Farm Newsletter August 8, 2016
Happy green days of summer!
Pretty soon we’ll have that first hint of fall, in the lower sun or a cooler breeze or a few leaves falling from black walnuts or another early-dropping tree. The gradual heads-up.
Going away for a week was super. Getting ready to go took a lot of effort, and on coming back we found a disease taking off in the tomatoes and peppers, and a bunch of new weeds calling our names. (Don’t they know it’s August now?) But to see family, float and play in the salt water, hang out with some humpback whales, walk and watch the sunset on those long sandy beaches — mmm, that was good. The crew, the awesome regulars plus our awesome back-ups, had the place totally cared for and humming along. It is amazing and a big step forward to take a break and have everybody know how to handle the place while we’re gone! Thank you Anna, Ray, Ali, Brynna, Jesse, and Karl!!!
But the weeds! Aargh. The lack of a major dry spell has meant they just keep on germinating, and often when the crops are too big for us to get in with a tractor and cultivator. Of course there are tractors and cultivators built for that situation, and this has happened enough that they’ve been added to the wish list. For now, we hoe and pull. It’s good for the mind. Like vacation. Funny how one’s a luxury and one’s a necessity. We do feel very fortunate that our work is, mostly, healing and rejuvenating for us. Thanks for the chance to do it!
Tomatoes and peppers — They’ve been looking spectacular until this week, and despite a little sickness they still look pretty close to spectacular. The pathogen in question looks like bacterial speck and bacterial spot,which mostly affects the fruits — a black spot on the outside may or may not mean a slimy black mess inside. Ironically the leaf-based diseases, more common but less damaging to fruit, are barely present in our plantings this year. If this does affect your share amount we think it will be minor, maybe peaking at 10 or 12 tomatoes instead of 15, or fewer red peppers, and/or the quality might be a little lower than we hope you expect from us — we’ll give you the best the plants have to offer, and we appreciate your support of the farm from changing year to changing year!
We’ll see, we might be overly alarmed and they could all ripen in beautiful perfection. These weeks of early August are the “wait-and-see” time, when we can do next to nothing more to help the crops but there are still enough variables (rain, sun, heat, humidity, pest populations) that the results are very hard to predict.
Speaking of bugs — like pathogens, we haven’t discussed either of them much here this year because both were being pretty invisible. Until , in the last newsletter, we said the pathogens were laying low — so we’re not going to say anything about bugs.
Lettuce — should be back this week! The rain taketh away, and the rain should be bringingeth back.
Watermelon — Are having an ok year. We’ll mostly have smaller watermelon than we aim for, since we left them covered a couple days too long (Ben!) and interfered with some pollination on the big first round of flowers; and then later on the plants got a little sick.
With having mostly secondary fruits, and sick plants, we are picking them a little (just a little) on the less-ripe side. Just in case the flavor isn’t fully fully developed — Put it in the fridge before you eat it and it should taste super. We’re going to err on the side of caution in our picking since a stressed out melon can go from ok to bad pretty quickly and we want to make sure you get a decent amount. Our melon season averages three weeks — last year it was five, this year who knows.
Cantelopes — look much healthier than the watermelons and there should be plenty to go around, and of good size! They’ll pick up this week and probably peak in the next week or two.
Garlic!! will be in the share for the next 6 weeks. Extras are for sale in the barn, for $1 / head, now until the end of the season.
More carrots, eggplant – Asian and globe types (globes make easy awesome baba ghanouj! especially with lots of garlic), cucumbers, broccoli, summer squash and zucchini, sweet onions, cabbage, beets, fennel, baby leeks.
Hopefully you’ve got time and energy to cook all this goodness!
What’s for U-Pick?
It’s Pesto-Making Time!! There’s lots of Basil now and for the next couple weeks. Dig in, it needs to be picked and will grow back (when pinched right above a “V” in the leaves.)
Cherry Tomatoes – There are some, as you’ve hopefully tasted by now, but not as much as usual. We ended up planting a few less plants than usual, and then they got sicker, earning the honor of being the sickest plants on the farm right now. We’ll definitely be planting more next year, and more ground cherries too since we keep hearing requests for more of those. For now, we’ll try to set the limits just right, which is tricky to do but we can usually get it close.
Raspberries may not produce enough to be open at all this year. 😦 Half the rows have succumbed to weeds and the low fertility of the hill they’re on, and are producing almost nothing. The other half are only a little better off. These problems combined with the fruit fly, which keeps about half of you from picking even when the plants do produce, has us thinking it’s time to move on from raspberries. For next year we are leaning toward re-planting at least the first half, ideally with another late summer fruit (maybe pears?) but we’re not sure. We’ll be thinking about a plan for next year, but if there are enough to open this year, it won’t be much.
Flowers and Green Beans! Both are looking great. If you get a chance, please take a picture of your flower bouquets that you are bringing home and send it to us. We’d love to feature them in the next newsletter.
Plus cilantro, dill, lemon balm, mint, thai basil, parsley, oregano and thyme.
Please always check the U-pick board when you’re here to confirm what’s available and picking amounts. Please bring your own scissors for U-pick. If you don’t have them with you, ask Erin or Ben or one of the crew and we can loan them.
Nuts and Bolts
Bulk Produce for You — Check here each newsletter for what we have available for extra purchase.
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 : Carrots, Beets, Zucchini, Summer Squash for $1 / lb, Green Cabbage for 60 cents/lb, Eggplant (Globe or Asian) for $1.50 / lb, Broccoli for $1.75 / lb. Plus Garlic for $1 / head — available in the barn, no need to pre-order garlic.
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 —Children are everywhere.
Thanks for joining us in the fresh food adventure,
Erin and Ben, with Allia, Aaron Ray, Ali, Anna, and sometimes Brynna, Jesse and Karl
from Recipes from America’s Small Farms by Joanne Lamb Hayes & Lori Stein
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lime juice
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small hot red pepper, finely chopped
¾ tsp salt
10 green coriander berries or ¼ cup fresh cilantro
12 small red potatoes
12 small onions, peeled
12 cherry or pear tomatoes
4 fennel bulbs, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 jalapeno peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 small zucchini, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 large bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 Japanese eggplants, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 small summer squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
Combine the oil, lime juice, garlic, hot red pepper, salt, and coriander berries in a very large bowl. Set aside.
Boil the potatoes in salted water to cover until just beginning to soften but still quite firm, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander and drain well. Add the onion to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water. Remove the onion skins, rinse the onions, and add to the potatoes.
Combine the drained potatoes and onions with the tomatoes, fennel, jalapeno peppers, zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, and squash in the bowl with the oil and lime juice mixture. Toss to coat the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat a grill. Thread all the vegetables except the tomatoes randomly onto 12 long metal or pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Grill the mixed vegetables over the hot coals for 10 to 15 minutes, until just tender. Turn and baste with the marinade frequently. Grill the tomatoes for 1 to 2 minutes. To serve, with tong, transfer a tomato to the end of each skewer.
Easy Pasta Fresca
from Recipes from America’s Small Farms by Joanne Lamb Hayes & Lori Stein
4 small eggplants, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 or more large garlic cloves, peeled
2 to 3 large beefsteak tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
8 servings hot cooked pasta or rice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the eggplant, peppers, onion, and garlic with enough olive oil to coat. Spread in an oiled shallow baking dish and roast for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until nicely caramelized.
Mash together the tomatoes, basil, parsley, roasted garlic cloves, and balsamic vinegar; fold into the remaining roasted vegetables. Do not cook; taste, and add salt and pepper.
Serve at room temperature, or slightly warmed, over pasta or rice, or use as a pizza topping. Sprinkle with your favorite cheese (parmesan or feta is excellent).