Farm Newsletter August 18, 2014

the RREEAALL one

summer 2014 035Farm Newsletter August 18, 2014

         Farm News                Crop Forecast                 U-Pick   

Bulk Produce for You       Nuts and Bolts         Recipes

It was very touching to write that last newsletter about grieving this year’s watermelon crop and be able to feel not like we’re complaining, but sharing something heartfelt that would be received in a heartfelt way.  Your comments and understanding confirmed that, and confirms yet again that we’ve got a good thing going here.

And then there were even some watermelons to pick!  Yes, there were a few, and there will be a few more in the next week or two.  And some taste great, and some do not, for two reasons: we have had to err on the side of picking them under-ripe (see the crop forecast for why) and, more importantly, hot days make watermelons sweeter.

Speaking of the cool weather, several experiences in the past week have inspired the following list:

“You Know It’s a Cool Summer When…”

…it’s noon and you’re wearing a heavy sweatshirt for the first melon harvest, hood covering your head, and you wonder if you should have worn those jeans instead of these comfy lightweight shorts

…you’re harvesting carrots and discussing numb fingertips

…you are soaked from a morning rain and sit waiting in the truck with the heat blasting full bore while your teammates finish the zucchini harvest

…somebody else turns on the truck later that day and the heat is burning the hair off their eyebrows and it takes them a minute to figure out why it smells like winter

…you want to wear the heavy wool hat you’re knitting, and

…your friend’s CSA newsletter says they were wearing hats and fleece jackets for a morning harvest

…your kid wears winter slippers outside for a couple hours in the hottest part of a sunny day

…irrigation leaks freeze into icicles before they hit the ground (just kidding on that one!)

For people, except when you’re soaked from rain, these temperatures have been dreamy.  For heat-loving veggies, on our farm they’ve provided for pretty good growth overall but a slower start to ripening, and if we can stay in the 80s and maybe hit the 90s just a little we should see a lovely harvest keep coming.   The fields are looking good and the fall crops are loving these temps, so as long as the heat-loving crops can keep eeking out a harvest, we will be doing good.  What keeps coming to  mind is those hot 90+ degree months with 30 mph winds day and night, with severe storms always on the horizon– those times make this feel like the definition of pleasant and moderate.  We hope your share of the harvest is adding to a great summer for you!

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Crop Forecast

Did you get an under-ripe watermelon?  If so we apologize, please do let us know– and we hope it was still enjoyable.  Sometimes we make mistakes in our melon picking, but last week we were intentionally picking shy of peak flavor:  our experience with melons has been that when the plants are as stressed as they are now, and the fruits as small, there is about a 5 hour window to pick them when they are just perfect before they start to go downhill towards mushy and sour.  We just can’t logistically get to each one right in its own 5 hour window, so we aim to pick them at or just before peak flavor to avoid losing the few that we have this year.  Eating any melon cool right out of the fridge is delicious, and can make an under-ripe melon almost as good as a fully ripe one.

Here’s the scoop on the rest of the melons: Our melon season usually averages four weeks, with earlier and later watermelon varieties mixing with cantaloupes to usually give you a great selection among them, and 1-2 per share each day.  With far fewer watermelons in the picture, there may or may not be enough ripe cantaloupes on any given day for each share to get one, which makes it challenging to make sure everyone has a chance to take one.   In an attempt to make the share as equitable as possible, if we run out before you arrive and you want a cantaloupe, we’ll put your name down and we’ll save an extra one for you next week.  We’ll do our best to make sure this works out in this melon-short year.  Looks like we’ll have cantaloupes for 2-3 more weeks.

Alright, on to the good stuff, of which there is plenty: there are literally tons of tomatoes, peppers and squashes in the home stretches of the marathon to your plate.

For tomatoes, we’ve got mostly red ones right now but the pink, yellow and striped heirlooms are starting to trickle in.  This Sunday rain might cause some cracking but not much.  The plants are hanging in, and dry weather will help them stay healthy for good harvests into September.

For peppers, the green bells are ready, a few sweet reds are turning color, and we’ll start picking some hot peppers this week.  We haven’t tried any but are guessing that the hot peppers won’t pack much punch this year — as watermelons need hot days to be their sweetest, hot peppers need hot days to be their hottest.

Cucumbers were great for about a week ,and then that new planting slowed down….we should be able to find enough to give everyone one or two each week.    Summer squash and zucchini, eggplants, carrots and beets, kale and greens and lettuce are all chugging along.

Aren’t some of those broccoli heads enormous?!?  That is fun to see.  Meanwhile we can’t seem to get very many cabbages to grow bigger than a softball.  There is a trend toward “mini” heads of cabbage.  I guess we’re being cool without trying.  And maybe we’re leading the trend towards the “super mini” cabbages.  🙂  Hopefully there are some bigger sizes coming for fall.

Sweet onions will go for another week or two, then we’ll start with the storage onions.  We’re in the middle of harvesting them, they’re looking great so far.

Garlic will be in the share, 1 head per share, for another 5 weeks.  If you use more,  it’s always available for purchase on the spot for $1 /head.

Overall we’re really happy with the share this year and we hope you are too!


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What’s for U-Pick?

Basil, oh basil.  Erin went out to look at it last week and was shocked to see that it was turning brown.  We have never seen that before and we are still looking into the reasons for it.  There are still some green leaves out there, but this year’s harvest looks like it will be a lot less than usual.  Due to the disease pressure, in this situation feel free to harvest by taking off individual leaves.

Raspberries, oh raspberries. Years ago we planted enough plants to produce for this many families to get a few quarts each, but two things are limiting the success of that plan: our non-weeding, and a new invasive insect pest.  3 of the 6 rows have been mostly overtaken by weeds, and yes that fruit fly (and its larvae in the fruit) is back.  Nobody — including university researchers nationwide — knew if it would survive the glorious bug-controlling winter we had, but now we know the answer to that one.

There are good-looking berries in the other 3 rows.  These are the 3 rows that are farthest west.  2 of them are west of the lower asparagus patch and one is directly east of the lower asparagus patch.

If you’re not familiar with the fruit fly damage, and their companions the picnic bugs:

Both can be eaten –but the picnic bugs don’t taste very good and will occasionally bite your tongue and the fruit fly larvae —  well, their beauty is in the eye of the beholder.   While most fruit flies need soft or overripe fruit to be able to penetrate and lay their eggs, the SWD fruit fly can lay its eggs in unripe fruit, before it is ready to be picked, so as the fruit ripens the larvae are there and ready to eat the berry before you.  (Is this a case of “the early worm gets the berry?”)  The picnic bugs also need slightly soft fruit to move in, so the two work well together to make a berry that’s less than ideal.

The picnic bugs are easily spotted by looking inside any fruit that feel slightly soft, and they can usually be shaken out or picked out if you open up the fruit.  The SWD larvae are harder to spot– the fruit often look just right but you can feel the bottom of the fruit is too soft and often juicy inside, and if you open it up and look long enough, it seems like some seeds are moving around.  Seeds don’t wiggle, so that’s the larvae.  Some people eat these fresh, some freeze the berries or make jam to eat later and you can’t even tell they had a bug problem, and some people just choose to pass on the raspberries.  You can choose, and as always let us know what you think.

Cherry tomatoes are picking up.  This rain will probably cause some splitting — if they are split and not visibly moldy, many people still enjoy them that way.

Green beans are starting to produce enough, from several plantings, to keep up with you.

Herbs – Cilantro, Dill, and Basil.  Plus lemon basil, thai basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, and cutting celery (use like celery leaves).  And mint, lemon balm, and anise hyssop are down the hill near the perennial flowers.   And the lovely flowers  by the greenhouse.

Always check the U-pick board when you’re here to see what’s available and picking amounts, and feel free to come anytime dawn to dusk to pick, and enjoy the farm.

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Bulk Produce for You

To place a bulk order, simply call or email us at least 2 days ahead of the day you’d like to pick it up.  Orders can be picked up at the farm during our regular pickup hours, but it doesn’t have to be your share pickup day.

This week’s selection is : Lettuce Mix and/or other Salad Greens for $5 / lb, Carrots and Beets for $1/lb, Kale for $3.50 / lb, Summer squash and Zucchini for $1/ lb, Asian or Globe Eggplant $1.50 / lb, Broccoli for $1.75 / lb (those giant heads are about 1.5lbs each), Green Bell Peppers, $2 / lb, Garlic $1 / head.

And TOMATOES!  As you hopefully saw in this weekend’s separate email.  Check there for more details; if you didn’t receive that email or have other questions please let us know.

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Nuts and Bolts

An update on the scissors front:  Even though we are lending them out, we are still losing scissors.  We are down to one pair of adult scissors and a handful of kid scissors.  When we run out of these scissors, we will no longer be able to lend them out.  If you want to be sure to have a pair of scissors to pick flowers with, please bring them with you.  Some folks just keep a pair in their car and then they never have to worry about forgetting them. 

Share Pickup Hours

Monday, Wednesday Friday 2:00-6:00pm.  You can U-Pick any time (when U-pick crops are in season.)

Please Drive Carefully and Slowly on the Driveway —Children are everywhere.  On the note of children, please know where yours are at all times.

Thank you so much for your sharing in the realities of growing food!!

Your farmers,

Erin and Ben, with Allia, Jesse, Daniel, Els and Kelly
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Spicy Summer Squash and Corn Quesadillas

From Fair Share Coalition’s Farm-Fresh and Fast cookbook

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

Kernels from 1 ear of corn

1 small zucchini, diced

1 summer squash, diced

½ jalapeño, minced (optional)

¼ cup salsa

2 teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

Juice from 1 lemon

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

8 6-inch flour tortillas

1-2 cups nondairy or regular cheese

In a medium skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5-6 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the remaining vegetables, olive oil, salsa, spices, and lemon juice. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring often and adding a splash of water if necessary to loosen the mixture. Season with salt.

Heat a large skillet coated with a bit of oil and add tortilla. Top with 2 Tablespoons cheese, 1/3 cup of the vegetable mixture, a bit more cheese, and another tortilla. Flatten with a spatula and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the tortillas are lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.


Sesame Noodle Salad with Cucumbers

From Fair Share Coalition’s Farm-Fresh and Fast cookbook

Serve this Asian-inspired salad alone or as a bed for marinated, grilled chicken thighs or flank steak.

16 ounces spaghetti, broken into thirds

4 Tablespoons soy sauce

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil or light olive oil

6 Tablespoons lime juice

Dash of Cayenne

3 cucumbers, seeded and thinly sliced

2 carrots, grated; or 6 radishes, thinly sliced (optional)

3 green onions, minced

3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

3 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside. Meanwhile, prepare a dressing by whisking together the soy sauce, oils, lime juice, and cayenne. When the noodles are cool, toss with the dressing to coat. Stir in the cucumbers, additional vegetables (if desired), green onions, cilantro, and sesame seeds.

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