Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bulk List---Week 8

Pickling packs are now available in limited quantities. All pickle packs include 4 quarts (about 6 pounds) of cucumbers and your choice of aromatics. When placing your order, be sure to specify what types of aromatics you want. Choices are:
cornichon (tarragon, thyme, garlic, onion, hot peppers, grape leaves)
dill (dill flowers, onion, hot peppers, grape leaves)
garlic (garlic, hot peppers, grape leaves)

Pickling pack (small cukes) $17.00
Pickling pack (medium cukes) $13.00
Pickling pack (large cukes) $11.00

What to Do With Your Share---Week 8

Greens, garlic, onions, squash, cukes...all veggies that you are no doubt familiar with and possibly craving. We have been enjoying them all, both cooked and raw. We understand too that last week's recipe for pasta salad was enjoyed and appreciated. Other excellent recipes for this week and last week's share include:

Zucchini and summer squash casserole (June 27, 2007 newsletter)
Summer squash fritatta (July 11, 2007newsletter)
Stuffed zucchini (June 30, 2009 blog)
Wilted cabbage salad (June 8, 2005 newsletter)
Onion marmalade (July 8, 2008 blog)

Let the Pickling Begin
This years pickling cucumber crop appears to be one of the best yet. We have over 175 feet of cucumbers growing as we speak. These are the perfect cucumbers for making pickles; crisp and crunchy with a nice flavor.

We pick them twice a week to keep them from getting too big, and to provide us with a variety of sizes. They include:

Small--what people know as gherkin or cornichon size. They are smaller than your pinkie.
Medium--around 3 to 4 inch cukes that can fit into a wide-mouth canning jar.
Large--great for making pickle chunks, spears, or large refrigerator pickles.

Emily Akins and I will be teaching a class on pickling at the Bad Seed on July 18. We will demonstrate and or discuss numerous types of pickles including, fermented dill pickles, spicy and sour cornichons, sweet and crunchy lime pickles, and aromatic garlic pickles.

The University of Missouri Extension is also running their regular series of classes. Their classes are as follows:

Platte County Resource Center, KCMO 6 to 8 pm, July 12
Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Liberty, 6 to 8 pm, July 15
St. Pauls United Methodist Church, Independence, MO 6 - 8 pm August 3
Email Glenda Kinder at kinderg@missouri.edu, or call 816-407-3490.

In the Share - Week 8

pea wash

LETTUCE (F) The first of the summer lettuce, 'crisp' types that can take the heat.
SUMMER SQUASH (F/P) The summer squash grew quick on us this week! Full shares get 2 nice ones, partial shares one.
FRESH GARLIC (F/P) The garlic harvest is in full swing. These are freshly dug, not cured, so keep them in the fridge until you use them.
CUCUMBERS OR PEPPERS/BROCCOLI (F/P) The cucumbers are being shy so far. Full shares get a choice with the first sweet green peppers, partial shares with the last of the spring broccoli.
FRESH ONIONS (F/P) Keep these in the fridge too.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Summer savory, parsley, basil or a dried herb.
SUGARSNAP PEAS OR KOHLRABI (F) The last of the sugarsnaps and kohlrabi.
SWISS CHARD OR KALE (F) Add either to your standard pasta sauce and enjoy.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms meat and egg share delivery

NEXT WEEK: More squash, cucumbers and lettuce. The delayed new potato harvest.

The crops continue to be about a week behind their regular schedule due to the cold temps in the springtime (it's hard to remember now, but, yes, it was cold not too long ago!). We are hopeful that the cucumbers, tomatoes and beans will be coming on soon. There are tons of flowers and green fruit. The summer squash is the notable exception. Squash has a reputation for bountiful crops and we are happy to have them right now while we wait for everything else to catch up. Enjoy the big beauties this week as we will be harvesting them at a smaller stage from now on.

The last two days have been filled with the garlic harvest. Garlic is a crop that holds a special place in the heart of the farmer. While most of our crop seed is purchased from the seed companies every year, we save our own garlic seed. The garlic grown at Fair Share Farm then, is unique to our farm, it's soil, climate and the abilities of the farmers that tend it. The heads of garlic we are harvesting now began as individual cloves planted last fall. These cloves came from our best heads that were harvested a year ago. Thus the garlic crop continues from year to year, from clove to head and back again. As we harvest, we set aside the largest heads for 'seed'. About a tenth of the crop each year is not sold, but saved for seed.
one-third of the crop

This year's crop is a good one. The heads are not enormous, but there are plenty of good-sized ones for the shares and large ones for seed. We have almost no rot this year which has been a problem in the past. The dry weather that we have had leading up to the harvest was ideal. Once harvested, the garlic is sorted, strung up and hung in the barn. In a few week's time they will be fully cured and good for long-term keeping. We like to hand out garlic every other week for the rest of the season.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What to Do With Your Share --- Week 7

As the heat continues, we decided this week to make a cool dish for the recipe, a pasta salad. Nothing more than a mix of cold pasta, fresh vegetables and Italian dressing, it is perfect for lunch or dinner. In this version all of the vegetables are raw and add a nice crunchiness.

We used what we had on hand, and what is available in the shares. You can add just about anything you want. Even your Asian greens will taste Italian when tossed into this dish. If you follow the proportions in the recipe you will have enough food for several meals.

You can use whatever type pasta you want. We used orchiette (aka little ears), similar to shell macaroni. The dressing was made from scratch, but you can subsitute your favorite store-bought dressing to save time.

Fresh Pasta Salad ala Fair Share Farm
1 medium summer squash, seeded and chopped
2 komastuna leaves chopped (stems included)
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic scapes, chopped
1 cup chopped broccoli
8 to 12 sugar snap peas, stem end removed, chopped
2 to 3 tbsp chopped basil, summer savory or parsley
1 lb cooked and cooled pasta

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried summer savory

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Mix.

In the Share - Week 7

flowers from the u-pick patch
SUGARSNAP PEAS (F/P) The peas are more plentiful this week. We are hoping for at least a half pound per share if the heat doesn't kill them first.
SUMMER SQUASH (F/P) The first flush off of our first planting.
CABBAGE (F/P) The petite spring versions. Just enough for a nice bowl of slaw.
KOMATSUNA (F/P) The last of the spring stir-fry greens. We talked about it last week. Suprisingly crisp.
HAKUREI TURNIPS (F) The last of these big boys until fall.
BROCCOLI OR CUCUMBERS (F) The last crazy heads of spring broccoli accompanying the first of the cucumbers. These cukes are the pickling variety (they happen to be ripening first), but they're great fresh also.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Basil, Summer Savory or Parsley

ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life Bakery delivery

NEXT WEEK: More summer squash, cucumbers and peas. Beets and Carrots. Summer lettuce.

Summer is officially here and it sure feels like it. We welcome the long-awaited heat that our plants have been craving. Our first plantings of summer squash, cucumbers and tomatoes were all struggling for the past month shivering under their row covers. While the heat has finally arrived those crops will never be the same. The plants are smaller than they should be and the cucumbers especially are very slow to make fruit. Due to this the shares may be lighter for a few weeks until our second plantings come on.
The heat has also allowed the soil to dry enough for us to plant. Today we caught up on some planting that had been delayed due to the wet weather of the last few weeks. For the occasion we took out our fancy new transplanter and got busy. In a few hours we had planted all of the sweet potatoes (600 feet) and 400 feet of melons. It was pretty darn pleasant for a 95 degree afternoon. Most of the jobs required one to sit. The plants had it pretty easy too, each one received a nice drink of water from the tank.
The u-pick flower garden is officially open starting this week. The perennial flowers, yarrow, phlox, echinacea, are in full bloom. The annual flowers are just beginning, but there's enough snapdragons and bachelor buttons to make nice bouquets. All members are encouraged to pick from the flower patch when they visit the farm. The more it is picked, the more it will flower, so don't be shy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bulk List---Week 6

Hakurei turnips $3.00/bunch
Fresh herbs (sage, oregano, dill, apple mint, lavendar flowers) $3.00/bunch
Dried herbs $2.50/tin

What to Do With Your Share---Week 6

It's week 6 of the CSA already, and things are slowly changing toward summer type shares. We still have some wonderful Asian greens (keep that wok on the stove), prime Hakurei turnips and the last of the strawberries making it feel like Spring. Some of the delights of Summer are creeping in, with the first of the carrots and onions bulking up the share.

A few notes on these items. The tall, celery size Asian green you may find in the share this week and next is Komatsuna. Treat it as you would bok choi, enjoying the crunchiness of the stem and tenderness of the leaves.

All of you might not be familiar with the herb choices either. Fennel is the ferny herb that looks like dill, but with a slight licorice taste. We use it a lot when making creamy yogurt salad dressings. Tarragon (thin, narrow leaves) has a similar flavor to fennel and is often used to flavor vinegars or for the classic tarragon chicken. Summer savory is similar to thyme in flavor, with a sweet and savory aroma. Use it with meat or vegetables.

Summer savory

Since farming has kept us extra busy this week, there is no from the farm recipe. But... my teaching colleague Emily Akins has written an epic blog on strawberries called Strawberry Weekend. From picking berries at the farm, to teaching a jams and jellies class at the Bad Seed, to preparing strawberry dumplings, it is a flavorful read.

Finally, our heartfelt thanks go out again to Keith Stubblefield who took up his Friday night to help put Grandpa (the tractor) back together. He is officially running again as millions of blades of grass have found out over the last 3 days. Once this rain stops and the beds dry out our next step is to catch up on our tilling and get the remaining summer crops in the ground, followed by our fall plantings.

Keith adjusting the valves

In the Share - Week 6

Cherry tomatoes reaching for the sky (look, they're already taller than our silo!)

STRAWBERRIES (F/P) Last week of these beauties - 1 pint for everyone
CARROTS(F/P) First week for these. We keep their tops on for looks, but you should cut the tops off them when you get them home for best keeping.
LETTUCE (F) Just enough for the full shares this week. The last of the spring varieties until a few crunchier summer heads make their appearance.
HAKUREI TURNIPS (F) The best turnips ever just keep giving. The second spring planting is kicking in right now - order extra off the bulk list if you can't get enough of them.
KOHLRABI OR BEETS (F/P) Partial shares get a choice that includes the Hakureis.
GREEN ONIONS (F/P) The onions are still green and growing, but we like to pull a few while they are still green and fresh.
CHOICE OF STIRFRY GREEN: (F/P) Bok Choi, Tat Soi, or Komatsuna. The komatsuna is a crunchier version of the asian green variety. Chop up the stems in a salad and they remind you of celery. Also good in stirfry like it's cousins, bok and tat.
SUGAR SNAP PEAS (F) The peas are slowly ripening. This week we think there's only enough for the full shares, but it's hard to say until we pick them tomorrow.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Fennel, tarragon or summer savory.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms delivery

NEXT WEEK: More peas, turnips and komatsuna. A return of the kale/chard choice. New will be cabbage and summer squash.

The last days of spring find the farm crew busy juggling the many jobs that the season brings. On Friday we turned our attention to the compost pile.

Emily turns the pile while Matt screens the finished compost

All of the trimmings and discarded vegetable matter from the washing area along with leftover plants from the greenhouse and the farmer's household kitchen scraps goes into the three-bin system. The first bin takes the fresh stuff, layered with a generous amount of leaves. Once the first bin is full it is forked into the second bin, that action adding the oxygen it needs to get cooking. By the time we fork it into the third bin it is close to done. Given a little time and a final screening it is ready to grow new plants in the fall greenhouse.

Yes, it is time for the fall greenhouse. This is the time of year when all three seasons: spring, summer and fall are calling for our attention. Do we weed the onions today? Or should we tie up the tomatoes? Or plant the fall broccoli? We've managed to do all three this week, although there are still alot of onions to weed! We'll be getting to them with whatever time we have with the membership this week after the harvesting is done.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What to Do WIth Your Share---Week 5

All sorts of vegetables are maturing now, some in large enough quantities to give to everyone, and others in amounts that require choice. We have been enjoying the Romaine lettuce and endive. Rebecca has become a Caesar salad expert, getting one together in no time flat.

Tonight we searched the web for a wilted frisee (aka endive) recipe. Sauteed Lemon Maple Frisee from epicurious.com is what we chose. It was excellent. Very little bitterness remained in the endive after the cooking and addition of lemon juice and maple syrup. Dried cranberries or other dried fruit would have been a great addition to this dish. A nice way to try out endive during one of the few times a year you will get it.

One other addition to this week's share choices are several new dried herbs. Too big to fit into tins, these herbs are served up in small bags. We have bay leaf and hot peppers, along with mint in a more "tea size" serving.

Along with the cooking and farming, we have been working to get "Grandpa" tractoring again. We now have a new radiator (thanks Avondale Tractor) installed on his front. Next step is to reattach the head of the engine with its new valves courtesy of Liberty Auto Machine. The only thing missing is a head gasket. Our initial search proved futile. Since then we have found two possible sources, and have bought from both to make sure we satisfy Grandpa's specific needs.

Bulk List---Week 5

The Asian greens are all coming in at once, and are prime for harvest. Bok choi and tat soi are great additions to dishes you can preserve, like kim chee.

Bok Choi or tat soi: Large head or bunch: $3.00/head
Strawberries (ther are a few quarts available this week): $5/qt
Fresh herbs (sage, oregano, lavendar flowers, fennel): $3.00/bunch
Dried herbs: $2.50/tin

In the Share - Week 5

FORELLENSCHLUSS LETTUCE (F/P) The 'Troutback' is a prettily-speckled and melt-in-your-mouth tender romaine.
STRAWBERRIES (F/P) As the patch ages, the berries don't keep as well. Devour these soon after receiving.
SUGARSNAP PEAS (F/P) The first peas from the half of the patch that survived the spring.
BROCCOLI (F) The broccoli is going quick. This is it's last performance until it's grand encore in the fall.
TURNIPS, BEETS OR KOHLRABI (F) Partial shares will get this choice next week.
GREENS CHOICE: (F/P) Swiss Chard, Kale, Bok choi or Tatsoi. Full shares get a choice of two, partial shares one.
SCALLIONS OR ARUGULA (F/P) The only arugula of the season is here now and not again til fall.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) Parsley, Dill, Summer savory or a dried herb. New dried herb packages this week will have bay or chili peppers. Read on Farmer Tom's post for more info.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Bread of Life Bakery shares
The weather continues to give us lots of opportunities for work. Today we focused our attentions on the spring field. Emily and I tied up cherry tomatoes while Matt mowed and Farmer Tom ... took photos (!?!)
The spring field is full and growing fast. We all pitched in to add more hay mulch to the no-till potatoes. Here's farm apprentice, Matt Maes, showing good form.

So far we continue to find much to do even with 'Grandpa' the Tractor still out on service. Farmer Tom will fill you in on that one. Luckily, I suppose, much of our work requires us to walk the fields and tend the crops by hand. In the case of our no-till beds, a bit of stoop labor at the start of the season eliminates weeding time later on. Many crops, like potatoes, prefer the environment that the hay mulch provides and yield much better than in the open ground.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In the Share - Week 4

morning harvest

BROCCOLI (F/P) Spring broccoli is never a shoe-in, but this week at least it shines.
LETTUCE (F/P) The heat is getting to our some of our lovelies, but most varieties are staying cool under pressure.
STRAWBERRIES (F/P) from the patch that just keeps on giving.
GARLIC SCAPES (F/P) the flower bud from the hardneck garlic patch. Scapes are incredibly tender and delicate - perfect for Farmer Tom's Garlic Scape and Strawberry Dressing.
RADISHES (F) The last of the spring crop.
ENDIVE (F/P) Something we are starting to experiment growing more of. A pleasingly bitter salad green. Tom paired it with above dressing - yum. Let us know if we should be growing more of it.
HERB CHOICE (F/P) dill, mint, oregano or dried herb

ALSO THIS WEEK: Parker Farms delivery

NEXT WEEK: maybe the first sugarsnap peas, more broccoli, lettuce and strawberries.

This has been a good week for farming. Plenty of sunshine and the return of the warm air has brought lots of plant growth. The cherry tomatoes have begun developing their first green fruit. While the planting continues, we have caught up on the backlog of plants and seeds that had been delayed by the cool, wet weather of the past 2 weeks.
peppers and tomatoes newly planted
A sign of the change is that we fired up the irrigation system. The submersible pump left it's winter vacation in the greenhouse for it's summer job floating in the pond. Some minor repair of the floats was necessary due to our pesky muskrat pond-dwellers, but after short work we floated her out, plugged her into the solar panels and flipped the switch. With water now pumping heartily to the fields all that was left to do was roll out the tape along each row. The farm crew has made short work of that so that now all of our summer crops have had a deep watering and are handling the transplant with grace.
water pumping thanks to the sun

Bulk List---Week 4

The strawberries keep coming, as does the lettuce and herbs.

Lettuce: $3.50/hd
Strawberries $5/qt; $3.50 u-pick
Fresh herbs: (mint, fennel, galic chives, oregano) $3.00/bunch
Dried herbs: $2.50/tin