We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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Greetings FSI members,
It's week 5 of this food adventure and in the past 7 days we have been through 2 frost warnings and several thunder storms and high winds. Spring was replaced by winter (or late fall) for a couple of days, which was a real negative for the farmers market and the asparagus patch. No, the cold doesn't kill it but it does mean the asparagus will not produce for several days and that is what happened over the weekend-very little asparagus to be had. But the up side for all you asparagus lovers is once it gets warm and there is rain it comes back making up for lost time, which it did yesterday (and I supposed today, tomorrow and on and on...)
The other crops are doing well as well. This is because for the first time at this farm (we were at another, rented, farm for 13 years about 15 miles NW of where we are today) we did soil testing and than bought fertilizer (they make certified organic fertilizers and that is what we used) and have been putting that on all the beds and it has made a huge difference in quality and yields. For years we thought that adding compost, crop rotation and doing green manures/cover crops was enough. All these things have done much to improve certain aspects of our soil and we have seen a slow improvement in crop quality and yield (but glacially slow improvements). So this year we decided to try this 10-10-10 fertilizer and all I can say is Wow! It is better than compost and we can fertilize around 25 beds with this stuff in the same time we can fertilize around 5 beds with compost. Now all that said we still make and use compost as well as grow green manures because they feed the soil in ways granulated fertilizers cannot. But we can see now that McGeary Organic fertilizers will be an important part of our fertility program in the future.
We have a request-we still have openings in the farm Share Initiative and one of the best ways to get more members is for our members to talk to their friends and colleagues about us. Frankly, we have far fewer FSI members that we would like (we have 5 members/member groups right now, last year we had 12 at this point in the season) and because we are not made of money (farming is not the best way to get rich as most of us farmers are anything but) we cannot afford much paid advertising (and in the past, when we have gone this route all we have done is wasted money). So we are asking you to talk us up among the people you know.
I should have brought this up earlier in the season. We at Boulder Belt are all about sustainability and one aspect of that is reusing the packaging we send home with you in your shares. We want back all bags, rubber bands and boxes (when the raspberries and strawberries come in you be getting boxes in your share). We also will take all clean plastic and paper shopping bags. But we really don't want soiled bags as we put your (and other people's) food in these. We DO NOT want boxes and rubber bands from food other than ours. But if it came from us we want it back and ALL clean plastic and paper shopping bags no matter where they came from. Oh yeah, if you have not yet supplied us with reusable cloth/plasticky bags drop 2 to 4 of them off when you pick up your share today (or you can give them to us at the Saturday farmers market in Oxford). The bigger the bags the better. I can see that soon (perhaps today) I will have to start using two bags for the shares (I should have done last week as it was a tight squeeze to get everything in one bag).
Betty Update-her E-collar came off this morning and she does not seem interested in ripping out her stitches (which we will remove Friday morning) she is full of piss and vinegar. I believe the ordeal is finally over for all of us and soon the farm will be able to go back to normal. This event has meant that for the most part both of us could not work at the same time. That leaving Betty for more than 2 hours was always a bad idea (except between noon and 3pm when she takes her long nap). When we came home from the farmers market Saturday she had torn up a rather large piece of the carpet in the guest room along with putting holes in a few select items of clothing and some catalogs were ripped up. All because the dog had to stay indoors and she was lonely and frustrated. We understand but it has not been fun for any of us, especially her. Now we just need to find another Vet as the one that did this to her does not deserve our business.
The Pot Luck dinner /farm tour will be May 23rd at 6pm. bring a dish to share and something to eat from
Oh yeah, we have, in our freezer, whole pasture raised chicken that we raised last summer. We have too many to eat and need to sell some. If you are interested the birds cost $25 for 4 to 5 pounds of the most sublime chicken you will ever eat. they are professionally processed and shrink wrapped and look just like a bird you would buy at the grocery but that is where the comparison stops. If you want one today be sure to find me or Eugene when you stop for your food and we will get you one (or more). I believe we have around 15 to sell.
See you after 4pm today and before 6am Saturday morning. The food will be in the fridge in the store as per usual.
1/2 LB asparagus trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 LB mushrooms slices.
1/2 pound spinach, washed and chopped
1 or more cloves of garlic
any other veggies
Olive oil or butter
1 loaf of a good French bread (I get mine at the Oxford Farmers Market) sliced, brushed with olive oil and baked on a cookie sheet at 350F for 15 minutes or until it is crunchy enough for you.
In a large saute pan heat the oil/butter than add all the veggies except the spinach. Stir occasionally to keep them from burning and cook about 5 minutes. than add the spinach and cook another 5 minutes. the bread should be baking while the veggies are cooking so that when the veggies are done the bread is done. Put bread slices on a plate and cover with the asparagus bruschetta and eat. Yummy
this recipe was invented Saturday afternoon after the farmers market when faced with a lot of left over asparagus and some spinach. kale, sweet peppers, peas, broccoli, radishes and many other vegetables would also be good in this quick and versatile dish.
What's in the Share
Lettuce-at least 1/2 pound (likely more) of a mix of heirloom lettuces
Spinach-1/2 pound this has been very very good
Asparagus-a couple of pounds of green and purple
Arugula-1/4 LB bag
Leeks-a bundle of tiny leeks which are the last of last year's leeks that we finally dug up freeing up 2 beds for tomatoes later on this month
Rhubarb- 1/2 pound
Thyme-a bunch of thyme
Radishes-A big bunch of a mix of Easter egg (round) and D'Avignon radishes
Chives-these now have flowers which you can make a simple vinegar from simply by snipping them off the stalk and cramming in a small jar and covering with white vinegar. 3 days later you will have a pink oniony vinegar that is wonderful to make dressing with.
Kale-3/4 pound; This week you should see a new kale called rainbow kale (you have been getting White Russian) This is a brand new kale for us so we have no comment on the quality of this. But it sounded so cool in the catalog so we are now trying it. You should get a mix of purple, green and white leaves (really the veins within the leaves)
Posted by Lucy
@ 04:14 PM EDT
Greenings and Saladations,
Here we are at week 4 for most of you and week one for some. For us this has been a trying week. If you are a faceBook friend or read my blog than you know we have been dealing with a very sick puppy due to a botched spaying job. We took Betty in April 26 to be spayed. We got her back that evening and things went down hill from there. Sunday we shelled out almost $900 to an emergency vet clinic in Dayton to fix her stitches that had all popped and allowed her guts to start to protrude-that was a lot of fun, let me tell you (few things more "uplifting" than being around people and their pets in crisis. I don't think I could handle work at the Veterinary ER for long-way too much death and way too little hope). But she is now well on her way to health. The sutures look good, she is getting energy back and hopefully she will be well in a week and can go back to being a farm dog and do her job of protecting the crops.
But because of all this we have not been able to do nearly as much on the farm as we should because someone has had to stay with Betty pretty much all the time so she doesn't get scared and lonely and than react by tearing apart the living room and her stitches. Now that she is getting better we are able to do more and more while leaving her alone in the house. I call this Betty Jail. And this is where I have been since Sunday while Eugene goes out and plays in the dirt all day.
Other than Betty monopolizing our hearts and minds we do have a farm and it has been getting rain this week. Over the weekend we got 3", which we needed badly. The crops and weeds have responded in kind by growing a lot. Eugene has been harvesting 30+ pounds of asparagus daily since Saturday (so expect a bounty in your share this week), the radishes and greens look fabulous. The share this week and likely next as well, will be heavy on greens as that, other than asparagus and radishes, is what we have growing. I realize for some this can get boring but remember leafy greens are some of the healthiest things we can eat a d the vast majority of Americans do not get nearly enough of such in their diet. I would estimate that around 90% are lacking in leafy greens as most Americans eat only iceberg lettuce as their greens intake and that leafy "green" is worthless in oh so many ways. I find greens give me a lot of energy in a way no other food does. I have been especially high on the broccoli raab-boy, that stuff makes me feel good.
Your shares will be available after 4pm. If you cannot get them today they will remain in the fridge in the store until Saturday morning at 7am and you can get them any time between now and than
Broccoli Raab with sausage
1 bag (1/2 LB) broccoli Raab, washed and chopped
2 cooked Italian sausages, cut into slices
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
drizzle of Sesame oil
1TSP olive oil or Butter
Salt to taste
In a hot pan heat the fat than add the onions and cook until they turn translucent (about 3 minutes) stirring often. Than add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the greens and sausage and cook 10 minutes on medium heat covered. Right before serving drizzle with sesame oil and toss.
Due to circumstances of the past week I do not know exactly what there is to harvest so this list may change a bit by this afternoon
Asparagus-2 pounds of green and purple in your share
Lettuce-a big bag 3/4 pound of mixed heads
Baby lettuce-1/2 pound bag. This is the lettuce component of the salad mix
Spring Mix-1 6 oz bag
Kale-a big bunch of White Russian kale
Fresh Tarragon-a nice bunch of tarragon
Fresh basil-a small amount of fresh basil, just a taste this week but soon we will have lots and lots.
Chives-this week they have flowers which are quite edible but very oniony
Spinach-the first cutting of the spring spinach.
Broccoli Raab-1/2 pound of raab
Mizuna-one of the greens in the spring mix only this is full sized. We love to cook/grill veggies like asparagus and put them on top of a bed of mizuna, top with a nice vinaigrette dressing and eat.
Posted by Lucy
@ 04:07 PM EDT
Welcome to week 3 of the FSI. This morning we wake up to temps in the mid to low 30's and that means probable frost. The good news is we expect such things to happen until Memorial day so we do not plant things too early and lose them. Yeah, I know the official last frost date is May 15th for this part of the world and I believe for Butler county and southward it really is. But here in northern Preble county we have been hit with light frosts as late as May 29th. the first time that happened to us we were I believe 3 years into market farming, didn't know much and it was a warm spring early and so we put out all the tomatoes and peppers and other heat loving crops in early May and felt pretty darned proud of ourselves for getting the garden in a timely fashion. Than it started getting cold and by Memorial Day weekend the low temps were going below 32F. Tomatoes and peppers will not tolerate such temp unprotected so we spent hours running around the 1 acre market garden (1/5 the size we work today) trying to protect the plants in the ground. And we did succeed in saving most by piling straw over top of each plant (and there were probably 400+ plants to protect. We did not know about using row covers or other techniques for protecting tender crops against cold back than so it was a real potential disaster. In the end, though as I mentioned most the plants were saved but later on we got bad yields because we found chilled pepper plants will pout all season and produce very little and chilled tomatoes will get hit with late blights and other diseases. So now we transplant these crops on or after Memorial day and while our crops come in a few weeks later than everyone else's they are generally in really good shape and productive and from a marketing standpoint we can sell the later tomatoes much more easily than early tomatoes as our main market is in Oxford, OH home to my Alma Mater, Miami, U (and where I was born and raised, as well) because the faculty and students coming back to school do not have home gardens full of tomatoes-in other words if we grow maters to harvest in July and early August we hit a big glut of them and it is very hard to sell them so most tend to go to the food pantry or the FSI members (and this means up to 35 pounds a week, literally. Which I think we all can agree is way too much for most people-I will warn you all if you are in the FSI this summer and fall you will get a lot of tomatoes, like 12 to 15 pounds a week unless we have a bad tomato year, which can and does happen (last year we had a pretty good mater year but most of the eastern US was hit bad by late blight which decreases the yield by around 75% and what you get is not the best quality).
Okay, we do have one crop we are harvesting that these cold mornings does effect and it is really hard to protect. That would be the asparagus. It gets frost damaged pretty easily so what we do is first cut all the tall spears and than cover all the remaining spears with little tents of straw. Most of the time we get very little damage by taking the extra hour to do this work. If the temps go below 28F all bets are off on the emerging spears but the crowns (aka the roots) will be okay and after going dormant for 18 to 48 hours will resume production again. if it goes below 20F while the asparagus is producing than we are looking at major damage to the crowns themselves and probably losing entire plants. this is a very bad thing as it takes 2 to 3 years to get asparagus established. the good news is it almost never gets so cold around here in the spring and if it did I suppose we would have to go buy 20 bales of straw and get them on the asparagus beds to keep the ground insulated and warm.
Cold weather is something we are good at dealing with, far better than most farmers as a matter of fact. We were watching TV news last night and they had a piece on the cold effecting crops and interviewed Monin's Fruit farm because they have tender crops that could get nuked by frost. they are now using row covers on their strawberries (after losing them completely 2 of the past 5 years) but mentioned the green beans they are growing will likely get killed or badly damaged by frost. Both Eugene and I laughed at the guy because we too are growing early green beans but we have row cover over them to protect them from frost (and ironically I believe we just took the row covers off of our strawberries because they were getting leggy and diseased, but since they are not in flower yet (and won't be for another 6 weeks because when you establish ever bearing strawberries you have to remove all flowers for the first 8 weeks) the cold will not bother them at all.
As FSI members, know that our knowledge and skill using season extension techniques is a big hedge against the risk we are all sharing and every year we get better and better at it.
Remember pick-up is after 4pm today. Usually I am all done harvesting, cleaning and packing shares by 2pm but today I suspect I will have to wait until 9am to start harvest (I usually start around 7am) so I may be working past 4pm to get things ready.
The shares are in the fridge to the right of the door.
Pot luck this Sunday after 4pm. Several of you have NOT RSVP'ed yet. Please to today, thanks. It only takes a few seconds to do so.
This week's recipe is not really a recipe but rather how to deal with kale
You will get kale in your share this week (and likely most weeks through the season). Kale is delicious and very nutritious but a food most of us are not too familiar with or if we are, have only had badly grown kale (the kale from Wal-Mart is inedible for the most part-bitter and gritty. This is true of most industrially farmed kale).
So here is what you do with kale
First wash it than lay a leaf on a cutting board. You will notice a thick central vein, take a paring knife and cut it out, leaving the majority of the leaf and all the smaller veins behind. You cam eat this vein and the reason it is removed is it takes longer to cook than the rest of the leaf. If you want to use this part chop into pieces and toss into the cook water or saute pan about 4 minutes before the leaves are cooked. Now you know how to prep kale. Cooking kale is easy. The most basic thing to do is cook for 5 to 7 minutes in 1" of boiling water. It also is good sauteed in butter or olive oil with some onion and garlic. It also makes a nice omelette-sauté up some kale with onion and other vegetables. When done put aside and than make scrambled eggs. when the eggs are 2/3 done dump the veggies on top and top with cheese and put in a 200F oven for 5+ minutes (until the cheese is melted) and it is ready to eat.
What's in the Share
Lettuce- around a pound of lettuce
Kale-at least 1/2 pound of White russian kale. We grow 4 to 5 different kinds and you see different kales in your share over the season
Radishes-another big bunch of D'avignon radishes
Spring Mix-1/2 pound of salad mix. Remember to wash this and all of our greens.
Arugula-this is a peppery sweet salad green that is also great on pizza (top with arugula after cooking). You will get a 1/4 pound bag
Popcorn-this will be some of the best popcorn you will ever eat. It is an heirloom popcorn that pops up white
Rhubarb-I have no idea how much you will get in your share. I hope 1/2 pound but I have not looked at the rhubarb in several days so I don't really know how much is out there. You may get more than a 1/2 pound or perhaps less (but I seriously doubt that)
Cilantro-you will get a generous baggie of cilantro from our over wintered and volunteers that have sprung up all over the garden. Cilantro has become a weed around here but a harvestable weed
Asparagus-I believe you will get 2 pounds this week, 1/2 green, 1/2 purple (no matter how cold it got you would have gotten you asparagus as it was cut yesterday before the cold)
Garlic Chives-AKA chines chives. Like onion chives but with a garlic flavor.
I may toss a few other items into the shares, I won't know until I finish harvesting
PS as I finish this newsletter the temp is hovering around freezing and frost is forming on the barn roof but we will be A-OK.
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 04:01 PM EDT