Monday, December 21, 2009

Leek Tart


Daniel and Rumi asked for a leek tart recipe and I happen to have one that I really like from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors cookbook, a cookbook I really like. Here's my take on the recipe:

for the shell -
1 cup and 2 tablespoons white flour
1 stick butter
2-3 Tablespoons water
Work chunks of butter into the flour with your fingers until it's the consistency of a meal. drizzle the water and then gently combine with your hands until the mass just all sticks together. Chill slightly in the refrigerator and then roll out onto a 10" tart pan with removable rim. Freeze the shell and preheat the oven to 425. Pre-bake the shell for 15-25 minutes until lightly colored (using parchment and beans or foil and pie weights helps it keep its shape).

for the filling
6 thin leeks
1 Tablespoon butter
6 oz goat cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons thyme leaves chopped

Preheat oven to 400. Slice the leeks thin, wash them in water and drain. Heat the butter in a skillet and cook the damp leeks until translucent. Mix the goat cheese, egg, creme fraiche and milk. The recipe says until fairly smooth but I like to use a bucheron (type of goat cheese) and leave some chunks. I've also made it without the creme fraiche and it works fine. Add all of the ingredients to the shell and bake until set, about 30 minutes

Tarts like this are great for lunch or dinner with salad or soup. Using a milk and egg base and then adding whatever vegetable you have works well. I've also had this with winter squash, onions, and greens but there are probably more options.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Final 2009 Share

I'm a bit late in getting the post up for the last share. I was a bit late delivering as well. This time of year the daylight hours are short and all the mud and slimy leaves seem to take forever to clean before packing can happen. With the freeze there wasn't as much as I would have liked in this share, which was to be a double after last week's delay. It still turned out alright though and I hope everyone has been happy with the season.

Tonight's share includes Rainbow Lacinato kale, which is very sweet from the recent weather. I dug the last of the carrots, both Yellowstones and Napolis, some quite large. I also dug root parsley and leeks. The leeks came in a variety of sizes from medium large down to very small. The small ones are great for roasting whole. The root parsley was all small, and I like it chopped and fried where it gives a sweet parsley flavor. The final item in the share is a small bag of Amish Butter popcorn. Our intention was to give out ears but winds knocked down the plants, and that combined with a cold damp spot, kept the ears from being pretty enough, and plentiful enough to make our plan work. Instead I shelled all of the corn and gave it an initial cleaning so it's ready to pop. If you've never popped corn it's easy and one of my favorite snacks. The Amish Butter is noticeably better than the typical stuff you get in the store, much more flavor. To pop it on the stove top use a small pot with a lid, use enough vegetable oil (like canola, but not olive) to coat the bottom of the pot and then dump in the corn and turn the burner to high. When the first kernels pop start shaking the pan on the burner until the popping slows significantly. Have a bowl ready to dump the corn into and top it with whatever you like, or nothing at all. The amount we gave out is just enough for one serving.

So, that's it for this year. We'll be posting information about next year and keeping the blog up to date with the preparations for 2010 so keep watching. Have a great New Year!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Deep Freeze


If you live in Portland you may have noticed that it's been cold all week, and that the weather forecast doesn't call for much thawing until next week. Unfortunately this makes it completely impossible for us to harvest shares this week which is very sad. I was hoping I'd at least be able to dig roots this week, but the ground is quite solid for at least an inch, I know, I tried digging yesterday. We do hope that most of the vegetables will be fine once they thaw next week, even a bit sweeter perhaps as often happens after cold snaps. Next week is scheduled to be the final share of the year and with a little luck we'll be giving out the vegetables that should have been in this week's share, as well as those for next week's share. Stay tuned, you never know what the weather will throw at us next.

Deep Freeze

You're Invited!


This Saturday we'll be getting together as many CSA fans and followers as possible at Near East Yoga to share a vegetarian potluck, generally socialize, and also to talk a little about the CSA. This is part celebration of the end of the season, part planning meeting for the upcoming season, and a great chance to connect with the farm, the studio, old and new friends. We'll be showing photos from the season and we'd love for you to bring your own photos or stories related to the farm, or food. We'll hope that the forecasted freezing rain doesn't materialize and keep any of you away - bring a dish to share and your own plates and utensils:

Saturday, December 12 from 11:30 to 1:30
Near East Yoga - 707 NE Broadway #206
Bring a vegetarian dish and plates and utensils for eating
Kids are welcome

Hope to see you all there.

Deep Freeze

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New vegetables

There are a few unusual vegetables in this week's share but all are easy to prepare and enjoy. Parsley is easy, I didn't used to use it much but chop it, sautee it in a bit of olive oil and it makes a great sauce/coating for pretty much anything and the heat gives it a really nice sweetness. Some folks will see a handful of spinach this week, others will get a bunch of raab. Again, sautee lightly in olive oil and all will be good. Everyone is getting a bit of radicchio this week. These heads are related to the escarole that went out earlier and are good raw or cooked. They can be pleasantly bitter raw, but if you don't enjoy that flavor add a bit of heat and it will go away. Lastly are scorzonera and salsify, the black and white roots in the share. These are sometimes called oyster root, and if peeled and boiled they have a faint oyster flavor with a root texture. You can also fry slices until golden to bring out their sweetness. One word of warning, they both discolor rapidly after peeling or slicing and have a slightly sticky sap. To prevent discoloring put cut pieces into water with a little lemon. Two more weeks to go, enjoy the last vegetables of the fall.

Friday, November 27, 2009

What is waste?


I've been debating wether this is an appropriate topic to post on. I don't want people to see it as criticism, and it's not meant that way, but part of my intention with the farm, and the blog, is to lay open to folks the realities of growing food, selling food, and using food, at least in my little world. I feel particularly sensitive having just eaten one of the year's great feasts, perhaps my favorite holiday of the year, the food centric Thanksgiving. Not that much was wasted, but that's a subjective term.

I read mention of a study yesterday that claims, "about 40 percent of all the food produced in the United States is tossed out." This is particularly staggering in a world where about 1 billion don't have enough to eat, and in a country where somewhere around 7 million homes are classified as food insecure by the USDA. I'm guessing that the study was talking about food that had already been harvested and then trucked to wholesale and retail outlets before being redirected to landfills, or at best large scale composting facilities.

When I first started working on farms there was another kind of "waste" that bothered me, food that never got harvested and was left in the fields. This happens for all sorts of reasons; sometimes it's not cosmetically acceptable, sometimes there just isn't a market for it, sometimes weather destroys the crop, usually either heat, hail, or frost. Over the years I've gotten more and more comfortable, to the point where I don't think of it so much as waste anymore, it usually appears to me to be a crop that will be returned to the soil to feed the micro-organisms there that support production of future crops. We grow all kinds of cover crops on the farm for this express purpose. In fact, I frequently worry more about taking too much off the ground, depleting nutrients through over harvesting, than I do about turning crops, or portions of crops back into the soil.

On all of the CSA's I've worked at there are shares every week that don't get picked up for one reason or another. Ideally these are given away to someone else who can enjoy them, but always there are a few that end up back in the compost, ready to be turned back into the soil to feed the next crop. I've come to accept this as inevitable, although I'm always trying to think of ways to limit it. In my mind there's a difference in this sort of food waste than the type of waste I mentioned on a national scale. In a larger scale distribution system the waste is compounded. Food is harvested, then heavily packaged, shipped, sits in massive refrigeration or is processed into ready to eat items. By the time it is "wasted" many of the nutrients are gone already, and on top of that a significant quantity of un recoverable energy has been used getting it to that state before it goes into landfills or is flushed down drains where the remaining nutrients will not be recycled back into the food production system.


So here it is, above is one example of what happens to shares on our farm when they don't get picked up. Five shares were left at Near East on Tuesday. After they had sat for five days I brought them back to my house so that the contents wouldn't rot and make a mess in the bags. On Thursday, after they sat on my porch for two more days I finally got around to cleaning out the contents, and to my amazement more than half the items were in perfectly decent shape, the rest went into my compost pile. All of the roots and leeks were in perfect shape. Most of the greens were not salvageable, but some of the parsley was, as was about 1/2 of the frisee which had blanched beautifully in the dark of the bags. Thanksgiving dinner!

If you're a CSA member reading this, please don't feel bad about occasionally not picking up your share - they always get used in one way or another. If you know you're not going to be able to pick up your share please ask a friend to, or at least let us know so that someone else can use it while it's still at its peak. Any shares that haven't been picked up within two or three days are available to whoever wants them, so please take old shares if you see them and you want them (for yourselves or your friends), even if they're not yours. Just make sure to get the bags back to us!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Double Share

I got home this evening and picked up my share on the porch and here's what was in my bag. I'm not sure how it all went down, as I left Danny solo today while I went to a workshop on growing barley. Looks like he managed to dig the parsnips, remaining Hakurei turnips and a few Golden turnips. The Golden turnips probably aren't quite as sweet as the Hakureis so I'd suggest cooking them. He also broke into the first of the leeks, more of the broccoli raab leaves and Riccia frissee. On top of that there's a generous bunch of parsley in there. What an exciting share. The parsley and raab probably should be used soon but everything else should keep well if you can't use it right away.

We'll be taking next week off and enjoying a big meal, lots of vegetables shared with friends, and a little pie, but we'll be back with more shares in December.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dealing with Deer


This spring our biggest challenge seemed to be digging beds fast enough to plant. As we moved into the summer months germinating seeds turned into our challenge. Now it's deer. For the most part it's not been a huge issue, just a little nibbling around the edges. As a short term fix for this year we've been using salvaged row cover and simply covering the crops when we're not at the farm. Occasionally we come to the farm after a bit of wind to find that the wind has removed the cover and the deer are taking advantage. About 1/3 of the kale was eaten last week. The deer are kind enough to leave the growing tips so the plants will regrow, but they do an effective job of removing all of the leaves, as is apparent in the photo above.


Chicories seem to be their favorites. Unfortunately these don't really grow back, especially when they tear them out of the soft ground. How to solve deer issues is not clear cut for me. They live on the island too, and it's a bit arbitrary that we claim a certain little chunk of space for ourselves and ask the deer, mice and slugs not to eat from it. Fencing is the surefire approach but there are a number of drawbacks with fences. A proper deer fence needs to be about 8' to really be effective and fences are expensive, especially if you care what they look like and how long they'll last. The floating row cover is inexpensive but not particularly reliable and it also makes takes time to put on and take off all week. Nita suggested laying plastic deer fencing directly on top of the crops, and we'll be experimenting with that (thanks for that suggestion, Nita). This would have a few advantages over row cover, it probably doesn't blow off, and you can actually see what's happening underneath, but we'd still have to take it on and off so I'm not completely sold. I've got a handful of other ideas and techniques that will bounce around for a while, things like dogs, blood meal, fishing line. Some day we might even settle on one. Meanwhile I'm ok with a little damage if it means we can leave the space open and still have enough to go in the shares for the next five weeks.

PS Danny is harvesting solo tomorrow, and hoping to put out a slightly oversized share to carry folks through Thanksgiving week. All of this to allow me to head down to a meeting on small grain production. This also means there probably won't be a blog post on the share until Friday - you'll just have to wait for the bags to see what's in them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Carrots and Greens

We cleared about half the remaining carrots in the field today. We also found that it's a little tough to know what's underground until you start digging. We dug from three different plantings. The first one, fortunately a small one, had lots of yellowing carrot tops sticking out of the ground but as soon as we started digging it became obvious that there were no roots attached to the tops, thus the yellowing. Some rodent had eaten all but two or three carrots, right up to the base of the stems.

The escarole was also very ready so we cut most of the remaining heads, and usually chard succumbs to frost before this point in the fall so we picked the remaining leaves. We've only had a couple of light frosts to date so many of the marginal fall crops are still alive and growing. We pulled the remaining cilantro, also usually dead by this point, and that rounds out the shares.

Fall seeded favas are just starting to poke up. We're worried about deer browsing so I hoed between the rows to loosen the rain packed soil and set back any weeds and then we covered the bed with floating row cover. I also hoed the fall planted onions, and raked the tops of the garlic beds, a quick job when the weeds are small, and beneficial for letting more moisture into the beds. Next spring there should be some good early crops.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


We went ahead and harvested more chicory today, it looks so beautiful right now. Today's selection is a riccia frisse. Like the escarole the most prized parts are the thick, sweet ribs and blanched hearts, but it's all good in the end, especially if you like the slightly bitter tones of the green parts. Frisse is frequently paired with fruit, like apples or pears, and maybe a little fresh goat cheese. There's more celery in the share, as well as beets and some rainbow lacinato which has been growing huge with all this warm weather. We'll see how much longer that lasts but I'm actually looking forward to the possibility of a little freeze at some point which would sweeten some of the greens and roots.

We had originally planned on the CSA going for six more weeks, until the week before Christmas. As Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday this year (I suppose it does every year really) we're planning on not harvesting that week, but giving a double large share the week before (if we can fit is all in the bags). The produce should keep well this time of year so as long as you have room in the refrigerator (or a cool cupboard) the produce should last two weeks. Depending on the weather we should have enough produce to get us through December but we may combine the final two weeks as well. We'll keep you informed here, as well as with e-mails.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Around the farm


I stopped at one point during the harvest day last week and looked around me. It was raining and cold. I didn't realize how cold my hands were until I got in the car and couldn't turn the key in the ignition. But this season is really, really beautiful and I had this overwhelming feeling of gratitude that the work of the day had gotten me out in the weather. Like I said, once I was out in it, I didn't really notice the wet and cold, just how beautiful all of the little scenes were.


Even with the beautiful scenery, Danny and I harvested the shares, packed the bags and then moved indoors to start planning for next season.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Greens

Our first rainy day harvest. It was cold and dark and wet this morning when I left the house, but by the time Danny showed up at the farm it was quite a bit warmer, the rain had slowed to a drizzle and there was plenty of light. We pulled some beautiful Hakurei turnips for the share. These are sweet enough to eat raw, although they are also good cooked and they aren't quite as sweet as spring plantings. We harvested chard leaves heavy today. We'll probably get another harvest if it doesn't frost, but frost will make the stems soft and leaves slimy so we pulled most of the good sized leaves today. The fennel is another one that doesn't like frost, and even though there's none in the forecast its growth has slowed way down and the tips of the leaves are starting to yellow from too much water and cold and wind so we cut every last one of them for the shares, no more until next year. Finally, we've started in on the cool season heads with escarole. The variety is bionda cuore pieno, a full hearted light green escarole. If you're not familiar, escaroles are similar to a very hardy lettuce. Some people find them slightly bitter, but this time of year they can also be very sweet. My favorite thing to do with escarole is to slice it into thin ribbons (across the ribs), soak it in ice water for fifteen minutes to a half hour to crisp it up and leach any bitterness, and then toss it with a nice olive oil, lemon and salt dressing, and maybe some anchovies. It can also be cooked with olive oil and salt, but I save that for pan di zucchero, which we'll be giving out later in the season.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Farewell to lettuce

Lettuce has been a solid staple for us in the shares this year. This time of year, with the cold, damp conditions the lettuce starts to complain so we cut the last of it today, a bit of red iceberg. We do have a variety of chicories, close relatives of lettuce, and more cold hardy, that will show up in shares over the next eight weeks. Also finishing up are the shell beans. Most of them are pignas, same as last week, but a few shares will get tolosakas, a black bean also brought back from my trip to Italy. The yellowstone carrots and tango celery stalks would cook up nicely with the beans. There's a bit of noorman spinach in the share which would round out a salad or be nice sauteed next to the beans.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Post frost

Here we are with our first post frost harvest. Danny came out to the farm on Sunday to salvage peppers before it froze a little harder that night. All the summer crops are done now, which is bittersweet for us. We're excited for fall but it's hard to leave behind tomatoes and peppers sometimes. There's one special item in your share this week, shelling beans. These need to be pulled out of the pods and then gently boiled in salted water until they're tender. Use just enough water to cover the beans and not boil down below the beans while you're cooking them. This usually takes about 15 minutes but it varies a little depending on the moisture in the beans. The variety is called Pigna and is something I picked up at a food show in Italy during the Terra Madre conference three years ago. I've been growing these out ever since then and hoped to have them for you dry but the timing didn't work this season.

There are also the last salvaged peppers. Unless the ones you get already have a little red they will not color more so eat them green. There is lettuce in this week's share and we'll have the last of the lettuce next week before switching into more cold hardy greens. The last of the dill is in small bunches, just enough to make a little dressing or flavor some raita. The leafy greens are raab which is a little like mustard greens without the bite. These should be cooked before eating.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

10 more weeks, or so...

Today's share continues the transition into cool weather, with a few hold outs from the summer. There's a bit of cilantro, a sweet pepper or two, a little tomato of one sort or another, and a few folks get the last of the very small summer squash and cucumbers (we pulled the plants today and planted onions for next season in their place). Lettuce is also on its way out but we'll have a couple more weeks of that before we transition into other greens. We pulled another carrot planting that rodents of one sort or another let us know were ready, some of the carrots have cut spots where we cut away the parts they had pre-sampled. Very small beets from summer plantings that never really took off are in the share. When we turned up the soil to plant cover crop following those beets we discovered an outrageous network of bindweed roots, which might have had something to do with it. Lastly, celery makes its debut. This is soup celery, not the type you necessarily want to makes ants on a log with. It's very full of flavor, which makes it great for cooking. Depending on how the weather holds out (frost mostly being the issue) we'll have a few more rounds of celery and maybe even a few more tomatoes. The winter greens are looking good right now and if the rodents stay away from the roots we should have a good supply of carrots, parsnips, root parsley (their favorite), salsify and scorzonera. We also pulled some small popcorn ears today and I need to count to make sure we have enough, the pollenation wasn't great but I'm optimistic.

Monday, October 5, 2009

killing melons


Here's a link to a blog entry over at the other Slow Hand Farm blog on why we killed the melons last week. It's fall - everything that will be harvested this fall is in the ground already - but we're about to start planting for next season already, and cover crops are already going in as well. More on that soon...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1


Here's the first share for October. We've included more thinnings from the chard, pirat butter lettuce, a few peppers, some of the remaining tomatoes and summer squash or cucumbers, and the last of the basil. As the weather cools, the days get shorter, and the ground gets wetter, we're finishing up some of the summer crops, pulling them out and putting in cover crops. Today we seeded some trials of wheat, hull-less oats, and naked barley as cover crop for the winter. The melon beds got pulled and the remaining melons will be served on Sunday along with farm tours.


This is peak pepper season and we have three varieties we're distributing, all sweet red peppers. The Jimmy Nardello variety has been featured on a few blogs lately such as the Slow Food Portland blog and Slow Food USA blog. We're also growing Joelene's and Gypsy peppers. All three get sweeter and deeper red with a few days on a counter top, not in the fridge. As long as the weather holds we'll have these for a few more weeks. Enjoy!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Week 18, I think

We started harvesting a week late this year so although we should be at week 19 we're only at week 18, pretty good though and the shares seem to just be getting better. Thanks to everyone who has returned mid season surveys so far, they are very helpful. In today's share there are two heads of lettuce, we harvested some flashy lightning, blushed butter cos, and blushed icy oak so you'll get one or two of those in your bag. There were enough peppers to go around today and I recommend letting them get a little more color on the kitchen counter before using them. This will sweeten them even more - they are not at all hot, we're not growing hot peppers this year so any pepper you get should be sweet no matter how much it looks like a hot pepper. Some shares got dill and some got cilantro this week. Partly due to member feedback in the surveys we decided to go with bigger bunches of one instead of smaller bunches of both. Cucumbers and summer squash are randomly distributed and continue to produce decently despite a bit of mildew on the plants and the cooler weather. Tomatoes are slowing down but there are lots of unripe fruit so if we get some more sun those will continue in the shares for a few weeks. We put a few onions in the shares this week, the largest from the OSU Organic onion trial that we're taking a small part in. There were just a few of each variety so they're all mixed up now and I couldn't tell you which is which but we'll have some more small ones to give out soon. Some of the shares are getting melons this week. Everyone should be up to half a melon at this point and by next week we hope to have everyone at 3/4 of a melon, which is 1/4 more than we were expecting a few weeks ago. Italian plums are ripe, and plentiful at the farm right now so we've put 4 in each share.

Fall crops are looking good in general, Now that planting season is over we've been able to spend more time weeding and cleaning up around the edges. We're missing a few crops from the original plan but we have a few extras so there should be enough for harvests to go into December, weather permitting. We just picked up cover crop seed so that we can start putting some of the harvested beds into cover crop for the winter. We'll be using rye and vetch which will hold soil against erosion, keep nutrients from leaching and ultimately add nitrogen and organic matter back into the soil, as well as improving the tilth of the soil for next season. I'll try to post some photos as the fall cover crops come up and start growing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A mid week post?


Here's a photo of the farm last Thursday morning when I arrived. I haven't had much time recently to update the blog, and truthfully I don't really today either, but I will. Recently my posts have been limited to a quick photo at lunch after harvest and then a few notes on the share typed on my phone. Today I get to sit in front of a computer and load a few extra photos.


One of the carrots we harvested last week was 3/4 lb. After I took this shot I found a larger, although not quite as photogenic carrot. Carrots get really big if you give them space and we had thinned this planting earlier in the year, although not all the carrots had as much space to grow as this one.


There was a bit of wind at the farm two weekends ago when it rained and the popcorn was knocked over, as well as a bit of our bean and tomato trellising. We propped the trellises up but the corn will have to mature on its side. Unfortunately we also noticed a bit of deer nibbling. The most effective option, an 8' fence, is out of the question so we'll protect as many greens as possible with row cover as soon as we can round up enough. We may get a bit of blood meal to hang as a deterrent, as they dislike the smell. Blood meal is a byproduct of the slaughter houses. It's steam sterilized and ground into a meal and is high in nitrogen so it is commonly used as a fertilizer on organic farms. We use another slaughter house byproduct, feather meal, which is a bit cheaper but supplies the same nitrogen.


These are some of the chicories we'll have in the fall shares. We've switched to transplanting and I'm very happy with the results. It's a bit more work up front, having to take care of the starts and hand seed flats, but we get much better weed control and even spacing, which leads to more even maturity. The two pictured above are frissee and radicchio. With the cool fall weather these should blanch quite nicely and come out sweet with none of the bitterness associated with chicories grown in the warm season. They're a favorite of the deer so we'll be sure to protect them soon.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shares get heavier

I definitely noticed a bit more weight in some of the bags today, either that or I'm getting a little wimpier as the season goes on. In the photo above there's the full array of possibility although some items are rotating through the different drop sites. Some folks will see a quarter melon this week and we hope to get them a quarter again next week. The Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers continue to slowly ripen and a few folks will get those today. We thinned the root parsley so there are small bunches in the share. Both the tops and roots are good for cooking and give good parsley flavor. The roots can get quite sweet when fried, my favorite way to eat them. In honor of our first returned survey which identified sweet lettuces and carrots as their favorites those are in the share today. We've also included a bit of parsley, the usual mix of tomatoes, squash, and/or cucumbers.

We're spending the afternoon weeding and doing a little planning for the fall. Unfortunately the deer have discovered our crops and are nibbling around the edges. We'll try to get some cover on the beds before they do too much damage. I'll see if I can get a little time one day soon to give a few more updates on how the season is going and to post some more photos.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


A little dill and cilantro this week along with a few new partial crops. We harvested just a handful of Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers and the first few melons. We probably will only end up with enough melons for everyone to get half so we will put the in shares pre cut. They should all ripen within the next three weeks and we will have peppers into October with any luck. Some folks are getting a few more beans from the end of this planting. There is another planting that should be ready soon. The lettuce today is a mix of blushed butter cos and blushed icy oak. Tomato varieties, cucumbers and summer squash are distributed randomly through the shares and there are also a few beet thinnings. Italian plums continue to ripen slowly so there is one in the share to round things out. Our last planting of lettuce goes in today. We are almost done planting for the season so now we can concentrate a little more on weeding and cleaning up before it starts raining.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

End of August?

Once again we're rushing to get fall crops planted. Fortunately Danny is back so we might get a little more done today. In the share are a few more beans from the same planting, no lettuce but some very nice chard, the usual mix of tomatoes, squash and cucs, a little fennel, and some yellow carrots. More news soon, meanwhile enjoy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Week 15

Here's one version of the week 15 share. The shares vary a bit due to different squash varieties, tomato varieties, and an occasional cucumber. Everyone this week is getting a small sprig of dill (I was making room for more plantings), a few basil tops, emerald oak lettuce (there may be a lettuce gap next week as the next planting is a bit behind), a tomato, or several of one variety or another, same with summer squash, two italian plums courtesy of Yianni and Jessica's tree, and a handful of tavera french beans.

It's a busy time on the farm, all of the fall plantings are going in now so it's the second biggest planting time of the year. The bindweed is going crazy so I'm trying to keep that from burying some of the young crops while everything else happens. Danny will be back next week and I'm looking forward to a little faster harvest.

Oh, if you've been stockpiling Slow Hand Farm bags please bring them back. I was a bit short today and had a beg a few plastic bags off of Sauvie Island Organics to make up the difference. Have a great week.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer share

What's in the share this week? The first of the transplanted lettuces, emerald oak, a fennel bulb, Tavera french beans, a sprig of parsley, a tomato or two of one sort or another, and for some either a summer squash or cucumber. We'll have more of all of these items in the next few weeks and if you didn't get a squash or cucumber this week you should next week. We're giving out the tomato varieties randomly so if there's one you really like you might have to search through bags to find the right one, otherwise enjoy the surprise (the same goes for squash and cucumbers). Have a great week, I'm off to see Danny get hitched!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

More on the share

We're starting to see more of the summer vegetables after all that heat, but mostly after enough time. Above are the two squash varieties we're giving out: yellow scallopini and cocozelle. We only pick once a week so we get a wide range of sizes. The sizes and varieties are distributed randomly in the bags so with a bit of luck some of you get small ones one week and big ones the next, sometimes scallopini and sometimes cocozelle.


Cucumbers are similar to summer squash in that we will have a range of sizes and shapes. They are just starting after a rough start. We were only going to plant lemon cucs, a small prolific variety, but something ate the first seedlings and so we salvaged some overgrown seedlings from another farm and ended up with divas and tyrias (both above) as well and those are the first two ready. The divas are a smooth slicing cucumber and the tyrias are an english cuc.


Tomatoes are another summer crop that we're giving out in random size and variety. We have six varieties, four are pictured here and the other two are still ripening. The four above are: sungold, an orange cherry which is very sweet; chadwick's cherry, a large red cherry bred by Alan Chadwick, a very influential gardener; tigerella, a small red and oranged striped tomato; and striped roma, which has the same coloration as the tigerellas but is a roma type.

I want to say a word about tomato ripeness because there is this term, "vine ripe," that I think is a little confusing, at least it is to me. We are only picking tomatoes once a week and to me they are all in one stage of ripeness or another - and I would consider them all "vine ripe." What I don't consider vine ripe are tomatoes that are picked mostly green and then ripened after shipping using ethylene gas. "Dead" ripe means that the tomato needs to be eaten immediately or it will be over ripe, and will become soft and slightly fermented. Most of the tomatoes we are picking will be slightly "under" ripe, meaning they have a few days on the counter until they are "dead" ripe. I think tomatoes picked at this stage ripen the most evenly and provide the best flavor ultimately. Tomatoes will keep their flavor much better if you do not refrigerate them, and they will continue to ripen at room temperature - while giving off ethylene gas actually. You can ripen fruit faster by putting it in a warmer space, and inside a paper bag, which will concentrate the natural gas and speed the ripening process. Most fruit, including bananas and melons, ripen with ethylene gas and putting them together will speed ripening as well.



While I'm going on about tomatoes I'll mention blossom end rot as well. I've always had some trouble with this calcium related condition, and sauce varieties seem to be more prone than others. You may occasionally see a tomato with very mild blossom end rot in your share, if so just cut off the butt end and the rest will be fine. Mostly we try to thin off fruit before it starts ripening to give more energy to the good fruit. This week we thinned quite a few striped romas and san marzanos but none of the other varieties have had problems.


The potatoes in your share are called ozettes. These have a great story (which you can read at the link - or in Gary Paul Nabhan's books on Renewing American Food Traditions). Again, there are a range of sizes, but mostly this is a small variety so nothing too big. These are a great size for soup, or if you like fried potatoes, boil them whole until they are just about cooked and then fry them in a little olive oil to finish them off - very, very tasty. Potatoes are not a particularly high yielding crop per space so this is the only time we'll have them this year. I do love potatoes though so maybe we'll plant a few more next year.

Lastly, Yianni, who owns the property we're farming, was very kind to let us harvest the mirabelle plums that are in the share from a tree on the property that has a good crop this year. I happened to read up a little on these as we were harvesting them and realized that we didn't have to pick individually as the ripe ones will fall to the ground when the tree is shaken (a common technique for nuts and some fruit). We promptly started shaking the trunk and loaded branches and then gathered them off the ground. If we had had a tarp our lives would have been even easier.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Week 13!

Harvest is running a little late today so I'll just list the items and expand a bit more later. There are a few exciting items like ozette potatoes and mirabelle plums. Everyone is getting a tomato of one sort or another. There is also lettuce, coriander leaf, chard, and rosemary. Some shares have either a cucumber or summer squash. Stay tuned for more details and comentary soon.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

After 24 hours of heat

I got back from BC last night and picked up my share off the porch after it had sat there for more than 24 hours - a little yellowing but everything was still in pretty good shape considering how hot it's been and that it hadn't yet seen any refrigeration at all. When you get vegetables from us you're getting the freshest possible, aside from walking out in your garden, getting down on all fours and starting to graze. This freshness, when properly harvested and packed, should keep well in your refrigerator if you can't eat it right away. We pick when the vegetables are cooler in the morning and then cool them further with cold well water. Then we pack them in cotton bags, soaked with that same cold well water. That wet bag helps keep the produce from drying out, and it also adds some cooling as the water evaporates. You can do this in your fridge, or on your counter, as well, but the fridge tends to dry the bags quickly so wet them often or add a plastic bag if you go for the fridge option. I've experimented and had my share last well over a week, still in good shape. Happy eating.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cold and wet

Remember when it was cold and wet this spring? One of the priveldges of being a farmer is that we get to work outside in all weather conditions. This week it's hot and dry, record breaking hot if you hadn't already noticed. What does this mean for the plants? It means they're using a bit more water trying to stay cool, and durring the hot parts of the day they're probably not growing as they shift into suvival mode. Certainly the cool weather greens like lettuce, kale and chard are unhappy this week, but a lot of the warmer season crops may be suffering a little as well. It's hard to say how much this will matter in the long run. It will probably limit fruit set on peppers and tomatoes. We'll have to wait until Thusday to see what it does to this week's share, but definitely try to get yours damp and cool as soon as possible when you get it home as it will likely be holding a little extre heat. I'm away this week so Danny is flying solo and there may not be the usual photo uploaded day of. Stay cool.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lighter on the lettuce

A little pirat and flashy lightening in the share this week. It's joined by some yellowstone and Napoli carrots, the first pinch of basil, a summer squash - and if you're really lucky, a handful of French beans. There weren't enough beans for all of the shares next week so if you didn't vet them this week you'll see them next week. Also, the squash comes in two varieties and a wide range of sizes (as do the carrots). Tomatoes will be here very soon. We had just a handful of cherry tomatoes ripe on the vine this morning.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lettuce Tour


I've gotten more comments on the lettuces than any other vegetable we're growing. That's not all that surprising since the majority of the share is lettuce. I thought I'd post a few photos of the varieties and a little info. All of the varieties we're growing come from Wild Garden Seed in Philomath, OR. Frank Morton is the seed breeder there and his lettuces are not the ones you see in the grocery. The one above is Blushed Icy Oak.


Emerald Oak, above, is quite small and very quick. Frank breeds a lot of his varieties for salad mix.


Lolo Divino is an example of one of those lettuces that goes great in a salad mix.


Blushed Butter Cos is a cross between a butter lettuce and a romaine (also known as cos) This has been one of my favorites.


Flashy Lightning is another quick one.


Plato II is a standard green romaine. All of the lettuces have been suffering in the heat in one way or another. The romaine unfortunately didn't germinate evenly so we have a thin bed with all different sizes right now. Romaine seems particularly sensitive to heat when it is germinating.


Pirat is a red butter lettuce, this is a slightly immature head which, if left, will form a tight head.

We are also growing Red Iceberg, Danny's favorite so far. Our last planting didn't germinate- probably due to heat - so I don't have a photo. We have one more planting that has just germinated in the flats. Seems crazy but there are only two more seedings of lettuce left this year, the rest is already in the ground, or seed flats. Maybe we'll add a little and see if we get lucky with the fall weather.