Boulder Belt Eco-Farm

  (Eaton, Ohio)
We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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Boulder Belt Eco-Farm FSI vol 3 issue 6



Good morning,

It is raining again and this is not good. The forecast is for warm sunny days ahead, I hope this time we get more than 3 or 4 and that the days do not turn to Hot sunny days as they did last week. Going from cold to hot to cold is really hard on the crops and the farmers. And no, we do not like it when the temps go above 75F in May, or ever really. Working in temps that reach the high 80's is not fun for us Boulder Belt farmers and I really do not understand why most Americans seem to think that 85F is a nice temp (unless you are in AC all day or by a body of water). Not to mention that such high temps this time of year can ruin lettuce, spinach (though the earlier flooding pretty much did that in-we have plants and they are green but they are also stunted) and other leafy greens who react to such heat but bolting to seed and often getting very bitter.

The weather is putting us way behind schedule. We have all sorts of seedlings that need to go into the soil but it has been too wet to do much tilling and way to cold for most of the things that need to go out (peppers and eggplant) we have gotten more broccoli planted (and it looks like you will get broccoli either next week or the week after) as well as more peas and the first beans (green, French and yellow wax). And I am happy to report all the beans have germinated and should be ready to pick in another 50 to 60 days. hopefully this week we can get the first potatoes in the ground. The beds have been tilled and trenches opened so all we need to do now is chit the taters and put 'em in the trenches and rake soil over top of the spuds.
Eugene plants bean seed

I was hoping that by now we would be harvesting broccoli raab but it looks like it has failed. We have plants but they are 3 inches tall and making flower tops. they should be 2 feet tall with big leaves before they make the flowers heads. I may just harvest it and put it in your shares today as it is edible and tasty but not doing what it should do and it needs to come out of the bed. I am very disappointed about this as I really love Raab and I know some of you do too. This is part and parcel of farming during the most difficult spring we have experienced in our 17 years of doing this (and we have had some really bad springs but so far this one tops them all).

I am happy with the things we have in hoop Houses. The strawberries are producing decently (if it were sunny and warm they would triple their production and get very sweet but we take what we can get), the tomatoes are beginning to make flowers which means cherry tomatoes probably by mid June and the zucchinis and cucumber plants are growing well and should start producing in the next couple of weeks. Without the hoop houses we would have not straw berries and the cukes, zukes and maters would be at least a week away from going in the ground. So you can see we have a 4 to 6 week jump on these crops.

The cold weather has meant that asparagus production has pretty much shut down until the sun and warmth return (asparagus reacts to weather more quickly than any other plant I can think of). So the past few days we have been able to harvest up to two pounds a day. Before this cold wet weather we were harvesting up to 15 pounds 2x a day.

The cold weather also means we are not seeing a lot of pest insect pressure which makes things a bit easier, though we are not seeing many beneficial insects either and not seeing the bugs makes me worry about the birds who eat bugs and right now are trying to raise babies. I have seen a lot of dead chicks likely tossed from nests by the parents, probably because there is not enough food to feed them.

Last week I implied that I would changed this newsletter-that it would be in full html and have  photos and everything. That has not happened yet. I have been screwing around with some designs but have not found or designed anything suitable to my style so I will stick with this "format" for the time being and simply add some photos.

The shares will be ready after 4 pm and will be in the front fridge as usual. And remember this is whole shares only this week, no half shares picking up.

Spring Salad #1

This a favorite at our farm

1/2 bag spring mix
at least 8 strawberries
Several radishes
2 to 3 scallions
Several spears of asparagus (as many as you want)

Wash and spin dry the spring mix. Cut the strawberries in half or quarters if they are huge. Wash and slice the radishes. Wash and slice the scallions. Wash and cut the asparagus into 1" pieces than blanch for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender crisp, drain and cool. Put the clean greens into a big bowl and top with all the other veggies.

What's in the Share this Week
Strawberries-a pint of berries
Spring Mix-a 6 oz bag (or maybe larger) of salad that should include arugula (the arugula in the spring mix bed we have been harvesting has not been growing well but should finally be big enough to cut today)
Lettuce-around a pound of mixed heads of lettuce
Asparagus-around a pound of a mix of green and purple spears
Chives with flowers
Garlic chives
Greens-this will either be a mix of kale and tine broccoli raabs or I will make bags of raab and bags of kale and randomly put them in bags. there is some chance that the kale grew enough since last Friday that I can get enough for everyone and there may well be enough raab to get everyone at least 1/2 pound
-probably the last week. We are down to the dregs-the smallest of the leeks
Rhubarb-again I do not know if I have enough for everyone to have a nice bunch. The plants have not been harvested in over 10 days and have been fertilized so I hope they have started growing better
Green Garlic-I spied several garlic plants that are growing where they ought not to be so we will pull them and you should get at least 3 of them, maybe more. All parts of this are usable.
Herbs-I should be able to find 2 to 3 different herbs for your shares, likely rosemary, tarragon and savory but possibly dill and/or cilantro


Boulder belt Farm Share Initiative Vol 3 issue 5


It's week 5, we have all full and half share members getting shares, the strawberries are ripening and it is the 48th anniversary of my birth today.

The weather has gotten a lot better and that has brightened our moods and also is making us feel a bit overwhelmed because all the rain put us back several weeks and we have a huge pile of work we are beginning to get through. over 100 beds need to have compost and fertilizer put on them, than tilled and than planted. we have several thousand seedlings that need to go in the ground. Lots of seeds to plant. Lots of weeding/hoeing to do for the already planted crops and of course harvesting stuff. Already we have to harvest asparagus and strawberries daily and soon enough there will be other drops that will need daily harvest. Oh and we now have a weekly farmers market and the store is open daily.  This year we are doing a self service thing so at least we don't have to drop what we are doing in order to wait on the occasional customer, which is working out okay, though we have had a few produce items leave without being paid for and several people have paid under the posted price. At least no one has walked out with the money yet.

And did I mention all the mowing that has to be done so the varmints cannot use the tall grass/weeds to hide out in and than launch attacks on the crops? We have spent hours mowing. Eugene also has spent hours trying to get a 1973 Sears garden tractor up and running so that he will spend less time mowing. Despite the fact the garden tractor doesn't run (but it will with a few more repairs and a new battery) it does have a lawn sweeper that does work and we hooked it up to the John Deer riding mower and in one hour did around 6 hours of raking and dumping of lawn clipping which was pretty darned sweet.

Question: would anyone have a problem if I started sending out this newsletter in html? In other words, is there anyone still on dial-up? I will assume html is okay for all of you if I do not hear from you. I want to start including photographs, links and possibly video in this newsletter but I won't if that means a member has to wait an hour for the newsletter to download.

So, last week I wrote of sharing risk and the possibility of losing many crops due to too much rain. Since than we have gotten no rain and the soils have dried up nicely and the crops are doing A LOT better. We also got a ton of McGeary fertilizer, an organic plant based pelleted fertilizer that does good things to the soil and thus the crops. And we have started spreading it on beds as of Monday. I put it down on 20+ beds after Eugene put compost on the beds and before he tilled them to get them ready for crops. We used this stuff last year for the first time and it did dramatic things. We were damning our selves earlier in the year because we did not order any in March and get it down early. But if we had, the rain would have washed it all away and we would have wasted $900 and a lot of hours. Now we hope that the rain has not stopped altogether. As anyone who has lived in SW Ohio for more than a few years knows, we do get droughts that will last for months and months in the summer. But if this happens we can always irrigate as our well is full so we have plenty of water. Long story short, the risk factor we share with one another has dropped substantially for the moment.

So far we have planted the following in the ground-onions, leeks, shallots (and we still have many many more to go of each kind but we are running out of room and time), 5 beds of lettuce (we do succession plantings so we get a loong harvest, hopefully into mid June, if it doesn't get too hot and the lettuce turns very bitter), spinach (doing poorly due to too much rain and now we get heat so this probably will not work for us), beets, radishes, carrots, broccoli raab (2 plantings, neither one is doing great), spring mix 3 platings and counting), arugula (3 planting but the first 2 failed. We will plant more, probably today or tomorrow), cilantro (several plantings and like the arugula, the first few did not work but we are seeing some now). We have a hoop house full of zucchini and cucumbers and will start more in a few days to be planted outside in early June. we have around 1000 pepper, eggplant and tomato plants slated to be transplanted memorial day weekend. If anyone wants to help out we would be very grateful and will send you home with extras. we have several beds of kale planted but they are not quite ready yet. we also have a bed of cabbage and a bed of broccoli. the cabbage looks kinda poor but the broccoli looks great. we have a couple of beds of parsnips we planted before the rains came that look great and are week free (not surprising as parsnips love marshy areas and most of the weeds do not). we should have great parsnips come this fall and winter with this great start for them. and finally we have several beds of peas (snow, snap and shelling). It looks like we need to plant more beds as a lot of our peas were washed away or rotted in the wet. But we do seem to have enough to supply you, our members and perhaps have enough for the store and/or farmers market. Look for them in about 30 days. We still need to get several hundred pounds of potatoes in the ground as well as melons, winter squash, more zukes, cukes, basil, dill, turnips/rutabagas, green and dried beans plus more successions of things we have already mentioned.

Farming keeps a body busy, that's for sure.

Be sure to wash everything-we do give everything a single wash more to get the heat out of the produce than to remove dirt and bugs so things are not ready to eat washed and will have some dirt on them.

Shares will be ready after 4 pm today and until 6 am Saturday Morning (unless you tell me to leave your share at the farm on Saturday) and will be in the front fridge. You will notice we have things for sale. If you need extras simply take what you need, and pay the box on the counter.

Now that the weather has cleared I encourage all of you to make time to walk the farm when you come by to pick up your share. The farm gets prettier by the second this time of year.

Remember to bring back any bags, boxes, rubber bands, plastic etc that comes in your shares.


Asparagus Omelet

2 to 3 asparagus spears cut into 1/2 in pieces
1 small onion (about 1/4 cup chopped)
2 to 3 mushrooms sliced
3 eggs
1/4 cup of grated cheese (swiss or cheddar are very nice)
turn on your broiler and put the oven rack as high as it will go

In a sauté pan fry up the veggies in a bit of butter or oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Put them to the side and scramble 3 eggs well. In a very hot omelet pan put in butter/oil than the scrambled eggs and stirring constantly with a spatula cook the eggs about 1/2 of the way (they should be pretty runny). Put the pan under the broiler for 20 to 30 seconds, remove and add the veggies and top with cheese and put the pan back under the broiler for another 30 to 60 seconds (until cheese is melted and bubbly). Remove and flip the omelet out of the pan so it folds in half. Et Voila you have a restaurant style omelet. A far easier way to do this is instead of using the broiler preheat the oven to 300 and add the veggies to the eggs when they are about half way done, continue cooking on the stove top for about another minute than top with cheese and put into the oven for 10 minutes to finish. The omelet will not be nearly as fluffy or pretty but just as edible.

What's in the Share This Week

you get a pint of fresh berries. these will not be as sweet as they should be because they developed under cloudy cool conditions. so add a bit of sweetener to them if you don't like a berry on the sour side. I will say they are loaded with flavor
Asparagus-the asparagus is finally producing as it should this time of year and you  get 1.5 pounds of a mix of purple and green 'gus. If you have not noticed, the purple is far more tender than the green. It is our favorite
Scallions-a bunch of 5 or 6 scallions
Chives with flowers-a smallish bunch as I will be cutting the new bed of chives for the first time and the clumps have not filled out as they will in a few months. the flowers are edible, though I find them rather hot and very oniony. You can stuff a small jar full of washed flowers and cover them with white vinegar, let this sit for a week out of direct sunlight and you will have an onion vinegar that is a perky pink color
Parsley- a small bag of parsley
Radish-a bunch of D'Avignon
Lettuce-I think 4 heads per share of a mix of green and red salad bowl (what you have been getting for the past several weeks). After this week we switch to another bed that has a different compliment of lettuce varieties (there are over 1000 different lettuces out there and we grow around 25 of them)
Leeks-2 leeks and this should be the last week for them
Garlic chives-a nice bunch of the garlic chives
Rosemary-several springs of this wonderful herb from the rosemary plants living on the porch of the store
Spring Mix-at least 6 ounces of our salad mix

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