The News from Windflower Farm
Hello from Windflower Farm, where fall temperatures have finally arrived. Time to pull out the woolies!
What’s in your share?
- Mixed mustard bunch
- Sweet peppers or eggplant or zucchini
- Squash (acorn, butternut squash, or delicata)
- Sweet potatoes
Your fruit share, the last of the season, will consist of Bosc pears, Empire apples and apple cider from Borden’s Orchard.
Next week’s vegetable share will include Nate’s ginger.
Kristoffer Ross is a new organic grain grower, and his rolled oats and hard red winter wheat flour, among other things, will be offered during our winter season. To sign up for the winter share, and to learn more about Kristoffer and the other farmers who are part of our winter share, click here: Windflower Farm’s 2021-2022 Winter Share (wufoo.com). Please see your confirmation email for details about how to pay for your share. Central Brooklyn CSA has a limited number of subsidized shares available to current Tier 1 members. If you are interested in a subsidized share, please let us know in the notes section of the registration form.
What’s new on the farm?
Jan and Nate sorted sweet potatoes yesterday. Jumbos, larges, and mediums. The small roasting pieces were set aside for another day. First they sorted by size, then they ran them through the produce washer, the machine that one of our membership likened to a car wash for vegetables. We have several hundred bushels tucked into our curing greenhouse, and another couple of hundred left to harvest. – enough to include in our last three deliveries and all four winter shares, plus enough to swap for winter squashes or more beets. My friend Brian, who is also a CSA farmer, dropped in yesterday. Although we can spend hours together paddling our canoes on the nearby Battenkill without once bringing up the subject of vegetable farming, that was not the case yesterday. First, we agreed to a swap our onions for his squashes. Then we talked about sweet potatoes, which we both enjoy growing, and in particular about how to harvest them most efficiently, deploying mowing machines, vine cutting coulters, root undercutters and bed chain lifters.
This morning, Jan and Nate sorted acorn squashes while the Medinas harvested red leaf lettuce, arugula, koji and various kales. None of the winter squashes appear likely to keep for long, and these acorns are no exception. Wet seasons – and the 2021 farm season has been one of our wettest – are especially difficult for the Cucurbitaceae, the family of vegetables that include butternut squashes, zucchinis, watermelons, cantaloupes and cucumbers among others. Fusarium and Rhizoctonia root and crown rots are early season problems. Phytopthora fruit rots kick in when puddles last long enough for spores to multiply. Angular Leaf Spot, Bacterial Speck, Powdery Mildew and Downy Mildew are just a sampling of the foliar diseases that can cause damage. The number of pathogens that complete their life cycles by infecting these crops is so numerous that any success seems improbable. And yet they grow, and often thrive. We have reached out to neighboring farmers to help fill out this category. Many of the Acorn squashes in this week’s shares will have come from Markristo Farm. And in the winter, Brian’s butternuts and kabochas will fill in. Both are excellent organic farmers.
Jan and Nate are now sorting shallots. Good, bad and good enough for the house. The variety we grow is called Ed’s Red, which we produce from organically grown seeds purchased (via Fedco Seeds in Maine) from an Idaho farmer-breeder name Beth Rasgorshek, who has been improving the open pollinated variety for many years. It’s a wonderful variety. Shallots generally store well, but wet conditions at harvest have led some to rot. I suspect that you have already noticed that our yellow and red onions have had some internal rots. These are inevitable and hard to detect. If there were such a thing as forensic plant pathology, one could trace a rotten onion scale back to the blemished leaf associated with it and, in turn, to the day an organism took advantage of the blemish to move in and multiply. Much of this year’s rots – called slippery skin and sour skin – have had to do with wet harvest conditions in July and the opportunistic bacteria that took advantage of them.
Many of you have asked what Jan has been up to since she hasn’t been growing flowers. When she is not sorting malformed or rotten vegetables from good ones with Nate, and she isn’t on the packing line putting onions or potatoes or greens into CSA share boxes, she has been expanding the gardens around the house, finishing the interior build of a tiny house she and Nate started last year and remodeling a cabin. She isn’t ready to say whether she’ll be growing flowers next year. After thirty years of flower growing, she needed a break, a chance to rethink and time to try new things. She has yet to decide whether it’s time to get back to cut flowers, but after so many hours on the vegetable team this year, she has a number of ideas about how I can improve my vegetable farming!
Have a great week, Ted