Boulder Belt Eco-Farm

  (Eaton, Ohio)
We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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Boulder Belt FSI vol 3 issue 11

It's week 11. We are quickly getting to the half way point of the season. My, time flies when you are having fun, don't it?

The market garden is doing well. Most things are growing fast and in a good manner. Last night we were able to get the entire garden area mowed. Mowing is very important for keeping pest and disease at bay. Even though the lawn plants do not get into the beds (much) when they get tall they provide refuge for all kinds of pest insects plus other pests like voles and mice. not to mention they cut down on light and air being able to pass through the crops when they get tall (and we had quite a few areas with 3' tall grass) so we get almost the same response from the bed of crops as if they were choked with weeds, they don't like it and tend to stay small and weak. Fortunately, it takes far less time to mow down tall grass than it does getting grass and other unwanted plants out of a bed. And now we have a well mown 3+ acre market garden that looks nice and is much much easier to get around and work in.

Happy Summer. At 1:16 pm yesterday we went from spring to summer and that means profound changes to a lot of crops that have been hanging out. The onions and garlic will experience the greatest changes as they are probably the most photo period sensitive crops we have right now (or at least the most sensitive to the long days). Now that we have hit our longest days and will soon we will see later sunrises and earlier sunsets the onions have gone into huge production and will triple to quadruple in size in the next 3 weeks or so. I have been growing these things for almost 20 years and this phenomena still amazes me and one of the reason onions and garlic are my favorite crops (yes I play favorites amongst my  produce children, but I do love them all).

Summer means a shift in produce. Say good bye to asparagus (which had a long run this year surprisingly, what with the bad weather and all). I started harvesting that April 7th and will finish this week sometime (we still can get about 2 pounds a day, not enough to fill shares but enough make it worth searching through the 5' high fronds for useable spears). You guys got it for 10 weeks which I think is a record of some kind. But we now are getting into summer crops such as zukes and cukes. Soon there will be green and wax beans (I spotted flowers on several beds of beans and that means in about 2 weeks they should be ready to harvest), potatoes, cherry tomatoes from our earliest hoop house maters. The main crop will not be producing until late August as they just went in the ground 2 weeks ago. I will say they are growing like weeds and look great.

The new crop of everbearing strawberries is loaded with flowers and developing fruit and should be ready for you guys in about 1 to 2 weeks. but more exciting is the fact that Eugene spotted the first ripe red raspberries yesterday while mowing. That means we will start harvesting the raspberries tomorrow or Friday. Usually the raspberries spend their first week of harvest producing barely enough for us to get a a taste much less enough to fill an entire 1/2 pint container in one picking. but after the first slow week they will start to come in hot and heavy and one of us will get to spend 4+ hours daily for the next 4 to 6 weeks harvesting nothing but raspberries. it's an exciting thing that quickly devolves into raspberry Hell. It is usually my own personal Hell as they usually start ripening in Early June when we still have lots of crops to get in the ground which is what Eugene does while I harvest fruit. but this year they are late and the crops are in for the most part so it looks like we can tag team this job which will make it far easier on all of us and perhaps it will not be so Hellish this season (actually it should not be as we did take out 100' of these raspberries earlier this year as they were getting diseased and dying).

If you have time take a walk around the garden. To get to it just go between the store and the barn and through the red gate and to your right and you will be at the edge of the garden. if either or both of us are in the garden gives us a yell and we will likely give you a short tour.

Earlier in the season we asked you guys for help with the garden and we had one taker so far (Thanks Mullins!) but we are now withdrawing that offer as it has come to our attention that the federal bureau of labor has been snooping around other local CSA farms and telling those farmers to stop using members for help unless they are paid, have workers comp coverage and taxes are taken out of their paycheck. They also say absolutely no kids under 16 are to be working on a farm in any capacity. So until I can figure out a system that will allow us to have you guys out to help in the garden without upsetting state and federal officials I cannot ask you guys to help weed, or whatever. But let me be clear, we have not been visited by these folks, yet and they may never show up but I would rather be safe than sorry. It's getting bad when we need a lawyer in order to legally be able to have people come to our farm to help dig weeds for no pay.

The shares will be ready after 4 pm. Due to increased membership not all the shares will fit in the front fridge so I put all the shares I know will be picked up on Friday in the back silver fridge. If you normally pick up on Friday but decide to pick up today and cannot find your food look in the big silver fridge for your bag. Any shares not picked up by 6 am Saturday morning will go to the Oxford Choice Food Pantry unless you let me know you will be picking up sometime Saturday.


Cuke Salad

2 to 4 cucumbers cut in half lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 small red onions (later you can use Ailsa Craig onions when they start to come in, do not use the yellow onions unless you like hot onions raw)
Salad dressing-the rosemary vinaigrette is wonderful with this
Shredded basil leaves to taste

In a bowl combine everything but the basil and let sit for an hour or more. Add the basil right before serving (if you add it sooner it will become a black mess). you can also add peas, radishes, scapes, lettuce, feta, croutons or anything else you like in a salad

What's in the Share

Zucchini-should be over a pound of a mix of zephyr and cocozell
Cucumbers-you will get at least 3 Armenian cukes
Lettuce-a half pound bag of lettuce
Scapes 1/2 pound of scapes
Radish or peas-you will either get a big bunch of d'Avignon radishes or some snow peas
Basil-an increasing amount of basil over the past few weeks. as the plants get bigger you will get more and more. Later in the season I will give instructions on ow to dry and freeze it as well as how to make pesto. If you follow the instructions you will have basil things to use this winter and will be on your way to year round food freedom
Cilantro-a small bag of cilantro.
Onions-a bunch of red and yellow onions with their greens still attached. the yellow are for cooking the red for raw eating. these onions are from our sets and are not the amazing onions we are growing from seed which are doing their incredible growth thing right now. these onions come in 6 weeks earlier and are done growing
Kale-a half pound of a mix of kale, probably russian red and dinosaur but there may be some winterbor and rainbow in there as well.
Chard/Raab-we do not have enough of either for all of you so some will get chard and some will get raab this week. if you have a preference let me know ASAP (like before noon today)
Garlic-this is the first harvest of garlic. It is green (and probably the smallest of the year as we need to get the small plant out first so we do not lose them later). Green garlic is the best! But do know that the wrappers around each clove are thick and white and thus appear to not be there (but they are, believe me). I find the flavor of fresh garlic to be much brighter and crisper than the cures stuff. you will get fresh garlic for the next 3 to 4 weeks as we dig it out of the ground and before all of it is cured.


Bouler belt FSI vol 3 issue 8


It is now week 8 of our food and farming adventure and things are changing around the farm. First off, the weather has gone from cold and wet to hot, humid and rainless (but our soils are still quite wet to down right muddy in some areas). The heat is hard for me to work in (I have had heat stroke before) but Eugene can work in the heat and has been busy getting the beds for tomatoes tilled as well as planting things like melons, more spring mix, winter squash, popcorn, cucumbers, zucchinis, beets, bok choy, potatoes, carrots, radishes, beets, etc.. The heat is also hard on the plants. the cool weather things like lettuce and spinach will not tolerate high heat for more than 3 to 4 days. the asparagus (which I thought loves 90 degree heat) does not like this at all and the yields have gone way down. But the summer crops like peppers, eggplant, basil, melons, etc., love this weather.

Second, we are finally seeing a change in the crops. there will be several things making an appearance in your shares for the first time such as Broccoli Raab (this, I believe is the 3rd planting and as they same the 3rd time's the charm), green onions (these are true onions that would have made a bulb had I left them in the ground and not scallions which you have gotten in your shares a couple of times this spring)basil-there won't be much as the plants are still tiny and are growing out of some problem that caused their leaves to turn brown (I suspect herbicide drift), garlic scapes, which are the flower stalks that appear on hard necked garlic and also signal that in 2 to 3 weeks we will all be eating fresh garlic. We have small heads of broccoli, finally and I believe there will be enough zucchini for everyone to get a small zuke in their share this week.

This week, other than planting and harvesting, we have been concentrating on weeding. The rains of April and May have meant that we have not been able to get much weeding in. It's been too wet to hoe and in our clay based soils if you work with them while wet you get a concrete like substance that sticks around for several years. This is what we sustainable farming types called ruining the tilth of the soil and this is to be avoided if at all possible. The chemical gardening types will tell you that any weed in the garden is a bad thing. The reality is most crops like some weed pressure (but that sort of thinking does not sell a lot of herbicide) as weeds will add nutrients to the soil that the crops need as well as protect the soil from the ravages of sun, wind and rain. That said, we cannot let the weeds run rampant and there are some such as bindweed, garlic mustard and poison ivy we do want to see in the garden beds at all so we have an arsenal of tools we use to control the weeds that include landscape fabric mulch, the wheel hoe, stirrup hoes, trowels and hands and our goal is not to eradicate all the weeds (an impossible task) but to keep them to a small enough population that they do not over whelm the crops (make the crops small and hard to find). Weeds also give beneficial critters a place to hide and food to eat (like pollan). And a lot of the plants we call weeds are very edible and some of the healthiest plants out there.  I just may start including some "weeds" in your shares in the coming weeks like lambsquarter and purslane.

The heat has meant we have turned on the air conditioning in the store so keep the door closed. We have found that cooling the store means we use far less energy as a cool store means the refrigeration doesn't need to run as often and it is a lot easier on the units. It is also a lot easier on us humans who have to work in the that building. And it keeps things dry so we get a lot less spoilage with things that do not get refrigerated. This time of year that would be our seed stocks but later garlic, onions, tomatoes and several other things will need cool (not cold) dry storage.

On that note the shares will be ready after 4 pm (if you come before you can always hang out and talk to me as I finish them up, I like the company)

We still have an open invitation for anyone who wants to come out and have some fun getting dirty in the garden. Looks like Steph Mullins and her kids will be out this week to help out. I look forward to getting to know her and her family (well, most of it) and having some fun working in the garden. We always enjoy working with our members.


Roasted Garlic Scapes

1 package of scapes
Olive Oil
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 to 400. Put clean whole scapes into a roasting pan (or a pan that can be covered with foil). Drizzle the olive oil over top and salt to taste. Cover pan and put in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. this is done when the room fills with the aroma of roasted garlic

What's in the Share

Strawberries-a pint of yummy chemical free berries. sadly this will be the last week of them for a few weeks as they plants are about ready to take a break but they will be back in 3 to 6 weeks with more deelish berries
Spring Mix-a 1/2 pound bag of salad
Broccoli-a few smallish heads of broccoli, perhaps 1/2 pound
Green onion-these are from onions we started from sets (most we start from seed but we also grow and save our own onion sets for early onions). A lot are trying to make flowers which means the onion bulb will be compromised so we are pulling them as green onions. The entire plant can (and should) be used. You will get a bunch of 4 or 5 onions
Kale-a mix of red Russian, rainbow/dinosaur and winterbor kale. One could call the a kale salad
Basil-the first basil of the year-there will be more, much more to come
Cilantro-after almost 9 months of no cilantro at all it is coming up all over the farm. I have found nice stands in onion beds, spinach beds, garlic beds, etc..
Zucchini-When I pollinated the zukes yesterday I saw we had just enough to give everyone a single squash. these are on the small side and a taste of things to come. You will either get the yellow and green Zephyr or the heirloom, green and grey striped Costata Romanesque
Asparagus-one of the last weeks for asparagus. I believe you will get around a pound of purple and green spears.
Broccoli raab-if you have not had this before it tastes nothing like broccoli and much more like a turnip green. Cook as you would kale or chard
Garlic Scapes-The flower tops from our hard necked garlic and the first taste of garlic for the year.
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