Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In the Share - Week 16

SWEET PEPPERS F/P  Ripe and juicy, with lots of red bull's horn type that are super sweet.

GREEN BEANS F/P  More Roma (flat pods) and Jade (standard pods) plus the start of the Rattlesnake pole beans.
TOMATOES F/P  The heirloom varieties are out-pacing their hybrid cousins right now.

CARROTS F/P  More crisp, orange ones from cold storage

POTATOES F  A choice of yellow or pink ones

NEXT WEEK:  More tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, salsa packs, green beans and eggplant.

This week finds us nearing the end of the planting season.  Most of the fall crops are in the ground and growing well.  It will start feeling like fall when we begin harvesting kale in a couple more weeks.  On Thursday we started plants for the high tunnel:  lettuce, bok choy, Swiss chard, kale, beets and gai lan. 

During these hot, humid days it is nice to dream of  the cool, crisp days of fall spent harvesting greens and, of course, sweet potatoes.  The local wildlife, deer to be exact, had recently begun the sweet potato harvest without us.  Deer love sweet potato leaves and had groomed the rows of some of the tops before we noticed.  No major harm was done we think and the deer fence is now back up and operational. 

What to Do With Your Share---Week 16

Turns out that we are feeding more than just the soil at the farm, we are providing a bug banquet to the barn swallows every time we mow stuff down. It is a sight to see, as they swoop and flutter all around the tractor. They come so close. You can see their movements so well it makes you feel like you are in on the hunt.

One unique item in this week's share will be the full's choice of eggplant, cucumbers or ground cherries. These fruits are in the same family as tomatoes (Solanaeceae) and enjoy our hot summers. Ground cherries can be eaten raw or cooked.

To snack on one simply peel off the papery husk and pop it in your mouth. The flavor is sweet and somewhat tropical. You can cook them into a delicious jam too. They are not a regular item for the CSA but the five plants that we grew for fun are producing a lot of fruit at the moment.

For some of you this week the rattlesnake beans make an appearance. They are a delicious pole bean that graces the shares this time of year. Green with purple stripes, you will know them also by their nutty flavor. They do have one drawback though, as they develop a string along their edge when they size up. You will need to "string" your beans or cut them into 1-inch pieces. This idiosyncrasy brought one member to ask in last year's survey, "why do you grow them?" Our answer, their unsurpassed flavor. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What to Do With Your Share---Week 15

August is blowing by. The summer is only now trying to prove it was here this year by getting hot for a few days. Meteorologist Mike Thompson noted that this year will be the 10th coolest summer on record. That, coupled with a freeze on May 16th, has had a tough impact on many crops, the tomatoes especially.

But diversity wins out as, amazingly, it is the hot peppers that are peaking now. We grow several varieties, and there is a choice of three this week. They are crisp and fresh, and can add some real zest to a dish. All three type have about the same amount of hotness. To keep them milder you can clean out the seeds and veins before chopping.

part of the morning harvest
Most are familiar with the jalapenos. Cut them into rings and garnish a dish with their beautiful color and shape. Marinate them in some vinegar and oil for a day or two to "pickle" them.

Our variety NuMex Joe E. Parker is a large Anaheim type that is good for stuffing, roasting or chopping. It is the type of chili that is grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico.

The Hungarian hot wax are a good hot pepper to pickle in vinegar and then can for eating during the cold of winter. On a fresh basis they are good sliced into thin strips.

l. to r.: Hungarian hot wax. NuMex Joe E. Parker, El Jefe jalapeno.

In the Share - Week 15

GARLIC F/P  Musik hardneck

TOMATOES  F/P  We ended up with a lot of green-when-ripe heirloom tomatoes this year - Green Zebra, Aunt Ruby's German Green and Emerald Evergreen have all done well.

DESIREE POTATOES F/P  They look like they are blushing.

SALSA PACK F/P  Partial shares get a choice with eggplant.

GREEN BEANS F/P  We will pick the Roma, flat-podded, beans tomorrow.  They'll be a choice with the usual ones.

HERBS OR HOT PEPPERS F  Parsley, hot peppers or dried herbs.  See Tom's post for more on the hot peppers.


SWEET PEPPERS F/P  We are looking forward to several more weeks of these pretty ladies. 

CUCUMBERS OR SUMMER SQUASH F  Perhaps the last week for these two.

NEXT WEEK:  More tomatoes, beans, peppers, eggplant and tomatillos.  Carrots and onions.

Whitey, the newest member of the farm team, was put straight to work delivering the Saturday shares.  Sweetpea, the VW, is taking a break until we can get her to the mechanic.  The new van is a completely different reality - bland perhaps, with an automatic transmission, power steering, a/c and even a radio (!) doing deliveries has become a pretty cush gig.  Thanks to Lawson Bank for loaning us the money to buy a good used solution to what had become a serious problem for the farm.

For the first time in weeks, the soil has dried enough to cultivate.  Monday we tackled the fall crops with machinery, hand tools and hands.  By the end of the day we had the tidied-up many rows of cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi, turnips, radishes and greens.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In the Share - Week 14

GREEN BEANS F/P  We should have these for several weeks now.  We have another planting about to start and the first one still going.

TOMATOES F/P  It is getting harder to find fruit free of blemishes with all these damp, cool weather but the flip side is you aren't eating fungicides!

CARROTS F/P  Sweet and crisp roots from cold storage. 


SWEET PEPPER F/P  Another one for all.  They are ripening slowly in these cool temps.

RED ONIONS F/P  These are an assortment of Rossa di Milano (big shouldered), Tropea (torpedo) and Cabernet (round and wine-colored).


CUCUMBERS F  We will have a break in cucumbers for a while now that the pickling cucumbers are dwindling.

SUMMER SQUASH F  Mostly Zephyr, our yellow and green nutty squash.


NEXT WEEK:  More tomatoes, beans, squash, eggplant and peppers.  Potatoes and garlic return.

The first week of the bean harvest went well with well over 200 lbs. picked.  Together the farm crew and the CSA members got the patch picked and bagged for the shares in good time.  Bean picking is pretty repetitive as you methodically frisk each plant and pull off its fruit, but every once in a while your focus comes across something else entirely, like this tree frog. 

These little guys are all over the fields at the moment.  They are about the size of your thumb but exhibit human-like agility when they climb up the foliage.  Watching them reminds me of how closely related, how much DNA we share with our fellow creatures on this planet.  Frogs are sensitive to chemicals in the environment due to their porous skin and you just don't see them in places that are sprayed for weeds and bugs.  When did we decide that it was better to not have mosquitos and dandelions than to have these beautiful creatures? 

What to Do With Your Share---Week 14

Cool and wet remain the words of the summer this year. The moisture is welcome, but it hampers the field work. It is a mixed blessing in the high tunnel, where the sudan grass/cow pea cover crop is up to the rafters. We may have to put the roof on early to help dry it out so we can chop down this block of soil food.
Meanwhile, for our palates the selection is a great summer mix. It's a good week to search the fridge and accumulate any goodies you may have. Got too many sweet onions? Chop up 5 or 6 and slowly caramelize them. Freeze what you don't use as a quick addition to future meals.

A green bean, potato and onion hash is a dish suited to these cool days and nights. I encourage you to check out this link to our Week 9 newsletter from 2007. The farm news on the front is pre-Rocky and pre-underground irrigation system. It was a fun read for me. I was wondering what members might remember these times and, by my account, 25 shares have been around since them. They will remember it as the year our lone farm apprentice was Libby Negus.

Not too much more tonight, as the last several days have included scoping, testing and negotiating for a used delivery vehicle to take the baton from Sweetpea. We are in the final stages of procuring an average white van. One with air bags, air conditioning, and a radio---fancy. Hope to get through the remaining hoops soon.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

In the Share - Week 13

SWEET PEPPER F  Just one ripe pepper for the full shares this week, but there should be many more in the coming weeks.  One of our favorite sweet peppers is horn-shaped and is not a hot pepper (bucket on the right above).

EGGPLANT P  Broiled in our toaster oven, it makes an easy addition to later meals or a mid-afternoon snack by itself.

BINTJE POTATOES F/P  Pronounced like the dog, "Benji", it is known for making great french fries.

TOMATOES F/P  Another decent harvest, although nothing like in year's past.  Enjoy them while they last!

GREEN BEANS F/P The first picking is tomorrow morning - come join us if you can!

CUCUMBERS F  The pickling varieties are still hanging on, so we are including some of them.  Eat them as you would the others.

WALLA WALLA ONIONS F  We are intentionally stocking you all up on these sweets.  Eat them now, they are not for storage.

CHERRY TOMATOES F  We hope to have enough for everyone, but can't know until we pick them tomorrow.

ROMA TOMATOES F Make sure you let your tomatoes ripen before using them.  Our Roma varieties are very sturdy and need to sit around awhile to fully ripen.  See Tom's post for more info. on using your Romas.

SALSA PACK F/P  Chile verde is another option with the pack.

GARLIC F/P  More hardneck from the drying barn.

NEXT WEEK:  More tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onions, salsa and beans.  Carrots return.

It has been a week since we posted the photo of the delivery van being towed away.  Unfortunately the problem was not fixed as reported.  Our former optimism has been replaced with the idea that it may be time for a more modern option.  The gears are churning in the farm office to research the situation.  We'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, we have a ton of beans to pick.  Finally the crop is in and it looks great.  If anyone reading this is able to help with the harvest on any given Wednesday or Saturday morning (8am - noon for at least the next two weeks if not the next month) your farmers will thank you.  If we can't get them picked, that means less beans in the shares.  They are yours for the picking!

 bean rows

Speaking of picking.  The onion harvest has been pretty fantastic.  For the last month if we ever had a spare moment we could always grab some crates and haul onions from the field.  On Saturday the CSA members joined us in pulling many yellow onions.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 13

Sunday morning began with a surprise as thunder accompanied the dawn. About 1-3/4 inches of rain fell and has given the fields a good soaking. We will be trying to get into them quickly before it rains again, as the soil has wonderful texture right now.

The onions continue to amaze this year. We will be handing out the Walla Walla's until they are gone. Their sweetness reduces their storage life, so they are the first to go. They are so sweet you can use them raw and be glad you did. We will be following up with red ones, and then some storage types late in the season.

Onions curing in the barn
Tomatoes are peaking, so take advantage. This week the fulls get some Roma tomatoes, aka plum tomatoes. Good for sauce making, they are also a great addition to a tomato sauce. When making pasta this time of year I often will blanch some tomatoes in the boiling spaghetti water, cool them, peel them, and chop them. Prepared this way they will add a certain "fineness" to your sauce.

Blanched and chopped tomatoes