Tuesday, July 26, 2016

In the Share: Week 12

TOMATOES F/P  The cherries are plentiful as are the heirloom and hybrid slicers.

GARLIC F/P more of our hardneck variety.

CUCUMBERS F  The last of the cucumbers from the first planting.  In a couple of weeks the second planting should be fruiting.

EGGPLANT F/P  I was lucky to have some of that eggplant cheesecake that Merri posted on the Facebook group.  If you are not in our closed group, you are missing out on a bunch of recipes.  See Tom's post for the link.


COLORADO ROSE POTATOES F/P  A new variety for us, let us know what you think.

SWEET PEPPERS F  Just one ripe one this week.  There are many more coming.

HERBS F/P Basil, including lemon and Italian varieties.

NEXT WEEK:  Tomatoes, carrots, onions, eggplant, salsa packs and peppers.


The first round of the fall broccolis, cabbages and cauliflower are in the fields, each row with a line of irrigation tape alongside it.

With plenty of water and fertile soil they should be feeding us well by the end of September and up until we get a hard freeze.

mmm... a crisp Autumn day sounds so nice.  But, not so fast!  We still have August to sweat through and lots of delicious summer crops to eat.  Speaking of yummy summer food, I was in the tomato patch this morning and spied a little bird's nest in one of the plants.  I'm not sure what bird it is, maybe a wren?

And finally, we wanted to give a special shout-out to the members who have been delivering the shares to Liberty this year.  When we decided to move the Brookside distribution from Saturdays to Mondays, we were worried that we would now have three deliveries to make each week instead of two.  Thankfully most Saturdays there have been members willing to schlep the produce for us after four hours of sweating in the fields.  That's going above and beyond, folks and we truly are so grateful.  This allows us all to stay on the farm and get more work done.  Here's a typical vehicle leaving the farm on a Saturday.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 12

It's been a real roller coaster this year. A couple weeks of rain followed by a dose of humid blast furnace can knock one for a loop. It is always interesting to see what plants  do the best in such conditions.

For plants like tomatoes the spread of disease increases the longer the leaves are wet. Other plantings, like our summer cover crop of cow peas and sorgum sudan grass has thrived in areas that didn't get too wet. We enjoy seeing the soil being given a good meal as much as we enjoy sending out a good share.

tomatoes and tomatillos
Some weeks it's tough to get the blog written as the day's energy wanes. So at such times I appreciate the recipe suggestions that get posted on the CSA Facebook page. This week there is a flush of eggplant in the shares and recent recipe suggestions like Eggplant Cheesecake and Eggplant Involtini, deserve attention.

And then there's a #lunchatyourdesk dish that puts many of your share items to good use. And a good use of any cutting celery you have from a share, Celery an Parmesan Salad.

garlic curing in the barn

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

In the Share - Week 11

CUCUMBERS F/P  In the photo are our pickling cucumbers which are varieties that are self-polinating and can be kept undercover to protect them from the dreaded cucumber beetles and squash bugs.  You can pickle them, but they are good fresh too!

TOMATOES F/P  Last week I made a typo and said you were all getting around a pound of tomatoes.  Tom and I had contemplated switching to the metric system on the farm and so had changed the scale to kilograms.  Wednesday shares received around 2 pounds and by Monday's delivery we were over 3.  The switch to metric is now postponed for now.

CARROTS F/P  We are going to pull these little orange ones out of the field just as fast as we can.  The heat is threatening to cook them in the ground!  To store any roots with tops, separate the two immediately and either compost or one of our members says she loves carrot top pesto.  I keep meaning to try it, I bet it's good.

BEETS OR TURNIPS F  Out of the coolers, just the roots.


HERB CHOICE F/P  Basil, thyme, cutting celery

EGGPLANT F  See Tom's post on ways to enjoy one of our favorite vegetables.

WALLA WALLA ONIONS F/P   Trimming these is a nice shady job for the membership on mornings when they come to help.

CABBAGE F  Out of the coolers and perfect for a summer slaw.  Tom has a nice slaw recipe this week with cabbage and beets.

SUMMER SQUASH P  The first planting is on its way out, the second growing well but won't have fruit for a few weeks.

SALSA PACK P  I heard it is America's most popular condiment.  It is a favorite in our kitchen.

NEXT WEEK:  Tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, salsa packs, peppers and potatoes.

Oh my what a summer we are having.  It is starting to feel like those climates where whoever can stay in the shade during the day, does.  Last year up in Iowa I was commended by CSA farmers who said they couldn't imagine a 24 week season and our brutal summers.

It's all relative, as I have tried to visit CSA farms in Texas and Louisiana, and they are few and far between.  Today we were dazed in the field contemplating full moon farming. We may have to try it.

But how would we have the fun of heirloom tomato seed-saving if we didn't sweat it out in the tomato patch?  We grow around 20 varieties and save the best couple fruit for seed for next year.  Here's a link on how to:  https://www.mastergardeners.org/pdf/import/SGM/files/Saving_Tomato_Seeds.pdf 

What to Do With Your Share---Week 11

It's that time of year when the National Weather Service alerts us of excessive heat. Their recommendations note to "Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When
possible... reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing... drink plenty of fluids avoiding caffeinated and alcoholic beverages...stay in an air-conditioned room and out of the sun... and check up on relatives and neighbors."

We supplement these suggestions with the consumption of lots of vegetables to restore our energy and replace any lost minerals and micronutrients. Eating root crops is a good way to do both those things. We like to peel beets and then grate them raw into a slaw. Cabbage, sweet onion your favorite dressing and a sprinkling of cutting celery gives you a fresh, crisp summer salad.

To keep the cabbage crisp you should chop it, sprinkle salt on it and then let it sit for 10 minutes. This allows the salt to draw water out of the cabbage leaves and keep them from getting soft.

Another purple item recently in the shares has been eggplant. These first fruits of the season are always the best. We do hope you enjoy them. Our consistent recommendation for enjoying eggplant is to cook it to the consistency of a mushroom. It absorbs flavors and provided helpful fiber to your system.

The soil needs feeding too, and this week we bought a load of 12 round bales of straw for use on the strawberries, garlic, herbs, and chickens. The remains of the wheat harvest, the stalks that make up straw are mostly carbon, and provide biomass to the soil. This year's load was a third reference from local farmers we have bought from in the past. This straw comes from south of Excelsior Springs.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

In the Share: Week 10

SWEET PEPPERS F/P  We love our Italian frying peppers.  When green they are sweet, never bitter.  Another few weeks of hot weather and they should start to ripen.

TOMATOES F/P  Everyone is getting around a pound this week of colorful heirlooms and red and gold hybrid varieties.

CUCUMBERS F/P  It is time for a cucumber salad!

WALLA WALLA ONIONS (F): These onions got as big as the ones from Washington State this year. A benchmark and sweet harvest.

SALSA PACK OR EGGPLANT F  If you are new to the CSA, the salsa pack is everything you need for fresh or roasted salsa.  See Tom's post for the full recipe.

SUMMER SQUASH F  Zucchini or yellow squash.

PURPLE VIKING POTATOES F/P  The last of this purple variety

GARLIC F/P  more hardneck bulbs.

HERB CHOICE F/P  Basil, summer savory or cutting celery.

NEXT WEEK:  Tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, squash, eggplant and salsa packs.


On Sunday, we had a great group of organic farmers visit us for our field day.

We always learn as much as we share at these types of events.  I'm showing off the electric tractor before I cultivate out some weeds.  If you want to learn more about our SARE project, check out our 2014 blog post:  2014 SARE post  In 2015 we were unable to complete the project due to the rainy weather.  We'll post something once we have results for 2016.

Some liken what we do for a living to a marathon.  If so, then we have reached the half-way point of the race.  The summer harvest is underway, the weeds are growing, and the critical time for planting the fall crops has arrived.  Yesterday, after doing a double-take at the forecast, we realized a long list needed to be completed before the approaching rain.  The crew pulled the remainder of the Walla Walla onions out of the field and set them up in the barn for curing.  The crop looks great, with very few culls and lots of big bulbs.

In the afternoon and on into the evening, we seeded cover crops and carrots, beets, turnips and beans.  Sure enough, two inches of rain fell early this morning.  Seven inches of rain in the last two weeks is pretty rainy for mid-July.  So far it's not been much of a problem and on the bright side, the irrigation pond is full of water for when it dries out!

What to Do With Your Share---Week 10

Summer is heading towards its peak. The tomatoes are coming on, the eggplant is kicking in, the tomatillos are filling out, and the root harvest is in full gear. Hard to believe that the days are actually getting shorter.

This week we are able to have some salsa packs be a share choice for the fulls. If you aren't familiar with them, all you need to know is on our 2009 blog posts for fresh and roasted salsa. Just add a tomato and you will be in condiment heaven.

For us tonight we supplemented our vegetables with some protein and carbs. Beans have entered the menu a lot this year, as we try to keep our protein consumption high during this strenuous season. Onions, eggplant and garlic, followed by chopped tomatoes, pinto beans and tomato paste cooked together and served over brown rice is filling, nutritious and easy.

In the field we are doing some feeding too. As a part of our SARE project we are working on perfecting a seeder to plant our cover crops. Getting a good cover crops stand is one of the most important things we can do. If the soil doesn't eat, we don't eat. We will see soon how this round of trialing has done.
Two pass seeder we are trialing

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

In the Share: Week 9

TOMATOES F/P  Just one or two for each share, mostly red hybrids and purple/chocolate heirloom varieties.  Our heirlooms come in every color and flavor.  Try a different one each week to familiarize yourself.  All tomatoes soften slightly when ripe and the color should be bright.  Don't be fooled by the heirlooms tendency to keep some green on top even when ripe.

LETTUCE F/P  Another week of crunchy little crispheads.  Summer heat means no more until September.

COLORFUL CARROTS F/P  Orange and yellow ones this week.  Cut off the greens before storing in your refrigerator and the roots will last longer.

SUMMER SQUASH F/P  Yellow squash and zucchini.


SWEET PEPPERS F  Purple and green ones.

JALAPENOS F/P  Just one or two for each share to spice things up.


HERB CHOICE F/P  Parsley or basil.

NEXT WEEK:  Tomatoes, squash, potatoes, garlic

Whew!  What a change in the weather we have had.  So incredibly hot and humid today, but only in the 70s for much of the past two days.  A nice two inches of rain came through on Friday, leading to a very muddy CSA harvest morning on Saturday.  It was no problem for the CSA crew who couldn't be stopped from pulling load after load of muddy beets, carrots and onions.

We are eternally grateful for the CSA member work shift because they add extra help just where it is needed most.  The harvest is the end result of a series of steps that start with a seed being planted in the greenhouse or the field.  The final step of pulling roots, cutting greens and picking fruits all by hand requires easily half of our time in the summer.  By helping bring in the harvest, the CSA allows the farm crew to have the time we need to tend to the crops as they grow leading to larger harvests once they mature.  Case in point, the farm crew has been spending lots of time in the tomato and pepper patch mulching, staking and pruning.  The plants are responding well to our efforts and we are looking forward to a great summer harvest.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 9

The last week have been a real rollercoaster of weather. The wet, cool holiday weekend did provide some physical relief, but the blast furnace was turned back on today. It is nice to be enjoying the fruits of summer as a payoff for the day.

As an avid customer of Companionship Bread, we find many ways to enjoy John's hand crafted and cultured breads. Many of his breads are leavened with wild ferments. This natural yeast really gives the bread flavor, and helps is stand up well to hearty recipes.

This year's red onions: Cabernet, Tropea and Rosa di Milano

Sloppy Joes are the perfect meal to incorporate those loaf ends and other slices. We find ourselves making them often this time of year. It is a great way to enjoy your Parker Farms ground beef or pork. Top it off with grated cheese from your cheese share and a garnish of herb, and you have a true local treat.

Sloppy Joes

2 onions, diced
2 peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 summer squash or eggplant, chopped
2 tbsp fresh summer savory
1 lb ground meat
1 quart tomato sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
sliced and toasted bread

  • In a large sauce pan sauté the onions, pepper, garlic, salt and olive oil over medium high heat for 3 minutes
  • Add squash and summer savory, cook 5 minutes
  • Push the vegetables to one side and add the meat, brown the meat over high heat
  • Once the meat is browned form a well in the center of the saucepan and add a cup of tomato sauce
  • Once the sauce thickens add another cup, repeat until all sauce has been added to the pan and thickened
  • Pour over bread and top with garnish of grated or crumbled cheese and fresh herb