We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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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