May 012009


Just about needed a submarine to harvest produce this last Tuesday after all the rain from the weekend and Monday! Thankfully we didn’t receive nearly as much rain as some of the surrounding country. Between Saturday night and Monday morning we received 2-1/4″ of rain while other areas around here got 4-6″ ! Thankfully most of the produce is being harvested out of the hoop houses now! However, Wednesday we caught up to the previous amount received by others with a downpour of about 2-1/4″ between 10:30 am and 2:00 pm !!! We had water running everywhere!

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A photo taken from the front porch looking west. Jena and I had to go check out how deep the water was. Thankfully when the water gets this high, it doesn’t stay high for long.

Seemed as though paperwork was taking a little too long (quite a little too long some days) when all that pretty sun was shinning last week! Now it’s wet and cloudy so we’ll see how long it takes before everything dries back out again. In some ways it’s a blessing to have the cooler, cloudy weather as the lettuce and other produce will hold a little better than if it were really hot.

We were harvesting, rinsing, sacking, weighing and putting the produce in all the shares just as fast as we could so the produce wouldn’t wilt too badly in the hot drying winds for the Saturday CSA shares! By contrast the sun was hiding behind a heavily overcast sky of clouds the next Tuesday and it even misted half the morning. With the north breeze and mist it certainly made for a cool morning to harvest produce. I was very thankful most of the produce was harvested out of the hoop house.

Can you guess which plants send these pretty blooms up? Answer will be near the end of this update.

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Thank you very much to each person who has come out for the beautiful produce that is ready for harvest now!

Currently we have the produce listed below available:

  • Spinach
  • Leaf, bibb, buttercrunch, and young romaine lettuce (the romaine is too large to consider “baby” but to small and not headed up enough to exactly call “mature”)
  • Green onions

You don’t need to be a CSA member to preorder this produce. Regular pick up time is Tuesdays 5 – 7 p.m and Saturdays 9 – 11 a.m. Please place your preorder by 8 a.m. the day before you plan to pick up your order. For more information on prices and pick up times check the “This Week” page on our website at:


A big thanks to our working share member, Mary Fritzemeier (on the right) who helps us get CSA shares ready on Tuesdays!

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If you see these eggs on any of your produce don’t squish them! They are ladybug eggs! Set the eggs outside in your yard or garden and hopefully they’ll hatch. Ladybug larva are ferocious aphid eaters! The ladybugs have been out in force this last week.

With the sun blazing down and the wind rushing through while harvesting for Saturday’s pick up I was very thankful I’d taken the time to put curtains up on the south end and east side of the wash station earlier in the week! I still need to do a little more work on the curtains, but it certainly saved the produce from wilting too bad before we could get it in the cooler.

Bringing Belle and Blaze in from pasture…before we’d gotten all the rain…

4-24-2009 (92)


Last Thursday night Dad drove up to Dennis to see if the Amish harness shop had a collar that would fit Blaze. The collar that came with her harness was too big for her. It has been a blessing to have the large collar though as she didn’t like having the collar slid over her head. Blaze’s previous owner had just opened up her collar and slipped it over her neck. There is a chance if a collar opens up too far it will crack at the bottom and ruin the collar, so I would prefer not opening up my collars if possible. With the large collar it’s been easier for Blaze to accept the new way of putting her collar on.

When Dad came back he brought the harness shop owner, Mr. Schwartz, with him along with a couple of collars to be sure and get the correct fit for Blaze. I was very appreciative of him taking his time to ensure she had the correct collar. Mr. Schwartz even waited long enough for me to get the harness out and harness both of the horses up so he could make sure I had them adjusted correctly! It was a real blessing for him to take all that time.

We celebrated G-Jean’s birthday last week and Jena came up with a very fitting, unusual, cake decoration idea!

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Several varieties of lettuce leaves over the top of a chocolate angel food cake, with pak choi blooms and green onion tops coming through the center!

Part of Jena and my gift to G-Jean was helping her clean up her flower beds. In the process we found a snail that was very active. We never had a snail so anxious to move with an audience, but this one was climbing (or crawling however you prefer saying it) all over Jena’s thumb.

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Leah came over at just the wrong/right time and we roped her into helping a little too.

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Nearly three full days a week are reserved for CSA now between the harvesting, packing and pick up. It’s very rewarding work though getting to meet new people and seeing the “fruits of your labor” bring smiles to everyone’s face…including mine!

Just before the rain moved in Dad helped me (Jena helped a little too) get the corn/bean planter fixed up so we could plant the beans and corn! Saturday while I was helping get CSA shares to all the share holders and giving garden tours Dad was working on the planter. After the CSA pick up I jumped in too and tried to figure out which plates (they have holes in which the seed is metered out) and spacing (you can change out gears for different spacings) were needed to plant each of the corn and bean varieties… There sure are a lot of options to choose from.

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It took a little in field adjustment before we could get everything set, but then we started plantin’ corn and beans! A cover crop of rye is in the background.

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We planted four varieties of beans, a yellow wax bean, two varieties of green beans and the beautiful purple bush beans! Two varieties of corn are in the ground now as well. I’m still in the learning process of growing good corn naturally so I don’t count on it heavily, but it sure is good when it turns out right! That four row corn planter is really too big for our operation right now, but once adjusted right you can sure plant a lot in a hurry. It’ll magnify a mistake you make in a hurry too though! I had planned on switching types of beans when I got down to the end of the row, but leave the same variety of corn which we had in the other two seed bins. Turning around at the end I didn’t realize I’d forgotten to change out the bean seed until I was a little over half way down the field! Also, I’d planned to plant just three rows of beans, but there are now four rows planted since I forgot to empty the other seed bin. That’s ok, but my aching back may not think so by the time I get done picking the extra row of beans! I’m sure everyone will enjoy the extra beans this summer.

I wanted to ridge the beans and corn since our soil compacts so bad if there’s a heavy rain so I got ready to get the rake out and start out down the eight 400-450’ rows of beans and corn. Dad thought we could beat the rake so we started scrounging around a little looking for ideas. I finally saw the small ridger that I’d taken off the old horse drawn lister corn planter (now the converted potato planter) and started seeing how well it’d mount to the Kubota’s three point draw bar. With a little time, bailing wire and a bolt we got it mounted.

Going over to the field I did a short test run with Dad standing a on the ridger to provide enough weight for it to work properly. We got lined out and zipped down the row! Well, it was “zipping” compared to doing it with the rake anyway! Just as I finished coming back up the row I heard a “pop” and looked back to see part of the ridger’s frame that holds it rigid had broken. After accessing the situation Dad and I figured although it would allow the ridger to move a little more than previously, with him standing on it we could still make the ridger work well enough to get the job done.

4-25-2009 (83)

I’m now very thankful we were able to ridge the corn and beans as the rain we got has come in downpours from time to time which will have made a hard packed crust that the plants most likely won’t come up through. When it dries out a little we’ll knock the ridge off exposing loose soil below that the plants can come through.

Jena took time to trim a couple of Blaze’s hooves this week. Blaze isn’t used to her hooves being trimmed so she was a little impatient, but did ok. I’m the student this time with Jena teaching me!

4-24-2009 (78)


Since it rained most of Monday it made for a great day to do paperwork until about 10:00 and then start transplanting the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, celery and a few herb and flower plants. Since some of the tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds were old I’d planted extra to ensure having enough… Guess what? They came up as good or better than any other time! I estimate we made about 1,130 soil blocks for transplants! Lord willing we’ll have a bountiful crop this year!

That number of soil blocks includes about 260 tomato plants. I probably got a little carried away, but I enjoy experimenting with new varieties. We planted a lot of red tomatoes and some of the old standbys, but all told we have 21 different tomato varieties! It’ll be fun taste testing this summer!

4-27-2009 (3)

I did some experimenting this time by using the plug trays to start the seed and using a trick our good friend Dottie Lankard passed along to us. Taking some plastic wrap I put it on the plug trays until the seed sprouted then removed it. The wrap allows the seed to keep more of an even moisture than being uncovered and you don’t need to water as often.

When it was time to transplant I made the larger soil blocks and put the plug tray seedlings in them. Two disadvantages I found was the plug trays are too tall and the plants must get more root bound than I’d prefer for the plugs to come out in one piece. I knew the plug trays were a little to tall so I hadn’t filled the cells clear up, but next time I won’t fill them quite as full.

Belle saying “hello” to some CSA members…

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…CSA members have also enjoyed bottle feeding the lambs…

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…and gathering eggs!

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After transplanting I dug up the rest of the leeks and cut asparagus in the rain. We had a few pretty hard showers while I was out. It’s pretty bad when the trench we dug while getting the parsnips out earlier looked like a mini river!

4-23-2009 (50) The mamma killdeer on her nest in the gravel strip we use to unload semi loads of sawdust.

Well, it was drying out a little, now it is wet again and it’s time to get a succession planting of some crops in the ground… However, there are chances for more rain predicted through the rest of the week, so we’ll see.

I caught our first swarm of honey bees this season when they landed in the big old elm tree. Thankfully they chose to land on a low limb!

4-22-2009 (21)

Have a great week!

Farmer Josh and the Mitchell Family Crew

Bloom Report:

Did you guess what the flowers were at the beginning of the update? The white flower with yellow center are strawberries while the yellow flowers are kale plants that have bolted and flowered!

Two colors of Columbine

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Lilly of the Valley

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A unique tulip

4-26-2009 (11)

Johnny Jump Up Violas

4-22-2009 (9)

Star of Bethlehem (a wild flower that has been doing very well in Mom’s flower bed and has about become a weed!

4-23-2009 (25)

Wild Hyacinths

4-23-2009 (22)

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