Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rainbow Lacinato!


Yep, the Thursday share is pretty much like the Monday, except we didn't have enough purple peacock so we're giving out rainbow lacinato kale instead. In a week or two we'll turn the tables, give Monday folks some kale and Thursday will get the broccoli. Meanwhile, Kji and I stepped into the office this afternoon to start the planning for next season. Mostly we adjusted our yield estimates and prices, and made some notes on changes in planting spacings and varieties for next season based on what we've seen so far this season. Next up, we're going to be looking at a few new crops, and adjusting the harvest plans. If you have any suggestions for us, now is the time to speak. Kind of nice to sit inside on a rainy afternoon like this, have a bit of hot tea, and have a chance to review our notes from the season.

Monday, October 25, 2010


To me, the escarole is the most exciting addition to the share this week. If you haven't had it before, it looks like lettuce, but it's a little different, heartier and better in the cold. Escarole is one of several chicories we grow. They're commonly thought of as bitter, and they can be very bitter when grown in the spring and summer, but the cool of fall and winter tends to make them sweeter and more tender, which is why we grow them only in those seasons. There are two things you can do to reduce any bitterness, one is to soak the cut pieces of the leaves in ice cold water for 15-45 minutes before eating, the other is to cook it, which also takes away bitterness. Escarole is a little tougher than lettuce so it's good to cut it in smaller pieces if you're using it raw. My favorite salad with escarole is just slicing it very thinly across the grain, soaking it for 5 minutes or so before spinning it dry and then tossing with olive oil, coarse salt and a little lemon. I also like it in bigger pieces, wilted in a hearty soup soup or stew.

There are a few other items in the share as well: beets with their tops, a few more peppers which are still green, a small bunch of parsley, and a bit of purple peacock broccoli, which is pretty exciting itself. The purple peacock is an odd sort of broccoli, not uniform and green like the type you see in the store, but multi colored, sized and shaped, with tasty leaves as well.

Today was a clean up day on the farm, we got all of the drip tape out of the field, all of the bamboo stakes out, and cleaned up all of the cell trays still leftover from the starts we planted out late in the summer. The rain is good for something, keeps us from working the soil and gives us a little time for the other projects...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Big planting day

Today's share is more or less the same as Monday's. I warmed up this morning before harvest by starting to prep beds for planting. After harvest was finished and the bags were packed this morning, we headed out and prepped the equivalent of about 6 beds for cover cropping, mostly just taking out weeds on the surface, raking them smooth and then spreading and working in rye and vetch seed. We also planted a bed of overwintering onions. Tomorrow is the full moon, which is associated with increased root growth, exactly what a transplant needs. Also, it's suppose to rain this weekend which made today the last dry day for a while to prep a bed, and also means that everything we seeded and planted today will get soaked in. This is later than I usually seed cover crop in the fall, but the weather has been mild so I'm pushing the dates later.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Soup Share

Both the weather, and the share today, are perfect for hot soup. We've got a few stalks of celery, a carrot or two, and a little thyme in the bag. There's also a beautiful leek and a bit of chard. We have more sweet peppers, which are still not really turning color on the plants, but are doing fine once they get inside the kitchen. The big, exciting item today (not that they're not all exciting) is the Delicata Zeppelin squash.

A few of the items may warrant notes this week, especially as many of them are new for the season. The squash is fresh off the vine and fine to eat now, but may actually improve a bit if you let it sit in your kitchen a few weeks. If you've never prepared one before they're super easy. The easiest way is to just pop it in a 350 over, whole, for about 45 minutes until a fork easily penetrates the squash. The skin is thin enough to eat, along with the flesh. You can also strain out and toast the seeds.

The leeks may have some dirt in between layers. The easiest way to clean them is to slice them in half lengthwise and then run them under water, exposing the different layers. Both the green and white parts are good, but the white is what is really prized.

The Thyme is fresh and good to eat. If you leave it on your counter it'll dry and you can use it later. The carrots this week are probably best cooked, either is a soup, or even just by themselves. The same goes for the celery, it's probably best cooked in dish such as soup as we didn't really pump it up with water the way they do with the big heads. This also means it should add a bit more flavor to dishes than your run of the mill varieties. Both can be eaten raw, but their highest use is probably in a cooked dish this week.

With the full moon approaching the night temperatures have been dropping and the fields were lightly frosted this morning. We pulled all of the summer squash to make way for plantings of overwintering onions and garlic and we hope to have those in the ground on Thursday.

Friday, October 15, 2010

#2 Pest Picture Extravaganza


Deer are the #2 pest around here. Mice are probably my top pick with slugs following closely behind those two. I happen to have a few photos of the damage the deer have been doing lately so I thought I'd share. Above is a bed of chicories covered with floating row cover and showing clear evidence of a visit by the deer.


This is the kind of thing they love to do, eating all of the leaves of a sprouting broccoli. Fortunately they haven't eaten too many growing tips yet, so these will probably just be set back, as opposed to completely decimated (as long as we can keep the deer out from now on).


Here's the lightweight bird netting fence the deer went through. We knew they could push through but we were hoping they'd be bothered by the fencing enough to not bother. No such luck, even though it did work for friend of ours in another location.


Rye vetch seedlings, our winter cover crop, is one of the crops I'm actually most worried about. It's a little tough for us to cover every bed on the farm, and these tend to be lowest priority, therefore the most vulnerable. Last year we ended up with basically no cover crop due to grazing. This year our first seeding is germinating beautifully. It was put in on the New Moon when the weather was dry. That was followed by a nice soaking rain and now sunny drier weather which has been perfect for bringing the seeds up. According to some the increasing moonlight, and decreasing lunar gravity during this phase also encourages plant growth.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Remay Day

Today's share is pretty similar to Monday's so new photos. Post harvest, we spent a lot of time today covering beds with floating row cover (commonly called Remay), and bird netting. The deer had broken in again and done a little more damage to some of the brassicas - as pictured above (actually my photos are not agreeing to be uploaded at this particular moment and I've got to go run deliveries so more of those later) - so we've given up on the simple fence that we put up a few weeks back and now we've gone to just covering the beds directly. This is a bit more of a pain, and I'm not sure it'll even be any more effective, but we're putting off what could be more expensive options, trying to get away with the minimum expense.

The row cover, on some of the crops, has the added advantage of holding in a little warmth and protecting against frost as well. So many of those beds are happy to have it anyway. It does mean that we can't actually see any of the crops without first uncovering them. It also provides a little extra harborage for the mice, which are our other main pest right now, but someday soon we'll get around to putting out traps for those little sneakers.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Summer Hangs On

It's turning out to be a fairly mild October and so a few of the summer crops are continuing to produce, although they also seem to be continuously on their last legs. We still have cucumbers, summer squash, and even basil, this week in the share. This is the last week of lettuce, but the start of fall turnips (see the previous post). Peppers are still slow to ripen, but we're tossing a few that will likely turn full color on your counters, or will be sweet even green (also see the previous post).

In other farm news, the deer made a raid some time over the weekend. The damage was minor, but they did manage to figure out that the lightweight fence we put up as a deterrent is penetrable. Ever the optimists, we repaired the damage to the fence today and hope that it was a fluke. We also covered a few of the more susceptible crops with floating row cover. If they've made it in again by Thursday we'll be putting out a lot more of the floating row cover, and probably draping some bird netting over beds as well.

We also managed to get four more beds seeded to a rye and vetch cover crop today. We'll be seeding as much of the mix as possible in the next few weeks, as well as planting some overwintering onions and the garlic.

Sweet, Not Spicy

We're growing two peppers again this year, and again they are both sweet peppers, although they look like they could be spicy. Actually, The long thin one is Jimmy Nardello, an incredibly sweet italian frying pepper with very thin walls. We're also trying one of Wild Garden Seed's varieties, Stocky Red Roaster. It's green in the picture, but it will eventually turn red (as long as we continue to not have frosts). It also seems to be very sweet, even in its green form.

Because of the weather this year we're having a terrible time getting the peppers to color on the plants. Peppers, as long as they've started to turn color, will finish ripening on the counter in the relatively warmer kitchen. You can eat them green, or if you want color just leave them out a few days and they'll start to change.

Along with the peppers, we're also growing Hakurei turnips. If you haven't had these they are much sweeter than a normal turnip, and not as spicy, generally. They are great grated raw onto salad, but you can also cook them and the greens are tasty as well, a bit like mustard greens (or a more tender turnip green).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Preparing for the winter


The tomatoes have been hit hard with blight. That rain two weeks ago really did them in and we started pulling a few plants today to make room for some cover crop. We're planting a rye and vetch mix to hold the soil for the winter, and to feed our compost piles in the spring. The share today is basically the same as Monday's. Cucumbers are the one summer crop that really seems to be continuing strongly. The tomatoes are finished, summer squash has slowed to a near halt, and the melons have had it. We'll even be scraping to get enough lettuce for next week, although that has less to do with the weather now, and more to do with the weather when we were planting in August.

Back to cover crop for a moment, today is the new moon and the few days leading up to the new moon are considered the best for seeding most crops. It does actually look like the weather was ideal this week with a dry patch for preparing the beds and rain forecasted for this weekend. We'll see how it all comes up.

Monday, October 4, 2010

This Monday's Share

We're still harvesting a few of the "summer" crops which is keeping the share heavy. Cucumbers have finally started really producing, and the summer squash continues to churn out the fruit. Tomatoes are on their way out just as the peppers finally start to show a little color. The pepper in the share today is Jimmy Nardello, a very sweet pepper. No need to refrigerate these, they'll continue to color up on the counter. There's a small head of emerald oak lettuce, a small bunch of chard, a bulb of fennel, probably the last of the year, and just a sampler of an upcoming crop, purple peacock broccoli. We've also included a bit of parsley which would go nicely with the last of the tomatoes and the pepper, sauteed and tossed with a serving of pasta.

Last Thursday's Share

A quick post showing a photo of a share that was leftover from Thursday and has sat out since then (4 days) in the bag. It's almost completely salvageable, which makes me feel good about the money and energy we save by not refrigerating the shares. The basil is wilted, but will still make lovely pesto, and the kale is the one item that seems too far gone at this point. I've noticed that the brassica leaves, Kale included tend to go bad faster than anything else.