Tiny farming: CSA

Early share

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[From 5-Jul-2013] This week’s harvest basket, still greens, mainly: young curly and flat leaf kale, baby bok choi (autographed by a few flea beetles that made it under the cover), our Zippy Mix (today’s version, mustards as always, with mizuna and some baby Chinese cabbage), 4-lettuce mix (out of sight), plus garlic scapes and baby zucchini. Pretty simple. Not bad… We’re not doing CSA this year, but we do have a handful of share commitments!

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Weekly Harvest Share #2

Weekly Harvest Share #2
A pretty satisfying second installment of our “experimental” Weekly Harvest Share:  ”Like CSA, but one week at a time…”! Satisfying because, for the first time this season, harvest day felt kinda normal, with around 20 items harvested, enough variety to have to pick what went into the shares. And the winners, the veggies that made it through thick and thin: kale (Red Russian—no worries about running out of RR…), beets (Kestrel), carrots (Nelson), zucchini (Golden Dawn III, always there in numbers), cukes (Fanfare, Lemon), baby leaf lettuce (house blend, and a nice first cut!), beans (Jade, Indy Gold, first picking of this planting), assorted cherry tomatoes, green onion (Ramrod), sweet pepper (Cubanelle, picked young and green), onion (yellow cooking, from sets, kinda…compact), peppermint & spearmint (bagged, for tea!), and eggplant (old reliable Dusky). So, better late than never!

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Sunflowers

Sunflowers

The sunflowers have been following the days for a little while now. I was not a sunflower fan until we started growing them a couple of years back, along with a bunch of other direct-seed cutting flowers—nothing like growing your own for attitude adjustment! Now, I love ‘em (well, I really like them), especially when they’re standing tall in the field. These are Sunrich Orange, a one-to-a-stem “pro” cutting variety. There’s also a really rich, multi-color, multi-bloom variety called Go Bananas, you can see a couple tucked away in the corner of the pic… This season’s small flower garden is getting some use, as a few CSA shareholders take advantage of the there-for-the-taking standing offer. And I enjoy that they’re there for the seeing!

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Dog days of summer (a few)

Packing for CSA shares

The muggy wave continues, the sixth day or so of bright, swelteringly humid heat. Today was only 21°C (72°F), but the Humidex (or whatever exactly They call it) says it’s the equivalent to us humans of 40°C (110°F). It does feel that way. I can’t recall ever hearing a spread that big—quite weird, or maybe the Humidex got more accurate…

A smaller crew than usual this Monday morning as we harvested for CSA shares. Lynn and Mel (above) were out earlier, hitting the field at 7 am, partly to get a jump on the heat, partly because they both had to leave earlier as well. Michelle arrived around 8:30. Tara was tied up preparing for a short trip. Jordan, another Monday regular, is away for a couple of weeks, on various visits around the north-east.

People in the field. I still find it mildly unlikely and extremely cool each time one of our tiny field crews assembles for a day. Sometimes it’s a crew of two, other times, usually harvest Fridays and Mondays, the numbers swell (big for a tiny farm!).

We all head to the field for different reasons and different returns. The work is never endlessly tedious, we don’t go out and, say, pick beans for 8 hours, but we do get a lot done, and everyone does a bit of everything. You can find a little instant closure, where the start and end of a thing are all right at hand. You can learn to small-scale farm. You can chill out, take time to think—garden meditation while breathing some relatively fresh, country air and dabbling in the dirt. Chatting while veggie gardening can be great. It’s whatever you want it to be…

Today, it was hot. The shares were done by noon as planned. It’s all good! :)

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First peppers

First sweet peppers

Harvested the season’s first sweet peppers, for the Monday CSA shares. They’re small…but tasty (that description has popped up a few times this year, as we pick early against the slow-growing weather and the flying by of time). The lime-yellow, tapering Gypsy (yellow-to-orange-to-red) are performing well once again, early and prolific, and the always-early, dark green bell peppers are Ace (green-to-red). Both varieties are F-1 hybrids (no seed saving), which isn’t great, but these guys are super-reliable in crazy weather, so I still plant ‘em first… Peeking out from underneath, Ambassador (green) and Golden Dawn III (yellow) zucchini (also hybrids; GDIII is a mad producer, yellow zukes everywhere, on and on—another reliable standby that I’d love to replace with an open-pollinated variety)—after finally starting to take off a couple of weeks ago, the first planting of summer squash hasn’t looked back. So that’s something!

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Packing shares: done!

CSA shares

CSA shares are packed for another Monday of on-farm pick-up! It’s one of those great hits of momentary satisfaction to see them all, 100% absolutely and finally done, waiting to be collected. Mel, Jordan (above), Michelle, and Tara were all in the field, and the whole harvest went by kinda quickly, maybe three hours. I’m also figuring out the easiest ways to use different spots around the new farm. Today, as a temporary improvement, we moved the long screen table into a tree-shaded part of the drive, allowing us to line up the bags in one row, instead of grouping them on two smaller tables indoors in a shed (it’s all in the details! :). Keeping the packing space uncluttered is kinda critical if you don’t want to spend half your time rechecking shares to make sure that they’ve got everything. When the set-up works, filling shares is really suprisingly satisfying.  On the tiny farm, assembly lines can be fun!

In the share: baby leaf lettuce salad mix, baby zucchini, cauliflower, garlic scapes, young carrots, beets, new potatoes, curly& flat-leaf parsley.

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