Farm Journal 9/18/22

Sept 21 is  the start of Week 16 of our CSA.  If you missed this last week’s CSA pick up at the markets, please don’t use the following week as a make-up week without getting an OK from us first. We don’t want to run short on shares at market.

Click here to shop our web-store – our freezers are re-stocked! Bulk Hot Peppers are ready for pickling!

Fall Farm Party September 24

Come out for a day of fun on the farm! Save the date – Saturday September 24th! We’re hosting our farm picnic from 4 – 9 pm. We’ll have HAMburgers, Hotdogs and s’mores. Feel free to bring sides, desserts and/or drinks to share. We’ll have dishes and cutlery available, but you may want to bring your own picnic blanket or chairs, lawn games, and bug spray. Farm tour starts promptly at 4:30 and campfire later in the evening. There’s a good chance that Greg’s going to want to get the ol’ cider press out – so be prepared to help with that too (it’s messy)! Feel free to bring along extra apples (and containers) and you can press your apples for cider   too! RSVPs are appreciated.

Where to find us and pick up your online orders, csa, and a sammie.

The Farm – Wednesday (11 – 7).

Northside – (Allegheny Commons) Friday 3 – 7 PM

Mt. Lebanon ,Uptown, – Saturday 9-12

Squirrel hill Market (beacon and Bartlet)- Sunday 9-1

East Liberty -(Liberty Green Park) Monday 3:30-6:30

(Have you followed this series about “Life on the Farm”, by our friend and fellow farm worker (and the guy who helped build the patio)? If you’ve missed the first 2 parts, you can find them in the previous two newsletters, under “Journal”.

Life on the Farm Part 3 – Let’s Talk About Bugs, by Tim Time

There may be nothing more alien to a human being than an insect. Their bodies don’t look like ours, their eyes don’t look like ours, their behavior is erratic, they are small, they fly, they sting and bite. If insects were 6 ft tall, we would be completely freaked out by them. And their numbers are staggering: They are the most diverse group of organisms on the planet with over 900,000 different kinds of insects that we know of. Entomological experts estimate there may be as many 30 million species of insects and 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual insects alive. If all the descendants of a single pair of simple houseflies survived a five-month season, their offspring could total 190 quintillion individual flies. Talk about a pyramid scheme! Thank goodness for spiders and frogs. In the United States, there four major Orders of insects: Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (flies), Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps) and Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). A bit of good reading on the subject can be found at this link to the Smithsonian Institute website.

On the whole, insects are unwanted and largely misunderstood. Fortunately, they do not seem determined to take over the world, although at times it may seem they will do just that. The Rocky Mountain locust swarm of 1874-1875 covered 198,000 square miles. By comparison, Pennsylvania is 46,056 square miles. They ate not only all of the crops, but the wool from live sheep, clothing off people’s backs, paper, tree bark, sawdust, leather, and even wooden tool handles. They covered the ground several inches deep, and locomotives could not get traction because the insects’ bodies made the rails too slippery.  Here on the farm, there are more kinds of bugs than we can count. No bug is inherently good or bad. We judge them by the role they play in our plans. A handful are unwelcome because of the damage they do to crops. You know those cute little white moths that flit all about? They are cabbage moths which begin life as caterpillars that emerge in the cabbage patch perfectly camouflaged and very hungry. Another pest is the flea beetle which lays its eggs in arugula and bak choy. Like the caterpillars they are very hungry when they hatch.

No one wants arugula with holes in it. Sometimes we have to adjust our plans. After six years of trying to outwit and manage flea beetles with spraying and row covering, Jen decided it was easier to join them than beat them. She now plants arugula in the fall when the life cycle of the flea beetle is nearly over. Crop rotation helps offset the efforts of root maggots and certain wasps attack tomato horn worms.

Like the rest of the nature puzzle, all of the parts are interconnected. But some bugs are indispensable to our efforts here on the farm and we are glad to see them thriving. Earth worms enrich the soil with their castings. The honeybee is our good friend. Even though the occasional bee sting is a rite of passage for kids, we have long prized these hard workers for their role as pollinators. And honey is nothing short of liquid gold. Bees are civilized in a way that scientists are just beginning to unravel. They use intricate dances to communicate the location and quality of food sources. They can recognize individual human faces and somehow teach other bees useful information about their environment. People who study bees say they are sentient creatures. Who am I to disagree?

To maintain a bio-diverse environment, it is important to allow bugs to do their thing. We will never understand the insect world. It is endlessly fascinating and there is far more to explore than we can in this newsletter. Certainly, there is both an individual and social intelligence at work as these creatures go about their business. They are a huge piece in the puzzle that is life here on Earth.

In Part 4 we will take a look at ourselves.

Field Update – by Jen

It’s been awhile since I’ve let you in on what’s happening in the fields. August and September are a blur, and Greg and I just try to get through it all without losing any ground. We hardly have energy to talk at night, once we’re finally sedentary and not being interrupted by kids and farm emergencies.

Fall is definitely my favorite growing season. The weather is more cooperative, the insect pressure has dropped, and the leafy greens just want to GROW! That said, our tomatoes haven’t been appreciating the weather, and they’ve pretty much tanked in the field. We planted a crop of tomatoes in the first high tunnel – and though they are producing and look pretty good, they are getting attacked by the tomato hornworm. Ahh well – A bit of hand plucking and they’ll be done!

It’s time to start thinking of planting Garlic. If you’d like to take some home to “shuck” – we’ll send you home with garlic bulbs and you bring them back broken apart (not pealed) and ready for planting. It’s a great sit on the porch job and enjoy the outdoors! Just let us know at the CSA pick up if you’d like to help out!

We have plenty of BokChoy, and although it was seeded at staggered dates, it all seems to. have matured at the same pace. Hence, you’re getting plenty of greens. Don’t be intimated by it’s foreign look – in this instance, it doesn’t hurt to generalize and lump all leafy greens into the same category. Stir-fry. Treat this BokChoy like you would Swiss chard, spinach, cabbage or kale. Chop up the crunchy bits first and quickly cook, then throw in the leafier green bits and briefly cook, then add rice/pasta and a sauce and you’re all set. Don’t make life too complicated.

Speaking of too complicated….. Greg just got back from Indiana (state!) with a 120′ greenhouse that was gifted to us. We don’t plan to put it up this year – but will stew on it and come up with the perfect location and future use for such as beautiful and potentially productive asset!!

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