Distribution #16, Week of September 21, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Happy fall from all of us at Windflower Farm, where one of our hottest and driest summers ever has given way to the cold temperatures of fall and warnings of early frost. By Thursday of last week, we had harvested all of our winter squashes. This week, you’ll get Delicatas. Acorns will be in your shares next, followed by butternuts. It’s become cold enough here to move back into the kitchen, and roasted squashes, squash soup and squash muffins are all on the menu. Yesterday, Nate made pumpkin muffins (with dried cranberries and chocolate chips) from a recipe he found at lovelylittlekitchen.com.

This week’s share

  • Assorted tomatoes
  • Colorful sweet peppers
  • Carrots
  • Dill
  • Delicata squash
  • Red and yellow onions
  • Greenleaf lettuce
  • Tatsoi
  • Swiss chard
  • German Red garlic        

Your fruit share will be a bagful of Pete’s Macintosh apples and Bartlett pears.

What’s new on the farm?

Killdeer have begun their flocking, and their numbers appear healthy to me. I like to think that they have found a safe haven here, but how can I know? I noticed them last week while working a field in preparation for cover cropping. Soon, they’ll head to Mexico, and they are looking to bulk up for the flight. The disc brings soil dwelling insects and worms to the surface and the flock swarms down to scoop them up. In the spring of the year, Killdeer would dread the coming of the tractor. They make nests on the ground after we’ve plowed but generally before we’ve planted. Because of their broken wing ploy, we can usually find and flag their nests so that we can avoid them as we pull the transplanter across the field. For a few days, their hatchlings are little flightless puffballs and a year or two back Jan could not resist the temptation to catch one in her hands (she is similarly hands on with snakes and baby rabbits). She may have frightened the little thing for a moment, but it was soon off doing what its siblings were doing, eating seeds or bugs. And now I imagine it as part of this flock making plans for Mexico.     

A week ago, the trees in our hedgerows were deep green. Today reds and oranges are peeking through, and in a week or two they’ll be in full color. We expect our first frost tonight. And so, a little too soon, summer is over. The Hudson River, which lies five miles west of here, at the end of our road, sits at an elevation of about 90’. Our farm lies some 800’ above the river, and that is what gives us some protection against the first frosts, which tend to snake along valley floors. I visited a friend whose farm is a mile east and perhaps 100 or 150’ above the level of the river. He told me that his first frost occurred two days ago and it caught him by surprise, spoiling a large portion of his winter squash crop. We had a little more time to prepare. Nate and I spent half a day on Wednesday dropping sandbags in all of the places where we intended to put row covers, and then a full day on Thursday rolling out covers, spreading them over the top of the cold sensitive crops and then repositioning the sandbags along their edges. The farm team helped with the last pieces – draping covers over the peppers and eggplants that now stand up to my shoulders. Had we not taken these steps, we’d be hard pressed to fill our truck during the final weeks of the season. Often, if our crops survive the first frosts, they will continue to grow for another three or four weeks, or as long as the Indian Summer lasts. In the meantime, it’s time to sharpen your skis!

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #15, Week of September 14, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Every other week, I throw eight five-gallon diesel cans in the back of my pickup truck and head into town for a refill. By my back-of-the-envelope calculation, this translates into less than half a gallon per share per year, which has not changed much over the years. Our bigger use of fuel has to do with trucking from the farm to sites in the city, and that has likewise remained steady at about four gallons per share per year. As I drove to the filling station today, I thought about this week’s tasks. We will try to finish strawberry planting and continue seeding greens for the winter as we have been doing for the past couple of weeks. The greenhouse is full again with benches of spinach, Swiss chard, kale and other very cold hardy greens. It takes about an hour each day to do the watering. We’ll plant them out in our unheated greenhouses in early October, hoop and cover them with row covers and irrigate them twice a week. They’ll be ready for the first winter share delivery on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. More information about the winter share will be coming soon.  

This week’s share

  • Assorted tomatoes
  • Colorful sweet peppers
  • Assorted potatoes
  • Rosemary
  • German White garlic
  • Yellow or green beans
  • Dill
  • Squashes or cucumbers
  • A mix of red lettuces
  • Spinach
  • Kale

Delicata squashes will be in some shares this week, and in every share next week. Eat right away – they do not keep very well. Simply wash, cut in half lengthwise, and bake face down for 45 minutes at 375 or until fork soft. Add a little butter and a pinch of salt or cinnamon. The skin is edible. Your fruit share will be Pete’s last peaches on Tuesday and his last plums on Thursday.

What’s new on the farm?

Two crops were particularly hard for us this year: carrots and potatoes. Hot and dry weather was the chief culprit in both cases, but several growers have pointed to the poor quality of seeds as another possible cause in the case of carrots. You’ll get the first of our potatoes this week. We’ll send our own carrots for a second time next week, and again the following week, and then we’ll be out until our late fall harvest (which was timed for winter shares).

We have purchased crops from neighboring farmers in the past. We set aside some money for the purpose. We don’t have success with every crop we grow, and we don’t want you to have a bad CSA experience. If our radicchio or celeriac or kohlrabi don’t work out, we are not going to go to the market looking to replace them, but if an important staple like carrots or onions or potatoes failed, we would go searching to fill the gap. We have only done this a few times in all of our years as CSA farmers, and we limit our purchases to local growers.

I’ve been trying to buy organic carrots with which to fill out your fall shares, but it turns out that we were not alone in having had challenges. And the local crop is lean. My friend Brian, who farms with his wife Justine, believes they will have some carrots for us, and Jody and Carrie, sisters who farm in Columbia County, expect to also have some. They are excellent farmers and farm on good soils, making them good candidates, with some prior planning, to help with the carrots in our 2021 shares, too. I’ll keep you apprised as to the source of carrots (and any other non-Windflower crops) as they show up in your shares.      

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution 14, September 8 and 10, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Happy Labor Day from all of us at Windflower Farm. Summer isn’t over yet, but we can sense it winding down here at the farm. It’s a time of transition in our fields and among our school-age staff. This week, you’ll be getting tomatoes, peppers, onions, chiles, cilantro and edamame – all warm weather vegetables. But fall crops are coming. Next week, you’ll get the potatoes and Rosemary we had hoped to send this week, along with Delicata squash and garlic. Greens have responded well to the cooler and wetter weather of recent weeks. This week, the greens category will be filled out with lettuce, choy and cabbage. Next week, you’ll get a different lettuce, plus kale and spinach. And you’ll still be getting tomatoes, peppers, and the occasional summer squashes and eggplants as long as the weather holds. 

What’s in your share this week?

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Chiles
  • Cilantro
  • Edamame
  • Lettuce
  • Mei Qing Choi
  • Cabbage
  • Beets

If you are new to edamame, follow these simple steps: Steam for three to four minutes, sprinkle with salt and then eat, with a cold beer or without. To eat, place the pod in your mouth without letting go, then bite down gently, pulling the pod through your teeth, leaving the tasty little beans behind. Your fruit share will consist of Yonder Farm’s peaches. If they are a little hard, just let them sit for a couple of days.

What’s new on the farm?

We have a number of things to do during the next four or five weeks, giving some real focus to our early fall. Tomorrow, we’ll begin preparing the ground so that we can plant next year’s strawberries by the end of the week. We’ll also plant the last field greens of the season – spinach, arugula, a new red colored kale, Tatsoi, and a purple choy. And we’ll work on getting potatoes out of the ground. Next week, in the greenhouse, we’ll sow a variety of greens for the winter share and, in the field, we’ll plant red and yellow onion plants for harvest next spring. We’ll also sow cover crop seeds where we can and finish harvesting acorn and Delicata squashes and cabbages. 

During the following week, we’ll prepare greenhouses for winter greens by removing the non-performing tomato vines and old cut flowers, adding compost and tilling the soil. We’ll also be harvesting butternut squashes, leeks, sweet potatoes, and the remaining potatoes and carrots in anticipation of our first frost. 

The week after that, we’ll plant all of the winter greens in the greenhouses and prepare field beds for garlic and onion sets. This will entail more compost applications and bed forming and a session of garlic bulb busting (it’s the individual cloves that we plant and will become next year’s bulbs). And the last several weeks of the season will be spent planting garlic, which we’d like wrapped up by October 15th, and onion sets, which should be completed by election day. I’m sure it will unfold just like clockwork. 

Have a great week, Ted

Ted Blomgren
Windflower Farm

Distribution 13, September 1 and 3, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm, where the weather has turned pleasantly cool and wet.  

What’s in your share?

  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Beans
  • Dill
  • and something from our mystery tote

Your fruit share will include our watermelons or Pete’s peaches. Rosemary and potatoes will be coming next week, if our harvesting machinery works properly, along with edamame, cilantro and chiles.   

What’s new on the farm?

On Saturday, a tornado passed just a few miles south of here, leaving downed trees and power lines, and dropping over 3 inches of rain across the area. I believe one person was hurt and some roofs were damaged. A photo taken in nearby Schaghticoke, with a friend’s house in the foreground and the funnel cloud behind it, reminds me of my childhood, when we would watch tornados from my grandmother’s front porch in Illinois. It took a path nearly identical to the one it took 23 years ago, following first the Mohawk River Valley and then jumping the Hudson to the Hoosic River, giving some credence to the curious notion that storms follow water. Several of us were texting back and forth, aware that our greenhouses can become giant spinnakers if the storm gets hold of them. In an ordinary year, this would have been an open house weekend at the farm. We might all have been huddled in our cellar, tents blowing in the wind.

This time of year, we do most of our planting and weeding on Thursdays and Fridays. The remainder of the week is spent harvesting and packing. We had an all day rain here on Thursday and, although there was much to do in the field, we retreated to the indoors for seeding, garlic trimming and machinery repair. The Medina family, clustered together in our new barn, spent much of the day listening to Mariachi music, the accordion and brass instruments blazing in their upbeat way, even when the lyrics are often sad. They also played recordings of several Mexican comedians, whose Spanish was way too fast for me to understand, but who had them in stitches. Their laughter and their apparent enjoyment of one another is a joy to watch. Before the need to take precautions against the pandemic, we all ate together in a big kitchen in the barn, where Wednesdays were potluck. So far this summer, we have not shared a single meal, and I think we all feel diminished for it. Food transcends language and brings us together, and I think we all miss that part of our working lives here. I imagine that you miss that in your lives, too. I find it good to keep in mind that it will not always be this way. 

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #12, Week of August 24, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Greetings from Windflower Farm. This week’s CSA distribution marks the first of the second half of the season. What’s to come? You’ll receive another six or seven weeks of summer vegetables – tomatoes, corn, squashes, beans – and then, with the change in weather, you’ll get several weeks of fall vegetables, including winter squashes, leeks, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Keep in mind that the season is 22 weeks long. This year, it will come to an end during election week. Your fruit shares will include the peaches, plums and melons of summer for some time to come, then, when summer is over and the growing season winds down, we’ll wrap up the fruit share with pears, apples and cider. The fruit share lasts 20 weeks.     

This week’s share

  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Sweet corn
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant on Tuesday, onions on Thursday
  • Squashes or cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce – Romaine on Tuesday, Redleaf on Thursday
  • Cabbage

Your fruit share will be either our watermelons or Pete’s plums. Carrots will be coming very soon, I promise, as will potatoes and Rosemary and the return of salad greens. 

The changes that we’ve made in our packing shed in response to Covid-19 have caused us to make some errors. All of this packing is new for us. I am sorry if you’ve missed out on some items. We’ll do our best to make them up to you. And we are working hard to get our systems up to speed so as to avoid shortages in the future.

What’s new at Windflower Farm?

In the past, onion topping had consumed much of our time this time of year. But this year, things will be different, at least that’s the hope. Farmers, forever attracted to machinery that reduces physical labor, long ago developed cutting tables that removed onion tops and roots from bulbs, but we have never owned one. Imagine a pair of 48 inch rolling pins working side by side and turning in opposite directions. Now imagine that each of them is made of heavy steel and has a cutting blade spiraling along its length. The roller pairs are set on the table so that their front or top ends are higher than their bottom ends, causing a bulb to move along the length of the rollers. As it travels, the bulb remains on top of the rollers but its roots and leaves occasionally get pulled down between them and are cut off by the spiraling blades. As you can imagine, it is a machine that requires safety guards. 

An onion topper came up for sale on my local farmer list-serve. It was sold within nine minutes. A Vermont farmer offered to put one in a container he was having brought in from the Netherlands, but I declined. In the Northeast, with the rare exception of small farms like ours, onions are produced on muck soils, and those are found in just a few pockets in New York, Ontario and Quebec, which is where I concentrated my search for a topper of our own. On Thursday of last week, I travelled to onion country in Quebec to pick up an onion topper I found through an equipment dealership. The border crossing was not exactly smooth. There was a committee of three looking me over closely. “Were you not aware that the border has been closed for weeks?” “Why didn’t you buy one in the states?” “What does it do?” “Why didn’t you have it shipped?” And so on. To which I responded: “Yes, but agriculture is an exempt industry, they are unavailable in the states, they remove onion leaves, and shipping would have cost a fortune.” They must have concluded that it was an unlikely pretext for doing anything nefarious because they let me across.

My topper was at Fermes Farnham, a huge onion and carrot operation in the small village of Sainte-Sabine. If you are a fan of Louise Penny novels, you’ll be familiar with the landscape I passed through. French speaking, largely Catholic, agricultural, flat as a pancake with the exception of little lakes and hummocks here and there. Four men who claimed to speak no english at all, which may have been true, helped me load the topper onto my truck. We were all concerned when it appeared my tires might all blow out from the weight of the thing, but eventually decided it would be fine. Before I left, they allowed me to climb around on their new harvester – bright red and a story and a half tall – so that I could see how a topper is set up to work. I crossed back into the states at Rouses Point, where the border agent quizzed me about growing his favorite vegetables – Brussels sprouts and parsnips – which we don’t grow. I was unsure if I would be let back in. Back home, I’ve begun to assemble the parts that should enable me to get the onion topper up and running in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be curious to know if you can see the difference – I know we will.

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #11 – Week of August 17, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Greetings from Windflower Farm. Shorter days and cooler nights signal the start of the school year. Our farm staff is smaller by one this week. Mallory, who started here when she was 14, is off to begin her freshman year in college. Two other student workers will leave soon, but their schedules remain hazy. We’ll miss them when they go.

What’s in your share?

  • Sweet corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers (or squash)
  • Cabbage (or eggplant)
  • Lacinato kale (or lettuce)
  • Onions
  • Garlic

What’s new on the farm?

Your basil was greenhouse grown because we were afraid that downy mildew would have killed it in the field. There is more to come. One goal will be to learn how to scale it up so that there is enough in the share for a batch of pesto. Your fruit share will be our own melons.

We have always farmed organically. Passersby know this because our fields are a little weedier than those absolutely weed-free corn fields in our neighborhood. That those fields are made weed-free by applications of a pre-emergent herbicide represent one of the differences between organic and conventional agriculture. We have a number of good tools in our weed management toolbox, but none are as effective as the herbicides used by my neighbors, and I find myself at times to be a little envious. In the past, we had worked with a group called Certified Naturally Grown for our organic certification. This year, we switched teams so that we would be certified under the national rule, which is more widely accepted, and we received our new certificate in the mail this week.

One of the key differences under this new rulebook is that so-called biodegradable plastic mulches are not allowed. It is suspected that they contain petroleum additives that are not good for soil health despite their use in Canadian and European organics. Only truly plastic mulches can be used in the states, and we’ll have to send any plastic mulches we do use to a landfill when we’re finished with them. This will certainly motivate us to try to eliminate those products altogether. Another key difference is that the paper trail required to enable a bonafide third party audit of an organic farm is substantial, and participation in the process has required us to make some changes to our record keeping system. Both of these changes – reducing the use of plastics and keeping better records – will make us a better farm business.

This week, we’ll wrap up our yellow onion harvest and begin on reds and shallots, vegetables that I enjoy growing and that our farm seems well suited to. Which brings me to a subject we are thinking out loud about. We have begun talking with other CSA farmers in the region about taking a more collaborative approach to producing what goes into your weekly shares. For the twenty years we have been a CSA, we have grown almost everything that we have sent. But we have come to believe that your shares (and our work lives) might be enhanced with a little selective vegetable crop swapping.  

To that end, we are considering working with a small handful of experienced (and certified) organic farmers who would provide us with the kinds of vegetables that they grow particularly well, and we, in turn, would grow more of the kinds of crops that we do well and send those to their CSA members. We might grow more onions or tomatoes or squashes, for example, and trade them for early carrots or cucumbers or summer lettuce. In this way, we might more reliably offer to our CSA membership more of those vegetables that are difficult for us to grow. The benefit for us is that we’d eliminate a few challenging crops, enabling us to grow more of those vegetables we grow well. I share this because I’m curious to know what you think about this idea. Please feel free to drop me a line.

Have a great week, Ted 

Distribution #10 – Week of August 10, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm. Last Tuesday’s tropical storm, Isaias, dropped just over three inches of rain here, replenishing both of our ponds in dramatic fashion (see our Instagram page) and giving our farm it’s very first all-day rain of the season. I know that in New York you were battling high winds and heavy rains on that day, and I stayed in close touch with our delivery team to hear how things were playing out, but I also had the first deep rest in a long while that afternoon, knowing the good that a much reduced Isaias was delivering to our little farm. We are irrigating now from a pond that was bone dry just a week ago.

What’s in your share?

  • Swiss chard
  • Toscano kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers on Tuesday, squashes on Thursday
  • Beets
  • Sweet corn
  • Onions
  • Garlic

Your fruit share will be peaches from Yonder Farm

What’s new on the farm?

Bill McKibbon wrote recently that, at current levels, warming is happening at a rate that can be likened to moving south 12 miles every year. As a farmer, I imagine ten years of this, and then twenty. I’ll be farming in a lower Hudson Valley climate soon, and then in South Jersey’s. The corn, tomato and squash season will be four weeks longer, and then eight. We’ll be growing peaches and red, seedless table grapes. And then I think of the heat. Already Jan threatens to leave here, searching for a more hospitable climate – coastal Newfoundland, perhaps, or Reykjavik, which she hears is nice. And I think of the concern a fruit grower shared with me: warm early springs, which result in early blooms, coupled with occasional spring freezes that threaten an early crop, actually make peach and plum crops far less reliable as the world warms. And I think of the flooding along the coasts and the dislocation of millions of people.

When we work the soil, CO2 is released, making organic farmers complicit in the largest contribution farmers as a whole make to greenhouse gas emissions. Planting kale or lettuce or carrots requires a nearly perfect bed, which requires tillage. But when we plant a sod, sow cover crops or replant woodlands, we can, on the other hand, sequester carbon. Minimizing carbon-burning tillage and maximizing steps that help sequester carbon are two of the most promising steps we can take toward slowing the warming of our planet, and at Windflower Farm there is much more we can do along these lines.

Some scientists believe that agriculture can be made carbon-neutral with perennial crops, reduced tillage, management-intensive grazing and agroforestry, among other things. We’ll be a while in achieving this, but I am heartened when I attend conferences and see so many young farmers attending sessions on reducing tillage and soil health. The tool I’m saving for is a roller/crimper. It rolls a cover crop down, turning it into a weed-suppressive mulch, into which we can transplant all kinds of vegetable crops without any kind of tillage at all. Next year, I hope to be able to report that your sweet corn and broccoli and ‘Delicata’ squash were grown using reduced tillage practices.

Best wishes, Ted

Distribution #9 – Week of August 3, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

August greetings from all of us at Windflower Farm.

What’s in your share?

  • Lettuce
  • Koji on Tuesday, cabbage on Thursday
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet corn
  • Green beans
  • Onions or scallions
  • Summer squashes or zucchinis
  • Sweet peppers

The share list that I provide at the top of each newsletter is not to be taken verbatim. It’s my educated guess about what should be ready in adequate supply and of a quality that is good enough to send to you that week. But I’m generally making this guess a couple of days ahead of the actual harvest, and it’s harder than you might think to get this right. Heat can cause bolting in virtually all of the greens, and insects can render them inedible overnight. And getting precise counts of eggplants or peppers or cucumbers is just not practical. And so, if we run out of the eggplants we promised, we might substitute peppers or cucumbers or cabbage. They say that a little mystery is good for a relationship.

What’s new on the farm?

A light rain is falling as I write this. The greens seeder is mounted on the John Deere and I’d like to sow a round of arugula, chard, kale and cilantro into beds I prepared yesterday. Our greens production has suffered lately, and I’m hoping to get it back on track. It has been so dry that a little rain won’t be a problem for the seeder. In fact, it has been so hot and dry that It’s been difficult to get some of our crops established. Most vegetables seeds, and all of the seeds that produce greens, are small, and they generally can’t be seeded more than half an inch deep. And evaporative water loss from the top half inch of soil has been a big problem for us this year. A strategy that has proven successful in getting our carrots established (after two previous attempts) has now become common practice here. Immediately after seeding, we set up runs of micro-sprinklers, called Mini-Wobblers, along the entire length of the new planting and run them for an hour every other day until the crop comes up. The sprinklers come from a company that got its start in Florida, where they know how to deal with heat. According to the brochure, “they replicate a light summer rain shower and keep the seeds bathed in moisture throughout their germination and emergence.” So, once I manage to get these greens seeded, I’ll ask the guys to help me move the Mini-Wobblers into place, and I’ll leave them there until I see nice little rows of greens getting off to a good start.     

Have a great week, Ted   

Distribution #8 – Week of July 27, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from a hot and humid Windflower Farm, where tomorrow’s heat index is supposed to be over 100 degrees Fahrenheit!

What’s in your share?

  • Lots of tomatoes
  • Zucchini or Zephyr squash
  • Sweet peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Kale on Tuesday, collards on Thursday
  • And more

Your fruit share will be Yonder Farm’s blueberries or peaches. Pete says it’s most likely to be blueberries.

This year’s flower share was just six weeks long. The shorter flower season was designed to give Jan a chance to undertake new projects this summer. The share wrapped up at some locations in week #6 and at most locations last week, which was week #7. It comes to an end for the last two sites this week. We’ll miss having all those lovely flowers everywhere – greenhouse, fields, packing shed.

What’s new at the farm?

It’s Sunday morning. Jan has just finished harvesting flowers – her last of the season – and is now cleaning up one of her flower fields. Nate is mowing. Heidi, a nurse and friend who stops over every now and again for “weeding therapy,” is in the carrots. And the Medina family, working as a group, as always, are harvesting tomatoes, peppers, cabbages and squash. It is the tail end of a hot July, the dog days here in the Hudson Valley, and the work starts early to avoid the heat. I’m on irrigation duty. The pepper and tomato tunnels in our front field ran from 6:00 to 8:30 am (Jan, an early bird, actually turned those on). I’ve got the carrots running now and I’ll let them run until just before the lunch hour, after which it’s on to the red and yellow onion block, followed by a block of eggplants, chiles and peppers. All of this water is coming from a well that is 470’ deep and delivers nearly 100 gallons per minute.

Nate is on irrigation duty tomorrow. He’ll use the back pond to irrigate the squashes, cucumbers and melons in the back fields, all of which are mulched and on drip irrigation. He’ll then irrigate the back tomato, ginger and pepper tunnels. He thinks that the pond will be empty when he’s done with this round of irrigating, leaving just enough for the snappers and frogs and water bugs to carry on their lives. We’ll need to tap into the newest well if we are to irrigate those fields again. He’ll run the drip system on the sweet potatoes in our big field, too, but using our bigger pond in this case, which seems to still have a fair amount of water. And if he has time, he’ll use a tractor-mounted tool he fabricated to lay out drip tape on a block of cabbages in the big field and then run them for a couple of hours. We like to keep Nate busy.

In a hot, dry season, few vegetables will give good results without irrigation, and even irrigation won’t help if it’s too hot. You’ll get our unirrigated corn soon and see what I mean. The flavor and texture will be good, but the “fill” will be poor. Broccoli and lettuce becomes bitter in the heat, and no amount of irrigation seems to remedy that. In the case of broccoli, the bitter compound is glucosinolate, and it can be leached out to some extent by boiling in salt water, the downside of which is that it probably also pulls nutrients out of the vegetable. We have planted more of both and hope they will be sweeter with the return of cooler weather.

We have quite a bit to do this week besides irrigating. Tomorrow, we’ll pick up some row covers and till under old crop and weed residues. It’s time to think about seeding down cover crops in fields we’ve finished using for the season. We’ll sow oats and peas if it’s early enough and a mix of rye and vetch a little later. We spread compost and some other soil amendments on a couple of fields last week and we’ll continue to transplant fall greens and more Cucurbits and to field-sow spinach and salad greens. We’ll try to find time to use the old G tractors to cultivate the radishes, arugula, turnips and lettuces. And we’ll go through the sweet potatoes and melons one more time before the vines run, taking out the weed escapes by hand. And we’ll make time for siestas, because these are the dog days, and it’s hot outside.

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #7 – Week of July 20, 2020

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from a hot Windflower Farm!

What’s in your share?

  • Fennel bulbs and fronds
  • Scallions
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchinis or summer squashes
  • Green Boston lettuce
  • Kale or collards
  • Onion bulbs
  • Broccoli, broccolini or beets

Your fruit share will be blueberries from Yonder Farm. Peaches, plums and apricots are coming soon.

Peppers have also been coming along quickly and may be a part of next week’s share. Beans are likely, too.

Our eggplant harvest came as a bit of a surprise for us this week – the hot weather and drip irrigation have helped to bring it along sooner than expected. If you are relatively new to eggplant, you might try it on your pizza: slice it, dip it in a light batter, and fry it on the stove top. Put the fried eggplant slices on top of your favorite pizza and add dollops of pesto and ricotta. Baba ganoush, ratatouille and Thai spicy eggplant with basil are other excellent options. 

Fennel bulbs and fronds are also in your shares. Curried roasted fennel, summer slaw and shaved fennel salad are great ways to enjoy this vegetable. 

All of these recipes and many more can be found at the Stanton Street CSA website (https://stantonstreetcsa.wordpress.com) under “Veggie tips & recipes.” We also like contentednesscooking.com for recipe ideas.

We experimented with packing everything into one bag at a few sites last week, and the results were not what we wanted. This week, your shares will come in three packages: two smaller plastic bags – one containing greens and the other the more durable vegetables – and a paper bag full of tomatoes. And they will be shipped to sites in separate totes. Remember, there will be no box (except locally and at the park site in Washington Hts.), so you’ll need something in which to carry these items home.

What’s new on the farm?

Our organic certification inspector is coming on Tuesday. Farm inspections are an annual event, but this is our first with this organization. We’ve been busy getting our paperwork in order, putting soil tests in a file, cleaning up our workshop, tidying up our barns and seed cupboard, tackling weed messes and generally trying to make ourselves appear respectable. 

The inspector, a woman from the western Catskills, will come with two activities in mind. In the “mass balance audit” she’ll take a look at all of our purchases (seeds, plastics, etc.), field applications (compost, lime), field plantings and harvest records and ask if this is enough to support our sales volume or what we have noted on our CSA distribution lists. In the “trace-back audit” she’ll select an item from the distribution record and follow it back through time from distribution to harvest and planting, looking at field maps, seeding records and the purchase of associated inputs. It could be a long day.

Wish us luck, and have a great week!

Cheers, Ted