November 8, 2016
What is in the VEGGIE BOX?
Radishes, Tokyo Turnips, Spinach, Salad Mix, Butternut Squash, Leeks and Collards
What is in the FRUIT BOX? Mandarin Oranges, Raisins, Lemons and Pomegranates
WINTER Quarter payment is due November 15
The new quarter begins November 22 and ends February 21
No deliveries December 24, 27, 31 and January 3
You will find the form in your box please mail this back with your payment
Holiday Specialty Orders
Orders due by November 30
Orders will be delivered as part of your delivery on Tuesday December 6 and Saturday December 10. Check over the list of products from our farm and our neighboring farms that you might want to give as gifts this season, or stock up for your cupboards for the coming year. Send in your orders with a payment and we will put together your wish list for you and bring it to the CSA delivery site before the holidays.
Handmade Wreath Class
At Good Humus Produce
December 3, 2016 10am
Learn to make beautiful wreaths of dried herbs, flowers and greenery from the farm and add a natural homemade touch to your holiday gift giving. Students will take their creation home to use as decorations or gifts. A farm fresh lunch and a tour of the gardens are included. Instructor Annie Main Price-$75 please contact Sacramento Natural Food Coop to sign up for the class-we hope to see you at the farm!
This Week on the Farm
Ricardo and Rogelio have been mentioning for a couple of weeks an
outbreak of aphids in the Red Russian kale.
In my daily walks around the farm, I too could see small
spots of the waxy grey aphids beginning on the collards, the bok
choy, and a few other crops.
So, what to do?
Every year brings an outbreak of aphids, often several kinds in their turn. And they are so prolific that in a short period of time, whether it is warm or cool or cold, they can be all over any plant. The important thing for me to try to determine is how big of an outbreak this will be. First thing to know about me is that I hate to spray. I do it, but only under duress and not in a happy way. I have even refused to buy a tractor sprayer in recent years because the harder it is to spray, the less I will spray. Kind of an enforced abstention. But I do spray, particularly for the fungi and the worms that can ruin a peach or apricot crop. The reason I spray for those is the same, always…because I have gotten burned by not spraying. The years of no crop because of peach leaf curl, or sorting out the big, luscious Suncrest peaches with a minute worm just under the skin cured me of my usual laissez-faire. Being that I so dislike spraying, it seems I am always learning the same lesson over and over again, and letting the spray time go by, only to discover that the same natural processes of worms preying on peaches and fungus destroying leaves and trees are still going on. Some would call that not learning, but each time I reaffirm the need for a spray, I also get more familiar with the nature of the damage, the cycles of the infestation, and the true losses to my system. And incredible as it may seem, this small farm survives years of few peaches, few apricots, plagued tomatoes, squash failures. The end result is that I am pretty qualified to talk about poorly managed production and the true consequences of the neglect of what are considered essential practices.
So that is the overall background that I bring to bear on the budding aphid problem. With an innate desire to see the problem take care of itself with minimal or no intervention on my part, I am willing to sit and watch for awhile. What does that mean tomorrow and the next day and next week and next month. Well, I have a pretty good idea, but also know that each time this happens there are new determining factors that affect the outcome for what we harvest. So, no matter what I have experienced in the past, there is no predetermined outcome.
Here is my train of thought, and now pay attention, because all of you that eat this food are involved. It is late fall, early winter here in Hungry Hollow, and a warm one at that. The fact that it hasn’t been too cold is a contributing factor, a big one probably, to an unusual amount of aphid activity for this time of year. Nothing has happened to slow down the early generations of aphids. So, potentially a bigger problem, kind of unusual on this farm where fall generations are too impacted by weather, diversity, and distance between plantings to proliferate. I know that in the spring, in each spring, we have a short period of time when the aphid populations overwhelm all the limiting factors and we have to wash the lettuce, the broccoli, the cauliflower, the leafy greens to make them presentable to you. It is time consuming, imperfect, expensive, boring, really important, and we don’t get them all, as you know. What I see in the field now makes me think that this may be the case this fall, for the first time in a long time. What brings it about, and how is it going to be the same and different than the spring population growth? As I walk, I am thinking about this.
I bend down to look at an individual leaf of collards with a population of grey aphid about the size of a silver dollar. (Remember the size of those?) It is a big, pretty healthy population, and I know it is serious. In addition to sucking the life of the plant, the aphids inject a toxin that stunts and affects the production of the plant. But I see something else that is encouraging. Mixed in among the healthy aphids are little dry white grains, each the remains of an aphid that encountered a ladybug (ladybird beetle for the purists), an assassin bug, a minute pirate bug and any number of others that will not be denied dinner every day. In addition there are a good number of enlarged aphids, blanched brown instead of grey or green with a hole in their abdomen that marks the exit of a parasitic wasp.
All this life and death that would be erased by any spray that I might use. I know that in the spring, we all have to endure a few weeks of aphid explosion before the overwintering populations of predators build up enough to overwhelm them, but they do. If I just wait and watch, maybe after a six weeks, all I see are desiccated bodies of aphids. Now this is different, this fall. While the population of predators is healthy now and will remain at high levels as long as the weather doesn’t turn cold and any other unknown environmental trigger doesn’t initiate hibernation or population decline, then the leftover summer populations have a chance of handling this trouble. I do know that this year we transplanted way more than we have ever before because we happily resolved a couple of disabling problems with our fall greenhouse culture, but that brings its own problems.
Our transplants are notoriously susceptible to insect attack because we still have not solved the riddle of their adjustment to outdoor living. For a few weeks, as they use all their energy to get their roots into the ground, they somehow are delicious to all that walks, flies, squirms or crawls to a green meal. And there are so many of them this year, planted close to each other in rich soil. Right nearby are their brothers and sisters planted by seed and therefore stronger, but still available to the hearty and less discerning eaters. What I guess as I walk is that the next two weeks are critical. Warm weather allows the continuous cycle of predator/prey increase decrease to move along to its usual conclusion. A period of movement-hampering cold and wet weather favors the aphids. But simply put for me, my options generally involve finding a better way to increase the strength, decrease the attraction of the fall transplants that come from our greenhouse, and leave the aphids to those that love them daily. Aphids are the cattle of the insect world, for Heaven’s sake! Everything loves them to death. I have the sneaking suspicion that if Good Humus continues to grow a good supply of winter vegetables, enough to attract those that eat green, enough to supply the slowly growing number of folks that look to us for a year-round supply of fresh, palatable vegetables for their tables, that in the increasing warmth and humidity of the new California Autumn, we may see more of this fall riotous explosion of life. As they used to say to the spies of Mission Impossible! “Your job, Mr Main, should you decide to accept it, is to ride this chaos with enough management and expertise, and patience and forbearance and discernment to manage to extract maybe 100 meals each fall and winter for all of those that depend on its successful accomplishment. This newsletter will self destruct in a couple of years. Good Luck!” Jeff