Farm News- October 7. 2010

Circle Brook Farm
Circle Brook Farm

Hi Folks,

The dry spell has officially ended! I guess it’s too much to ask, to have a balance between the sunshine and the rain and we have to accept the feast or famine pattern that has become the norm. Fortunately the fields here in Andover are very well drained and have been able to absorb the 7” of water that fell last week with no flooding. The greatest challenge during long rainy stretches is getting the harvesting done. We’re in the process of bringing in the winter squash crop, a project that now is more urgent as it begins to rot in these wet conditions. Normally they are cleaned and packed into boxes in the field, but now we are quickly gathering as much as we can between downpours and bringing into the barn to clean and pack. This isn’t very efficient but is the only way we can forge ahead. This strategy doesn’t work with greens and root vegetables which must be pulled and bunched in the field, so my workers endure working in the light rain and run for cover during the downpours. The downside for you, the consumers, of all this wet weather is dirty vegetables. The rain splashes soil all over the leaves of the plant and there is only so much that can be removed by washing after it is bunched. I guess we all have our crosses to bear!

While fall is associated with apples and pumpkins, it is also the season of the Mustard family. This large and diverse group of plants thrive in the cool, wet conditions common to autumn. The family includes the brassicas such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale and of course broccoli, as well as root crops like radishes and turnips. The list of varieties of mustards with tender leaves is extensive and includes Italian favorites, such as arugula (not a lettuce as some seem to think) and broccoli raab as well as many Asian greens like tatsoi, bok choi, hon tsai tai and several types which make small flower buds, similar to broccoli raab. These vegetables will make up a sizeable portion of the shares during the final third of the season. We began cutting broccoli raab last week and I forgot to mention it in the update. It is one of the trickier crops to grow, as it should be cut with a flower bud, which turns rapidly into a yellow flower, even after being cut and in storage. We will be offering it as a choice along with other tender mustards over the next couple of weeks, so watch out for it if it is a favorite.

The share for this week will be:
Red Boston lettuce, kale (broccoli, if you got kale last week), choice of arugula, raab, or other mustard green, cippolini onions, radishes, string beans, summer squash, peppers, choice of spinach or Swiss chard, butternut squash and choice of an herb.

Farmer John

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