CSA Week 18

This Week’s Harvest

Tomatoes
Beans (green or dragon tongue)
Easter egg radishes
French breakfast radishes
Butternut squash
Purple potatoes
Kale
Red onions
Bok choi
Green leaf lettuce
Bell peppers

Farm News

From cooperative and comfortable weather to bountiful harvests to supportive customers, early fall has been really good to us at Mile Creek Farm! I took a few photographs of the farm this week that show how some fields on the farm are ready for their winter rest and how other fields are still producing nutritious veggies and beautiful flowers.

Cover crop of winter rye and tillage radish will set us up for nice soil come spring!

Cover crop of winter rye and tillage radish will set us up for nice soil come spring!

Market stand showcases the merge of summer crops and fall crops

Market stand showcases the merge of summer crops and fall crops

Final planting of sunflowers looking to bloom before our average first frost date

Final planting of sunflowers looking to bloom before our average first frost date

The major task of the week was harvesting sweet potatoes. Typically we have hand dug all 1,000 plants and the harvest takes a really long time. After spending an entire week harvesting the sweet potatoes solo last year, Ben was determined to find a better way. Ben used his welding skills to make an under cutter to attach to the tractor and we tried it out this week. Some adjustments were made and I had to end up riding on the implement to provide weight and get it to go deep enough as to not cut any sweet potatoes. The longest part of this year’s harvest was just figuring out the right way to work the equipment. Once that was all figured out the harvest was smooth and far less laborious then last year!

Harvesting sweet potatoes and admiring the yield

Harvesting sweet potatoes and admiring the yield

Recipes

Butternut squash and kale quesadillas (if you are in a hurry, scroll to the bottom of the page for the recipe. You will probably have left over filling that can be used for another meal…I’m thinking pizza!)

Bok choi and green bean stir fry

Buttery shrimp and radish pasta

Roasted radish and potato salad (use red onion in place of green onion and decrease amount to 1 tablespoon)

CSA Week 17

This Week’s Harvest

Salad mix
Romaine lettuce
French breakfast radishes
Scarlet turnips
Butternut Squash
Patty pan summer squash
Red onions
Potatoes
Tomatoes
Swiss chard
Okra (farm pick up only. All other sites got it a couple weeks ago)

Fruit share: Ida Red and Jon-a-Gold apples from Downing Fruit Farm. They look very similar. Ida Red is slightly darker red and smaller. It is a tart apple and Jon-a-Gold is a sweet apple. Both are delicious!

Farm News

One of the first things we did when we moved to Ohio to start our farm was join the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). This organization is a wonderful resource for producers and consumers of organics. OEFFA hosts farm tours, webinars, and conferences; is an advocate of sustainable farming practices and watchdog of farming policies; and provides an organic certification program.

We have learned so much about farming through OEFFA programs and fellow OEFFA members. OEFFA’s annual conference is the highlight of our off-season and we try to make at least one of their farm tours each season.

This year, we got to host a farm tour and workshop! This past Sunday we welcomed 20 farmers to the farm and Ben gave an in-depth presentation on equipment choices we have made to make our farm more efficient and profitable. He spoke about his welding experience and modifications he has been able to make because of this skill. Ben’s first experience with welding was a welding course at MVCTC a couple winters ago and his ability to fabricate and fix equipment as a result as been a game-changer for us. We have acquired so many useful pieces of machinery that help us plant, apply nutrients, control weeds, etc. Our operation is systematized and we are able to be more consistent. (for example, it took us 5 years before we had a successful crop of spring broccoli, but now we have had a reliable crop 3 springs in a row). We hope all the participants of our workshop left with a couple takeaways to implement on their own operations. We certainly learned a few things from them!

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Recipes
Potato and turnip gratin

Butternut Squash Risotto

Turnip, potato and Swiss chard hash

Summer squash and tomato frittata (use pattypan in place of zucchini)

Summer squash and tomato frittata ( use pattypan in place of zucchini)

CSA Week 16

This Week’s Harvest

Scarlet turnips
Hakurei salad turnips
Beets (golden, chiogga, or red)
Onions (candy and red)
Garlic
Tomatoes
Celery
Kohlrabi
Leaf head lettuce

Fruit Share
Golden delicious and Jonathan apples from Downing Fruit Farm.

Farm notes:
School is in session, the golden rod is in full bloom, the field corn and soybeans are drying, nights are down right chilly, and now our winter squash and pumpkin harvest is in the barn. Although just shy of it being official, it sure does seem like fall.

The squash harvest took 3 wagon loads and used up all of our harvest crates. We have around a ton total of butternuts, hubbards and pie pumpkins! This year we planted Hubbard squash, an incredibly large bluish green squash, as a trap crop. University extension specialists have been studying insect preferences to help control pests. It turns out that cucumber beetles prefer Hubbard seedlings, so you can plant them along side your other cucurbits in hopes that the pest will just destroy the hubbards and not the crops you are wanting to harvest. We definitely noticed a preference and do think this helped. Plus, the hubbards survived the bug damage so we got the added bonus of another winter squash variety to add to our list of what we grow. Now the squash need to cure in the barn and really develop their sweetness. Look for them in the final boxes of the season, and in the meantime, enjoy this week’s harvest!

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Recipes

Apple and Turnip Stuffing

Turnip Omelet (increase amount of turnips, as this week’s turnips are young and small)

Kohlrabi, beet and apple slaw

Greens, tomatoes and ham

Food notes
Be sure to use the greens on your root vegetables this week! Beet and turnip greens are tasty! The bug damage on the turnips is only on the surface, simply peel it away. Celery tops can be used too. They add flavor to soups, pilafs, and stock.

CSA Week 15

This Week’s Harvest

Tomatoes
Salad mix
Honey Bear acorn squash
Mountain Rose potatoes
Onions (red and candy)
Garlic
Cucumber
Summer Squash
Lacinato Kale
Okra (delivered sites only, farm pick up will get it another week)
Dragon Tongue green beans
Eggplant

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Farm News

This week we continued our focus on prepping fields for the fall and Ben spent most of his time on the tractor. Last week I wrote about the window of time we were given between the fields drying out and the sun setting for Ben to get the old crop fields (flowers, onions, spring broccoli and kale, etc) ready for a cover crop sowing. With the beds mowed and tilled, he was able to spread the seed next chance he got. Here is a video of how we can sow 500 lbs of cover crop seed in just a couple hours!

Ben purchased this cone spreader last year for a good price as it needed some TLC. The bottom was rusted out and Ben was able to weld a new bottom and give it a nice paint job. We are often asked what we do in the winter, and repairs like this is one of the many things we do! These equipment improvements we (Ben) do help the efficiency and profitability of the farm. They also allow us to improve as farmers and stewards of the land. Which brings me back to cover cropping.

Ben spread a mix of winter rye and tillage radish over the fields. The tillage radish is similar to daikon radishes, just not harvested. Instead it is allowed to grow and gets very long and wide. The deep roots’ penetration and winter decay does so much for the soil from reducing compaction to providing aeration to replenishing organic matter. We are excited to have gotten the seed out this week to allow the roots to grow nice and big before a killing freeze. The winter rye will grow some this fall, go dormant in the winter and really take off in the spring. It will help with soil erosion, weed control, and when we mow it provide tons of organic biomass ( aptly called “green manure” ). With a strong chance of rain on Wednesday night into Thursday to sprout the seeds, we should get a great cover crop stand this fall!

Recipes

Green bean and summer squash sauté

Acorn squash stuffed with kale and sausage

Babaganoush

Roasted eggplant, potatoes and squash

CSA Week 14

This Week’s Harvest

Edamame beans
Tomatoes
Cantaloupe
Red bell peppers
Jalapeño peppers
Purple potatoes
Dragon tongue or green beans
Onions (red and candy)
Salad mix
Kale ( green curly or rainbow )
Cucumber

Fruit share
Magnolia gold and Gala apples from Downing Fruit Farm in Darke County

Farm news

This week we had about 5 hours in which the fields were dry enough for Ben to do some tractor work. Yesterday morning Ben checked the fields and decided that all was still too wet from last week’s rain. With heavy rain in the forecast for overnight we had come to terms with the fact that our very long list of field work would just have to wait. But given the hot breezy day we had, Ben thought that maybe, just maybe, the ground had dried enough to check at least something off the list. So starting at 5pm, as I went into the house to relieve Grammy from kid watching duty, Ben hopped on the tractor and somehow checked multiple things off the list! Using a side dresser he fertilized an entire field of fall crops in a couple hours. As I put the kids to bed at dusk, we looked out the window and saw that Ben had switched implements and was now tilling in a field of old crops to prepare for a cover crop sowing. I fixed a late dinner and hopped out of the house to take a picture of Ben coming in for the night at 10pm. He is glad our old Ford 4000 has head lights! Between Ben’s epic tractoring and a full days’ harvest, I’d say we had a rather productive Labor Day!

Recipes

Braised kale and potatoes and mushrooms (onions can be used in place of shallots)

Jalapeño roasted potatoes

Edamame, avocado and tomato salad (no cherry tomatoes this week, but slicing tomatoes will work just fine. Reference our edamame bean page for how to cook fresh edamame)

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CSA Week 13

This Week’s Harvest

Red bell peppers
Dragon tongue beans
Broccoli raab OR mustard greens
Red leaf lettuce
Tomatoes ( slicers, heirlooms, sungold cherries)
Onions (red and candy)
Sweet corn
Summer squash and zucchini
Cucumbers
Cantaloupe ( Oakwood and farm pick up only. Next week other sites will get melons)

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Notes from the farm

This week we went from one extreme (too dry) to another extreme (too wet) in a 24 hour period. While I feel a little badly complaining (it could have been worse) the 3 inches of rain we got did do some damage to the crops. On the other hand we really did need some rain! The break from constant irrigation is certainly a welcome relief.

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We read an interesting article this week about how the number of heavy precipitation events is increasing in a warming climate. Here is the link to the article: http://wxug.us/1k4e4
It will be interesting to see how climate change effects the farm. We have noticed on our 8 acres that the fields that we have given the most care too (cover cropping, nutrient building, and other management practices) seem the most immune to weather extremes, bug pressure, and have the healthiest looking crops as a result. Over the years we have acquired equipment to help us manage the land in the best ways possible. Soil building remains a priority so hopefully the warming climate won’t effect us all that much. On the other hand, I’m wondering if we need to start accounting for crop loss when we make our seeding charts and planting plans during the off season! Meanwhile, mud not withstanding, the harvest continues. This week, while still rolling in the heat loving crops, we see the return of large lettuce and the first of the fall greens ( mustard or broccoli raab). Seasonal eating at its finest! Enjoy!

Recipes

Tomato stuffed peppers

Mustard green and sweet onion sauté ( you can use broccoli raab in place of mustard greens)

Sweet corn, tomato, and onion salad

CSA Week 12

This Week’s Harvest

Tomatoes
Globe eggplant or fairytale eggplant
Candy onions
Leeks
Red bell peppers
Salad mix
Head lettuce
Purple potatoes
Summer squash and zucchini
Sweet corn

Food notes
Tomatoes retain their flavor best when they are not refrigerated. They should store for a good while on your kitchen counter.
While we weren’t able to plant as many heirloom tomatoes as originally planned, we did get our absolute favorite, striped German, planted. Each box has at least one and you’ll want to wait to eat it until it has fully colored: deep red with streaks of yellow.

Farm notes

Perhaps you have already delved into the world of food preservation, but if you haven’t we highly recommend it! It can be hard to find the time, for sure, but just like a farm fresh tomato tastes better then a grocery store tomato, a bag of frozen corn prepared by you tastes better then grocery store frozen corn. Plus time spent in the summer is time saved in the winter — there is no kitchen prep when all you have to do is grab bags from the freezer or open a couple cans from the cupboard!

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We will most likely be offering our CSA members a bulk tomato deal in the coming weeks. One favorite way to put up tomatoes is to make a purée. We cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters and throw them in a big pot. We cook them down on very low heat for at least half a day, stirring every so often. We then run them through a simple hand held food mill and let it cool down. Then we pour the purée into quart freezer bags and freeze. In the winter we use this purée as a base for soups and stews (it can be used traditionally, like in minestrone or chili, or in place of any recipe calling for veggie or chicken broth). If we need pizza or spaghetti sauce, we let the purée cook down further and find the sauce to be plenty thick- if we need thick sauce in a hurry we just add a can of tomato paste. We can make enchilada sauce with our purée, tacos, crock pot meals, BBQ sauce– the possibilities are pretty endless.

Other favorite food preservation methods include roasting eggplants whole and grating summer squash and zucchini. Once the eggplant is cooked, the skin peels right off. We then plop the whole eggplants into freezer bags and freeze. When we are ready to use them in the winter, we thaw, cube, and throw into the pot. With the zucchini, we grate, squeeze out the extra water and into the freezer bags it goes. Grated zucchini is then great for baking, and winter is great time for baking! Of course it helps to have freezer room, so canning is a wonderful way to preserve food that doesn’t require special storage.

Then there is the world of pickling and fermenting! While we only have experience with making sauerkraut, we really hope to expand in this arena starting with pickled beets and eggs. So good!

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Since we are unable to provide our customers with fresh veggies year round, it is our hope that you all get to preserve at least something while we have it for you fresh!

Recipes:

Sweet corn and zucchini pizza ( we have homemade pizza a lot… This recipe is a new take that I am excited to try this week)

Potato and leek frittata

Sweet corn polenta with eggplant sauce

Pasta alla Norma (this recipe comes with a CSA member recommendation!)

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