Roadside Stand on Hwy CV Open

Our roadside stand is open along HWY CV.  Located at the intersection of HWY 51 and CV in Dane County.  Turn onto Hwy CV at the stop lights off of HWY 51.  We are just past the truck stops.  Look for the signs along HWY 51 and CV.

Our excellent bi-color sweet corn is available along with many other fresh veggies and raspberries.

Abby is ready to help you!

Only the best…

Selecting what varieties of each crop to grow each year is sometimes a daunting task.  So how do we do it and why?

Milena and Procraft peppers from Enza Zaden

Milena and Procraft peppers from Enza Zaden

Answering the 2nd question is MUCH easier so I will address that first.  A farmer earns a living by growing crops to sell.  Ultimately quality and yield are the two most important factors to consider when selecting which pepper, tomato, etc. variety to grow.  Disease resistance is the next most important trait we look for.  If a variety is resistant to a disease such as bacterial spec on pepper or Powdery Mildew on winter squash, this means the crop remains healthier when disease is present.  It also reduces the amount of spray we need to use and boosts yield.

Now that we have the why out of the way, the how is the difficult part.  If any of you have gone shopping we all know that marketing is a powerful component of any company’s sales strategy.  Everyone seems to have the “biggest” or “most flavorful” variety.  So how do we cut through the marketing and find out which varieties actually live up to the marketing?  We use several strategies:

1. Read university, public and private trial reports during the winter.  This may be really dry reading, but the trialing data that these universities gather really helps to highlight which varieties do well and which struggle.  Trials are essentially planting many different varieties of a particular crop in small amounts to see which ones perform the best in terms of yield, fruit size, fruit quality and disease resistance.

Trial:Personal Butternut-PanAm Seed

2. We conduct our own on farm trials with current commercial varieties and new experimental varieties.  The experimental varieties are exciting for us.  They allow us grow varieties that may not be released for the next few years.  Our trials help the seed breeders to know if their work has resulted in a better fruit or vegetable.  This also helps us to know which varieties do best on our farm in our climate.

3. Relying on our trusted representatives to tell us which varieties do well in our area.  Our good friends at Seedway and Johnny’s Seeds are invaluable sources of information.  The representatives for our area speak to many growers and hear feedback on what works and what does not.  They are able to pass this information on to us and help guide us in selecting our seeds for the coming year.

During the CSA season we may include samples of these new varieties and ask for your feedback.  The breeders are just as interested in knowing how well you enjoyed the produce.  Together we can provide valuable feedback to our seed breeders that can help them in their efforts to provide us the tastiest, most nutritious, high yielding and disease resistant crops we all enjoy.

Lettuce Head

salanova_huge It has been a long time since the last post.  Sorry about that.  Lettuce this spring and  early summer was very good.  Joe found a HUGE head of a lettuce weighing over 4lbs!  This one head made salads for eight people during lunch.

Look for lettuce to return this fall.

Butterkin Squash

squash-butterkin It is hard to believe that fall is already here.  We are excited about a new variety of Squash that we were able to grow this year.  Only 300 farms in the USA received seed of this variety so we think we are pretty lucky.

The squash is called Butterkin.  It is a sweeter, pumpkin shaped squash that is creamier than a butternut.  It has a very nice, richly colored interior flesh.  It is also quite heavy for it’s size.

Tracy roasted ours in the oven and served it to the kids.  Erica (18 months old) ate 1/2 of a 4lb squash.  Tracy said she was squealing for more until she had her fill.  THAT is all the proof I need that this squash is a winner.

Available in limited quantities this year, it can be purchased directly from the farm or at:

  • Metcalfe’s Market West – Madison, WI
  • Piggly Wiggly - Poynette, WI

Our CSA members will see this squash in your share over the next few weeks.  Please let us know what you think of it!

Recipes available here: www.butterkinsquash.com

Garlic planting and fall veggies

Well here are a few photos of us planting garlic.  We used our plastic mulch layer, without the plastic to lay a double drip line and make a nice smooth surface to plant the garlic.  We then used our water wheel transplanter to punch the holes where the garlic will be planted.  The last step is to get as many people out planting garlic as we can so the job  goes quickly. 

As you can see in the image to your right, we have the two of three rows covered after being planted.  I snapped this image so you can get an idea of what the prepared and planted rows look like from a distance.  

We still have some fall veggies growing under row cover.   Lettuce, Pac Choi and Broccoli are still happily growing under the row cover.  These cold hardy veggies can handle some sub freezing temps, but row cover helps trap the heat of the day and raise the night temps by 6-8 degrees.  This will be enough for us to finish the crops out until mid-november.  After that we will roll the row cover up and store for early spring crops.

Wire hoops under the row cover help to hold it away from the plants.  Heat is more efficiently trapped under the row cover when there is a raised “roof”.  This creates a small greenhouse effect.  We also are using some of the winter firewood to hold the row cover on.  It is amazing how easily this stuff will blow off if it not properly secured. 

As a final order of business for the day the two youngest boys along decided it would be great fun to use a jump rope as a tow cord.  The little plastic car came rumbling around the corner as Joe and I were covering the last of today’s transplanted garlic.  In the car was Johann squealing in excitement as Jake pulled him behind his bike.  I was just waiting for the thing to flip over, loose a wheel, etc.  I remember when I was that age.  Absolutely no fear.

End of Tomatos and Peppers

It was a sad day on Wednesday morning.  I received a call from Mom early in the morning.  She said that the the tomatoes and peppers were all killed by the 31F temps on Tuesday evening.  We spent some time covering the peppers as we had a lot of little ones coming, but it was no use.  The peppers that were set were still ok, but the plants were toast.

So we pulled off around 300lbs of peppers.  Most went to our customers, some to friends and our priests and consecrated ladies.  The rest we froze to use during the winter.

It is just so hard to see all of the tomatoes that were still sitting out in the field.  I guess this seasons tomato and pepper season had to end sometime.  Well at least we still have the broccoli, kale, collards, lettuce and pac choi to look forward too.  Ha ha.

The mad dash is also on to get the remaining squash, pumpkins, gourds, and melons out of the field.  Planting of cover crops can start now too.

The season is in full swing

Today will be the first really large picking day.  The temps of 100 degrees this past week has pushed many of the crops and they are maturing quickly.  Today we plan on harvesting:

  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Cucumbers
  • New Poatoes (Red Norlands)
  • Green, Yellow and Italian Flat Beans
  • Green and Yellow Zucchini
  • Patty Pan Summer Squash
  • Strawberries.

Some of the raspberries we put in this year are also starting to fruit.  We have pulled about a pint off of the Joan J plants.  Not much, but I am surprised we are getting fruit already.