Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy Holidays!

I was going to title this post, "worst day of the year," but that was when I couldn't find my keys this morning and then rode to the farm in some of the windiest, wettest conditions yet. Actually besides those two things, which weren't all that bad, it's been a pretty great day. A leisurely breakfast with friends from Canada (before searching for my keys for an hour), and a final harvest of the year (and the final harvest from the Sauvie Island farm site) that wrapped up the season nicely. We'll see how the ride into town goes, it was a killer headwind getting off the island, but the electric assist makes that much less of a problem. It did actually dry out a little so that's good.

Today's share is the same as Monday's, in case you were wondering. I'm now on a two week break from harvest before winter CSA shares start. There's lots of planning that'll be happening in that time, as well as a bit of clean up and end of the year accounting. I may also take a bit of a break from the blog for the next two weeks (or maybe not). Hope you all have a great end of the year. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Final Week of Fall

The weather forecast had me a little worried about today's harvest but its actually been very nice out, for the most part. I can say that partly because I'm fully suited up in rain gear and I wore nice cozy mittens on my ride to the farm this morning.

Today's share has two chicories, frisée and sugarloaf (pan di zucchero), a small leek and a few small Egyptian flat beets. I haven't grown this beet (successfully) before so I'm curious to try it. The sugarloaf is one of my favorite chicories, very crunchy and sweet, and mildly bitter. These heads are slightly immature, which means they haven't reached full sweetness yet. I ran out of time though, and they're still good eating. I used to always roast these heads, split in half and drizzled with olive oil and coarse salt, but I've been enjoying them like escarole in salads recently.

This is the final week of fall shares. The next two weeks will be a winter break before getting back to the harvests in 2013.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Blue Sky

Today's share is basically the same as Monday's. I was a little short on escarole so one lucky member gets a head of frisee that was growing with the escarole. It was a beautiful day on the farm. I realized how warm it's been up to this point when I was packing the vegetables in the barn. My fingers were getting quite numb, which is the usual case for this time of year although it hasn't actually happened that much this year. 

One more week of harvest before the Sauvie Island site is put to bed and harvest moves into town for the winter. Kji was out today cleaning up his side of the field. It was nice to see him out there. I've been solo in the fields since he stopped harvesting at the end of October.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Penultimate Week of Fall

Another lovely share today, benefiting from the warm weather we've had so far this fall. The last of the celeriac is in this weeks bag and mâché makes a first appearance. The mâché is a delicate salad green, which does take quite a bit of rinsing to get clean. I've also put a head of escarole and the tops of the kale, which you'll want to strip the leaves from.

Planning for next season is well underway. Last week I made my first serious pass through the seed catalogs and picked out a few new items. You'll have to stay tuned for more details on those, but I will say I'm excited.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


No photo today, I apologize for that, it's been a bit of a crazy day. The share today is the same as Monday, although the been greens were looking better so I added them in as well. You might have noticed a couple of unintentional blog posts earlier today (I've taken them down now), the result of autofill in the email address line. I make my blog posts by email, which is convenient and also gives me a backup copy just incase something happens. I've had blogger loose too many posts while I was working on line so it seems safer to do it through e-mail. Except, the address that it gives me to upload is too similar to some other addresses I use and so I've always been worried that I would unintentionally post something. Today it happened. Fortunately it was just notes to the CSA telling folks that I'm short on bags, which happens every now and again. There was also a reminder in there that today is the last day to order T-shirts. if you want one don't delay, let me know now.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

T-shirts, Finally!

I just sent out an announcement, which you can see here letting folks know that I am taking orders for T-shirts, but only until the end of the day on Thursday! If you didn't get the email you definitely want to sign up for the mailing list (see that little widget up there on the sidebar?) You also want to click on that here to get the details on how to get a shirt.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Red and Gold

Today's share has radicchio, kestrel beets, and gold ball turnips and greens. Radicchio is tricky because it seems like just as the heads are really getting good the voles always find them and they must be a favorite because they can take out quit a few in short order. If you're not familiar with radicchio it is like the other chicories in that it is sweet and crunchy and has a slight bitter edge that many folks really like. That bitter is tamed with cooking, but it can also be eaten raw and goes well with strong salty, sweet, or fatty foods, contrasting nicely. The gold balls and their greens are thinnings from the winter planting. The greens can be a little stringy so cut them up before cooking. I have a lot of beets to get out of the field so there's a nice little bunch of roots today, and there should be one more distribution before the end if the season. It has been an unusually bountiful beet year on the farm so enjoy it while it lasts.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Short Days of Fall

Today's share is the same as Monday's so check out the last post if you want to see a photo. The photo above is part of the winter plantings (in my back yard). Behind that fence is the other part of the winter plantings, in the neighbor's yard (who are wonderful folks to let me rip up their lawn, and CSA members as well). Not only is there not much daylight these days, but my time out at the farm has drastically compressed into just a few hours in the middle of the day. I work in the office in the morning, ostensibly planning for next season but also catching up on emails and other little tasks that have been piling up. It's too cold to harvest, and usually much wetter first thing in the morning. It's a bit ironic because in the summer I try to harvest as early as possible before it gets too hot and dry. Deliveries are definitely getting me home in the dark these days, It's great to see that there are still lots of cyclists commuting even in this dark, wet season. I'm appreciating a good lighting system on the bike, and a full complement of excellent rain gear. Amazingly for how much it rains, It's often dry(ish) on my rides and during harvest.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Back in the Saddle

After a lovely Thanksgiving holiday of heavy rains and high winds, it was nice to ride back out to the farm this morning in weather that couldn't be described as anything less than actually sunny! There wasn't much vegetable damage, just a little frost nipping of a few leaves that were uncovered when the winds blew protective row cover off some time last week. Today's share is a nice one with a leek, celeriac, very nice escarole and a sprig of sage. I sent out a survey to the CSA members last week and got a few good responses back. One said less herbs so I was a little self conscious about putting the sage in, but it's there, it'll make good tea, or go well in a bit of pasta or soup. The escarole is a variety called Cornet de Bordeaux. It didn't look that great to me early on, but it's absolutely beautiful right now, blanching nicely with thick ribs (which is the best part of escarole). I left the greens on the celeriac because it's really excellent in soups or even just chopped up and sauteed with other greens. It has strong celery flavor, too strong for some people. The roots have been very sweet and flavorful. 

I did a quick assessment of the remaining crops in the field for the next three weeks of harvest. Barring any extreme weather or critter attacks it's looking like there's a good amount of chicories, leeks, celeriac and beets. Unfortunately a few of the fall crops failed back in the summer so no carrots or root parsley this fall. The scorzonera is underground so I can't really tell what's happening there. Brussels have been devastated by aphids, but now that it's a little colder they're starting to recover. It may be too late for the fall but I'm hoping they'll make it for the winter. A couple other items are out there as well, but I'm not sure about quantities so they'll have to be a surprise. Looks like a decent fall all around though.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Commemorative T-shirts

I've been wanting to do a T-shirt for a while now. I found these organic cotton shirts with a great story and ordered a couple of samples recently. The cotton is grown by a farm in Texas that then has the cotton milled, knit and made into T-shirts, all here in the US. The color is natural and varies with the crop of cotton. I hand printed the shirts with the same cut that I used for the boxes, and made a second cut with Splendid Cycles logo to thank them for getting the farm set up with a cargo bike. The shirts seem very well made. The printing is by hand so it will vary slightly from shirt to shirt.

I'll post soon with a list of T-shirt styles and sizes available for special order along with prices (under $20 for the shirts pictured). They come unwashed and oversized so I washed and dried them to pre-shrink, at which point the sizes seemed pretty true. Pictured above are a women's fitted and a unisex crew neck.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanks for all the support!

I take Thanksgiving week off from harvests because it seems like it's a hectic week for everyone, lots of folks travel, and it's nice to have a break every once in a while. Since there are no deliveries on Thanksgiving week it was a good time to take the Bullitt into the shop for a little upgrade, a new rear rim. The stock Bionx wheels are pretty nice, but I've broken 3 spokes in under 3000 miles so Joel wanted me to try out a nice wide, super strong downhill rim to see if it makes a difference. The wider rim should work better with the relatively fat rear tire as well, not that it's been a problem, but wide tires on narrow rims do have a little less lateral stability (we're talking super geeky bike talk here). In order to get home from the shop after dropping off the bike I loaded up my Bike Friday on the front and headed down to the shop. I even stopped off at Near East Yoga for a little morning yoga practice, something I don't get to do on Mondays very often. 

Speaking of Near East Yoga, Casey just announced another round of (re)Intro classes at the yoga studio. I've been going to the studio something like a decade now and it's a wonderful little space. The studio is unique in Portland, without many led classes, but lots of one on one instruction to help folks develop their own practices at their own pace.

With Thanksgiving coming up the usual focus is on food and family. The farm is all about food and family, and I'm thinking about how thankful I am for all of the CSA members that support the farm and really make up the community part, the farm's family. I'm also really thankful for the businesses, run by friends of mine, who are supporting the farm as well and expanding the idea of community in community supported agriculture.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving week off and other announcements

Today's share is a carbon copy of Mondays so if you're looking for info on the share, check out the last post. 

I'm not sure how I did it but I mixed up which week is Thanksgiving in my planning. So, next week there are no deliveries of shares, not on Monday or Thursday. But, I'll be back with shares the following Monday and there'll be four more deliveries this fall before winter break.

Also, in case you missed it somehow, on Tuesday I made the official announcement about the new site for the farm in a letter to the mailing list (if you're not on the mailing list you should sign up using that little widget over there to the right, assuming you're actually on the website and not just using a reader - I don't use the list very often, just for big news like this, party announcements and other such happy things). If you did miss it you can still see it here - There's also an announcement in there about hiring apprentices for next year, and if you actually read this on the website you might notice that there's now a "Work Opportunities" page with the full description.

The photo up top is on potential field at the new site (straddling the road and between blueberry plantings). The photo below is another possibility (beyond the pond and the red strip of blueberries). The entire property is 58 acres so there's a lot going on there. It's going to be an interesting winter splitting my time between set up for spring in Sherwood and harvest in St. Johns for winter shares.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Birds and Rainbows

Today's share has a leek, a nice sprig of rosemary, a small bunch of kale and a head of frisee. This is the first frisee of the season and it's still a bit young. Like the escarole from two weeks back, it's best soaked in cold water before using, but the leaf shape does nicely just torn up roughly. All of that frizziness holds dressings very nicely, and if you have other greens to mix with it it adds good loft. The ribs are the best part, in my opinion, and by the next harvest we may have more of a blanched heart, especially if it gets a little colder. Frisee, like the other chicories, is also strong enough to hold up to cooking and is nice wilted in a hot sautee pan, or even chopped up and added to vegetable soup. If you're especially sensitive to bitter flavors, the cooking can take a bit of the edge off. For some of us, that slight bitter, along with the crunchy sweetness is what we crave in fall salads.

Riding to the farm this morning (late morning these days, as it's best to avoid the coldest wettest part of the day for harvest this time of year) there were an incredible number of birds on the island. Just as I got to the island the clouds broke and one of the biggest double rainbows I've ever seen popped up in front of me. I thought about jumping off the bike to take a photo, but instead I just enjoyed the view. Only nine more harvests this year and then the farm moves off the island. More on that soon...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Getting Colder

Today's share is pretty much the same as Monday's so I refer you back to Monday's post for more on the share. It was a bit colder than it's been this morning and the weather forecast makes me think we'll be getting our first real frost of the year as early as this evening. This will probably change things in the field a bit, some for the better. Depending on how hard a frost we get it could mean the end of a few crops such as chard and celery. Usually we've had a good frost by now so they wouldn't be around anyway. If it's a really hard frost there might be some damage to the celeriac that's still in the field and the beets as well. It doesn't seem like it'll get quite that cold yet. The big benefit of very cold weather is that it concentrates the sugars in the plants. This means more sweetness in everything from the chicory to the kale. I sure wouldn't mind if we didn't get a really hard freeze for a while yet, but a little frost might be nice to slow down the slugs and sweeten up the crops.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Exciting new items

A couple of new items for the year in the share today. Beets come back once again as I continue to work through the fall plantings of Kestrels. There are a few beet greens in the shares as well, although the leaves are starting to die back quite a bit so not a lot in the share. There is a big bunch of collard greens. My favorite way to eat these is to remove the rib and then slice them cross wise and boil them in water with a good amount of tamari added. They also work as a substitute for kale, but they leave are a little heartier. Also a new addition for the fall is celeriac, also called root celery. I've left the tops on and the tops can also be cooked as a green, or used like celery to flavor soups or other dishes. The root is great in salads, sliced into sticks and then par boiled, or mashed with potatoes. It has a very similar texture to potato, but it tastes like celery.

A big thanks to everyone who brought back bags last week. I even had a few extra today when I was washing the bags for pack-out (I should have a hundred extra or so, but I'll take just a few extra for now.) If you have more sitting around I'd love to see them back in the rotation. 

Clean up continues in the field and I've finally been getting around to planting garlic for next season. Today I got all of the tomato stakes and some remaining irrigation pieces out of the field. The cover crop is coming up really nicely with all of this unusually warm weather.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bike Deliveries in the Rain

Today's share is about the same as Monday's so no new photo or notes. The photo above was taken on Monday which turned out to be a really nice day. I was kind of hoping that today would end up being dry like Monday since the weather forecast was more or less the same - 90% chance of rain. It wasn't completely soaking, but it was a bit drizzly and definitely no a lot of cloud breaks. I've had a few folks comment on how hard core I seem riding in the rain. I have to say that it's all about the rain gear and dressing right. For a farmer who works in rain gear out in the rain all of the time it's not a big leap to hop on a bike in the rain. The main difference is that I have to shed a few layers when I'm on the bike to keep from overheating. Also I have to wear gloves, which I don't do when I'm harvesting. I'm still loving riding the boxes into town and really hardly ever getting in a car.

I'm posting a couple of photos of the new box for the delivery bike. I'm not sure how many other folks will be excited about this, but it's pretty revolutionary for me. When I don't have boxes on the bike it holds my bag from sliding around, which was always a problem with the flat bed. When I'm riding home after deliveries I don't have that huge box on the bike, and I don't have to take it on and off the bike to get into and out of the house. All around it's much better, except that I can't carry long tools with it. The old box is still serviceable when I need to carry tools. The design below was just proof of concept. I have a number of improvements that I'll add soon.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The start of chicory season

Last week when I harvested the last of the lettuce I wasn't sure what would actually be left for the shares this week. It turns out there is plenty, and some really great stuff. This is the first week for a chicory. I use the term loosely, meaning plants in the Cichorium genus broadly. I grow a number of vegetables that fall into that category, and I grow them in the fall and winter when I think they taste best. Today there is a head of escarole (C. endivia) which is delicious raw or cooked. The variety is Bionda Cuore Pieno, or blonde full heart. My favorite preparation is to slice the head thinly, crosswise, which effectively shreds it. Then I soak that in cold water for 20 minutes or so to crisp it up and to draw out any bitter, which accentuates the natural sweetness. An anchovie, or even just a salty, olive oily vinaigrette fully coating the leaves goes very well. Also in the share are a couple of old favorites: carrots, celery, kale and a small fennel. The carrots are a yellow variety that is excellent for cooking, and would make a nice base for soup or beans along with the celery. 

I was surprised today when it not only didn't rain (forecast was for 90% chance), but there was actually some beautiful blue in the sky, and it was dry enough to get a little more cover crop seeded. We'll see if my luck holds out for my delivery run this evening. I rigged up a new, lighter, sleeker prototype box for the front of the delivery bike so I'm excited to test it out. So far it's working well and is easier to load and unload.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cleaning up

It was a nice dry day today, perfect for getting a little clean up done in the field after harvest. The share is basically the same as Monday. A few folks got an extra head of lettuce. I cleaned out every last lettuce head today so that's it for lettuce this season. I also tore out the pepper plants and the beans, which were long done. In their place I seeded cereal rye as a cover crop. It's on the late side for seeding cover crop but I think it'll be fine looking at the weather forecast. I also did a bit of weeding and hoeing in the chicories and covered them all with row cover. They're all a bit behind where I'd like to see them right now so maybe the cover will help speed things up. Unfortunately the voles have found the radicchio and so I set some traps hoping to minimize the damage. They love the roots and eat both the root and the heart out of the plant, just leaving the outer leaves. I could use another day or two like this to finish cleaning up the last of the summer beds.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Designing the shares

The share is a bit smaller today. Beets are in abundance right now, so even though it feels like I'm overdoing it in the shares, that's what has done well this fall. Chard on the other hand is struggling and usually I wouldn't give out chard and beets in the same share since beet greens are so similar to chard, but in this case there is so little chard that I thought they could be used with the beet greens, which are also small. Leeks make their first appearance this fall. There is definitely a bit a dirt in the cracks and the easiest way to clean them I've found is to split them up the middle and then gently separate the layers while holding them under running water. The lettuce holds on for one last appearance thanks to the relatively mild temperatures, at least so far. Finally, there's a bit of coriander (cilantro that's going to seed). This is a little experimental, but it seems to have good flavor so I'd strip the leaves, chop it up finely with a bit of cashew, tamari and lime juice and then toss that on some noodles. Or you could do something else.

The shares I pack each week are designed to an extent in the previous fall when I decide what seeds to order and how much I'm going to plant. Really, the final edit is made on the day they are harvested when I have to decide what is ready now, what can wait, what is good enough to go in, and what just isn't worth harvesting. Frequently some plantings fail outright (many carrot and hakurei plantings this summer), and others do better than expected (beets are a stand out this year). What goes into the shares is controlled to an extent by me, but really it's a strong reflection of what is happening in the field and all the factors there: weather, pest and disease pressure, soil health, etc. To me, this is a big part of what makes CSA special, being tied to a specific place and getting to taste that place throughout the year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Looking for Land part 2

Crossing the St. Johns Bridge
photo pulled from video by Ryan Creason

Back in May I posted about this being the last year that Slow Hand Farm will farm on Wild Goose Farm's Land. It's been a great four years but it's time to move on. I've managed to put off finding a new spot, growing in my own backyard and my neighbors' yard for the winter season. At this point I need to start up the search again. It's not that there aren't options out there, but for now I'm being picky. 

In my first post in May I listed the few essential characteristics for a new piece:
  • At least 5000 square feet of growing space, but 1/2 and acre or more might be nice for possible expansion (I am also considering contracting, so maybe less space?). 
  • I need at least 5 gallons per minute of clean water (more is better). 
  • It needs to be within a 12 mile radius of North Portland.
  • No pests whatsoever (I can dream can't I?)

But really there are a few other things that I'd like, and one of them is a space that's appropriate for having folks out to the farm to show them what I'm doing, and give them ideas for what they could do. The photos in this post were taken during a day that I had some folks from the OSU Small Farms program out making a video about the farm for part of a larger teaching series they're putting together.

Making deliveries to Near East Yoga
photo by Garry Stephenson
Over the past four seasons I've taught multiple workshops at the farm, had many visitors stop by for a tour, and almost as many folks come out to volunteer their labor in exchange for an opportunity to learn some of the techniques and to connect with the growing that happens on the farm. I've also hosted seasonal farm parties (not enough recently), and all of this is essential to my vision of agriculture being a community effort, and recognizing that as an essential part of our modern food system, it should also be more accessible and recognizable.

So, I'm back in the search and I have a couple more criteria that, while not essential, are important to me:

  • Space and capacity for hosting small workshops, parties and visitors
  • Good access to town by bike

If you know of anything please let me know. It's getting to be planning season and I'd love to start planning next season with a particular space in mind.

Josh Volk, Slow Hand Farm
photo pulled from video by Ryan Creason

Monday, October 15, 2012

Yay for the rain!

I'll admit it, usually I spend a little time trying to arrange the vegetables, at least so you can tell what's going on. Today, not so much, and the proportions of the vegetables are a little funny to me. On the bottom left there are shallots. These are leftover from the bumper crop that came this summer. They store wonderfully, but really they're so good you'll probably use them right away. They're kind of like an onion, but much more flavorful so use them in smaller quantities. Onion's not really right, I seem them compared to garlic sometimes, which kind of fits in some ways, but isn't right either.

Kale is back. There was a lot of aphid leftover from the summer but the leaves are looking great now so I'm cleaning up the plants. If you do find any aphid on the leaves just wipe them off (or ignore them), they're completely harmless. This rain and cool weather has brought out amazing color in the plants. They should continue to increase in flavor as the temperatures drop.

Celery, just one small stalk. I toss this in as something to chop finely with the shallot, sauté and use as a base for soup or cooking beans. It's probably not something you want to eat raw, although you could. It should have a ton of good celery flavor packed in and if this weather holds we'll get a little more. The plants went in late and didn't do terribly well, but the ones that survived are starting to take off. Unfortunately it doesn't hold up to frost so we need some more time.

Lettuce continues, and I'm still not sure if this is the last week or if it'll be next week. I did the lettuce plantings a bit differently this year, with bigger blocks of the same variety, meaning less week to week variation. I'm not sure if this was the right thing to do. Let me know if you'd like more variation from week to week next year.

Finally, there's a really big Hakurei turnip in the photo. My fall turnips completely failed, but Kji had this monsters as extras (a few folks get reasonable sized ones). I had a couple of bites, they're actually very tasty, although they wont' keep for long. The turnip greens are good cooking as well.

This is the first day of bike deliveries in the rain. I can tell it's going to take a few months to get my "outfit" just right. All in all, a pretty mild day though. The rain is germinating the cover crop that was seeded last week which is great. It also means no more irrigation work this season, also great!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Late Post, and Walnuts?

Thursday was a cold damp day. It didn't rain, but you could tell is was going to and I'm glad it did because I held off on irrigating, glad to at least be done with that. I'm a bit late with the post because I've been a little under the weather for the last week and I'm very behind with everything because of it. It was actually the first delivery by car I've done in months and it felt a little strange. I was sad to not be on the bike, but I just didn't have the energy. The good news is that just before the rain I did manage to get quite a bit of cover crop seed in, which I hope will now come up strongly.

I wanted to mention that a friend of mine who recently bought a walnut orchard in the Canby area is offering u-pick walnuts, kind of a unique experience. He also has walnuts that aren't u-pick. You can find out more at his new website -

Monday, October 8, 2012

Summer Fades

It's been an amazing run of sunny dry weather we've had so far. This morning was the first frost significant enough to do any damage, and only to the most sensitive herb, basil. Summer vegetables are basically done at this point. The summer squash and cucumber plants are composting tomatoes have just about given up for the season and the kale and chard are starting to recover from the heat stress of the summer. Peppers, they way I grow them, outside, without plastic, I think of as an early fall vegetable. This is probably the final week for them, but it's been a good season so far, especially compared to the last two. In the share there's also the last few tomatoes and a head of lettuce. The lettuce may hang in there for a week more. Today I harvested fennel, which is very nice, fronds are in there too and can be used in salad, or cooked. This has been the best beet year I've had on the farm so far, by far. I apologize if there's anyone out there who hasn't figured out how great beets are yet, there have been quite a few this year and they should keep coming. Both the roots and the greens are edible, but they should be separated for storage (I should have done this for you, next time perhaps). Finally, theres a few sprigs of thyme for seasoning (not in the above photo for some reason). 

Clean up in the fields  continues and tomorrow I'm hoping to get a bunch of cover crop seeded. It's supposed to actually rain this weekend which would be good for the cover crop seeds. We'll see what actually happens.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cleaning Up From Summer

Today's share is more or less the same as Monday's, not everyone got a cucumber, but there was an extra pepper in every share. The tomatoes are slowing way down with this cooler streak as well, and I actually saw a little frost on the grass this morning, although I'm sure it was just due to a clear sky. 

This afternoon I pulled all of the summer squash and cucumber plants to make way for cover crops. The plants were pretty close to dead already, although they were still trying to make more fruit. I also pulled all of the drip tape out of the fields to make it easier to clear space for the cover crops, and in hopes that it will rain one day. In the mean time I have some sprinkler lines that I'm using to irrigate the fall crops. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

First Fall Harvest

Kji did the first harvest for solar fall last week, but today is the first day of fall for Slow Hand Farm shares. The summer crops are just barely hanging on and for those who are continuing from the summer season you may notice the seasonal differences.

Today's share has some beautiful Napoli carrots. The voles have started to show up so it's time to start trapping before they eat the rest if the roots. Lettuce continues along with what is probably the last if the cucumbers and summer squash. Tomatoes are slowing down but as long as the weather stays dry they will likely be with us another week or two. Peppers are in their peak right now. I've put some bell peppers in the shares that have a little sunburn. Most of the pepper is good, but the white part needs to be cut out. All of the peppers will benefit from sitting out an coloring a bit more. Rounding out the shares are a few sprigs of dill.

In the field I'm busy clearing old beds and making way for cover crops. I'm loving this dry weather but one good soaking rain would make seeding the cover crops much easier. I'll take the dry though and see about running some extra overhead water.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Thanks to Kji

In today's share are many of the summer favorites. Kji harvest and took the photo, I'm just passing it on and I'll be back next week for the start of fall I'm up on Salt Spring Island to co-teach a three day intensive on market farming with Michael Ableman and David Cohlmeyer at Foxglove Farm.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Big Carrot!

Today's share is basically the same as Monday with one substitution. There is oregano instead of parsley, since parsley came last Thursday. Next week is the final week of the summer season, even though solar summer ends this weekend. I think I did that because I'm actually going to be up teaching in Canada so Kji will be harvesting and delivering for me. 

One other note, I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but there is a write up on CSA on today and the photos of Slow Hand Farm (and me) were actually taken this morning. All of the photos are from Slow Hand Farm, except for the photo of the actual share which you'll recognize as far too large. That share I recognize as one of Sauvie Island Organics' beauties.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Carrot Tops

I usually try to only include vegetable parts that can be eaten, or that allow better transport. For example, I always include beet greens and turnip greens if they are in good shape because they are tasty. Carrot greens I've gone back and forth on. They are edible, but I've never eaten them. There ate some recipes in this quarter's Edible Portland so I thought I'd include the greens today. The carrots are juane du doubs, big, yellow and especially good for cooking. They store better with the tops off. Also in the share are stocky red roaster peppers. These are just starting to color and sweeten as they turn red. If you want more color just leave them on your counter for a week or so. Lettuce is very small this week. Growth on plants is slowing way down. Cucumbers, summer squash and tomatoes continue, and there's also a bit of parsley in the share.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Filming on the farm

The share today is different from Monday's once again. I've kind of gotten on the track of introducing new items on Thursdays just because of how things have been ripening in the fields. There are no beans, cilantro or basil today, but there is pepper and parsley. The peppers are stocky red roaster and they are just starting to turn color. You can leave them out on the counter and let them continue to color, or use them right away green. With a little luck we'll have lots of these in their red form in a couple of weeks. 

If you look closely at the photo above you might notice a guy with a video camera. OSU is using the farm in a training video series they are developing so the camera was out all day and even followed me on the road as I hauled boxes on the Bullitt this morning. I'm not sure if the video will be made public but I'll let you know if it does. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Late Summer

The summer is winding down and so the next few weeks will be the final push for many of the summer vegetables. Depending on what the weather does they may hang in there a little longer, or give up sooner, but the shortening days make it inevitable. 

Today's share has a big load of shallots. These are similar to onions but store much better and have a much more complex flavor. Also in the share are most of the same items that were in last Thursday's share: beans, basil, cilantro, lettuce, cucumbers, summer squash and tomatoes. Expect some changes this Thursday, but I'm not sure yet what they'll be.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Another different share

Once again the Thursday share differs quite a bit from Monday, but did I take a new photo? No. So you'll have to make do with this photo of the new deck on the cart and right behind that one of the last plantings of the year, a bit of frisee for fall.

Beans were ready today so I picked those and there were quite a few. The variety is Jade which is a new one for me and seems to have a very concentrated set. It's bit bigger than the slenderettes that were in the share a few weeks ago. Also, since dill was in last Thursday's share, and I cut the remainder on Monday I switched over to cilantro today, and the basil also needed a pinch so there's some of that too.

It's a busy weekend coming up. I'll be teaching at the first Small Farm School at Clackamas Community College on Saturday. The topic is farm tools, one of my favorites. My uncle and aunt are also coming to town for the first time since I've lived here (13 years now). I may have to slip in a quick farm tour to their agenda.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day on the farm

The joke on all of the farms I've ever worked on is that every day is Labor Day and this one is no different. Not that we don't support the idea of supporting organized labor, but the plants do continue to grow, even on holidays, and for a vegetable market farm this means there are some things that are scheduled for a reason, like certain harvests. Interestingly, I just looked up the origin of the holiday and Oregon was the first state to adopt it in 1887, seven years before it became a national holiday, according to Wikipedia.

Today's share did take quite a bit of labor. All of the potatoes are out of the ground now and are going into this weeks shares. The potato is Rose Finn Apple, a lovely fingerling and the size is good this year probably due to spacing them out a bit more than in the past. There is also the standard summer squash, lettuce, tomato triumvirate that has been in every week for I'm not sure how long now. I finally had a big enough cucumber harvest to give all of the shares at least one lemon cucumber. The plants are not looking good this year and I'm not sure why, maybe it's just not their year. Dill, which also went into last Thursday's share, rounds out todays bag. Deliveries to businesses is delayed until tomorrow but the shares at Near East Yoga and in St. Johns will be all set to go as usual.

It took me so long to dig the potatoes today that I didn't get anything else done. Since I won't have to do it on Thursday I'm hoping that'll be a good day for getting a few plants in the ground. Hope you're all enjoying your holidays. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Harvest changes

Today's harvest is a little different than Monday's. In the herb department, dill stands in for the sage and basil that Thursday saw in prior weeks. Dill is commonly used to make a dressing for vegetables with yogurt. It can also be dried for later use by hanging upside down. In the carrot department, juane du doubs subs for napoli. This is a yellow carrot, which I should have more of soon. It can be eaten fresh but I like it better cooked. I usually dice it and then sauté it with other vegetables.

I'm still working on the final plantings for fall and winter. With a little luck I'll be done with those next week. Today I pulled all of the shallots to make way for frisee and spinach. Turnips are also on the list to be planted.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Cippolini onions, tomatoes, summer squash, romaine, sage, basil and a carrot or two make up the share today. The basil is a relatively bigger bunch like Thursday got a few weeks back. The onions will keep well if not used immediately. These are all of the onions I grew for the summer so just a taste, although there will also be shallots soon, and leeks in the fall for more allium flavor. Carrots continue to do poorly. The yield was terrible on this first planting that actually worked. I should have yellow carrots for Thursday as there are no more of the orange from this planting. Cucumbers are also slow for some unknown reason. I'm kind of spreading them around so I'm hoping within the next week or two everyone will see one or two. This is definitely not the glut we had last year. I'm not completely surprised at some of this. I've learned over the years that every year is different. This is the best beet year so far, and the squash has been quite good whereas last year it was terrible. I'm making notes, every year is a little different, and I think a little better.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crazy Loading

A crazy big load on the Bullitt this morning headed out to the farm. This afternoon is looking much more reasonable. The share is similar to Monday's although sage replaces beans since Thursday got beans two weeks ago and the sage needed to get cleaned up. Fresh sage is good for cooking but I also recommend it for tea, with honey. 

I'm off to town to make the deliveries so I'll cut the post short by saying that it was a productive planting day and the last of the lettuce plantings is now in the ground, as well as the last greenhouse seeding of the season. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer Standards

A big dose of summer squash this week, perhaps it's time to pull out the zucchini bread recipes, although fritters or hash might actually Use more squash. Last year squash was sparse but cucumbers were plentiful. This year the tables are turned, or so it seems. Tomatoes are starting to come on a little stronger as the first planting of green beans fades. Lettuce is a bit smaller this week, but nice small heads of Plato II romaine are in the share. A nice bunch of beets with their greens rounds out the share.

After last week's heat it's nice to have our NW weather back. Lots of planting is scheduled for this week so the transplants should appreciate it too.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Now it's really hot!

I'm a bit late with the blog post, which I was hoping to get out yesterday. Harvest went smoothly in the morning, basically the same as Monday's, although I added basil. I did a big harvest of basil, partly due to the heat, but also so that folks could get at least one big (at least for SHF) batch for the season. I'll try to do the same for Monday folks in two weeks if the basil can hang on that long before another harvest.

In the afternoon I braved the heat and ended up being very productive. I was able to work up enough bed space to get a planting of fennel and radicchio in the ground. Even though it was probably 100 degrees (not ideal planting conditions) I think the plants were happy to get out of their little plugs and into the ground.

I did get very sweaty doing all of that work, but I kept on top of watering myself and was fine. Getting the plants in the ground made me a little late in leaving for deliveries. I was appreciating all of the shade on my bike ride back into town. My delivery route goes down highway 30, which is shaded by the west hills in the afternoon, perfect. Then I head in on Willamette which also has good tree cover for long stretches, as do Ainsworth, Vancouver, and TIllamook. 

After deliveries I headed over to the Green Dragon in SE for a great Cargo Bike Roll Call. Super fun to see all of the different cargo bikes out, hang out with other folks who haul big loads on their bikes and talk to Liz Canning who is making a documentary about cargo bikes.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Once again it was hot. I'm not complaining, yet, but the August heat always makes seeding and planting the winter crops a little interesting. The share today is a really nice mix. The beans probably peaked today, which is great and means that the share has a good number of them. We pulled one of the two varieties of potato, French Fingerling, which had totally died back for some reason. The yield wasn't great, but they went into a really rough bed this spring (really just two trenches hacked out of the mud) and they're in a bit of a shady spot next to the lone hawthorne bordering the vegetable field. I spaced them out a bit so there are some larger ones this year and for the most part the ones that came out look really nice. Tomatoes are just starting so I put a couple of samples in each share. Zucchinis and Patty Pans continue to go strong, some folks got one, some the other. There's another head of Samantha lettuce and finally, a bit of an experiment in the onion department. These are Evergreen Hardy White onions, a scallion, that I planted last Fall because Kji had some extras. I just wanted to see what they would do but I didn't really intend to harvest them. There are just enough for everyone to try one. 

Cucumbers are slowly starting. A few shares have one in the bag. The one on top is a lemon cuc, which has been the standard on the farm for a long time. The one on the bottom is an english cuc called Tyria that I've grow other places and I'm experimenting with. I only planted four plants so I'm not sure everyone will get one this year, but if they do well I'll continue with them next year. Even though they're a pretty big cucumber and the seed is super expensive, they're really tasty.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Today's share is the same as Monday's, except it also contains the first beans of the season and a sampling of one or two of the first cherry tomatoes. The beans look huge in this close up, but really they're small and supposed to be that way. The variety is a new one for me, Slenderette from Seeds from Italy. It looks like it might be a productive variety. I trialed direct seeding next to transplanted beans and the transplanted so far have produced more than twice as much, and they are much more even in their ripeness. 

Fall and winter plantings continue. I've been doing a little work every day this week to get chicories and brassicas in the ground. Today a bit of lettuce and cilantro went in, both for late summer harvests.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer heat speeds squash

Yep, the squash was a little outrageous after this weekend, and the basil needed another picking too. Parsley needed a bit of cleaning up so there's some in the share, along with lettuce and a few cippolini onions that are nearly full sized at this point.  

It was a hot one on the farm today, but not terribly so. The tomato set looks good right now and the cucumbers are just starting to ripen. A few lucky share holders got a lemon cucumber today but there weren't nearly enough to go around. I'm hoping next week will be different.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

For posterity, and Thursday

The photo and share description is a bit late this week, but better late than never. Danny sent me this photo of the share: romaine lettuce, summer squash, basil and chard. I'm posting (or attempting to post) from Newport. My partner and I made it here to good cell service and a reliable power outlet this afternoon after riding our bikes from Portland, through Astoria and down the coast, camping all along the way. Kji will be harvesting tomorrow and I'll be back to the farm on Monday. We've been lucky with excellent weather, beautiful views and great camping spots. Two or three more days of riding and we'll be back.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Thank You for Returning Your Bags!

I was getting together bags for next week for Danny since I'm headed out of town and I need to prepare in advance. My stack of returns sitting in the office was very short so I went to see if there happened to be any on my porch. Lo an behold, some wonderful member had hung a collection of 15! bags on my porch! Jackpot.

Just a few little reminder to CSA members: try not to collect the bags in bulk before returning them. Also, I love it when they're returned dry and inside out.

If you are going to hold onto the bags, at least take them out in public so everyone can see how cool you are for being a member of the very small CSA!

Appreciating wheels

Today's share is a repeat of Mondays, just with Kweik butter lettuce instead of the Brown Golding romaine. We had to start packing the vegetables on the other side of the barn today because there's a huge trench on our usual side, the beginnings of Yianni and Jessica's new house construction. All day today a huge back hoe was running back and forth making a little parking lot and digging trenches. The old house was a real eyesore and it's great that it's gone. Mostly the construction is on the far side of the property so it really doesn't impact our farming at all.

The bike continues to be a great part of the farming day for me. I've been hauling not only the vegetables in to town, but also my tools and some transplants back and forth to the winter farm site at my house. The cart is another great pair of wheels and saves me many trips back and forth for harvest and tools and it makes it possible to move large piles of plants, compost, etc. into and out of the fields with relative ease.