2019 Numbers and 2020 Sneak Peek

A very quick note here to say I’m working on the plan for the 2020 season and it’s probably going to be very, very similar to 2019. You can go back through the blog (or our Instagram or Facebook for better photos) to get a sense of what our previous season was like. Last year we opened up CSA share sales at the beginning of February and that’s the target for this year as well.

I also just put a little summary of the farm’s numbers up over at the blog on slowhandfarm.com. Short story is that it was a good season but not our best. Stay tuned to see how 2020 shapes up.

Fall Predictions – Week 9 of 9

We’re going to shoot for a little larger share for the final week. Pretty much everything in the share should keep well in the fridge if you don’t get to it right away, even some of the greens. Here’s what I’m expecting:

Chard, kale and collards, radicchio, sugarloaf and escarole, arugula and mustard greens, leeks, onions, hakurei turnips, parsnips, carrots, and popcorn.

On the greens we’ll see how much we can get of all of those and it will likely be some mixed options. The radicchio and sugarloaf have been maturing slowly so I’m hoping more will be ready next week. The escarole still has some tip burn but it is super tasty with a little extra effort to clean. We should have a good quantity of arugula and enough for small bunches of mustard greens.

There’s some possibility that we may also have parsley, beets, small rutabaga, watermelon radishes, and even lettuce! It’s also possible that we might open some of those up for you-pick if we don’t have time to pick them ourselves, or if the quantities or sizes don’t make sense so come a little early to take advantage of the last light of the afternoon if you want to do a little gleaning.

Fall Share – Week 8 of 9

In today’s share: spinach, Gilfeather rutabaga, shallots, celeriac or parsnip, chard or kale or collards, little daikons, and sugarloaf or treviso chicory.

One more week and we’re cutting it a little tight this year both on maturity dates and quantities of some of the produce in the field. It’s easy for me to see the shortfalls in the field, but the actual shares themselves have seemed pretty good in the end – and certainly delicious. Here are some notes on the items in the shares this week:

Gilfeather rutabaga (or turnips, depending on who you ask) are a bit small but are still delicious and very sweet. We didn’t thin them and there was a bit of a mix up when they got seeded which means we have more than we intended to, but they’re also smaller – that kind of evens out quantity but makes a little more work. The same goes for the daikons.

We’re just a tad short on celeriac so parsnips are an alternate option. We’ll have more, maybe of both, next week and they’re big! But they both store very well and you can just hack off pieces and use them over time.

The sugarloaf and radicchio are right on the edge of making tight heads but are not all quite there yet so they’ll be mixed option both this week and next as I selectively harvest just the ones that are most ready.

We’ll harvest everything that’s left next week so expect an even larger share then.

Fall Predictions – Week 8 of 9

We’re coming up on the end of the season, just two more weeks of harvests remain. Here’s what I’m hoping we’ll have in the shares next week: spinach, sugarloaf chicory, shallots, turnips, daikon radishes, celeriac or parsnips, and a choice of kale, collards, or chard.

Looking ahead to the final week the possibilities include: radicchio, storage onions, leeks, salad turnips, watermelon radishes, beets, arugula, mustard, carrots and the usual mix of kale, collards, chard and a bit of cabbage.

It’s been tough predicting as crops have grown very, very slowly this fall. It’s good in the sense that things aren’t getting overgrown, but they’re all a bit smaller than ideal so I’m hoping a bit of moisture this coming week, and maybe the warm temperatures will help bulk things up, despite the very short days. These dry, sunny days have been great for working in and we are definitely appreciating not working in the usual cold, wet, muddy conditions of fall.

Yesterday we had time to do a little clean up in the afternoon and got some of the summer trellising ready to come down. By the end of our field work day at 5pm the sun was already down and the moon was high in the east.

Fall Predictions – Week 7 of 9

It was dark and scary at CSA pick up last night. This weekend we will turn our clocks back which will only make it darker – fortunately the scary part was just Halloween so we’re done with that. Due to the dark we’ll be shortening regular pick up hours for November to 4:30 to 6:00, and we’ll make bags for anyone who doesn’t show up during those hours.

Crops are growing very slowly this time of year but here’s my best guess at next week’s share: Escarole, arugula or mustard, chard, leeks, kohlrabi, winter radishes and carrots. There are a few crops that we have small quantities left of in the field, not enough for a full CSA distribution but enough that we’ll probably harvest them and give choices of one or the other, or offer them for sale on the farm stand.

The frosty mornings this week were just enough to start sweetening up a lot of the vegetables and the temperatures never really got cold enough for long enough to do significant damage to anything. The dry, sunny conditions make field work much more pleasant but oddly I’m finding myself missing the rain a bit, and it wouldn’t be bad to get another shot of water in the ground to help some of the crops bulk up a bit. On the other hand, one of the things I love about eating from the farm is that the weather dictates what’s good, and when, and it makes some of the decisions for us encouraging constant creativity.

Fall Predictions- Week 6 of 9

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The forecast for next week makes it look we’ll get the September we missed out on. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or not, but it should certainly make working in the fields a little more pleasant. I keep predicting parsley and one of these week’s it’ll make it into the shares. Chard, kale, collards and cabbage will continue with a pick one theme. Mustard greens or arugula are also likely in the greens category, and I’m hoping we’ll get one more round of head lettuce before we get into our chicory harvests. For roots we’ll probably have beets and Hakurei salad turnips. Parsnips are also in the plan and we’ll do a little exploratory digging on Monday to see what we can get. Storage onions of one sort or another will fill out the shares

We took advantage of the lovely weather to do a little more clean up in the fields. The cover crop that got seeded last week looks like it’s starting to come up well. All of the irrigation tape and sprinklers are out of the fields now. The tomatoes are strangely hanging on and still producing a few decent tomatoes so we’ll leave those up. With this weather I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few sweet peppers ripening. We may open those up for you-pick next week if so – although it’s quite possible that cold, clear nights this weekend might actually do them in finally.

Two final notes: Thursday is Halloween! Tiiu is planning on offering face painting at pick up that evening to anyone who’s interested (4:30-6:00). Second, the first week of November (in two weeks) is the end of Daylight Savings so pick-up hours will be extra dark. We’ll have lights at pick-up, but we’ll also only be staffing the pick-up until 6:00 for the November evenings.

Fall Predictions- Week 4 of 9

This week some of the cabbage was ready, just a bit – and a bit earlier than planned, and I’ve had this idea for a while about giving more choice of greens so I tried it out and harvested just the cabbage that was ready, along with bunches of kale and collards and then gave folks some choice at the CSA pick up. We’ll continue that in the future I think, although this coming week it’ll probably be mostly chard as it’s looking good and I’m not sure how much longer it’ll last (it’s our most frost sensitive of the big bunching greens).

I’m hoping the lettuce will continue to produce for at least another week or two, it’s not been holding as well as I’d like but we’ll harvest it as long as it’s useable.

Parsley is possible, as are small bunches of big arugula, or maybe bunches of rutabaga greens from thinning out our planting to help the roots size up. I think the salad turnips should be ready, and I hope those will also have nice greens. We may also have the first of the fall Bora King radishes, a colorful daikon type (pictured above on the right). Continuing on the root theme, carrots and celeriac are also strong possibilities. And, to round out the share we’ll toss in some onions.

We took advantage of the lovely weather yesterday and had a productive afternoon cleaning up the summer crops. The cucumber trellises came down and the corn, beans, squash, cucumber, and eggplant beds all got mowed. With a little luck we’ll have enough dry weather next week to put a bunch of cover crop seed down where those crops had been.

Fall Share – Week 3

Tomatoes are finished for the year (except for a few in the field that we’ve opened up for you-pick), peppers are waning, but the fall crops are filling the shares today and we’re trying some new things. In the share today leeks make their first appearance, and we have a bit of butter lettuce. I’ve put a cabbage in the photo but not all of the cabbage was ready so we’re giving the choice of cabbage, collards or kale this week and we’ll probably keep doing that for most of the rest of the season. Carrots and beets made it into the shares, as did the kabocha squash and some lovely spinach.

The leeks are long, which is great! The beet greens are beautiful! It’s definitely fall. The kabocha is ready to eat now, but it will get even better over the next few weeks if you don’t use it immediately – just leave it in a dry spot that’s not too cold. This last round of sweet peppers is a bit less ripe but they will continue to ripen and color fully on a kitchen counter.

It was nice to have another dry day in the field -especially since I was expecting to be harvesting in the rain all day. Looks like we might get lucky again on Thursday with the weather – fingers crossed.

Fall predictions- week 3

All kinds of possibilities for next week: beets, spinach, carrots, kale, lettuce, leeks, sweet peppers. We might mix it up with some Rutabaga thinnings, hakurei turnips, cabbage or collards. I’m thinking that the tomatoes are basically done but there are lots of green ones out there so we’ll open it up to you-pick. Peppers are slowing down but I’m pretty sure we’ll get another week out of them.

Besides harvest there’s a bunch of clean up happening in the field. Those kale plants pictured above are getting tall and Laura and Tiiu stripped all of the funky leaves from the summer off yesterday, leaving just the new growth. Irrigation season is over at this point so we’re winding up all of the drip tape, and taking out the sprinklers. Taking down the trellises for the cucumbers is on the list of things to do so that we can seed a bit of cover crop before the soil gets too cold. Always lot of work to do but definitely less than just a few weeks ago.

Fall Share – Week 2

Celery, sweet peppers, tomatoes, winter squash, shallots, arugula, lettuce and chard.

The celery is the last of the year and it keeps great in the fridge if you aren’t using it all right away. I’ve been loving it as an addition to salads, but it’s also really good for adding flavor to soups and stuffings now that it’s getting colder. Sweet peppers are slowing down but we still have a good selection this week, while tomatoes are pretty much stopped. I mentioned in the last post that our winter squash harvest was very small this year. This week we’re giving out the acorn and delicata (one or the other) and those should be good to eat any time from now until next month. We’ll give out the remaining varieties soon (kabocha, black futsu, and butternut) and those will be best if they’re held for a few weeks before cooking, but they can also be used when we give them out. The first of the shallots go out this week and these have great flavor and will also keep for a long time if not used right away. We’re back into cut greens with the arugula, and we’re continuing with lettuce and big bunches of chard.

I started pulling the popcorn out of the field today, taking advantage of a dry afternoon. Unfortunately I’m still not sure if there’ll be enough to give out. The wind blew the covers off of our fall plantings of radishes and turnips which gave me a good look at those and they’re looking great so far, but still a few weeks out. Harvesting the celery today I walked by the celery root, which is also looking great. My fingers are crossed that the weather continues a mix of enough wet to keep the plants growing, and enough dry to keep any rot from growing in the fields. So far it’s been a decent mix and today’s breeze helped dry things out after the wetter weather this weekend.

Fall Predictions- Week 2

Here are the likely candidates for tomorrow’s share: shallots, chard, lettuce, celery, sweet peppers and arugula. There’s a slim possibility that tomatoes might hang on an extra week, maybe cucumbers too. This wet cold weather is definitely not going to help those crops though and the fall greens and roots are likely to dominate the rest of the year at this point.

I clipped most of the winter squash on Friday and we may get that into the shares this week. We’ve had a terrible winter squash and popcorn year so there won’t be much unfortunately.

In better news, Tiiu and Laura got the chard cleaned up last week, the carrots and beets are looking good, and many of the other fall seeding seem to have gotten a very good start. Let’s hope for a little more dry weather in the coming weeks to keep the fall crops growing strongly to the end.

Fall Share – Week 1

It’s been nice not having to irrigate on the farm but I’m also glad we had a dry day today for the first fall harvest. In the share are red beets with greens, carrots, sweet peppers, what are probably the last of the cucumbers (have I said that before?), a tomato or three, eggplant, a small bunch of collard greens and a head of crisp lettuce – and not pictured: yellow storage onions. I think thursday’s share will not have the eggplant and may also not have the cucumbers.

Kale and collards used to be relatively easy and abundant crops for me to grow but we’ve had infestations of brassica white fly for the past few years which are making it more and more challenging to grow them. Apparently this is a relatively new pest for the Northwest, having just shown up five or six years ago, but it is common in some other areas of the world. I’ve had this same experience in the past – a new pest or disease showing up in a crop that previously was relatively easy to grow – and each time there’s an adjustment period while we figure out new approaches to growing. In the meantime what I’ve noticed is that the greens aren’t always keeping as well as they did in the past and they may have a bit of etching on the back of the leaves. The worst part is that it makes our harvests much slower and smaller. If there was ever a time to hope for cold weather it’s now, as that seems to help a bit.

Field work is slowing down and I was finally able to get some mowing done today. We’re pretty much getting to the point in the season where it’ll be all harvest and clean up for the rest of the year. We still have a little weeding to do, and a bit of cover crop to seed, but mostly the work is harvesting these days.

We’re keeping the farm stand stocked with extra carrots, the few summer squash stragglers, a bit of extra lettuce and both sweet and hot peppers. Take advantage of the last of the year you-pick flowers, herbs, cherry tomatoes and hot peppers too.

Fall Predictions – Week 1

Firstly, I hope the #climatestrike is sending a message to world leaders, and that folks will continue to take small and large personal actions to reduce their environmental impact going forward. It’s something that’s definitely on our minds on the farm continuously, and we’re really grateful to have a supportive CSA community eating our vegetables, helping us to continue our work.

Next week we’ve got a number of good options for the first week of fall. Green crisp lettuce, more carrots, onions, and sweet peppers should all be in the share. Chard is the likely green, although I don’t like giving out chard the same week as beets and beets are another strong possibility. Also on the possibles list are more tomatoes (fingers crossed for a bit of drier, warmer weather), celery, and even a continuation of cucumbers – which have amazingly been continuously producing for more than 11 weeks now. Summer squash produced for all 13 weeks of summer but I’m pretty sure it’ll live up to its name and not make an appearance in the fall shares.

Looking a little farther ahead into the fall, the salad turnips, winter radishes, arugula, and mustards (pictured above between more beds of carrots) are all looking good. Spinach, winter squash, celery root, parsnips, fennel and kohlrabi are all also looking pretty good, but it’s hard to say how much we’ll have. We also have leeks, some chicories, collard greens, kale, cabbage, and lots of chard. I’m probably forgetting something, but we’ll see as the season rolls out. Stay tuned to find out what we actually harvest – or just come to the farm and see for yourself.

Final Summer Share – Week 13

In the share yesterday was a small bunch of kale, sweet peppers, carrots, red onions, a cucumber, a summer squash, a tomato, a bunch of parsley and a head of red leaf lettuce. The cucumbers and summer squash are still holding on, but I’m not sure if there’ll be more for Thursday this week. The tomatoes have plenty of green fruit, but it’s ripening very, very slowly with this weather. I had thought we were finished with the red onions but I found a tote of them in the shed with the storage onions so those go in the share while we continue to clean the storage onions and shallots for the fall shares.

We got lucky yesterday and it was a mostly dry day on the farm, only a few very short showers in the late afternoon. That allowed us to take care of some of the weeds germinating in the fall crops from all of the rain we’ve been getting. I actually had a bunch of rainy day chores in mind, thinking we’d be soaked all day. We’ll have to do those another day and with this forecast it looks like maybe that’ll be sooner rather than later. This is definitely the wettest late summer I can remember in the 19 year I’ve been farming here. We’ve had a few very dry falls recently so my perspective might be a little warped. I have a vague memory of a season about 8 or 9 years ago that was so cool we never got any tomatoes at all.

Fall shares will start next week and I’ll send out confirmations to fall CSA members today or tomorrow. The fall season is scheduled to last 9 weeks and to go until the week before Thanksgiving. Expect more roots and greens in the near future.

Summer Predictions – Week 13

Next week is the final week of our summer season and it seems the weather has already transitioned to fall. Somewhat amazingly I don’t think we’re going to be far off of our harvest projections due to the weather – although the tomatoes have virtually shut down so we’ll see if we get any of those. Sweet peppers seem to be doing fine with this weather, not sure how long that’ll last but I’m hoping they’ll continue for a few more weeks. The cucurbits are basically done; we might have a few stragglers on the farm stand, but the projection was for last week to be the final week for cucumbers and summer squash and it was right on. Lettuce should be good, and I’m thinking we might have some of our summer planted kale and collards (fingers crossed that the brassica white fly hasn’t gotten to them yet). On the list for next week is a round of shallots and we definitely have those. Parsley is another strong possibility with a second planting looking like it’s ready for a first harvest and the original spring planting coming back, too. I’m thinking we might put carrots in the share again as they’re nicely sized up and it would be good to move through that bed.

I had the opportunity yesterday to uncover and hoe a bunch of the fall crops that are under row cover. The row cover protects them from various insect pest but it makes it hard to see what’s happening with the crops. They’re all looking good under there so I’m optimistic for good fall harvests. Laura and Tiiu were also able to pick a lot of our dry beans before it starts raining again. We’ll be selling those later in the year through special order – after I have a chance to shell and clean them. The early dry bean varieties are mostly in, but we still have a lot of later varieties that I’m hoping we’ll get more dry weather for.

One last note: our fall CSA is full but if you want a share let me know – I’ve started a waiting list. If you’ve already signed up for fall I’ll be sending out an email about the fall shares next week so look for that in your inbox.

Summer Share – Week 12

In the share today: celery, sweet peppers, summer squash, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce and chard.

The sharp turn in the weather really put the breaks on the tomatoes. The plants still have lots of fruit on them so I’m hoping we’ll get a little more sun and warmth before the end of summer to ripen some more. This is probably the last week for summer squash and cucumbers, although that was expected and the plan all along. Peppers are coming in well and would be helped with a bit more heat, but we’re still harvesting all of the varieties – 8 sweet sweet pepper varieties this year, although 3 are pretty much the same. Bridge to Paris, Stocky Red Roaster and Karma are all very similar and I can’t tell them apart at this point; they’re all red horn shaped peppers. The Jimmy Nardello, a long, thin frying pepper, and Liebesapfel, a red, round paprika type, are the earliest and the most prolific. We also have the orange-red Gypsy Queens, Gatherer’s Gold – a yellow version of Stocky Red, and an orange bell-type, Eituda which is new for us this year.

The potatoes are German Butter Ball and these are the last of the potatoes for the year. We have A LOT of chard right now so big bunches – I’ve been braising it which makes it much smaller, and very delicious.

There wasn’t much field work done today, just a little weeding in the wet. We did get some onions cleaned for the fall shares. There is still one more week of summer shares after this week. Fall will start the week after that and I’ll send out confirmations and details on the fall shares next week to folks who have signed up for shares. We’re fully subscribed right now which is great!

Summer Predictions – Week 12

Late again on the predictions, apologies for that but I thought I’d give a short note before the harvest tomorrow. It’s been wet and cool so we’ll see how that has impacted the crops – the cucumbers and summer squash were already slowing down so my guess is that the cool wet weather isn’t going to help. It will probably be nice for the greens and roots so my prediction is: lettuce, chard, celery, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and maybe some summer squash and cucumbers. The tomatoes will likely be in smaller quantities than the past couple of weeks. We’re still taking orders for sauce tomatoes, but there’s a waiting list at this point and we’re probably a week or two out on that. The potatoes will be the last distribution of the year, German Butterballs, a delicious yellow potato that stores well.

Last week I mowed down the last of the summer buckwheat cover crop and we got in the final plantings of the year – lettuce, spinach and mustard greens. From here out there’s a good bit of hoeing to keep the weeds down on those final plantings, we’re still irrigating until it starts raining in earnest, and we’ll be starting to put in the winter cover crops soon.

Summer Share – Week 11

Beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, summer squash, peppers, and lettuce. A pretty solid summer share and it’s nice to see the peppers coming on. The hot peppers are starting to ripen as well. We don’t put those in the CSA shares but they are in the pick your own section, and we’ll try to have some on the farm stand for folks who want them. We’re growing jalepeños, szentesi, and aji dulce. The szentesi are cute little red balls that have very sweet, thick walls, and nice spicy interiors. The aji dulce are a bit slower to ripen but we had one today. They look a bit like a small orange habeñero, but they’re not nearly as hot and they have an incredible citrus flavor.

The share has the last of the sweet onions for the season. The beets are with their greens, which are basically chard and should be very good eating.

Monday (which I guess is actually Tuesday this week) is seeing samples of the little Tsakoniki eggplant that Thursday got samples of a few weeks ago. For a few reasons (cold weather and pests primarily) the eggplant hasn’t been producing much this year so we’ve just been putting the small quantities that it is putting out on the farm stand for folks who really love it.

For pick your own there are tons of cherry tomatoes right now, and the flowers also need to be picked. We’ve opened up the romano beans for u-pick out in the field. You’ll have to sort through some over ripe ones, but there are still good ones in there too. As always, there are lots of herbs in the u-pick too.

Summer Share – Week 10

A slightly bigger share today than originally planned. We pulled all of the Amarosa fingerling potatoes today so there’s a big pile of those. We’re giving them all out now but they’ll keep in a cool dark place – a cupboard or the fridge – for months if you don’t use them right away. At this point we only have one more variety of potatoes left to dig. Tomatoes are coming in strong right now and the cucumbers and summer squash are still holding on. For the second year in a row the chard is holding well through the summer so big bunches of that, as well as a good sized head of butter lettuce for the greens. All of the onions are out of the ground now and we’re slowly cleaning them. Two red onions in this week’s share. For the most part the onions we’re giving out will also keep well in a corner of the kitchen for at least a few months – the one exception there might be the sweet onions we gave out last week and will probably give out one more time. Sweet peppers are just starting and we’ve got Jimmy Nardellos , which look hot, but are probably the sweetest we grow, and just a few of the first liebesapfels, a nice round paprika type with thick walls.

I like vegetable varieties with good stories and with the Amarosa potatoes I always feel the need to mention that it’s a variety that was bred here in Oregon at OSU. I had the opportunity to grow it before it was a named variety. The lettered and numbered designation for the breeding line at that point started with POR. Because it looks a bit like small sausages with it’s all red flesh, for some reason Porgy Pig is the name that always comes to mind. Amarosa is probably a nicer name, with no copyright issues, but I’ll always think of them as the Porgy Pig potatoes.

Summer Predictions – Week 10

We’re in full summer mode with the shares these days. Lots of tomatoes, summer squash and cucumbers hanging on, sweet peppers just starting to ripen and still some lettuce. We’ll probably pull more potatoes next week and give out onions. If the chard is looking good we’ll put that in too, or maybe parsley.

Lots of cherry tomatoes and flowers and herbs in the you pick section. Hot peppers are starting to ripen there too. We’re still taking orders for bulk basil, and we’ll also have sauce tomatoes for bulk orders for anyone who wants to can or freeze some, or just have more for a week. Email one day in advance for special orders.