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.