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