CSA Extended Season Week 1

This Week’s Harvest

Farm News

This year I am thankful for finally having a seamless way to donate our extra produce. In the past we have either used employees or family to bring leftovers to community food pantries or only dealt with extras when we had significant amounts to send to The Food Bank. The few years that we had chickens they would happily gobble it all up. Otherwise we had lots of produce just going to the compost pile.

Thanks to a new employees’ initiative, we now have a systematic and easy way to keep extra produce moving swiftly off of the farm and into hands of those that need it. Natalie had heard of Access to Excess, a local non profit that rescues food and offers it to people in need, and reached out to the founder, Jen Burns, as soon as our coolers started to fill up. Jen is very aware of vegetable farmers’ time constraints and part of her mission is to actively help the farmers make donating easy. She was able to talk to us about a convenient time for her to come by and pick extra produce up on a regular schedule, and assured us she would be self serve, in and out, and generally just “out of our hair”.

We have a cooler in the front room of the barn that is only in use for our Farm CSA member pick ups which makes for a perfect staging area for Jen to pick up our extra produce every week. On Monday afternoon I load the extra produce from market and the week before into the front room cooler and by Tuesday at 8:30am it is emptied out!

Jen picks up a load of our extra produce for Access to Excess

Reflecting during this time of Thanksgiving, I am grateful to Jen not just for the work that she does, but for approaching it with the understanding that farmers may have extra produce- but not a lot of extra time. We are also so incredibly grateful to Natalie for her initiative and desire to help us get the relationship started!

We hope you enjoy your produce this week and also knowing that any access we have always makes it into the hands of those in need. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

harvesting the last of our winter roots on a cold but sunny day

Recipes

CSA Week 24

This Week’s Harvest

Farm News

This week marks the end of our regular CSA season. We wanted to thank everyone for your support and hope you and your loved ones enjoyed the produce! If you want to get more vegetables into December- please read last week’s blog for a preview of our extended season and stay tuned to your inboxes for further info and sign up instructions!

I usually do a year in review for the final CSA post. CSA is such a great model for vegetable farmers because of the guaranteed support we get from our members. Every year is different and presents its own successes and tribulations. Of course we hate dissapointing our members with crop failures, and I promise you we try our best every year. Unfortunately this was a tough year for legumes and I’d say the biggest disappointment of the year was the lack of green beans. We only got one super weedy planting in that gave us green beans and dragon tongue beans for a couple weeks. The next bean planting was slated to be even bigger with edamame beans thrown into the mix. Unfortunately it rained 5 inches right after seeding and our seeds rotted. And then we just didn’t have another window for another seeding until it was too late.

Empty Bed of Edamame and green beans due to seed rot

We did feel like we had successful carrots this year! Summer in Ohio does not provide ideal conditions for this finicky crop, but thanks to choosing a good variety, Bolero, we did have good summer carrots this year. And our summer plantings of melons, corn, squash, peppers, and tomatoes continue to do well for us. Spring is tough for some members of the brassica family (namely broccoli, radishes, and cauliflower) so we don’t plant a lot in spring but rather focus on them for fall. However fall is starting to give us trouble like spring. We need to tweak our fall brassica planting dates a little to help us get back to reliable broccoli and cauliflower! And, like the carrots, find good varieties to grow for our climate.

Today we will not only pack out and deliver our final Tuesday CSA share, we will also plant our garlic. I bring this up so I can end on a positive of the year- our garlic! Those of you who were part of the CSA last year know we did not have any garlic. We had to buy in organic garlic seed to plant and start rebuilding our seed stock. The planting did well and not only did we we have enough garlic for several CSA share distributions and market, but we were able to save 150 lbs of the biggest cloves for planting 2022 crop. (By the way, we still have plenty for our extended season boxes too!)

Carrots and corn at the same market! A rarity
one of several rounds of lettuce for salad mix

Our year old cats kept us company
Breaking ground in the spring
so glad to have garlic back after a 2020 absence
Kids helped out a lot this year. Here Evan helps pack potatoes for a large wholesale order
Harvesting for the extended season with shortage crops
A favorite picture of the year

Recipes

CSA Week 23

This Week’s Harvest

Chilly carrot pick

Farm News
This week marks the final box for some of our biweekly and monthly CSA members. Thank you so much for your season long support! Next week is the final box for our other set of biweekly and monthly members and also for our weekly members. But, we have good news for you if you are wondering what you are going to do without your fresh Mile Creek veggies! Like years past, we will have an extended season! We’ll have 3 very packed boxes heading out the week of 11/22, 12/6, and 12/20. You’ll have the ability to sign up for one, two, or all three.

The extended CSA season will mostly be made up of storage vegetables–potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter radishes, carrots, beets, rutabaga, cabbage, butternut squash, garlic and onions. The frost sensitive crops have all been picked and what remains are vegetables that can survive frosts and freezes. Picking those crops is what will occupy any open time we have this week. Today we picked golden beets both for this week’s box and for storage and look forward to picking more variety as the week progresses.

Assorted Winter Radishes

The extended boxes will also have as many fresh picked greens as possible. We have 800 feet of spinach and salad greens. We’ll still have kale, Brussels sprouts, and possibly braising greens and arugula in November into December. We’ll cover these crops with row cover to protect them from nights under 25 degrees and pick them as long as they look good–but even the cold hardy plants eventually fade.

Kale is a cold hardy crop and has lasted us into December. Its flavor even sweetens with each frosty morning.

We also plan to be at 2nd Street Market for 3 Saturdays in November and 3 in December ( 11/6, 11/13, 11/20 and 12/4, 12/11, 12/18) and might even reboot our on-line store for bulk produce orders in the winter.

We’ll email out more details about all of this to our CSA members soon, but I wanted to let our customers know that it’s in the works. We’ll be busy picking to make sure we have an abundance of variety for our post-season season!

Potato bins from September headed to long term storage

Recipes

Sweet Potato and Kale Chili

Kale, Sausage and Potato Soup

Vegan Kale and Potato Soup

Beet Carrot Slaw

Sweet Potato Tacos with Apple Radish Slaw (use watermelon radish)

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…) Brussels Sprouts, Napa Cabbage, Purple Daikon Radish, Carrots, Garlic, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Salad Mix, Purple Top Turnips

CSA WEEK 22

This Week’s Harvest

Sweet potatoes

Red beets

Parsley

Spinach

Sweet onions

Carrots

Arugula

Butternut squash

Cabbage

Beauty heart (watermelon) radishes 

Farm News

Beauties! After the undercutter runs through the bed and lifts the carrrots, they pull right out.

This week we moved on from harvesting sweet potatoes and started in our fall carrots. These crunchy treats keep all winter long and even go into the first CSA boxes the following season. Carrots are very sensitive to water-logged soil so we need to monitor the soil conditions and make sure it doesn’t get too wet. Our heavy soil has a lot of clay and we’ve experienced rot before (this year even with one of our summer carrot beds) so we are super mindful of the forecast this time of year (well always, but for different reasons from season to season!) Ideally we’d get a frost or two before we harvest carrots because this tends to sweeten them up even more.

In our 3 days of carrot harvesting, the undercutter implement only broke twice ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But with rain predicted for Sunday more coming later in the week, we decided to get as many carrots as possible out starting Thursday. On Thursday and Friday we just had a few hours to tackle a couple beds each day. We also had current employees, a former employee, and our kids help harvest all day on Saturday. I am happy to report that we got through 9 of 12 beds and have a total of 7 macro bins filled to the brim and tucked into the cooler. I am also pleased to report that despite not getting the cold weather, they are terrifically sweet and delicious! We will bunch carrots with tops this week and next off of the remaining 3 beds. So far we haven’t had to sort any out for rot, but I can report that we are happy with our decision. We did end up getting a good amount of rain between Sunday and Monday and during today’s harvest, the carrots pulled right out of the completely saturated soils. It really is a matter of time before they start melting down, and if we lose a bed or 2 that is nothing compared to all 12!

We fill the yellow bins and then dump them into the large macrobin. The black trailer between the house and the greenhouse is our winter storage vegetable cooler where this and several other bins live.

On Saturday after picking carrots from 8 to 5, Ben used the remaining daylight to prep our garlic beds. We didn’t have time to plant before this round of rain, but now the beds are ready to go and as soon as it drys out enough, planting garlic will move to the top of the list.

This front end spreader drops 2 rows of heat treated chicken manure ahead of the tiller
Ben makes a finished bed top by shallow tilling. By the time he got to the last bed he couldn’t really see!

Recipes

Roasted Beets and Butternut Squash Salad with Arugula

Slow cooker Chipotle Beef Tacos with cabbage and radish slaw

Indonesian Sweet Potato and Cabbage Soup (I’ve posted this one before. It’s a family favorite!)

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…..) Spinach, Beauty Heart Radishes, Japanese Sweet Potatoes, Red Potatoes, Garlic, Salad Mix, Beets, Carrots, Kale, Tomatoes

CSA Week 21

This Week’s Harvest

Tomatoes
Radishes
Salad mix
Braising mix
Parsley
Hakurei salad turnips
Arugula
Potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Rainbow Carrots
Cilantro
Garlic
Red bell pepper OR eggplant

Farm News

We are making good progress on our sweet potatoes but aren’t quite through the planting. Our cover crop got the rain it needed to germinate and is looking lush and lovely. Our brand new tractor that we invested in this season is in the shop for the third time!! At least it is still under warranty…but the sole reason we got it was to have something reliable. So all in all, we’ve had a typical week on the farm– too busy to get through the entire to-do list, with ups and downs experienced while we attempt to!

Winter rye with the morning dew
Cleaning onions for Mission of Mary, an urban farm in Dayton
Started in on our fall carrots this week!
The new tractor undercuts the scallions earlier in the season

Recipes

Chimichurri Bowls with roasted vegetables ( salad turnips, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, radishes, and carrots are all excellent roasting vegetables in this week’s box)

Gremolata with Roasted Turnips

Greens and Cheese Strata (arugula and/or braising greens is perfect greens choice)

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) Butternut Squash, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Beets, Parlsey, Salad Mix, Onions, Garlic, Arugula and more!

CSA Week 20

This Week’s Harvest

Cilantro
Tomatoes
Jalapeños
Hakurei salad turnips
Radishes
Purple kohlrabi
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Kale
Potatoes
Spinach
Garlic
Red onions

Farm News

While the unseasonably warm October we are having makes for pleasant working conditions, it’s not ideal for our crop plan panning out as planned. The warm weather is speeding crops along quicker than anticipated so it’s throwing us off. For example the broccoli this week is our third and final planting and is supposed to come ready in Novemeber! The warm weather also means the entire crop comes ready at once so my picking window is super short. Had the broccoli come ready later in the season, the cooler daytime highs and cold nights would effectively slow the crop down. The maturing heads could stay on the plants without worry of over maturing. This week I don’t have that wiggle room and the entire 600 ft planting was ready to pick yesterday.

Final broccoli harvest in 2017 came on November 3. After this week there won’t be any more broccoli to pick unless there are some side shoots.

I should have picked the cauliflower that’s in the box this week last week, but I was too busy picking the earlier planting of cauliflower. The warm weather sped up our second planting making it come ready the same time as our first! Not ideal!

This picture is from last season on Oct 21st.. Same timing on the cauliflower seeding and planting, but picking it 10 days earlier this year.

At the same time that this is aggravating, we don’t really want to make adjustments to our crop plan because every fall is different. We’ve also have the opposite happen- were a planting doesn’t make it and freezes before we even get to harvest it.

The best strategy is to plant as much as we are able so when things don’t work, we have other crops we can rely on. The warm weather may be wreaking havoc on our brassicas, but the tomatoes are loving it. We did not think the final planting of tomatoes had a chance of ripening, but we pulled over 100 lbs off a row yesterday. So enjoy the tomatoes as they linger a little longer.

Third planting of tomatoes ripening up

Recipes

Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad

Kale and Spinach Soup

Aloo Gobi

Italian Baked Beans and Greens (use any greens you’d like)

Kohlrabi Slaw with Cilantro, Jalapeno and Lime

Coming up next week (our best guess)…. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, arugula, parsley, braising mix, tomatoes, radishes, salad mix, garlic, bell peppers and more!

CSA Week 19

This Week’s Harvest

Apple Share

  • Gold Rush
  • Jonathon

Farm News

For the next few weeks, when we aren’t harvesting and washing for CSA and market, we will be harvesting our sweet potatoes. After a disappointing crop last year, we really babied them this year. Last year we had too many beds to manage so we only hand weeded a third of the planting. It also got so dry in September and we weren’t able to water them all. When it came time to dig them, we couldn’t get the tractor implement deep enough and ended up cutting half of the tubers. So we didn’t want a repeat of last year and so far our efforts are paying off! We have only dug 2 and 1/2 beds which have yielded about 5,000 lbs. Last year 2 and 1/2 beds would have gotten us 2,000 lbs.

Wow! How’d we swing that you may be wondering? We decided to plant less- only 10 beds vs 20 something last year- so we could manage them better. We set up a permanent irrigation system so we could easily water whenever we wanted, and we had time to hand weed all but the very last 1/3 of a bed, so the weed pressure was not an issue. Also they are in a very nice field as far as our soils go.

The day before we planted the kids helped set up the irrigation line while Ben preps the beds.
The slips we plant start off as a single stem with a leaf or two.
This plant is only 1 week in the ground, so they really took off from the start, thanks in part to the irrigation
Ben mechanically cultivates the sweet potatoes. He was able to make several passes before the plants spread out too much. After which the crew went through for a final hand weeding session.
Nate spent a day weed proofing the irrigation line beds. In this picture you can see the grass weeds starting to take over in the sprinkler row. He removed the sprinklers, tilled the weeds in with the walk behind tractor, laid down landscape fabric, and reinstalled the hose and sprinklers. This eliminated the issue of weeds in our permanent irrigation beds.
Sweet potato success! The vines have taken over the entire field
Actually there are so many vines, they are getting in the way of the harvest. Ben rigged up some coulter discs that are attached to the undercutter bar that cut the vines. We have then found it necessary to pull the vines out of the way before the potato digger comes through.
first bin full of about 800 pounds of potatoes

The yields are great, but it means it takes a awhile to make it through a bed. We are hoping we don’t get hit with too much rain the next few weeks so that we can get our remaining beds out before frost. It will be a week or so before you see any sweet potatoes in the CSA box. They have to cure in our barn to set their skins and sweeten up! It is worth the wait!

Recipes

Egg Drop Soup with Bok Choy

Pico de Gallo with Cabbage (use the napa cabbage)

Warm Beet and Farro Salad (I would add a roasted kohlrabi or 2 along with the beets!)

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) tomatoes, cilantro, red onions, broccoli, cauliflower, haukeri salad turnips, radishes, napa cabbage, potatoes and more!

CSA Week 18

This Week’s Harvest

Farm News

This week’s box is a great sampling of all the vegetable families we grow at Mile Creek. The summer CSA boxes have been loaded with solanums, a plant family that thrives in the warm weather. These include eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. Other than the starchy potato tuber, most solanums we eat are technically berries. This week we hang on to some remaining solanums, but soon the boxes won’t include any at all. The warm season plants will make way for the cooler crops, which mainly belong in the brassica family. This week’s brassicas include cabbage, braising greens, and broccoli or cauliflower. We have 4 other plant families represented in this week’s box. Alliums are the onion family and we typically use the bulb, like this weeks’ sweet onions and garlic. They get their onion flavor from chemical compounds they produce. There is a particular onion crop pest that has prevented us from growing leeks. We can grow and harvest garlic and onions before the onion fly settles in, but leeks stay in the ground much longer and the fly lays its eggs on the stalks and the maggots hatch and eat the food source they happen to hatch on, making it inedible for us! This is also why we do not grow scallions/green onions all season long. But onions and garlic get harvested end of June/early July and then store for the rest of the season out of harm’s way. Another plant family we have this week is the Apiaceae and includes the carrots and fennel. This family is more commonly referred to as the umbellifers, from the umbel flowers they produce. It is a very aromatic one, including many herbs like dill, parsley, anise, cilantro, and caraway. A favorite characteristic of this family for me is that they are the host plants of swallowtail caterpillars. We also have a members of the cucurbit family (which I wrote about at length in the week 15 blog) present this week- the watermelon is the last of our summer cucurbit and we also have a winter squash, the delicious honeynut. Finally, the lettuce that makes up the salad mix is in its own family. I actually learned something new today about our vegetable plant families and that is that lettuce belongs to the aster/sunflower family, Asteraceae! Come to think of it, the yellow flowers that lettuce produces once we are done do resemble asters. This week’s box has so many vegetables I nearly forgot about a few as I typed up this blog up! Enjoy!

Recipes

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…) cilantro, red onions, roma tomatoes, cauliflower, napa cabbage, bok choi, salad mix, golden beets, kohlrabi, jalapenos

CSA Week 17

This Week’s Harvest

  • Carrots
  • Escarole
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Honeynut Squash
  • Sweet Peppers (Corno di Toro and/or Red Bell Peppers)
  • Red Potatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Eggplant (Japanese or Italian)
  • Basil
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes (plum, heirloom, or beefsteak)

Apple Share

  • Melrose
  • Jonagold

Farm News 

For a weeks now we’ve been waiting for the right window to plant our cover crop. We like to cover crop as many fields as possible with a winter cover of rye/clover/oats. We need there to be a significant rainfall predicated to ensure the seed has the best shot to germinate so we end up with a good stand. 

We also don’t want to prep the ground too far ahead of time. Ben goes through with a disc to kill the weeds and breakdown any plant matter. If we do this step too far ahead, the weeds just germinate and reestablish themselves and you’ll have to do it again. Any time you work the soil, the soil is compromised so you want to minimize any harsh passes you make.

Before the ground is ready to seed, we hill up beds. We take this extra step so our beds are already prehilled in the spring. This enables us to get into the fields even with typical wet spring weather. Then the seeding can begin!

12:30 pm Saturday
8:30 PM Saturday

All this means Ben has a crazy couple days preparing all the ground and spreading the seed ahead of the rain. And that’s what he did all weekend starting Friday. He seeded 5 fields, which totals over 10 acres! This cover crop will grow a little in the fall, survive the winter, and really explode in the spring. We’ll then mow or disc it in and all that green matter will break down and provide important nutrients for our next round of veggies.

Picture of cover crop from this spring

Recipes

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) Watermelon, honeynut squash, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, braising greens, kohlrabi, salad mix, onions, poblano peppers

CSA Week 16

This Week’s Harvest

Tomatoes
Bell peppers
Sweet Italian peppers
Escarole
Kale
Red onions
Potatoes
Celery
Cucumber- last of the season!
Cantaloupe- last of the season!
Beets

Farm News

It’s technically still summer, but this week the farm was full of signs of fall. We’ve been busy mowing finished crops and discing and chisel plowing fields as we get ready to put them to rest for the winter. We noticed our first deer damage- they always leave our crops alone until the fall. Last year they munched on our beet greens which was fine with us, as we were just using the roots. This year is a bit more dramatic- they seem to love escarole and it looks like they can take the whole plant in one bite! The harvest has transitioned from afternoons spent just harvesting tomatoes, to having more to time to harvest a potato bed or 2 whenever we can. Brassica season has started back up with kale and we’ll be picking more and more crops from this large vegetable family to fill our shares. I truly love fall: the weather is still nice, the farm pace slows to a more manageable clip, and we still have bountiful harvests!

I picked this field of summer squash one last time for market on Friday and then Ben followed behind and mowed it all down.
By Monday afternoon all the plastic was loosened and out of the field. We love quick turnarounds! Next up this field will be disced and then sown to cover crop.
Uh oh…looks like the deer have found- and love- escarole! We’ll have to cover the bed (and the salad mix next to it) with row cover to keep the deer off.
The sweet potato crop looks so good this year! I can’t wait to dig them up and see how the roots look. But first we have to finish digging the regular potatoes.
Certain potato varieties have done really well for us this year. Pictured is a favorite- Kennebec
The Brassica field is growing nicely. I love all the shades of green. Hope you are ready for cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, kohlrabi, and other greens and roots that fall in this family! It’s a big one and grows well in the fall here in Ohio.
It’s been a dry September so the irrigation is still going 24/7, though there are less and less things to water each week

Recipes

Potato and Celery Soup

Jambalya with Sausage, celery and peppers

Braised Potatoes and Escarole

Cucumber and Celery Salad

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) Carrots, Escarole, Salad Mix, Potatoes, Jalapeños, Watermelon, Celery, Eggplant, Garlic, Basil, Honeynut Squash