Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What to Do With Your Share---Week 15

Green Beans
The green beans are growing well this summer and we are happy to be in the middle of such a productive crop. It is so productive that we are not able to pick all the beds in a CSA morning. U-pick beans are available, but that too is falling short. But it's ok, as whatever doesn't get harvested and eaten is fed instead to the soil. It will still be a source of nutrition to you.

It is only a few weeks during the year that we have roma bean available. Fresh picked and steamed, they make many a nice, simple dish. You can spice up  the dish below with some hot peppers, it's a perfect use for them.

Roma Beans and Red Peppers
1 lb roma beans, stem snapped off
1 medium red pepper, seeded and chopped into small dice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1-1/2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
grated cheese

Steam the beans for 3 minutes or until tender
Drain water and add all ingredient to pot, stir and cover
Let stand for 5 minutes
Serve with topping of cheese and green garnish

One last eggplant recipe for this year. Such a recipe was something that I was not aware of...eggplant bacon. Member Nancy Ricklefs mentioned it while bean picking, so we tried it out. Our search led to a recipe at TheVeg.org. Pictures of our results are shown below.

It turns the eggplant into a type of jerky that goes well on a sandwich, or could be diced into "bacon bits." It is worth trying. There is a dehydrator and an oven method given in the recipe.

Marinated strips in the dehydrator on a mesh screen
Eggplant, tomato, basil sandwich

In the Share - Week 15


GREEN BEANS (F/P)  Choices this week:  standard, Roma or Rattlesnake (purple-streaked pole bean).

TOMATOES (F/P)  Lots more tomatoes are coming to you this week.  Heirlooms, Amana Orange and Hungarian Heart, are especially lovely plus there are lots of red hybrids.

RADISHES (F/P)  Tender, pink radishes for something different.

ARUGULA (F/P)  Bagged baby leaves from the first of our mid-summer plantings.

SWEET PEPPERS (F)  Ripe reds and yellows this week.

MELONS (F/P)  Full shares get the cantaloupes this time, partial shares get the watermelon.  There are 2 types of cantaloupe in the shares this week.  One we love and plan to grow more of, the other not so much.  If your cantaloupe lacks sweetness, consider making a Liquado.  Blend crushed ice, milk, honey and melon for a real treat.

CHERRY TOMATOES (F/P)  at least a pint for all.

SUMMER SQUASH (P)  Squash bugs have devastated the plants, so this is it.

OKRA OR SALSA PACK (F)  The okra is loving this hot weather.  Get it while it is at its peak.

NEXT WEEK:  More tomatoes, peppers, beans, okra and salsa packs.  We hope to have time to pack the carrots and onions that we have been meaning to get out but haven't had the time for.

FARM REPORT:  The late summer harvest has been particularly bountiful this year.  The tomatoes have continued their steady onslaught of fruits.  The peppers are loaded and ripening in increasing speed.  The melons have given us a respectable harvest, despite the heavy pest pressure usual for the Cucurbitae family.  And then there are the beans...  The farm crew of five is spending most of its time with the harvest and barely keeping up even with a full crew of CSA workers on Weds. and Sat. mornings. 
Saturday bean harvest

And we added some new items to the harvest list this week:  a taste of spice to go with the summer fruits.  We usually bunch the arugula, but we are experimenting with bagging it instead. The farm crew of five made the first run at it today.

arugula cut

You never know what you will find when you are elbow deep in the plants.  Tom found this beautiful monarch chrysalis in the bush beans.  You would think someone had come along with their bedazzler, but no they manufacture the gold accents themselves.

monarch chrysalis
Oh, and how could I forget the baby chicks!?  One-day-old Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks arrived in the mail Thursday morning.  All 50 are now settled in their brooding box in the upper barn.  In six months time if all goes well (right!?) they should start laying eggs. 
First moments at the farm

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What to Do With Your Share---Week 14

It is always nice to be at a transition point of the season. That is going on right now in the shares as the melons on the farm ripen and the green beans mature.

The question with melons is do you have a customary condiment to enhance the flavor? I never remember putting anything on cantaloupe, but my dad would salt his watermelon. Lately I've met
folks that put salt and pepper on their 'loupe, or even tajin.

The beans are at their best. The irrigation and germinating rains of late July, matched with the gorgeous weather of August is manifested in the crop right now. If the bugs stay away we expect beans for awhile.

So start thinking of the many ways you can use them. Since having it in a restaurant year ago, I have liked Green Beans with Asian five spice powder. Another nice thing to do is roast your green beans. And then of course there is green bean salad.

We enjoyed a visit from my sister Cathy and her friend Sister Mary Barbara over the weekend. They pitched in at the end of the day Friday, and again on Saturday morning, before soaking up the history and beauty of northeast Clay County. They passed through on US Route 36, which is just north of us. It is called the Way of the American Genius for good reason. Check it out someday.

In the Share - Week 14

MELONS (F/P)  Full shares get the yellow-fleshed variety called Peace.  Please don't dismay at the color, it is our best melon year after year.  The partial shares will get cantaloupe instead. We hope to switch the options next week as more fruits ripen in the fields.

TOMATOES (F/P) Another fine week in the tomato patch. 

GREEN BEANS (F/P)  The first tender picking of our late planting.  You'll have the choice of standard type or Roma flat-podded beans. 

HERB CHOICE (F)  Basil or hot peppers.

SUMMER SQUASH OR CUCUMBERS (F)  A first sampling from the last planting of the season.  Welcome back summer squash!

EGGPLANT (F/P) Just one or two this week.


ONIONS (F/P)  Yellow onions this week.


NEXT WEEK:  More tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans and summer squash.  Garlic and carrots return.


It has been an eventful week, as it always is during the peak of the summer harvest.  Friends and family have joined in the work and we have covered a lot of ground.  On Saturday, the CSA members spruced up the low till beds in preparation for the Harvest dinner in September. 

More folks are headed here tomorrow after answering the call for bean-pickers.  Thanks to all who signed-up.  We should have enough pickers to cover the 1400 feet we planted back in July.  The plants are beautiful and covered with fruit and flowers. 

Meanwhile, the laptop with the email program we use is down and so I'll be brief and leave you with one of the many monstrous sunflowers towering next to the farm house.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What to Do With Your Share---Week 13

It is nearing the middle of August and all the tomatoes, no matter the variety or when we planted them, have decided to ripen at the same time. In checking our records we find that this is the latest in the season the tomato flush has ever come for us.

Last year was the earliest, as the harvest peaked starting July 10th. Other years the peak has started between the 14th of July and 1st of August. This year's prolonging of the harvest should mean more tomatoes than normal going into September.

The beginnings of tomato sauce
It also means that sauce making and tomato preservation is taking place. We have begun our march toward 50 quarts of sauce for the year, and are surrounded by tomato seconds right now. Check the bulk list email from today if you are interested in some processing tomatoes.

In the meantime, enjoy the bounty. A pinch of salt is all you really need to eat tomatoes when they are in season. And be sure that it is no idle boast to say that a Missouri tomato is better than most. Our hot weather and long season are the reason why many travelers have told us this area grows a superior tomato.
Two cats in the yard

In the Share - Week 13

TOMATOES X 2 (F/P) The harvest is on and everyone will be getting a nice amount of tomatoes this week. The heirlooms are prone to cracking when the weather fluctuates as it has this year. Pick out the ugliest tomato you can find and see if it isn't the tastiest.

CARROTS (F/P) We grew some big carrots this Spring and they are sweetening up nicely in the cooler. The fall carrots are growing, so we hope for a continuous supply through the end of the year.

GARLIC (F/P) I once ate at a restaurant called the Stinking Rose, where garlic is prominent in every dish.  

SALSA PACK OR OKRA (F) Its the first week with okra as a choice in the shares. We will try to spread it around as the harvest increases. No one that doesn’t want it should need to take it, but the okra-lovers will get their chance at some.

SWEET PEPPERS (F/P) Someone on Saturday mentioned making stuffed peppers, sounds good to me!


CUCUMBERS (F) last of these until our last little planting matures.

HERB CHOICE (F/P) Lots of basil this week, also garlic chives and hot peppers.

NEXT WEEK: More tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Melons (we think), potatoes and onions.


Wow! What beautiful weather we are having. Tom and I feel fortunate to be able to make a living doing what we do every day, but when the days are this perfect we really cannot complain about anything.

Another reason to feel fortunate: with less than 24 hours-notice, the Saturday crew grew by 10 workers and we easily completed the CSA harvest. Thank you to all who made the trek through traffic and spent the morning picking cherry tomatoes and digging potatoes. It was a great example of the power of the CSA in action.

 And finally, how lucky are we that we were able to see one of our feathered neighbors so close up. We think it is a Great Horned owl.  We hear them often, but we usually only catch a glimpse as they fly by in the gathering dark.  This guy/gal seemed quite calm perched on our clothesline for quite some time before it silently flew away.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

In the Share - Week 12

SWEET PEPPERS (F) We are beginning to dole out ripe peppers now.  If you don't get one this week, they'll be some next week.  In the meantime our sweet yellows and purples keep coming.

TOMATOES (F/P) Expect some cracking on the heirlooms this week. The rain has been appreciated, but their thin skins can’t handle the pressure.

POTATOES (F/P) Small guys but tasty steamed with a little butter and salt.

RED ONIONS (F/P) we grow three types of red onions, but all are sweet for salads.

CARROTS OR CUCUMBERS (F)  The cooler is full of carrots now, so expect them in the shares for awhile.

EGGPLANT (F) See Tom's post for the tasty treats we had a the Core Group meeting on Sunday.

CHERRY TOMATOES (F/P) These also feature in the dish.  We hope to give everyone a pint or more for awhile now.

CUCUMBERS OR BEETS (P) Last of the beets until fall.

HERB CHOICE (F) Basil, summer savory, thyme or hot peppers


NEXT WEEK:  More tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, salsa packs, carrots and garlic.  Possibly the first melons.


Radishes sprouts

The cool temperatures and moisture have made for good germination of our fall crops.  Carrots, beets, turnips, radishes and arugula are up and growing.  Now the time comes for thinning them so that they have enough room to grow.  One beet bed down so far - with many more to go!!

Last Thursday, Tom, Luke and I attended the first annual Organic Field Day at the University of Missouri’s Bradford Research Farm. In 2012 a few plots for organic farming research were initiated at Bradford and we've been curious to see their progress.  The research plots were well-tended and there were several trials going.  They are looking at trap cropping in cucurbits and inter-planting of cover crops, among others.  The farm tour was pleasant atop their mobile shaded bleachers.  We also learned about attracting native pollinators, had our soil's carbon analyzed and got to see a bit of the institution's massive collection of farming equipment.  

Steven Kirk from Lincoln University Extension and 
Bradford Farm Superintendent, Tim Reinbott. 

At 6:00 pm Saturday evening the farm's apprentices, Lorne and Lauren, will be wed.  They leave tomorrow for the big day up in Detroit, Michigan.  They'll return in a week's time, forgoing their honeymoon until the end of the harvest season.  We wish them a lifetime of happiness with many garlic escapes!

Lauren and Lorne in the basil patch

What to Do With Your Share---Week 12

Lots of fruits and roots right now. The plants are beginning to show their appreciation for the 3+ inches of rain that we got recently. New green growth is the name of the game right now. That includes some recently seeded cover crops.

Sudan grass, buckwheat and remnants of cover crops and insects past
We are feeding several beds a combination of buckwheat and sorghum sudan grass. In tandom they add organic matter, bring phosphorous up from deep in the ground, retain soil nitrogen and improve the texture of the soil. It is nice to see a good stand of seedlings in the beds, as some earlier seedings never took root because of the dry early summer.

Peppers and onions are one of my favorite combinations. Back in '05 we served up a recommendation for 4 different dishes with these two treats---fajitas, pasta sauce, Asian stir fry and breakfast. A very versatile combo indeed.

At our latest core group meeting our host, Melinda Dillon offered up some delicious eggplant parmesan appetizers. They were mini versions of what is in the recipe and she used cherry tomatoes.

Rocky at work