Tuesday, August 23, 2016

In the Share: Week 16


CUCUMBERS F/P  The second planting is coming in now and contains the same varieties as the last round, including the picklers shown above that make great pickles but are also great to eat any way you like.

TOMATOES F/P  Just one or two this week mostly from our hybrid reds.

SWEET PEPPERS F  The cool weather has slowed their ripening.  Partial shares will get them next week.

FINGERLING POTATOES F/P  Austrian Crescent fingerlings are waxy and delicious roasted with some...

GARLIC F/P  artichoke softneck variety.

SUMMER SQUASH F/P  Zucchini or yellow squash

RED ONIONS F

BASIL, HOT PEPPERS OR CUTTING CELERY F/P

NEXT WEEK:  Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, carrots and onions.

FARM REPORT:

On Thursday, 60 freshly-hatched chicks arrived.   We immediately got them to food and water and warmth in the brooder.


If all goes well, these little fluff balls will be laying eggs by February.  Half of the flock are Golden Comets, that are supposed to lay lots of brown eggs. The other half are our favorite breed, what the hatchery calls 'Easter Eggers', since they lay colorful eggs (blue, green and kind of a buff color).  We tend to call them Ameraucanas.  Either term describes chickens that are descended from the blue egg laying chickens from the Araucana region of South America.

The first few weeks are critical times for these newborns.  We check on them regularly to make sure they are happy.  They are just about a week old now and already seem to have doubled in size.

Meanwhile we moved the older flock to fresh grass just in time for their first birthday.  We've seen an uptick in their egg production since the weather has turned so nice.


What to Do With Your Share---Week 16

Summer really seems to be waning this week, even though it is still August. The weather has been glorious lately, and the comfort level on the farm has increased. We are hoping to get some rain so that our cucurbit crops of squash and cucumbers will continue to produce.

As the source of the CSA vegetables, we have access to a surplus of seconds, or number 2's as they are also called. Right now eggplant is available for us, so we are roasting and freezing them for future use. When we are in preserving mode though we still put some attention on the present, and make sure we partake of the bounty.

A quick dish this week was to take the warm, roasted eggplant, chop it, and mix it with a fresh tomato and onion salad. Top it with a vinaigrette some cheese and fresh basil and you will thinkyou are dining on the shores of the Mediterranean.

We would like to acknowledge the great job the Saturday CSA farm crew did in renovating the Swiss chard beds. Chard is a cool weather plant that has never been able to handle the summers on the farm. So we have learned that if you mow it down in August, weed it, side-dress it with compost, mulch it with hay, and water it you have a good chance for a nice fall harvest.

Below you see the crew side-dressing, trimming and mulching the beds. They look great and we hope to take a beautiful follow-up picture in a couple weeks.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In the Share: Week 15


SWEET PEPPERS F/P  We love our new yellow horn-shaped variety, it goes so well with our favorite sweet pepper ever, the lovely-in-red Carmen.  Throw our orange Islanders, and we just harvested edible sunshine.

TOMATOES F/P  Some big boys are coming in now from the new planting.  If you don't get one this week, than you will by next week.

RED ONIONS F/P  it was a good onion crop this year and we are sharing the bounty.

SUMMER SQUASH F  Either zucchini or yellow squash or a bit of both.

EGGPLANT F  We are picking them young to keep them tender.

CARROTS F/P  Everyone gets white and yellow varieties from storage this week.  They are big and sweet, perfect for roasting.

DESIREE POTATOES F  Light pink skin covers a creamy yellow flesh.  Delicious!  We'll share more of this lovely potato next week.

HERB CHOICE F/P  Basil or summer savory

NEXT WEEK:  Peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, eggplant, squash, herbs and perhaps some cucumbers.

FARM REPORT:
It was the week that the farm made it over the hump of the growing season.  Most of the fall crops are planted.  The tomato crop is mostly in.  The days are noticeably shortening. The farmer sighs with relief.

The drier air today is incredible after a long, hot, humid summer.  Humidity is not just hard on workers in the fields, but on our organic crops.  Here's a typical foggy morning from this week.


Humidity breeds fungus which attacks many of the summer fruits.  Fungicides are very prevalent on non-organic farms and on non-organic tomatoes, peppers, squash, etc.  Not ours.  You will see some spot on our fruits this week, but they don't have the hidden spots of pesticide residue that you can't see.

Not that we never spray anything on the crops.  When all else fails, we use products that are allowed under the National Organic Program.  This week we uncovered a legion of blister beetles out in the fields devouring the fall beets.  The best time to catch the quick little buggers is at night, when they cluster on the tops of the plants. With the truck lights lighting our path, Tom and I did what we could.


We used Pyganic, a natural form of pyrethrin from the chrysanthemum flower, which seemed to not to do much to reduce the population of blister beetles.

Let's see now... I have covered two of the three enemies of the farmer:  disease and pests, now for the third:  weeds.  We are moving on many fronts to combat the weeds that have thrived during the tropical summer.  We have alot more to do including 3 of the 7 rows in the strawberry patch.  With cooler temperatures we hope to again see a big crowd on Wednesday and Saturday mornings so that we can catch up on the weeding.  Love your CSA strawberries?  Come on out and help us clean up the patch.


What to Do With Your Share---Week 15

August is moving fast this year. Lots of going back to school and college talk right now as we pass the halfway point. For us, it is the usual time of year when the sweet peppers start to ripen en masse.

And while the peppers have been sweet, I've been especially enjoying the potatoes. All you need to do is purchase, sprout, cut, plant, cover, hill, hill, hill, harvest, cure, wash and eat. That last step is the best. It is nice to eat a potato with flavor.

Porta fortuna
Right now potato salad has become a staple. Filling and tasty, you can eat it any time of day. A nice recipe that includes sweet peppers is in our September 9, 2008 blog.

Meanwhile we keep planting the crops that feed the potatoes and peppers. Taking beds out of production, preparing them for planting and seeding a cover crop is a time consuming task. This year we are doing well, with several large blocks full of cowpeas and sorghum-sudan grass. A pretty sight.



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

In the Share: Week 14


TOMATOES F/P  The paste (aka roma, aka sauce-making types) are producing well.  The first round of red tomatoes is on its way out, with another planting about ready to kick in.  The heirlooms keep coming in all their rainbow of colors.  We've had a nice flush of green-when-ripe heirlooms and I'm separating them for you so that you know that you can eat them even though they are green.

EGGPLANT F  Tom has several suggestions for enjoying your eggplant. 

RED POTATOES F/P

GARLIC F/P

SWEET PEPPERS F  Just one or two this week.  We are waiting to pick them until they are ripe, so expect one or two for the next month or so.

SUMMER SQUASH P  A choice of yellow squash or zucchini varieties.

SALSA PACK P

RED ONIONS F

HERB CHOICE F  Basil, dried herbs or hot peppers.

NEXT WEEK:  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, summer squash, red onions and carrots.

FARM REPORT:

A couple of cooler days and a bit of rain made good conditions for transplanting more broccoli and cabbage.


If you saw my post from two weeks ago (week 12 blog) then you know their is a little nest in one of our tomato plants.  Well, the eggs have hatched.


On Monday momma (or daddy?) bird was annoyed at our presence as we picked the tomatoes.  She could be seen flitting around the patch with a bug in her mouth impatiently waiting for us to go away so that she could feed her new babies.  I still am not completely sure what species of bird, but the babies (I count two but there may be more under all the downy fluff.)

They aren't the only birds on the farm that appreciate tomato plants.  Our hens have been happily snacking on a few spoiled tomatoes.  On this particular day it looked like the chickens like salsa as much as we humans.



What to Do With Your Share---Week 14

The dog days are upon us. Every year is different, and I think this one has been especially humid. The words "heat advisory" seem to be permanent on the weather report. The summer plants and cover crops like it warm though, and we are enjoying the harvest they bring.

The nice thing about living by the flow of the harvest is that most recipes will write themselves. One recipe we hope to use a lot in the near future is zucchini noodles. Many of you may be familiar with them as "zoodles." We bought a julienne slicer that can turn a zucchini into a pot of noodles in no time.


Last night we made some, lightly cooked with butter and white wine, topped it with sautéed eggplant, onions,  peppers and black beans, and then a final garnish of fresh tomatoes, local cheese and basil. It was the case that the meal practically made itself.

If you are looking ofr something fancier, we would like to again suggest the eggplant cheesecake suggested in the Facebook a couple weeks ago. A final eggplant suggestion is a classic---eggplant meatballs. We posted this recipe three years ago, and have members that have made it a staple.


We continue to move ahead with our packing room upgrade and processing kitchen construction. We completed a big step this week as we pieced together the second half of our 24 ft by 8 ft walk-in cooler. Special thanks to Rebecca's father John, who lended a big hand and saved the day with his pneumatic chisel.

We are in the final stages of this project and will keep you all informed as we try very hard to wrap things up and pass final inspection by the county.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

In the Share: Week 13


SALSA PACK F  Summertime means salsa.

WALLA WALLA SWEET ONIONS F/P  Enjoy these sweet ladies sooner than later.  The sweet ones don't store as the ones with more pungency.

TOMATOES F/P  Expect some less-than-perfect ones this week.  Good varieties of tomatoes have thinner skins than their grocery store counterparts.  Ours taste like tomatoes should, but the trade-off is they crack after a rain and gets spots in the humidity.

CARROTS F/P  Orange snackers we plan to pull first thing tomorrow morning.

PASTE TOMATOES F/P  These are the perfect tomatoes for a fresh pasta sauce.  See Tom's post for more ideas.

HERB CHOICE F/P  Basil, summer savory or hot peppers.  We grow jalapenos, hot wax, and Anaheim types of hot peppers.

SUMMER SQUASH OR CUCUMBERS F  The new plantings are just starting to produce so there are more to come.

NEXT WEEK:  Tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, salsa packs, potatoes and garlic.

FARM REPORT:
 The farm received two inches of rain on Monday after a three-week dry spell. It was a nice break from the heat.  We have a lot of plants and seeds in the ground for the fall shares and the rain was the perfect amount to water them in.  It doesn't always happen in the summertime, but when it does it bodes well for the fall.

Before the rain got here we managed to pull all of the onions from the field.  We've been working on this task for several weeks as the Walla Wallas mature and then on to the reds and yellows.



But the harvest was speeded up to get them in before they got wet.  The old tobacco barn is full of onions and garlic hanging from the rafters and stacked high in every available crate on the farm.



Thanks to all the sweaty folks who helped us bring in the harvest!