Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What to Do With Your Share---Week 7

For most fruits that we pick during summer harvest we can see them at a distance. Not so for the cucumber though, as it spends its day hiding under the shade of a cuke leaf canopy. Today's harvest was an optical challenge, and a stimulating way to start the day.

Cucumbers on the grow
The ingredients for this week's recipe came together on their own. I was out to make some pasta sauce and was looking for some veggies to combine with a jar of tomato sauce. I needed to look no further than the fridge.

Zucchini Tomato Sauce
2 medium onions, sliced fine
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 green pepper or one eggplant, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 large zucchini cut into chunks
3 garlic scapes, chopped (optional)
1 @ 32 oz jar of tomato sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 large leaves of basil, chopped

  • Saute the onions, garlic and pepper in the olive oil over high heat for 3 minutes. Turn down heat to medium and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Add the zucchini and garlic scapes and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomato sauce, bring to a boil. Turn heat on simmer and let cook for 20 minutes or until desires thickness.
  • Serve over pasta, rice, bread, or grain of choice.
  • Garnish with chopped basil.
Meanwhile, in the fields the soils are getting a feeding of oats and peas. We caught a 1 day window on Sunday when the fields were finally dry enough to spade. We prepped many a bed and turned under our mowed down cover crops. Looks like a healthy meal.

View while mowing down the oats and peas

In the Share - Week 7

CUCUMBERS F/P Holy cukes!  We harvested over 600 cucumbers this morning.  That means everyone should receive 4 or 5 this week.  The plants are healthy and should continue the onslaught for a while. Cucumber salad is a great replacement for the spring salads of lettuce.  Summer is here!

ZUCCHINI F/P  It is either feast or famine with the squash family of crops and it looks like we are going to have a feast this year.  See Tom's post for ideas on using these beauties. 

SWEET ONIONS F  More of the same type we pulled last week. So sweet!

CABBAGE F  Tendersweet is a flat-head type and lives up to its name.

PEAS P  A few peas, but this is the last of them.

CARROTS P  Yellow and orange types.

BEETS OR TURNIPS F  Topped roots

BASIL F/P  The first of the basil will be small bunches.

GARLIC F  We are pulling the first of the garlic tomorrow.  What we don't pack for the shares will be hung to dry in the upper barn.  We are cutting them with a long stem so that they will dry well for you or use them fresh.  To dry hang it where it is relatively warm and dry.

NEXT WEEK:  More cabbage, zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, beets and onions.  Yellow squash and perhaps new potatoes.

The rainy weather let up just long enough to get the sweet potatoes planted and the summer crops weeded and mulched.  The transplanter was pulled out last Wednesday afternoon and the crew made quick work of the sweet potatoes while I did the delivery to the Bad Seed. 

The tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and tomatillos received needed attention.  The weeds had almost overtaken the crops and we were finally able to hoe the area and mulch.  Saturday's CSA members pitched in and the plants are in good shape now. 

The seeding of the fall transplants is a good rainy day job.  So far we have cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and bulb fennel seeded in their soil blocks in the shade structure.  We put up the shade structure temporarily just for the fall crops.  It keeps the seeds cooler and they sprout better than in the heat of the greenhouse. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What to Do With Your Share---Week 6

Summer is in our sights right now. Its first fruits are being harvested this week as zucchini makes the scene. These transitional times are always a unique overlap of two seasons' harvests. A time when you can snack on spring peas while you are grilling up some summer squash.

Believe it or not we do have members that actually ask for kohlrabi. And right now they should be pretty happy, as the second planting has produced a bulb with the blush of a cherub. We suggest that your peel and slice them as the main ingredient of your kohlrabi stir fried with garlic and egg dinner. This recipe was suggested on the Fair Share Farm CSA group page. It is open to members so join if you have not already.

Walla Wallas in the field sizing up.
I am often asked what my favorite vegetable is. While I do not think that I could name any one item, I do believe that I would not want to live in a world without onions. It seems that every savory dish I cook fundamentally relies on them. This week marks what we hope is a long supply of these alliums. We start out sweet with the young Walla Wallas, will later harvest the Tropeas and other reds, and finally move on to the dense and strong storage type.

In the Share - Week 6

ZUCCHINI F/P  A perfect accompaniment to the first day of summer on Saturday.  We are trialing several types in various shapes and striations - let us know if you have a favorite.

LETTUCE F  Romaine hearts and a few others, but the lettuce season is winding down for the summer.

CABBAGE P  It has been a good cabbage harvest this Spring.  We should have some more for the next few weeks. 

KOHLRABI F/P  One for everyone this week and then it is goodbye, sweet 'rabi, until fall.

SWEET ONIONS F/P  The first of the bulbous onions, our sweet Walla Walla

HERB CHOICE F/P   Parsley and/or mint

GREENS CHOICE F  Swiss chard or kale

CARROTS F  The first of the Spring carrots are a mix of orange and yellows.  Partial shares will get them next week.

STRAWBERRIES P  The last from the patch allows us to "settle up" with the partial shares

SUGARSNAP OR SNOW PEAS F  The last from the pea patch.

HAKUREI TURNIPS F  These are topped and should keep for a while in your crisper.  As with most crops this time of year they keep best in moist, cold conditions.  Plastic bags work well to hold in moisture.  Roots keep better with their tops removed. 

NEXT WEEK:  More cabbage, greens, zucchini and carrots.  Beets return.

The topic of conversation this week is what can and cannot be done, what is too wet and what needs to be done by hand.  The tractor was brought out once or twice in the hopes of mowing or cultivating only to be turned around and returned to the barnyard.  It is too wet to do most anything but pull weeds by hand which the farm crew has been doing plenty.  Today we finally managed to find a spot that could take a hoe - Hoe-ray!

Our main concern is the 1300 sweet potato slips that are waiting to be planted.  The beds they are destined for remain too wet and we are nervously watching the rainy forecast for Thursday.  Another day or two of dry weather would give us a chance.  Overall, it is nice to have adequate moisture for a change and the crops that are planted are growing well. The white in the photo is the buckwheat cover crop that is blooming which is good for the bees and other pollinators.

On Friday we caught a calm day and removed the plastic off of the top of the high tunnel.  The job went smoothly (the harder part is putting it back on!).  With some rain on Sunday, the seeded cover crop should be up soon. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What to Do With Your Share---Week 5

Saturated describes the farm right now, as even our dry ground cannot absorb over a half foot of water as quickly as it has come. We are hoping that gravity carries the excess away and warm weather returns soon.

We feel the broccoli harvest this spring has worked out well. We plant 3 different varieties at two different times. This staggered and diverse planting is our insurance plan and this year it worked, with a steady stream of this delicious brassica.

Tonight we took some advice from a blog last fall and enjoyed broccoli stem. I prefer to think of them as broccoli hearts right now, as they are incredibly tender, and need little more than salt and pepper to accent the flavor. A real treat.

June 5th lettuce harvest
Or you could get caught up on some of your lettuce with a tasty braised lettuce suggested by member Emily Akins. Her blog post from May 2012 calls the same ingredients as this week's shares. Instead of shelled peas you can simply string your sugar snap or snow peas and chop them into big chunks.

The high tunnel is entering its feeding cycle, as we have spaded and seeded with sudan grass and cowpeas. Such tillings are a Rocky magnet. He was able to enjoy lots of soft, dry ground these last few days.

In the Share - Week 5

CABBAGE F  The first of the spring harvest.  I am looking forward to some cole slaw!

LETTUCE F/P  We lost some heads to the heat and now to the damp, so just one head for all this week:  red leaf and romaine.

SUGAR SNAP or SNOW PEAS F/P  The peas are plump with the rain.

BROCCOLI F/P  The last of the Spring crop.  We'll be planting more for the fall soon.

STRAWBERRIES F  An early end to the harvest we think is due to the many flowers that froze a few weeks back. Sorry we couldn't get enough for everyone, but it is slim pickings. 

KALE, SWISS CHARD OR BOK CHOY  It is good green growing weather.

BEETS F/P  It will be a muddy job tomorrow, but I am determined to harvest my favorite vegetable. 


HERB CHOICE F parsley and fennel

NEXT WEEK:  More lettuce, cabbage, greens and herbs.  Turnips, kohlrabi and zucchini.

The weather couldn't be more different than ten days ago.  We went from just over an inch of rain for the whole month of May with hot weather to 7 inches of rain and a wind from the North. 

In this instance our changing climate is coupled with a pretty drastic change in the weather.  This follows an earlier very drastic change in the weather when we went from a freeze for two nights to 90 degree F temperatures.  It is hard to know what to expect next. 

Meanwhile, the farm is very soggy.  We worry that the roots of the plants will rot if this lasts much longer.  One of our worst tomato crops lived through a prolonged cold/wet spell like this and never fully recovered.  While a drought is never our wish, we are much better equipped to bring water to the fields than to remove it.  Luckily, we grow many different crops and some thrive in wet years.

On top of this dreary weather, we lost of member of the farm team this past Sunday.  Sunny, the cat, was found nine Springs ago by Amy Boussman, our first farm apprentice.  He was huddled under the old apprentice camper in the middle of a thunderstorm.  His mom, Momma kitty, soon joined him and the two have been with us ever since.  Sunny was a good hunter, a sweet Momma's boy and he is missed. 

There is nothing to do but press on and look to the future.  Groundbreaking began on Monday for the new equipment barn.  We have hired a team to do the work for us since we could never find the time to complete such a large undertaking ourselves.  We are looking forward to having space for our equipment, a functional indoor shop and space to clean out and remodel the old barn.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What to Do With Your Share---Week 4

The field is producing at a high performance right now and it is difficult to keep up with. Our need to care for the growing plants is balanced with the need to harvest. It is a grand list, with broccoli, strawberries, garlic scapes and peas leading the way. We are happy to be able to provide such a diverse, local taste of spring to the CSA.

A must this time of year is to make that unique dressing for your salads and dips-garlic scape and strawberry dressing. It is fascinating to see how their harvests coincide every year...short though they both are, and discover how well their flavors meld. It's one of the reasons we do what we do.

There are lots of other wonderful dishes for this time of year, including kohlrabi radish salsa,
lettuce heart salad with creamy garlic dressing,  and curried hakurei turnips. Everything is good raw too, so you can't go wrong right now.

The fields are ready for another feeding too. We will soon be turning under the field pea/oats cover crop we planted this spring. We got some good stands of this cool weather mix and the blocks look great as the peas flower and the oats head up. We look forward to their vigor being transferred to our fall crops.

In the Share - Week 4

SUGARSNAP PEAS F/P  If you are new to these, pinch off the stem and pop the pod in your mouth. 

BROCCOLI F/P  Whoa, nelly!  The Spring broccoli crop is off the charts!   Everyone gets a good amount, full shares more than partials.  If you want to freeze some for later, order off of the bulk list as it won't be around much longer. 

STRAWBERRIES F/P  The patch is loaded with more berries than we can pick.  We will be opening the patch for U-pick for this coming weekend if not sooner.  An email will go out soon with more info.

LETTUCE F2/P  The butterheads are heading out, but the leaf lettuce and romaines are holding for awhile longer.

GARLIC SCAPES F/P They only appear once a year!  See Tom's post for thoughts on uses. 

KOHLRABI F2/P1  I think one trick with kohlrabi, turnips and other mustardy root-type vegetables like radishes is to not let them dry out after cutting them.  They are great raw, but must be eaten immediately after being chopped before they get dehydrated and bitter.  Or store them chopped up in a bowl of water.

PARSLEY, OREGANO or GREEN ONION F/P  A sprig for the partials, larger bunches for the full shares.

HAKUREI TURNIPS F/P  Not your grandmother's turnip, these are sweet and juicy and best eaten raw or lightly cooked.

NEXT WEEK:  More lettuce, broccoli, turnips, peas and greens.  Perhaps the first zucchini and baby beets.


The Spring Field

The farm is bursting with crops for harvest.  The strawberries continue to ripen while we harvest hundreds of pounds of broccoli.  The lettuces response to the heat is to all be ready at once and the turnips and kohlrabi are begging to be picked. Thank you to those who have time to come out to help with the harvest tomorrow. 

today's broccoli harvest

The fields are glowing in shades of green thanks to a little over an inch of rain last week.  It came at a good time as we were starting to be concerned with the peas, onions and other early crops that we usually don't need to irrigate.  Instead we could turn our attention from irrigation to the crops and the weeds that are growing vigorously. 

weeding and pruning the summer crops