Boulder Belt Eco-Farm

  (Eaton, Ohio)
We Sell the Best, Compost the Rest

Boulder Belt Farm Share Initiative, Week 3

It's a new week. And it is Earthweek (Earthday being Wednesday). being in our farm share program is one of the greenest things you can do. planting a tree is also nice and that is something we did this week-planted several nut trees-english walnuts (carpathians), hazelnuts and I forget the 3rd nut tree. Our goal is to have a nut grove in the next decade or so. So far e have several carpathians and a scad of black walnut trees growing in the valley

 After a lovely Friday and Saturday, both days spent preparing or attending the Oxford Uptown Winter market, rain and coolness has moved back in and this is bad news for the asparagus lovers who pick up on Tuesday. I went out to see how much asparagus is out there Monday afternoon, and the answer is a lot of spears emerging from the ground. But very little is big enough to harvest. This might change by Tuesday afternoon but I doubt it. Because it is cool and cloudy the asparagus will not do much growing but as soon as it gets sunny and warm (that would be Wednesday afternoon and on into the weekend) it will start producing in abundance. That means that you Tuesday folks will probably not get asparagus this week and the Thursday folks will. So what I will do is put a double amount of asparagus into next Tuesday shares so everything is even steven. I feel bad about this but I cannot do anything to get the asparagus to grow more quickly.

We finished planting out the last of the onion seedlings on Sunday. We planted somewhere around 2500 onion plants that look a lot like blades of grass. We start our own onion seeds (as we do with everything we grow) in January and start transplanting them in mid March and in past years finish up the first week of May. This year we got done early. Eugene was commenting through out he planting process that we had gotten a lot faster over past years. We still have a couple of hundred feet of leek seedlings to put in when it stops raining. We have also put in cabbage, kale, broccoli and lettuce seedlings seedlings, as well as have sowed seeds direct for spring mix and peas (3 different kinds) this week. The strawberries are looking good and I think we will have them for the farm share initiative by the second week of May.

We cancelled the pot luck this past Sunday. Only one member was coming out and the weather was nasty so we said ferget it. There will be another Pot Luck dinner and farm tour May 24th. Along with the tour and eating we will have some home brew beer to sample (Eugene brews beer in the winter and is quite good at it). I hope everyone can make it as these have been a lot of fun in the past, the farm is very beautiful in May and our farm tours are quite informative for the non farmer and farmer alike.

Speaking of farm tours, we have been asked by Innovative Farmers of Ohio to hold a farm tour the end of August. This is a big deal as people will come from all over Ohio as well as Indiana, W Va, Michigan and Kentucky. We will be focusing on organic strawberries. It turns out we are the only farm in the state that grows strawberries sustainably/organically. Than in November we will give a workshop somewhere in Columbus on organic strawberries to follow up on this farm tour. Pretty exciting stuff for us. it has been several years since we have gotten into the educational side of farming and we have missed doing so but the move to the new farm meant we had to put a lot of things on the back burner in order to get this new place up and running sustainably and we have.

Okay, that is the news from Boulder Belt this week.


Leek and Spinach Quiche

1 pie crust (either home made or store bought. I do not recommend the "Pet-Ritz" style of pie crust, pre-made in a aluminum pan. Get the kind that comes in a box and you put in a pan if not making your own. Since I found out Eugene can make a better pie crust than just about anyone I have not had to buy pre-made crusts in about 12 years )
1/3 to 1/2 pound spinach, washed, spun dry and chopped (chiffinade)
2 leeks cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1 medium yellow (not sweet) onion, diced
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup cheese, grated
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried basil (any kind)
salt  to taste (when I cooked quiches at DiPaolo's we used Lowery's seasoned salt and paprika for seasoning.)

Preheat the oven to 400F. Cook 30 minutes or until quiche is golden brown and firm to the touch)

Saute the leeks and onion until tender (about 5 minutes). Toss the spinach in the last 2 minutes of cooking so it is just wilted and not over cooked. While that is going on scramble the eggs in a small mixing bowl and add the milk and seasonings. When the vegetables are cooked put them into the prepared pie crust than dump the grated cheese in than the egg mixture. Put the pie on a cookie sheet (there may be some boil over and this keeps your oven clean) and into the oven. let the quiche cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Asparagus-as mentioned, Tuesday members probably won't get any this week but will get a double amount next week-though you may get a couple of spears as a teaser if I can find 24 to 36 spears big enough for the Tuesday group.
Leeks-these keep on coming but boy are they gooood
Spinach-we have maybe 2 more weeks of spinach before it gets too hot and it all bolts. we were going to plant more spinach but it looks like we will have a hot mid spring and that means bad spinach conditions so we probably won't bother with it.
Lettuce-Mainly red heads this week. The round leaf type is marvel of Four Seasons, a French heirloom, I cannot ID the other red types-various leaf lettuces
Spring mix-a mix of several kinds of heirloom lettuce, mizuna and arugula. Normally there is also red mustard and tat soi but the first planting of those two things failed. in a couple of weeks we will be harvesting from spring mix beds that have all the ingredients
Garlic chives-aka Chinese chives. These have a nice garlic flavor that is not too strong. Use in a salad or chop and garnish the leek and potato soup right before serving. like the onion chives these do not take to cooking well.
Fresh tarragon-this is the first herb to grow in the spring. Taste is anisy and this goes well in tomato based sauces (I love this in marinara sauce)
D'avignon radishes-aka French breakfast Radishes
Apple sauce-I make this from a mix f the apples we grow. Also cinnamon, brown and white sugar and lemon juice. Everyone who has tried this loves it. if you love it the bad news is this is the last of the sauce until Fall when the apples come back into season
Garlic powder-I have been making our own garlic powder for about 10 years. It is a mix of the 3 kinds of hard neck garlic we grow. I dry it in dehydrators than grind it to a powder-et voila! Powerful Strong garlic powder. I have gotten many people addicted to this over the years. Granted, it is not the same as fresh garlic but considering the real garlic is all compost this is as close as we will get until July when the new crop is harvested (and you get fresh, uncured garlic which is the BEST.)

Boulder belt Farm Share Initiative-Week Two

It's week two for the farm Share Initiative (Eugene doesn't like the word "Program". I think we have been watching too many episodes of Lost, so program has been changed to "Initiative"). Like last week, Monday and Tuesday's weather is not being cooperative for harvesting. It is cold, windy and raining heavily as I write this. I am hoping that sometime between now and 9am tomorrow it will get better for at least 2 hours so we can go harvest in relative comfort. But if it doesn't let up than harvest will be in relative discomfort. Thursday is forecasted to be a beautiful spring day.

So, I have been thinking about dealing with whole foods. I have been cooking with such for the past 15 years or so and this has become second nature to me so I tend to forget that a lot of you are rather new to this whole idea of buying local and cooking with fresh, whole ingredients. To make your life easier you need some items (if you don't have them already). Get a salad spinner, they cost.  A vegetable peelers is essential for carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, etc.. Get the wide/horizontal kind over the traditional skinny/vertical bladed kind (I just found this out about 2 weeks ago after resisting change to the wide (horizontal) bladed peeler). One of my all time favorite cooking tools is a micro-planer. This is wonderful for grating hard cheese like parmesan, chocolate and garlic (You will toss out your garlic press after processing garlic using one of these, at least I did and have never regretted it). Buy one of these at a hardware store as they are about 30% cheaper this way. There are other useful things but at the moment they are not coming to mind.

Things on the farm are coming along. I have spent the past 4 days dealing with pepper and eggplant seedlings that will eventually be transplanted to the garden in early June and be harvested in August through frost. I started about 500 seeds of both a week ago and over the weekend most germinated and that meant I had to make 200 soil blocks in order to transfer the germinants into more soil so the seedlings will grow and thrive over the next 8 weeks. Because it has been too cold to put the lettuce and cabbage/broccoli seedlings that are under lights out into cold frames we had a log jam of seedlings over the weekend in the germination room. but now it is warm enough to move to older and more cold hardy seedlings outside in order to make room for the peppers and eggplant. On tax day I will start the 400 tomato plants that will become our main tomato crop.

While I have been starting seeds Eugene has been moving hoop houses so we have them where we need them to grow early zucchini, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. these early crops will, if all goes well, ready to go a good 4 to 6 weeks earlier than the main crops. That said about 1/2 the time the weather does not cooperate with us (it gets too cold) and that cold causes the early crops to slow down and than they are ready to harvest only a week early (and a couple of times they were so cold shocked they started producing fruit 2 weeks after the main crop was coming in). He also has been tilling up beds in the garden so we have a place to put more lettuce, spring mix, broccoli, onions, leeks, peas, etc.

We have a potluck dinner coming up this Sunday from 5 to 8pm. We will supply a huge salad and a couple of different dressings and will also have a gallon of sweet apple cider we pressed from our apples last year. You bring a dish that can feed six or so people and something to eat with (i.e. dishes and cutlery). Please RSVP a yes or no about this dinner ASAP.

We will take back any paper or plastic bags you get from the FSI and re use them. we will also take any other plastic or paper grocery bags you were going to toss/recycle. we will use them to pack shares, at the farmers market and at our farm store. We go through a lot of bags in a year and do not like to ever use virgin plastic

Tarragon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup vinegar (I mix a good balsamic with rice vinegar)
1/2 cup olive oil (get a good Spanish oil-i recently found out almost all the olive oil we buy in this country comes from Spain, even the oil that says it is Italian. But the oil that is labeled it is from Spain is higher quality that the oil they sell to other countries for export so you can get cheaper and better quality oil this way. I get all my olive oil at Jungle Jim's-they have by far the best selection and prices on 3 liters cans)
2 cloves fresh garlic minced or put through a press
1TSP dried tarragon
1tsp dried basil/cinnamon basil
1tsp salt
1/4 cup honey

Mix everything but the oil together in a glass carafe or jar (a pint canning jar works okay for this). Put a lid on the container and shake well until everything is mixed. Now add the oil and shake a gain. Let this sit at least an hour so the flavors can marry than it ready to dress a salad.

Spring Mix
Red Turnips
Dried Cherry Tomatoes
Dried Tarragon

Boulder belt Farm Share Initiative-Week One

Farm share program season has finally started! Pick up your share in the store between 4 and 7pm on the day you agreed upon. One bag per person/family/share this week (some weeks later in the season there may be two bags of stuff).

It is snowing as I write this but spring really is here. The grass is green (and almost needs mowing!), daffodils are in bloom. Things are going well so far. We are getting things planted in an orderly and timely manner. Spring is busy for us what with the planting of seeds, (both direct out in the soil and starting seeds in doors), tilling, hoeing, moving hoop houses, transplanting seedlings and harvesting. We have just started planting things and have about 10% of the beds filled up, mainly with crops we either are or will be harvesting in the next few weeks. Though we are starting to plant long term crops like onions, leeks, parsnips along with the spring things like broccoli, peas, radishes, lettuce, arugula, etc..

This past week we moved hoop houses around so we would have a place to put early tomatoes and peppers. This meant the lettuce, radishes and peas we had started inside hoop houses are now out in the weather. The cold weather we will be getting for the next couple of days is a bit too cold for these things so have had to cover them with row cover to keep them from getting frost bite and dying (or going into shock). The lettuce is covered no matter what because we are more afraid of heavy rain and hail hurting it than cold. But the peas and radishes, while they both appreciate cool weather, do not take 26 degrees well without protection. I would also be worried about the strawberries in the hoop house which are in full bloom and making berries but 2 years ago we had a warm March which put the berries into full bloom a bit earlier than this year. The warm weather was followed by a hard freeze (17 F) and high winds for about 5 days. The berries were fine that year and should be fine after this puny 2 day cold patch seeing as how they have the same amount of protection. If all goes as it should we should have some strawberries by the end of April and certainly we will all through May


Roasted Parsnips
Clean all the parsnips like you would carrots and put in a covered dish along with whole cloves garlic that you have removed from their wrappers and leeks cut into 1" slices. Drizzle olive oil over top and salt to taste. Cook for 30 minutes in a 350F oven and serve as a side dish

What's in the Share This Week

Spinach-this is over wintered spinach, something too few people grow around here. Having survived the winter, this spinach is full of vitality and great flavor.
Lettuce-3 heads of different varieties
Parsnips-over wintered we won't see these again until September
Scallions-like most things in this week's share these are over wintered. We Thought they were dead but about 3 weeks ago they came back and have been excellent in our salads. we should have these yearling scallions for about 3 to 4 weeks than will start harvesting the spring sowing
Leeks-like the spinach these are over wintered and very tasty
Garlic-you are getting many because there will be bad cloves in most heads and some heads will no good at all. this is what garlic does this time of year.
Dried Basil-this is really good for roasted meats and vegetables, soups, stews, sauces-anything that you will be cooking a while (more than 45 minutes).
Fresh Apples-4 heirloom Dr Matthews apples
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