Thursday, August 13, 2020

2020 Week 8 Newsletter


Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!

Welcome to Week 8 of our CSA.  Week 8 is not an egg week.  Ordering for Week 9 is now underway.

Pennsylvania weather this summer is even more diverse than ever.  On farm we are in dire need of rain, in spite of receiving over an inch and a half of rain from Tropical Storm Isaias.  However some areas very close to us received over three inches of rain last Friday morning when a strong thunderstorm swept through the area.  And areas in Southeastern Pennsylvania are experiencing almost daily severe thunderstorms and flash flood warnings.  This is in addition to the eight plus inches of rain some of these areas received from Isaias.

The dry weather on farm has been really good for one weed, oops I mean crop, which is growing beautifully here on farm.  Purslane.  Farmer Don claims we are growing the best purslane we have had in years.  Purslane is a very interesting plant which most of you would recognize.  It looks a bit like a jade plant and loves dry weather.  Purslane is also a bit of a nutritional powerhouse.  It is one of the few plant sources for the heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids we hear so much about and is rich in potassium, magnesium and Vitamin A.  Purslane has a tart flavor and the leaves and tender parts of the stems are a good addition to salads or can be added to soups.  Purslane pairs very well with cucumbers in traditional cucumber yogurt salad.

As I think many of you know, I was a raised in a family where summertime activities (including eating!) revolved around a large vegetable garden.  My sisters and I all have continued this tradition.  This year my one sister claims her garden has become a sci-fi horror film.  What?  She tells me she has huge green worms with a horn for a tail devouring her tomato and pepper plants.  Whenever I call to talk with her, Farmer Phil, tells me his Mom out "picking worms".  She diligently exams her plants several times a day and picks off any hornworms and feeds them to the chickens.  Yes, my sister's garden has been invaded by tomato hornworms.  Don't tell my sister, but I actually kind of like hornworms.  They are a magnificent large green caterpillar with a prominent horn for a tail.  The adult of the hornworms are actually hawk or hummingbird moths.  See why I say I kind of like hornworms?  How can you not like hummingbird moths and giant green caterpillars!  Ok, ok, because they are so large, the caterpillars can be very destructive, eating an entire branch of a mature tomato plant in one night.  If you find your garden invaded by hornworms, the best defense really is hand picking them.  But if you see a hornworm with what appears to be white oval projectiles attached to its body, don't kill it.  These white projectiles are actually really tiny parasitoid wasp cocoons.  These wasps are good guys and once they emerge from their cocoons, they will find other hornworms to invade.  A biological control example at its finest! 

Sorry, I have once again slipped into Entomologist mode! 

Thankfully we are not seeing the defoliation on our tomatoes that my sister is and therefore, tomatoes should continue to be available.  Peppers are starting to be available.  We do not have summer squash or zucchini right now for harvest, but we have more planted and with any luck we will be able to harvest from these plants before the season ends.  Cabbage should be coming on soon.  And believe it or not fall crops, including winter squash, will be available before too long.  Not veggies, but you will also see pullet eggs on this week's choice.  Pullet eggs are smaller, but are often prized by bakers.

Ok, this is getting long and the hour is getting late.  Time to start to unwind for the evening.

As always thank you for your continued support of our farm and local sustainable agriculture.

Be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies.

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