Boulder Belt Eco-Farm

  (Eaton, Ohio)
We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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Boulder Belt Farm Share Inititiative vol 2 issue 27 (week 27)

 

 

This is it, the last share of the 2010 FSI season. We all made it through and we should be proud of our locavore accomplishment. It is not easy to be in a CSA as an American eater as we American eaters are all about convenience and price and CSA tend to be neither cheap nor convenient. Not to mention, we small diversified foodie farmers like to grow unusual food than most people have never heard of much less ever eaten. Being a CSA member will certainly broaden one's food horizons.

We started off the year with 5 members and that is how we finished. At the height of the season we got up to 8 members. I really had planned on triple that number but I am glad we kept the number under 10 as from mid August up to now we have had a kind of hard time finding enough food to fill shares as the drought has badly impacted the market garden. It got so bad that we closed the farm store down in September so we had enough food to fill your shares and have things to take to the farmers market on Saturday in order to keep income incoming and if  the FSI were much larger we would have quit the farmers market as well. I am glad we did not have to make that choice because we really need the weekly income we get from the farmers market to keep on going. And as it is our income is down about 40% this year due to bad growing conditions but we will persevere. it does help to know that most of you are planning on rejoining our FSI for the 2011 season. You have no idea how much easier it is for us when this happens and we do not have to start a membership drive from scratch. This also means you can have a voice in what we plant next year (to a point, there are somethings, like bananas, we cannot grow around here and other things like Okra we will no longer grow-I am very allergic to it and it does not like being this far north so it grows very badly for us). If there is something you would like to see us grow let us know about it and we will see what we can do. That said, let us know before Thanksgiving as that is when we will be doing our seed orders so we can get them in before Christmas so the seeds we want are not already sold out. That's right, we market growers really have to jump the gun to get what we want and we are usually all done with our seed orders (and usually well into seed starting) by the time the home gardener catalogs are mailed out.

One thing you guys did not get was strawberries. Our strawberry season sucked for of a couple reasons. 1) we went with a new variety, Albion, with which we were not familiar so we had no idea what it would do for us. 2) we planted the strawberries in a spot we thought would be great but it turned out to be a rather bad spot on the farm and thus the plants have been attacked all summer by root eating grubs, berry eating voles and leaf eating caterpillars. this has meant that over 50% of the plants died on us this summer and that has greatly impacted the harvest. We should have been getting 30+ pints a week but instead we are lucky to get 10 pints a week and there was rarely enough to put in everyone's shares (I believe 1 or 2 times you guys got strawbs). And of course the lack of rain has been hard on the berries. They do get drip irrigation many times a week plus hand watering/foliar feeding and this is keeping them in production but it is not allowing them to thrive as much as they can. 3) we did not order and plant seedlings last fall in order to get them established so by April they are ready to produce fruit. Instead we ordered them in late winter, planted in early spring and had to remove all the flowers until late June (so the plants put energy into root and crown formation and not into berry production). This meant we zero berries until Mid July which is when the rains stopped and than it got hard for the plants to produce berries. 4) we did not plant enough. We ordered 250 plants and put out most of them in the spring but now realize we needed 400 to 500 plants to make any money and have ample berries.

This fall we will be planting at least 100 additional plants from runners we have been encouraging. I believe, when it is all said and done, we will get an additional 300 plants in the ground before winter comes. All from runners the mother plants put out. This will save us a bit of money (though strawberries are not very expensive, around 25¢ a plant if you order several hundred) and we should end up with plants that are well acclimated to our local environment. At any rate, Eugene says we have over 100 runner seedlings and I pointed out that at least 100 more have rooted into the aisle-ways in the berry patch, many being hidden under the landscape fabric mulch. So it looks like we will have plenty to play with and next year you guys will get plenty of strawberries in your shares.

Of course, this is the thing with CSA, seasons change from year to year and there is no telling what will do well and what won't. And this is something to keep in mind if you make requests for next year. We can plant it but that does not mean it will grow well (or conversely it may grow so well that everyone, including the requester, gets sick of the crop). But seeing as how both Eugene and I are really, really bad at predicting what the weather conditions will be 6 months out we just have to wing it every year like all the other farmers and take our chances.


Okay, as usual, your shares will be ready after 4pm today until 7 am Saturday morning. I noticed a lack of reusable bags this week so it looks like everyone will be packed in plastic shopping bags. these will have your name on it. please look for your name and take that bag as this lets me know who is picking up and who is not (well, unless all bags are gone, than I know everyone picked up and I don't have send out a reminder)


What's In the Share

Potatoes-around a pound of potatoes, you might get blue, Russian fingerling (small, yellow flesh), Pontiac Red (small red skin, white flesh) Kennebec White (white skin and flesh) or German Butterball (round yellow skin and flesh). I might even mix 'em up
Sweet Potatoes-at least 1/2 pound but likely closer to a pound. these have been super sweet
Peppers-more sweet peppers, probably more than 6 of them
Radishes without greens-a bunch of 6 to 8 Easter egg/d'Avignon radishes
Beets-around a pound of the 3 Grex beets that must come out of their bed. the greens look like excrement so I will likely remove them
Spring Mix-Finally this is ready for eating. This should have been ready a month ago, had the weather been at all reasonable. Oh well, better late than never. if you have not had our salad mix it is a mix of baby lettuces, mizuna, tat soi, red giant mustard and arugula, all cut at a small stage of life.
Pears-you will get another 8 or so pears which is around 3 pounds
Apples- another couple of pounds of apples
Tomatoes-we have maters ripening slowly in the store as we picked a lot last week when we were told erroneously that we would get a frost. So some of them will be ready to eat and some will need a few days. if you are in the winter share you will get better maters as we have an entire hoop house filled with plants filled with big green maters (which should start ripening any day now)
Red Onion-1/2+ pound of  small red onions. These would go well on top of the spring mix
Garlic-2 corms of garlic

Boulder Belt Farm Share Inititiative vol 2 issue 26 (week 26)

 

 

Greenings and Saladations,

We have just two weeks left in the season which makes me happy and sad (I guess one could call that bittersweet). I am happy to be through what turned out to be one of the hardest seasons we have ever had. But not the hardest, that would be 2000 when it was hotter (several days above 100F) and drier and we were still renting a farm with no barns. That year our CSA members turned on us because they though because we were doing both a farmers market and a CSA we were shorting them on food because there was so little to distribute. In hindsight we probably should have dropped the farmers market so there was no perceived conflict but if we had I seriously doubt we would still be farming as doing so would have meant that we would have had to taken off farm jobs because we would have had zero income for many, many months (like August through April). I also remember that year coming back from a farmers market and finding 1 dead and one almost dead chicken struggling to make it to the waterer and shade. it was over 105F that afternoon and the hens were not dealing with the heat well. All we could do for them was supply shade, cold water and fans (which usually didn't do much as the dominant hens would take up all the room right in front of the fans and block all breeze to the birds behind them. Chickens are not the most generous of beings, kind of like humans in oh so many ways.) And that day it was not enough for two of them. I wish the story had a happy ending and I could say we saved the second bird but even after being put in cool than cold than ice water to get her core temp down as well as a valiant attempt at hydrating her she still succumbed. And the garden through September was in about the same condition. But eventually the rains came, the season ended and 2001 was better.

I am happy to say that this year was a lot better than 2000 even though I believe the weather extremes, over all, were worse. There are several reasons for this. One; we have 10 more years of farming experience under our belts which makes a huge difference. In 2000 we had been farming just 6 years and IIRC we were certified organic at the time and that had to have been our first full season of being certified Organic, as opposed to being in Transition to Organic (where you have to do everything as if you are certified-fill out the application, develop a crop rotation, have a farm map, use all Organic inputs, have soil improvement plant, etc., but you are not and thus cannot use the "O" word). Two; We are on another, better farm that has things like barns (the "starter farm" that we rented for 13 years had 2 small sheds that we stuffed as much into as we could and any farm stuff that could not fit in the sheds was stored in the house-out of  7 rooms in that house 3 were used for farm stuff. The computer room, for example, was also where seedlings were started and chicks were brooded. And we would keep the occasional sick hen in that room as well). Now we have lots of out buildings and much more room and that makes our job a whole lot easier to do. Also the old farm had weeds from Hell. For years we did not realize this, but the conventional grain farmer that farmed 20 of the 30 acres on that farm assured us that that farm was by far the weediest he or his father had ever seen (and we are talking about 60+ years of farming exp.). So when we moved to this farm we discovered that that guy was right. This farm has hardly any weeds in comparison (which is not to say we have no weeds, there are lots of weeds here but nothing like the old place). Three; This farm is far far better organized. This is because when we moved here we had learned how to lay out a farm. the old farm was a nightmare as far as organization because we had to work around our landlords' projects (they were into planting black walnuts all over the fields). Plus, while we ultimately managed 10 acres on that farm, this 10 acres was meted out over a 7 year period so we were always adding new land to our farming scheme (this drove our Organic certifier nuts) and the area was ever more sprawling so that eventually it covered about a mile of land. This farm has few of these problems. We own it so we do not have to deal with remote landlords, the market garden is laid out logically and is as compact as possible so we do not waste hours every day walking to a from areas and we do not have black walnut trees growing near the beds causing all sorts of growing issues (FYI, black walnuts contain a chemical called Jugalone that is a strong herbicide and kills most things that try to grow near these trees)

The next two weeks are easier for us as we are down a couple members. This is a good thing as the lack of rain-okay, we have had several very light rains the past 10 days but it has been nowhere near enough-even with supplemental watering, has meant our yields are going down which has meant is has gotten harder and harder to find enough stuff to fill 8 shares without getting too much into what we will need for the winter shares. I had hoped to supply you guys with either lettuce or spring mix this week but sadly, that stuff is not yet ready to harvest. In past years, you guys would have gotten such salad greens for the past 4 to 6 weeks (as well as several kinds of Asian greens, which are planted and growing but like the lettucy things, not ready) but with little rain that ain't happening this year. You also should have been sick of cilantro by now but not this year as we can barely get it to germinate (and we have zero volunteer cilantro this year-in past years by now we would have had several hundred plants popping up around the farm. The only volunteers we have found are coming up in a potted avocado and even with decent watering and being in shade they are barely growing)

As usual, the shares will be ready after 4 pm today. If you are planning on being in the winter share program I need to know ASAP (like today!) as we have only 2 spots left. 4 of you have already committed. I had hoped to be able to sell 15 shares this season but the growing conditions have been so bad that I cut it back to 6 memberships which doesn't even leave enough room for all our current main season members. It would also be helpful if you can tell me if you are going to join next season. I have already heard from 4 people and I am thrilled that you guys are all coming back next season. In the past, I have had a very hard time retaining members from year to year and have generally  had to start from square one each season. But as I have said in past newsletters, you guys really get this concept. That is a very rare thing.

Recipe
Jalapeno Poppers


This is to make up for all the hot peppers I have distributed in the shares this summer that it seems many of you have no idea what to do with. I love poppers and they are easy to make.

10 or more jalapenos cut in half lengthwise (pole to pole). Scape out the seeds and ribs with a spoon (I suggest wearing gloves so your hands don't get hot)
about a 1/2 cup of softened cream cheese
1 small sweet onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic mashed or finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 small red peppers finely chopped
salt to taste
1 cup (or so) of bread crumbs
1 TBL melted butter
1/8 cup chopped cilantro

Pre heat your oven to 350F. In a bowl mix the cheeses, peppers, onions, garlic, etc together. In another bowl mix the bread crumbs, butter and cilantro together. take a jalapeno half and fill it with the cheese mix and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat this until all the pepper halves are filled. Than top with the bread crumbs and pop in the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes.

What's in the share
Pears
-more yummy pears. probably 6 to 8 of 'em
Garlic-2 corms of Music garlic. This is a great roasting garlic
Apples-Dr Matthews apples once again. These do need washing before eating. expect at least 6 in your share
Winter squash-It looks like you will get a couple of acorn squash this week. Like all winter squash these are easily baked-350F oven, split in half, remove seeds and bake 25 to 30 minutes face down on a cookie sheet. The seeds are also delicious baked (this is what "pumpkin" seeds are BTW)
Arugula-a bag of the zesty salad green
Tomatoes-more heirloom tomatoes. despite the weather the plants keep producing at a slow pace.
Kale/chard-I think you will all get kale this week but we may be a bit short so if you find a bag of chard in your share that is why
Eggplant-you get around 1/2 pound of some gnarly looking small aubergines. I tried some last night and they are decent. Probably the last if the year
Leeks-I have not decided if you will get the skinny summer/fall Lincoln leeks or the fat fall/winter/spring leeks called King Sieg. Either way there will be a leek or two in your share.
Peppers-Several sweet bell peppers
Jalapenos-at least 10 in your share and now you have a use for them.

Boulder Belt Farm Share Inititiative vol 2 issue 23 (week 23)

 

 

Greenings and Saladations!

It's week 23, just 2 more weeks for the people who have bought 4 week shares (you guys are getting a bonus week as there are 5 weeks in Sept and you paid for 4 of them)  and 4 more weeks for the 3 month and full season members. Last year we would have had another 8 weeks to go which, considering the growing conditions, would not have been a great thing and I noticed by about the beginning of October most of our members were getting really burned out, as were we). But last year we had great growing conditions in the fall (and summer-2009 was a great growing season overall) and so had a lot of food both in shear amounts and diversity. This year not so much, though I gotta say, even with the dry conditions hitting us hard (we ate not officially in a drought yet and may never get there if we are fortunate) we still have a lot of food to distribute to you guys. We don't have a lot of food to sell at the farmers market which is a concern as this is the time of year we should make the most money so we can get through winter and have enough money to pay mortgage, utilities, property taxes, state and federal income taxes, insurances, etc.. Yes, just like the rest of you, we farmers have a whole passel of bills and debt that must be paid. Unlike you, we don't get a weekly (regular) paycheck in the winter so we must make enough money during the main season to put into savings in order to get through the winter. And in addition to the laundry list of debts we also have to buy seed, fertilizers, row covers, irrigation supplies, etc., over the winter so we will be pretty broke by the time farmers market season comes around in 2011 (even with selling FSI shares). It happens and we will weather the storm as we are fiscally very conservative, i.e. we know how to live very cheaply.

Doing the winter farm shares will help some and getting many early FSI sign-ups for 2011 will help (yes, that is a hint). So, yes, we are going to do the winter share program. If you are interested (and I know two of you are) consider yourself in the program. If anyone else wants to continue to eat local food November through January contact me ASAP as I have to severely limit who can be in this this winter. I was hoping to do 15 to 20 members this season but will be able to do only half that number

As you know, I have been on the fence about doing the winter shares but decided that the crops we are hand watering are doing pretty well and the stuff Eugene plants does germinate so it looks like we will have plenty of food (not as much as past years but enough). Yes, the fall cropping season appears right now the be far better than expected. Granted, it is taking twice as much work to keep things alive and happy but that is a part of farming-some years are relatively easy and very bountiful some years are really hard and not very bountiful. This is a hard year.

The last time we experienced such a dry and hot year was 14 years ago, the year we got married. That year we used the excuse of our wedding to stop farming and marketing in early September (our wedding was the 14th). As we were newbies to the farming biz back than, we had not yet gotten into major season extension or CSA's. Having a CSA means you are committed to providing food for the duration (unless you get an act of God like a tornado ripping through the farm) so cannot capriciously take off from work and just stop for no good reason. Season extension is kinda the same thing. You get crops started to go through winter and you have to care for them through the fall/winter/spring. Okay, it's not like caring for livestock, which needs care daily, as the crops can be ignored for days on end especially during Jan/Feb. I believe we had started fooling with row covers and may have even had a small hoop house but nothing on the level we do today (5+ hoop houses and miles of row cover used). So taking off from farming in mid September was doable for us (we also paid little to no rent, heated with wood so the utility bills were always under $70 a month, put up and root cellared most of the food we ate (still do), paid no land taxes, etc., so we lived really cheaply). That is no longer an option as we have embroiled ourselves into farm ownership and deeply into season extension of crops and now cannot fathom not growing and marketing through the winter. And I gotta say since we eat this food also, there is little better than eating a freshly harvested salad or mess of green in late fall/winter (and again in late winter/early spring) when your body is screaming for such foods. I am hoping, like the dry summer of 1996, we start getting rain in the next week or so. It is my memory that the rains came while we were on our honey moon and stayed around most of the fall and winter. And it looks like we will get rain tomorrow, which will be nice if it happens (and it is more than a couple of tenths of an inch). If we get decent precip over winter we will be in fine shape for next spring. If we do not than we will likely have issues concerning dry conditions, wells and irrigation, not to mention doing 2x to 4x the normal amount of work to get things started and to keep things going.

These are the things we think about and worry over.

We will have some new items showing up in your shares in the remaining weeks. Look for sweet potatoes, radishes, spring mix, possibly kale and head lettuce (by head lettuce I do not mean iceberg lettuce but rather whole lettuce plants as opposed to cut leaves as in spring mix). Right now we don't have much in the way of greens but hopefully next week we will have baby arugula (as opposed to much more mature arugula we have been cutting since July)

The shares will be ready after 4pm today. Any shares not picked up by 6am Saturday morning will be donated to the Oxford Choice Pantry. Last week we donated two shares which were very appreciated.

What's in the Shares
Garlic-this week 2 corms of Music, our best garlic
Onions-a couple of medium Copra onions. These are yellow onions and great for cooking but should not be eaten raw unless you enjoy stomach upset (they are hot and strong)
Watermelon-yes we still have some water melon and you will either get 1 medium melon or two small melons. They will either be red or yellow
Tomatoes-a couple of some of the last maters of the season
Sweet peppers-several ripening bell peppers
Hot Peppers-around 10 jalapeno and cayenne peppers
Keiffer Pears-6 pears. These are not quite ripe but should ripen up if kept out of the fridge. The yellower they are the riper they are.
Apples-6 Dr Matthew's apples. These are a nice eating apple sweet and tart.
Winter Squash-a couple of pounds of squash, probably delicata and acorn. All of these are cooked the same-cut in half, scoop out the seeds and bake face down in a 350F oven for about 1/2 hour or until soft.

Boulder Belt Farm Share Inititiative vol 2 issue 21 (week 21)

 

 

It's week 21 and a whole new month to boot! September is often our most bountiful month but I am not so sure this will be the case this year as it is so hot and dry and this is now having a negative impact on the market garden. The crops are very stressed and many have started to shut down. You will see this beginning with this week's shares-they are definitely smaller. There will not be quite the variety and the the amounts of each item will be less than in past weeks. Granted, the past 3 or 4 shares have been HUGE, perhaps a bit too big for some and now they will not be so large. this is all part and parcel of being a CSA member. When the conditions are great and the farm is pumping out a lot of food everyone gets a lot of food. When growing conditions are not so great than there will be less food in the shares and perhaps not the variety. This is the risk you guys share with us as Boulder belt FSI members. Now, all that said, the share this week (and I suspect for the rest of the season) will have ample food and a nice variety. But I won't be choosing from over 30 different crops the 12 items to put in a share. Now I have around 17 different crops from which to choose at the moment.

The dry, hot weather is also impacting the fall garden. We have had to do a lot of hand watering in order to get the seeds we planted in early and Mid August to germinate so that the drip irrigation system can take over the watering chores. We also have many flats of kale, lettuce, zucchinis, melons, cabbage and broccoli sitting on the porch of the store growing and waiting to be big enough to transplant. If we get a decent rain tomorrow we will probably be just fine if not (which is more likely) than we will struggle on and hope for rain (but not too much)

The crops we planted in July-popcorn and dried beans look to be failures. It was simply too dry for them to produce much seed (that would be beans and popcorn) and they are in an area that is very hard to irrigate (impossible right now as we do not have anything that carries water running down into the valley). So it gets no irrigation. I suspect we will get something from both crops but not nearly what we expected when we planted them. These are things that were going to go to the winter CSA as well as be sold at the winter farmers market in Oxford. So not the best thing for our winter income. It does look like the potatoes we planted in that area are doing good, but of course we won't know for sure until we start digging them. The sunflowers are doing spectacularly.

Up top, in the main garden we are done with the melons (there are a few water melon vines still hanging on), the tomatoes are about over-it was a very short tomato season this year, only about 5 weeks for us. Though we do have a late planting that has flowers and perhaps a few tiny green fruits. We expect the late planting to be producing the end of this month and through the beginning (at least) of November. When cold threatens we will put plastic on the hoop house frame that has been erected over top of the plants to keep them from freezing to death and this should buy us another 4 to 8 weeks of production. The peppers are in high gear but I can see they will soon be over as most are starved for water and do not like such high heat. We have some beets that should be humongous but are only medium to large due to the lack of rain. The herbs are pretty much over. I am going to see what we got as far as basil and parsley are concerned as soon as I finish this letter. the basil does not seem to mind the lack of water-it just wants to go to seed in the worst way which means it gets harder and harder to deadhead them to keep the tender greens coming on. The parsley I find is a bit bitter due to lack of water and the heat. The celeriac looks like it will do nothing for us this fall. It was planted in a bad place and got far too little water. But the leeks are looking good. The arugula that we have been harvesting for what, 5 weeks, is doing great. This is supposed to be a cold weather crop and yet this is the 3rd year we have planted it in the heat of summer and the 3rd year it has done well in summer. The Chard is not looking great due to insect pressures but we have covered it with row cover and now are in the process of severely cutting it back which should allow tender nice new leaves to emerge under cover away from those nasty bugs. It would do better with rain but even without is holding it's own. So forgive the ratty looking leaves (they still taste good)  The summer scallions are about done and not due to the weather. We have managed to deplete the bed they were in. I believe I have about 100 or so left to pull and they are the small dregs of the scallions. We have another bed planted but it is only doing so so due to the fact cut worms have invaded and have been cutting off the greens. But I believe I caught the worms doing the damage so now the scallions can grow and give us green onion throughout the fall and winter.

We hope to have more beans and that they will not be as bug eaten. The beans you got last week were pretty bad and we apologize but that is what we had to work with. We have another planting that has just started to flower and hopefully will start making beans just as the bean eating critters are on a major wane (which they should be in a couple of weeks). And I believe Eugene just planted 2 more beds that will be covered with a hoop house so we have beans well into November (and those will be very clean as there will be very little bug or weed pressure)

Well that's the state of the farm at this point in the year

What's in the Share

Bright lights Chard
Sweet Peppers- you will get many in your share this week. These are easy to freeze BTW. Simply cut them into the shape you want (I like to dice them) and put them into a freezer bag and into the freezer. Now you have peppers to use in the winter
Arugula-another bag of the spicy sweet salad green. My Italian customers say this is great on pizza-put leaves on a slice after it is cooked.
Delicata squash-the earliest of our winter squashes. AKA the sweet potato squash because it is so sweet and yummy. To cook, cut lengthwise, remove the seeds, place flesh side down on a cookie sheet or other pan and cook in a 350F oven for 20 to 30 minutes
Garlic 2 corms of garlic, don't know what kind
Beets-a bunch of beets. These are called 3 Grex beets and are a combo of 3 colors-yellow, pink and red. I have no idea why they are called Grex but they are a nice beet that in good conditions will get to be around 3 to 5 pounds. this year they are much smaller.
Leeks-you get a Lincoln leek this week.
Apples-6 apples. I believe they are Dr Matthew's, like last week but we may also have some Macintosh. The sootiness on them can be scrubbed off. It is a mold that we get because we do not spray weekly with fungicides (all of which are carcinogens). there may also be other blemishes which come with the fact these apples are beyond organic. just cut them out or eat around them. I am quite surprised at how clean and nice the apples are this year, usually Organic apples are pretty scary looking (but very tasty)
Red Onions-you get around 1/2 pound of red onions this week. the elongated onions are an Italian heirloom and very good, despite the fact they look weird.
Tomatoes-you will get a pound, maybe two, this week as the maters are on the wane. I believe they will be mainly the two kinds of reds we grow-Glick's Pride (round) and Amish Paste (elongated). these will be on the shelf by the fridge as we don't want to ever put maters in the fridge
Potatoes-There will be several kinds including blue and Russian banana Fingerlings
Herbs-basil and parsley I doubt we will be able to put in nearly as much basil as in the past.

Boulder Belt Farm Share Inititiative vol 2 issue 19 (week 19)

 

 

It's week 19 of our food adventure and the fun never stops. lets just get the bad news over with right from the start, kinda like ripping the Band-aid™ off really fast. The market van lost its' power steering coming back from market last Saturday and needs to be fixed before it can drive again. I am a bit worried about this as it is Wednesday and Eugene has done nothing to address the problem, electing to get well into fall garden prep and planting instead. He thinks it is either the power steering pump or a hose and either one should be an easy fix. And that is the extent of our bad news in a summer full of it.

In good news the weather got pretty darned wonderful the last couple of days, we go almost an inch of rain this past week, the tiller works so Eugene was able to prep something like 30 beds the past few days and got at least 2/3 planted in things like peas, spring mix, lettuce, carrots, turnips, beets, kale, broccoli, scallions, etc.. There are a few things he was going to plant like spinach but the soil is too warm for spinach and it will not germinate. This is a rather big issue with fall planting. We are trying to plant things that love cool/cold conditions when it is still really hot out. And many times germination is poor. I know with late summer planted spinach some farmers will go as far as putting the seeds in the fridge for a couple of days before planting and buying lots of bags of ice to put on the soil right after planting to fool the spinach into thinking it is March or April and forcing germination (which takes less than a nano second to happen and once the process starts there is no going back-the seed will either grow or die.). We will not go that far and will wait until conditions get better for such crops.

Despite the hot and dry conditions things are growing pretty well. Irrigation helps as do improving the soils (a long term project all well managed Organic farms do). We will have beans this week in the shares and I expect to have them for many weeks. The peppers are some of the best we have ever grown,. Usually by now the plants have lost a lot of leaves and the peppers themselves get sun-scald (a whitish patch on the side of the fruit that eventually molds and rots) but this year the plants have good foliage and there is far less sun-scald. But there is insect damage and you may well get peppers with some damage. know that unless they are gooey and brown on the inside they are quite usable. Just cut away the bad spot(s). The zukes are done for the year (unless Eugene puts in a fall crop, which is quite possible). I looked at the last planting and they were alive and had 1 deformed zuke out of 25 plants and few to no flowers. We do have some zukes for sale that if I have enough I may just include in your shares this week as a bonus item (they won't be necessarily pretty but they will be tasty, even the big ones). the summer cucumber plants have succumbed to wilt and age but you will have pickling cukes in your share. this will probably be the last of them for a while. I do know there is a fall crop of some sort of cuke started but they won't be ready until late Sept/October

My bother came for a visit this past week and painted the front porch (the only part of the house not clad in "lovely" vinyl siding) for us. He has been a professional painter for around 25 years (most of it in NYC, now he is in Detroit) and did a beautiful job. It really improves the house and our lives. I got a root canal last week which resulted in no pain in my mouth. This week I got a temporary crown on the tooth and in September I get the permanent crown. It is nice to be able to chew using all my teeth, another big improvement in my life (and Eugene's, as he often got the brunt of the bad juju my mouth would put me in). It would appear as we leave summer and go towards autumn life is looking up for Boulder Belt. We even picked up 2 additional members for September last week

Speaking of Autumn, as you know the FSI finishes at the end of September for the monthly Subscribers and mid October for those who signed up for either the full season of the 3 month subscription. We are planning on doing a fall winter share. This will start in early November (the 3rd) and end the last Wednesday in January (the 26th). We have done this "Winter Share program" for the past two years and how it works is every other week we have pick up. The shares will be around twice the size of the shares you get now (between 12 and 25 items). I believe we will limit this to 15 members (but maybe less depending on how well the fall crops do as well as how many storage crops, such as winter squash, parsnips, onions, garlic, potatoes we harvest-so far it is looking good). Cost will be $350 for the winter share (7 pick-ups) and unlike the spring/summer early fall FSI we do only whole season shares. Official sign up will be in October but but we always give our current FSI members first shot at this as we always sell out and would like to know ASAP if you are interested

Sorry No recipe this week

Okay I am running out of time and need to get harvesting so here is what is in the shares this week

Arugula-a bag of greens
Green Beans-I hope to have enough Haricot verts (French beans, they are thin, delicate and sweet) for everyone. The plants never yield well, even in the best conditions and I need around 6 pounds (8 is better) to cover your shares. So some of you may get Blue lake green beans (fatter, but an excellent bean) in your share. As I know between the two types I will have enough beans for everyone to get at least 3/4 of a pound, if not a whole pound. I like to cook these simply by putting around 2 inches of water in a pan, bringing it to a boil and putting in the beans, covering the pot and simmering them for 13 to 15 minutes. if you like them less done, than cook for less time.
Tomatoes-we are in the heart of mater season and that means you guys will get at least 5 pounds of a mix of maters. Yesterday I put up 17 quarts of tomato juice from all the maters that were either damaged or getting too ripe. it used up around 1.5 bushels. You will not have nearly as many to deal with
Cherry Tomatoes-around 1.5 pounds of a mix of cherry Toms
Eggplant-2 to 3 pounds of a mix of our aubergines
Peppers-2 or 3 green peppers (though there may be a few ripe ones tossed in if I can find enough for everyone)
Cantaloupe-either 1 large or a couple of smaller ones in your share. these need to be used ASAP. I have been freezing melons this week, easy to do. Just cut in half, remove the seeds than cut into wedges, remove the rind than cut into chunks and put on a cookie sheet and pop that into the freezer. When the melon is frozen than pop the chunks into a marked freezer bag and back into the freezer. these make nice ice cubes and are great for smoothies and tropical frozen drinks.
Raspberries-a 1/2 pint of the fall bearing heritage berries which have been super sweet due to the heat and dry conditions.
Garlic-a couple of corms of garlic, likely German white this week
Onion-The last of the sweet onions and maybe a couple of smallish reds this week
basil-another big bag of basil
Cucumbers-5+ picking cukes. these are strange looking because they got water starved and attacked by insects. A few weeks ago we pickled 17 pounds of them using a lacto-fermentation technique that uses no vinegar. I hope to include a few of these in your shares next week when they are more finished and I can figure out how to do this (they need to be in their brine so I guess they will come in plastic bags).
Bonus item-zucchini, if I have enough for everyone. This means if it is in your share I did have enough, if it is not I did not, capeche?

As always the shares will be ready after 4pm today. As there is a mix of things that need to be in the fridge and things that do not you shares will be split. Part of your share will be in the fridge plus there will be a bag of tomatoes and basil sitting on the shelving nearest the fridge. DO NOT FORGET YOUR TOMATOES AND BASIL !!!!

 
 

Boulder Belt Farm Share Inititiative vol 2 issue 25 (week 25)

 

 

Good Morning,

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)

Recipe

Roasted Peppers


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&notif_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!

Boulder Belt Farm Share Inititiative vol 2 issue 24 (week 24)

 

 

Good Morning

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..

Recipe

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

 
 
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