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.
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.