Farm Newsletter August 21, 2017
Bulk Produce is Available Again
— See Nuts and Bolts.
Well this has been a great couple of warm summer days! And soon we’re back to September temperatures, complete with some awesome fall light in the late afternoons.
The combination of the everyday fantastic lighting and being swarmed by mosquitoes is funny — wowwwww……swat! grrr….. wow woowwwww SWAT SWAT SWAT Grrr…..
We’ve been dodging the biggest rains this year so far, and when we hear reports of 6 and 9″ in 1-2 days we know what it’s like for those growers. We learned that a June storm north of the cities had softball sized hail, and a couple farms we know were affected. Ouch!! Their harvest was set back by several weeks, with plants stripped bare of all leaves, but now things are coming in. Our softball-sized hail was in August (the 26th, in 2006), which many of you remember well, for what it did to cars, roofs, tomatoes and winter squash. The butternut squash were maybe the most striking survivors, to us. A month later, with thumbprint dents emanating a star of cracks – which had healed on some of the fruits, while some rotted – to eat a fruit which had been injured like that, and survived, was strange and a call to resilience.
We had 1.8″ of rain last week, after 1″ the week before. Pretty textbook, really, with veggies averaging a need of 1″ per week. And being a week apart gave us time to try to keep up with the crazy weeds of this summer — when July and August have as much rain as they have the weeds just keep a-coming. We’re glad to again be drying out a little, even if it’s short-lived again, it’s helpful. We’re hoping the plant diseases stay still, and don’t reproduce like rabbits; the weather of the next few weeks has a big impact on the share size, and the bigger harvests of fall storage crops like squash, sweet potatoes, carrots etc. Maybe the dry will last longer than the forecast is saying.
Many of you expressed your concern about plant health, yields and us during and after the storms have rolled through the last few weeks — Thank you! It helps to know you get it, how tied the farm’s harvests, your share and all of our food supply is to moderate weather. Here’s to more moderation!
Let us know what you think of the watermelons and cantelopes — flavor has varied a little by day, mostly due to which ones we could pick before rain, and which ones had to be picked shortly after rain. We’ve been using the refrigeration in our box truck to harvest a bin or two of melons a day or two in advance of a share day, and keep them cold while it pours outside. We’ve been impressed by the yellow and orange watermelon flavor, and the smooth cantaloupes; the red watermelon and the ribbed cantaloupe have been good but they are more likely to be soft from these rains. All in all better than last year, when it was so wet we were just lucky to have a harvest at all.
Tomatoes are good, the rain doesn’t seem to be watering them down much. Longer dryness would make them even better, and the plants last longer into the fall. They’ll be peaking in the next couple weeks, and you’ll be getting more each week while that happens. We expect to have plenty of tomatoes to go around, and will be selling boxes each day (pre-ordering is preferred.) See Nuts and Bolts, and the separate email we’ll be sending, for more details.
Peppers will start turning red and orange soon, maybe for next week. Hots are flavorful and abundant. Hopefully with dryness and modest warmth we can have peppers into October.
Garlic will be in the share for 6 weeks total, so 3 more weeks now. (Each split share can take 3 garlics in the 6-week period.) Kale should be ready to pick again this week. Lettuce should have grown enough in the “heat” that we’ll be able to pick a more normal amount.
We managed to pick onions before the rain last week and put them in the greenhouse to dry. We’re still working on the sweet onions, which are best kept refrigerated, and will switch to storage onions in a week or so. Storage onions, the more pungent ones, can be left at room temp, but we won’t give those out for a couple more weeks, once they’ve dried and cured, and we’re out of sweet onions. We’ll have some shallots this year too, they got big. Overall the onions were medium to large, and healthy. Assuming the high humidity in the air doesn’t make them rot while they’re curing, we should be good to go with onions all fall. We’re watching them closely in there.
And believe it or not, Spaghetti Squash will probably show up in the share next week or soon after. This orangey variety is ready early, and seems more reliable than the bigger, more yellow one. Other winter squashes won’t be ripe enough to eat for another 2-3 weeks, we’re gearing up for that big harvest!
What’s for U-Pick?
Raspberries — Are doing even more poorly than in recent years, and sadly this will be our last year growing them. We have loved having them for you, and when they were abundant and not struggling with weeds and bugs, it was great. But that time has passed, and we can’t justify the expense of re-planting and maintaining them again. We still haven’t settled on what that hillside will become, but we’re open to your ideas. Later in the fall we will help dig the plants (with a tractor), and you will be welcome to take some plants home to start your own patch, if you like. For picking this year, it will probably be a handful for now, and not much more later.
Beans! — There are still extra beans to go around — if you want to pick extra for the food shelf give them to Erin and we will get them donated to the Food Shelf. There are lots of beans coming on for the next month and beyond — dig in and freeze, can, eat fresh to your hearts’ delight.
Cherry tomatoes are starting to come in and the limit will keep going up.
Cilantro, mint and lemon balm, and parsley, thyme and oregano –are all doing well. Basil is growing and hopefully will be abundant soon.
Please always check the U-pick board when you’re here to see what’s available and picking amounts.
U-Pick Help: If at any point in the season you are not physically able to U-pick due to an injury or any other reason, please let us know. We have a list of generous folks that are interested in volunteering to pick your U-pick crops for you. If you’re interested in being on the volunteer list, please let us know too!
Nuts and Bolts
STORAGE SHARE Version 2 — After about 10 years of doing the storage share as a pre-set amount of each vegetable, our new online order form will make it possible for you to custom order what you want of any, all or none of the fall storage veggies.
You will also have the option to order the same standard storage share by clicking one box. We’ll try to make it all as easy as possible; it’ll be in a similar Google format as the Change Pick-up Day Form (and no password required, whew).
Watch for more details and sign-up info in the next (or next-next) newsletter!
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.
TOMATO BOXES ARE HERE!!! A 12lb box of firsts is $24 . We don’t have extra seconds right now, but when we do, it will be a 12lb box for $20.
This week’s selection is : Carrots, Beets, Cucumbers, Summer Squash, Eggplant for $1.75 /lb. Cabbage for 60 cents/lb. Swiss Chard for $3 / lb. Garlic is for sale in the barn from now on during share pickup hours, for $1 / head, no need to order ahead. Thanks!
Share Pickup Hours Monday, Wednesday Friday 2:00-6:00pm. You can U-Pick any time (when U-pick crops are in season.)
Change Pick-Up Day Form — Click here.
Please Drive Carefully —Children are everywhere.
Thank you so much for enjoying the farm!!
Erin and Ben, with Allia, Anna, Bisharo, Jaime, Paul, Ray, Sahara and Zach
Colorful Cherokee Purple and Sun Gold Tomato-Basil Salad (Serves 6)
From Fresh from the Farm by Susie Middleton
-½ medium red onion, very thinly sliced (about ¾ cup)
-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
-2 tablespoons best quality extra-virgin olive oil
-2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
-1½ pounds stemmed and cored cherokee purple tomatoes or other dark fleshed ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges or 1-inch pieces, or 1½ pounds black cherry tomatoes, halved (or a combination)
-12 ounces (about 1 scant pint) Sun Gold cherry tomatoes or other small yellow or orange tomatoes, halved
-¾ cup loosely packed small or medium whole green and/or purple basil leaves (about 50-60 leaves)
-edible flowers, such as borage or gem marigolds or pinks (optional)
In a small bowl, combine the onions, 2 teaspoons of the lime juice, and pinch of salt. Toss well and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain.
In another small bowl, combine the remaining lime juice and the maple syrup. Add the olive oil, ginger, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Whisk the dressing well.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, onions, and most of the basil (reserve some leaves for garnish). Season with a big pinch of salt and drizzle with all the dressing. Toss gently but thoroughly and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a pretty serving bowl and garnish with the remaining basil leaves and edible flowers (if using).
Roasted Tomato Rustic Tart (Makes one 8-inch tart)
From Fresh from the Farm by Susie Middleton
FOR THE DOUGH
-1 cup (4 ½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
-2 teaspoons sugar
-¼ teaspoon table salt
-1 stick (½ cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes (keep cold if working ahead)
-2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ice water
FOR THE ASSEMBLY
-1 large egg yolk
-2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
-15-16 Quick-Roasted tomato halves
-1 teaspoon thyme leaves
MAKE THE DOUGH
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse briefly to combine. Add the cubes of butter and pulse about 20 times, or until the butter particles are quite small. With the motor running, add the ice water. Process until the dough is beginning to come together (but will still be loose – if if you pinch some together it should form a clump.) Don’t over process. Turn the loose dough out into a mixing bowl and knead it briefly to finish bringing it together. Shape the dough into a disk about ¾ inch thick, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days.
TO ASSEMBLE AND COOK TART
Remove the dough disk from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30-40 minutes. Heat the oven to 400 degreesF. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream and set aside.
Sprinkle a light dusting of flour on a rolling surface. Roll the dough out into a round about 11 to 12 inches in diameter, sprinkling flour underneath as necessary to keep it from sticking. Transfer the dough to the parchment lined sheet.
Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of the Parmigiano over the middle of the dough (in a rough circle, leaving a 2 inch border). Arrange the roasted tomato halves over the cheese, starting in the center and slightly overlapping the tomatoes as you go, being sure to leave the 2 inch border of dough uncovered. (Tip: Arrange the tomatoes on a plate first to figure out how they will work on the dough.) Sprinkle all but a few of the thyme leaves and all but 2 teaspoons of the remaining Parmigiano over the tomatoes.
Pleat and fold the edge of the dough up and over the tomato filling. Brush the dough (including under the folds) with the egg mixture. (You won’t use it all.) Sprinkle the remaining thyme leaves and the remaining 2 teaspoons of Parmigiano over the dough edge.
Bake until the crust is deeply golden and the bottom is crisp and brown (check with spatula), about 40 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet then transfer to cutting board. Slice into 8 pieces and eat warm or at room temperature. Store, covered with foil, at room temperature for a day, or wrap well and freeze. Reheat slices on baking sheet for 10 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.