We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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Greenings and Saladations!
It's week 23, just 2 more weeks for the people who have bought 4 week shares (you guys are getting a bonus week as there are 5 weeks in Sept and you paid for 4 of them) and 4 more weeks for the 3 month and full season members. Last year we would have had another 8 weeks to go which, considering the growing conditions, would not have been a great thing and I noticed by about the beginning of October most of our members were getting really burned out, as were we). But last year we had great growing conditions in the fall (and summer-2009 was a great growing season overall) and so had a lot of food both in shear amounts and diversity. This year not so much, though I gotta say, even with the dry conditions hitting us hard (we ate not officially in a drought yet and may never get there if we are fortunate) we still have a lot of food to distribute to you guys. We don't have a lot of food to sell at the farmers market which is a concern as this is the time of year we should make the most money so we can get through winter and have enough money to pay mortgage, utilities, property taxes, state and federal income taxes, insurances, etc.. Yes, just like the rest of you, we farmers have a whole passel of bills and debt that must be paid. Unlike you, we don't get a weekly (regular) paycheck in the winter so we must make enough money during the main season to put into savings in order to get through the winter. And in addition to the laundry list of debts we also have to buy seed, fertilizers, row covers, irrigation supplies, etc., over the winter so we will be pretty broke by the time farmers market season comes around in 2011 (even with selling FSI shares). It happens and we will weather the storm as we are fiscally very conservative, i.e. we know how to live very cheaply.
Doing the winter farm shares will help some and getting many early FSI sign-ups for 2011 will help (yes, that is a hint). So, yes, we are going to do the winter share program. If you are interested (and I know two of you are) consider yourself in the program. If anyone else wants to continue to eat local food November through January contact me ASAP as I have to severely limit who can be in this this winter. I was hoping to do 15 to 20 members this season but will be able to do only half that number
As you know, I have been on the fence about doing the winter shares but decided that the crops we are hand watering are doing pretty well and the stuff Eugene plants does germinate so it looks like we will have plenty of food (not as much as past years but enough). Yes, the fall cropping season appears right now the be far better than expected. Granted, it is taking twice as much work to keep things alive and happy but that is a part of farming-some years are relatively easy and very bountiful some years are really hard and not very bountiful. This is a hard year.
The last time we experienced such a dry and hot year was 14 years ago, the year we got married. That year we used the excuse of our wedding to stop farming and marketing in early September (our wedding was the 14th). As we were newbies to the farming biz back than, we had not yet gotten into major season extension or CSA's. Having a CSA means you are committed to providing food for the duration (unless you get an act of God like a tornado ripping through the farm) so cannot capriciously take off from work and just stop for no good reason. Season extension is kinda the same thing. You get crops started to go through winter and you have to care for them through the fall/winter/spring. Okay, it's not like caring for livestock, which needs care daily, as the crops can be ignored for days on end especially during Jan/Feb. I believe we had started fooling with row covers and may have even had a small hoop house but nothing on the level we do today (5+ hoop houses and miles of row cover used). So taking off from farming in mid September was doable for us (we also paid little to no rent, heated with wood so the utility bills were always under $70 a month, put up and root cellared most of the food we ate (still do), paid no land taxes, etc., so we lived really cheaply). That is no longer an option as we have embroiled ourselves into farm ownership and deeply into season extension of crops and now cannot fathom not growing and marketing through the winter. And I gotta say since we eat this food also, there is little better than eating a freshly harvested salad or mess of green in late fall/winter (and again in late winter/early spring) when your body is screaming for such foods. I am hoping, like the dry summer of 1996, we start getting rain in the next week or so. It is my memory that the rains came while we were on our honey moon and stayed around most of the fall and winter. And it looks like we will get rain tomorrow, which will be nice if it happens (and it is more than a couple of tenths of an inch). If we get decent precip over winter we will be in fine shape for next spring. If we do not than we will likely have issues concerning dry conditions, wells and irrigation, not to mention doing 2x to 4x the normal amount of work to get things started and to keep things going.
These are the things we think about and worry over.
We will have some new items showing up in your shares in the remaining weeks. Look for sweet potatoes, radishes, spring mix, possibly kale and head lettuce (by head lettuce I do not mean iceberg lettuce but rather whole lettuce plants as opposed to cut leaves as in spring mix). Right now we don't have much in the way of greens but hopefully next week we will have baby arugula (as opposed to much more mature arugula we have been cutting since July)
The shares will be ready after 4pm today. Any shares not picked up by 6am Saturday morning will be donated to the Oxford Choice Pantry. Last week we donated two shares which were very appreciated.
What's in the Shares
Garlic-this week 2 corms of Music, our best garlic
Onions-a couple of medium Copra onions. These are yellow onions and great for cooking but should not be eaten raw unless you enjoy stomach upset (they are hot and strong)
Watermelon-yes we still have some water melon and you will either get 1 medium melon or two small melons. They will either be red or yellow
Tomatoes-a couple of some of the last maters of the season
Sweet peppers-several ripening bell peppers
Hot Peppers-around 10 jalapeno and cayenne peppers
Keiffer Pears-6 pears. These are not quite ripe but should ripen up if kept out of the fridge. The yellower they are the riper they are.
Apples-6 Dr Matthew's apples. These are a nice eating apple sweet and tart.
Winter Squash-a couple of pounds of squash, probably delicata and acorn. All of these are cooked the same-cut in half, scoop out the seeds and bake face down in a 350F oven for about 1/2 hour or until soft.
Posted by Lucy
@ 03:46 AM EST
It's week 21 and a whole new month to boot! September is often our most bountiful month but I am not so sure this will be the case this year as it is so hot and dry and this is now having a negative impact on the market garden. The crops are very stressed and many have started to shut down. You will see this beginning with this week's shares-they are definitely smaller. There will not be quite the variety and the the amounts of each item will be less than in past weeks. Granted, the past 3 or 4 shares have been HUGE, perhaps a bit too big for some and now they will not be so large. this is all part and parcel of being a CSA member. When the conditions are great and the farm is pumping out a lot of food everyone gets a lot of food. When growing conditions are not so great than there will be less food in the shares and perhaps not the variety. This is the risk you guys share with us as Boulder belt FSI members. Now, all that said, the share this week (and I suspect for the rest of the season) will have ample food and a nice variety. But I won't be choosing from over 30 different crops the 12 items to put in a share. Now I have around 17 different crops from which to choose at the moment.
The dry, hot weather is also impacting the fall garden. We have had to do a lot of hand watering in order to get the seeds we planted in early and Mid August to germinate so that the drip irrigation system can take over the watering chores. We also have many flats of kale, lettuce, zucchinis, melons, cabbage and broccoli sitting on the porch of the store growing and waiting to be big enough to transplant. If we get a decent rain tomorrow we will probably be just fine if not (which is more likely) than we will struggle on and hope for rain (but not too much)
The crops we planted in July-popcorn and dried beans look to be failures. It was simply too dry for them to produce much seed (that would be beans and popcorn) and they are in an area that is very hard to irrigate (impossible right now as we do not have anything that carries water running down into the valley). So it gets no irrigation. I suspect we will get something from both crops but not nearly what we expected when we planted them. These are things that were going to go to the winter CSA as well as be sold at the winter farmers market in Oxford. So not the best thing for our winter income. It does look like the potatoes we planted in that area are doing good, but of course we won't know for sure until we start digging them. The sunflowers are doing spectacularly.
Up top, in the main garden we are done with the melons (there are a few water melon vines still hanging on), the tomatoes are about over-it was a very short tomato season this year, only about 5 weeks for us. Though we do have a late planting that has flowers and perhaps a few tiny green fruits. We expect the late planting to be producing the end of this month and through the beginning (at least) of November. When cold threatens we will put plastic on the hoop house frame that has been erected over top of the plants to keep them from freezing to death and this should buy us another 4 to 8 weeks of production. The peppers are in high gear but I can see they will soon be over as most are starved for water and do not like such high heat. We have some beets that should be humongous but are only medium to large due to the lack of rain. The herbs are pretty much over. I am going to see what we got as far as basil and parsley are concerned as soon as I finish this letter. the basil does not seem to mind the lack of water-it just wants to go to seed in the worst way which means it gets harder and harder to deadhead them to keep the tender greens coming on. The parsley I find is a bit bitter due to lack of water and the heat. The celeriac looks like it will do nothing for us this fall. It was planted in a bad place and got far too little water. But the leeks are looking good. The arugula that we have been harvesting for what, 5 weeks, is doing great. This is supposed to be a cold weather crop and yet this is the 3rd year we have planted it in the heat of summer and the 3rd year it has done well in summer. The Chard is not looking great due to insect pressures but we have covered it with row cover and now are in the process of severely cutting it back which should allow tender nice new leaves to emerge under cover away from those nasty bugs. It would do better with rain but even without is holding it's own. So forgive the ratty looking leaves (they still taste good) The summer scallions are about done and not due to the weather. We have managed to deplete the bed they were in. I believe I have about 100 or so left to pull and they are the small dregs of the scallions. We have another bed planted but it is only doing so so due to the fact cut worms have invaded and have been cutting off the greens. But I believe I caught the worms doing the damage so now the scallions can grow and give us green onion throughout the fall and winter.
We hope to have more beans and that they will not be as bug eaten. The beans you got last week were pretty bad and we apologize but that is what we had to work with. We have another planting that has just started to flower and hopefully will start making beans just as the bean eating critters are on a major wane (which they should be in a couple of weeks). And I believe Eugene just planted 2 more beds that will be covered with a hoop house so we have beans well into November (and those will be very clean as there will be very little bug or weed pressure)
Well that's the state of the farm at this point in the year
What's in the Share
Bright lights Chard
Sweet Peppers- you will get many in your share this week. These are easy to freeze BTW. Simply cut them into the shape you want (I like to dice them) and put them into a freezer bag and into the freezer. Now you have peppers to use in the winter
Arugula-another bag of the spicy sweet salad green. My Italian customers say this is great on pizza-put leaves on a slice after it is cooked.
Delicata squash-the earliest of our winter squashes. AKA the sweet potato squash because it is so sweet and yummy. To cook, cut lengthwise, remove the seeds, place flesh side down on a cookie sheet or other pan and cook in a 350F oven for 20 to 30 minutes
Garlic 2 corms of garlic, don't know what kind
Beets-a bunch of beets. These are called 3 Grex beets and are a combo of 3 colors-yellow, pink and red. I have no idea why they are called Grex but they are a nice beet that in good conditions will get to be around 3 to 5 pounds. this year they are much smaller.
Leeks-you get a Lincoln leek this week.
Apples-6 apples. I believe they are Dr Matthew's, like last week but we may also have some Macintosh. The sootiness on them can be scrubbed off. It is a mold that we get because we do not spray weekly with fungicides (all of which are carcinogens). there may also be other blemishes which come with the fact these apples are beyond organic. just cut them out or eat around them. I am quite surprised at how clean and nice the apples are this year, usually Organic apples are pretty scary looking (but very tasty)
Red Onions-you get around 1/2 pound of red onions this week. the elongated onions are an Italian heirloom and very good, despite the fact they look weird.
Tomatoes-you will get a pound, maybe two, this week as the maters are on the wane. I believe they will be mainly the two kinds of reds we grow-Glick's Pride (round) and Amish Paste (elongated). these will be on the shelf by the fridge as we don't want to ever put maters in the fridge
Potatoes-There will be several kinds including blue and Russian banana Fingerlings
Herbs-basil and parsley I doubt we will be able to put in nearly as much basil as in the past.
Posted by Lucy
@ 03:40 AM EST
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