We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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It's farm share day. I hope you have eaten your way through the last share by now.
Several significant things have happened in the passed day or so. First we got more rain and than winter showed up again so today it looks like some light snow. This will not affect your share this week as we harvested everything for it Monday when it was warm and nice out (and this allowed us to wash everything as well so not too much mud on things, but there will be a bit). Winter means things happen more slowly. The crops grow much more slowly and we farmers work more slowly, often due to mud, ice and snow (hard to work quickly when one's feet keep slipping). The cold will start impacting your shares in the weeks ahead. As I mentioned, things grow glacially slow in winter (yes that was a pun) and even the protected crops will get wind and cold burns. We are planning on harvesting all the carrots, rutabagas, hamburg parsley (this is a root crop) and parsnips in the next week or so so they do not freeze in the ground and get ruined (not to mention the fact one does not dig roots out of hard frozen ground). This will leave the hardy leafy greens, most of which need to get hoop houses over them, as the crops left in the ground. My hope is the weather will be mild enough (meaning it gets up to the low 40's during the day and does not get colder than 17 at night) that the greens can continue to grow for another 3 to 4 weeks before they either die of cold or go dormant until late Feb. If we get hit with some truly frigid temps than the greens will probably stop early and the shares will be all things that have been stored for winter use. As it is, they are doing well and growing because we are finally getting the rain we needed several months ago
Second, the big food bill running through the Senate, S510 was voted on and passed yesterday morning. There has been an incredible amount of fear mongering about this bill. Wild claims that back yard gardening, seed saving, Organic farming, cooking at home, etc.. will all be shut down. None of these things will happen but there was worry that farms such as Boulder Belt, that sell direct to their customers would have to either shut down or invest quite a bit of money in infrastructure to get farm packing sheds up to FDA code. Plus they would have to keep more records and get annual inspections (actually, pretty similar to what the certified Organic farmers have to do). But because of the Tester-Hagan Amendment all farms who make under $500K, sell at least 51% of their crops direct and sell within a 249 mile radius of their farm are exempt from this bill. But from what I am still reading on the web by the nay-sayers it is still a huge disaster. I guess they all forget that the industrial food stream is corrupt and dirty and needs to be cleaned up ASAP. And this bill should go a long way in doing just that. I will note that before the Tester-Hagan amendment was attached to the bill the big food and farm corps were all for this passing because they saw it as a way to get rid of us little sustainable guys who are taking over 1% of their business. But once it was firmly attached, about 3 days before the vote, all the big industrial food and farm corps suddenly did a 180 degree turn and were against it. This tells me the bill when it becomes law has teeth and will clean up their acts.
The 3rd thing going on today is Tuttle the kitten is getting neutered. he is almost 6 months old and it is time. Looks like we got this done before the dreaded spraying started. We have lots of hoop house plastic that has been well marked by male cats we have had over the years. the smell stays active for at least 5 years. tuttle has been learning all about hunting mice and voles and will be an important part of our pest control come late winter and early spring when the voles and mice start to get active and will eat entire plantings of seedlings and will move freshly planted pea seeds and hoard them under row covers. but between Tuttle, mouse traps, Nate (who is a very enthusiastic but rather inefficient voler/mouser) and us humans we should be able to keep the vermin under decent control. This also means we may not be home around 4pm as That should be about when he will be ready to come home.
Pick up after 4 pm today. Like last time expect two bags of produce (unless you have provided a really big bag and got just one bag last pick up) If your bags are not in the front of the store than go to the back and look in the huge silver fridge. Any bags not picked up by 7pm today will go there so that they do not freeze. You see, we do not heat the store building and when it goes into the mid 20's bags of produce on the floor will tend to freeze (they are fine when it is in the high 20's outside as the store generally stays about 10 degrees above the outside temp). But the fridge keeps everything well above freezing and in good shape. This is just more of the differences between doing a winter CSA and a Spring/summer/fall CSA
Don't forget if you sign up for next year's FSI before Jan 1st you get a mighty nice discount. We are already filling up spaces for next year so act soon (and if you are not doing next year please let me know ASAP)Recipe
This week we feature radishes. I know some of you are not keen on radishes but this recipe makes use of a lot of them and is good for those of us who do not fully appreciate the radish (and I happen to be in this camp. I am not a radish fan but I love this recipe, who knew radishes could replace cabbage in a slaw recipe?)Radish Cole Slaw
(we can still call this cole slaw because radishes are a member of the cole crop (AKA Brassica) family
4+ cups of radishes (this would be around 6 bunches)
1 small red onion
1 clove of garlic
several carrots (like 1 cup when shredded)
1 cup mayo
1 TBL sugar
1 TBL rice vinegar (or balsamic)
1 tsp celery seed
1 TBL olive oil
salt to taste
Also good in this are parsley, raw beets, walnuts and cucumber
Get out the food processor or a grater and put the radishes, onion and carrots through, using the shredding blade. Put all this in a bigger bowl than you would think you would need and add the mayo, oil, sugar, vinegar and the rest except the garlic. The garlic needs to either be put through a press or minced into garlic foam with a micro-planer. Add that to the radish mix and stir well. Put in the fridge for at least an hour so the flavors can meld (but 4+ hours is best). This will store in your fridge for about 14 days.What's in the ShareSpring Mix
6 oz bagArugula
-1/4 pound bagLeeks
-2 winter leeks that are about 1/3 the size they should be thanks to the droughtCarrots
-1.5 pounds of rainbow carrotsPotatoes
-around 2 pounds of mixed potatoesSweet Potatoes
-1 pound of yamsRed Onion
1.5 pounds of red onions (or it may be a mix of red and yellow). The red are a nice all purpose onion-can be cooked or eaten raw on sandwiches or in salads. the yellow is for cooking only unless you have a gut of iron.Garlic
-at least 3/4 pound of Napa!Broccoli Raab
-A small bag as I was not able to harvest as much as i thought I could because much had gotten some pretty bad frost and wind damage due to their row cover coming off in the chilly and very windy night Sunday/Monday. Eugene reports that yesterday's rain has improved the raab greatly and it will be even better when we get a hoop house over top of it. We are hoping this will grow through January. We have never grown this in winter but it is supposed to be one of the hardiest of the winter greens, rivaling, if not surpassing, Kale. So far, though it has not been all that hardy. You get 1/2 poundBok Choy
-if this is not the last week for it the next pick up certainly will be as the choy's are not very cold hardy and I noticed this stuff is beginning to make broccoliesque flowers. You get 3/4 poundsRadish
-you will get lots of radishes this week in order to make the recipe. not to mention we harvested most of them about 10 days ago and they need to be used (even though they will store without tops for at least 8 weeks in the fridge). You get 12 bunchesRutabaga
-like a turnip only better. Great in soups, stews and good roasted with other root veggies. You get a pound
Winter squash-a couple of acorn squash and a butternutTomatoes
-several pounds of ripe maters and perhaps some green ones as well. You get 3 poundsCeleriac
-the ugly lumpy things that once cleaned and prepped are fantastic. use as you would celery, after all it is celery root.
-you get a tiny box of berries. I wish there were more but as i have mentioned it was a rough strawberry year for us and we rarely had anywhere near enough to supply our FSI members. And now, as of yesterday, the berry season is all done. Even with a hoop house and row covers most of the berries were freezing and turing into mold factories infecting all around them. And we know from lots exp that when that starts to happen it is time to put the berries to sleep for the winter. the good news is all the new plants we started from runners are working and we should have 2x+ more next year as this year.Peppers
-there will be some jalapenos (get out the popper recipe or make a chili with 'em) and some not hot green and ripe bells (on the small side and probably not the best quality)Beets
-a mix of red beets, yellow beets and even a few chioggiaLettuce
-a bag with 2 heads of heirloom lettuce.
Posted by Lucy
@ 07:57 AM EST
It's CSA day (Woo Hoo!) and we have a larger share in store this week than 2 weeks ago. That one I made a bit smaller than I liked because of the drought conditions as well as getting a handle on how much food we have already harvested like onions, winter squash, garlic, potatoes, etc.. vs what we have growing still in the market garden. Not to mention, I had just gotten back from DC and the Jon Stewart Rally and, frankly, did not have my Farmer Head on at that time (I even missed taking a photo of the share for posterity and Face Book). This share is far better thought out and will be bigger (though not so big that you cannot use everything in 2 weeks) than last week
So, we got rain for hours yesterday, we got a whole inch! This will a positive effect on the plants still growing like lettuce, spring mix, bok choy, Napa, leeks. And especially the 3000 garlics we planted last Thursday and Friday into very dry (but not totally dry because we have improved our soil the 5 years we have been here and have added enough Organic matter that the soils are holding moisture even in very dry conditions). Without a good rain coming at exactly the time it came we would have been stressing over the garlic all winter. But we got the rain and know that the garlics will be fine and should grow beautifully through the winter and spring. Normally we would have planted the garlic about 2 to 3 weeks earlier than we did but things came up that kept pushing the chore back. Than we got coldish weather and decided to wait until last week and lucked out in that we got to plant garlic for about 12 hours in complete comfort. Usually it is rather wet and cold when we do this and we are usually quite muddy afterward, but not this year. This year it was bone dry and in the low 70's, can't beat that.
We still need another 8 or 9 such rainfalls in the next month to break this drought (we are down over 7" of rain, even with this rain event yesterday). This time of year I guess we should expect the rain to come as snow part of the time. This is fine with us as snow makes a super winter mulch that over wintered crops just love and, of course, it adds moisture to the soil so that in spring. though the down side is wet heavy snows (or over 10" of drier snow) will bring down the hoop houses. Now, when this happens, the plants inside the hoop houses don't mind because they always get covered in a wonderful and thick snow mulch. But the hoops and plastic generally get quite beaten up and too often cannot be repaired and must be replaced which costs money. Fortunately, this does not happen to us every winter even though we do keep our hoop houses sheathed in plastic every winter. And we see this as one of the costs of doing the business we do as well as pushing the envelope of season extension using no artificial heat sources.
Okay, I need to talk about the upcoming FSI season which will start Mid April. It is my hope you will a be member in 2011. On my web site I talk about substantial discounts ($675 for a full season vs $730) OR a payment plan for those who sign up before Jan 1st. My offer to you today is you can take advantage of both - a substantial discount AND a payment plan (3 payments due the first of the month of $225). Why am I doing this? because I really appreciate my CSA members and I want to make it as non-onerous as possible for you to rejoin the Boulder Belt FSI in 2011. Oh yeah, and because our farmers market season was way down for us this past year (sales were down a good 33%) we are in need of off season money so we can do things like pay for seed orders, Property taxes and US Income tax. That's the big bill for us as we are considered entrepreneurs and thus usually have a $3K to $4K check we have to write to the IRS. And of course we have to pay this at the time of year we are making the least amount of income. Living cheaply, being good savers and staying out of debt allows us to be able to handle these debts as long as we have a decent growing year and decent sales. unfortunately this did not happen this year. Our CSA, farm store and farmers market revenues were all down for us this year so for the first time in over a decade we are gonna have to depend on early FSI/CSA payments to get through the winter and get all our obligations paid.
I hope you all are planning on great Thanksgiving feasts and using some local foods in those feasts. I am hosting parts of my family plus friends for turkey day. I will be roasting a pastured Certified Organic Turkey from Morning Sun farms near Gratis and will prepare mashed taters from our potatoes along with several other dishes that will come from our farm. My sister in law will bring food from non local sources, my Brother in law will probably do 1/2 and 1/2 with his food and the rest of the family that is coming for the event are coming in from out of town, don't cook and could care less about locavorism (heavy sigh...). But I will make comments about the fact many things at the table are local and why that is important and likely be told to shut up (because family members are generally honest to a fault).
One last thing-there have been several news stories lately about nasty germs growing in the bottoms of our reuseable bags. So I suggest strongly, that you wash them out before returning them to the farm (or at least dump out the debris that build up in them). We don't want anyone getting sick, though, I suppose because I am not packing meat products, nor industrial produce into the bags there are really not many pathogens that could grow in them. And you should be washing pretty much everything before you eat it, anyways.
Okay, shares will be available after 4pm and can be picked up any time between than and 7 am Saturday morningRecipe
Chinese Cabbage/Napa Lettuce Sauté
1/2 pound (or more, basically a whole bag) of Napa, cleaned and chopped
1 medium red or yellow onion, chopped
2 Italian sausages (if vegetarian, replace with your favorite meatless sausage), cooked than sliced into pieces. About 1/2 pound
2 TBL Olive oil
1 TBL Sesame Oil
1 or 2 garlic cloves either put through a press or micro-plane (they need to be finely processed)
Pre heat a big frying or sauté pan and cook up the sausages. When they are done remove them from the pan and let them cool. In the same pan using the drippings from the sausages, add some olive oil (or butter or any other oil) and than the onions and cook them, stirring occasionally for a few minutes. Than add the Napa/Chinese cabbage and cook that for about 4 to 5 minutes. While the greens are cooking slice the sausages and add them to the pan (they need enough time to heat up again and for the flavors to marry to the greens) and than add the garlic and sesame oil and cook for another couple of minutes and you are all done and it is time to eat.What's In The ShareRutabaga
-these are a close relative of the turnip but have a richer, milder flavor. I use these mainly for soups and stews-simply peel them and chop into 1/2" cubes and add to a soup or other long cooking dish and these add great flavor. they are also good to roast with other root veggies.Napa Lettuce/Chinese
Cabbage-is it a lettuce or a cabbage? It is neither and thus has two stupid names that make this the most confusing green we grow. It is most closely related to cabbages but it is really a mild mustard green and is not at all related to lettuce but I think got that moniker because in the 80's and 90's it was a popular salad green along with romaine and iceberg lettuce (I know when I was a pantry cook I used a lot of it in the salad greens base until that restaurant started using a beautiful locally grown Spring mix that ultimately got me into market farming)Lettuce
-you will get around 3/4 pound of lettuce in the form of two heads of a deep red oak leaf and either a red and green leaf or a red and green butterheadKale
-1/2 pound of either rainbow or White russian kale (or a mix of the two, which is the most likely as the Kale has been hit hard by the drought and as of last Friday was in the process of dying. But this rain should fix things up nicely)Spring Mix
-1/2 pound bag.Arugula
-1/3 pound bagCucumbers
-these are coming out of a low tunnel and this will likely be the only time you get any. These are very nice Armenian cukes which are burpless and very sweet and mild. Due to the drought and cool temps these are not as big as they should be. you get 2 medium sized cukes. EnjoyBeets
-Likely a mix of red, yellow and chioggia (pink) beets. These will probably be on the small side again so I will try to make the bunches ample. remember the greens are quite edible and tasty (chard is basically beet greens).Celeriac
-the ugliest thing we grow. But the flavor is soo good. Use these as you would celery (well, peel them first). You get 2 bunches and they would be excellent in a turkey stuffing/dressing.Potatoes
-You will get 2 pounds of taters but at this point I don't know what kinds (it will likely be a mix)Tomatoes
-we should be getting tomatoes for at least 2 more pick ups. You will get a couple of pounds of 'em.Green tomatoes
-we have a lot and they can be oh so useful and tasty. You will get 4 to 5 of various sizes (about a pound) in this shareCarrots
-you will get 1 pound of the rainbow carrots. There is some chance that many will be split as the beds we are digging were a bit too mature to survive all the rain without splitting. But because it was so dry and the soil will have taken up a huge % of the water. Plus the carrots themselves were dehydrated and should have been able to take in much more water than well hydrated mature carrots could. We will know later this morning when the carrots are harvestedGarlic
-you get three cormsYellow Onions
-you get 1.5 pounds of yellow cooking onionsLeeks
-2 big winter leeks. I made a mighty tasty potato and leek soup with these last night.Sweet Peppers
-you get 5+ peppers. This is probably the last week for the peppers as they have been off the plant for almost 4 weeks and are getting well past their prime. Not to mention, they are getting really small. But they still taste good.Butternut Squash
-1 medium butternutSeminole Squash
-this looks like a pumpkin crossed with a butter nut but in fact is a rare heirloom squash that was invented by the Seminole Indians of the SE USA (and they are the only sovereign tribe in America as they refused to sign any and all treaties). Eugene has been trying to grow this for the past 6 years and finally this year it worked. the lesson here is it is quite hard to grow things in Ohio that are native to Florida but it can be done with enough patience and perseverance.Sage
-I am sorry you won't get a lot as the plants are on their last legs but not from drought. Rather these plants are about 4 years old and that is the life span of sage. this means this coming spring we will need to start new seedlings to go into the herb garden. At any rate, sage is one of THE poultry herbs (rosemary being the other) and essential for turkey and stuffing/dressing.Parsley
-you will get a nice bunch of this versatile herbRadish
-you will get a mixed bunch of d'Avignon and Easter egg radishesSweet Potatoes
-you get a pound. I wish it were more but we are limited on how much we have available. Do know we do not sell these at any other venue but the farm share. Also know we farmers love our Sweet Taters and that is where they are going (other than to you)Parsnips
-1 pound. if you have not roasted these do it-they are amazing.Pears
-2 pounds of sweet hard keiffer pears. It looks like these will last through next month
Posted by Lucy
@ 07:49 AM EST
Wow it is week 20! Where has the time gone? It seems like August has sped by (unlike July which hung on for years and years). This means to all of you doing a full season or 3 month share you got 6 more weeks. Those of you going month to month have 4 weeks left. we will be doing a winter share starting the first Wednesday in November. Let me know ASAP if you want in on this. We need to get some sort of head count so we know how much to plant in hoop houses this fall. Also, we have many people interested in the winter share but I want give you first refusal (as they say in the realty biz). Unlike the main season, we do pick up every other week and you get a lot more food in your share (most of which can be stored for months on end so no rush to eat/preserve everything).
It is August and that means we are going into our most bountiful time of the year. I have been spending a lot of time putting up tomatoes (so far a lot of juice and about 1/3 the sauce I plan on making and canning), melons and making jam. Soon I will freeze peppers, make and can salsa and ratatouille, make apple sauce which will either be frozen or canned and dry apples. Hopefully, there will be enough green beans to freeze as well (but this dry weather is causing bad things to happen to the beans and you get them all this week, so none for us to put up). Doing all this work means we will eat well all winter and this is what our ancestors did in order to survive winters well. Doing this putting food by thing also means one must change how they look at and think about food. We modern Americans hardly give food any thought at all anymore as we can what we want when we want it literally 24/7. Of course, the food is usually adulterated, covered in chemicals and grown who knows where, low in nutrients, low in flavor and can even be the cause of poisoning. This is the price we pay for the "privilege" to be mindless about what we eat.
To be mindful as you all are finding out, means a lot more work just obtaining food (you joined a CSA and make weekly trips out to the farm to get your seasonal food). Plus you have to think about food much more. You have to start thinking about seasonality and what that means to your food choices. And when you take the next step-putting up food for winter you have start learning how to think ahead 3 to 6 months in the future as to what you will be eating. As farmers we long ago found you have to think ahead a minimum of 5 years when farming Organically in order for the crop rotation and soil fertility plans to work. we also have planted crops such as grapes, peaches and paw paws that take years and years to get to the point of bearing fruit. We hope next year we will have enough grapes to supply the FSI (we should have this year but got well under 4 pounds out of 30+ plants, such is life. We have been waiting on these things for 5 years). The paw paws will be another 4 to 6 years before we get anything and the peaches get attacked by deer and have yet been able to grow more than 5' tall (bucks rub their racks on the poor trees and break them off). At least the apples we planted when we moved here are beginning to produce. But I digress, back to long term thinking about food. farming forces one to take a really long view. Putting food up for winter forces one to think about food 6 to 12 months out. I do this pretty much with no thought anymore. I just know that when certain crops come in it is time to pull out the canning and dehydrating equipment and get working. But I also deal with people who are just getting into this sort of thing and know they face great disappointment when they waited too long to buy their canning maters or cannot find any bushels of green beans because 10 years ago we farmers found the market for bulk foods had disappeared so we all quit growing for that market and went with the much more lucrative selling by the piece or pound market (we make 2 to 3 times more this way than selling in bulk). The lesson here is, if you want to put up lots of food either grow your own rather large canning garden or contact growers before the season starts and ask if they will/do grow bulk quantities of what ever it is you want to put up for winter (and see, here is the whole "you have to think months ahead" idea again.).
Now all that said, we do have in bulk quantity Amish paste tomatoes, sweet peppers (or will in about a week), apples and it looks like pears (but they won't be ready for another 3 to 4 weeks). If you are interested let me know. The bulk tomatoes will last maybe another 2 weeks, the rest at least 3 weeks (probably longer). Let me know if you are interested in buying any of these things and I can give you prices and amounts.
The shares will be ready after 4 pm and like last week there will be two bags for everyone. One in the fridge and the rest (tomatoes) on the shelving by the fridge. Thanks to everyone who has been returning their containers, rubber bands, bags, etc., to us, keep 'em coming. It may not be much but every little bit we keep out of the landfill counts.
Okay here is this week's recipe (which i realize the share does not have all the ingredients for, oh well)
1 or 2 eggplant, cubed
several tomatoes, cubed
1 medium yellow or red onion cubed
1 bell pepper (green or ripe) cubed
2+ garlic cloves minced/pressed
1 medium zucchini cubed
8 oz container of mushrooms sliced
1 TBL dried basil
1 TSP dried oregano
1 TBL dried parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan
salt to taste
In a hot pan over medium heat add the olive oil, onions, shrooms, zukes, eggplant and peppers and cook stirring regularly. When the onions get translucent than add everything else except the cheese and cook covered (lower the heat a bit) for about 20 minutes. Now add the cheese, taste and adjust seasoning if needed and cook another 5 to 10 minutes. Serve over pasta. This will store in the fridge about a week and freezes well (without the cheese).
What's in the share
Pepper-several green to ripening sweet peppers.
Hot peppers- several jalapenos and cayennes. I have found the jalapenos to not be hot, is that your experience? Please let me know
Eggplant-several black bells and one white. I was hoping to include the other two types but after yesterday's harvest had less than 3 of each. Such is life on the farm.
Garlic-a couple of purple Glazer this week
Tomatoes-around the same amount of large tomatoes you got last week. around 1/3 of the cherry tomatoes you got last week.
Blue Lake Green beans-you will get close to 1.5 pounds this week. The heat and dry conditions have brought out the bugs so these beans are damaged but still very very usable (they just look ugly). This will be the last of the beans for a while. We do have more plantings coming up and hopefully the insect damage will be far less in September/October
Potatoes-you will get either red or white taters. Hopefully next week Eugene will decide to dig up some of the exotics like the fingerlings, German Butter Ball and Blue
Watermelon-a red water melon this week, i don't know what type as we grow 4 different ones. But it should be good
Cantaloupe-another cantaloupe this week, likely the last week for these melons
Raspberries-1 box of sweet berries, like the melons this is likely the last week for raspberries
Arugula-another bag of our arugula
Apples-The first of the fall apples. We believe they are an old apple called Dr. Matthew's (this is what the apple guy at the Oxford farmers Market said they could be). They are sweet/tart and crisp and unlike the vast majority of apples raised with no chemicals (which means they can be less than perfect). You get 8 of them
Posted by Lucy
@ 03:36 AM EST
It is week 17 and the beginning of a new month. I hope August is better than July (though so far it has not started all that well-I went to the dentist to get a tooth filled and he drilled a bit too deep and not I need a root canal. this will be my 2nd one). We went to the preble County fair on Sunday to watch the horse races and Eugene won $81 on the last race which was the 17th race. He bet an exacta-1 and 7 (which could be interpreted as 17) and this is the 17th week of the FSI-some how this is all connected.
Things with the farm are busy. As you all know, this is the week of the BIG 127 Yard Sale. We have sold/rented all of our spaces and it looks like we will have an interesting and eclectic array of items for sale. Vendors have been coming in all week setting up and this afternoon/evening will be the big push to get 'r' done as we open for business at 8 am tomorrow morning and if it is anything like the past years we will be busy from that point onward.
In order for us to get things out of sheds we have had to do a lot of partial garlic cleaning. The garlic is hung around the farm in various building to cure and now it is all cured and in the way of the Yard Sale so I have been cutting the stems off the garlic and putting it into bushel baskets until I have time to clean it up. So far I have done this to the German White and today I will get the stalks off of the Chesnok Red/Shvilisi. The other 3 varieties can wait until after the sale as they are not in the way. I also have been dealing with onions. The storage onions-red and yellow are at varying stages. Some are still in the ground, some are curing on racks in the store and barn and some are done curing and at the point of clean up and some are all cleaned up and ready to either store or sell. Generally, with onions, they all get ready within a week or two of each other and all get pulled pretty much at the same time. But this year we had a bed of yellow onions ready for harvest about 5 weeks ago and they were all cured by the time the rest of the yellow and red onions were ready to harvest the past 2 weeks. this if a good thing as the onions got really big this year and if they had all come in at the same time we would not have had enough room on our drying racks for them all and would have had to improvise (which would have meant making hammocks out of chicken wire and snow fencing and putting those up where we park our car in the barn and parking the car outside for a month). Yellow and red onions are very important for our fall winter marketing. These crops store very well and we grow them in order to have income year round. This is why you likely will not see them in your shares unless we do a winter share again and you become members of the winter share program.
But I am not sure if we will do this yet. It all depends on how well the winter squashes do. So far they are doing okay-not the best year but certainly not the worst year. For those of you who have not done the winter share what we do is distribute a double sized share every 2 weeks usually Mid November through January. The shares are mainly storage crops-winter squash, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, onions, garlic, dried herbs, popcorn along with what ever fresh stuff we can grow in hoop houses-lettuce, kale, arugula, tomatoes (yes tomatoes-we usually can get these too work into early December than we pull the green ones when it gets too cold for the tomatoes to survive, get them to ripen indoors and often have maters through the new year), radishes, melons (like the maters we usually have these into early December), etc.. At any rate, you guys will be the first to know about the winter share and get first crack at signing up as we generally have to limit this to 10 or 12 members.
This week is the start of tomato madness. I will try and not overwhelm you all with too many maters but it is hard, as once they start to ripen they do so with a vengeance. Last year there were weeks where members got over 15 pounds a week. If this happens, than I suggest you put them up for winter. The easiest way to do this is to freeze them whole. Just put washed whole maters into a zip lock freezer bag and pop them into your freezer (I assume everyone has a chest or upright freezer-I know I have two in service). You can also make salsa, sauce, juice and can or freeze that as well. Or if you get too many and don't want to process them, just leave them on random people's porches (like zucchini). Another thing on the maters you will not see many red ones. We love to grow the unusual maters so we are big on blacks, yellows, oranges, whites and striped. Do not be afraid of these odd looking maters as they are sooooo much better than the pedestrian reds. the good news is this week will not be an overwhelming week mater wise as they are just beginning to get ripe. No, this week we are getting overwhelmed with melons and you will get several in your share
Welcome to the Boulder Belt late summer garden-it can be mondo-productive and despite our problems this summer it does look like this is the case. I hope all of you take advantage of the bounty and put some up for the off season as that is where the FSI becomes a great food deal.
Your shares will be ready after 4 pm this afternoon and as always will be in the bottom of the fridge in the store with your name on your bag(s) (I suspect with the melons and whatnot there will be two bags for those of you who have not provided reusable bags). If you cannot pick up today we will be around all weekend doing the Yard Sale. Remember that we will take back and reuse all bags, rubber bands, berry boxes, etc that comes in your share.
Several heirloom and cherry tomatoes cut into chunks/slices
1 medium Ailsa Craig Onion
1/2 cup fresh basil chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
Mix all this in a big bowl and top with salt, to taste, olive oil and a good vinegar and toss. You can also cover the veggies with your favorite salad dressing. Feta is really good in this as are croutons made from a good crusty Italian bread. Put the dressed veggies on a bed of arugula and you have one fantastic meal that did not involve heating up the house.
What's in the Share
Cucumbers-4 or 5 pickling cukes. We had so many we started lacto-fermenting 17 pounds (oh my, there is that 17 again. It seems to be the number of the week). i may include a small jar in your shares in 4 weeks or so when the fermentation is done
Gopher melons-a very nice muskmelon. these are supposed to the best there is and I must say they are very good
Templeton melon-the yellow melon you got last week. these should be a lot more ripe
Eggplant-several pounds of black and white aubergines. make baba ganoush or eggplant Parmesan this week
Big Tomatoes- probably 2 pounds of a mix of maters. I have Rose de Bern (pink), Japanese triffle (brownish black and kinda pear shape), Dr Wyches Yellow, Paul Robeson (black beefsteak), Crnkovich (another big pink, like the Rose de bern and rhymes with cranky bitch). You will get some but not all of these varieties in your share
Cherry Tomatoes-AKA the li'l guys. You will get over 1 pound of a mix of sungold (orange) Cherrywine ( dusky rose color-this is our exclusive home bred tomato and thus in our opinion the best of the lot), a red one and Fargo yellow pear. If you have a dehydrator these are really good dried. You don't even need to cut them in half (unless they won't fit in the trays.
Garlic-a couple of uncleaned corms of German White
Ailsa Craig Onion-2 pounds
Potatoes-a couple of pounds of a mix of red and white
Arugula- a bag of spicy greens
Posted by Lucy
@ 03:21 PM EDT
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)
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¬if_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!
Posted by Lucy
@ 08:07 AM EDT
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..
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
Posted by Lucy
@ 08:03 AM EDT
It's week 18 and once again it is ungodly hot and humid.
I was out harvesting raspberries last night around dark because I hoped it would be a bit cooler. It was not, it was 90F at 9pm and my shirt was drenched with sweat doing a non strenuous job. This heat is really putting a wrench in our farming works as the crops don't like it above 90 for more than a couple of days. The farmers don't like working in these conditions. My plan until it gets cooler is to get up early and get out at dawn and work a few hours until it gets too hot (around 10 am) than get inside where it is cooler and do inside work the remainder of the day. Eugene can tolerate heat better than me and thus can do more outside work. But even he will get out of it by noon. Fall cannot get here soon enough.
The yard sale was a spectacular success. We doubled our attendance rates over last year with 20,000 (yes, thousand) people stopping by to shop this year. We had people from 33 states and 3 Canadian provinces. We had a great group of vendors and it looks like most will return next year as almost everyone did as well as they imagined in their wildest dreams. We even got on Channel 2 news (well, the sale, not Eugene and I personally). And we got really lucky with the weather. Rain the night before (which we needed very badly) and than less hot and humid during the sale.
The yard sale does make it hard to farm but we managed to get in 4 beds of fall carrots and a bed of rutabagas after we closed down Friday evening. managing a big sale and going through the process of planting seeds are very different things mentally and physically. Dealing with thousands of people is very tiring mentally but not so much physically. Dealing with the farm is tiring physically and not so much mentally and I found it to be a wonderful break to help Eugene with the planting after the people had gone away for the day. When we plant several things must happen. First the beds has to be cleared of weeds (usually by tilling and than hand removal of big clumps), than a seed bed created by raking the soil so it is smooth and even more weed free. Than it can be planted using the Earthway Seeder (a simple contraption that makes planting seed fast and easy with no bending). Finally the seeds are covered with row cover that is secured with rocks. Eugene generally does the raking and seeding (I had a bad horse riding accident at a combined training event when I was 17 that tore up my right rotator cuff and it has never been fixed so I cannot do things like rake for very long without re-injuring it) and I carry rocks and lay out the covers.
Eugene also managed to get most of the onions harvested I (maybe all of them as he was down to the dregs of the onions) and a lot of beds tilled for fall lettuce and other greens, plus radishes. I was able to get 1.5 bushels of 2 kinds of garlic all cleaned up and ready to be segregated into stuff to sell and stuff to keep for planting in October. Just have another 3 0r 4 bushels yet to clean.
Crops coming in right now include the afore mentioned raspberries, about every kind of melon we grow, tomatoes, green peppers (though I'll bet there are a few ripening to red, orange or yellow), hot peppers and eggplant. The cukes are about over as are the zucchini, we have some of each but between the hot humid weather and the bugs they are not long for this world. The good news is we do have young plants of both growing for September/October harvest. We should have French beans by next week for your shares. After months of struggling with beans we have a couple of very nice looking beds and the plants are loaded with tiny beans that should be eating size by next week
As usual, your shares will be ready to pick up after 4 pm and will be near the cooler (but not in the fridge as none of the food in the shares this week depends on staying cold to stay fresh and the basil and maters would be best never refrigerated).
Oh and thanks to everyone who sent me past newsletters because I somehow dumped all mine. You guys are the best!
3 to 4 large tomatoes (a couple of pounds) dice fairly fine-I like a variety of colors
a medium sweet onion diced the same way
1 to 4 jalapenos diced
1 or 2 cloves of garlic either finely grated or pressed
the juice of one lime (incredibly important)
a handful of cilantro, chopped (I am sorry we don't have any of this growing right now-cilantro is hard to grow during tomato season as it hates hot humid dry conditions-nature's cruel joke on us salsa lovers. If we are lucky, we will get some to grow before the maters end for the season)
1 TBL sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss everything together and let sit for at least an hour so the flavors can marry. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve with chips, as a side for burritos/tacos or whatever. Stores about 3 to 5 days in the fridge so best to use ASAP. Berries and cantaloups would also go well in the salsa if you want to talk a walk on the wild side
What's in the share
Cantaloupe- a nice big 'loup, I am not sure what kind you will get.
Watermelon-a fridge sized melon, either yellow or red. All of our watermelons have seeds. If you have kids (or are a kid at heart) have a water melon seed fight
Raspberries-the fall raspberries are coming in about 3 weeks early and I think they are better than the spring (summer actually) berries. These are an heirloom variety called Heritage
Blackberries-some nice domestic blackberries (the ones you have gotten previously were wild)
Big Tomatoes-you will get several pounds this week as we gear up to the part of the season where everyone gets too many maters. The salsa recipe is a great way to use lots of tomatoes quickly. I don't know what kinds you will get today but there will be at least 4 different colors in your share.
Cherry tomatoes over a pound of the sweet and tasty gems
Green peppers-2 or 3 peppers per share
Basil-another big bag of basil this week. Some will have flowers, the flowers are quite edible and tasty
Ailsa Craig Sweet Onions-a pound or so of these wonderful onions
Jalapeno peppers-at least 5, hopefully more
Garlic-2 corms of Persian Star this week
Scallions-a nice bunch of scallions
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:21 AM EDT
Well it's been a much better week. The herbicided plants have, for the most part recovered. I think we will lose some snow peas but not an entire bed and since snow peas tend to over produce this may be a good thing, meaning you won't in a few weeks start getting up to 5 pounds a week of the things in your share. The tiller works again. It had a nasty air filter which needed to be replaced. This is not an easy thing to do as they quit making parts for the engine on our tiller about 10 years ago. But Eugene found a Fram auto filter that was the same thickness at Auto Zone and with scissors and duct tape fashioned a new filter for the tiller for under $4 (I have a feeling the correct filter would run around $30 + shipping as BCS parts tend to be expensive because they are Italian). The tiller being fixed meant yesterday the last 10 potato beds were tilled and trenched this can be done by hand but it takes about 5x more time and is grueling. And frankly, what we do is grueling enough with the aid of some power equipment.
The other good thing is, crop wise, we are steaming into summer. This means a greater and greater variety of crops in your share from here on out. This week we add scallions, two kinds of green beans (these are early, normally beans come in at the end of June), Sugar Snap peas and some of you will get the first of the cukes (if you find kale in your share than don't expect cucumbers-the patch has only produce 4 or 5. By next week there should be plenty for all). These are Alpha Biet cucumbers (AKA Armenian) and a very nice sweet cucumber. First time we have grown them. Later on we will have 3 or 4 other varieties of cukes. Gone for the year are asparagus, lettuce (okay this might reappear if the late bed we planted actually works but if it gets hot again I don't think it will do much)
The bad thing is all this rain. We are beginning to have problems with crops in the badly drained areas (fortunately, most of the top field drains very well). We have lost 1/2 bed of arugula. The good thing is arugula in this kind of weather grows abundantly so a half bed should be more than enough for the FSI, store and farmers market. Still the wet part of that bed was sad, no arugula, no weeds, no nothing. The good thing is it made hoeing it out fairly easy yesterday. We are also losing some early potatoes (but the bulk are doing fantastic) and I see some kale is getting sick, all in the northern most beds. Oh well, soon enough we will probably be in dry conditions. I hope so, as we can always irrigate to keep crops going but when we get too much rain we can do little for crops rotting from being too wet much less be able to hoe or open new ground because you should never ever work wet soil (when dry, it resembles chunks of cement).
Okay, the shares will be ready after 4pm today and will be in the front fridge as usual. Since I felt last week's shares were a bit light expect more this week. If you wish to walk around the farm (yeah, right, in the rain) feel free to do so. Simply walk between the barn and the store and go through the gate on the right (be sure to close after you go in or the dogs could get out on the highway. The dogs are very friendly BTW).
Oven Roasted Green Beans
Pre-heat your oven to 450°F
1 pound green beans, stem ends snapped off
1 tablespoon olive oil
Table salt and ground black pepper
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread beans on baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and use hands to toss green beans to coat the evenly with the oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss to coat. Distribute in one even layer. Roast 10 minutes.
Remove baking sheet and redistributed beans. Put back in oven and continue baking 10-12 minutes until the beans are dark golden brown in spots and have started to shrivel.
Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
What's in the Share
Sugar Snap Peas-1 pound
Cukes (or kale)-either 1 cuke or 1/2 pound kale
Zucchini-about 1/2 pound of Zephyr zucchini
Radishes-a bag of easter egg or French breakfast radishes
Scallions-a bunch of scallions
Cilantro-a 1/4 pound bag of cilantro. This is good with mexican dishes and is really good with Macaroni and cheese
Red Turnips-1 pound
Garlic scapes-1/2 pound
Haricot Verts (French Green beans)-1 pound. These are the skinny beans. Cook no more than 10 minutes, if steaming.
Black Valentine beans-1 pound. These are the fatter beans. Steam for 14 minutes
Posted by Lucy
@ 09:24 PM EDT
It's been a strange memorial day weekend as we were without phone service from Saturday evening until yesterday after noon because someone took out the pole across the street that we were connected to. I found out Centurylink is closed on 3 day weekends and if you have a problem you deal with it yourself. No we don't have cell phones here at Boulder Belt. Nor does Eaton have pay phones any longer, thanks to kids using them to call 911 as a prank. I thought being incommunicado would be great and I find not so much.
Than the tiller quit working, likely because it is 17 years old and the carburetor needs an overhaul (though it may be something else. The good news there is we have gotten pretty much all the tilling done and can do whatever else needs to be done with hand tools or the other tiller (which has always had some issues with running but we got it very very cheap at an auction). At some point in the next week or so I suspect we will put the thing into the van and take it up to Arcanum where they have a guy who works on Italian tillers such as ours. Unless, of course, Eugene can figure out what is wrong and fix it on his own.
On top of that a lot of the market garden was herbicided by unknowns over the weekend and we have lost a planting of green beans, peas are effected (but were far enough along that they will be producing by next week, but this will likely shorten their production time) as were raspberries (leaf damage but the berries that are developing look great). Fortunately the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant had not yet been transplanted and were either under shade cloth or glass so were not effected. The damage goes almost to our house and the guy next door sprayed on a low wind day with winds out of the SW so I do not think he is the source. It may be an inversion or it may be we got hit with a flyover by mistake. The good news is most everything that was killed (that would be the beans) has already been replanted and so while we lost a few hundred feet of crops, all that will happen in the long run is the harvest time will be pushed back 10 days (unless this happens again-than I will have to suspect something malicious is going on, as herbicide season should be just about over around here until late July). And this is one of the reason we use a lot of row cover-it keeps the chemicals off the crops. Unfortunately not all the crops will tolerate the covers and beans are one of those crops, which is why they got exposed.
Now, you may be asking about just how organic are these crops I am eating-as organic as possible growing in conventional farming country. Honestly pretty much everything around here (including us and certainly the water we drink unless well filtered) is exposed to farm chemicals. So we organic growers mitigate the damage by growing great soil (soil is the soul of organics, not the avoidance of chemical pesticides, though in order to get great soil you cannot use chemical pesticides and that is why they are avoided like the plague) and keeping things covered up as much as possible.
Oh and Betty has developed a liking for the watering roses on the ends of the watering cans. This morning she ate one and another is missing. Now that she is feeling better she is Hell on wheels.
So not the greatest of weeks here. But it is not all doom and gloom, most things are doing well, we have a volunteer coming out 2 times a week to help us keep things keeping on, we are no where near having failures and we are getting into a bunch of new crops. But as you can see farming is not all fun and sunshine, it's a risky business full of a lot hard work and dealing with a lot of things we have no control over.
So, speaking of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, we are just about done with transplanting over 800 seedlings into the market garden. I have been impressed with our speed-we can do around 100 seedlings in an hour working together. I think by later this morning all will be in the ground as Eugene is finishing up the last 3 flats (approx 150 plants) of tomatoes. We have also been busy planting water melons, various winter squash (we are doing something like 8 different kinds), melons (cantaloup, galia, charentais and a few others), cucumbers, zucchinis, beans and a few other things that are not coming to mind right now) I would say we are close to being done with the summer planting season. We are not done with planting, though as we will be starting the fall/winter planting season around early July and that will continue until early November. The fun never stops here at Boulder Belt
Reminder, if you have not yet dropped off 4+ largish tote bags for your shares do so or we will continue to pack them in plastic bags. Also we will take back all bags, rubber bands, boxes and anything else our stuff is packed in. We do not want such things from other places, we just want our stuff back. The exception to this is plastic shopping bags-you have a pile of Kroger/Wal-Mart/Jungle Jim's/Meijer bags? We will take them as long as they are clean (we have gotten bags with used litter and rotten food and when that happens we have to throw out the entire lot as we cannot put other people's food into them and have to assume the entire lot is contaminated)
The shares, as always, will be ready after 4pm and in the fridge in the front. I suspect like the past 4+ weeks there will be two bags per share unless you have provided us with a really big bag, than just one. Look for bags with your name on them, they will all be marked.
Roasted Garlic Scapes
1 bag (or more) of scapes
Get a pan that has a cover or you can cover with aluminum foil. Put the whole scapes into the pan, drizzle the oil over top and salt to taste. Cover and put into a 350F preheated oven and roast for about 20 to 30 minutes. When they are tender and smell like roasted garlic they are done. You can also do this on the grill only pack them into aluminum foil with the oil and salt and put on the grill for about 15 to 20 minutes.
What's in the Share
Asparagus-1 pound of mainly green. This is likely the last week for asparagus as the stalks are beginning to get tough even before they start to open.
Broccoli-new this week! Finally the broccoli is ready to harvest, or at least the first planting (we have at least two more younger stands). Fresh well grow broccoli is a delight.
Kale-a big bunch of Rainbow kale this week
Green beans-We started these in a hoop house so they are about 4 weeks earlier than normal. That's the good news. The bad news is there are not many and this stand has been infected by rust and may not be harvestable after this week-we will see. But there will be more and more beans over the summer so if this stand bites the dust, it's okay. you will notice that some beans look rusty and/or are misshapened-that's the rust at work. These beans are the heirloom, Black Valentine
Red beets-another early crop from a hoop house, like the beans we usually don't start harvesting these until late June/early July. Unlike the beans these have nothing wrong with them. these still have their greens which are sweet and yummy and this is where all the nutrients are as well-the greens have around 1000x times more vitamins and minerals than the beet root. Cook them as you would spinach or eat them raw.
Zucchini-you will get 2 or 3 small zephyr zucchini. we love to grow unique zukes instead of the flavorless dark green (referred to as black in the business) so we do several heirlooms and this wonderful hybrid. these are small enough to eat raw but grilling them is also a good choice. I suspect by next week you will get more in your share as the plants are loaded with tiny zukes.
Spinach-another week of spinach. Like the asparagus, I suspect this will be the last of the spinach until late fall/early winter. This is a plant that hates heat and dry conditions and thus hates Ohio summers
Posted by Lucy
@ 09:19 PM EDT
It's Farm share day once again-week 6 by my reckoning. It's been a wet and cool week. We did get a nice couple of days at the end of last week which made for a nice farmers market (the first two had bad weather. the first had pouring rain and the second high winds and cold). But the nice weather was fleeting. the good news is the cool weather crops such as lettuce, arugula, spinach, etc., love this weather so they are all of high quality and as long as we don't get a stretch of more than 2 days of 80 degree weather will continue to do well. the bad news is all the crops that like it warmer are not all that happy and growing slowly. Asparagus is one of those crops. Late last week we were harvesting twice a day and this week due to many days of cool damp weather we are harvesting about every 36 hours and the yields are going down. But a day of warm weather will put the asparagus into overdrive again, for another 2 or 3 weeks.
Barb Mackey asked me a good question last week when she picked up her share-what is coming up in the near future? The answer is broccoli in 2 weeks. snow peas, sugar snap peas and shelling peas in 3 weeks. Garlic scapes, the flower tops from our hard necked garlic which will be a new food for most of you, will be harvested next week. If you like garlic you will love these. We also have red salad turnips about ready to go (next week), two kinds of green beans flowering in a hoop house, red beets (also in a hoop house) that should be ready in 2 weeks. Armenian cucumbers and zucchini should be ready in 3 weeks-the zukes have flowers, the cukes do not yet so my guess is the zukes will be harvestable a week before the cukes. Red raspberries will be ready in 3 to 4 weeks. Cabbage in 3 to 4 weeks.
We have not gotten the peppers, eggplant and tomatoes in the ground yet and are getting a bit worried about the weather preventing us from doing this job in a timely manner. if it clears up next week as predicted we will be fine, if not we will be forced to work with wet soil which we want to avoid as doing so is very bad for the soil and leaves long term damage. What we need to do with this job is put down landscape fabric and irrigation tapes on 40 beds than plant around 900 seedlings. Eugene did get all the beds tilled before the wet conditions arrived so at least that is done. we like to get these thing in the ground by June 1st so we can harvest in August through frost. We are growing 16 different heirloom tomatoes, 4 kinds of eggplant and 9 kinds of peppers (mostly sweet but a couple of hots too). After these things are planted in the market garden that it will be time to do the melons (water melon and various cantaloups), more cukes and zukes and the winter squash. These are pretty easy as they are direct seeded and do not need the 5 to 8 weeks of coddling before they go into the ground. Not to mention, planting seeds is a lot simpler than putting in seedlings.
Yeah life here is about to get very busy between doing mass plantings of things, harvesting daily (when the raspberries come in someone will have to spend at least 4 hours every day for 5 to 6 weeks picking. I call it raspberry hell), keeping things mowed (long grass in aisle-ways gives pests like bugs and bunnies a place to hide right next to the crops which is a very bad thing), keeping crops weeded and keeping bugs off of the crops (which we do mainly by using row covers but we also hand pick, vacuum the up and will use botanical insecticides like neem ). the good news is we may just have our first volunteer of the year. A woman has emailed me asking if there is room in the FSI for her and if she can come out once or twice a week to work and learn about sustainable farming. I say may have because she has not yet come out here and in the past we have had many people ask about volunteering but few ever come through for us in any meaningful way. A lot of volunteers turn out to be a lot more work than they are worth. But we have also gotten some wonderful people who were quick learners and great workers so we still will take on such people. And if any of you ever have a hankering to get your hands dirty and learn a lot about sustainable farming in a short time feel free to contact us about coming out and putting a few hours on the farm.
This Sunday, May 23, we have scheduled a pot luck dinner and farm tour starting at 6pm. thus far I have gotten only two RSVP's (and they were regrets). If I don't get any responses by tomorrow I will cancel the event and reschedule for late summer/fall as we are getting too busy to do this easily and it seems not many folks are interested in this sort of thing.
We still have some chickens for sale for $25 a piece for a 4LB (approx) whole frozen bird. Let me know if you want one (or more) either via email before picking up your share or when you show up (someone should be around at least until 7pm). This will be the best chicken you have ever had as very few people raise them they way we do-ranged on pasture from day one of their lives and fed certified organic feed. Unlike most "pastured" chickens ours are extremely active and that makes for better quality
This is better than cole slaw made with cabbage and a favorite of ours
2 to 3 bunches of radishes, well washed and with both ends cut off
1 small sweet onion
1 medium to large carrot
1 clove garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
2 TBL vinegar (I like rice vinegar or balsamic but any will do)
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
1 TBL sugar
1 TBL olive oil
1/2 cup (or more) Mayonnaise
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley. You can also do 1/2 cabbage and 1/2 radish if you like
Grate the radishes, carrot and onion. fastest to use a food processor but a hand grater will also work. Dump the grated vegetables into a larger than you think you will need bowl and than add everything else and mix well, taste and make any adjustments. Put into the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Serve as a side dish
What's in the Share
Spinach-1 pound of spinach
Kale-a big bunch of White Russian kale
Asparagus-Looks like mainly green this week. At least 1 pound
Lettuce-1 pound of mixed lettuce
Tarragon-a big bunch
Broccoli Raab-1/2 pound bag
Garlic Chives-a big bunch of garlic chives AKA Chinese chives
Cincinnati Market Radishes-3 bunches of this beautiful and rare heirloom radish
Spring Mix-a nice sized bag of spring mix
Maybe Basil-The basil is not doing great so i will not make any promises that there will be enough to put into your shares but if it is there it is there
The shares will be ready after 4pm today
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 03:13 PM EDT
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Greetings FSI members,
It's week 5 of this food adventure and in the past 7 days we have been through 2 frost warnings and several thunder storms and high winds. Spring was replaced by winter (or late fall) for a couple of days, which was a real negative for the farmers market and the asparagus patch. No, the cold doesn't kill it but it does mean the asparagus will not produce for several days and that is what happened over the weekend-very little asparagus to be had. But the up side for all you asparagus lovers is once it gets warm and there is rain it comes back making up for lost time, which it did yesterday (and I supposed today, tomorrow and on and on...)
The other crops are doing well as well. This is because for the first time at this farm (we were at another, rented, farm for 13 years about 15 miles NW of where we are today) we did soil testing and than bought fertilizer (they make certified organic fertilizers and that is what we used) and have been putting that on all the beds and it has made a huge difference in quality and yields. For years we thought that adding compost, crop rotation and doing green manures/cover crops was enough. All these things have done much to improve certain aspects of our soil and we have seen a slow improvement in crop quality and yield (but glacially slow improvements). So this year we decided to try this 10-10-10 fertilizer and all I can say is Wow! It is better than compost and we can fertilize around 25 beds with this stuff in the same time we can fertilize around 5 beds with compost. Now all that said we still make and use compost as well as grow green manures because they feed the soil in ways granulated fertilizers cannot. But we can see now that McGeary Organic fertilizers will be an important part of our fertility program in the future.
We have a request-we still have openings in the farm Share Initiative and one of the best ways to get more members is for our members to talk to their friends and colleagues about us. Frankly, we have far fewer FSI members that we would like (we have 5 members/member groups right now, last year we had 12 at this point in the season) and because we are not made of money (farming is not the best way to get rich as most of us farmers are anything but) we cannot afford much paid advertising (and in the past, when we have gone this route all we have done is wasted money). So we are asking you to talk us up among the people you know.
I should have brought this up earlier in the season. We at Boulder Belt are all about sustainability and one aspect of that is reusing the packaging we send home with you in your shares. We want back all bags, rubber bands and boxes (when the raspberries and strawberries come in you be getting boxes in your share). We also will take all clean plastic and paper shopping bags. But we really don't want soiled bags as we put your (and other people's) food in these. We DO NOT want boxes and rubber bands from food other than ours. But if it came from us we want it back and ALL clean plastic and paper shopping bags no matter where they came from. Oh yeah, if you have not yet supplied us with reusable cloth/plasticky bags drop 2 to 4 of them off when you pick up your share today (or you can give them to us at the Saturday farmers market in Oxford). The bigger the bags the better. I can see that soon (perhaps today) I will have to start using two bags for the shares (I should have done last week as it was a tight squeeze to get everything in one bag).
Betty Update-her E-collar came off this morning and she does not seem interested in ripping out her stitches (which we will remove Friday morning) she is full of piss and vinegar. I believe the ordeal is finally over for all of us and soon the farm will be able to go back to normal. This event has meant that for the most part both of us could not work at the same time. That leaving Betty for more than 2 hours was always a bad idea (except between noon and 3pm when she takes her long nap). When we came home from the farmers market Saturday she had torn up a rather large piece of the carpet in the guest room along with putting holes in a few select items of clothing and some catalogs were ripped up. All because the dog had to stay indoors and she was lonely and frustrated. We understand but it has not been fun for any of us, especially her. Now we just need to find another Vet as the one that did this to her does not deserve our business.
The Pot Luck dinner /farm tour will be May 23rd at 6pm. bring a dish to share and something to eat from
Oh yeah, we have, in our freezer, whole pasture raised chicken that we raised last summer. We have too many to eat and need to sell some. If you are interested the birds cost $25 for 4 to 5 pounds of the most sublime chicken you will ever eat. they are professionally processed and shrink wrapped and look just like a bird you would buy at the grocery but that is where the comparison stops. If you want one today be sure to find me or Eugene when you stop for your food and we will get you one (or more). I believe we have around 15 to sell.
See you after 4pm today and before 6am Saturday morning. The food will be in the fridge in the store as per usual.
1/2 LB asparagus trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 LB mushrooms slices.
1/2 pound spinach, washed and chopped
1 or more cloves of garlic
any other veggies
Olive oil or butter
1 loaf of a good French bread (I get mine at the Oxford Farmers Market) sliced, brushed with olive oil and baked on a cookie sheet at 350F for 15 minutes or until it is crunchy enough for you.
In a large saute pan heat the oil/butter than add all the veggies except the spinach. Stir occasionally to keep them from burning and cook about 5 minutes. than add the spinach and cook another 5 minutes. the bread should be baking while the veggies are cooking so that when the veggies are done the bread is done. Put bread slices on a plate and cover with the asparagus bruschetta and eat. Yummy
this recipe was invented Saturday afternoon after the farmers market when faced with a lot of left over asparagus and some spinach. kale, sweet peppers, peas, broccoli, radishes and many other vegetables would also be good in this quick and versatile dish.
What's in the Share
Lettuce-at least 1/2 pound (likely more) of a mix of heirloom lettuces
Spinach-1/2 pound this has been very very good
Asparagus-a couple of pounds of green and purple
Arugula-1/4 LB bag
Leeks-a bundle of tiny leeks which are the last of last year's leeks that we finally dug up freeing up 2 beds for tomatoes later on this month
Rhubarb- 1/2 pound
Thyme-a bunch of thyme
Radishes-A big bunch of a mix of Easter egg (round) and D'Avignon radishes
Chives-these now have flowers which you can make a simple vinegar from simply by snipping them off the stalk and cramming in a small jar and covering with white vinegar. 3 days later you will have a pink oniony vinegar that is wonderful to make dressing with.
Kale-3/4 pound; This week you should see a new kale called rainbow kale (you have been getting White Russian) This is a brand new kale for us so we have no comment on the quality of this. But it sounded so cool in the catalog so we are now trying it. You should get a mix of purple, green and white leaves (really the veins within the leaves)
Posted by Lucy
@ 04:14 PM EDT
Greenings and Saladations,
Here we are at week 4 for most of you and week one for some. For us this has been a trying week. If you are a faceBook friend or read my blog than you know we have been dealing with a very sick puppy due to a botched spaying job. We took Betty in April 26 to be spayed. We got her back that evening and things went down hill from there. Sunday we shelled out almost $900 to an emergency vet clinic in Dayton to fix her stitches that had all popped and allowed her guts to start to protrude-that was a lot of fun, let me tell you (few things more "uplifting" than being around people and their pets in crisis. I don't think I could handle work at the Veterinary ER for long-way too much death and way too little hope). But she is now well on her way to health. The sutures look good, she is getting energy back and hopefully she will be well in a week and can go back to being a farm dog and do her job of protecting the crops.
But because of all this we have not been able to do nearly as much on the farm as we should because someone has had to stay with Betty pretty much all the time so she doesn't get scared and lonely and than react by tearing apart the living room and her stitches. Now that she is getting better we are able to do more and more while leaving her alone in the house. I call this Betty Jail. And this is where I have been since Sunday while Eugene goes out and plays in the dirt all day.
Other than Betty monopolizing our hearts and minds we do have a farm and it has been getting rain this week. Over the weekend we got 3", which we needed badly. The crops and weeds have responded in kind by growing a lot. Eugene has been harvesting 30+ pounds of asparagus daily since Saturday (so expect a bounty in your share this week), the radishes and greens look fabulous. The share this week and likely next as well, will be heavy on greens as that, other than asparagus and radishes, is what we have growing. I realize for some this can get boring but remember leafy greens are some of the healthiest things we can eat a d the vast majority of Americans do not get nearly enough of such in their diet. I would estimate that around 90% are lacking in leafy greens as most Americans eat only iceberg lettuce as their greens intake and that leafy "green" is worthless in oh so many ways. I find greens give me a lot of energy in a way no other food does. I have been especially high on the broccoli raab-boy, that stuff makes me feel good.
Your shares will be available after 4pm. If you cannot get them today they will remain in the fridge in the store until Saturday morning at 7am and you can get them any time between now and than
Broccoli Raab with sausage
1 bag (1/2 LB) broccoli Raab, washed and chopped
2 cooked Italian sausages, cut into slices
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
drizzle of Sesame oil
1TSP olive oil or Butter
Salt to taste
In a hot pan heat the fat than add the onions and cook until they turn translucent (about 3 minutes) stirring often. Than add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the greens and sausage and cook 10 minutes on medium heat covered. Right before serving drizzle with sesame oil and toss.
Due to circumstances of the past week I do not know exactly what there is to harvest so this list may change a bit by this afternoon
Asparagus-2 pounds of green and purple in your share
Lettuce-a big bag 3/4 pound of mixed heads
Baby lettuce-1/2 pound bag. This is the lettuce component of the salad mix
Spring Mix-1 6 oz bag
Kale-a big bunch of White Russian kale
Fresh Tarragon-a nice bunch of tarragon
Fresh basil-a small amount of fresh basil, just a taste this week but soon we will have lots and lots.
Chives-this week they have flowers which are quite edible but very oniony
Spinach-the first cutting of the spring spinach.
Broccoli Raab-1/2 pound of raab
Mizuna-one of the greens in the spring mix only this is full sized. We love to cook/grill veggies like asparagus and put them on top of a bed of mizuna, top with a nice vinaigrette dressing and eat.
Posted by Lucy
@ 04:07 PM EDT