL for vibrant picture)

This Week's Vegetable Notes - by Diana Nolden, assistant growing manager

I thought it was time to put your minds at ease. It is already week 5 of our harvest shares and I have yet to tell a story about my Grandpa. First off he is alive and kicking nearing is 90th birthday in August. He recently told me that he has waited this long to get drunk and invited me along for the excursion. However, he then followed up with a story about blackberry brandy and fire whiskey, leaving room to question his claim to sobriety.

It was during a conversation about pests on the farm that I realized my first “grandpa story” of the season (not that I am at a loss for grandpa stories). We currently are having a problem with a varmint eating our lettuce. We are seeing evidence of something snacking on the outside leaves, leaving it in tatters. There is an electric fence keeping the deer out, and besides that, deer are gourmet eaters. They don’t just go for any old leaf of lettuce, but straight for the romaine heart. Deer will eat the center out off the head rendering it inedible and unable to grow. We are suspicious that it might be a woodchuck.

Talk then turned to pest removal and tricks of the trade. Besides woodchucks, moles are another rodent that have terrorized gardeners for ages. This includes my mother and grandpa. Every year without fail a fluffy mound of earth can be seen running through my mother’s flowers and grandpa’s yard. I have heard of all kinds of tricks to rid an area of moles, including traps, raspberry canes, and water infused with tobacco leaves. This spring my grandpa told me a new remedy for mole removal.

While raking my grandpa’s yard, he confided in me this new form of attack against moles. A fellow card party friend told my grandpa that you put a piece of bubble gum down the mole tunnel. When the mole comes back through it will eat the bubble gum and die. I said I had never heard of it, but thought it might work. He admitted to being nervous to tell anyone, in fear they would think him crazy. I replied that he could tell me anything.

I haven’t heard if the bubble gum has worked, or has even been tried. Like the critter eating our lettuce, I can understand how frustrating mole tunnels can be. However, much like Atlantis being blown-up to stop the dinosaurs (a theory provided by a worker from last year), gum in a mole hole might just be another old wives tale. However, after 90 years, I have to believe that moles might just have one up on my grandpa-not many can make that claim.

 

Angelic Organics HOME 
What's In Your Box
Bob writes...(see the photos online that accompany this article.)

Please note:this box summary is written the week before you receive your box. Some guess work is involved: some things may be in your box that are not listed, and some listed things may not be in your box. As always, be sure to thoroughly wash all your vegetables.

The page numbers listed below refer to cooking tips and recipes in Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables as provided to all shareholders. Some recipes are listed at AngelicOrganics.com/RecipeService

ALLIUMS-pp. 121-128

Sweet Onions-My gramps loves these!

Scallions

FRUITIING CROPS

Cucumbers-pp. 95-101

Zucchini & Summer Squash-pp. 145-150

Eggplant-pp. 174-180

Green Peppers, more to come; pp. 215-222

BRASSICAS

Cabbage or Cauliflower pp. 257-269-use the cabbage for sauerkraut on brats and rubens, but Bob likes it fresh. I like Cauliflower with cheese, but I am from Wisco.

Broccoli

ROOTS

Carrots-with their greens.Grill and eat like a hotdog. pp. 163-168 Scroll all the way to the bottom of this link for tips on using the greens.

Young Turnips-scarlet queen red stems &/or white hakurei, bagged with lettuce; pp. 129-135

COOKING GREENS-pp. 81-94

Swiss Chard

HERBS-pp. 102-120

Lemon Balm

SALAD GREENS-pp. 136-141

Lettuce-heads of pic 714 (a romaine) & magenta or cherokee (both red summercrisps)

STEMS+

Fennel-with their fronds. Click here for frond ideas. pp. 181-184

 

Coming Soon…. Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, Celery, Mizuna, Arugula

I was going to write about our historical harvest chart this week but by Saturday morning, we had accumulated 5.25 inches of rain in just over 4 days. As such, the rain became the most prominent topic. I would rather not go into the details of how too much rain affects us and the vegetables. Instead I would prefer to have a normal amount of rain (say about an inch of a gentle rain every 9 days). Next in my preference would be on the side of dry-ness as we can easily irrigate almost all of our crops to the tune of 1 inch of water per week. It just takes time to set up and move the irrigation.

Too much rain, however, is a much more difficult process to manage. Excessive water on our fields can have multiple negative effects including: a) slowing down our harvest--the more it rains, the slower it goes; b) dampening employee morale; and c) killing or shortening the life of our plants. Sometimes streams can form in our fields and just wash out plants. Heavy rains can do this in just a few hours. Fortunately our bed and field system (each field is made up of 9-beds 6-feet wide (making each field a total of 54-feet wide by 520-feet long)) includes 12 feet of a solid, compacted, grass-covered driveway between each field. This system prevents streams from moving from field to field--instead water more gently moves from field to field. If there is a big downpour or lots of rain over several days, this bed, field, and driveway layout can exceed it’s capacity and minor streams can form. In this last rain, fortunately, it appears that only 2 crops were affected by the stream-creating effect: Melons (of which I estimate we will lose 20% in yields) and Winter Squash (in which I estimate we will lose 5%). This is sad to me as melons are some of my favorites.

Besides temporary streams forming, too much rain can sometimes cause the forming of large puddles or mini-ponds at low points in our fields. If these puddles do not evaporate or drain within a day or two, the soil can become waterlogged and the plants will suffer. By having a bed system and tractors all on 6 foot centers (come on a farm tour at our open house this Sunday, July 20, 2008 from 11 am to 4 pm to learn more about this system--see Open House Link for more details), our tractors don’t drive on the beds and the compaction is limited to wheel tracks. This helps channel the water away from the plants and into these troughs. Still after the 5.25 inches, on Saturday morning some wheel tracks were flooded over and several beds were under water. This included some of the following crops: cilantro, carrots, lettuce, beets, leeks, and fall cooking greens. Fortunately, as I went to sleep Friday night, the thought approached me that with this bed, field and driveway system, we might be able to pump out the mini-ponds/large puddles into the driveways and headlands with a trash pump. I tried to have this thought comfort me as the radar showed the Friday night storms approaching. Unfortunately, the longer it rained and thundered during that night, the more worried I got. Last year I had seen us lose a field of carrots, 1/3 of a field of onions, spinach, and cover crops, and 20% of the summer fruiting crops (tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants) and fall cooking greens to standing water and/or waterlogged soil. (Prolonged waterlogged soil and crops under water either kills the plants or shortens their growing period and accelerates their process of their going to seed; Farmer John mentioned to me that some of this is due to a process that he has heard described as denitrification.) I have yet to learn how long given crops are affected before this sets in. I hope it is from over a week of wetness and not from just 4 or 5 days (however, per what I just read on the internet in some cases it can set in as soon as 36 hours--we’ll see how things play out--I am still learning here).

Anyway, as it rained more and more Friday night, my anxiety rose. I tried to tell myself that the rain was not something I could control. I reminded myself of an observation I had during my therapy session earlier that day (after the 2.2 inches of rain Thursday night and the 3.8 inch total to that point) that Lora or my mother or others would love me just the same whether it rained a lot, a little, or none at all. I was somewhat comforted that the trash pump could move the ponds to the driveways. But when the thunder kept waking me, I decided to check the radar and saw some big systems approaching the farm. Finally, I decided that I could not sleep in the room I was in (not in my bedroom in the loft of the milkhouse in which every rain drop slammed against the Plexiglas section of the roof/skylight nor in my living room in the barn loft where drops echoed on the roof). I moved to Lora’s old room in the downstairs of the barn and read some of the book I’ve been currently reading about Jacques Lusseyran, the blind French resistance hero. Finally I fell back to sleep and had some wonderful dreams.

When it was time to work at 6 am Saturday morning, I assessed the damage. With the crew, we revamped all of our harvest plans to focus on simple tasks close to the dryer driveways. (I knew from last year after a rain patch like this that our boots can sink 8 inches down in our uncompacted beds quickly and that suction can pull the boot off our foot more easily than we can pull our boot out of the mud.) We decided to harvest turnips and beets (in the driveways) and zucchini (which are located with our peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, basil, and cucumbers in the well drained “Kinnikinnik” fields). Then Primo went off to Menard's to purchase a trash pump to do draining (he had to go three times as the first pump was defective and our 1.5 inch hose didn’t fit the 2 inch pump). Finally, by the end of Saturday afternoon, the cilantro, leeks, celeriac, beets, lettuce, and carrots had been pumped to the driveways (except the beets actually were where the driveway pumping would have flooded the leeks--so instead we pumped about 1000 gallons of water/mud into a tank and released it toward the Kinnikinnik creek). Lastly, we tried to rescue the fall cooking greens, this was the worst and I suspect we will lose some of them (current estimate is 15%). The rest of the Winter Squash fields seemed to drain well (with no standing ponds) but the melons will suffer probably by that 20% or more. Overall, however, I feel this story has a happy ending as this trash pump saved some crops almost as much as I had hoped. And as I sit here writing this, I feel more comforted knowing that should the need present itself in the future, we now have a new possibility to help us in such circumstances. I am also encouraged by the drying Saturday, Sunday, and Monday and a few more such days ahead. Click on this photo album to see some photos of the areas pumped and the crew working in the flooded fields.

Our Summer Open House is this weekend---Sunday, July 20, 2008, 11 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Look for more details in a separate email from the farm this week. Or click on this link: AngelicOrganics.com/OpenHouse