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 25ยข 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 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 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

 
 

Boulder Belt Farm Share Initiative, Week 16

It's week 16 of the farm Share initiative for many of you. Many CSA type programs go for less time than that. And here we do our Farm Share Initiative virtually year round. And that brings me to the question, are any of you interested in a winter farm Share? I am thinking charging $100 per month for two pick-ups a month. This would probably run 3 months. The shares would be quite a bit larger than what you get in summer. Something like 50% to 75% larger. Right now I don't know how many members we could supply for this as we are just beginning to harvest some winter items and other have not even been planted yet (that is done August and September) And yet other things like winter squashes are just beginning to set fruit. There is no rush on this as this program would not start until mid November but is something to think about.

It is very dry here. We have gotten basically zero rain since July 4th (and that was not a great big rain). The farm still is green and things are growing. I would not say it is exactly thriving at this point but things are a long way from dying. We do irrigate but that is no replacement for a amount good rainfall. Also our pump is giving us problems and kicks off on a whim. This has started happening several times a day and means Eugene must spend about 1/2 hour getting it to run again every time it kicks off. I think we are looking at a new pump in the very near future which will be costly but we can replace the pump we currently have with one that is designed to pump 75K+ gallons of water a day.

Yeah, a small farm uses a lot of water and we are using the most efficient method for delivering water to the plants-drip irrigation under mulch. Imagine how much water bigger farms that use those big sprinklers use. Sprinklers get about 50% of the water to the plants vs drip irrigation that gets 95% of the water to the plants. The rest of the water evaporates into the air. Wotta a waste and yet this is how most farms in the USA irrigate their farms (but the big commodities, corn and soy, are rarely irrigated). Generally, only smaller farms use drip irrigation, probably because of the difficulties of setting up a system for a 100+ acre farm. But this can be done. I was told about 13 years ago that row covers are useless on all but the smallest farms and now they are routinely used on large fruit and vegetable farms. I suspect soon we will start seeing the big produce farms out in California making use of a lot of drip irrigation and other water saving techniques as they are in a huge drought and have been pretty much banned from using what water is left.

So I have a problem with you all (but it's a good problem). It is getting harder and harder to keep your shares down to 8 to 12 items as we are going into the season of great bounty and food diversity. I want you all to sample everything we grow. This week you get 13 items and may end up with 14. I know some of you will welcome an increase in food but I have been doing this CSA thing long enough to know most members have a bit of difficulty using everything in their share and feel great "food guilt"  if they cannot use all of their share. So I keep it limited to no more than 12 to 15 items. If we were to go the route of truly giving you equal shares in the market garden and did not have other markets you guys would be getting something like 150 pounds of food a week and in August that would double (or even triple). And this is with, say, 40 members. The first year did a CSA this is exactly what we did and it overwhelmed our members and everybody quit. I remember the shares generally weighed about 40 pounds. The market garden was about 1 acre and we had no real idea about what we are doing as we had been farming for less than 5 years at the time. Now we know what we are doing, have a lot bigger garden on much better land and are able to produce far more per acre than we could 11 years ago.

Thanks to all of you who have brought reusable bags. I believe we are at about 1/3 of the members now-lets get to 100% by the end of the month.

Recipe
Mashed Taters with Garlic


1 to 2 pounds of pontiac red taters
1/2 cup 1/2 and 1/2
butter
1 to 2 cloves of garlic
salt to taste

Wash the potatoes and cut into largish pieces, peel the skins if you want. Put into a pan of cold water and and bring to a boil. When they are cooked through and soft mash them with a potato masher or a potato ricer if you are lucky enough to own one. Never use a food processor to mash taters, you will get a glue like substance that is pretty inedible. Add the garlic by either putting it through a press or my favorite way using a micro-planer to finely grate it straight into the taters. next add the butter, incorporate, than the 1/2 and 1/2 than the salt. The taters are now ready to serve


Here is what is in this week's share

Tomatoes- you get about 2 pounds of small red and yellow tomatoes, the same kinds as last week
Snow peas-this should be the last of the snow peas. the vines started producing again, i guess because it has been so cool
Garlic-2 corms of hard necked garlic
Strawberries-yummy berries
Zucchini-a mixed bag of zukes from the bright yellow patty pan to the lively green striped Costata Romanesque
Chard-a nice bag of bright lights chard
Red Giant Mustard/kale-The red giant mustard you find in our spring mix, eventually it will insist on growing to full size and that is when I cut it for mustard-this is sweet and peppery, just like a really good Chinese mustard (which it is). Thursday Shares get a kale medley
Ailsa Craig Onion-a wonderful mild sweet onion. This onion is named for the big rock in Scotland which is where the british open was played this past week.  they can get up to 5 pounds in size though it looks like our biggest will be about 2 pounds. This is best used raw in salads or on sandwiches. When cooked they get rather insipid. In a couple of months you will start to get good cooking onions in your shares
Green pepper-you will get a couple of green peppers this week.
Potatoes-1.5 to 2 pounds of  mainly Pontiac red potatoes
Tarragon-herb of the week
Garlic chives-these have a wonderful garlic flavor
Haricot verts-these are a true french filet bean. very delicate. Cook for no more than 7 minutes. You get about 1/2 pound.
 
 

Boulder Belt Farm Share Week 9

 

It's June! the start of summer or something like that. Early June is when we transplant the tomatoes as this is when we are about 99% assured there will be no frost (there was a frost after June 7th in the late 1980's I remember but 99 years out of 100 there is not). We have, with the help of my brother and sister who visited over the weekend, gotten about 20% of the maters in the ground and about 15% of the stakes, that will support the plants, erected. So far, there are Early girls, Paul Robeson (guess what color the maters will be from these plants?) Opalka (a nice heirloom sauce tomato) and yellow taxi an early lemon yellow tomato-we have another 17 or so varieties to get in the ground this week.

Other than tomatoes we have also been planting beans, cucumbers and zucchini, more spring mix (though I believe the seeds planted this past week will be the last as lettuce and spring mix do not do well for us in the heat of summer). Most seasons we do some sort of planting pretty much all the time but this year we will try to wrap things up in the next couple of weeks as it looks like we will not be getting much rain-in the past week we have received .3 inches. All but two weak storms have missed us. Not good. But we have irrigation and If Eugene is not tied up planting lots of seeds and seedlings than he can work on hooking up the irrigation system which takes a couple of days to do. We do have most of the drip tape laid out and now they need to be attached to the feeder lines and that takes a while because it is rare that the drip tapes easily attach to the lines. Once the irrigation system is 100% we will not worry as much about the lack of rain, at least for a while. But if we do not get a lot of rain in a couple of weeks and go into July down on rainfall we will start worrying about the well drying up. I seriously doubt this will happen as it is a fairly new well (under 40 years old) and deep bit no rain equals a low water table and low water tables are not good when you are taking about 70K gallons out of the well weekly when it gets dry. 70k gallons is a shocking amount but if we were to water with a hose or sprinklers it would be about 5x more water-yes, agriculture can use a lot of water but drip tapes use the least amount at 70% to 90% less than any other irrigation system.

And, irrigation will not allow the crops to thrive the way an inch of rain a week will. So pray for rain to fall on our farm. We are doing all we can-hanging laundry out, leaving windows open in the house and  vehicles, exposing flats of seedlings in soil blocks (which will melt into a solid mass of soil and roots if rained upon), leaving tools in the field. Perhaps we need to have daily outdoor events such as the potluck of a couple of weeks ago. We need to do something to call the rains to our farm-it gets close. There was a gully washer that got as close as 1/8th mile away on Friday. Most of the rain in the past week has been within no more than 2 miles but it will not fall here where we need it. Now that I think of it, the key maybe getting the irrigation all set up. In the past we have done this and have been rewarded with months of rain (this has happened 3 different times-we get the system set up and it starts raining within 24 hours for the rest of the season and we don't use it at all. But than there have been plenty of years where the irrigation was all that kept the crops going)

Your shares will be in the fridge in the store. I believe most everyone knows this now that I have been haphazardly putting them in there the past few weeks. now that it is above 75 degrees I like to keep the food chilled so it stays fresh longer in your fridges. I tend to be a bit obsessive about food quality. Eugene sometimes thinks I go overboard but I really hate sending out food that is not top shelf.

We are planning another potluck dinner Sunday June 21st, the summer solstice. I hope everyone can make it. these are really fun events and I feel it is important for all members to tour the farm as you will learn a lot about how we grow the food you eat. This is a big perk as we normally charge $25 an hour for a farm tour. So come out and get your money's worth.

Recipe

Roasted Garlic Scapes
These are wicked good

1 package of Scapes (1/2 LB)
1TBL olive Oil
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Preheat your oven to 350?. Put clean whole garlic scapes in a roasting pan. drizzle the oil over top and sprinkle salt to taste. Cover pan with lid or foil and put in oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Done when it smells like roasted garlic

This Week's Share

Lettuce-at least 3/4 pound of mixed heads
Spring mix-1/2 pound bag (we sell 6 ounce bags at market and the store so you get a BIG bag of this)
Arugula-1/4 pound bag of this peppery green
Zucchini-the squashes are getting bigger so you should get about a pound of  bigger than baby squash
Kale-a 1/2 pound bag of either russian white (what you have been getting all season) or Dinosaur which is dark green and an ancient kale. The dinosaur was almost ready last Friday and may be ready today (Tuesday)
Peas-1/2 pound of snow peas this week. And maybe some shelling peas, if enough are ready. If you get both the snow peas are the flat ones and are eaten pod and all (these will be loose). The shellers are dark green and you don't want to eat the pod (they are not poisonous, just fibrous)
Chives-Another bunch of chives with flowers.
Savory-this is an all purpose herb that everyone needs to use more often. It can replace black pepper and is good with anything except sweet foods. It is said to cut down on the flatulence factor in bean dishes and pairs exquisitely with dried beans.
Asparagus-at least 1/2 pound this week. I do not know how much longer this will be coming in. maybe a week, maybe a month
Garlic Scapes-These are the long green things in your share. Scapes signal the beginning of garlic season. These are the flower tops from our hard necked garlic and must be removed in order to get large heads of garlic. Our early garlic made their scapes over the weekend (right on time) and in 5 weeks we will harvest it. You use scapes much like you do garlic. Chop them up and put them in anything that needs garlic. they also are great pickled (though to make the canning process worth it you really need about 10+ pounds of scapes). These will last about 5 months in the fridge

 
 
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