Friday, August 24, 2012

CSA Week 10

In your share this week:
1 hot pepper (serrano)
head cabbage
1.5 lbs potatoes
bunch beets
bunch kale
cukes (slicing and picklers)
summer squash, zukes, and patty pan
onion (red and yellow) and shallots (pink on the outside)
head garlic
green and purple mixed beans
1 bag lettuce mix
Herbs: fennel (bronze, foliage), parsley, thyme, dill, basil, lemon basil
your lettuce is loving these cooler nights
flowers: statice (mixed colors and white), white ageratum/flossflower, white and green zinnias, bunch of 3 large sunflowers

Some other notes this week:

No chard!
 It took a little bit of figuring (and mostly just keeping myself aware), but I've found the chard-eating culprit!  (I am sad to say that they won-- and that, over the course of the weekend, the culprit tag-teamed up with the local deer population, who is getting more brazen as fall comes on.)

  The mystery was this: normally, when you have a severe pest infection that is decimating a crop, you can quickly identify the pest due to its plentiful quantities-- aphids, green stink bugs, tomato hornworms, japanese beetles-- these are our region's types of bugs capable of such destruction, and that thrive in large numbers.  Alternately, you can do some simple tracking to eliminate deer from the lineup-- our clayey soil does a good job holding their prints.  However, in this case of mystery chard infestation, I could see no evidence of insects.

Another unusual characteristic was that on any given plant, the larger, more sturdy leaves were the ones being decimated entirely, while the smaller, more fragile and young inner leaves appeared to display no evidence whatsoever of the pest.


Well, I had also been revelling that this seemed to be a particularly good year for birds-- we had great populations of bobolinks early in the summer, as well as redwing-blackbirds and lots of sparrows.  And, notably, the late summer migration of goldfinches, who are easy to spot for their shock of yellow, their cheerful song, and... their swarms.  Aha!  Seems that the goldfinches were landing on the ribs of the larger, more structurally sound chard leaves, and chowing down.  The smaller leaves were too pliable, and not able to support their weight-- thus the size discrepancy for the "pest".  And, I had certainly noticed that when I went down to the field, they'd cheerfully clear out of the scene-- leaving no evidence of bug infestations!

For all the good that they do in mitigating real pest/insect populations, some sacrificed chard plants seem to me like a square deal.  In the meantime, the deer moved in and munched the remaining inflorescences down to mere nubs-- and so, we'll have to settle for beet greens in the meantime.  That is, until the deer discover the similarity of the chenopods' leaves...

In more broad-scope news, to follow up on a recent post about The Gleanery: they have reached their Kickstarter crowd-funding goal!  Hooray!  Can't wait for this operation to continue moving along, and looking forward to opening day!

Also, here's a link to an excellent clearinghouse of information for folks interested in small farms and sustainable farm systems-- the Farm to Plate initiative by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund:
This is an impressively comprehensive listing of whatall's going on in Vermont Sustainability.

Finally, it's back to school for this farmer.  Students arrive tomorrow, and then Sunday we start off and running with a hike up Stratton, swimming and getting to know this year's student body.  Monday: Classes begin!  Our remaining two CSA shares will continue as normal, and occasionally, you may need to retrieve part(s) of your share from the mini-fridge in the workshop.  I'll keep you posted with notes on the table.  Our final share will be either Thursday, September 6, or Tuesday, September 11.  Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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