Dear Friends and Customers of Many Hands Organic Farm,

It hits me every year at this time, I guess because I am super connected to the solar rhythms of the year. I wake up by 3:15 each day and am out of bed by 4 am. Then it is off to the races until 3 pm. Heinrich asked me on Friday, “How old are you anyway? You run around all day long.” (68) And of course the sun does not wait around for us but keeps things growing, our very young crops, of course, but also grass and weeds. And meanwhile we have to juggle picking, soil prep and planting, mulching, seed starting in the greenhouse, and management of specifically the bindweed and bishops weed which are constantly trying to overtake our perennial fruits. There is also our burgeoning crop of chickens. We now have 100 layers in the field, 100 baby layers in the front yard, and 300 meat birds in the brooder house. And there are lawns to mow, hay to make, mushrooms and bees to tend, and the list goes on. So I set the pace all day, driven by the sun. I supply everyone with breakfast, peanut butter balls and lunch, and am eternally grateful that folks keep that pace. We will start to relax around the end of July, particularly if we have set the stage (and kept the new talent moving onto the stage) well during this crucial time. Wish us luck, and if you are wanting some exercise, come on over.

Going outside at 4 am barefoot in the heavy dew is magical. You should try it!

Aric and Clare bunching onions
Recycle with MHOF – in need of plastic grocery bags!
We are running short on plastic grocery bags that we use to pack produce. If you have some you are willing to donate, please pack them in your share bags when your return them, or bring them to the farm. Please no smaller produce bags, as we have to throw them away. Additionally, we can always use your donations of: brown paper grocery bags, plastic tape and staple-free brown cardboard only (we can’t use the shiny cardboard as it is not organically certifiable), dozen-sized egg cartons, (cardboard only, no plastic or styrofoam!), quart-sized yogurt containers, pint and quart sized fruit containers (cardboard or plastic is fine), rubber bands (aka elastics), and clean cork-using wine bottles. We also appreciate if you are able to return canning jars from goods that you purchase with us!

Health Topics
Food for thought –  thanks to Laurie for sharing – Say Goodbye to the Germ Theory –

Some tips for potato growers
From Nathan Harman, our farm consultant from Advancing EcoAgriculture
In response to my question about how we can maximize our potato crop this year –
“Potato beetles and flea beetles are just truly super-hard. We don’t have any immediate solution that reliably knocks them off from young plants. They are hardy whole-leaf eaters and WILL eat a potato if it’s around to eat. Once the plant is well established, feeding primarily off of photosynthesis, microbial foods and soil minerals, they can garner resistance pretty quickly. Active foliar feeding helps of course, while the plant is primarily pushing up using stored seed-pierce energy.
Without a sap test it’s hard to say what particularly might be lacking… but supporting basic photosynthesis is always a solid step. And make sure there is enough sulfur in the scene. Which you are probably doing with the basic vegetative recipes.

Potatoes do well with vegetative foliars. The big modifiers are that they do like more potassium through the season than other crops. So Add 1 pint/1 quart holoK in each app, or dry amend with potassium sulfate a couple of times in the season. And you can increase the total number of tubers set by doing a heavy 1-2 gallons per acre) application of Accelerate 2-3 times in a row during hook-stage. This usually comes pretty early, by the time the plants are a foot tall. Add the accelerate into the regular applications, and remove sea shield and seastim during those apps.”

CSA Update
Week Three best guess at what you will get
We had some great rain last week end. A little too much for some of our lower areas, but it will stand us in good stead. We are now looking at some spikes up in the weather. The early Asian greens will all go to seed (some have already), so we will harvest what is left of the spring crops and share them out to you. There will be a mix of red and green bok choi, Chinese cabbage, and tatsoi. Sadly the spinach has come and gone for the spring. We will have kale for all, and some remaining chard from the hoop house for the large shares before that turns over for tomatoes. And also some beets from the hoop house.

From the field we will have radishes, rhubarb, lettuce, mint – either spearmint or peppermint, and oregano. Sorry to Monday for forgetting the oregano last week, but you will get a double dose today. Green onions are doing quite well. There will also be small bunches of cilantro and arugula, and some escarole or lambs quarters.

Handling your produce when you receive it
For some of your shares, they might be hanging around at a pick up location for a couple of hours before you pick up. Wilted produce can quickly be rehydrated. Take it home and immerse it in cold water for 10 minutes or so. Drain it and always store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Otherwise it will not hold up for you.

Wednesday Worcester folks – because of Heinrich’s schedule, he gets to Elan Vital by 1:30 at the latest. Feel free to show up there early if  you are able.

Recipe this week – Salad
This should change with the season and by the week. Raw foods are great to keep digestion flowing, and provide all sorts of wonderful vitamins and minerals. Lettuce is usually the basis for salads, and at this time of the year we will have plenty of it. But don’t shrink away from adding mint, parsley, cilantro, arugula, green onions, homemade sprouts (I will feature those next week), spinach in season, lemon balm, thyme, oregano, chives, etc. We have two salads each day at MHOF, and serve them topped with Jack’s famous house dressing featured last week. This week we roasted a chicken and chopped up the leftovers and served it on top of the salad for a full meal.

Hi Julie!

I am so thrilled I became part of your CSA, we have really enjoyed everything we received last week!!  Pick up was so pleasant–I am picking up in Princeton and met Dominic and his children, they were so nice and very accommodating
I LOVE what you are doing from the newsletter to the reusable bags to the way you operate your farm…..super happy  🙂

Thank you for all you do!

CSA still open.
If you want to join the CSA but haven’t yet gotten around to it, it is not too late. Check the website for the weekly downwardly changing prices.

CSA share week two
Farm Doins
In the mulching department we attended to 3 beds of broccoli and 5 beds of squash. We planted 5 beds of lettuce, 2 of parsnips, one of scorzonera, and one each of cilantro and dill, plus we put in our 6 hemp plants. We did some bed refills on our 4 big beds of chard and got them all weeded while we were at it. We also undersowed crimson clover as a living mulch. Half of the potatoes are weeded and hilled and awaiting next week’s mulch. We also need to finish up the squash and 3 more beds of broccoli and cabbage. Sadly, our cucumber plants all bit the dust, but we replanted, and we planted an empty onion bed to summer squash. We accomplished the weeding, mulching and trimming of some short beds of red and black raspberries and blackberries. We also tied the peas to the fence so they can grow to their 6-7 feet well attached to the fence. Cathleen and Anthony went shopping for lumber for more chicken houses – a project that will culminate in our workshop on July 10. Clare and I ripped out the poison ivy around one of our favorite apple trees and guess who has little bumps all over my arms! And that was all accomplished in 4 short days.

Baby layers have moved to the front yard (1, click to view video on Instagram), Maria with a crate of green onions (2), it is mulching season – we can’t get to this quickly enough (3), green beans coming up (4), we were able to plant 5 beds of lettuce on Friday after removing another tarp that had been put down on hayfield sod (5), beautiful peas with a mixed cover crop in the aisles (6)