Boulder Belt Eco-Farm

  (Eaton, Ohio)
We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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Boulder Belt Farm Share Initiative, Week 14

It's  new month and the farm share initiative has many new members thanks to some nice networking on the part of some of our members. This is exactly what should be happening in any healthy CSA type affair-members getting involved in their farm and going out and spreading the word. Way to go! For July we have 13 members, up from 9 members in June and 5 brand new members

First a little business-new members you share will be in the store in the fridge to the right of the front door. Each bag will have a name on it, take the bag with your name on it and leave the others (unless you are picking up for a group). Pick up is from 4 to 7pm. We are busy people and this time of year is a very busy time for us, so we may or may not be there to meet you. If you owe money and we are not around, leave it on the counter.

We will have a pot luck dinner/farm tour Sunday July 19th from 6 'til dark. I would like to know ASAP who will be attending (or not)

We will take back all packaging you get in your shares including boxes, rubber bands, plastic bags, etc..The more you bring back to us the fewer resources we will use for this project. And on this same general topic, some members have started providing us with cloth shopping bags. if anyone else can drop off 2 to 3 such bags (with you name written on each bag so we know who they belong to) this would be great. We have a gazillion plastic "T-shirt" bags but I would love to start getting away from using those or paper grocery bags to pack shares and go to something more sustainable. I can look into getting bags for everyone but frankly we all have such bags around the house and probably don't need another 2 to 3 of them.

Life on the farm has been busy, busy, busy. There is lots to harvest, lots to weed and it is time to plant crops for late summer. This means clearing out old crops-yesterday we harvested a bed of red turnips that had been sitting there doing nothing. Today all the pea beds will be cleaned up meaning plants taken out and put on the compost and the fencing used for trellising taken down and stored away. Hopefully this will get done early enough that Eugene can till these beds and prepare them for planting in the next few days. We plan on planting more beets, carrots, green beans, red turnips, rutabagas, etc., for late August/early September harvests.

We also have a lot of harvesting to do. Early July is raspberry season around here. our 400 or so feet of raspberries provides a lot of berries for us, the farm share, the store, the farmers market and yesterday I noticed an oriole family helping themselves (we have so many this year that we decided not to put any bird netting over the plants and until the orioles moved in this week not a lot of damage was done. Still, there are so many berries that I believe they will get their fill long before they have much impact on the harvest). Raspberry harvest has been taking about 6 hours a day to bring in. It is one of our most lucrative crops but I will be happy when the berries are over for this year. We had a fine garlic harvest. We decided to get the garlic out about 10 to 14 days early because we noticed some disease issues starting. So we jumped on harvesting the garlic and it is looking good and curing quite quickly. Our next big harvest will be the onions the beginning of August-we do all sorts of onions-red, sweet (yellow and white) and yellow cooking onions. The sweet onions you will start to see in your shares in the next couple of weeks others, like the yellow cooking onions, won't be available until fall and winter.

Cucumber salad

This is about my favorite summer food

Cucumber peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium sweet onion sliced
1 ripe tomato cut into chunks
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
Rice or balsamic vinegar (or mix 'em)
Olive oil

put the veggies in a bowl drizzle olive oil and vinegars over top that add the salt. Stir and let sit for about an hour. this is really really good with cubes of a good bread tossed in too. I have been using a dill bread I found at Jungle Jim's last week

Okay, here is what is in your share this week

Cucumbers-2 cukes, be sure to peel these well as the skin is quite bitter. The irony is we pay a lot of money for this particular seed because this is  supposed be a never bitter cuke and for over a decade was always sweet and perfect. but the past 2 years something has changed, climate change? a new breeding program? I dunno but the bitter cukes have made me a bit bitter.

Galia Melon-melon season has started you will get either a nice big melon or 2 smallish melons. the galia, or tropical melon was developed in the middle east. Eugene claims it is a cantaloupe but the catalogues have it in its' own category. At any rate the flesh is green but it tastes more like a cantaloupe than anything. it definitely does not taste like a honey dew despite the resemblance.

Chard-you get a nice big bag of  bright lights chard. If you are new to chard, cook it like spinach

Raspberries-you get 2 half pints this week

Mizuna-A nice bag of this mild asian green. I like eating this raw by using it as a bed for other veggies. The cucumber salad would go well on a bed of mizuna.

Garlic- 2 heads of one of the hard necked garlic we grow

Beans-a pound of mixed wax and green beans. I like to snap off the ends and cook them for 14 minutes. Mmmmmm Beans.

Carrots-a pound of our spring carrots. We have had great difficulty with weeds getting into the early carrot beds. We have spent literally hundreds of hours attempting to keep the beds free of weeds with little success but we were able to eke out a small early carrot harvest. The summer and fall carrots should be a lot better

Red Turnips-earlier in the season we distributed red turnips with greens. These have no greens and thus will store for weeks and weeks in your fridge (greens tend to suck all the moisture from roots leaving them soft)

Zucchini-the best squash we grow, costata romanesque is coming in. These green with grey stripe beauties are an old heirloom zuke with the best flavor of any zuke grown.

Savory-this is a peppery herb that is good in about anything (this is where the term "savory" dish comes from)

Potatoes-you will get around a pound of Kennebec white and Pontiac red (named for the Chippewa chief, not the car manufacturer). Soon we will have several other varieties such as red fingerlings, yukon gold, all blue, etc..


Boulder Belt Farm Share Initiative, Week 13

I's crunch time here. we have a flood of raspberries (and a great special on them if you are inclined to make jam out of them-10 boxes for $30) that must be harvested every day to the tune of 50 to 60 boxes a day. on top of that the first of the beans are harvestable (and excellent), the garlic decided to ripen early, and lots of other things are either just about ready to harvest or we have just started (and this is reflected in your shares). on top of it all we are getting chickens tomorrow for our winter meat stash. i think we have lost most of our sanity.

The good news is we have help twice a week until the end of July, though, if any of you have a hankering to pull weeds, pick raspberries or help us with any other necessary tasks (and with diversified farming there are always about a 100 things to do) feel free to come out and help. Doing a few hours of farm work is always an eye opener for non farmers and will get you closer to your food. And it is fun.

Because of this the newsletter this week will be short and sweet and missing a recipe

So here is what we expect to have in the shares this week

Garlic-this if fresh so the skins around each clove may not have colored up and looks like it is not there, it is. Expect 3 corms.
Strawberries-1 pint of berries this week
Raspberries-you get 3 half pints this week
Kale-a big bag of mixed kale. the varieties are winterbor (very curly) White Russian (flat scalloped leaves) and Dinosaur (dark green leaves)
Snow peas-this will be the last we see of these
Beans-A mix of green and wax beans, probably over a pound
cabbage-either 1 big head or 2 small heads.
Zucchini-mainly patty pans and big green zukes. I envision 6 or more per share
Cucumbers-these are supposedly a type with bitter free skins. I find the skins bitter, personally so I suggest they be peeled before use. You get 3 cukes in your share
Arugula-the wonderful spicy salad green

Boulder Belt Farm Share Initiative, Week 12

It's Tuesday and that means it is the beginning on another farm share cycle. The big news here is it is hot and humid which makes farm work miserable. We combat the heat and humidity by starting work early in the morning so we can get work done before it gets too hot, around noon, 11am if it is going to get well above 90F. Fortunately, as long as it does not get much above 90F the crops are happy. Though if we get a real heat wave where we are over 95F for several days (and do not drop below 80F at night) the crops will not be happy and will start a decline in yields. This is the big risk in a hot summer-heat.

We are pretty much done with planting until mid August when we start planting for late fall/winter. Now we are into maintenance and harvesting. Lots of weeding/hoeing, mowing, fertilizing, mulching and tomato tying to be done.  On the harvest front we are going into raspberry season. For the next 4 weeks or so much of my life will be dominated by harvesting raspberries. And if we get a back log than I will make raspberry jam and freeze the berries that do not sell. Actually, I will do this even if there is not a backlog as I do a lot of canning and freezing for our winter food supply. In addition to the raspberries we will have green and wax beans coming in soon. Like raspberries, these take hours to harvest and need to be picked no less than every 36 hours (daily is better). And the strawberries are also coming back in and they are another drop that needs daily attention. Add to that beets, kale, chard, basil, zucchini, arugula, broccoli, scallions, etc.. and you have a full day. Oh and soon we will be doing our big summer harvest of garlic (over 2000 plants that will come in all at once, have to be hung to cure for 4 to 6 weeks and cleaned up so they will store into March or April, than sorted as this is what we use for our seed stock and we always take out the finest garlics to replant in October). This happens around July 4th

Sometimes I think we work too much but this is far better than working for The Man.


Raspberry Pancakes

2 cups flour (I like to mix whole wheat and white 1/2 and 1/2)
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter melted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 TBL sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pint raspberries crushed with a bit of sugar

Combine the dry ingredients than add the milk, butter and eggs mixing after each addition. lastly add the crushed berries. Cook on a hot skillet (I use med heat) until the pancake is bubbly than flip and cook another minute or so. I usually make extras that I put on a cooling rack before putting in a freezer bag and into the freezer-makes for super easy future breakfasts (but unlike a lot of things don't leave these in the freezer for more than 3 to 4 weeks or they get very wierd)

What's in This Week's Share

Raspberries-2 1/2 pints of yummy raspberries
Strawberries-1 pint of the berries
Scallions-our 2009 scallion crop is ready to harvest and it looks beautiful
Spring Mix-This will be one of the last weeks for spring mix. it is getting too hot and dry to  produce quality and frankly we are getting to busy to deal with it-it is a labor intensive crop
Kale-more yummy and nutritious kale
Red Beets-a nice bunch of beautiful beets with greens. Cook the greens like you would spinach or chard
Sugar Snap peas-You get a pound (or more) this week. Eat these pod and all.
Snow Peas-like last week you will get a a lot, probably a pound and a 1/2. if you cannot eat them all consider blanching them, quickly cooling in cold water and putting in a freezer bag and popping in your freezer for later use
Broccoli-I have not looked at this so I do not know what kind of shape it is in. Our first bunch was a variety we do not like but wanted to use up the seed so we planted it this spring and hoped it would work this year. It did not, it all bolted. As it has done the 3 years we have used it. This kind also did not produce enough to include in the shares which is why you have not seen any broccoli until now. The second type is much more reliable and I hope has some nice big heads. In any event, it all tastes good no matter what it looks like
Zucchini-this week you get about 1.5 pounds of the green and yellow zephyr plus a bright yellow sunburst patty pan (treat this as you would any zucchini)
Basil-You will be getting more and more basil each week-Eugene just transplanted an additional 150 plants on top of the early stuff I am picking now. Basil is very easy to preserve for winter. Either dry it in a paper bag (check it daily) or put basil and olive oil together in a food processor and blend. Put into ice cube trays and into the freezer. When fully frozen, pop the basil cubes into a labeled plastic bag and back into the freezer. be sure to get all the air out of the bag before storing


Boulder Belt Farm Share Initiative, Week 11

We have reached mid June and true summer. The long days mean that the onions are growing at an explosive rate. The bulbs just about double in size daily (right now that does not mean much as they are just beginning to form bulbs but in about a week it will be really noticeable). we have pulled all the garlic scapes, or about all, there are always a few we miss no matter how many times we check, this means you will soon get fresh garlic in your share, by soon I mean next week. You should get raspberries next week as well. I though last year was a bumper crop but it looks like this year will easily out pace the 26 gallons of berries we picked last year. The plants are much larger and the stand is denser and they are loaded with ripening berries and flowers that are abuzz with pollenators. We have picked a scant few and they are fabulous!

Along with the 15+ hour days we have started getting good amounts of rain. Over 2 inches have fallen in the past 3 days (including the 1/2 inch that fell while AccuWeather told me we had less than a 3% chance of any rain at that time of day. I wish we could bet on this rain forecasting because I would have taken those odds.). All this means a lot of happy crops. The tomatoes we finished transplanting last week are growing really well. Some have grown about 6" in a week. the tomatoes we put out in April have green maters that look like they should start to ripen soon. We will start the tomato season with a yellow mater called Yellow Taxi, soon after will come the sublime red heirloom, Matina (this is seriously one of the best tomatoes I have ever eaten), than the orange cherry tomato, Sunsugar and another red heirloom, GL-18. I believe these will be ready in early July. The potatoes are flowering and huge. The beets are about a week from readiness. The scallions should be ready in about 2 weeks. Oh and the pea crop is coming in. We have loads of snow peas and soon will have loads of sugar snap peas as the second planting is what we are beginning to harvest from and this planting is bigger and the plants a lot more fruitful as they were planted in a warmer time than the first peas. We won't have shelling peas for another week. They are setting a lot of pods but the pods need a bit more time to fill up with peas.

We are leaving the planting period and going into the heavy duty harvest period. I figure by this time next week I will be spending about 6 hours a day harvesting raspberries, strawberries and peas. 3 days a week there will additional things to harvest for the farm share initiative and the Saturday farmers market in Oxford. I am not looking forward to the raspberry picking as that will fill most of the harvest day. I know last year there were a couple of days where both Eugene and I were out there together for 4 hours-that would be an 8 hour picking for one person. But the upside is raspberries are one of our more profitable crops and yummy.

This weekend there is a pot luck on Sunday at 6pm. I need to know if you are coming or not (i.e RSVP). Bring a dish to share, things to eat from and with. We will set up a grill and I plan on getting some local beef, probably from Salem Road farm (not organic but grass fed). Let me know no later than Friday if you are attending or not. The last farm tour pot luck was wonderful.


Squash Lyonnaise

1 LB zucchini or summer squash
1 med to large onion
1 TBL Butter
Salt to taste

Slice squash into 1/4 inch slices, do the same with the onions. In a hot sauté pan melt the butter than add the onions, squash and salt. Cook over medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes or until squash is soft

In your share this week:

Chard-The first chard harvest of the year. Actually these are the thinnings-the chard needs space and you get to eat the results. If you are new to chard cook it like you would spinach.
Kale-You get a nice bag of kale this week. kale is one of the most nutritious foods we grow
Red Turnips-more turnips with greens. These can be boiled and mashed like potatoes only these will come out a pretty pink.
Snow peas-you will get a lot of snow peas this week, perhaps over a pound. These need to be strung and are best eaten raw. A very nice snack.
Sugar snap peas-you won't get as many snap peas as you do snow peas this week. Like the snow peas these need to be strung. these are good cooked or raw.
Zucchini-a couple of medium to small zephyr zucchinis. I think this may be the last week for zucchini for several weeks. the crop from which we have been harvesting is just about done and the next zukes have not yet started to flower and it will be a couple of weeks after the flowers start before there is anything to harvest.
Strawberries-They're baaack, and sweeter than ever.
Cilantro-a nice bag of cilantro
Garlic scapes-another 1/2 pound of scapes
Chives-I cut back the chives about 2 weeks ago to get rid of the fading flowers and tough stems. now they are ready to harvest again, without the flowers.

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