Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rain, Rain.....

Rain continues to be the theme of the summer. We spent some time this evening watching video of the flooding in eastern Iowa and marveled at the power of water. Also, some pictures of flooding in China - scary! When we look at the damage in other areas we feel pretty blessed and humbled as well - our 5 1/2" last Wednesday doesn't seem so bad - at least we don't have water up to our eaves and we aren't watching our homes float away. And....we have air conditioning that allows us to sleep during those hot, humid nights - we have a lot of things to be thankful for!

That said - we wanted to let you know that all the excess moisture definitely has a detrimental effect on many crops. Our harvest crew will quickly tell you that the smell of rotting onions is not very pleasant - and there are lots of onions that will stay in the field and get plowed under due to rot. The cauliflower is also suffering from some kind of blight and most of it will not be harvested. But we keep going and keep planting.

Raccoons! Another critter to add to the list of wildlife sighted at our place this summer. We found some evidence of them raiding the corn patch, but not enough to cause a problem. Yes, we planted a little sweet corn this year and this week you will get to enjoy some of it.

This week in your share....

Sweet Corn - enjoy! Husk, boil, roll in butter and add a little salt - heavenly! Don't forget to add a side of dental floss :)

Beans - 1/2 shares will have fillet beans and whole shares pole beans.

Peppers - light green peppers

Tomatoes - the high tunnel continues to produce some really nice fruit

Potatoes - Rio Colorado again this week - next week we'll head into those yummy fingerlings

Carrots -

Cucumbers - always refreshing in hot weather - great in salads - I like them with dip or peanut butter.

Red Meat Radish - rain is good for something. Sometimes also known as "watermelon radish", these are firm with a dense texture and mild from the moisture.

Fennel - use the stems like celery and chop the bulb up to eat raw or toss it with olive oil and some chopped carrots and roast them together for a wonderful aromatic treat.

Onion - white and sweet

Garlic - we have it all harvested now and we'll keep feeding it to you - I hear it's great for repelling mosquitoes.

This week the whole share will have the fennel and radishes.

Easy Cucumber Salad - this is from Allison's friend Bailey

Cucumbers - peeled and sliced
White onion - thinly sliced in rings or half rings

Dressing: equal parts of the following - 1/2 cup of each will make a good amount
- White or cider vinegar
- Sugar
- Water
Stir together until the sugar dissolves and pour over the cukes and onions. Let marinade for at least an hour before serving. You can keep adding cukes to the leftover dressing as you eat your salad.

Variations to try: dill, fennel, celery seed

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sunflower Smiles

The weeks have been flying by quickly. As the season turns, so do the gardens. Many crops have produced and finished and as they are harvested, John tills the spaces to get ready for another crop or seeds it in a cover crop that we will till under for soil fertility. Long term crops continue to mature and Sunday evening we were greeted with the first of the sunflowers blooms in a long row planted along the driveway. Sunflowers are always such a cheerful sight!

Parsnips - a late fall crop - are always a bit of a mystery to visitors. We hear things like "what have you got growing there - celery?" In spite of their large tops, the roots are still quite underdeveloped. The onions have begun to dry down in the field and no longer have their nice big green tops. Soon we will begin the process of pulling them all and laying them out to finish the drying process. Cucumbers seem to be the late bloomer this year - patience is the key word here.

This week in your share.....

Lettuce - the summer crisp continues to perform well. Think BLT's this week !

Tomatoes - red round and some cherries. Mixed in with the cherries you'll find some little Mexican Sour Gherkins. Not technically a cucumber, they have a crunchy texture with a little zing. Toss them in your salad, salsa, stir fry, etc.

Green Pepper - first of the season.

Beans - half share will have purple beans this week - fun for the kids - these turn green when you cook them. Whole shares will have yellow beans and green pole beans. The pole beans have just begun to produce - they have a flattened pod and a wonderful bean flavor. We have been watching them grow to over 13 feet on their trellis and now that they've reached the top, they've continued to grow and hang down towards the ground again - wow!

Potatoes - Rio Colorado. These have beautiful red skin with delicious white flesh.

Carrots - Cosmic Purple. These have an intense almost fuchsia color with a bright orange interior - and they are delicious.

Cauliflower -

Red Onion

Whole shares will also have Broccoli this week.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pigs, Chicks and Skunks!

Whoa! Skunks you may ask? Yes, it has been an interesting week (actually the last two). Pigs do not make very good guard dogs. We have always "trusted" them to be a good deterrent against other critters coming in to the hog house where we also house our baby chicks until they are big enough to go outside. Up until a few weeks ago it had been a pretty good arrangement - and then we lost a large number of baby chicks. We have had predators before, but this one had unusual habits and we were puzzled. John started asking around and while he secured the pen, we ordered more chicks and set several "live animal" traps. Well! in the course of 3-4 days, we had caught 3 SKUNKS! We've had raccoons, 'possums and cats, but this was quite a surprise. I am happy to report that things seem to be under control for the time being and no one got sprayed which is even better.

By the way, in case I had not mentioned it before, the hogs are going to the butcher on July 15 (Thursday) and if you would like to get in on some tasty Berkshire pork, we still have some halves left. Please let me know ASAP and I will get your cutting instructions to the butcher. If you are interested in a smaller quantity, we will also offer 20# bundles. In that case, you would not need to submit cutting instructions, just let me know of your interest.

Our second group of chickens is also just back from the butcher. These are whole, frozen birds and we will deliver them to you.

Work on the farm this week has been moving forward. Quite a few strips in the garden have been tilled upon completion of harvest making room for planting of new crops. The weeds, fed by all the rain, have also been going crazy. We have a great crew, but between harvesting, even they have not been able to keep up. If you feel a need at any time to work out some frustration and soak up some sun, we have lots of weeds to be pulled and we won't turn down any offers of help. Just let us know when you'd like to come.

Speaking of Harvest......the girls did a tremendous job today picking beans along with all the other picking. I believe that they brought in nearly 200 pounds in three colors: green, yellow and purple. Lest you think that only girls work here, don't worry, brothers Kyle and Micah have been pruning tomatoes and after a day and a half on his knees, Kyle has successfully unearthed the leek which had been overrun with wild purslane and pigweed. Thanks to everyone for a great job!

In your share this week.....

Tomato - this is good news! We wanted you to have the first taste of the season - either a regular round red, or some SunGold cherries (these are golden orange when ripe). Most of the red tomatoes will probably benefit from a day or two on the counter to continue ripening.

Beans - it certainly is bean season. More sunshine this week between the rain has really done them a lot of good. Green and yellow. Feel like you can't use them all? Blanch and freeze your beans for a taste of summer this fall or winter. While you bring a pot of water to a boil, trim and snap your beans. Add beans to the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from boiling water and plunge into a sink full of cold water to stop the cooking. Drain cooled beans and freeze in usable portions.

Potato - this week's offering is Keuka Gold. Looks a lot like a Yukon, but without the pink eyes that distinguish a Yukon.

Carrots -

Red Onion -

Garlic - peel off some of the outer layers then cut off close to the top of the bulb. Wrap it in foil with some butter and bake/roast it in the oven. Pop out the roasted cloves and mash in with your potatoes or mix it in with your favorite dips, etc. mmmmm......
We left the stem attached so that if you aren't ready to use it, you could just hang it up in your kitchen out of direct sunlight and let it dry to use later. If you decide to use part of it now, just put unused cloves in a container in the fridge - they will keep at least 2 weeks or more.

Lettuce - varieties of heat tolerant summer crisp.

Daikon Radish - the white "root thing". These are crisp and refreshing. Chop or grate into a salad, slice it on a sandwich.

Parsley - curly or flat leaf. Parsley stores very well in a bag in the fridge.

Whole share will also have Zucchini, Cauliflower and Kale this week. Half shares will see some of that cauliflower next week.

Have a great week!

Some new recipes to try.....from Simply in Season

Au Gratin Cabbage

2 cups cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1/3 cup chopped onions (green onions or whatever you have on hand)
saute until crisp-tender in frying pan with a little olive oil. Transfer to a greased 1-qt. baking dish.

1/2 cup milk
1 egg
3 Tbsp. shredded cheese
Combine in a small bowl. Pour over vegetables. Garnish with 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley and 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes.

Green beans with Parsley and lemon

Cook 1 pound of beans in a small amount of water until crisp-tender. Drain.

In 1 Tbsp. butter or oil, lightly saute 2 cloves minced garlic and 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley. Add the cooked beans, season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir gently and heat through. Sprinkle with the juice of 1 lemon and serve.

Garlic Potato Salad

6 cups new potatoes (cubed)
Boil in water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

6 garlic scapes or 3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 cup minced onions
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary (or 1 tsp. dried)
salt and pepper to taste
Combine in a large bowl. Add cooked potatoes and stir to coat. Chill about 3 hours before serving.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Got Bugs?........

Bugs, bugs, bugs...it's a bugs life. All this wet weather with lots of stagnant water seems to make perfect conditions for hatching lots and lots of bugs! I even heard earwigs (they are about 3/4" long with pinchers on their tails) mentioned in the news on my way to market Wednesday. Many people have also mentioned that garlic was a good deterrent for mosquitoes, but I haven't tried it yet :)

Speaking of garlic...the harvest has begun. This is always a big job involving pulling, cleaning and hanging, and when things are wet we also trim the roots to aid in the drying process.

As we work in the gardens, we are always on the lookout for pest and disease problems and once again we are on the lookout for signs of "late blight". This is the disease that was responsible for the Irish potato famine of the 1840's and was responsible for a poor tomato crop across the Midwest last year. It is a major problem that thrives in wet conditions and it travels on the wind via spores. We received word this week that it has appeared in Ohio - an early appearance for "late blight" - and we are doing our best to be proactive and save our crop. Oh yeah...tomatoes and potatoes are from the same family and that is why they are both affected by this blight.

In your share this week......

Beans - yum. Wet weather also affects the beans. We wait for the plants to dry before picking to prevent the spread of fungus that can make the beans look "rusty". There may be a few tips that have a little rust on them anyway from where they touch the ground - just snap it off.

Zucchini - to some of us this is a real sign that summer is here. When Adrienne was a baby I used to steam and mash it for her - she couldn't get enough of it. As adults, we like it grilled, in soups, cakes.......

Purple carrots - these are "purple haze" carrots. Very pretty to look at and delicious to eat. They will lose some color if you cook them.

Broccoli - good in soup - try some cheesy potato broccoli soup this week.

Mini cabbage - we love cole slaw, but also love it cut in wedges, steamed and drizzled with a little butter.

Onion - they are really sizing up beautifully. Perfect right now for raw eating on burgers and in salads. They will keep great in the fridge - if the tops start to look "iffy", just cut them off. If you have more than you can handle, chop it up and freeze it to use later in cooked dishes.

Red Gold Potatoes - a pretty light red potato with a lovely golden flesh. The catalog says "excellent steamed, boiled, baked, fried, mashed, roasted or scalloped". Take your pick!

Whole shares also include..... Swiss Chard, Fresh Garlic and Sweet Thai Basil. Jessica chopped up some chard and added it to our omlet on Monday - it was great! Basil is best stored NOT in the refrigerator. Just keep it loosely wrapped in the bag on your counter and try to use it within a few days. Use your basil to spice up tomato sauces, or serve with fresh mozzarella and a little olive oil. Use fresh garlic just like dried garlic. If you are going to use it in the next week, cut off the stem and store in a bag in the fridge. If you'd like to dry it, just hang it up in a well ventilated spot out of direct sunlight. This can take 2-3 weeks depending on humidity levels.

Have a great week!

Here is a recipe for carrot cake from cooks.com

2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil

Cream these together well. Add

4 eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.


2 cups grated carrots


2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup of ground walnuts
Add to the egg mixture and mix well.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or a 13x9-inch baking pan.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.


4 ounces of cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

Cream butter and cheese; add icing sugar, vanilla and salt.

Here is a new twist on Broccoli

Herbed Broccoli Sandwich - from the cook book Simply in Season

2 cups broccoli - finely chopped
1/2 cup onion - finely chopped
Saute broccoli and onion in a large frypan with 2 Tbsp. oil until the broccoli is bright green.

Mix in: a few dashes each of dried basil, thyme, pepper, and 1/2 tsp. salt

4-6 slices of French bread - top with the veggies.

3/4 cup shredded cheese. Sprinkle on top and broil until melted. Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wednesday June 30 Already!

It seems like time goes faster and faster! We missed updating this Tuesday evening. Thank you everyone for picking up your subscription.

Pretty standard stuff this past week. Red Norland potatoes, the earliest outdoor red potatoe! Next we will have a different variety for you and likely a different color. Carrots, Green Beans, the first of the year, Kohlrabi, lettuce, broccoli and onion.

The weather is very nice this week.