We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
[ Member listing ]
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
It's week 18 and once again it is ungodly hot and humid.
I was out harvesting raspberries last night around dark because I hoped it would be a bit cooler. It was not, it was 90F at 9pm and my shirt was drenched with sweat doing a non strenuous job. This heat is really putting a wrench in our farming works as the crops don't like it above 90 for more than a couple of days. The farmers don't like working in these conditions. My plan until it gets cooler is to get up early and get out at dawn and work a few hours until it gets too hot (around 10 am) than get inside where it is cooler and do inside work the remainder of the day. Eugene can tolerate heat better than me and thus can do more outside work. But even he will get out of it by noon. Fall cannot get here soon enough.
The yard sale was a spectacular success. We doubled our attendance rates over last year with 20,000 (yes, thousand) people stopping by to shop this year. We had people from 33 states and 3 Canadian provinces. We had a great group of vendors and it looks like most will return next year as almost everyone did as well as they imagined in their wildest dreams. We even got on Channel 2 news (well, the sale, not Eugene and I personally). And we got really lucky with the weather. Rain the night before (which we needed very badly) and than less hot and humid during the sale.
The yard sale does make it hard to farm but we managed to get in 4 beds of fall carrots and a bed of rutabagas after we closed down Friday evening. managing a big sale and going through the process of planting seeds are very different things mentally and physically. Dealing with thousands of people is very tiring mentally but not so much physically. Dealing with the farm is tiring physically and not so much mentally and I found it to be a wonderful break to help Eugene with the planting after the people had gone away for the day. When we plant several things must happen. First the beds has to be cleared of weeds (usually by tilling and than hand removal of big clumps), than a seed bed created by raking the soil so it is smooth and even more weed free. Than it can be planted using the Earthway Seeder (a simple contraption that makes planting seed fast and easy with no bending). Finally the seeds are covered with row cover that is secured with rocks. Eugene generally does the raking and seeding (I had a bad horse riding accident at a combined training event when I was 17 that tore up my right rotator cuff and it has never been fixed so I cannot do things like rake for very long without re-injuring it) and I carry rocks and lay out the covers.
Eugene also managed to get most of the onions harvested I (maybe all of them as he was down to the dregs of the onions) and a lot of beds tilled for fall lettuce and other greens, plus radishes. I was able to get 1.5 bushels of 2 kinds of garlic all cleaned up and ready to be segregated into stuff to sell and stuff to keep for planting in October. Just have another 3 0r 4 bushels yet to clean.
Crops coming in right now include the afore mentioned raspberries, about every kind of melon we grow, tomatoes, green peppers (though I'll bet there are a few ripening to red, orange or yellow), hot peppers and eggplant. The cukes are about over as are the zucchini, we have some of each but between the hot humid weather and the bugs they are not long for this world. The good news is we do have young plants of both growing for September/October harvest. We should have French beans by next week for your shares. After months of struggling with beans we have a couple of very nice looking beds and the plants are loaded with tiny beans that should be eating size by next week
As usual, your shares will be ready to pick up after 4 pm and will be near the cooler (but not in the fridge as none of the food in the shares this week depends on staying cold to stay fresh and the basil and maters would be best never refrigerated).
Oh and thanks to everyone who sent me past newsletters because I somehow dumped all mine. You guys are the best!
3 to 4 large tomatoes (a couple of pounds) dice fairly fine-I like a variety of colors
a medium sweet onion diced the same way
1 to 4 jalapenos diced
1 or 2 cloves of garlic either finely grated or pressed
the juice of one lime (incredibly important)
a handful of cilantro, chopped (I am sorry we don't have any of this growing right now-cilantro is hard to grow during tomato season as it hates hot humid dry conditions-nature's cruel joke on us salsa lovers. If we are lucky, we will get some to grow before the maters end for the season)
1 TBL sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss everything together and let sit for at least an hour so the flavors can marry. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve with chips, as a side for burritos/tacos or whatever. Stores about 3 to 5 days in the fridge so best to use ASAP. Berries and cantaloups would also go well in the salsa if you want to talk a walk on the wild side
What's in the share
Cantaloupe- a nice big 'loup, I am not sure what kind you will get.
Watermelon-a fridge sized melon, either yellow or red. All of our watermelons have seeds. If you have kids (or are a kid at heart) have a water melon seed fight
Raspberries-the fall raspberries are coming in about 3 weeks early and I think they are better than the spring (summer actually) berries. These are an heirloom variety called Heritage
Blackberries-some nice domestic blackberries (the ones you have gotten previously were wild)
Big Tomatoes-you will get several pounds this week as we gear up to the part of the season where everyone gets too many maters. The salsa recipe is a great way to use lots of tomatoes quickly. I don't know what kinds you will get today but there will be at least 4 different colors in your share.
Cherry tomatoes over a pound of the sweet and tasty gems
Green peppers-2 or 3 peppers per share
Basil-another big bag of basil this week. Some will have flowers, the flowers are quite edible and tasty
Ailsa Craig Sweet Onions-a pound or so of these wonderful onions
Jalapeno peppers-at least 5, hopefully more
Garlic-2 corms of Persian Star this week
Scallions-a nice bunch of scallions
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:21 AM EDT
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
Well it's been a much better week. The herbicided plants have, for the most part recovered. I think we will lose some snow peas but not an entire bed and since snow peas tend to over produce this may be a good thing, meaning you won't in a few weeks start getting up to 5 pounds a week of the things in your share. The tiller works again. It had a nasty air filter which needed to be replaced. This is not an easy thing to do as they quit making parts for the engine on our tiller about 10 years ago. But Eugene found a Fram auto filter that was the same thickness at Auto Zone and with scissors and duct tape fashioned a new filter for the tiller for under $4 (I have a feeling the correct filter would run around $30 + shipping as BCS parts tend to be expensive because they are Italian). The tiller being fixed meant yesterday the last 10 potato beds were tilled and trenched this can be done by hand but it takes about 5x more time and is grueling. And frankly, what we do is grueling enough with the aid of some power equipment.
The other good thing is, crop wise, we are steaming into summer. This means a greater and greater variety of crops in your share from here on out. This week we add scallions, two kinds of green beans (these are early, normally beans come in at the end of June), Sugar Snap peas and some of you will get the first of the cukes (if you find kale in your share than don't expect cucumbers-the patch has only produce 4 or 5. By next week there should be plenty for all). These are Alpha Biet cucumbers (AKA Armenian) and a very nice sweet cucumber. First time we have grown them. Later on we will have 3 or 4 other varieties of cukes. Gone for the year are asparagus, lettuce (okay this might reappear if the late bed we planted actually works but if it gets hot again I don't think it will do much)
The bad thing is all this rain. We are beginning to have problems with crops in the badly drained areas (fortunately, most of the top field drains very well). We have lost 1/2 bed of arugula. The good thing is arugula in this kind of weather grows abundantly so a half bed should be more than enough for the FSI, store and farmers market. Still the wet part of that bed was sad, no arugula, no weeds, no nothing. The good thing is it made hoeing it out fairly easy yesterday. We are also losing some early potatoes (but the bulk are doing fantastic) and I see some kale is getting sick, all in the northern most beds. Oh well, soon enough we will probably be in dry conditions. I hope so, as we can always irrigate to keep crops going but when we get too much rain we can do little for crops rotting from being too wet much less be able to hoe or open new ground because you should never ever work wet soil (when dry, it resembles chunks of cement).
Okay, the shares will be ready after 4pm today and will be in the front fridge as usual. Since I felt last week's shares were a bit light expect more this week. If you wish to walk around the farm (yeah, right, in the rain) feel free to do so. Simply walk between the barn and the store and go through the gate on the right (be sure to close after you go in or the dogs could get out on the highway. The dogs are very friendly BTW).
Oven Roasted Green Beans
Pre-heat your oven to 450°F
1 pound green beans, stem ends snapped off
1 tablespoon olive oil
Table salt and ground black pepper
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread beans on baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and use hands to toss green beans to coat the evenly with the oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss to coat. Distribute in one even layer. Roast 10 minutes.
Remove baking sheet and redistributed beans. Put back in oven and continue baking 10-12 minutes until the beans are dark golden brown in spots and have started to shrivel.
Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
What's in the Share
Sugar Snap Peas-1 pound
Cukes (or kale)-either 1 cuke or 1/2 pound kale
Zucchini-about 1/2 pound of Zephyr zucchini
Radishes-a bag of easter egg or French breakfast radishes
Scallions-a bunch of scallions
Cilantro-a 1/4 pound bag of cilantro. This is good with mexican dishes and is really good with Macaroni and cheese
Red Turnips-1 pound
Garlic scapes-1/2 pound
Haricot Verts (French Green beans)-1 pound. These are the skinny beans. Cook no more than 10 minutes, if steaming.
Black Valentine beans-1 pound. These are the fatter beans. Steam for 14 minutes
Posted by Lucy
@ 09:24 PM EDT
It's been a strange memorial day weekend as we were without phone service from Saturday evening until yesterday after noon because someone took out the pole across the street that we were connected to. I found out Centurylink is closed on 3 day weekends and if you have a problem you deal with it yourself. No we don't have cell phones here at Boulder Belt. Nor does Eaton have pay phones any longer, thanks to kids using them to call 911 as a prank. I thought being incommunicado would be great and I find not so much.
Than the tiller quit working, likely because it is 17 years old and the carburetor needs an overhaul (though it may be something else. The good news there is we have gotten pretty much all the tilling done and can do whatever else needs to be done with hand tools or the other tiller (which has always had some issues with running but we got it very very cheap at an auction). At some point in the next week or so I suspect we will put the thing into the van and take it up to Arcanum where they have a guy who works on Italian tillers such as ours. Unless, of course, Eugene can figure out what is wrong and fix it on his own.
On top of that a lot of the market garden was herbicided by unknowns over the weekend and we have lost a planting of green beans, peas are effected (but were far enough along that they will be producing by next week, but this will likely shorten their production time) as were raspberries (leaf damage but the berries that are developing look great). Fortunately the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant had not yet been transplanted and were either under shade cloth or glass so were not effected. The damage goes almost to our house and the guy next door sprayed on a low wind day with winds out of the SW so I do not think he is the source. It may be an inversion or it may be we got hit with a flyover by mistake. The good news is most everything that was killed (that would be the beans) has already been replanted and so while we lost a few hundred feet of crops, all that will happen in the long run is the harvest time will be pushed back 10 days (unless this happens again-than I will have to suspect something malicious is going on, as herbicide season should be just about over around here until late July). And this is one of the reason we use a lot of row cover-it keeps the chemicals off the crops. Unfortunately not all the crops will tolerate the covers and beans are one of those crops, which is why they got exposed.
Now, you may be asking about just how organic are these crops I am eating-as organic as possible growing in conventional farming country. Honestly pretty much everything around here (including us and certainly the water we drink unless well filtered) is exposed to farm chemicals. So we organic growers mitigate the damage by growing great soil (soil is the soul of organics, not the avoidance of chemical pesticides, though in order to get great soil you cannot use chemical pesticides and that is why they are avoided like the plague) and keeping things covered up as much as possible.
Oh and Betty has developed a liking for the watering roses on the ends of the watering cans. This morning she ate one and another is missing. Now that she is feeling better she is Hell on wheels.
So not the greatest of weeks here. But it is not all doom and gloom, most things are doing well, we have a volunteer coming out 2 times a week to help us keep things keeping on, we are no where near having failures and we are getting into a bunch of new crops. But as you can see farming is not all fun and sunshine, it's a risky business full of a lot hard work and dealing with a lot of things we have no control over.
So, speaking of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, we are just about done with transplanting over 800 seedlings into the market garden. I have been impressed with our speed-we can do around 100 seedlings in an hour working together. I think by later this morning all will be in the ground as Eugene is finishing up the last 3 flats (approx 150 plants) of tomatoes. We have also been busy planting water melons, various winter squash (we are doing something like 8 different kinds), melons (cantaloup, galia, charentais and a few others), cucumbers, zucchinis, beans and a few other things that are not coming to mind right now) I would say we are close to being done with the summer planting season. We are not done with planting, though as we will be starting the fall/winter planting season around early July and that will continue until early November. The fun never stops here at Boulder Belt
Reminder, if you have not yet dropped off 4+ largish tote bags for your shares do so or we will continue to pack them in plastic bags. Also we will take back all bags, rubber bands, boxes and anything else our stuff is packed in. We do not want such things from other places, we just want our stuff back. The exception to this is plastic shopping bags-you have a pile of Kroger/Wal-Mart/Jungle Jim's/Meijer bags? We will take them as long as they are clean (we have gotten bags with used litter and rotten food and when that happens we have to throw out the entire lot as we cannot put other people's food into them and have to assume the entire lot is contaminated)
The shares, as always, will be ready after 4pm and in the fridge in the front. I suspect like the past 4+ weeks there will be two bags per share unless you have provided us with a really big bag, than just one. Look for bags with your name on them, they will all be marked.
Roasted Garlic Scapes
1 bag (or more) of scapes
Get a pan that has a cover or you can cover with aluminum foil. Put the whole scapes into the pan, drizzle the oil over top and salt to taste. Cover and put into a 350F preheated oven and roast for about 20 to 30 minutes. When they are tender and smell like roasted garlic they are done. You can also do this on the grill only pack them into aluminum foil with the oil and salt and put on the grill for about 15 to 20 minutes.
What's in the Share
Asparagus-1 pound of mainly green. This is likely the last week for asparagus as the stalks are beginning to get tough even before they start to open.
Broccoli-new this week! Finally the broccoli is ready to harvest, or at least the first planting (we have at least two more younger stands). Fresh well grow broccoli is a delight.
Kale-a big bunch of Rainbow kale this week
Green beans-We started these in a hoop house so they are about 4 weeks earlier than normal. That's the good news. The bad news is there are not many and this stand has been infected by rust and may not be harvestable after this week-we will see. But there will be more and more beans over the summer so if this stand bites the dust, it's okay. you will notice that some beans look rusty and/or are misshapened-that's the rust at work. These beans are the heirloom, Black Valentine
Red beets-another early crop from a hoop house, like the beans we usually don't start harvesting these until late June/early July. Unlike the beans these have nothing wrong with them. these still have their greens which are sweet and yummy and this is where all the nutrients are as well-the greens have around 1000x times more vitamins and minerals than the beet root. Cook them as you would spinach or eat them raw.
Zucchini-you will get 2 or 3 small zephyr zucchini. we love to grow unique zukes instead of the flavorless dark green (referred to as black in the business) so we do several heirlooms and this wonderful hybrid. these are small enough to eat raw but grilling them is also a good choice. I suspect by next week you will get more in your share as the plants are loaded with tiny zukes.
Spinach-another week of spinach. Like the asparagus, I suspect this will be the last of the spinach until late fall/early winter. This is a plant that hates heat and dry conditions and thus hates Ohio summers
Posted by Lucy
@ 09:19 PM EDT
It's FSI day again (unless you are picking up later in the week, than the day you pick up your shares will be FSI day for you) and I have a lot of harvesting to do today for you guys and the store which is pretty much out of stock. We have a subtle shift is seasons going on. Because it has gotten hot all the lettuce has decided to get bitter and bolt (meaning it is making flowers and seed and not edible). The spinach is about 14 hours from doing the same thing (though it does not get bitter it just turns into stem and few leaves). So I need to get out and do some harvesting sooner than later this morning as the greens need to come in before the heat hits which is around 9 am. And all the other crops do much better if harvested when it is cool rather than when it is hot and sunny. The gist of this is for the first time you will not see head lettuce in your shares (and while I am listing baby lettuce for this week that, too may be too bitter to use as well). Also we are beginning to see the first of the early summer things like turnips. In the next few weeks you will get peas of all kinds, zucchinis, Armenian cucumbers (These are suppose to be the long skinny cukes they shrink wrap and sell for $4 each), broccoli, red raspberries, haricot verts and regular green beans (I believe these will be ready next week as I already see beans on the plants), red beets (we also grow chioggia and golden) and onions.
I am pretty excited because we are eating the same stuff you are getting in your shares and frankly I am getting pretty bored with asparagus themed meals. I think we have eaten a pound of asparagus a day for the past 5 or so weeks. If it is true that asparagus is a cleansing food than we ought to as clean as a whistle by now. There are good aspects to having too much asparagus 1) we are making decent money selling it b) I have enough to do some great recipe experimentation and have come up with several good ones. iii) I have had more than enough to put up for winter by both freezing and fermenting (pickling with no vinegar-this is supposed to make the healthiest food we can eat. Last Friday I started 5 pounds of asparagus fermenting and as of last night it got quite lively. In another 2 to 8 weeks it ought to be all done and than I will put it into jars and start another batch of something. I don't really have any idea what I am doing with this but I have a book! Wild fermentation by Sandor Katz, a man with AIDS who claims fermented foods have kept him alive and healthy for the past 25 years he has been living with HIV/AIDS. Now, I am not a complete stranger to fermenting foods as I make my own bread and Eugene makes beer and wine. I guess this is the next step. And you too, can do this sort of thing if you get too much of something in your share and you don't want to throw it out/compost it (which okay to do, never feel guilty about not being able to use everything in a share as there will be times when for one reason or another will happen).
Okay I will make this short because I must get out and start harvesting
No recipe this week
What's in the share
Asparagus-expect 2 to 3 pounds this week as we have a lot harvested and a lot more coming in all the time
Red Turnips with greens-these are salad turnips and can be eaten raw or you can boil them and mash them, use in soups and stews, etc..
Baby lettuce - If I find this is bitter I will not include it in your share.
Kale-a pound of rainbow and white russian kale
Basil-there should be more than enough for everyone to get a nice sized bag, perhaps enough for a nice batch of pesto
Parsley-Italian flat leaf parsley, one of my favorite herbs ever
Garlic scapes-These are the long skinny things that some people think look like green beans. these are wonderful roasted-350 oven put the scapes into a pan that can be covered, drizzle some oil over top and salt to taste. Cover and put in the over for 20 to 30 minutes. these will taste like roasted garlic and they look really weird.
Red Giant Mustard-this is sweet and hot like chinese mustard (I suspect the seeds re used for just this purpose). This is good in a stir fry or steamed
The shares will be ready after 4pm today and will be in the fridge as usual. I suspect like past weeks each share will be two bags. I am pretty surprised that we have so much food so early, usually April and May are pretty thin on food selection and amounts but we have had a good growing season thus far.
Posted by Lucy
@ 09:06 PM EDT
It's Farm share day once again-week 6 by my reckoning. It's been a wet and cool week. We did get a nice couple of days at the end of last week which made for a nice farmers market (the first two had bad weather. the first had pouring rain and the second high winds and cold). But the nice weather was fleeting. the good news is the cool weather crops such as lettuce, arugula, spinach, etc., love this weather so they are all of high quality and as long as we don't get a stretch of more than 2 days of 80 degree weather will continue to do well. the bad news is all the crops that like it warmer are not all that happy and growing slowly. Asparagus is one of those crops. Late last week we were harvesting twice a day and this week due to many days of cool damp weather we are harvesting about every 36 hours and the yields are going down. But a day of warm weather will put the asparagus into overdrive again, for another 2 or 3 weeks.
Barb Mackey asked me a good question last week when she picked up her share-what is coming up in the near future? The answer is broccoli in 2 weeks. snow peas, sugar snap peas and shelling peas in 3 weeks. Garlic scapes, the flower tops from our hard necked garlic which will be a new food for most of you, will be harvested next week. If you like garlic you will love these. We also have red salad turnips about ready to go (next week), two kinds of green beans flowering in a hoop house, red beets (also in a hoop house) that should be ready in 2 weeks. Armenian cucumbers and zucchini should be ready in 3 weeks-the zukes have flowers, the cukes do not yet so my guess is the zukes will be harvestable a week before the cukes. Red raspberries will be ready in 3 to 4 weeks. Cabbage in 3 to 4 weeks.
We have not gotten the peppers, eggplant and tomatoes in the ground yet and are getting a bit worried about the weather preventing us from doing this job in a timely manner. if it clears up next week as predicted we will be fine, if not we will be forced to work with wet soil which we want to avoid as doing so is very bad for the soil and leaves long term damage. What we need to do with this job is put down landscape fabric and irrigation tapes on 40 beds than plant around 900 seedlings. Eugene did get all the beds tilled before the wet conditions arrived so at least that is done. we like to get these thing in the ground by June 1st so we can harvest in August through frost. We are growing 16 different heirloom tomatoes, 4 kinds of eggplant and 9 kinds of peppers (mostly sweet but a couple of hots too). After these things are planted in the market garden that it will be time to do the melons (water melon and various cantaloups), more cukes and zukes and the winter squash. These are pretty easy as they are direct seeded and do not need the 5 to 8 weeks of coddling before they go into the ground. Not to mention, planting seeds is a lot simpler than putting in seedlings.
Yeah life here is about to get very busy between doing mass plantings of things, harvesting daily (when the raspberries come in someone will have to spend at least 4 hours every day for 5 to 6 weeks picking. I call it raspberry hell), keeping things mowed (long grass in aisle-ways gives pests like bugs and bunnies a place to hide right next to the crops which is a very bad thing), keeping crops weeded and keeping bugs off of the crops (which we do mainly by using row covers but we also hand pick, vacuum the up and will use botanical insecticides like neem ). the good news is we may just have our first volunteer of the year. A woman has emailed me asking if there is room in the FSI for her and if she can come out once or twice a week to work and learn about sustainable farming. I say may have because she has not yet come out here and in the past we have had many people ask about volunteering but few ever come through for us in any meaningful way. A lot of volunteers turn out to be a lot more work than they are worth. But we have also gotten some wonderful people who were quick learners and great workers so we still will take on such people. And if any of you ever have a hankering to get your hands dirty and learn a lot about sustainable farming in a short time feel free to contact us about coming out and putting a few hours on the farm.
This Sunday, May 23, we have scheduled a pot luck dinner and farm tour starting at 6pm. thus far I have gotten only two RSVP's (and they were regrets). If I don't get any responses by tomorrow I will cancel the event and reschedule for late summer/fall as we are getting too busy to do this easily and it seems not many folks are interested in this sort of thing.
We still have some chickens for sale for $25 a piece for a 4LB (approx) whole frozen bird. Let me know if you want one (or more) either via email before picking up your share or when you show up (someone should be around at least until 7pm). This will be the best chicken you have ever had as very few people raise them they way we do-ranged on pasture from day one of their lives and fed certified organic feed. Unlike most "pastured" chickens ours are extremely active and that makes for better quality
This is better than cole slaw made with cabbage and a favorite of ours
2 to 3 bunches of radishes, well washed and with both ends cut off
1 small sweet onion
1 medium to large carrot
1 clove garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
2 TBL vinegar (I like rice vinegar or balsamic but any will do)
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
1 TBL sugar
1 TBL olive oil
1/2 cup (or more) Mayonnaise
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley. You can also do 1/2 cabbage and 1/2 radish if you like
Grate the radishes, carrot and onion. fastest to use a food processor but a hand grater will also work. Dump the grated vegetables into a larger than you think you will need bowl and than add everything else and mix well, taste and make any adjustments. Put into the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Serve as a side dish
What's in the Share
Spinach-1 pound of spinach
Kale-a big bunch of White Russian kale
Asparagus-Looks like mainly green this week. At least 1 pound
Lettuce-1 pound of mixed lettuce
Tarragon-a big bunch
Broccoli Raab-1/2 pound bag
Garlic Chives-a big bunch of garlic chives AKA Chinese chives
Cincinnati Market Radishes-3 bunches of this beautiful and rare heirloom radish
Spring Mix-a nice sized bag of spring mix
Maybe Basil-The basil is not doing great so i will not make any promises that there will be enough to put into your shares but if it is there it is there
The shares will be ready after 4pm today
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 03:13 PM EDT
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
Right-click, copy link and paste into your newsfeed reader
It's Wednesday once again and that means it is Farm Share Day!!! It is also the day That the farm store officially opens which really doesn't mean much to you members.
I would like to talk about a couple of things. One there is kitchen equipment you need (if you do not have it already) the most important tool a CSA?FSI member needs is a salad spinner. if you don't own one go to my blog and on the right side bar are several items I am selling via Amazon. On the top line of the Amazon box is the Zyliss Salad spinner. I have owned one for over 10 years and use it almost every day (this time of year, several times a day). This is a big thing about eating whole foods, you have to have the right kitchen equipment to cope, otherwise it can get nightmarish-cut fingers, wet lettuce, etc.. Other things a whole foods kitchen should have
a micro plane-You can get these at any hardware or kitchen supply stores
A food processor. I am a Cuisinart girl but most do the trick.
A good vegetable peeler. For Christmas I got a ceramic peeler and it is the best. It will peel carrots and parsnips with ease and does a great job on the hard skin of Butternut squash (perhaps the best test of any peeler-if it goes through squash it will handle about anything else). Got it at Jungle Jim's along with a ceramic knife (for way too much as I see the same set advertised in the paper for 1/3 what I paid)
A good paring knife-I am in love with ceramic knives but stainless steel is also excellent. Ceramic will keep and edge for years whereas SS needs to be sharpened at least once a month (my SS field knife get sharpened daily, sometimes more often, but than that blade has to go through soil and rocks). BTW, the sharper the knife the safer the knife. At any rate, paring knives come in very very handy, you will use one a lot so perhaps you should get 2 or 3.
A good chef's knife-I used to believe that one needed to buy only the top of the line but an accident at a fraternity house where I cooked between the boys (likely extremely drunk and high) and my $300 chef's knife proved me wrong. They broke my knife and I couple not replace it on their dime with another top of the line knife so I had to get a fad cheaper model and It works well and 17 years later I still use the knife.
I know there are a few other items that are essential but they are not coming to mind right now. But what I listed is what I use, pretty much, daily
Life on the farm is busy-we plant, we harvest, we hoe/weed, we mow grass, Eugene tills beds, we water seedlings in cold frames and hoop houses, time is taken to train Betty on the ways of farm dog life-staying out of beds (which she has good days and bad days), catching critters (she got her first rabbit yesterday. You may think bunnies are cute but not when they eat an entire 50' bed of spinach that was supposed to be harvested for the FSI members. Rabbits, left unchecked, can do an amazing amount of damage to a several acre sized market garden. Add in deer and take away to dogs and in a matter of a week they can destroy around 75% to 85%), being cute (okay, she has that skill sewed up). This week we will get the rest of the onions seedlings planted (this is literally like planting blades of grass), along with cucumber, zucchini and Galia melon seedlings that will go into the last hoop house we erected. This will mean, if all goes right, that we will enjoy cukes, zukes and melons a good 8 weeks before they are in true season around here. When I say "If all goes right" I mean we have had armies of voles invade newly planted hoop houses and eat the heads off of every seedling planted earlier in the day. It is really maddening and depressing to find all the days of work (it takes a minimum of 15 days to get the seeds to grow into seedlings before they go out into the houses) destroyed over night. There are also insects that will kill freshly planted seedlings such as cut worms.
But all is not lost, 1) Betty and Nate (along with our resident snakes) have done some great control of the vole population sine the snows melted back in Feb. B) we will protect the seedlings by popping "Cut worm collars" made from old drip tape lines over them. What we do is take 6" pieces of drip tape split them in half length-wise and put them over the plants so only the tips of the leaves are showing. This thwarts bunnies, voles and cut worms (as well as reuses what other wise would be put into recycling) and ever since we have used this technique we have very low losses of our seedlings. This is one of the many ways we attempt to lower the risk we are all into with this Farming/FSI thing.
I have been thinking about the Pot-luck dinner/Farm tour and I think May 2nd would be a great day to have it. We will provide Chicken from the birds we raised last summer and have stored in the freezer, home brewed beer and home made wine along with salad and salad dressing. You bring a dish that will feed 6 people (ideally made with local ingredients, but this is not a requirement) plus flatware, plates, drinking vessels. last year I had planned on doing this sort of thing monthly but after the first dinner had few to no takers most months so this year I have scrapped the idea of a monthly event. But if you guys want to do a local foods dinner every month I am game. If you think your life will be too busy to swing this sort of thing that is fine too. Let me know if having a monthly dinner would be of interest, otherwise we will likely not do another until late summer/early Fall. I will need you all to RSVP Yes or No before April 30th about this upcoming event.RecipePotato and leek Soup
2 pounds of potatoes, scrubbed and cut into smallish cubes
2 leeks cut into slices
1 TBL butter or olive oil
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
In a 4 quart (or bigger) pot add the cubed taters and enough water to cover them buy an inch. Put that on the stove, cover and bring just to a boil (about 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat). While that is going on, in a 2 gallon heated pan add the fat and the leeks. Stir the leeks constantly and after a minute of so start smashing the leek rounds so that the layers separate. When the potatoes just start to boil add them AND the water they are in, to the cooking leeks. Add the salt and thyme. Let this simmer for 1/2 hour to an hour. When everything seems cooked enough get out a blender or food processor and put half the soup in and blend it for about 30 seconds until smooth (you will likely have to do this in 2, maybe 3 batches). Add the blended soup back to the soup pot, taste, adjust the seasoning and the soup is ready to serve.
This is vegan style. If you want Decadent Style than start with cut up bacon-put that in a hot pan and cook stirring constantly. When the bacon is crispy, remove and add some butter and the leeks. Continue as above. After you have added the processed leeks and potatoes back to the soup add a cup (or more) of heavy cream, cook on low heat for an additional 10 minutes and serve.
What's in the ShareLettuce
-5 to 6 heads of lettuce in the bagSpring MixBroccoli Raab
-this is the first time we have ever grown or eaten this. I asked at the farmers market how to prepare and was told either steam it like other greens (think spinach) or sauté it in olive oil with a bit of onion, garlic. While this is called broccoli Raab it is a much closer relative of the turnip and the greens taste somewhat like turnip greens (not a personal favorite of mine but I rather like this stuff). This is what makes CSA's a wonderful thing-the adventure in food, having to try new things.Radishes
-this week a big bunch of beautiful heirloom D'Avignon radishesParsnipPotatoes-
a 3 pound bag of either Yukon Gold or Kennebec white (there will be a label on the bag. And just because the package looks like what you would find at the grocery store be assured we grew these taters-we simply have invested in packaging supplies)
2 or 3 leeks
Chives-use to top the tater and leek soup or in a salad or a dipThyme
-for the soup
There may be a few other items stuck in the shares as well, like last week and the acorn and delicata squash.
The shares will be ready any time after 4pm. If you will not be picking up today please let me know by this afternoon so your share is not sitting out in warm conditions for 4+ hours
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:12 AM EDT