Farm and raspberry news

We have enjoyed this week so, so much.  An entire week of warm, dry weather at this time of year is a gift.  Mud and rain complicate every task.

IMG_0665 steve crop walk
Steve walks the farm in the morning to make his harvest decisions. I love this corner of our farm.  Unlike most of our flat fields, this area is a basin.  Steve contours the fields, so they are all at different angles.

IMG_0442 wtr squash harvest
We are making progress with our winter squash harvests.  All the Sweet Dumpling, delicata, acorn and Sugar Dumplings are tucked away.  We’ve begun the butternut harvest, but there are many more to pick.  It looks like a very good squash crop this year.  From right, Boi tosses acorn squash, Jory clips the squash, Jon catches, and Caitlyn packs the acorns into wooden bins.

IMG_0428 wtr squash harvest2
Our farm work is so enjoyable on warm days.

IMG_0616 fennel harvest
From left, Mario, Kerry and Tristan harvest fennel for your CSA boxes this week.

IMG_0426 onion cleaning
From left, Clint, Billy and Michael clean onions.  We dry our onions in the greenhouse, then run them though a topper to remove leaves and loose skins, and knock off most of the dirt.  It is a dusty job, so it’s great to take care of this step outside.  Now the onions are stashed in our dry storage cooler.

IMG_0584 sunset through GH
Sunset through the greenhouse.

Raspberry update

It is time to acknowledge that we will not have raspberries for the CSA boxes, nor will we host raspberry u-picks.  Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) have wreaked havoc again this year.  This fruit fly pest arrived in the USA in 2008, and in Wisconsin in 2012.  We invested in growing a raspberry crop this year, but our techniques to control SWD failed.  We are collaborating with UW entomologists again this year (and will next year too).  So far, their studies have focussed on the fruit fly’s biology and behavior, as there are big gaps in basic knowledge about the pest.  This past winter answered an essential question of whether SWD can survive our coldest winters.  The answer is “yes.”  Remember last winter’s Polar Vortex?  The fruit fly survived without trouble.

At this point, our primary concern is learning enough about SWD to avoid risk to our strawberry crop too; the fruit fly showed up at the end of the strawberry season this year.  We will grow raspberries again next year, and will try to control the fruit flies with cultural methods.  Picking every berry is essential to controlling SWD.  This can work quite well on a home garden scale.  We plan to reduce the size of our field, narrow the rows, prune out early flowers and try our best to pick every berry.  This is a tough situation for all raspberry growers and we are still learning how to manage this new pest.

We are disappointed that we couldn’t offer raspberry u-picks this fall.  We will probably offer some berries to pick during the pumpkin and gleaning party.  We’ll keep you posted.  Beth

Earlier posting of the weekly veggie list?

A few members have asked us to post our veggie list earlier.  I am now posting the week’s list in our website sidebar by about 7 pm Wednesday night.  This is a few hours earlier than I have our newsletter ready.  The sidebar “Box Contents” is visible on the right side of both our homepage and our farm newsletter page.  I hope this helps.

Veggie list and veggie notes (9/25/14, week #19, green EOW)

Green cabbage
Cauliflower AND/OR broccoli
Fennel, 1 bulb
Green beans, 1/2 lb
Bell peppers, about 2
Red onion, 1
Yellow onion, 1
Slicing tomatoes, just a few
Poblano chiles, 3
Lettuce, 1 medium head
Garlic

Next week’s box will probably contain winter squash, potatoes, leeks, cilantro, peppers, carrots and more.

Fennel – We have trimmed away most of the fronds so the fennel will fit in the box.  The plants stand three feet high out in the field.  We’ve left the tender central fronds so you can chop and add them to cooked dishes for extra anise flavor.
Fennel is a ‘swing vegetable’; it can be used raw or cooked.  Clean well and slice as thinly as possible for use in raw salads.  It is good simply prepared with olive oil, lime or lemon juice, salt and shaved parmesan cheese.  Cooking softens and sweetens fennel, and mellows its anise flavor.  Both the bulb and leaves are edible.  We’ve send the fennel in combination with the last few tomatoes because they are so good cooked together.  I asked Pat of Local Thyme to come up with an interesting use this week.

Slicing tomatoes – We will send just a few tomatoes this week.  The tomato season is nearly over.  These late season tomatoes are a bit soft and will not store for very long.  Eat them up.  Personally, I prefer to cook late-season tomatoes, rather than prepare them raw.

Poblano chiles –  The flavor of the poblanos is quite good this year.  As I wrote a few weeks ago, these chiles are unusually mild this year, with occasional hot ones mixed in.  Remove the seeds and midveins to reduce the chance of heat.  Taste a sliver.  Use your best judgement.

Lettuce – This is the last lettuce of the year!

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