A summer walk

The kids were excited to give our new friends a tour of the farm! They’ve also been loving playing in our very tall Sudan grass cover crop lately. They’ve carved out rooms and forts in the fields.

This week we have been hosting three folks who work with Coyle Outside doing outdoor education. They have been camping by our greenhouses by night and leading a survival camp for kids during the day in McMinnville.

This evening we gave them a tour of the farm, and I brought along my camera so that I could share the mid-summer sights with you all as well. Join us on our walk!

One of our first stops was one of our high tunnels, where we are growing (among other things) tomatoes! We’ve got the first of the year to share with you this week!!!! The first tomatoes always feel like a significant milestone. Even though it’s not the end of the season (by any means!), it feels like in some ways we’ve reached the finish line … this is what everyone has been waiting for. (And, I took this photo after Casey picked for the CSA, which is why these aren’t red!) Several other exciting new summer-y vegetables are on this week’s list as well! If you had any doubt as to whether it’s summer, this week’s share will confirm that fact for sure.

We planted a row of sunflowers this year, more or less just for the fun of it. This particular variety likes to shine its happy faces straight up at the sun. So cheerful!

Casey worked up one of our large cover cropped fields already, because it had quite a few weeds growing in it. He says that disking them in was very satisfying, and it serves an important purpose in helping us prepare this field for a future season — we work through the seeds in the “seed bank.” He’ll sow another cover crop here before fall.

Casey, Heath and Jeremy demonstrated just how tall some of the Sudan grass has grown! Sudan grass is related to corn, which means that it is a grass that will “winter kill” (i.e. die after the first few frosts). All this giant grass will then fall onto the ground and act as a mulch over the winter, which will prevent winter weeds from growing. It also maintains the fertility in the ground for a future season. Because the grass will be decomposing over the winter, it will be very easy to work up the ground come spring (in contrast to a cover crop that might live and grow over the winter, which will be harder to “integrate” in the early spring). We love Sudan grass for so many reason! Including because it is just plain beautiful!

Rusty told Callista (and little Midge) about the crops we’re growing.

One of Sudan grass’s “disadvantages” is that it does need to be irrigated in our dry summer climate (just like corn) … this isn’t a problem really, but it is a requirement of growing it, and means that it is a higher maintenance cover crop. Casey waters our cover cropped fields in the rotation with the vegetables, and we had to walk through one of the sprinkler lines on our walk today! It was hot in that golden evening sun, so we all enjoyed walking/jumping through the spray rather than avoiding it.

We walked through more freshly disked ground, which can be challenging! My sandals filled up with soil in unpleasant ways! The kids thought it was easier to be barefoot, and I wonder if they were right this time.

The same line of irrigation sprinklers that ran through the cover crop was also running through a freshly germinating field of fall crops (carrots, beets, etc.).

We took our guests to the orchard to sample the first fruits. We all ate Methley plums of course, which are almost done for the season. But we also sampled the very first figs of the year! Our fig trees died back many times in the early years of our orchard, but finally they seem to have grown big enough to produce large quantities of fruit. Fresh figs are quite an experience.

The orchard glowed with evening light.

We looped back toward the house, walking through another one our high tunnels, and then found our way to the shade of our giant black walnut tree.

We all loved our evening walk (even if it put dinner later than usual), and I hope you did too!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: So much new flavors and textures in this week’s share! Since this is the first week for several of these items, there will definitely be some limits in place. We always want to make sure that everyone in the CSA gets the opportunity to taste the new things, even when they haven’t yet reached peak production.

  • Figs — Fresh figs are a treat!
  • Shiro plums — Juicy yellow plums
  • Methley plums — Likely the last week of our juicy purple/red plums
  • Apples — This may well be the last week we give out these Goldrush apples from storage … they are amazing and we still have tons in our cooler! However, the very first of this year’s crop is just about ready! So prepare yourself for a significant shift in apple flavor/texture next week. Here on the farm, the new crop of apples coming on signals that it’s time for us to do a thorough clean out of our largest walk-in cooler, to prepare for the beginning of the big late summer and fall harvests.
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Green peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Sweet corn
  • Green beans
  • Fennel bulbs — Casey tried out a different variety of fennel this summer, and it grows enormous bulbs! You’ll be amazed!
  • Carrots
  • Basil
  • Zucchini
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