Boulder Belt Eco-Farm

  (Eaton, Ohio)
We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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Boulder Belt Winter Share vol 4 issue 2

Greetings,

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 morning

Recipe

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 Share

Rutabaga-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 butterhead
Kale-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 bag
Cucumbers-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. Enjoy
Beets-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 share
Carrots-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 harvested
Garlic-you get three corms
Yellow Onions-you get 1.5 pounds of  yellow cooking onions
Leeks-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 butternut
Seminole 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 herb
Radish-you will get a mixed bunch of d'Avignon and Easter egg radishes
Sweet 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


 
 

Boulder Belt Farm Share Inititiative vol 2 issue 20 (week 20)

 

 

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)

Ratatouille
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
olive oil
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

 
 

Boulder Belt Farm Share Inititiative vol 2 issue 8 (week 8)


 

 

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.

Recipe

Roasted Garlic Scapes


1 bag (or more) of scapes
Olive oil
Salt

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
Garlic scapes
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
Cilantro
Savory
Thyme
Basil

 
 

Boulder Belt Farm Share Initiative week 19

It's a new week and there are gonna be some new items in your share-yay!

We survived the yard sale-ended up with around 6000 people coming through and 6 people set up to sell their stuff. It was a very successful event. But it left us with little time for farming so the farm has gotten a bit behind and needs a good mowing badly-the weather has dealt us a bad hand rain wise-mowing was going to happen right before the Yard sale but we got 3" of rain on Tuesday last week which made it impossible to mow until Saturday at the earliest and by than we were simply too busy with the sale. The same is true with weeding-we have a lot of beds with newly germinated crops and a lot of weeds. The soils are too wet to hoe and hand pulling will take far too long. Hoeing a bed takes about 15 minutes, hand weeding takes about 1.5 hours and we have about 25 beds that need attention. So we prefer to hoe as we can get far more done

I think today it may be dry enough to hoe by this afternoon (if we do not get more rain, which is predicted, this afternoon). I thought mid August was our dry season. It's a mixed blessing to have rain in August-makes it possible to get a good fall crop started but it also brings on the weeds which normally we do not have much problem with this time of year. Usually we are just trying to get enough water to the fields to keep things alive. This is one of the things that makes farming fascinating-you never know what the weather will do. one year you won't have to do any mowing or weeding because it is droughty but you will have to pay close attention to irrigation. The next year the opposite

Despite the weeds, things are growing. The tomatoes are beginning to ripen. I do not believe you will see a lot of different maters this week, but next week there should be orange beefsteaks and some black maters added to the mix and by the end of the month most the 21 different kinds should be ripe. Like most of the eastern US we seem to have late blight on the maters and eggplant but we should still get a decent crop, though probably by late September the tomatoes will be over except for the late crop we planted in July to get us through October and maybe into November.

Speaking of growing things into late fall/winter, I need to get a handle on who is interested in doing a winter share? We will do on farm pick up twice a month, cost will be $100 a month ($50 a share). The shares will be larger than a summer share and will mainly be food that can store for months like taters, winter squash, onions, carrots, parsnips, a few canned goods, garlic, pears, dried herbs, leeks, etc.. If the weather is good to us, leafy greens (arugula, kale, spring mix, lettuce) and other things from the hoop houses will also be included throughout the season (we will certainly have them the first 2 or 3 pick-ups). This will start Wednesday November 11  and go through Wednesday January 20 for 3 months/6 pick-ups. Unlike the summer shares, we require people to pay the $300 for the entire winter share upfront, no month to month shares. We will have 12 shares available this year.

We did this winter share thing last year at the last minute (this is what got Boulder Belt back into doing a CSA program) and it went really well and I was surprised at the diversity of food we had to offer through the end of January. Shares had up to 20 different items. And to top it off, the weather did not get bad until the day after we shut down for the season, it was karmic. I figure it will be even better (if that is possible, it went off without a hitch last year) with a couple of months of prior planning.

So let me know sooner than later about this as we have to get plans nailed down in the next few weeks and I want to give current farm share members first crack before I go through my list of folks who were in it last year but not in the farm share initiative currently. I can guarantee we will sell out. Getting local winter food is hard to do around here as scant few of us farmers grow through winter. Not to mention, growing on the back side of the calendar has some major challenges not found in spring, summer and fall.

Thank you everyone who has brought in reusable bags. This is a big help to the environment. Off the top of my head we have 9 out of 14 members who have supplied us with reusable bags. Hopefully that number will be 100% by the end of the month (hint, hint). And thank you all for bringing back all the container items we use to pack shares.

You all will get two bags of food this week. There are large items and I need to start keeping the tomatoes out of the fridge as coolness kills the flavor and shortens the shelf life of maters. In other words, one should never refrigerate whole tomatoes. So look for a bag in the fridge and a bag outside the fridge (which will be a plastic bag unless you have more than 2 reusables here at the farm, than I will use 2 of those)

Recipe

Ratatouille


1 med eggplant, diced
1 pound tomatoes diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 pepper diced
1 medium zucchini diced
1 to 2 cloves of garlic either finely chopped or put through a press
1 TBL dried basil (if you use fresh add when you add the garlic and parsley and use 1/4 cup)
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste
2 TBL olive oil
salt to taste

Prep vegetables while the pan heats over medium heat. Add the oil and than everything but the garlic and fresh parsley. Cook over medium to medium low heat for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally so things don't stick. At about the 20 minute mark add the garlic and parsley and cook another 10 minutes or so. Serve over pasta

Cantaloupe-you get either 1 big melon of 2 small melons. These have been so good this year
Kale-either the curly winterbor or the heirloom lacintino
Ailsa craig onion-2 pounds of sweet onions, some you may get onions that weigh a pound each
Garlic-3 corms of Chesnok Red this week
Green beans-a pound of blue lake green beans
Zucchini-mostly yellow patty pans this week
Cucumber-mainly lemons and poona kheeras this week-the long green cukes are not producing well at all so I do not think I will have enough for everyone.
Parsley
Eggplant-you will get a purple one and a black one
Tomatoes-about 4 pounds of a mix of cherry tomatoes and mainly red heirlooms, though you may find a few other colors this week that are not yet ripe
Green and purple peppers-the purple peppers are in fact green and will ripen to a beautiful red
Delicata squash-aka sweet potato squash. This is the first of the winter squashes to come in. Unlike the later squashes these do not store all that well but are sweeter than all the others. This is easy to prepare, simply cut in half length-wise, scoop out the seeds and bake in a 350F oven for 20 minutes
 
 

Boulder Belt Farm Share Initiative, Week 16

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe
Mashed Taters with Garlic


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

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


Here is what is in this week's share

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

Boulder Belt Farm Share Initiative, Week 10

It's been another busy week on the farm. First of all, I am happy to report that the storms of last week were easy on us. Eaton got golf ball sized hail. We got no hail at all and very little rain out of that storm (but we did get over 1/2 inch the next day). If we had gotten that hail I doubt we would have had much of anything to harvest. The row covers we use to protect against such things are not up to golf ball sized hail and would have been shredded along with the plants underneath. Leafy greens would have been ruined and likely the raspberries and strawberries as well. The beets, squashes, turnips, basil, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, onions all would have gotten damaged but would have recovered in time. But as I said, we dodged a bullet and all is well. But if we had not this would have been a lesson in the risk of farming and the result would be no shares for at least a week and we not having anything to sell for at least a week, probably longer.

We are in the midst of getting the tomatoes planted. This should be done by Tuesday afternoon as we only have about 100 plants left. This would have taken less time but we realized after about 3/4 of the tomato stakes had been put up that we do not have enough stakes for all the beds and we need to buy another 75 or so. That would be an easy task except we need two different heights and I lost the sheet that had all the data about what tomato were to be planted and how many beds of each and which beds took which stakes. Fortunately I had posted the list of the maters on my blog and from that I was able to basically remember how many beds of each type and which type takes which sized stake-big indeterminate heirlooms take 7' stakes and the determinants take the little stakes. Now almost all the maters are transplanted and we have a good idea of what we need stake-wise.

We could have opted to just go ahead and plant the tomatoes willy nilly and put up which ever sized stake was handy but we have been there, done that in the past and it works out badly-tall plants on short stakes growing well above the tops of the stakes than dropping down to the ground-that is a nightmare scenario for harvesting. And of course, you get short plants on tall stakes which is just a waste (but quite easy to harvest).

These are the things we deal with in our lives.

Don't forget there is a potluck/farm tour coming up on the solstice, Sunday June 21st. I encourage everyone to attend as these are fun, you will learn more about how your food is raised and get to eat some good food and have good conversation. let me know if you can/cannot come.

Oh yeah, a reminder to bring back all the plastic bags, rubber bands and fruit boxes and any other packaging we supply-we will reuse it all and lessen our impact and landfill use. Just leave such things on the counter in the store

Like last week (and until it gets cool again) your share will be in the fridge.

Recipe

Squash and asparagus
2 medium zucchinis, sliced
1 onion sliced
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
2TBL butter
salt to taste

Heat a large frying/sautée pan and add the butter when it has melted and stopped foaming add all the vegetables and salt and cook covered on medium heat for 15 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally. remove lid and cook another 5 minutes and serve.



This Week's Share


Asparagus-a half pound this week. the plants are finally starting to go dormant. it was a good run.
Spring Mix-this has been so good the past couple of weeks
Lettuce-another bag of mixed heirloom heads of lettuce
Zucchini-a pound or 2 of zephyr (yellow and green) and Jackpot (dark green). I find the zephyr much tastier than the jackpot
Red Turnips-These are a salad turnip as they are sweeter than the purple top globe turnip that is by far the most common turnip in America. These can also be cooked and are very tasty this way as well.
Basil-this will increase in amount as the plants get bigger. Make a pesto, use in salads, freeze by putting basil and a bit of olive oil in a food processor and pureeing, than put the basil puree into an ice cube tray (that will forever have the essence of basil) and freeze.
Thyme
Mizuna/Tat soi-a bag of asian greens-this is good in a stir fry, braised or as a bed of greens topped with some cooke vegetables or meat
Red Mustard-a hot and sweet mustard. this does lose a lot of its' heat when cooked
Sugar snap peas-last week you got snow and shelling peas. this week sugar snaps which you string and eat pod and all

 
 

Boulder Belt Farm Share Week 9

 

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe

Roasted Garlic Scapes
These are wicked good

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

This Week's Share

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

 
 

Boulder Belt Farm Share Week 7

It's another week of yummy food.

The weather is improving quite a bit. We got over 3" of rain over the weekend which was badly needed. It got cold but we did not get much, if any frost (I think a couple of the tiny asparagus spears got frost damaged but not more than .01%) and now we get some very nice dry and sunny days to get a lot of weeding/hoeing/tilling done.

The farm is very beautiful. The trees are leafing out and the early summer flowers are opening. Mostly irises (my favorite flower) with a bit of phlox and soon we should have a hillside covered in daisies

Monday was spent weeding, mainly onions and garlic. We have a really nice method to take care of the weeds that is not too labor intensive. First we get out the wheel hoe and hit the big areas. Next we use a stirrup hoe to get smaller areas that the wheel hoe blade is to wide to do. after all that is done we hand weed what's left. Usually there is hardly anything to hand weed but today we hit several beds that need a lot of hand weeding. The scallions are the worst but fortunately they are well on their way to being done. I am happy that the onions and garlic did not need much hand weeding at all, just a few thistle plants that had to be pulled per bed. if there is not a lot of little weeds growing up in between the plants and the weeds are small  we can get a bed done in about 15 minutes. If there are a lot of little weeds between plants than a bed will take about 2 to 3 hours with one person doing the work. From now until mid July when it usually gets dry we will be doing a lot of weeding, than the weed pressure usually lightens up a lot.

Beside weeding (and the perpetual harvesting) we are gearing up to put out about 750 tomato, pepper and aubergine seedlings. This means many beds to till (about 2/3 are tilled), than landscape fabric mulch and irrigation tapes are put down. the mulch is secured by digging in the edges. 7' tall metal fence stakes are driven into the ground for the tomatoes-10 stakes per bed so we have something to support the tomatoes. We also stake the peppers but they take much smaller stakes and could even use tomato cages, if we had any. We do not use cages for tomatoes as we grow great big indetermanent tomato varieties and they get way too big for cages so we stake them and support them a la the "Florida Weave" (google it).

A lot of crops are close to coming in. We should have a little bit of fresh basil maybe next week. We might have small zucchinis this week and if not certainly next week (they will be ready Thursday but are not quite ready to pick Tuesday so to keep things even we will probably wait until next week so everyone gets the same thing at the same time) The first peas are in flower and should have peas in 2 weeks. We grow three kinds, snow, sugar snap and a couple of types of shelling peas. The garlic should be forming scapes at the end of the month. Scapes are the flower stalks and have to be cut off, they are yummy. Broccoli is beginning to form heads. We will have cabbage, carrots, beets, chard, scallions (the one's you have been getting were from an over wintered bed that was planted around this time last year.), sweet onions  in June and beyond.

As some thing are coming on others are going away for a few weeks. This would be the strawberries. We grow an everbearing variety that sets fruit, fruit ripens, fruit gets picked and than it grows more flowers and sets more fruit. A cycle takes about 6 to 8 weeks. Cycle one in just about over.  So this will be the last week for strawberries for a while, I believe. But soon enough we will have red Latham raspberries (mid to late June)

We have the pot luck dinner coming up this Sunday. I have RSVP's from 4 people, The Platts, Gliddens, Lathams and Herbskerman. I need to know Yes or no from the rest of you, ASAP (sorry if I have forgotten your RSVP, you will have to tell me again-farming can make one brain dead). As mentioned, it starts at 5pm, we will conduct a tour of the main market garden at 5:15 or so, Nancy will do her herb demo around 6pm than we eat good food out under the apple trees. It should be a lot of fun and the perfect opportunity to get to know the farm and ask us questions. Try to be on time. oh and we will have a home brew tasting of some sort. We will provide a big salad, a couple of kinds of dressing and Apple cider. You bring a dish to share (meat, dessert, side dish, etc.,) things to eat/drink with/from (we really want to avoid disposable plate/cup/flatware use) and any wine beer, soda you want to drink if cider is not for you. We may have some pear wine left over from last year. We have many interesting people in this group so conversation should be interesting.

June is coming up I need to know if you are one of the members doing this by the month a) are you joining in June? b) if so and you pick up on Tuesday which 4 Tuesdays do you want-there are 5 in June.  I need to know ASAP about these things. Those of you who have committed to the entire season, don't worry about this 5 Tuesday thing.

Recipe
Asparagus and Kale Omelet


3 eggs, use pastured eggs you can buy at any farmers market
2 spears of asparagus, cut into 1/2" pieces
4 kale leaves, cut the mid rib out and chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup cheese (cheddar or whatever pleases you), shredded
butter
salt to taste

In a pan over medium heat melt the butter and saute the onion, asparagus and kale, add the salt. Cook about 5 minutes, until the onions get translucent and the asparagus is tender crisp. Also place the top oven rack in the highest position and preheat the broiler

While this goes on beat the eggs in a small bowl

In a hot omelet pan (preheated over medium-heat-the pan must be hot for the eggs to slide out of the pan, not stick) melt some butter (don't worry if it starts to turn brown) and put in the scrambled eggs. With a spatula  stir the eggs, pushing them down the side. Cook about 1 to 2 minutes. Put eggs under the hot broiler for 30 seconds. The eggs should be puffed up and turning light brown, even. Remove put pan on a cold burner and add the veggies to one side of the eggs and top with the cheese. Put back under the broiler for 30 to 45 seconds, until cheese is melted. Flip onto a plate, veggie side first and let the rest of the eggs fold over top.



Asparagus-around a pound this week, you may notice some spears are purple-those are the purple asparagus and they are super tender and good.
Kale-Russian White kale, a big bag. this is simple to cook-cut the center rib out and chop and steam like spinach
Spring mix-another bag of salad
Lettuce-mix of reds and greens this week
Radish-lots of little radishes. This planting of radishes never did take off and now we need them out of the ground. hopefully the later plantings will do Much better for us.
Chives-the flowers are at their peak right now and quite edible
Garlic chives-another bunch of garlic chives
Oregano-many of you got this herb about two weeks ago instead of rosemary. This is the pizza herb and is also a good herb for digestion.
Strawberries/zucchini-Since the berries likely will not make it to Thursday the Thursday group may get zephyr zucchini in their shares this week
Arugula-Eugene says there is enough to harvest. As I write this it is 5am and I have not gone out to check nor will I until after dawn. There may be arugula in the shares or there may not be

 
 
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