Jul 062010
 

Super superbly superior scrumptious summer squash greetings!

For the first time ever we have a good surplus of yellow summer squash and zucchini above and beyond the needs of the CSA!!! Remember these don’t have any of the harsh chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers, but have been raised naturally.

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A healthy supply of basil is ready for harvest as well!

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· Yellow Summer squash and zucchini is $2.00 per lb.

· Basil is $7.00 for ½ lb. or $12.00 per lb.

Anyone may purchase this produce so be sure not to miss out! You don’t need to be a CSA member to order!

In the past squash bugs and squash vine borers have always finished off the squash shortly after it’s started producing so there hasn’t been much available however, the Lord has blessed us with wonderful weather and fewer pest problems this year. I have sprayed an organic pyrethrum based spray with a little of Shaklee’s basic H a few times to help keep the cucumber beetles and squash bugs down to acceptable infestation levels. We are slowly losing a few plants along due to insect related problems so I’m unsure how long this bountiful harvest will continue… I’m certainly enjoying it while it lasts though!

Mary holding up a neat double squash.

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A market gardening friend of mine showed me how to prune the erect blackberries a new way and we’re enjoying the new method thus far this season. The plants certainly are loaded with berries!

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This year the Lord has blessed the garden tremendously in so many ways. Although it’s started to get really dry a few times this year the Lord has always sent a good rain just when we were needing it so I haven’t needed to irrigate. When He waters them, the plants always do better than if I try to do it anyway!

For the first year we’ve had an extended, very good crop of rhubarb.

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We are currently harvesting a diverse mix of produce for the CSA shares including cherry tomatoes, squash, blackberries, basil and now we’re nearly finished harvesting the potatoes.

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There is one more row of potatoes ready to be harvested, but the 4” of rain the night of July 4th was still soaking in when another deluge hit throughout last night and early morning today, July 6th! There was 4-6/10” this morning and then it rained off and on all day with another 2-4/10” falling throughout the day for a total of 11” since Sunday evening! This report amount is debatable as a neighbor only a mile away measured about half that much so we aren’t sure if our rain gauge is getting some extra water from some overhead source dripping into it (can’t see anything directly over it) but need to set up another gauge somewhere else so we can compare measurements. The week before, on Sunday, June 27th there were isolated thunder storms and within a 10 mile radius we heard of folks getting everywhere from barely getting the dust wet, to ½”, and to us receiving 2-6/10” of rain in less than an hour! We were certainly thankful it didn’t rain at those volumes for longer and that we haven’t had any more of these gully washers this year! Even though the amount of rain is debatable there is no doubt there was a lot of water coming down. There was a stream running through our drive and then down by the orchard the water covered a section of the drive and even some of the county road was flooded for a while!

Back to the potato digging parties. It has been a real blessing having so many people help us harvest the abundant potato harvest this season. On average most of the rows produced about ten times more potatoes by weight than we’d planted. Most of the potatoes have been simply beautiful and there were fewer Colorado potato beetles this year than there have been in other years. After two years of nearly complete potato crop failure it’s been a huge blessing to have a lovely potato harvest. This very well may be the best potato harvest we’ve ever had on our farm!

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A couple notable potato observations. While the potatoes have been quite beautiful this year the largest potato we’ve found in the patch was a Yukon Gold weighing in at 1 lb. 6 oz. when freshly harvested!

I have also observed a very unique parasite problem we’ve had in a few of the potatoes. Yes, and I do mean IN the potato! Take a look for yourself at these extremely interesting specimens. To my knowledge I’ve never heard of this before and they appear to be such a rare novelty that I’ll sell these potatoes by the piece for $25.00 each. They’re so special I thought about charging $50-100 each, but decided against it. Treat your neighbors and friends to this great surprise! There are all kinds of designs to choose from but there’s a limited supply so be sure and place your order early!

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Ok, ok, so I’m just joking. The potato “parasite” is actually a specific kind of grass (we call it nut sedge or water grass) which sends out rhizomes which apparently enjoy penetrating potatoes!

Dad has also helped me start harvesting the garlic. Each of the different varieties have varied in quality and size quite a bit this year. I believe I made a mistake in mulching the garlic after it had started to come up last fall. Large sections of it didn’t come up through the mulch. This year’s garlic harvest is proving to be pretty small due to the poor stand. Also, while the mulch kept out many of the annual weeds a different type of bindweed than we usually have, dock and Johnson grass have come up through the mulch and made the garlic patch an unruly mess. Some of the garlic varieties have been very nice sized bulbs though! Due to planting the garlic with the transplanter, some of the necks of the garlic have been coming out crooked.

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Our family is thankful to have the summer solstice past so the day lengths are starting to shorten again. Since we usually work from before sun up to after sundown the long day lengths certainly make for a long day’s work. However, I will have to disagree with one thing my calendar said about the summer solstice! That it is considered the day summer begins! I’m sorry to say, but we got a lot of summer time weather early this year in June when the days were hitting nearly 100 degrees and the percentage humidity was a little over half that! Whew! It was hot. Thankfully there was usually a breeze. After each of our beautiful rains the sun comes out and spikes the humidity for a few days as the evaporation process starts taking place. When the next couple days are cloudy after a good soaking rain it’s sure a blessing as some of the moisture can soak in rather than evaporating.

Here’s an interesting caterpillar we found on a tree in the young orchard.

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Jena also found a mockingbird’s nest perched in the low fork of a young apple tree!

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Ever since strawberry season ended G-Jean and I have been whacking away at the forest of weeds which grew up while we were too busy to keep up. Some of the tall weeds are over my head now and have developed a healthy root system which sometimes breaks off when I try to pull them. While there is still a ways to go we’ve made better head way at clearing this overgrown jungle than we’ve ever been able to do in the past when the garden weeds have gotten away from us!

Dad has helped me keep up with a bare fallow on some ground where we’ve harvested potatoes and another couple areas where the Johnson grass was trying to take over. G-Jean and I have been able to clean out the sweet potatoes and okra and then Dad shallowly plowed the remaining strip of land between the rows to turn under the grass and other weeds which had grown all too well. That section is now ready to mulch and I’ve gotten a good start on it now so Lord willing it will be completely mulched by the next update!

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Our heirloom roasting ear corn has shot up this year and is doing extremely well! One CSA member teased me saying I’d need to ride the draft horses to pick it!

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A collage of yellow, black and red raspberries! Most of the time the raspberries don’t all get ripe at the same time, but there were a couple weeks of overlap this year!

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Granddad keeping some of the garden isles mowed including close to these tomato plants.

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A couple fun varieties of produce we’re raising this year are the Chioggia beets which look like a bull’s-eye and purple bell peppers.

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One morning Granddad decided to take off early and go fishing. I decided I’d better not take time, but certainly had fun helping him hold up his catch once he got home! Dad and I both have gone with Granddad at different times after this, but he just keeps out fishing us! That’s ok, way to go Granddad!!!

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Mom has put Abigail’s heifer calf, Mae, on Dixie to nurse with her own bull calf, Miracle. After Mom thought about the relationships she figured out Miracle is nursing with his Aunt Mae! They look nearly like identical twins and are two beautiful, frisky packages of brown eyed curiosity!

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Another project I’ve been able to complete was renewing the strawberries. The process makes it look like you’re going to kill the plants – but it actually helps them. You mow them off high and then till under all but about a one foot wide strip of the original row which will regrow and runner out the new plants for next year’s berry crop. Hard to believe these two pictures are of the same strawberry rows! One picture was taken during the height of strawberry season just a month or so ago, the other was a little over a week ago. Maybe we can show the new growth in the next update.

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May you have a beautiful summery week!

Farmer Josh and the Mitchell Crew

(620) 330-1966

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Our farm’s bloom report!

Swizzle zinnia

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Okra! There are a few okra pods starting to appear so okra season won’t be too far away!

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Garden Phlox

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Several colors of lilies have been blooming

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Nicotianna. This plant is in the tobacco family and I use it in the hoop houses some as a trap crop for white flies.

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Sedum

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Four O’clock

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Prairie Coneflower also known as Snake Root or Echinacea

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A different type of Prairie Coneflower

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We call this weed either Flax or Rosin weed, but it appears the technical name is Plains Coreopsis

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A bee gathering pollen from a wild chicory

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