News and Blog
The time has come!
We are starting our CSA deliveries this week. If you are a CSA member you will be getting an email with all the info.
Another welcome downpour yesterday, giving needed moisture to the growing crops! A lot of the vegetables that we are growing for you are relatively shallow-rooted, and so in our relatively porous, gravelly Kettle Moraine soil (that we are both blessed and cursed with) frequent waterings are ideal, if not absolutely necessary. (The other crops common to this area of Wisconsin — corn, grass, alfalfa — all have longer taproots that can seek out moisture much deeper in the subsoil, so tend to do well even in drier summers. But crops such as the cucurbits (melons, cucumbers, summer squash), onions, lettuce, and potatoes, for example, need lots of water, and our relatively light soil doesn’t have the water-holding capacity that a heavier soil would have. The good characteristic of our soil, though, aside from being relatively flood-proof, is that we can re-enter our field quite soon after it rains, and continue with the planting, cultivating (i.e. weeding), and harvesting, all of which need to be done on a timely basis! It's hard to walk in the field when mud collects and sticks to your boots, and a disaster to work the wet fields with a tractor!
On our new field we are currently installing a well, so that we’ll be able to apply water when needed. Unlike California, and other parts of the world, Wisconsin still has adequate underground supplies of water that we farmers can draw on! Fortunate for us! Crops report: Most crops are growing well! One beetle that often bothers some of our spring-planted crops — the flea beetle — did some early damage to our first broccoli plantings, and the broccoli plants did not recover well (like the cabbage plants that were similarly ‘attacked’), so there will be little broccoli in the June and July boxes. Fortunately, we rarely have problems with the flea beetle in August and September, so the fall plantings of broccoli should yield well for us.
A few families of woodchucks have taken to a few of our lettuce plantings, and so we’ll be short on lettuce in a few weeks. For some reason they are attracted to marshmallows, so we are beginning to trap them by using marshmallows as bait, after which we can relocate them elsewhere. Do you need any woodchucks brought into your neighborhood?!
We just finished planting sweet potatoes, and the brussels sprouts, and they are off to a great start!
We are pleased to have Kay Moody take over for our Anneke the managing of the packing of the boxes on Mondays and Thursdays. Kay has worked alongside Anneke for about eight years, and is aided by a super bunch of worker shares on both of these days. In the office, Anneke is teaching the ropes of the organizing of the deliveries, as well as some of the communicating with you all, to her younger sister (and fourth of our five children) Esther, so you’ll be beginning to see Esther’s name, or hear Esther’s voice, in some of our communications with you. (Anneke, by the way, is off to a great books college in Tennessee in mid-August.) Out in the field, we are blessed with the return of at least a half-dozen Sheboygan and Plymouth folks, including a couple Hmong women who have been with us for over twenty years. As some of our summer high school-aged helpers leave for college and other jobs, a new crop of younger workers — often their younger siblings — take their place, and we’ll have about 8 teenagers working for us part-time for us as well. New this season to help us full-time include Adrian Lee and Nichole Kloss, who look forward to having their own farm in the near future, and Chad Ignatowski, whose background of welding and fabricating for a few different Sheboygan firms becomes very handy as we continue to attempt to use, and repair, or fabricate from new, equipment that allows us to easier manipulate soil, seeds, plants, weeds, and water! (And people, too!) A bigger lift gate on our truck, for example, allows to more safely move the boxes from the truck our much beloved pick-up sites.
Lots of tomatoes are forming on the tomato plants in the greenhouse. Though virtually all of them are small and still growing, and bright green, at least a few of the cherry tomatoes are beginning to turn red, so we can look forward to their first harvests only weeks away, and not months! After of a few years of poor strawberry harvests, we planted some strawberry plants on our new land, with the hopes of regaining the quality and yield of strawberries that we have had in the past, but alas, the plants are a bit harder to care for when further away from our home, and grazing deer have done a lot of damage to them as well, so there will be few strawberries to harvest this season. We planted a bunch of new plants, though, this spring, which gives us the chance of getting lots of berries next year. (Time enough to get a fence up as well!) Most of our winter squash, potatoes, and sweet potatoes are still to be planted, though our fields are fuller at this time of year than anytime in recent memory! Lots of sweet corn, summer squash, and green beans are planted — we are very unlikely to have a shortage of any of them this year! And hopefully all threats of frosts are a distant memory from this point on!
More harvesting going on than planting, obviously, at this time of year. Major crops that take a lot of time to get off the field are the potatoes, winter squash, and carrots. We are building some more storage facilities for these crops; we trust they'll be done soon. Yields of all of them look good, so we'll need the storage rooms. Previously we find every unused nook and cranny in every building and greenhouse to fit our full crates, so it will be nice if they have their own dedicated, and temperature controlled, storage rooms. Fortunately, the harvesting window for these crops is usually a few weeks long, unlikely other crops, like lettuce, which needs to be picked within a couple of days of peak maturity. Of course, that can change quickly, as, for example, several good soaking rains making the digging of the root crops too muddy to undertake. Ripping out of the greenhouse crops -- tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and zucchini -- is followed by the planting of spinach, lettuce, kale and other hardy vegetables that should be ready in December, at the latest. Nice to be able to get two or three crops out of the greenhouses if at all possible! We make a lot of compost, using locally available manures (cattle, chicken, and horse), our own vegetables wastes that our pigs don't consume, spent mushroom compost, old straw, old hay, fresh grass, animal bedding, and anything else once living.