The first and last newsletter of the month. Weird, but true because the month of October starts mid week. To all of you who have done this all season, congrats, you have made it almost all the way. In my experience as a CSA farmer this is somewhat rare. In past years we have had up to 50% of our full season members drop out by now. This would start by a few missed share usually in July and by mid September the member(s) would pretty much quit coming to farm (or when we did drop points, the drop point) to get their food. Sometimes they would would let me know what was going on but most of the time they did not. This meant we were making shares that would not be used by the intended people. Very frustrating. I am so happy this has not been the case at all this season. On that note I need to hear from the following people ASAP about next month; Kristan/Earlham, Heather Kardeen and Bea, -Are you in or out for October? Let me know no later than this evening (Tuesday).
Life of the farm just keeps going and going. We put up the first of several hoop houses yesterday. It will start out life protecting tomatoes and green beans but by December it will be too cold for those crops and they will be cleared out and something will go in probably in late winter as it is about impossible to get a crop started in an unheated hoop house in December, unless it is warmish and sunny during December. Than we can start spinach or spring mix for March/April harvests. Those maters in that hoophouse should be ready to harvest the end of October and definitely by November, same with the green beans.
The summer season is pretty much over for us-we still have peppers and eggplant in the ground and producing but the melons and tomatoes are pretty much over (except for the maters in the hoop house which have yet to produce anything. Oh, and the tomato volunteers that are covered with green and just now ripening fruits but may not make it through a 36 degree night). I suspect the basil will be gone after a night in the mid 30's (the prediction for Wednesday night/Thursday morning). But cold weather is fine with us as we have shifted to crops that can take the cold and still produce well (as a matter of fact most of the leafy greens prefer cold nights). And if it gets a bit too nippy we have frost protection for the more tender crops still in the ground. the mid 30's will be hard of the peppers which are too numerous to put hoop houses over and too large for row cover so I believe the plan there will be to harvest as many peppers as possible and hope for the best. in past years the peppers have been able to deal with some near freezing temps without too much damage and it may not get nearly as cold as they predict. I note that this morning it is is the low 50's and it is supposed to be in the low 40's so they were off by about 10 degrees (in our favor).
Yesterday evening we spent time digging taters. We got in Pontiac Reds (the potatoes you guys have been getting most weeks for a couple of months, now), Russian banana, a yellow fingerling spud, great for roasting or salads. not great for mashed taters. And German Butterball. The Butterballs are a wonderfully round yellow spud that is a nice all purpose potato. It also is a potato we have grown for only 2 years now and have discovered that if you do not get these spuds out in a timely manner they decide to put out roots and leaves and make more taters. This would be wonderful if we had another 3 months of frost free weather ahead of us but now that is is firmly autumn and winter is on it's way these taters don't stand of chance of producing a crop (actually they do as Eugene has collected all the sprouting butterballs and will plant them in a hoop house where they just might be able to over winter). At any rate, this has never happened to us with any other variety of potato we have grown (and we have grown around 10 to 15 different varieties over the past 15 years) and I guess in the future we will have to remember to get these tubers out of the ground ASAP after they are ready. You see with potatoes, most can be left in the ground for weeks after the plants die back. As long as the ground does not freeze or get water logged (flooded) the taters should be alright (grubs are another factor-they will eat any and all taters they can get too). but we find the butterballs if left in the ground for more than a couple of weeks after the plants die back will try to make babies. All potatoes will eventually do this but most need to be left in the ground for several months or over winter to go into the reproduction mode. Actually the second reproduction mode as the plants make seed balls during the summer that will also turn into potato plants if planted. It is through the seed balls we get new varieties of potatoes. Yukon Gold was developed this way. Some day Boulder Belt may come up with a new variety of spud that is commercially viable as we do plant the seed balls to see what we get. So far we have gotten nothing new or unique. But we keep trying because we find plant breeding fascinating.
We still have a few openings (5/five) for the winter share. Let me know ASAP if you want to keep getting local food through January. Cost is $300, payable by Halloween for food every other week. I wanna give you members first crack at this offer before allowing non members to sign up. Thanks to those of you who have already let me know, yes or no, about the Winter Share Program
We can always use you clean, not full of rips and holes, plastic and paper shopping bags-got a big wad of them taking up space in your home and you don't want to landfill them? We will happily take them off your hands. Other things we are looking far are pint and quart canning jars (no lids needed). If you have any that are just taking up space bring 'em to the farm. If you can and need the jars keep them-oh and on that note if you do can and ever need widemouth lids (no rings) we can supply you with 'em for free as we have about 1500 new unused lids we got from a friend (and there is more where those came from). Anyhoo, if want some let me know and I will toss some in your share. And the final thing we are looking for are dogs and cats-we have lost one old dog and have another close to death and we really need a minimum of 3 dogs to keep the crops safe from deer, groundhogs and other critters. We also need a good mouser or two. If you know of any medium to large breed (mutts are best but preferably no Chow or Pitbull mixes) puppies up to 6 months old that need a good home let us know. Same with kittens. Dressing/Stuffing
1 loaf of bread cubed and allowed to go stale over night. If you did not give yourself enough time pop the cubed bread (put it on a baking sheet) into a 350F oven for 10 minutes to dry out. It will take more than 10 minutes to dry the bread but it should be stirred every 10 minutes until it gets to where you want it.
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock or water
1 medium yellow onion chopped
3 (or more) ribs of celery chopped
2 to 3 apples chopped
1 or 2 pears chopped
1 cup of nuts, chopped (walnuts are best but any will do)
1/2 cup of raisins
2 cloves of garlic minced (more or less-to taste)
1/2 pound mushrooms sliced
1 tsp fresh sage (can use dried)
1 tsp fresh rosemary (can use dried)
1/4 cup fresh Italian/flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup melted butter or olive oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
In a large frying pan melt 1/2 the butter (or oil) and saute the onion, mushrooms, garlic and celery until tender. In a large mixing bowl put together the bread, cooked veggies, herbs, salt and pepper, fruit, melted butter/oil and liquid and mix together. At this point you can either stuff your holiday bird or pork chops or put the dressing into a greased baking dish, cover and bake for about 45 minutes and than serve
What's in the Share this WeekBlue Lake Green Beans
-these will be on the big side but will still be tender and deliciousButterball potatoes
-expect about a pound of these plus Russian banana fingerlings (the not round taters). should be good mashed or boiled. I really have not used a lot of these as we are just now doing a real harvest and last year was the year to build up seed stock so I did not get a chance to cook any. not to mention it was a really bad year for them last year so... The Fingerlings are another one that we have grown for only a couple of years but these i know about because we have grown another type of fingerling, French Fingerling, for over 10 years and all fingerling taters have a waxy flesh that is perfect for roasting and boiling for salads.Spring mix-
This is the crop that got me into market farming. I was looking for a decent salad mix after using a local organic mix at a restaurant where I cooked for several years. I could not find a commercial salad mix that was at all decent (not even the organic mixes) so I decided to develop my own spring mix 15 years ago and I gotta say you will find none better. if it were not for spring mix I would not have become the locavore farmer I am today. Enjoy.Kale
-a nice 3/4 pound bag of White Russian Kale (there seems to be a Russian Theme developing with this share)
Radishes-A small bunch of D'avignon (long red and white) and Easter Egg (round red, white or purple) radishes. perfect for your saladRed Onion
-a couple of medium red onions. These are a beautiful all purpose onion.Sage
-herb of the week is sage. This is great for poultry dishes as well as pork. It is a strong herb so use it sparingly and unlike many much more delicate fresh herbs it can be used at the beginning of cooking and hold up. It is also good in herbed bread and biscuits.Peppers
-Last week I warned you all that there will be a future pepper explosion. that time has come. Expect a minimum of 4 huge ripe peppers in your share this week. Perhaps more. Remember these are super easy to freeze and would be great for stuffing.Eggplant
-I expect this to be the last week for eggplant. Aubergines do not like cold weather at all and will either die outright when temps get into the 30's or at the very least pout and refuse to produce more fruit.
Pears-2 to 3 pounds of Kieffer pears, yum yum.Garlic
-I dunno what kind will be in your share, one of the 3 kinds we grow, but it will be good as always.Winter Squash
-You will get 1 to 2 winter squashes in you share. I am not sure what kind at this point but it will either be Butternut (beige) Acorn (dark green), Delicata (oblong, ivory white with green or orange stripes) Sunshine (round and orange) or Cushaw (large, white with green stripes. All of them cook the same way-cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds (which are wonderful roasted) and bake on a baking sheet in a 350 oven for 20 to 45 minutes depending on the squash and its size. Squash is done when it is no longer hard to the touch.
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:38 AM EDT
We have reached week 24. You will notice that there are changes in your share as we go from summer items into more fall like items. The main crop of tomatoes are about over for the year. We still have some but the yield is way down. On Friday it took me about 20 minutes to harvest tomatoes for market. The week before it took about 1.5 hours and the week before that about 4 hours. This is what happens in September. We did plant a fall crop of maters back in early July and the small plants do have small green fruits on them. We expect that this crop will be ready in mid October through mid November. We will put a hoop house over the beds in a week or two to keep the tomatoes reasonably warm and happy. I have been busy putting up tomato juice, tomato sauce and salsa for use this winter and next spring. I hope you all are not disappointed about not getting 10+ pounds of maters in your share (okay, those of you who started this month may miss 'em but the members who have been with us all summer or the entire season have to be sick of the maters. It was a bit of overkill, but I could have easily distributed 3x to 4x as much some weeks)
We are in the thick of winter squash harvest. It has been a good year for acorn, butternut and sunshine squashes. back in July the butternut looked really bad. The beds got fairly weedy and the weeds hid the developing squashes. So for several weeks it looked like we would get nothing. Than it seemed like over night that the squash foliage died back revealing lots and lots of medium sized squashes. You will not see any butternuts for several weeks in your share as these must cure for 3 to 5 weeks to bring out the sugars in the flesh. Newly harvested butternuts (and this is true of all winter squashes) will have a rather insipid taste. The other reason you won't see a lot of winter squashes in shares (there will be some) is because these are grown for winter markets and shares. Marketing the produce we grow in winter has become a bit of a specialty for us. We do both season extension using row covers and hoop houses and we grow for root cellaring
As has been mentioned several times in past newsletters we are offering a winter share (which has 7 openings, down from 9 last week-if you want our food this winter I suggest you tell us sooner than later) and we got to most of the monthly winter markets in Oxford (3rd Saturday of the month starting in December). Selling at an outdoor market in the depths of winter is pretty hard core (we have sold in ice storms, heavy snow, sub zero temps and, a couple of times, spring like conditions in January). Our goal is to eventually have the winter share program replace the winter farmers markets as there are some down sides to selling outdoors in winter. If the temps are below 25F we cannot take squash or potatoes as they will freeze in about 2 hours. Interestingly, though, greens such as kale and arugula seem to do okay as do parsnips and carrots. So because of past learning experiences such as freezing over 100 pounds of taters at a subzero market coming home and tossing them in the compost, we know our limitations at such markets. The winter share program has no such limits because the produce stays indoors where it will not freeze and be ruined until members come to get it. And we don't have to stand around for 3 hours in the cold and wind selling (this is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds)
Hey! We have a Pot luck dinner and farm tour THIS Sunday. I have heard from only 4 members out of 13 about this. I need to know ASAP (like today) if you are coming to this event of not. Just reply to this email with a simple yes or no-it's that easy. The festivities will start around 6ish. Meet at the store.
Your shares will be ready after 4pm. It looks like there will be one bag per share this week and they will be in the fridge. Oh and speaking of bags if you have a lot of plastic grocery bags taking up room in your abode we will take them and reuse them (as long as they are clean-absolutely no dirty bags). just bring them with you and leave them on the table where I have been putting the tomatoes all summer.RecipeLamb or Beef stew
(if vegetarian leave out the meat). This is a family recipe I learned from my father. He always made beef stew but in recent years I got turned onto stewing lamb and find it is better than beef.
a couple of medium yellow cooking onions, diced
several stalks of celery, diced
4+ carrots (med to large), diced
1/2 pound potatoes diced
1 medium rutabaga peeled and diced
1 large pepper (green, purple or red) diced
1/8 cup fresh sage (or 1-tsp dried)
several sprigs of rosemary (if doing lamb)
1/4 cup of fresh parsley
1TBL dried basil (fresh will not work with this recipe)
2 tsp dried oregano
several cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
salt to taste (at least 1TBL)
2+ quarts of water or meat or veggie stock
Any other veggies you desire such as parsnip, winter squash, zucchini, tomato, leeks, mushrooms, green beans, daikons, etc..
1+ pounds of stew meat (We get ours from Morning Sun Farms which sells it's pastured meat at Oxford, Yellow Springs and West Chester farmers markets)
In a large heated pot (at least 3 gallons) cook the meat until brown (vegetarians skip this step). When the meat is brown remove it from the pot add some butter or oil to the brown bits left by the meat cooking (vegetarian style will have no brown bits and that's okay) and add the veggies, salt, herbs and water/stock. On medium high heat bring to a simmering boil. Once simmering turn heat down to medium low, add the cooked meat cover and let cook for at least 2 hours, checking and stirring every so often. You may have to add an additional quart of so of water during cooking. When the contents are soft (especially the meat-you are using stew meat which takes several hours of stewing to be right) grab a blender and puree about 1/3 of the stew (you may have to add some water). Put the puree back into the stew, check seasonings and adjust if needed and you are ready to serve. This is great with a good bread, cornbread or homemade biscuits.What's In the ShareGreen beans
-big beans from an early planting of beans we though was dead and gone but instead has been silently producing beans. These beans look tough but in reality are sweet and tender despite their robust sizeEggplant
-at least a pound of neon (purple) and Nadia (black) eggplant. The 3" rain last week got the plants to start producing something other than micro auberginesCelery
-this is a fall vegetable that could use a bit more time to get a bit bigger. This is best used for cooking as it tends to be stronger than what we are used to getting at the store. Celery is hard to grow around here because it is very susceptible to fusarium, a soil fungi endemic to the midwest. Michigan was the #1 producer of celery until the mid 1950's when fusarium destroyed the industry.
Peppers-Several peppers. Some should be ripe and some will be purple and/or greenCayenne Peppers
-several cayennes. These have a nice heat but are not too hot. For some members, I suppose, they will not be hot enough. We had a great deal of trouble getting the hot peppers to germinate this past spring and had planned on several other types but this is what worked. We did get 6 Jalapeno plants to survive in pots on the back deck but they are not producing enough (we have picked 6 so far) for the farm share so I have been using them for our own salsa.Garlic
-A couple of corms of our hardneck garlicSage-
a nice bunch of fresh sageKale
-this is the only green we have going right now and because Eugene direct seeded the kale (usually we start seeds indoors under lights than transplant the seedlings out) we have a lot of thinning to do so the kale plants have enough space between them for proper growth this fall and winter. And you get the bounty. I have noticed a lot of the plants have aphids. I do wash the kale before it is put into shares and that does get about 90% of the aphids off the leaves but some stay on so be sure to inspect and wash the care carefully before using (unless you like a bit of extra protein with your greens)
Leeks-a couple of leeks this weekPears
-2+ pounds of our Keiffer pears. this harvest comes from just one tree that for the past 4 years has reliably produced 15 bushels a years. yesterday Eugene harvested 3.5 bushels just to keep major limbs from breaking off under the weight of the fruitRutabaga
-a couple of medium or one large 'baga (for the stew recipe)Carrots
-You are getting less than perfect carrots. Since we have lost a good dog and a mousing cat in the past year we are getting more and more damage to the carrots from mice and voles (and likely rabbits). They like to eat the top 5% of the roots and leave the rest. These are perfectly good carrots but they do need a bit of work. Mostly cutting off the top of the roots but there may also be carrot maggot damage towards the middle of the carrot. Either cut that out or use a peeler and peel it away. You will get at least 1 pound, probably more.
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:25 AM EDT