CSA Week 20

This Week’s Harvest

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Bok Choi
  • Caraflex Cabbage
  • Cilantro
  • Beets with Greens
  • Red Round Radishes
  • Cippolini Onions (grown by Shared Legacy Farms)
  • Arugula
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Italian Peppers

Farm News

The major tasks of harvesting sweet potatoes and regular potatoes can be checked off the to do list! These two crops made up 50 beds and any spare time over the last 4 weeks was spent harvesting them. We had some equipment malfunctions, some cold weather scares, and the super dry soil made for less than ideal harvesting conditions, but we got it done! And we have bulk bins full of produce that we will use in the final CSA boxes, the extended CSA season and for our co-op as well.

This week we will focus on cleaning up the fields–taking down tomato stakes and twine, pulling up the plastic from the plasticulture beds, cleaning up drip tape and row cover. Then next week it is back to bulk harvesting with carrots, beets, winter radishes, turnips and rutabagas. Grateful for last night’s rain to help size up these final crops of the year.

Harvesting Bayou Bells
Bulk bins of sweet potatoes double stacked in our barn for storage

Employee Spotlight: Nate

This year we were pleased to have Nate join us for a second season. While we didn’t get to know Nate until last year, he has been familiar with our vegetables long before that. His parents joined our CSA the very first year we offered it! The sungold cherry tomatoes in particular left an impression on Nate. This year Nate got to delve into tractor work. He was the main driver for planting days and harvesting done with the conveyor. He also cultivated, mowed, dropped fertilizer, lifted plastic and more! Nate also comes to us with welding experience and we have taken advantage of that skill set!

Nate drives a wagon full of cabbage
Nate cultivates the potatoes and drops fertilizer from the front end at the same time

In addition to the hard work put in all week, Nate went above and beyond and helped us harvest summer squash on Sundays. He enlisted his partner’s help and so during squash season, Nate and Cheri volunteered (!) their Sunday mornings to help us harvest hundreds of pounds of squash! We were SO grateful and can’t really imagine how exhausted we would be if we had had to harvest solo over the weekends.

A squash load Nate and Cheri helped harvest

Nate served our county as a US Army combat engineer veteran. More recently he has been on trail maintenance crews for our National Parks and closer to home worked as a welder. Nate also does custom wood, metal and knife working and you can find his work following The Black Squirrel Workshop on instagram. He made us an awesome sign for the farm which we are very much looking forward to getting hung up soon! We are grateful that Nate’s love of the outdoors and interest in homesteading as landed him at Mile Creek!

Recipes

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…) beets, sweet potatoes, radishes, napa cabbage, cilantro, carrots, turnips, sweet onions, arugula, potatoes!

CSA Week 19

This Week’s Harvest

Bok Choi
Salad Mix
Red Onions
Purple Kohlrabi
Hakurei Salad Turnips
Honeynut Winter Squash
Fennel
Cauliflower
Red Bell Peppers
Purple Potatoes
Tomatoes
Jalapeno Pepper

Farm News

We woke up this morning to the coldest morning yet of the fall. Our thermometer read 34.7 degrees which was cold enough to foster the growth of frost in low lying areas around the farm. Fortunately it did not stay cold enough for long enough to kill any of the summer loving crops. At the same time the numerous cold nights that we have had have slowed down summer crops and all but assured that tomato and pepper season is coming to an end.

Given our harvest list for today that was fine. In addition to fall CSA crops such as cauliflower and salad turnips we had a large order of greens bunches to complete for our coop. These extended harvests of a single crop offer a welcome opportunity to complete a task while partaking of some engaging conversation with our thoughtful employees.

harvesting braising greens

This morning our conversation started with an article that I had been reading about the election of 1920. Thinking about this time period is interesting for me because my grandmother was born in 1917. She lost her father, my great-grandfather, to the pandemic of 1918. She would often remark on this fact mainly because it meant that she had to grow up an only child which was a definite disappointment for her! Additionally it meant that she was raised by her grandmother. This fact was notable because her grandmother still spoke German fluently, but much to my grandmother’s disappointment she refused to pass on this linguistic knowledge because of the political climate of post World War I America.

Harvesting cauliflower for the CSA share

As we all shared similar recollections of our family history the time passed quickly and we were done with our order in no time. In reality this happened none too soon because after my harvest requirements were met I had to address a mechanical issue with our delivery vehicle. The solitary work of diagnosis and repair was much different from the lively conversation that my morning task provided, but it did provide the perfect opportunity to further reflect on some of the stories and ideas that we all discussed this morning.

Just as the cold temperatures are a reminder that the season is coming to an end so is the rhythm of today’s tasks. For fall farm work is a mixture of harvest with just enough maintenance to get the farm through to the winter when everything can be properly fixed and prepared for the next season. Not surprisingly I know what I will be harvesting tomorrow morning (cabbage and kale for our coop) and what mechanical failure I will be addressing tomorrow afternoon (the John Deere key switch)!

Recipes

Stir Fry Beef with Bok Choi and Turnips

Crispy Potatoes with Red Pepper Sauce (roast your kohlrabi and/or salad turnips with this dish as well!)

Roasted Fennel, Apple and Butternut Squash

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) cilantro, bok choi, sweet potatoes, beets, cabbage, arugula, sweet Italian peppers, and more!

CSA Week 18

This Week’s Harvest

Hakurei Salad Turnips
Arugula
Braising Greens
Honeynut Squash
Watermelon (last of season!)
Sweet onions
Parsley
Cauliflower
Potatoes
Kohlrabi
Tomatoes
Fennel

Farm News

The main news from the farm the past few weeks has been the complete lack of rain. The entire month of September brought only a half inch of rain (including yesterday’s rain). The main takeaways of this are that Ben continues to spend large chunks of his day setting up irrigation and our cover crop plans for the farm have largely failed. I have mentioned before on the blog that we seeded 6 acres of land to oats and crimson clover (it is actually more like 10 acres). We have found over the years that good cover cropping management is key to successful and productive fields so having the seed not germinate is very disappointing. We did get a quarter inch of rain yesterday so we’ll see if any more seeds sprout but we aren’t holding our breath!

This field is supposed to covered in green, but as you can see it’s mostly just barren soil.

Yesterday’s rain was quite good for our sweet potato harvest. We have been digging all last week and the bone dry soil has been less than ideal. The potatoes have gotten scuffed up in the process and we are a little nervous the broken skin will affect their storage. With a little moisture we won’t have the same dry clumps of soil crashing against the potatoes while we dig. We had a bit of a scare this morning when our tractor, which undercuts the beds so we can lift the potatoes out, wouldn’t start! But it was just an electrical issue that Ben was able to fix this morning. So the digging can continue on!

Recipes

Roasted Potatoes, Cauliflower, chickpeas, with kalamata olive vinagerette

Apple and Kohlrabi Salad (this recipe was highly recommended on the MCF Facebook group page

Butternut Squash Soup (use Honeynut squash)

Green Eggs and Tomato Scramble (use parsley in place of cilantro)

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) cilantro, tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, potatoes, kohlrabi, salad mix, salad turnips, hot peppers and more!

CSA Week 17

This Week’s Harvest

  • Yellow Watermelon
  • Arugula
  • Green Beans OR Dragon Tongue Beans (last of the season!)
  • Red Onions (grown by co-op partners, Shared Legacy Farms)
  • Red Bell Peppers OR Sweet Italian Peppers
  • Honeynut Squash
  • Salad Mix
  • Parsley
  • Cabbage
  • Poblano Pepper
  • Tomatoes

Farm News

This weekend we had a brand new weather scare for us: a frost warning in September! It came on Saturday after I got from market. Being short of time and staff there really wasn’t a ton we could do. Normally to prepare for an upcoming frost we would pick all the remaining tomatoes with color (even green ones for a round of fried green tomatoes), peppers and other frost sensitive crops. For this past warning, we covered 2 beds of watermelon and our green bean planting with row cover. When we finished it was dark and I panic picked a pint of sungolds for ourselves just in case it was really was the end.

Green Bean planting’s blanket

In the morning there were most definitely patches of frost in the low lying grassy areas! The tomatoes did survive. And we’ll never know if the row cover was necessary or not, but I am glad we played it safe and have some of our best beans and watermelon in this week’s box!

That would be frost! On Sept 20
Checking on the crops in the morning. Our final tomato planting looks ok! Which is nice considering we haven’t even begun to harvest off of it.
A little hard to see, but our sweet potato leaves did change color from the cold night (some yellowing, not as lush as the day before)–just a sign of slight stress but no real damage. We dug a couple plants to make sure the tubers were in good shape. Looking to start harvesting them this week!

Recipes

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) Cauliflower, Hakurei Salad Turnips, Arugula, Braising Greens, Sweet Onions, Parsley, Honeynut Squash, Potatoes and more!

CSA Week 16

This Week’s Harvest

Farm News

Honey nut harvest. We grew these mini butternuts last year and positive customer feedback is bringing them back this year!

The weather is shifting and the crop harvest list is also shifting. For wholesale the summer squash is replaced with kale and for CSA the flavors of summer cling on just a bit as we replace them little by little with fall delicacies. The low this weekend is actually going to hit 40 degrees! 2 nights in a row! Which may put an end to our basil crop, of which we have one more planting. So if it isn’t in your boxes next week, it got fried (or should I say frozen)! We harvested our butternut and honeynut crop this past week. They will now cure in the barn for a week or two to develop their sweetness. We are more than half way through our 29 potato beds! But the sweet potato harvest is also on the to do list! While planting and weeding duties on the farm have calmed down, we are still quite busy and find ourselves in the midst of heavy lifting season.

Employee Spotlight: Kate

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Kale is back! Picking for market 😍

A post shared by Ben and Emily Jackle (@milecreekfarm) on

Kate picks kale for market

We were thrilled to have Kate join us for a second year this season. Kate is so attentive to her surroundings, has laser focus on the task at hand, is a super speedy squash box packer, and, like everyone on the farm, so very easy and fun to work with! She was born and raised in Englewood, spent time out west in grad school for ecological science, and recently returned to Dayton after realizing her true calling: massage therapy. Last year while she worked part time on the farm she was also working to get her Massage Therapy License. This year while working on the farm, she is building her very own Massage Therapy Practice! Do yourself a favor and check out Heartwood Massage Therapy . Kate is offering our CSA members an exclusive deal! You can get a one time $10 off services by typing in “Mile Creek CSA”in the notes box when booking your appointment!

Kate’s favorite farm tasks are ones that require a team effort–like digging all those potatoes beds– and when she is not farming or at Heartwood, Kate can be found river surfing, hiking the many MetroPark trails with her dog, or traveling for weekend excursions in her van.

Recipes

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess……) Watermelon, cauliflower, arugula, red onions, honeynut squash, parsley, salad mix, poblano peppers, bell peppers and more!

CSA Week 15

This Week’s Harvest

Farm News

This week brought heavy harvests, cool finds, but sadly no rain.

Audrey is our resident arrowhead finder. She has found so many in the 4 years she has worked here including this one found Friday.

While I have seen many katydids on the farm this was the first time I noticed how leaf like their wings are.

Surprise harvest! The newest planting of cantaloupe fell off my radar and it was dumb luck I happened to notice it needed to be picked on Saturday evening. Being the weekend, we called on Evan to help bring it in! The bin looks and smells amazing!

We need rain very badly so it was disappointing when yesterday’s rain missed us completely. We can keep our vegetable crops alive and growing but we planted 6 acres of cover crop that we need mother nature to take care of. I don’t want to complain but it’s been a very stressful dry few weeks!

Recipes

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…….) Red onions, watermelon, tomatoes, celery, escarole, salad mix, potatoes, kale and more!

CSA Week 14

This Week’s Harvest


Green Beans
Carrots
Tomatoes
Swiss chard
Sungold cherry tomatoes (last for the CSA season)
Jalapeño peppers
Sweet peppers (mix of Italian frying and red bell)
Cantaloupe
Zucchini
Basil
Sweet Onions
Cucumber
Sweet corn (last of the season!)

Farm News

When you see the farm everyday and only see it as an endless to-do list, it is easy to forgot how pretty it actually is. Last week we had a couple visitors to the farm from Gem City Market and they remarked at how beautiful the farm was while we walked around. And last week we were also treated to some very gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Additionally, there have been some neat animal encounters recently. So despite the hustle we are stopping to enjoy the view!

Tabby and Charity picking basil on a foggy but colorful morning

A few weeks ago we were picking tomatoes and a swarm of bees flew overhead. Only one of us actually saw the bees but a few of us heard them- what sounded like a semi truck barreling down the road. Later that afternoon while picking melons along the tree line I heard what I decided must be the bees. We bushwhacked our way through the honeysuckle infested tree line and found the swarm. Had they decided to huddle on our side of the trees, I would have invited our market gardening friend, Stephen Cook, who has hives and is a master swarm collector (see for yourself here) over to get the swarm. Not knowing how bees work, I thought they would be around the next day and the next with a glorious hive for me to keep tabs on all fall. When I brought the kids out to show them they were gone. It’s a pretty fascinating phenomenon and you can read about bee behavior here.

Too bad the swarm landed on the other side of the property or we would have had a swarm catching viewing party!
baby Song Sparrows. One of three (!) nests in the same row of tomatoes
The dreaded tomato horn worm–but with parasitic wasp eggs on its back! pretty soon the eggs will hatch and eat the hornworm for food.
A praying mantis hitches a ride on the tractor while we pick squash.
Cotton candy skies. Just one of many pretty sunsets

Recipes

Corn and Zucchini Quesadilla

Minestrone Soup (sub chard for the spinach)

Red Curry with zucchini and carrots

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…..) Kale, Salad Mix, Green Beans, Sweet Italian Peppers, Watermelon, Potatoes, and more!

CSA WEEK 13

This Week’s Harvest

Farm News

As always the farm is bustling with activity. We are in the thick of harvesting season– both for our weekly deliveries but also for long term storage. We have 29 beds of potatoes to dig which we are working on one bed at a time. We’d like to get them out by mid-September so we can then move on to harvesting our sweet potatoes, which take up another 20 beds! We are still planting once a week for our fall boxes. The brassica field (which includes crops like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts) looks terrific and is almost all planted out. Last week we side dressed with organic fertilizer and nutrients and have been keeping up with cultivating to keep the weeds down. It is also time to get ourselves set up nicely for next year. This means chisel plowing, discing and planting cover crop in fields that we are finished with so that they can rest and recover over the winter. Several fields have been disced and chisel plowed. Looks like we may get some rain at the end of the week so over the next couple days, Ben will be making raised beds, seeding cover crop, and raking the seed to cover it in a number of fields. Hopefully we do get rain (after all the fields have been seeded!) and end up with a nice stand of cover crop. Overall the hard work of August seems to be effective!

Cultivating the carrots and beets with a basket weeder
Watering in freshly seeded turnips
The fall brassica block: kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, rutabaga, kohlrabi, napa cabbage
Butternut squash starting to ripen
Every chance we get, we dig a bed of potatoes

Recipes

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…..) green beans, cantaloupe, sweet corn, sweet peppers, carrots, tomatoes, Swiss chard, basil, fairytale eggplant and more!

CSA WEEK 12

This Week’s Harvest

  • Sweet Corn
  • Sweet Peppers (mix of red bell and Italian Sweet Peppers)
  • Tomatoes
  • Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
  • Globe Eggplant
  • Red Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Sweet Onions
  • Salad Mix
  • Poblano Peppers
  • Yellow Watermelon

Farm News

I’m going to tell you about the real dirt on carrots. Mainly that they require A LOT to grow. So much so we only attempt to grow them twice, in spring and fall, and every attempt comes with varying degrees of success. They are a crop we can’t transplant but rather sow directly in the ground. And they are finicky germinators. Germination rates decline if temperatures are above 85, if the soil gets compacted like it does after a heavy rain, or if soil to seed contact is poor as it would be in chunky soil. So good soil prep is key and we must keep our eye on the forecast.

Seeding fall carrots in 2018
Producing a gentle spray, these wobbler sprinklers work great for germinating our direct sown crops

Carrots also grow very slowly and can be taken over by weeds quickly so we must have a a weed management plan in place. Ideally we would make the carrot beds a few weeks before seeding them. This is so we can stale bed, which is to shallowly run the tiller over the beds which kills any weeds that may have germinated. The goal is to do multiple rounds of this stale bedding and have really clean beds prior to seeding. Once we seed the carrots, about 4 or 5 days after we like to flame weed the beds. The carrots are not up yet, but a new round of weeds has germinated and we can kill those weeds with heat from a propane torch. Even after all this, we will still have to hand weed or at the very least go through the beds with a hoe.

Cultivating carrots with the basket weeder
When our “varying degree of success” is complete failure. Super weedy carrot beds have no chance of being rescued

To efficiently harvest the carrots, we under cut the beds with a tool on the back of the tractor that digs under the bed and lifts the soil and carrots up making for an easy harvest. Before we had the under cutter we would fork the beds and pull the carrots out. Our soil is so heavy when we used the garden forks, we actually had to water the beds first for the carrots to come out without breaking. When we did this method, the carrots weren’t the only causalities; we have broken several forks over the years!

Harvesting last year’s spring carrots with the under cutter
Throw back to pre under cutter days when we watered with a hose and then forked the carrots out

The carrots in last and this week’s box are from our spring planting. The spring planting did pretty well though the carrots were hard to find amongst the weeds. We consider it a success if CSA gets 2 weeks of spring carrots. For us, it’s the fall carrots that really shine. This year the planting looks really good and we have a nice stand of carrots taking up five 400 ft beds. We got a few stale beds in but didn’t have a chance to flame weed. Today we made sure we’d have time for everyone to help hand weed the beds and we got it done in no time. We’ll start harvesting the fall carrots mid October for the final CSA boxes and if all goes well, we’ll even have a few hundred pounds left in the spring for the first couple boxes of the 2021 season (The first two CSA shares this year had Fall ’19 carrots).

In conclusion, enjoy your carrots as they truly are a labor of love! Now you know why they are only in the CSA boxes a couple times in the beginning, perhaps a few times mid season, and in the final month of the program! We are very glad to have a better handle on growing this customer favorite and plan to continue fine tuning our carrot production in seasons to come!

Recipes

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) Sweet corn, tomatoes, kohlrabi, carrots, potatoes, beets, jalapeño peppers, cucumbers, salad mix and more!

CSA WEEK 11

This Week’s Harvest

Farm News

Last week we said farewell to one of our summer crew members. Kelli teaches 4th grade at the kids Elementary school here in New Lebanon and was looking for a summer job. She had experience working on market gardens in northern Ohio so she knew what she was getting into. She really enjoyed working with everyone on the crew, our Spotify radio stations played over our new Bluetooth speaker in the packing shed, learning how to lift heavy things with her legs not her back, and eating the fruits of her labor. We really enjoyed her laugh, stories, enthusiasm, positivity, and desire to be helpful at all times!

One of Kelli’s jobs on squash harvest days was riding on the harvest wagon and receiving the squash as they traveled down the conveyor belt. She had to bin them up and then lift the full bins to the back of the wagon, grab an empty bin and repeat the process. On particularly heavy harvest days she’d fill and move 30 bins! We definitely hope Kelli joins us again for another summer! And while we have enjoyed all the teachers at Dixie elementary, I sure do hope Isla gets Kelli when she is in 4th grade!

Kelli bins up the squash. The conveyor method of harvesting was new this year and it is great!
Kelli helps plant the winter squash we will enjoy in the fall.

I plan to highlight all of our employees on the blog. The produce you enjoy was touched by everyone on the crew at some point–whether it be the seeding, the planting, the weeding, the harvesting or the washing. We are grateful to our employees- new and returning alike!

Recipes

Garlicky Kale and Roasted Carrots with Tahini Sauce

Chinese Eggplant and Pork

Roasted Tomato Soup with Crispy Kale

Coming Up Next Week (our best guess…..) carrots, potatoes, kohlrabi, onions, tomatoes, watermelon, red bell peppers, sweet Italian peppers, sweet corn