Full Share: Zucchini, Cucumbers, Cauliflower x 2, Parsley, Carrots, Salad Mix, and Lacinato Kale

Partial Share: Zucchini, Cucumbers, Cauliflower, Basil, Carrots, and Salad Mix

Hello CSA Members!

It’s mid-July in Montana, which means it’s peak summer. It’s getting hot out there this week, and our biggest challenge is keeping the crops irrigated without wilting ourselves. While we work during the heat of the day, I personally don’t love it….I’d much rather be out there early morning and later evening. In fact, I just interrupted this newsletter to go take an evening walk through the field, and get some photos during the golden hour. This week we crossed an exciting threshold at the farm….this was the week where we transitioned from high tunnel carrots to field carrots. Which means, instead of digging all the carrot out with a shovel, we can now undercut the carrots with a tractor. That may not sound like much, but it’s a big deal for the crew. Way easier and much faster to bunch. Which is important given how many carrots we grew this year! We’re working our way through our first 180-foot bed in the field, which is enough carrots for CSA, two farmers markets, and The Farmers’ Stand for a week, and based on last count, there are 44 beds to go. Which means we’ll be finished harvesting by February 5th 🙂

These beds are as close to carrot perfection as we can get. They had good germination, they were flame weeded on time, and they have been basket weeded with the tractor on time.
And this is pretty much carrot imperfection. The germination was a little sparse, they were flame weeded but not enough weeds had germinated, and it got too weedy to basket weed. These are the types of beds that stress you out during daily planning. But today the crew spent a few hours out there in the afternoon and managed to weed most of 5 beds. You can seed the weedy bed in the foreground, and the weeded section in the back.

Since there are still some carrots to try to save, I thought I’d mention that we’re still doing the Thursday morning volunteer sessions from 9am to noon in cooperation with North Valley Food Bank and Land to Hand MT. Getting some extra hands on the farm helps take some of the pressure off us and the crew and is super helpful. A long time CSA member has attended the past two weeks, and she told me at CSA pickup that she really enjoys coming out to the farm. Not simply because it’s peaceful and beautiful out here, but because it’s given her a new perspective on what we do. While she’s read all the newsletters over the years, and has an idea of what we do here, it wasn’t until she spent a little time working along side of us that she understood the scale, practices, and type of work the farm entails. I say that as an invitation to any of you who are curious about visiting the farm to see what it’s all about. If you are at all interested, just come on out to the farm on Thursday at 9am. Long pants and gloves are highly recommended for your own comfort.

The trellised cucumber house (with marigolds) is pumping out a lot of cucumbers right now!
It takes time to do things the right way, and time is a bit scarce these days. But with the summer squash, we took the time to mulch in between the beds with fresh cut pasture grass to suppress weeds and dust, and I just love how clean they look.
While standing in the middle of the garlic patch, checking on the maturity to determine when to harvest, I took this photo of the corn, as it’s height stood in stark contrast to the garlic.. The garlic is about 3 feet tall, but the corn is up to 8 feet tall, in full tassel, and full of bees.
And last but not least, is the one-acre block of potatoes. They have been hilled with the tractor three times, and got cleaned up with some hula hoeing and thistle pulling, and they are looking good. They are just now flowering, which means they are starting to grow actual potatoes underground.

As far as CSA crops go, this week the zucchini are finally ready. And three successions of cauliflower are all ready at the same time, so you’ll be getting a healthy serving of those again. Don’t worry, here’s the link to fast track you to the cauliflower page in Dishing up the Dirt cookbook. Lots of cucumbers coming out the high tunnel as well these days, and I’m thinking the Sungold tomatoes will be maturing fast enough by next week to start getting them into shares for the rest of the season. This is the time of the season where the cold-season crops are still thriving, but the shift towards warm-season crops begins and you’ll see them increasingly entering into your weekly shares.

Well, hopefully you have some good shade, or a boat, this week to beat the heat. We’ll see you at CSA pickup.