We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest
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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
It the first full week in October and we have a couple of returning members and a couple of members who have left leaving us about at the same place as last month member-wise. It seems all things, including Farm Share initiatives, seek equilibrium.
We have one month left in this 31+ plus week affair. That is a long stretch of time for local foods To all you members who signed up for the entire season congratulate yourselves. Most CSA members do not make it so long. As a matter of fact, we had several members who signed up in April drop out, I believe because they were burned out. CSA can be a lot like joining a gym. It is good for you and in the beginning you are very enthusiastic but after months and months of the grind that enthusiasm flags and you look for a way out.
Sometimes I wish we farmers had an easy out. I know getting, often, strange foods weekly in amounts that may be more than you can easily handle gets old. But imagine doing the farming 7 days a week March through November. We have to deal with tons of food-harvest, cleaning, storing and sorting daily. Plus planning, planting, weeding, bug patrolling, feeding, tilling, etc.. farm work tends to be pretty relentless especially may through September. And this leads to farmer burn out. This year is not so bad but in past years we would be so toasty by this time of year that we could barely function well enough to get crops out of the field for marketing, much less being able to think about the next season and get things other than garlic planted in the fall for the following season. This year we are in good shape. Perhaps because Eugene has starting fishing on a daily basis (we have a well stocked pond that we have pretty much ignored for a couple of years). At any rate, he is on top of getting crops in the ground for fall winter and early spring and even planning out where things should go next year.
We still have the massive job of putting the garden to bed for the winter. Thousands of plants need to be ripped out of the ground, fabric mulches need to be taken up, cleaned a bit and stored and than cover crops planted. The plants are piled into what will become compost piles. After the market garden is cleaned up, most of the plants will be run through a chipper shredder so they will compost in 6 months instead of 2 years. Often this job is done in Winter when there is not much else to do. So far about 15% of the beds have been cleaned up (around 45% have active crops in them still and cannot be touched yet). Fortunately, this work can be done between now and when the ground freezes up (usually Late November/early December).
The other fall thing we do is put up hoop houses. If you are picking up this week you will see that 3 have been erected. These will protect various crops through the fall and winter. Right now they are protecting strawberries, zucchini, galia melons, green beans and tomatoes. Later some will be moved over to the leeks and winter greens. Others will stay where they are and we will rip up most of the current crops in them in November/December and plant things like lettuce and spring mix in them to be harvested in March and April of 2010.
Once things are all put to bed in November we can almost take a break-we won't be doing much in the market garden other than harvesting fall/winter greens and leeks for winter markets and the Winter Share members and making sure the weather does not destroy the hoop houses (we generally have 1 or 2 come down during winter due to heavy snow loads or high winds or major ice). But by late December we will have to have our seed orders sent in or else risk either seeds being put on back order or finding they are sold out and by early January (like the second) we will start onion and leek seeds indoors and start the season again.
No recipe this weekWhat's in the Share
Look for two bags per share this week. Both will be on the table and available for pick up after 4pmPeppers
-This week you get a whole bag of sweet bell peppers. Expect more than 6. I have heard that some peppers are rotting - This happens, I do try to select only peppers that show no signs of damage but my eyes are not the best and sometimes I miss things.Haricot verts
-Pronounced airy coe ver. Real French beans. I snap off the stem end and cook for 10 to 13 minutes in about 1 inch of boiling water.Beets
-You will get a nice bunch of both red and golden beets with greens. the easiest way to cook these is to boil cut up beets in water for about 10 minutes or until softCeleriac
-AKA Celery root. You get two of 'em this week. This is the ugliest thing we grow (they are the knobby root like things) but really really tasty. Peel off the outer skin and either eat raw or roast, use in a soup or stew like you would use a turnip or potato. They taste like sweet celery. the greens taste like really strong parsley and can be used in soup/ soup stockLeeks
-you get 2 leeks this week.Kale
-A 3/4 pound bag of Kale. Most likely Russian White but I may mix in some Dinosaur and/or WinterborPears
-2 pounds of kieffer pears, yum.Potatoes
-At least a pound of mixed taters. Long skinny ones are the fingerlings-bad for mashing great for roasting and frying. The round ones will be either white, red or gold and good for boiling and mashing, among other things.Red turnips
-around 1/2 pound of red turnips. these are actually good raw in salads but also good cooked in things or mashed.Cayenne peppers
-15+ peppers to heat up your life. I find these have a really nice heat and add good flavor to chili, salsa and curries. these may not be hot enough for some of you but should suffice for most.Garlic
-two corms of our hardneck garlicSpring Mix
-A 6oz bag of salad. Please wash before using
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:14 AM EDT
The first and last newsletter of the month. Weird, but true because the month of October starts mid week. To all of you who have done this all season, congrats, you have made it almost all the way. In my experience as a CSA farmer this is somewhat rare. In past years we have had up to 50% of our full season members drop out by now. This would start by a few missed share usually in July and by mid September the member(s) would pretty much quit coming to farm (or when we did drop points, the drop point) to get their food. Sometimes they would would let me know what was going on but most of the time they did not. This meant we were making shares that would not be used by the intended people. Very frustrating. I am so happy this has not been the case at all this season. On that note I need to hear from the following people ASAP about next month; Kristan/Earlham, Heather Kardeen and Bea, -Are you in or out for October? Let me know no later than this evening (Tuesday).
Life of the farm just keeps going and going. We put up the first of several hoop houses yesterday. It will start out life protecting tomatoes and green beans but by December it will be too cold for those crops and they will be cleared out and something will go in probably in late winter as it is about impossible to get a crop started in an unheated hoop house in December, unless it is warmish and sunny during December. Than we can start spinach or spring mix for March/April harvests. Those maters in that hoophouse should be ready to harvest the end of October and definitely by November, same with the green beans.
The summer season is pretty much over for us-we still have peppers and eggplant in the ground and producing but the melons and tomatoes are pretty much over (except for the maters in the hoop house which have yet to produce anything. Oh, and the tomato volunteers that are covered with green and just now ripening fruits but may not make it through a 36 degree night). I suspect the basil will be gone after a night in the mid 30's (the prediction for Wednesday night/Thursday morning). But cold weather is fine with us as we have shifted to crops that can take the cold and still produce well (as a matter of fact most of the leafy greens prefer cold nights). And if it gets a bit too nippy we have frost protection for the more tender crops still in the ground. the mid 30's will be hard of the peppers which are too numerous to put hoop houses over and too large for row cover so I believe the plan there will be to harvest as many peppers as possible and hope for the best. in past years the peppers have been able to deal with some near freezing temps without too much damage and it may not get nearly as cold as they predict. I note that this morning it is is the low 50's and it is supposed to be in the low 40's so they were off by about 10 degrees (in our favor).
Yesterday evening we spent time digging taters. We got in Pontiac Reds (the potatoes you guys have been getting most weeks for a couple of months, now), Russian banana, a yellow fingerling spud, great for roasting or salads. not great for mashed taters. And German Butterball. The Butterballs are a wonderfully round yellow spud that is a nice all purpose potato. It also is a potato we have grown for only 2 years now and have discovered that if you do not get these spuds out in a timely manner they decide to put out roots and leaves and make more taters. This would be wonderful if we had another 3 months of frost free weather ahead of us but now that is is firmly autumn and winter is on it's way these taters don't stand of chance of producing a crop (actually they do as Eugene has collected all the sprouting butterballs and will plant them in a hoop house where they just might be able to over winter). At any rate, this has never happened to us with any other variety of potato we have grown (and we have grown around 10 to 15 different varieties over the past 15 years) and I guess in the future we will have to remember to get these tubers out of the ground ASAP after they are ready. You see with potatoes, most can be left in the ground for weeks after the plants die back. As long as the ground does not freeze or get water logged (flooded) the taters should be alright (grubs are another factor-they will eat any and all taters they can get too). but we find the butterballs if left in the ground for more than a couple of weeks after the plants die back will try to make babies. All potatoes will eventually do this but most need to be left in the ground for several months or over winter to go into the reproduction mode. Actually the second reproduction mode as the plants make seed balls during the summer that will also turn into potato plants if planted. It is through the seed balls we get new varieties of potatoes. Yukon Gold was developed this way. Some day Boulder Belt may come up with a new variety of spud that is commercially viable as we do plant the seed balls to see what we get. So far we have gotten nothing new or unique. But we keep trying because we find plant breeding fascinating.
We still have a few openings (5/five) for the winter share. Let me know ASAP if you want to keep getting local food through January. Cost is $300, payable by Halloween for food every other week. I wanna give you members first crack at this offer before allowing non members to sign up. Thanks to those of you who have already let me know, yes or no, about the Winter Share Program
We can always use you clean, not full of rips and holes, plastic and paper shopping bags-got a big wad of them taking up space in your home and you don't want to landfill them? We will happily take them off your hands. Other things we are looking far are pint and quart canning jars (no lids needed). If you have any that are just taking up space bring 'em to the farm. If you can and need the jars keep them-oh and on that note if you do can and ever need widemouth lids (no rings) we can supply you with 'em for free as we have about 1500 new unused lids we got from a friend (and there is more where those came from). Anyhoo, if want some let me know and I will toss some in your share. And the final thing we are looking for are dogs and cats-we have lost one old dog and have another close to death and we really need a minimum of 3 dogs to keep the crops safe from deer, groundhogs and other critters. We also need a good mouser or two. If you know of any medium to large breed (mutts are best but preferably no Chow or Pitbull mixes) puppies up to 6 months old that need a good home let us know. Same with kittens. Dressing/Stuffing
1 loaf of bread cubed and allowed to go stale over night. If you did not give yourself enough time pop the cubed bread (put it on a baking sheet) into a 350F oven for 10 minutes to dry out. It will take more than 10 minutes to dry the bread but it should be stirred every 10 minutes until it gets to where you want it.
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock or water
1 medium yellow onion chopped
3 (or more) ribs of celery chopped
2 to 3 apples chopped
1 or 2 pears chopped
1 cup of nuts, chopped (walnuts are best but any will do)
1/2 cup of raisins
2 cloves of garlic minced (more or less-to taste)
1/2 pound mushrooms sliced
1 tsp fresh sage (can use dried)
1 tsp fresh rosemary (can use dried)
1/4 cup fresh Italian/flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup melted butter or olive oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
In a large frying pan melt 1/2 the butter (or oil) and saute the onion, mushrooms, garlic and celery until tender. In a large mixing bowl put together the bread, cooked veggies, herbs, salt and pepper, fruit, melted butter/oil and liquid and mix together. At this point you can either stuff your holiday bird or pork chops or put the dressing into a greased baking dish, cover and bake for about 45 minutes and than serve
What's in the Share this WeekBlue Lake Green Beans
-these will be on the big side but will still be tender and deliciousButterball potatoes
-expect about a pound of these plus Russian banana fingerlings (the not round taters). should be good mashed or boiled. I really have not used a lot of these as we are just now doing a real harvest and last year was the year to build up seed stock so I did not get a chance to cook any. not to mention it was a really bad year for them last year so... The Fingerlings are another one that we have grown for only a couple of years but these i know about because we have grown another type of fingerling, French Fingerling, for over 10 years and all fingerling taters have a waxy flesh that is perfect for roasting and boiling for salads.Spring mix-
This is the crop that got me into market farming. I was looking for a decent salad mix after using a local organic mix at a restaurant where I cooked for several years. I could not find a commercial salad mix that was at all decent (not even the organic mixes) so I decided to develop my own spring mix 15 years ago and I gotta say you will find none better. if it were not for spring mix I would not have become the locavore farmer I am today. Enjoy.Kale
-a nice 3/4 pound bag of White Russian Kale (there seems to be a Russian Theme developing with this share)
Radishes-A small bunch of D'avignon (long red and white) and Easter Egg (round red, white or purple) radishes. perfect for your saladRed Onion
-a couple of medium red onions. These are a beautiful all purpose onion.Sage
-herb of the week is sage. This is great for poultry dishes as well as pork. It is a strong herb so use it sparingly and unlike many much more delicate fresh herbs it can be used at the beginning of cooking and hold up. It is also good in herbed bread and biscuits.Peppers
-Last week I warned you all that there will be a future pepper explosion. that time has come. Expect a minimum of 4 huge ripe peppers in your share this week. Perhaps more. Remember these are super easy to freeze and would be great for stuffing.Eggplant
-I expect this to be the last week for eggplant. Aubergines do not like cold weather at all and will either die outright when temps get into the 30's or at the very least pout and refuse to produce more fruit.
Pears-2 to 3 pounds of Kieffer pears, yum yum.Garlic
-I dunno what kind will be in your share, one of the 3 kinds we grow, but it will be good as always.Winter Squash
-You will get 1 to 2 winter squashes in you share. I am not sure what kind at this point but it will either be Butternut (beige) Acorn (dark green), Delicata (oblong, ivory white with green or orange stripes) Sunshine (round and orange) or Cushaw (large, white with green stripes. All of them cook the same way-cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds (which are wonderful roasted) and bake on a baking sheet in a 350 oven for 20 to 45 minutes depending on the squash and its size. Squash is done when it is no longer hard to the touch.
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:38 AM EDT
It's the first day of fall-we have made it through spring and summer and for us farmers it is all down hill from here. Most of the fall planting is done. Next we start cleaning up the market garden so it can be put to bed for winter. This means ripping out old spent plants and making several compost piles with their corpses, taking up the landscape cloth we use for mulch and storing it for the winter than putting in cover crops of annual rye or oats to feed the soil. Cover crops are often problematic for us as they go in late (we still have a lot of crops that won't be ready to take out until after frost) and more often than not we do not get adequate rainfall in the fall (which seems to be happening this year) to get the seeds to germinate and grow a bit before they go into winter dormancy.
The other big job we have is erecting hoop houses over the beds that have our winter crops. We will put up at least 3 this fall and we may have to build a 4th from scratch so we can get everything covered that needs it. In the past we have made do with less but have found that crops protected with just row cover rarely make it past December no matter how hardy they are. Leeks are an exception to this-they will make it through winter but they look bad and are hard to harvest when the ground is frozen. Leeks in a hoop house do much, much better over winter.
This past week we started harvesting dried beans and peas. These will mainly go for seed purposes, though we think the Blanton's peas (more like a black eyed pea than a garden or English pea) will make great soup and we do have a lot of these. Now all we have to do is thresh them and clean them up so they can be used. years ago we grew dried beans as an actual crop but found that they took up an awful lot of space for low yields and we could buy certified organic beans for less than what it cost to raise them so we pretty much quit growing them. You really need to grow acres and acres of them to make it worth the time and effort involved. But growing so many means there is no way they can be harvested and threshed by hand so that means we would have to invest about $50K in a combine (and that would be a used combine, a new one cost $1/2 million) and buy more acreage. So we have decided not to do that as it would bankrupt us.
The Winter Share program will start Nov 11th. I need to know if you are in or out ASAP. Just a simple yes or no will suffice. I have heard from several members already so you guys do not need to respond again.
Pick-up is after 4pm. As there are tomatoes on the list there will be two bags this week. One on the table by the fridge and the other in the fridge with your name on both.Recipe
You will need a grill (wood is best but propane or charcoal will do the job) a paper grocery bag (do NOT use plastic for this) and as many whole peppers as you can find. get the grill going and when it is hot with some flame put the peppers on. Cook them over the flame turning occasionally until the fruit is blackened and the skin is flaking off, about 10-to 15 minutes. remove from heat and put into the paper bag ASAP. Let the hot and charred peppers sit in the bag for about 15 minutes than take them out of the bag and remove the blackened skin from the peppers. I find it is best to do this over a sink as you will need to rinse them off. Also remove the seeds at this time. now you can either use these smoky tasting peppers right away in your favorite dish or on their own as a side dish/appetizer. or you can cut them into strips, put them on a cooking sheet and freeze them for later use. When the peppers are fully frozen put them into a plastic freezer bag and back into the freezer. These are great in salsa and chili, among other things.
What's In the Share this WeekMistui Rose radish
-AKA water melon radish because it is green on the outside and red inside. These are best used for cooking but can also be eaten raw, though I find them a bit on the fibrous side. I have not had the greens but they are quite edible and i am sure like most greens this is where most of the nutrition is. I would treat them like chard or spinach if you cook them. You get a bunch of threeTomatoes
-likely the last week for these. A few pounds of mix maters, many of which may not be in the best shape. late tomatoes are full of cracks, dings and late blight. Just cut around anything that looks bad.
Dill-an herb we should have had months ago but are just now able to harvest. Dill is a versatile herb that goes well with most veggie, cheese and fish dishes.Parsley
-a nice bunch of Italian Flat leaf parsleyRaspberries
-a 1/2 pint box of raspberries this week. they just get better and better.Red Turnips
-a bunch of red salad turnips. these are meant to be eaten raw in salad, like radishes. That's right I am sending you radishes that need cooking and turnips that are best raw, confusing, huh?. The greens are also excellent (I like these and dislike all other kinds of turnip greens).
Potatoes-a couple of pounds of mixed taters. I do not know what we have harvested but there should be red, white and some different fingerlings.Sweet Peppers
-Some purple peppers and at least one red or orange ripe pepper. there would be more ripe ones but once a year Miami University (my Alma Mater) does a local foods dinner for the students and they ordered red peppers and pears for us so I have to make sure I can fill their order. seeing as how we have over 150 peppers plants full of ripening peppers this should not be an issue. But the peppers are ripening sloooowly and unevenly so it has become a small issue. In the coming weeks I will likely overload you guys to some extent with ripe peppers. These are super easy to freeze. Just cut them open, take out the seeds and cut off the white ribs and than cut the peppers into the shapes you want (I dice them) and put into a freezer bag (be sure to get out all the air) and into the freezer for winter/spring use. I suggest you do this with them when you get an overload.Beets
-The beets are back for fall. You will get a bunch of red beets with greens. Like the other root crops with greens this week, these too are edible and tasty and where all the nutrients are. Green Beans
-You will get a pound of either the Haricot verts (long and skinny) or Blue Lake (not so long or skinny) depending on what is producing today and Thursday. It looked like on Saturday that there would be a lot of Haricot verts Tuesday and lots of Blue Lake by Thursday. Of course we were also expecting a couple of inches of rain and not the drizzle we got most of Sunday that resulted in about 1/2" of rainfall. At any rate these beans will be far better looking than the beans you guys have been getting as we have switched from picking old beds to brand new beds.Copra Onions
-These are the best yellow cooking onions ever and that is why we grow them (I am a bit of an onion fanatic). If you want to use them raw just know that they will burn your guts. These do not need to be refrigeratedGarlic
-a couple of corms of garlic. I believe you will get Chesnok Red (AKA Shivlisi) this week. This is our strongest garlic and originates in Georgia (Russian GA, not US GA)
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:29 AM EDT
We have reached week 24. You will notice that there are changes in your share as we go from summer items into more fall like items. The main crop of tomatoes are about over for the year. We still have some but the yield is way down. On Friday it took me about 20 minutes to harvest tomatoes for market. The week before it took about 1.5 hours and the week before that about 4 hours. This is what happens in September. We did plant a fall crop of maters back in early July and the small plants do have small green fruits on them. We expect that this crop will be ready in mid October through mid November. We will put a hoop house over the beds in a week or two to keep the tomatoes reasonably warm and happy. I have been busy putting up tomato juice, tomato sauce and salsa for use this winter and next spring. I hope you all are not disappointed about not getting 10+ pounds of maters in your share (okay, those of you who started this month may miss 'em but the members who have been with us all summer or the entire season have to be sick of the maters. It was a bit of overkill, but I could have easily distributed 3x to 4x as much some weeks)
We are in the thick of winter squash harvest. It has been a good year for acorn, butternut and sunshine squashes. back in July the butternut looked really bad. The beds got fairly weedy and the weeds hid the developing squashes. So for several weeks it looked like we would get nothing. Than it seemed like over night that the squash foliage died back revealing lots and lots of medium sized squashes. You will not see any butternuts for several weeks in your share as these must cure for 3 to 5 weeks to bring out the sugars in the flesh. Newly harvested butternuts (and this is true of all winter squashes) will have a rather insipid taste. The other reason you won't see a lot of winter squashes in shares (there will be some) is because these are grown for winter markets and shares. Marketing the produce we grow in winter has become a bit of a specialty for us. We do both season extension using row covers and hoop houses and we grow for root cellaring
As has been mentioned several times in past newsletters we are offering a winter share (which has 7 openings, down from 9 last week-if you want our food this winter I suggest you tell us sooner than later) and we got to most of the monthly winter markets in Oxford (3rd Saturday of the month starting in December). Selling at an outdoor market in the depths of winter is pretty hard core (we have sold in ice storms, heavy snow, sub zero temps and, a couple of times, spring like conditions in January). Our goal is to eventually have the winter share program replace the winter farmers markets as there are some down sides to selling outdoors in winter. If the temps are below 25F we cannot take squash or potatoes as they will freeze in about 2 hours. Interestingly, though, greens such as kale and arugula seem to do okay as do parsnips and carrots. So because of past learning experiences such as freezing over 100 pounds of taters at a subzero market coming home and tossing them in the compost, we know our limitations at such markets. The winter share program has no such limits because the produce stays indoors where it will not freeze and be ruined until members come to get it. And we don't have to stand around for 3 hours in the cold and wind selling (this is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds)
Hey! We have a Pot luck dinner and farm tour THIS Sunday. I have heard from only 4 members out of 13 about this. I need to know ASAP (like today) if you are coming to this event of not. Just reply to this email with a simple yes or no-it's that easy. The festivities will start around 6ish. Meet at the store.
Your shares will be ready after 4pm. It looks like there will be one bag per share this week and they will be in the fridge. Oh and speaking of bags if you have a lot of plastic grocery bags taking up room in your abode we will take them and reuse them (as long as they are clean-absolutely no dirty bags). just bring them with you and leave them on the table where I have been putting the tomatoes all summer.RecipeLamb or Beef stew
(if vegetarian leave out the meat). This is a family recipe I learned from my father. He always made beef stew but in recent years I got turned onto stewing lamb and find it is better than beef.
a couple of medium yellow cooking onions, diced
several stalks of celery, diced
4+ carrots (med to large), diced
1/2 pound potatoes diced
1 medium rutabaga peeled and diced
1 large pepper (green, purple or red) diced
1/8 cup fresh sage (or 1-tsp dried)
several sprigs of rosemary (if doing lamb)
1/4 cup of fresh parsley
1TBL dried basil (fresh will not work with this recipe)
2 tsp dried oregano
several cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
salt to taste (at least 1TBL)
2+ quarts of water or meat or veggie stock
Any other veggies you desire such as parsnip, winter squash, zucchini, tomato, leeks, mushrooms, green beans, daikons, etc..
1+ pounds of stew meat (We get ours from Morning Sun Farms which sells it's pastured meat at Oxford, Yellow Springs and West Chester farmers markets)
In a large heated pot (at least 3 gallons) cook the meat until brown (vegetarians skip this step). When the meat is brown remove it from the pot add some butter or oil to the brown bits left by the meat cooking (vegetarian style will have no brown bits and that's okay) and add the veggies, salt, herbs and water/stock. On medium high heat bring to a simmering boil. Once simmering turn heat down to medium low, add the cooked meat cover and let cook for at least 2 hours, checking and stirring every so often. You may have to add an additional quart of so of water during cooking. When the contents are soft (especially the meat-you are using stew meat which takes several hours of stewing to be right) grab a blender and puree about 1/3 of the stew (you may have to add some water). Put the puree back into the stew, check seasonings and adjust if needed and you are ready to serve. This is great with a good bread, cornbread or homemade biscuits.What's In the ShareGreen beans
-big beans from an early planting of beans we though was dead and gone but instead has been silently producing beans. These beans look tough but in reality are sweet and tender despite their robust sizeEggplant
-at least a pound of neon (purple) and Nadia (black) eggplant. The 3" rain last week got the plants to start producing something other than micro auberginesCelery
-this is a fall vegetable that could use a bit more time to get a bit bigger. This is best used for cooking as it tends to be stronger than what we are used to getting at the store. Celery is hard to grow around here because it is very susceptible to fusarium, a soil fungi endemic to the midwest. Michigan was the #1 producer of celery until the mid 1950's when fusarium destroyed the industry.
Peppers-Several peppers. Some should be ripe and some will be purple and/or greenCayenne Peppers
-several cayennes. These have a nice heat but are not too hot. For some members, I suppose, they will not be hot enough. We had a great deal of trouble getting the hot peppers to germinate this past spring and had planned on several other types but this is what worked. We did get 6 Jalapeno plants to survive in pots on the back deck but they are not producing enough (we have picked 6 so far) for the farm share so I have been using them for our own salsa.Garlic
-A couple of corms of our hardneck garlicSage-
a nice bunch of fresh sageKale
-this is the only green we have going right now and because Eugene direct seeded the kale (usually we start seeds indoors under lights than transplant the seedlings out) we have a lot of thinning to do so the kale plants have enough space between them for proper growth this fall and winter. And you get the bounty. I have noticed a lot of the plants have aphids. I do wash the kale before it is put into shares and that does get about 90% of the aphids off the leaves but some stay on so be sure to inspect and wash the care carefully before using (unless you like a bit of extra protein with your greens)
Leeks-a couple of leeks this weekPears
-2+ pounds of our Keiffer pears. this harvest comes from just one tree that for the past 4 years has reliably produced 15 bushels a years. yesterday Eugene harvested 3.5 bushels just to keep major limbs from breaking off under the weight of the fruitRutabaga
-a couple of medium or one large 'baga (for the stew recipe)Carrots
-You are getting less than perfect carrots. Since we have lost a good dog and a mousing cat in the past year we are getting more and more damage to the carrots from mice and voles (and likely rabbits). They like to eat the top 5% of the roots and leave the rest. These are perfectly good carrots but they do need a bit of work. Mostly cutting off the top of the roots but there may also be carrot maggot damage towards the middle of the carrot. Either cut that out or use a peeler and peel it away. You will get at least 1 pound, probably more.
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 06:25 AM EDT
Greetings Farm Share Members
It is week 23 for some of you and week 2 for others-it's a crazy farm share program we run. Almost no one else in the country will let new members in monthly. That makes us special. But it also makes it very hard to plan out the market garden for the farm share when we do not have a head count of members for the season. I do realize it makes it (somewhat more) convenient for members to be able to drop in and out of the farm share but I am finding that there is an inherent unfairness for the members that paid for a full season (or partial season). The full season members are taking the full risk of being a farm share member. If they go out of town they do not get to make up their missed week(s), for example. So things will change next year. I have not hammered out how they will change other than full season members will get a discount and I don't believe there will be a monthly option. I think monthly option will change to seasonal option where I split the season into 3 or 4 sections and people have the choice of either buying a full season share or a 2 or 3 month seasonal share. Full season people will have the option of a payment plan. seasonal members will have to pay in full. I will likely keep the cost about the same as this year. This is just a heads up for all you members who are planning on joining us in 2010.
Oh and don't forget we will be doing a Winter Share. There are still about 9 spaces left for that. Here are the details:
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.
I was going to write bout how dry the farm is getting and if we don't get rain soon the yields will start dropping a lot and the fall stuff will be spotty. But we got over 2" of rain Monday and the market garden is much much happier. This means no more hand watering-literally taking 2 gallon watering cans out to the newly seeded beds and watering the seeds to get germination. Just like home gardeners do, only our garden is around 100x bigger. As I have mentioned in earlier newsletters, we do use drip irrigation but drip irrigation will not do for starting seeds. It cannot get the soil surface damp enough to ensure good germination. So we are forced to water by hand if it is dry.
As I mentioned, it rained and as long as it doesn't continue to rain non stop through the rest of the month we will be in great shape. If it decides to rain the rest of the month it will be tricky, if not impossible to get beds tilled for the rest of the late fall and winter crops (and even early spring crops like spinach) and seeds planted in the ground. I do not see that happening as September is our driest month of the year. Not to mention we have about 70% of these crops in the ground. So far for fall, we have planted arugula, spring mix, beets, green beans, carrots, radishes, red turnips, fall maters, fall zucchini, fall cukes, snow peas, sugar snap peas, kale, cilantro, cabbage, broccoli, daikon, and likely some other things. Plus we are harvesting a lot of winter squashes (butternut, delicata, acorn, etc..) and soon will be harvesting popcorn, parsnips, celeriac, celery for late summer through winter use. this week you will start to see the winter squashes, and while we do have hundreds harvested most still need to cure for another 3 to 4 weeks before they will be ready to eat. An uncured winter squash has no sugar development so the flavors tend to be dull and a bit off. But wait 3 to 5 weeks and that same squash will be fabulous.
What I want you all to come away with from reading this is just because the "Official" close to summer has happened i.e. Labor Day. This does not mean that us farmers and our farms have suddenly stopped producing. No, and in fact, fall is the best time of year for produce as it all comes in-both cold and warm weather items from mid September until frost when we lose the summer crops like tomatoes and peppers. It is a shame that a lot of non farmer managed/run farmers market close down after Labor Day as this just reinforces this myth on the non farmers of our country. But one of the things we at Boulder Belt Eco-Farm do is educate the general public on the fact that CSA's, Farm Stands and Farmers Markets (if they are still open) are at their best from now through frost. That there is a lot more going on than Corn mazes, Indian corn and pumpkins. That now is the time to buy in bulk so you can put up food for winter
Hey! There is a pot luck dinner/farm tour coming up Sept 20th. That is a Sunday. Please RSVP yes or no ASAP. We will be preparing roasted chicken that we raised for the meal (I can promise you that you will never have a better chicken). We may also offer some home brewed beer and home made wine to drink along with distilled water (this is very pure and excellent). You bring a dish that can feed 6+ people plus things to eat from (plates, cups, flatware). Meet at the store around 6ish and we will do a walk about around the market garden and explain what we do and take any and all questions, than we will eat like royalty.
No recipe this week, sorry.
What's in the Share
Tomatoes-several kinds of heirlooms and a mix of cherry maters. probably around 5 pounds, maybe a more, maybe less. The big reds are GL-18, the pale yellow are great White (one of our favorites), the big round yellow orange fruits are Sun ray, the orange not so round and flatter fruits are Dr. Wyche's yellow, the small greens are green grape (excellent taste, don't let the color put you off), the smallish browns (black, actually) are Nyagous, the smallish reds are a saladette and some should be Green Zebra but are not. The more oblong big reds are Amish paste and excellent for canning, making salsa or fresh tomato sauce
Kale-a nice bag of White russian kale. this is a brand new bed of kale that needs thinning badly so you will get baby to adolescent kale. this should be tender and yummy
Scallions-a bunch on big scallions. I notice when i slice these they make me cry and yet the scallions themselves are not hot at all, despite being huge and about ready to split into 3 or more little scallions. Scallions, unlike green onions, never make a bulb. they instead divide into several new plants. green Onions, on the other hand are actual onions and if left in the ground will make a bulb and eventually the greens will die back.
Basil-a big bag of basil for using fresh or drying or freezing (see http://www.localharvest.org/blog/330 for old newsletters that tell you how to do these things if you are new or missed that week)
Leeks-a couple of lincoln leeks. These are good fresh or cooked.
Raspberries-2 boxes of berries. These are getting sweeter as the days get shorter.
Pears-heirloom Keiffer pears. These are hard and green but quite sweet and edible. If you want them a bit softer (they never get really soft until they start to rot) put them in a paper bag and wait a week and they should get a lot riper.
Peppers-still green and purple peppers but you may get one close to all ripe this week. Next week you will certainly start to see ripe peppers in your share as the peppers are beginning to turn from green (or purple) to red, yellow and orange. ripe peppers are sweeter and higher in Vitamin C and other nutrients than green. They are also a lot harder to raise as it is in the last 3 weeks of ripening that all the pests and diseases attack the peppers. This is why ripe peppers cost twice as much as green peppers at the market
Acorn squash-the first of the winter squashes. You get 2 medium or 3 small ones. We harvested these about 3 weeks ago so they should be perfect. To prepare cut in half, remove the seeds (which are excellent roasted, like pumpkin seeds so don't throw them out!). place flesh side down on a baking sheet and put into a preheated 350F oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Slather with butter and honey and you have a real treat.
Garlic-3 corms of garlic
Ailsa Craig onion-a pound of so of sweet onions
Potatoes-a couple of pounds of a mix of potatoes. likely White, red and Yukon golds though you may find some fingerlings this week.
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Posted by Lucy
@ 02:07 PM EDT
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
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 shareTomatoes
- you get about 2 pounds of small red and yellow tomatoes, the same kinds as last weekSnow peas
-this should be the last of the snow peas. the vines started producing again, i guess because it has been so coolGarlic
-2 corms of hard necked garlicStrawberries
-a mixed bag of zukes from the bright yellow patty pan to the lively green striped Costata RomanesqueChard
-a nice bag of bright lights chardRed Giant Mustard
-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 medleyAilsa 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 sharesGreen pepper
-you will get a couple of green peppers this week.Potatoes
-1.5 to 2 pounds of mainly Pontiac red potatoesTarragon
-herb of the weekGarlic 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.
Posted by Lucy
@ 05:43 AM EDT
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