We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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Greenings and Saladations!
It's week 23, just 2 more weeks for the people who have bought 4 week shares (you guys are getting a bonus week as there are 5 weeks in Sept and you paid for 4 of them) and 4 more weeks for the 3 month and full season members. Last year we would have had another 8 weeks to go which, considering the growing conditions, would not have been a great thing and I noticed by about the beginning of October most of our members were getting really burned out, as were we). But last year we had great growing conditions in the fall (and summer-2009 was a great growing season overall) and so had a lot of food both in shear amounts and diversity. This year not so much, though I gotta say, even with the dry conditions hitting us hard (we ate not officially in a drought yet and may never get there if we are fortunate) we still have a lot of food to distribute to you guys. We don't have a lot of food to sell at the farmers market which is a concern as this is the time of year we should make the most money so we can get through winter and have enough money to pay mortgage, utilities, property taxes, state and federal income taxes, insurances, etc.. Yes, just like the rest of you, we farmers have a whole passel of bills and debt that must be paid. Unlike you, we don't get a weekly (regular) paycheck in the winter so we must make enough money during the main season to put into savings in order to get through the winter. And in addition to the laundry list of debts we also have to buy seed, fertilizers, row covers, irrigation supplies, etc., over the winter so we will be pretty broke by the time farmers market season comes around in 2011 (even with selling FSI shares). It happens and we will weather the storm as we are fiscally very conservative, i.e. we know how to live very cheaply.
Doing the winter farm shares will help some and getting many early FSI sign-ups for 2011 will help (yes, that is a hint). So, yes, we are going to do the winter share program. If you are interested (and I know two of you are) consider yourself in the program. If anyone else wants to continue to eat local food November through January contact me ASAP as I have to severely limit who can be in this this winter. I was hoping to do 15 to 20 members this season but will be able to do only half that number
As you know, I have been on the fence about doing the winter shares but decided that the crops we are hand watering are doing pretty well and the stuff Eugene plants does germinate so it looks like we will have plenty of food (not as much as past years but enough). Yes, the fall cropping season appears right now the be far better than expected. Granted, it is taking twice as much work to keep things alive and happy but that is a part of farming-some years are relatively easy and very bountiful some years are really hard and not very bountiful. This is a hard year.
The last time we experienced such a dry and hot year was 14 years ago, the year we got married. That year we used the excuse of our wedding to stop farming and marketing in early September (our wedding was the 14th). As we were newbies to the farming biz back than, we had not yet gotten into major season extension or CSA's. Having a CSA means you are committed to providing food for the duration (unless you get an act of God like a tornado ripping through the farm) so cannot capriciously take off from work and just stop for no good reason. Season extension is kinda the same thing. You get crops started to go through winter and you have to care for them through the fall/winter/spring. Okay, it's not like caring for livestock, which needs care daily, as the crops can be ignored for days on end especially during Jan/Feb. I believe we had started fooling with row covers and may have even had a small hoop house but nothing on the level we do today (5+ hoop houses and miles of row cover used). So taking off from farming in mid September was doable for us (we also paid little to no rent, heated with wood so the utility bills were always under $70 a month, put up and root cellared most of the food we ate (still do), paid no land taxes, etc., so we lived really cheaply). That is no longer an option as we have embroiled ourselves into farm ownership and deeply into season extension of crops and now cannot fathom not growing and marketing through the winter. And I gotta say since we eat this food also, there is little better than eating a freshly harvested salad or mess of green in late fall/winter (and again in late winter/early spring) when your body is screaming for such foods. I am hoping, like the dry summer of 1996, we start getting rain in the next week or so. It is my memory that the rains came while we were on our honey moon and stayed around most of the fall and winter. And it looks like we will get rain tomorrow, which will be nice if it happens (and it is more than a couple of tenths of an inch). If we get decent precip over winter we will be in fine shape for next spring. If we do not than we will likely have issues concerning dry conditions, wells and irrigation, not to mention doing 2x to 4x the normal amount of work to get things started and to keep things going.
These are the things we think about and worry over.
We will have some new items showing up in your shares in the remaining weeks. Look for sweet potatoes, radishes, spring mix, possibly kale and head lettuce (by head lettuce I do not mean iceberg lettuce but rather whole lettuce plants as opposed to cut leaves as in spring mix). Right now we don't have much in the way of greens but hopefully next week we will have baby arugula (as opposed to much more mature arugula we have been cutting since July)
The shares will be ready after 4pm today. Any shares not picked up by 6am Saturday morning will be donated to the Oxford Choice Pantry. Last week we donated two shares which were very appreciated.
What's in the Shares
Garlic-this week 2 corms of Music, our best garlic
Onions-a couple of medium Copra onions. These are yellow onions and great for cooking but should not be eaten raw unless you enjoy stomach upset (they are hot and strong)
Watermelon-yes we still have some water melon and you will either get 1 medium melon or two small melons. They will either be red or yellow
Tomatoes-a couple of some of the last maters of the season
Sweet peppers-several ripening bell peppers
Hot Peppers-around 10 jalapeno and cayenne peppers
Keiffer Pears-6 pears. These are not quite ripe but should ripen up if kept out of the fridge. The yellower they are the riper they are.
Apples-6 Dr Matthew's apples. These are a nice eating apple sweet and tart.
Winter Squash-a couple of pounds of squash, probably delicata and acorn. All of these are cooked the same-cut in half, scoop out the seeds and bake face down in a 350F oven for about 1/2 hour or until soft.
Posted by Lucy
@ 03:46 AM EST
It's week 21 and a whole new month to boot! September is often our most bountiful month but I am not so sure this will be the case this year as it is so hot and dry and this is now having a negative impact on the market garden. The crops are very stressed and many have started to shut down. You will see this beginning with this week's shares-they are definitely smaller. There will not be quite the variety and the the amounts of each item will be less than in past weeks. Granted, the past 3 or 4 shares have been HUGE, perhaps a bit too big for some and now they will not be so large. this is all part and parcel of being a CSA member. When the conditions are great and the farm is pumping out a lot of food everyone gets a lot of food. When growing conditions are not so great than there will be less food in the shares and perhaps not the variety. This is the risk you guys share with us as Boulder belt FSI members. Now, all that said, the share this week (and I suspect for the rest of the season) will have ample food and a nice variety. But I won't be choosing from over 30 different crops the 12 items to put in a share. Now I have around 17 different crops from which to choose at the moment.
The dry, hot weather is also impacting the fall garden. We have had to do a lot of hand watering in order to get the seeds we planted in early and Mid August to germinate so that the drip irrigation system can take over the watering chores. We also have many flats of kale, lettuce, zucchinis, melons, cabbage and broccoli sitting on the porch of the store growing and waiting to be big enough to transplant. If we get a decent rain tomorrow we will probably be just fine if not (which is more likely) than we will struggle on and hope for rain (but not too much)
The crops we planted in July-popcorn and dried beans look to be failures. It was simply too dry for them to produce much seed (that would be beans and popcorn) and they are in an area that is very hard to irrigate (impossible right now as we do not have anything that carries water running down into the valley). So it gets no irrigation. I suspect we will get something from both crops but not nearly what we expected when we planted them. These are things that were going to go to the winter CSA as well as be sold at the winter farmers market in Oxford. So not the best thing for our winter income. It does look like the potatoes we planted in that area are doing good, but of course we won't know for sure until we start digging them. The sunflowers are doing spectacularly.
Up top, in the main garden we are done with the melons (there are a few water melon vines still hanging on), the tomatoes are about over-it was a very short tomato season this year, only about 5 weeks for us. Though we do have a late planting that has flowers and perhaps a few tiny green fruits. We expect the late planting to be producing the end of this month and through the beginning (at least) of November. When cold threatens we will put plastic on the hoop house frame that has been erected over top of the plants to keep them from freezing to death and this should buy us another 4 to 8 weeks of production. The peppers are in high gear but I can see they will soon be over as most are starved for water and do not like such high heat. We have some beets that should be humongous but are only medium to large due to the lack of rain. The herbs are pretty much over. I am going to see what we got as far as basil and parsley are concerned as soon as I finish this letter. the basil does not seem to mind the lack of water-it just wants to go to seed in the worst way which means it gets harder and harder to deadhead them to keep the tender greens coming on. The parsley I find is a bit bitter due to lack of water and the heat. The celeriac looks like it will do nothing for us this fall. It was planted in a bad place and got far too little water. But the leeks are looking good. The arugula that we have been harvesting for what, 5 weeks, is doing great. This is supposed to be a cold weather crop and yet this is the 3rd year we have planted it in the heat of summer and the 3rd year it has done well in summer. The Chard is not looking great due to insect pressures but we have covered it with row cover and now are in the process of severely cutting it back which should allow tender nice new leaves to emerge under cover away from those nasty bugs. It would do better with rain but even without is holding it's own. So forgive the ratty looking leaves (they still taste good) The summer scallions are about done and not due to the weather. We have managed to deplete the bed they were in. I believe I have about 100 or so left to pull and they are the small dregs of the scallions. We have another bed planted but it is only doing so so due to the fact cut worms have invaded and have been cutting off the greens. But I believe I caught the worms doing the damage so now the scallions can grow and give us green onion throughout the fall and winter.
We hope to have more beans and that they will not be as bug eaten. The beans you got last week were pretty bad and we apologize but that is what we had to work with. We have another planting that has just started to flower and hopefully will start making beans just as the bean eating critters are on a major wane (which they should be in a couple of weeks). And I believe Eugene just planted 2 more beds that will be covered with a hoop house so we have beans well into November (and those will be very clean as there will be very little bug or weed pressure)
Well that's the state of the farm at this point in the year
What's in the Share
Bright lights Chard
Sweet Peppers- you will get many in your share this week. These are easy to freeze BTW. Simply cut them into the shape you want (I like to dice them) and put them into a freezer bag and into the freezer. Now you have peppers to use in the winter
Arugula-another bag of the spicy sweet salad green. My Italian customers say this is great on pizza-put leaves on a slice after it is cooked.
Delicata squash-the earliest of our winter squashes. AKA the sweet potato squash because it is so sweet and yummy. To cook, cut lengthwise, remove the seeds, place flesh side down on a cookie sheet or other pan and cook in a 350F oven for 20 to 30 minutes
Garlic 2 corms of garlic, don't know what kind
Beets-a bunch of beets. These are called 3 Grex beets and are a combo of 3 colors-yellow, pink and red. I have no idea why they are called Grex but they are a nice beet that in good conditions will get to be around 3 to 5 pounds. this year they are much smaller.
Leeks-you get a Lincoln leek this week.
Apples-6 apples. I believe they are Dr Matthew's, like last week but we may also have some Macintosh. The sootiness on them can be scrubbed off. It is a mold that we get because we do not spray weekly with fungicides (all of which are carcinogens). there may also be other blemishes which come with the fact these apples are beyond organic. just cut them out or eat around them. I am quite surprised at how clean and nice the apples are this year, usually Organic apples are pretty scary looking (but very tasty)
Red Onions-you get around 1/2 pound of red onions this week. the elongated onions are an Italian heirloom and very good, despite the fact they look weird.
Tomatoes-you will get a pound, maybe two, this week as the maters are on the wane. I believe they will be mainly the two kinds of reds we grow-Glick's Pride (round) and Amish Paste (elongated). these will be on the shelf by the fridge as we don't want to ever put maters in the fridge
Potatoes-There will be several kinds including blue and Russian banana Fingerlings
Herbs-basil and parsley I doubt we will be able to put in nearly as much basil as in the past.
Posted by Lucy
@ 03:40 AM EST
Wow it is week 20! Where has the time gone? It seems like August has sped by (unlike July which hung on for years and years). This means to all of you doing a full season or 3 month share you got 6 more weeks. Those of you going month to month have 4 weeks left. we will be doing a winter share starting the first Wednesday in November. Let me know ASAP if you want in on this. We need to get some sort of head count so we know how much to plant in hoop houses this fall. Also, we have many people interested in the winter share but I want give you first refusal (as they say in the realty biz). Unlike the main season, we do pick up every other week and you get a lot more food in your share (most of which can be stored for months on end so no rush to eat/preserve everything).
It is August and that means we are going into our most bountiful time of the year. I have been spending a lot of time putting up tomatoes (so far a lot of juice and about 1/3 the sauce I plan on making and canning), melons and making jam. Soon I will freeze peppers, make and can salsa and ratatouille, make apple sauce which will either be frozen or canned and dry apples. Hopefully, there will be enough green beans to freeze as well (but this dry weather is causing bad things to happen to the beans and you get them all this week, so none for us to put up). Doing all this work means we will eat well all winter and this is what our ancestors did in order to survive winters well. Doing this putting food by thing also means one must change how they look at and think about food. We modern Americans hardly give food any thought at all anymore as we can what we want when we want it literally 24/7. Of course, the food is usually adulterated, covered in chemicals and grown who knows where, low in nutrients, low in flavor and can even be the cause of poisoning. This is the price we pay for the "privilege" to be mindless about what we eat.
To be mindful as you all are finding out, means a lot more work just obtaining food (you joined a CSA and make weekly trips out to the farm to get your seasonal food). Plus you have to think about food much more. You have to start thinking about seasonality and what that means to your food choices. And when you take the next step-putting up food for winter you have start learning how to think ahead 3 to 6 months in the future as to what you will be eating. As farmers we long ago found you have to think ahead a minimum of 5 years when farming Organically in order for the crop rotation and soil fertility plans to work. we also have planted crops such as grapes, peaches and paw paws that take years and years to get to the point of bearing fruit. We hope next year we will have enough grapes to supply the FSI (we should have this year but got well under 4 pounds out of 30+ plants, such is life. We have been waiting on these things for 5 years). The paw paws will be another 4 to 6 years before we get anything and the peaches get attacked by deer and have yet been able to grow more than 5' tall (bucks rub their racks on the poor trees and break them off). At least the apples we planted when we moved here are beginning to produce. But I digress, back to long term thinking about food. farming forces one to take a really long view. Putting food up for winter forces one to think about food 6 to 12 months out. I do this pretty much with no thought anymore. I just know that when certain crops come in it is time to pull out the canning and dehydrating equipment and get working. But I also deal with people who are just getting into this sort of thing and know they face great disappointment when they waited too long to buy their canning maters or cannot find any bushels of green beans because 10 years ago we farmers found the market for bulk foods had disappeared so we all quit growing for that market and went with the much more lucrative selling by the piece or pound market (we make 2 to 3 times more this way than selling in bulk). The lesson here is, if you want to put up lots of food either grow your own rather large canning garden or contact growers before the season starts and ask if they will/do grow bulk quantities of what ever it is you want to put up for winter (and see, here is the whole "you have to think months ahead" idea again.).
Now all that said, we do have in bulk quantity Amish paste tomatoes, sweet peppers (or will in about a week), apples and it looks like pears (but they won't be ready for another 3 to 4 weeks). If you are interested let me know. The bulk tomatoes will last maybe another 2 weeks, the rest at least 3 weeks (probably longer). Let me know if you are interested in buying any of these things and I can give you prices and amounts.
The shares will be ready after 4 pm and like last week there will be two bags for everyone. One in the fridge and the rest (tomatoes) on the shelving by the fridge. Thanks to everyone who has been returning their containers, rubber bands, bags, etc., to us, keep 'em coming. It may not be much but every little bit we keep out of the landfill counts.
Okay here is this week's recipe (which i realize the share does not have all the ingredients for, oh well)
1 or 2 eggplant, cubed
several tomatoes, cubed
1 medium yellow or red onion cubed
1 bell pepper (green or ripe) cubed
2+ garlic cloves minced/pressed
1 medium zucchini cubed
8 oz container of mushrooms sliced
1 TBL dried basil
1 TSP dried oregano
1 TBL dried parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan
salt to taste
In a hot pan over medium heat add the olive oil, onions, shrooms, zukes, eggplant and peppers and cook stirring regularly. When the onions get translucent than add everything else except the cheese and cook covered (lower the heat a bit) for about 20 minutes. Now add the cheese, taste and adjust seasoning if needed and cook another 5 to 10 minutes. Serve over pasta. This will store in the fridge about a week and freezes well (without the cheese).
What's in the share
Pepper-several green to ripening sweet peppers.
Hot peppers- several jalapenos and cayennes. I have found the jalapenos to not be hot, is that your experience? Please let me know
Eggplant-several black bells and one white. I was hoping to include the other two types but after yesterday's harvest had less than 3 of each. Such is life on the farm.
Garlic-a couple of purple Glazer this week
Tomatoes-around the same amount of large tomatoes you got last week. around 1/3 of the cherry tomatoes you got last week.
Blue Lake Green beans-you will get close to 1.5 pounds this week. The heat and dry conditions have brought out the bugs so these beans are damaged but still very very usable (they just look ugly). This will be the last of the beans for a while. We do have more plantings coming up and hopefully the insect damage will be far less in September/October
Potatoes-you will get either red or white taters. Hopefully next week Eugene will decide to dig up some of the exotics like the fingerlings, German Butter Ball and Blue
Watermelon-a red water melon this week, i don't know what type as we grow 4 different ones. But it should be good
Cantaloupe-another cantaloupe this week, likely the last week for these melons
Raspberries-1 box of sweet berries, like the melons this is likely the last week for raspberries
Arugula-another bag of our arugula
Apples-The first of the fall apples. We believe they are an old apple called Dr. Matthew's (this is what the apple guy at the Oxford farmers Market said they could be). They are sweet/tart and crisp and unlike the vast majority of apples raised with no chemicals (which means they can be less than perfect). You get 8 of them
Posted by Lucy
@ 03:36 AM EST
It's week 19 of our food adventure and the fun never stops. lets just get the bad news over with right from the start, kinda like ripping the Band-aid™ off really fast. The market van lost its' power steering coming back from market last Saturday and needs to be fixed before it can drive again. I am a bit worried about this as it is Wednesday and Eugene has done nothing to address the problem, electing to get well into fall garden prep and planting instead. He thinks it is either the power steering pump or a hose and either one should be an easy fix. And that is the extent of our bad news in a summer full of it.
In good news the weather got pretty darned wonderful the last couple of days, we go almost an inch of rain this past week, the tiller works so Eugene was able to prep something like 30 beds the past few days and got at least 2/3 planted in things like peas, spring mix, lettuce, carrots, turnips, beets, kale, broccoli, scallions, etc.. There are a few things he was going to plant like spinach but the soil is too warm for spinach and it will not germinate. This is a rather big issue with fall planting. We are trying to plant things that love cool/cold conditions when it is still really hot out. And many times germination is poor. I know with late summer planted spinach some farmers will go as far as putting the seeds in the fridge for a couple of days before planting and buying lots of bags of ice to put on the soil right after planting to fool the spinach into thinking it is March or April and forcing germination (which takes less than a nano second to happen and once the process starts there is no going back-the seed will either grow or die.). We will not go that far and will wait until conditions get better for such crops.
Despite the hot and dry conditions things are growing pretty well. Irrigation helps as do improving the soils (a long term project all well managed Organic farms do). We will have beans this week in the shares and I expect to have them for many weeks. The peppers are some of the best we have ever grown,. Usually by now the plants have lost a lot of leaves and the peppers themselves get sun-scald (a whitish patch on the side of the fruit that eventually molds and rots) but this year the plants have good foliage and there is far less sun-scald. But there is insect damage and you may well get peppers with some damage. know that unless they are gooey and brown on the inside they are quite usable. Just cut away the bad spot(s). The zukes are done for the year (unless Eugene puts in a fall crop, which is quite possible). I looked at the last planting and they were alive and had 1 deformed zuke out of 25 plants and few to no flowers. We do have some zukes for sale that if I have enough I may just include in your shares this week as a bonus item (they won't be necessarily pretty but they will be tasty, even the big ones). the summer cucumber plants have succumbed to wilt and age but you will have pickling cukes in your share. this will probably be the last of them for a while. I do know there is a fall crop of some sort of cuke started but they won't be ready until late Sept/October
My bother came for a visit this past week and painted the front porch (the only part of the house not clad in "lovely" vinyl siding) for us. He has been a professional painter for around 25 years (most of it in NYC, now he is in Detroit) and did a beautiful job. It really improves the house and our lives. I got a root canal last week which resulted in no pain in my mouth. This week I got a temporary crown on the tooth and in September I get the permanent crown. It is nice to be able to chew using all my teeth, another big improvement in my life (and Eugene's, as he often got the brunt of the bad juju my mouth would put me in). It would appear as we leave summer and go towards autumn life is looking up for Boulder Belt. We even picked up 2 additional members for September last week
Speaking of Autumn, as you know the FSI finishes at the end of September for the monthly Subscribers and mid October for those who signed up for either the full season of the 3 month subscription. We are planning on doing a fall winter share. This will start in early November (the 3rd) and end the last Wednesday in January (the 26th). We have done this "Winter Share program" for the past two years and how it works is every other week we have pick up. The shares will be around twice the size of the shares you get now (between 12 and 25 items). I believe we will limit this to 15 members (but maybe less depending on how well the fall crops do as well as how many storage crops, such as winter squash, parsnips, onions, garlic, potatoes we harvest-so far it is looking good). Cost will be $350 for the winter share (7 pick-ups) and unlike the spring/summer early fall FSI we do only whole season shares. Official sign up will be in October but but we always give our current FSI members first shot at this as we always sell out and would like to know ASAP if you are interested
Sorry No recipe this week
Okay I am running out of time and need to get harvesting so here is what is in the shares this week
Arugula-a bag of greens
Green Beans-I hope to have enough Haricot verts (French beans, they are thin, delicate and sweet) for everyone. The plants never yield well, even in the best conditions and I need around 6 pounds (8 is better) to cover your shares. So some of you may get Blue lake green beans (fatter, but an excellent bean) in your share. As I know between the two types I will have enough beans for everyone to get at least 3/4 of a pound, if not a whole pound. I like to cook these simply by putting around 2 inches of water in a pan, bringing it to a boil and putting in the beans, covering the pot and simmering them for 13 to 15 minutes. if you like them less done, than cook for less time.
Tomatoes-we are in the heart of mater season and that means you guys will get at least 5 pounds of a mix of maters. Yesterday I put up 17 quarts of tomato juice from all the maters that were either damaged or getting too ripe. it used up around 1.5 bushels. You will not have nearly as many to deal with
Cherry Tomatoes-around 1.5 pounds of a mix of cherry Toms
Eggplant-2 to 3 pounds of a mix of our aubergines
Peppers-2 or 3 green peppers (though there may be a few ripe ones tossed in if I can find enough for everyone)
Cantaloupe-either 1 large or a couple of smaller ones in your share. these need to be used ASAP. I have been freezing melons this week, easy to do. Just cut in half, remove the seeds than cut into wedges, remove the rind than cut into chunks and put on a cookie sheet and pop that into the freezer. When the melon is frozen than pop the chunks into a marked freezer bag and back into the freezer. these make nice ice cubes and are great for smoothies and tropical frozen drinks.
Raspberries-a 1/2 pint of the fall bearing heritage berries which have been super sweet due to the heat and dry conditions.
Garlic-a couple of corms of garlic, likely German white this week
Onion-The last of the sweet onions and maybe a couple of smallish reds this week
basil-another big bag of basil
Cucumbers-5+ picking cukes. these are strange looking because they got water starved and attacked by insects. A few weeks ago we pickled 17 pounds of them using a lacto-fermentation technique that uses no vinegar. I hope to include a few of these in your shares next week when they are more finished and I can figure out how to do this (they need to be in their brine so I guess they will come in plastic bags).
Bonus item-zucchini, if I have enough for everyone. This means if it is in your share I did have enough, if it is not I did not, capeche?
As always the shares will be ready after 4pm today. As there is a mix of things that need to be in the fridge and things that do not you shares will be split. Part of your share will be in the fridge plus there will be a bag of tomatoes and basil sitting on the shelving nearest the fridge. DO NOT FORGET YOUR TOMATOES AND BASIL !!!!
Posted by Lucy
@ 03:30 AM EST
It is week 17 and the beginning of a new month. I hope August is better than July (though so far it has not started all that well-I went to the dentist to get a tooth filled and he drilled a bit too deep and not I need a root canal. this will be my 2nd one). We went to the preble County fair on Sunday to watch the horse races and Eugene won $81 on the last race which was the 17th race. He bet an exacta-1 and 7 (which could be interpreted as 17) and this is the 17th week of the FSI-some how this is all connected.
Things with the farm are busy. As you all know, this is the week of the BIG 127 Yard Sale. We have sold/rented all of our spaces and it looks like we will have an interesting and eclectic array of items for sale. Vendors have been coming in all week setting up and this afternoon/evening will be the big push to get 'r' done as we open for business at 8 am tomorrow morning and if it is anything like the past years we will be busy from that point onward.
In order for us to get things out of sheds we have had to do a lot of partial garlic cleaning. The garlic is hung around the farm in various building to cure and now it is all cured and in the way of the Yard Sale so I have been cutting the stems off the garlic and putting it into bushel baskets until I have time to clean it up. So far I have done this to the German White and today I will get the stalks off of the Chesnok Red/Shvilisi. The other 3 varieties can wait until after the sale as they are not in the way. I also have been dealing with onions. The storage onions-red and yellow are at varying stages. Some are still in the ground, some are curing on racks in the store and barn and some are done curing and at the point of clean up and some are all cleaned up and ready to either store or sell. Generally, with onions, they all get ready within a week or two of each other and all get pulled pretty much at the same time. But this year we had a bed of yellow onions ready for harvest about 5 weeks ago and they were all cured by the time the rest of the yellow and red onions were ready to harvest the past 2 weeks. this if a good thing as the onions got really big this year and if they had all come in at the same time we would not have had enough room on our drying racks for them all and would have had to improvise (which would have meant making hammocks out of chicken wire and snow fencing and putting those up where we park our car in the barn and parking the car outside for a month). Yellow and red onions are very important for our fall winter marketing. These crops store very well and we grow them in order to have income year round. This is why you likely will not see them in your shares unless we do a winter share again and you become members of the winter share program.
But I am not sure if we will do this yet. It all depends on how well the winter squashes do. So far they are doing okay-not the best year but certainly not the worst year. For those of you who have not done the winter share what we do is distribute a double sized share every 2 weeks usually Mid November through January. The shares are mainly storage crops-winter squash, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, onions, garlic, dried herbs, popcorn along with what ever fresh stuff we can grow in hoop houses-lettuce, kale, arugula, tomatoes (yes tomatoes-we usually can get these too work into early December than we pull the green ones when it gets too cold for the tomatoes to survive, get them to ripen indoors and often have maters through the new year), radishes, melons (like the maters we usually have these into early December), etc.. At any rate, you guys will be the first to know about the winter share and get first crack at signing up as we generally have to limit this to 10 or 12 members.
This week is the start of tomato madness. I will try and not overwhelm you all with too many maters but it is hard, as once they start to ripen they do so with a vengeance. Last year there were weeks where members got over 15 pounds a week. If this happens, than I suggest you put them up for winter. The easiest way to do this is to freeze them whole. Just put washed whole maters into a zip lock freezer bag and pop them into your freezer (I assume everyone has a chest or upright freezer-I know I have two in service). You can also make salsa, sauce, juice and can or freeze that as well. Or if you get too many and don't want to process them, just leave them on random people's porches (like zucchini). Another thing on the maters you will not see many red ones. We love to grow the unusual maters so we are big on blacks, yellows, oranges, whites and striped. Do not be afraid of these odd looking maters as they are sooooo much better than the pedestrian reds. the good news is this week will not be an overwhelming week mater wise as they are just beginning to get ripe. No, this week we are getting overwhelmed with melons and you will get several in your share
Welcome to the Boulder Belt late summer garden-it can be mondo-productive and despite our problems this summer it does look like this is the case. I hope all of you take advantage of the bounty and put some up for the off season as that is where the FSI becomes a great food deal.
Your shares will be ready after 4 pm this afternoon and as always will be in the bottom of the fridge in the store with your name on your bag(s) (I suspect with the melons and whatnot there will be two bags for those of you who have not provided reusable bags). If you cannot pick up today we will be around all weekend doing the Yard Sale. Remember that we will take back and reuse all bags, rubber bands, berry boxes, etc that comes in your share.
Several heirloom and cherry tomatoes cut into chunks/slices
1 medium Ailsa Craig Onion
1/2 cup fresh basil chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
Mix all this in a big bowl and top with salt, to taste, olive oil and a good vinegar and toss. You can also cover the veggies with your favorite salad dressing. Feta is really good in this as are croutons made from a good crusty Italian bread. Put the dressed veggies on a bed of arugula and you have one fantastic meal that did not involve heating up the house.
What's in the Share
Cucumbers-4 or 5 pickling cukes. We had so many we started lacto-fermenting 17 pounds (oh my, there is that 17 again. It seems to be the number of the week). i may include a small jar in your shares in 4 weeks or so when the fermentation is done
Gopher melons-a very nice muskmelon. these are supposed to the best there is and I must say they are very good
Templeton melon-the yellow melon you got last week. these should be a lot more ripe
Eggplant-several pounds of black and white aubergines. make baba ganoush or eggplant Parmesan this week
Big Tomatoes- probably 2 pounds of a mix of maters. I have Rose de Bern (pink), Japanese triffle (brownish black and kinda pear shape), Dr Wyches Yellow, Paul Robeson (black beefsteak), Crnkovich (another big pink, like the Rose de bern and rhymes with cranky bitch). You will get some but not all of these varieties in your share
Cherry Tomatoes-AKA the li'l guys. You will get over 1 pound of a mix of sungold (orange) Cherrywine ( dusky rose color-this is our exclusive home bred tomato and thus in our opinion the best of the lot), a red one and Fargo yellow pear. If you have a dehydrator these are really good dried. You don't even need to cut them in half (unless they won't fit in the trays.
Garlic-a couple of uncleaned corms of German White
Ailsa Craig Onion-2 pounds
Potatoes-a couple of pounds of a mix of red and white
Arugula- a bag of spicy greens
Posted by Lucy
@ 03:21 PM EDT
This is the last week we have a full CSA. Next week is in October and we will drop all the month to month people-i.e. if you did not sign up for a 3 month or 6 month stint you are done after this week. We do still have a few slots (like 3) left in our winter CSA if you want to continue with local foods through January. The winter CSA starts Nov 3rd and costs $350. If you are unsure of your status either ask me or wait until next Wednesday. If next Wednesday you do not get an official Boulder Belt Eco-Farm FSI newsletter that means there is no share waiting for you at the farm. This also means that some of you need to take all your extra bags with you today. I will leave the bags that need to leave the farm by that person's share. If you are doing the winter share you bags are fine here.
We got rain but not enough to do much. I know Dayton, just to the east, got well over an inch. We got a scant 1/4 inch. It soaked the soil to an 1.5" depth which is good for germinating seeds and very young and shallow rooted plants but doesn't do much for everything else. The precip prediction for the next month shows no chance of rain. This means we are in a drought and that does not bode well for over winter and next spring. Of course, things can change over the coming months. Who knows, in 4 weeks we could be facing floods.
But if it stays dry this will not be good for us or any of the other farmers around here. We have to plant garlic between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Garlic needs around an inch of rain a week to get established before it freezes and than in spring is needs copious water (though not as much as it got this past spring when we had too much rain) to grow. We have 30 beds filled with new plants for our fall and winter sales and CSA. We will plant more between now and late October. Some things we have directly seeded, other things we start seed indoors and than transplant out the seedlings. Plus we have another 15 to 20 beds of established crops. Many things are on drip irrigation and/or soaker hoses but we still need to hand water 35+ beds pretty much daily and that takes the two of us well over 3 hours a day on that one task. Never mind weeding (fortunately, with the drought there are very, very few weeds), scouting for bugs, harvesting, planting, dealing with row covers on windy days, etc..
I will say on a positive note, I really like to hand water. You feel as if you are dong real good. Day after day I go out and put water on the babies and every day they respond by growing bigger and bigger. On the established crops like the parsley and chard there is not as dramatic an effect but there is a positive effect from getting watered several times a week (not everything gets daily watering). The parsley was pretty much a brown patch because we did not hit it with water through July and the first half of August. But after seeing several plants died and the fact we could not harvest more than 1 or 2 ounces from 100 plants we realized this dry period was worse than we thought so they went into the hand watering cycle and boy did it respond. As did the celeriac, though not as much. But the roots are getting bigger, though not as big as if they were getting 1 inch a week
I think my favorite crop right now is arugula because that stuff will put up with bad conditions. We used to think it was a cool weather plant (and it is) but several years ago we noticed it was volunteering in mid summer and growing well through the heat and dry conditions of summer. So last year we planted a summer bed of it and it did well. We did the same this year and, with virtually no watering, the bed did very well for us (it is still producing almost 3 months later). We planted another bed of it in our worst area (area "D" which are the beds against the north fence line and tree line) It is a bad area because in dry conditions the trees tend to suck up all the water leaving the crops with little to none. If you take a walk around our market garden you can see this phenomena clearly right now. Most beds look like they are half planted but in reality the trees killed the plants in the parts of the beds that look like they have not been planted. Except the arugula which has a full bed (though the half by the trees is smaller as we had issues with getting water that far out for a week or so, meaning Eugene gave up on that half bed but I did not when I noticed, despite a lack of water the arugula was trying to grow so I took several watering cans (the hoses do not reach quite that far) and hit the thirsty germinants with water and, like a chia pet, watched them grow. I believe they will be big enough to harvest by next week (the half of the bed that has been getting water all along has been harvested for 2 weeks).
I do want you all to know I have enjoyed this group of CSA members greatly, you guys have been a great group. Having a good group of CSA members has been rather rare over the 15 or so years I have done this. In past years I have had entire memberships I did not know (that was back when we did delivery to a few drop points), people who left the CSA without informing me (one guy moved out of the USA about mid way through the season, did not tell me and so I made up shares for him for several weeks before another member, who worked with the guy, informed me he would not be coming back, ever), memberships bought for others that were not used (and I no longer will do that sort of thing, even though it is free money for us, unless I am positive the giftee will use the membership). Complaints about things I cannot fix such as low production due to weather, not satisfied with picking up on the farm, shares cost too much for what you get (more and more people seem to think of CSA as a cut rate buying club, it is anything but that, though in a decent season members should get a good value for their money). Not getting the whole locavore idea about seasonal food. Not getting the whole "when you join a CSA you are taking on a lot of risk" factor. Not into the food adventure and welcoming new and odd foods. Not picking up shares after a few months (I call that the health club syndrome as in people join a health club to get in shape/get healthy and than after a few sessions quit going). In other words, in the past I have had members who were not at all suited to be CSA members (not everyone is) but you guys all are. You guys are hip and informed foodies who "get it" and I hope all of you will rejoin next year (and this is something I need to know sooner, rather than later. The reason why is if you come back next year and let me know before Thanksgiving we can take suggestions of what to plant next year. In other words, if there is something you would like us to grow just ask and we will do it (except okra-it does not do well for us plus I am really allergic to the plants and harvesting it makes me break out all over. Okay, there are things other than okra we cannot grow but the list of what we can grow is long). I also will have a good discount on joining for an entire season for those who re-up before the first of the year (but I have not figured out what that discount will be yet, so don't ask).
Okay on that note, shares, as usual, will be ready after 4 pm until 7:00 am Saturday Morning (our farmers market is starting an hour later so we will leave later hence the time change)
On a flaming grill place (we use apple wood but briquettes will work) whole peppers. Cook turning often until the skins are black and the peppers soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Put hot peppers in a paper bag to steam for 15 minutes or so. Remove peppers from the bag and remove burnt skins and seeds. You can wash the skin and seeds away but you get better flavor if you don't. Cut into the size/shape pieces you want. Now the peppers are ready to eat or freeze. You can also do this in a hot (450F) oven but you will not get the wonderful smoky flavor you get on a grill
•To freeze lay out the pieces on a cookie sheet, put in a freezer and when frozen store in a freezer bag. These frozen peppers will add a nice smoky flavor to any dish (better than liquid smoke)
What's In the Share
Despite watering things daily I do not have a good handle as to what will go into your share today. This list may not be inclusive (i.e you may get more than what is listed here). If you are confused as to what certain items are go to the Boulder Belt Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=535873&id=1349783876&ref=notif¬if_t=photo_tagged_by_non_owner#!/album.php?aid=174404&id=368403976315 and look at the photo from this week (which should be posted by this evening). if you are not on facebook and refuse to go there than email me with any questions.
Parsley-a bunch of Italian parsley
Arugula-a 4 to 6 oz bag of arugula for salad
Winter squash-I am not certain what kind, likely delicata and or bon bon
Tomatoes-some how despite diseases and drought doing bad things to the plants they keep on producing, especially the Amish paste. you will get around 1.5 pounds of maters
Peppers-expect 6 to 10 sweet peppers this week. This is so you have enough to roast and freeze (or use)
Garlic-2 corms of garlic
Radishes-another bunch of radishes. like last week a mix of the 3 kinds we grow-Cincinnati market (long, all red), easter Eggs round and either red, purple, white or pink) and D'Avignon (long red and white)
Scallions-this is the last of the summer bed. They are not all that pretty but they are tasty.
Apple-2 pounds of apples
Pears-3 pounds of pears
Whatever else I find-could be greens, herbs, roots-who knows!
Posted by Lucy
@ 08:07 AM EDT
It's been another dry week but we are persevering with our fall plantings. Most mornings for us are spent hauling hoses, watering cans and buckets to the garden, filling up the vessels with water (we have several sizes from 75 gallons on down to 3 gallons) than affixing the watering wand to the hose (all 400 feet of it) and getting to work watering the crops. We use row covers (the white sheets covering most the beds) to, among other things, keep the moisture we add to the soil in the soil. The covers shade the crops and soil as well as keep out drying winds and thus allow the moisture to stay where we want it for up to 12 hours longer than if the crops were exposed to the elements. This is a real good thing but it does mean quite a bit more work for us taking off covers and than once a bed is all watered putting them back on before nature robs us of all the water. Fortunately we are one of the first farms in the entire USA to use row covers so we are old hands at dealing with them and thus quite efficient at it.
We also have a drip irrigation system which is mainly being used on the established crops like peppers, tomatoes, beans, etc.. But the irrigation system and our well are not a great match-we feel if we were to water as much as the crops need we would quickly deplete our well which would set us back at least $7000 (but likely more as all the ground water around here is deep in the ground and most wells are 100'+) not to mention the well pump has a cute habit of shutting off when it is overworked. And since we have a pump designed for a family of 4 that uses perhaps 800 gallons a day and not an irrigation system that can use 4000 gallons a day this happens quite often. Especially if I make the mistake of doing something like laundry or dish washing while the irrigation is turned on. Fortunately it only takes around 45 seconds to fix the pump when it goes out but too often it will be hours before anyone realizes the pump is off (again) and that means some part of the market garden we thought was being watered is not and thus it or another section will suffer.
Another irrigation issue is the garden hoses. It is amazing how many plants one can badly injure from bad hose handling. If one is not paying attention one can easily drag a heavy hose through several beds of young plants. I write this because this is something that plagues anyone who gardens and has to water. yes there are hose guards but they are useless to use as we have so much area to cover and we don't want smallish stake like creatures sticking up all over the market garden waiting to gash someone in the shin (been there done that back in the day when we though hose guards would be a good idea). So I have learned to be extra careful with the hoses, especially when watering what we refer to as "area D" which are the beds at the northern edge of the property and the furthest away from the water font. To water those beds you have to have all 400' (or so) of hose and all that hose can be a hazard (as well as crimp up, usually several hundred feet from where you are). It's easy to stretch it out but harder to walk backwards as it has to be gathered up as you go.
But I would rather deal with the hose than have to do all the watering by hand using watering cans. It takes forever and a day to get things watered with cans. We do use them to feed the crops a kelp/fish mixture we like to drench the plants with about once a week. It keeps the plants healthy as well as repels a lot of bugs and other critters (they don't like the smell-I think it smells like the ocean or the Great Lakes, which I like). But it does take about 4x longer to water a 50' bed using cans simply because they have to be refilled 5 to 6 times and that means walking back and forth to the water tank to refill them. The water tank is a 50 gallon brine tank from a dead water softener that we fill with water a couple of times a day that sits in a central location in the garden.
All this effort is working for us which is great. I look at the growing crops that get bigger with each watering and I am filled with happiness. And it gets even better, some of the crops are ready for harvest and will show up in your shares this week. That is such a great thing considering that, even as of last week, we were not really confident that our fall/winter crops would work due to the bad weather conditions. Now we are sure that things are growing and will continue to grow for a couple of months (maybe longer if the winter stays mild and sunny) and we should be able to harvest various items through January at the very least.
Your shares will be ready, as usual, after 4pm today. Since there should be greens in the shares this week they will be in the fridge and not on the floor.
We are now taking winter share members-$350 gets you a spot. Pick ups start Nov 3rd and are every other week. Share items will be things like potatoes, parsnips, carrots (mainly red, purple and yellow as the orange carrots are not doing all that well), various greens (spring mix, lettuce, kale, broccoli raab, pac choy, chinese cabbage/napa cabbage, arugula, etc..) radishes, garlic, onions, winter squash, catnip, popcorn (though the 2010 crop is pretty much a big failure but we ought to get enough to provide our winter share members with a 1/2 pound or so), beets, pears, apples, tomatoes, turnips, etc..
Late Summer Salad
Arugula/baby beet greens
1 pear, diced
a few tomatoes, diced or sliced
1 ripe pepper sliced
1 or 2 radishes sliced
1 small sweet onion sliced
Optional: strawberries sliced, celery, feta cheese, nuts, shredded beets, carrots, etc..
Wash the greens (and I suggest cutting the beet greens in half, other wise they are a bit difficult to eat), slice and dice the fruits and vegetables and put them all together in a big bowl and add your favorite dressing. I made up this salad last night and it was vert tasty and brimming with health.
What's in the Share
Beet greens/arugula-a pseudo salad mix (actually if it used in the above recipe than not pseudo). You will get a 3/4 pound bag
Sweet Potatoes-this is the best crop we have ever grown (this is not saying much as we have not consistently grown these year to year and thus still have much to learn about this crop). At any rate, they are of good size and very sweet. A lot have scurf on them (dark patches) this looks bad but is not an issue as to edibility. You get a pound
Tomatoes-the plants are still hanging in there and producing a small amount every week
Peppers-4 to 5 sweet bell peppers in a variety of colors
Pears-8 heirloom pears ready to eat
Apples-6 Dr Matthews apples, what you have gotten for the past 3 weeks or so.
Garlic-2 corms of garlic, You get Music this week
Leek-a lincoln leek. These are our early leeks. The winter share members will get a different kind of leek
Radishes-a bunch of a mix of D'Avignon (long, red and white) and Easter Egg (round various solid colors)
Beets-around a pound of 3 grex beets. We did not name the beets, they are a 3 colored beet-i.e. the beets come in 3 colors, not that each beet is 3 colors, though that would be quite beautiful. So you should get some red, some pink and some yellow. But seeing as how the yellow beets population is about 3x greater than the other colors you will likely get mainly yellow beets
Posted by Lucy
@ 08:03 AM EDT
It's week 22 and I sincerely hope we make it another 3 to 5 weeks (the month to month folks stop the end of this month and the 3 mo and full season subscribers get to go through to Oct 13th). But with no rain and irrigation just barely keeping things alive I don't know if we will be able to keep on going through the entire season. Cutting the season short will be a first for us in the 12 or so years we have done a CSA. In the past I have felt like cutting the season short due to burn out on us farmers' part and the members' part but never did. but this is different, we are simply running out of food. Almost everything in the market garden has given up. We are getting maybe 50 pounds of tomatoes, less eggplant, no greens right now (they look terrible, but are alive and will likely come back in full force when/if it rains). The beans are producing but not much and the bugs have pretty much decimated what is being produced in their desperate search for food and water. the raspberries are pretty much done (Eugene still picks them but the berries are really really tiny now and sparse, to boot). The strawberries are slowly producing but even with several hours of drip irrigation daily they are not getting enough water so we get under 5 pints of berries a week (and this is why they do not show up in your shares-not enough for everyone).
So what I am getting at, is the fact that when you signed up for this food adventure you took on some of the risk of farming with us, and for the first time, I believe we may have to test out all you locavores participating. If we cannot make it through the entire season there will be no refunds. We will try our best to go out the entire time and with things like winter squash, onions, apples and perhaps parsnips (if we can get them out of the hard, hard ground) I think we will be able to go out to mid October. But I make no promises. Yeah, it's that bad. It's so bad we are wondering how we will make it through winter and get the bills paid as this is the time of year at the farmers market when we make most of our money for the season and because we have little in the way of crops to sell, our sales are down by about half. We want to do a winter CSA but it looks like we will be short on taters, carrots, greens, winter squash-pretty much everything we need for winter shares-because we will have to use some of our stores for the main season (as we are planning on taking this out all the way if possible). So this is another needed revenue stream that won't be happening, most likely. But we do want to do the winter CSA and if you have expressed an interest know we are still thinking of doing it but really won't know for sure until the beginning of October. After all, Boulder Belt Eco-Farm was one of the first farms in the USA to do a winter CSA 4 years ago and we want to continue onward.
But maybe things will change. All we really need is a couple of good (1 inch) rainfalls in the next 10 days and we will be back in the saddle. There is rain forecasted, including the remnants of a tropical storm (and they are usually good rain producers) in the next week, so maybe we will get lucky. With rain all the seeds planted for the fall and winter will start to thrive instead of merely surviving (and that is with hand watering for hours daily, plus drip irrigation and row cover over top to keep all moisture with the plants and not evaporating away-it's not like we are not trying-we are using every trick in the book and it still is not working well for us. Of course most small farmers in the eastern US are in the same boat. It's been a very, very hard summer for farming)
I do have to start asking at this point will you be doing the Boulder Belt FSI next year? I plan on doing attractive discounts for folks who sign up and pay before Jan. 1st 2011. And for those who are interested in the Winter Share; it will start Nov 3rd and run through Jan 26th (7 pick-ups which will be every other week). Cost is $350 paid in full by Mid October (we will start accepting payments, if we even do this, October 1st).
Okay, all that said, expect the shares to be much smaller starting this week than they have been in the past. You will still get plenty of food but not quite the bounty you have been getting (which may be a relief).
Shares will be ready after 4pm and please don't forget your tomatoes which will be sitting on the shelves by the fridge. Last week about 1/2 of you forgot them.
6 or more apples cored and sliced thinly (you can leave the skins on)
1 cup brown sugar
2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup melted butter
1 TBL (or to taste) Cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBL corn starch (or other thickener such as arrow root)
2 TBL lemon juice (fresh is best but bottled works just fine)
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
In a mixing bowl combine the apples, lemon juice 1/2 cup sugar, corn starch half the salt, raisins and walnuts. In another bowl combine the oats, butter and the rest of the sugar. in a buttered dish dump the apple stuff and top it with the oat stuff. bake in an over preheated to 350 for about 1/2 hour. Take out and let cool 20 minutes and serve.
What's in the Share
Eggplant-around 1 to 2 pounds
Tomatoes-around 1 to 2 pounds
Peppers-4 to 6 peppers. FYI if you leave the partially green peppers out of refrigeration they will ripen up in a few days and be far sweeter.
Garlic-2 heads of garlic. FYI, if you are not using up your garlic it will store well at room temp for many many months. It will store even longer in the fridge (like 9 months)
Winter squash-probably a mix of bon bon (the bluish green squash) and delicata (the yellowish squash)
Apples-6 or 7 apples
Parsley-A small bunch of parsley
Yellow Onions-1 large or a couple smaller onions (around 1/2 pound). These are cooking onions, do not eat them raw unless you have an iron stomach
Posted by Lucy
@ 05:42 PM EDT
It's week 18 and once again it is ungodly hot and humid.
I was out harvesting raspberries last night around dark because I hoped it would be a bit cooler. It was not, it was 90F at 9pm and my shirt was drenched with sweat doing a non strenuous job. This heat is really putting a wrench in our farming works as the crops don't like it above 90 for more than a couple of days. The farmers don't like working in these conditions. My plan until it gets cooler is to get up early and get out at dawn and work a few hours until it gets too hot (around 10 am) than get inside where it is cooler and do inside work the remainder of the day. Eugene can tolerate heat better than me and thus can do more outside work. But even he will get out of it by noon. Fall cannot get here soon enough.
The yard sale was a spectacular success. We doubled our attendance rates over last year with 20,000 (yes, thousand) people stopping by to shop this year. We had people from 33 states and 3 Canadian provinces. We had a great group of vendors and it looks like most will return next year as almost everyone did as well as they imagined in their wildest dreams. We even got on Channel 2 news (well, the sale, not Eugene and I personally). And we got really lucky with the weather. Rain the night before (which we needed very badly) and than less hot and humid during the sale.
The yard sale does make it hard to farm but we managed to get in 4 beds of fall carrots and a bed of rutabagas after we closed down Friday evening. managing a big sale and going through the process of planting seeds are very different things mentally and physically. Dealing with thousands of people is very tiring mentally but not so much physically. Dealing with the farm is tiring physically and not so much mentally and I found it to be a wonderful break to help Eugene with the planting after the people had gone away for the day. When we plant several things must happen. First the beds has to be cleared of weeds (usually by tilling and than hand removal of big clumps), than a seed bed created by raking the soil so it is smooth and even more weed free. Than it can be planted using the Earthway Seeder (a simple contraption that makes planting seed fast and easy with no bending). Finally the seeds are covered with row cover that is secured with rocks. Eugene generally does the raking and seeding (I had a bad horse riding accident at a combined training event when I was 17 that tore up my right rotator cuff and it has never been fixed so I cannot do things like rake for very long without re-injuring it) and I carry rocks and lay out the covers.
Eugene also managed to get most of the onions harvested I (maybe all of them as he was down to the dregs of the onions) and a lot of beds tilled for fall lettuce and other greens, plus radishes. I was able to get 1.5 bushels of 2 kinds of garlic all cleaned up and ready to be segregated into stuff to sell and stuff to keep for planting in October. Just have another 3 0r 4 bushels yet to clean.
Crops coming in right now include the afore mentioned raspberries, about every kind of melon we grow, tomatoes, green peppers (though I'll bet there are a few ripening to red, orange or yellow), hot peppers and eggplant. The cukes are about over as are the zucchini, we have some of each but between the hot humid weather and the bugs they are not long for this world. The good news is we do have young plants of both growing for September/October harvest. We should have French beans by next week for your shares. After months of struggling with beans we have a couple of very nice looking beds and the plants are loaded with tiny beans that should be eating size by next week
As usual, your shares will be ready to pick up after 4 pm and will be near the cooler (but not in the fridge as none of the food in the shares this week depends on staying cold to stay fresh and the basil and maters would be best never refrigerated).
Oh and thanks to everyone who sent me past newsletters because I somehow dumped all mine. You guys are the best!
3 to 4 large tomatoes (a couple of pounds) dice fairly fine-I like a variety of colors
a medium sweet onion diced the same way
1 to 4 jalapenos diced
1 or 2 cloves of garlic either finely grated or pressed
the juice of one lime (incredibly important)
a handful of cilantro, chopped (I am sorry we don't have any of this growing right now-cilantro is hard to grow during tomato season as it hates hot humid dry conditions-nature's cruel joke on us salsa lovers. If we are lucky, we will get some to grow before the maters end for the season)
1 TBL sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss everything together and let sit for at least an hour so the flavors can marry. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve with chips, as a side for burritos/tacos or whatever. Stores about 3 to 5 days in the fridge so best to use ASAP. Berries and cantaloups would also go well in the salsa if you want to talk a walk on the wild side
What's in the share
Cantaloupe- a nice big 'loup, I am not sure what kind you will get.
Watermelon-a fridge sized melon, either yellow or red. All of our watermelons have seeds. If you have kids (or are a kid at heart) have a water melon seed fight
Raspberries-the fall raspberries are coming in about 3 weeks early and I think they are better than the spring (summer actually) berries. These are an heirloom variety called Heritage
Blackberries-some nice domestic blackberries (the ones you have gotten previously were wild)
Big Tomatoes-you will get several pounds this week as we gear up to the part of the season where everyone gets too many maters. The salsa recipe is a great way to use lots of tomatoes quickly. I don't know what kinds you will get today but there will be at least 4 different colors in your share.
Cherry tomatoes over a pound of the sweet and tasty gems
Green peppers-2 or 3 peppers per share
Basil-another big bag of basil this week. Some will have flowers, the flowers are quite edible and tasty
Ailsa Craig Sweet Onions-a pound or so of these wonderful onions
Jalapeno peppers-at least 5, hopefully more
Garlic-2 corms of Persian Star this week
Scallions-a nice bunch of scallions
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:21 AM EDT
It's week 16 and I was really hoping to write a happier newsletter about working tillers, new kittens and better weather but at midnight last night a PC sheriff's deputy hit and killed Betty. I was asleep when he knocked on the door to inform us and than he walked us to her body apologizing profusely. He's a nice guy and I wish we had met under better circumstances (of course, we usually meet the cops out here under bad circumstances involving car wrecks and property damage. At least such things are rare considering the lay of the road). She had gotten out through a hole in the fence (there are several, usually made by cars running into the fence) along with Nate (who is just fine but in deep mourning as he is a very sensitive dog). Betty had become a great happy force in our lives and now she is gone just as she was becoming a great protector of the farm. RIP Girl. Because of all this we have not gotten much sleep so if the shares have missing items you have our apologies ( I don't think this will happen but I know this is going to be a rough day).
Dogs are very important to our operation because without them the deer will eat virtually everything in the garden in just a few nights (as will the rabbits, mice and voles). So instead of going out and spending $20K on deer fencing to surround the property we choose to deal with the problem with dogs. the dogs are on the farm to run off all critters who may do damage to the crops and livestock (chickens) when we have that going on (not this year). They may appear to be pets but in reality they are here for a job. And Betty was shaping up to be a great farm defender and she was not even a year old yet. With all our past dogs it has taken well over a year (in the case of Nate 3 years) for them to learn the ropes of living on Boulder Belt Eco-Farm. So this is a blow in many ways-we lost a dear friend and the garden will suffer from this.
In far better news, Eugene figured out what was wrong with the tiller, ordered the part, put the part on and now it works better than ever. So he spent the evening tilling up beds for fall crops (with Betty following him as she loved tilling). I call them fall crops but they all must be planted in August so getting the tiller repaired was becoming essential. he said it was a simple repair once he got the part. getting the part was not so easy as this is an Italian machine and has an engine that is no longer made so finding parts for it can be a hassle. The place we have been going to for repairs and parts told us they could not get the part for the machine and to call either Boone's in Brookville (where we bought the thing) or Earth Tools in Kentucky. We called both and Boone's wanted $35 more for the part than Earth Tools. We suspect because that is who they would order it from and marked up the part before selling it to us. So we saved some money and the tiller is alive again.
I mentioned a kitten. We have a stray kitten, about 10 weeks old living under the store. Eugene spotted it about 10 days ago and we have been feeding it since than. Neither of us could get close to it but since last Friday I have been working on getting it to accept us and last evening it came right up to me and let me pet it, pick it up and sit in my lap. It's a boy and he has a nasty wound on his right cheek that needs attention but the would looks amazingly good considering he's been living under a building for at least 10 days. So we will be dealing with a new kitten in the house in the very near future and hopefully he will become an A-one mouser/voler. Now he needs a name.
The Market garden is having ups and downs. It looks like the melon crop is going to be smaller than expected as we are getting hit badly with some sort of virus that is taking out whole beds of plants over night. One day the vines are healthy and the next morning they are all wilted. Fortunately this is happening to plants that have melons that are either mature or close enough that they will ripen off the vine so this is not a complete loss. This is the first time this has happened to us in about 10 years. Fortunately the winter squash planted in the same are seem to be doing well. But they could get the same virus and poop out as well which will mean less revenue in the winter season for us. And the way our luck has been running we are now expecting the worse (but the worse likely will not happen). I will say the peppers are looking good and you should start getting green peppers next week. The tomatoes also look good and seem to have avoided blighting out this year. And soon we will be planting more greens and other things for the fall/winter garden
Next week is our big 127 Yard Sale event starting Thursday. If you like to shop come on up and see what our various vendors have to offer. I know we will have the Tie Dye guy back again as well as the Knife Lady. New this year are two different vendors selling antiquey stuff and a guy selling whimsical yard art. The madness starts Thursday at 8am and goes through Sunday afternoon. Also if you plan on picking up your share after Wednesday it will be chaotic and parking will be hard to find (we got over 10K people through last year).
Okay due to circumstances, once again there is no recipe this week. But I would make a salad out of the onions, cukes, basil and tomatoes with a simple vinaigrette. Some chunks of the melon would be really good in such a salad.
What's in the Share
Eggplant-3 kinds Galina, a black eggplant (the biggest of them), Casper, a white eggplant that is second to none and some sort of Asian eggplant who's name escapes me.
Blackberries-you will get at least one box. until last weekend all the blackberries were wild. Those have stopped and now the domestic berries are coming in. these tend to be bigger and sweeter
Chard-you can use this just like spinach in all sorts of dishes like omelets
Templeton Melon-this is an orange honey dew and something we have yet to try as this is the first time we have ever grown them. I would urge you to wait until the weekend to cut into one and eat it as the plants are dying so we have had to harvest them under ripe. But all melons will ripen up just fine off the vine if kept in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. when they begin to smell from the blossom end they are ready to eat.
Ailsa Craig Onions-more wonderful sweet onions, around 2 pounds
Cucumbers-another week of pickling cukes. you will get 4 or so in your share
Tarragon-it's a bit late in the season for tarragon as it is best in spring but the plants look good for late July so i am cutting some for you all.
Scallions-a bunch of very nice scallions
Garlic-2 cloves of garlic, probably German white
Basil-another largish bag of fresh basil. this is very easy to dry
Cherry Tomatoes-yes! the tomatoes are beginning to come in. Next week you will definitely have large pink maters in your share but this week you get what we call the rainbow mix of cherry tomatoes-pink cherrywine, red broad ripple, and fargo yellow pear
Jalapeno peppers-several hot peppers (but the one's I had a week ago were not all that firery)
The shares should be ready after 4pm. Any shares not picked up by 6 am Saturday will be donated to the Choice Food Pantry in Oxford. Know that the door to the store is open 24/7 so you can pick up your share(s) any time. Also know the store is now air conditioned so please shut the door tightly upon entering and leaving
Posted by Lucy
@ 07:16 AM EDT
It's been another busy week at the farm. Lots of weeding to be done, prepping beds for future plantings. We are planting something virtually year round-in winter indoors under lights, in summer generally direct and in spring and fall a combination-this is one of the big differences between market growing and growing a huge home garden market growers rarely stop putting in new crops (or at least the ones that know what they are doing). This allows us to have a wide variety of high quality crops at all times and it is a big hedge against crop failure. If something fails we simply replant and we have had a lot of small failures this spring and summer due to overly wet conditions but you guys should be effected because we just kept on replanting seeds until they worked. The winter squashes and melons were especially hard to get going this season but all are doing their things now except one type of butternut squash which refused to even germinate for several weeks and in the past week finally decided it would put down roots and shoot up leaves. Most everything else would germinate than get too wet in the many deluges we had throughout June and die because their roots rotted away due to lack of oxygen in the soil.
But back to prepping beds, this is hard to do because we do not have a working tiller and must do it using a wheel-hoe. It takes about 10x more time to use the wheel-hoe, which is a human powered tool over using a tiller and the results are not nearly as good. But at least we are not using any petroleum products to get the job done so that is a positive. Farming is hard work perhaps the hardest profession we humans have devised, especially when you do not have a lot of machinery to help you out and human scale farming such as we do uses very little machinery.
The weeds have been growing, well like weeds and are threatening to take over all the mulched beds. We have been spending a part of most days in the past week pulling a lot of purslain and crabgrass from the edges of the beds and now are creating a new compost pile with those dead weeds. The compost will, in 9 to 12 months, feed the soil and thus the circle of life will be complete.
We held a farm tour last evening for the folks at Preble County Citizens for Green Living. A small group showed up and we showed them around the farm and explained how we do what we do. I was hoping some of our FSI members would attend as we feel it is important for our members to visit the farm and see what we are doing as you simply cannot do this with any other type of food buying scheme. try asking at Kroger to see how the food is grown or even at a farmers market. The farm is in constant flux so even if you took a short tour in May you will find that in July things are completely different. We feel that because we, as Americans, have become so complacent about our food and allow the corporations to feed us just about anything (which we will eat as long as it is in a colorful package and is sweet and fatty) that is is our duty to educate as many people as possible not just about the alternatives but also about how food is grown and processed. And I find while these newsletters are a good start not everyone reads them completely and there is no substitution for seeing, feeling, smelling, etc., what's going on on the farm.
I am excited that the summer night shade crops are just about to be harvestable. I see we have eggplant developing on the plants and we should be able to harvest them in a week or two. Same with green peppers and hot peppers. The tomatoes will be ready sometime in August as we time these to coincide with Miami University opening up and a great increase in customer traffic at the Oxford farmers market. Right now that market is experiencing a glut of tomatoes and we have found over the years it is useless to have them ripe in July because they are a poor seller and go too cheap to make all the work and expense involved growing them worth it. And if we had them now because they would not be selling at our other markets you would be receiving around 20 to 30 pounds a week in your shares (this is appealing, maybe, the first time it happens but after that it just becomes awful unless you are really into making juice, salsa and sauce and canning up a lot of jars). And that is why we have no tomatoes and won't for several more weeks. But when we do it will be a celebration of heirloom diversity.
The shares will be ready after 4pm. if you have not supplied us with a reusable bag you will get two bags of food this week. Oh and in two weeks (first week of August) we will be holding a huge 4 day yard sale where we expect around 10,000 people to visit the farm. This starts on Thursday and if you do not pick up your share on Wednesday of that week expect to not to be able to park easily and and a lot of people and controlled chaos. If you are into yardsaling this may be to your advantage as I expect we will have around 15 vendors selling all sorts of things from junque to art to fantastic tie dyed T-shirts (yes Barb, we have the tie dye guy who comes to Oxford on occasion to set up shop) to knives to antiques and who knows what else (it's always a very wide and often surprising selection). All I know is we have more vendors than ever before and more people signing up almost daily. Not to mention, there will be sales from small to huge all up and down US 127 from Michigan to Alabama.
About 1 cup each (though measuring does not matter for this) of
plums (pitted and halved)
any other fruit you may have lying around such as banana, mango, other berries, apples, etc.
1/4 cup dried fruit such as raisin, dates, cranberries. I will p[ut in several different kinds but because they are dried go easy on them
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup walnuts
a dash of cinnamon and cardamom (the ratio here is 3 parts cinnamon to 1 part cardamom)
honey , maple syrup or other sweetener to taste
What's In the Share
Red raspberries-This will be the last week for the Latham raspberries. Looks like in 2 or 3 weeks we will be picking the Heritage red raspberries
Galia Melon-this is a melon that was developed in Israel. It has green flesh and taste a lot like a cantaloup
Chard-your greens for the week. This can be cooked like spinach. it is also wonderful chopped up, sauteed with garlic and onions and added to an omelet. You get 3/4 pounds
Cukes-the last week for the Armenian Cukes. I know I will miss them.
Potatoes-These have not been dug yet but will likely be either red or white.
Basil-another large bag of basil. You can process this with olive oil and a bit of salt and freeze it for winter use. Use an ice cube tray (that will be dedicated to this use unless you like Basilly ice cubes) to freeze the basil paste and than when frozen pop the basil cubes out of the ice cube tray and into a marked plastic bag and back into the freezer. You can do this with pesto as well but leave out the cheese.
Ailsa Craig Onions-you will get either a large onion or 2 smaller onions. these are wonderfully sweet and mild
Rosemary-you will get a few sprigs
Garlic-2 corms of garlic, i do not know what kind as we are not to the point of cleaning and segregating the garlic yet (that should be this week)
Zucchini-a mix of zukes, probably around 2 pounds and smaller squashes than last week
Strawberries-1 pint of Albion berries
Plums-1 pint of plums
Posted by Lucy
@ 07:11 AM EDT
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It's week 15 of our food adventure, where has the time gone? Things on the farm are mixed. On the good side of things we are getting rain but not too much rain. Most of the storms have missed us. The rain gets about 3 miles away and evaporates than reforms to the east. We have gotten a couple of short frog stranglers that has left behind about an inch of rain over the past week and that is about perfect. The crops are growing well enough and there seems to be low bug and disease pressure. Oh and we now have air conditioning in the store so the front door will be shut and needs to stay that way. the AC will keep the fridges from working so hard and will mean when the tomatoes start to come in (I expect there will be cherry tomatoes in your shares next week) they need to be stored between 65 and 75 degrees for best flavor. In this heat the store was getting into the high 90's and that is way too hot for most things, including us humans working in the store. Now it is comfortable-cool and dry. Do is the house as we put in an old AC unit that we got for free somewhere a few years ago (but we think we will have to replace it soon, like next week. with a new AC unit as they are so much better in about every way-efficiency, colder, more bells and whistles, etc..). For most of my life I have rejected living with AC but this summer has turned me into a believer. It is so nice to have a cool and dry environment in this hot soup we call the great out doors.
On the bad side of things it is hot and humid, both Eugene and I are injured. I threw my back out at the farmers market last Saturday and it is still bothering me but I can at least move and work (it is best that I do move and work as that loosens it up). Eugene put a potato fork through his index finger on his left hand on Monday and has to try and keep the wound clean and dry (about impossible to do around here) He went to a doctor yesterday as the wound looked really nasty Monday night and was still bleeding after 12 hours. Now he has antibiotics and a relatively clean bill of health and no infection and no stitches as it is a puncture would. None of this should effect your shares in the coming weeks as we are pretty used to working all banged up. You have to be hard core to do this job, market farming is not for sissies.
The other not so great thing is the tiller is still not working but we have found a place that carries the parts for the engine on the machine (it is no longer made and Italian) just south of us in central Kentucky (they are also on 127). We knew about this place but figured it was too far away from us to use but in an act of desperation Eugene called them to see if they had the part he thinks he needs and they did, in stock and they ship (cheaply). So sometime this week we should have some sort of starter coil or whatever the part is. Hopefully it is the correct part. If not than the tiller will still not work and Eugene will order another part and possibly in the near future the entire engine will have been rebuilt. And in the mean time he will prep the fall beds by hand (which we really want to avoid as we are heading into the period where over 100 beds need to be prepped for fall winter and doing this by hand is out of the question. Finding a BCS tiller that is as large as what we use to rent seems out of the question as well). This crisis is making us seriously consider buying a tractor but that will set us back about $15K, which we cannot easily afford. But a tractor would mean an easier job for us aging farmers and being able to produce more food on our farm. stay tuned for updates on the tractor tiller issue...
Please remember to provide a reusable bag, if you have not already to pack your food into and please return all bags, rubber bands, the plastic covering on the berry boxes and anything else we use to pack your food so we can reduce our carbon footprint a bit
No recipe this week
What's in the Share
Arugula-the arugula is back, I hope for a while but with this hot weather it may decide to bolt and due to equipment issues and wet soils no more has been planted yet so we probably will have a gap. So enjoy it while you can
Ailsa Craig Onions-more sweet onions, probably twice what you got last week
Cucumbers- we are now picking a new variety of cucumbers, pickling cukes. these are one of the better cukes for fresh eating because of their think skins, which is also why they are perfect for pickling. You get 2 or 3 cukes
Beets-a nice bunch of chioggia beets
Scallions- a bunch of scallions
Chard-a big bunch of chard (over 1/2 pound)
Basil-another hearty bag of basil
Garlic scapes-This should be the last of them
Garlic-2 corms of garlic
Eggplant-one big black Galina eggplant and one skinny dark purple Asian eggplant
Zucchini- a couple pounds of a mix of the 3 kinds we grow-Patty Pan, Costata Romanesque and Zephyr
Potatoes-a mix of red and white
Bonus Item-White Peaches that the apple guy, Scott Downing gave us last saturday after market. These need to be eaten ASAP and will have soft spots, but they are the best peaches I have had in years AND THEY ARE FREE! If you want more, come to the Oxford Market this Saturday and buy some from the Downing's
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:26 AM EDT