7/17 CSA week 9

In this week’s box:

Tomatoes
Cucumber
Summer squash and zucchini
Scallions
Red Potatoes
Red leaf lettuce
Candy onions
Bell peppers

Fruit share: blackberries and blueberries (probably the last of the season) from Berryhill

Also, please save the date for our annual CSA member field walk: Thursday, July 26 at 7:00 PM. More details and info to come!

Farm notes:

Wow, the weather this year has really been relentless. While we can water, water and water some more a lot of the corn and bean farms around us have lost most of their crop this year. Guess that is why a lot of the large scale grain farmers take out insurance on their crops!

Today I went out and bought liquid shade! While I wish this were something that we could use on ourselves it is actually a coating that we are going to spray on the greenhouse so that it will bring the temperature down somewhat from the 150 degree temp that I took in there last week. We don’t usually use the greenhouse to raise fall seedlings and instead raise them in our yard which gets some afternoon shade, but this year the bugs have destroyed the first round of fall crops. So we have been forced to improvise and experiment with the liquid shade which is a lot less expensive than buying shade cloth that we’ll only use for a month or two of the year. If this liquid shade works as well as advertised maybe we’ll start hanging out in the greenhouse!

This week’s recipes:

Zucchini, potato and scallion pancakes

Potato, tomato, and squash gratin
A CSA member sent me a recipe last week for creamy potato and zucchini gratin. I found this recipe that includes tomatoes, but there are so many more similar recipes on-line to choose from.

Baked Zucchini sticks with sweet onion dipping sauce

Scallions or Green Onions

Scallions, also known as bunching onions, green onions, or spring onions, are onions that do not develop a bulb. They are milder then regular onions and can be used raw or cooked. The green tops are often used as a garnish and taste similar to chives. If using raw, scallions make great additions to potato, egg, tuna, or chicken salad and go wonderfully with spring rolls and tacos. When cooked, scallions can be used in soups, curries and stir fries, or on their own as the recipes below showcase.

Scallion pasta ( a delicious recipe if you have an abundance of scallions in your fridge)

Seared scallions with poached eggs

Scallion pancake

7/10 CSA week 8

In this week’s box:
Scallions
Summer squash and zucchini
Fairy tale eggplant or Okra
Basil
Sweet corn
Fennel
Kale
Cucumber
Tomatoes
Red and green leaf lettuce

Fruit share: plums and peaches. The plums were grown by Scott Downing in Darke county. Scott Downing also sold us the peaches, but they were grown in West Virginia. The peach crop here in Ohio was decimated by the warm weather in March and a couple of cool nights in April.

Farm notes:

Earlier this week Ben and I were recalling the 2009 season when it reached 90 degrees only once. Oh, how we are longing for another such summer! The heat coupled with the dought certainly brings its challenges. We are struggling to keep the young seedlings that we plant week after week alive as it requires so much watering. And we are still waiting for a chance to direct seed crops likes carrots, beets, arugula, and turnips. The heat even disrupts our chicken’s egg production. Today we collected 1 less dozen eggs then usual. The birds just don’t lay as much when it gets really hot.

On a positive note this week, we were able to revive a suffering chicken from what we think was heat stoke or some related condition. After market on Saturday I went in to check on the chickens and saw that one was laying down and not moving as other birds scurried this way and that. I took a closer look and could tell the bird was struggling. I put her in a box with pine shavings and took her to a cool room. By this point the bird’s head and neck were completely limp and her eyes were closed, but she was still breathing. I but cold wet towels on her and gave her water with my hands. Most of the water just fell off her beak but She would occasionally perk up enough to open her eyes and actually swallow. This encouraged me to continue. I spent about 45 minutes with her trying to get water in her. She really did not seem to be doing much better but there were lots more things to get done (we have plants that need to live too!) After I got the nighttime irrigation set up I went back to check on the bird and to my surprise her head was back up and her eyes completely open. She was still laying in the same spot but this was progress! I rewet her towels, gave more water and went to bed that night feeling pretty confident.

Sunday morning her water container was nearly empty so she had been drinking on her own but she was still laying down. By Sunday evening she was standing in her box. I decided to take her back to the coop and see how she she’d do. As we got closer to the coop and could hear her squawking comrades, she visibly perked up. I put her in and she walked normally, started squawking and pecking away and seemed completely normal. I was so glad my efforts paid off! This heat really is a force to recon with and now we have a sprinkler system set up in the chicken’s yard should it hit 100 again. I guess we should set one up for us too!

Recipes
Corn, cucumber, and tomato salad (use scallions in place of red onion and add fennel)

Eggplant and zucchini lasagna ( if you did not get eggplant this week, keep this recipe in mind for next week)

White bean, sausage ragout with kale and zucchini

Penne with fennel pesto (great way to use the fennel fronds)

Food Notes

Sweet Corn
Since this week’s sweet corn ears are so small (a raccoon or some such creature sneakily took two bites from all the largest ears) that I would cut the kernels off the cob and add them raw to cool summer salads. Hopefully our next planting will produce larger ears and now we know to be on the lookout for animal damage. Last year we caught a skunk!

Sweet Corn and Fennel Salad

Fairy tale eggplant

You wouldn’t know it from what you normally find in the supermarket, but eggplant comes in all different shapes and sizes. And while the standard deep purple eggplants are great for a wide variety of recipes there are certain dishes where a smaller, differently shaped eggplant is a better fit.

That said you can cube and throw these fairy tale eggplant into a stew just as you would the large Italian eggplant. Or you could try one of these recipes below which feature fairy tale eggplant specifically.

Carmelized fairy tale eggplant

Grilled fairy tale eggplant

Fairy tale eggplant with summer squash

Okra

IMG_2886When we cook okra we really like to throw it in all kinds of soups and stews. You can of course make a southern style gumbo or ratatouille, and okra is also really good in curries. Every once in a while when we’ve got a bit of time we also like to make fried okra and zucchini (these go really well with hush puppies or zucchini fritters). Keep okra in a plastic bag and use within  the week.

Fried okra

7/3 CSA week 7

In this week’s box:
Summer Squash and Zucchini
Cucumber (first of the season…more to come!)
Tomato (first of the season…lots more to come!)
Candy Onions
Scallions
Garlic
Red and Green Leaf Lettuce
Bell Peppers (first of the season…more to come!)
Jalapeño Pepper (short, green pepper)
Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper (long, pale yellow mild hot pepper)

Fruit share: blueberries from Berryhill in Xenia, blackberries coming soon!

Farm Notes

We are often asked what we do during the winter. And we always tell people that we catch up on all the office work and farm and vehicle maintenance that doesn’t stand a chance of getting done during the season. Another task that always gets done in January or February is making up the seeding chart. We have every week mapped out with what seeds need to be started in the greenhouse that week. This way we have one less thing to think about during the crazy days of the summer.

When we printed out the seeding chart for last week we were a bit surprised to see that we are already doing our first round of fall brassica seeding! I have to admit that we went back and double checked with previous year’s records to confirm that we actually wanted to start them. Sure enough it was time to begin preparing for fall veggies.

Speaking of fall veggies we are also transplanting winter squash into the field this week. We start the winter squash crop late in order to avoid the first generation of the squash vine borer which can destroy an entire planting of squash and for which there really isn’t an organic control. When we plant out the squash we cover it with row cover and by the time the squash is established and the row cover needs to be removed the threat of the vine borer is generally past. So, even though we know that this is the time that we want to plant our squash we still don’t like planting when it is this hot and sunny, but we’ll keep water on it and all should be fine!

Recipes

Fried Rice

Grilled Zucchini and Summer Squash

Homemade Taco Salad

6/26 CSA week 6

In this week’s box:
Summer Squash and Zucchini
Fennel or Chiogga Beets
Sweet Onions
Broccoli
Swiss Chard
Cabbage (Grown by Hungry Toad Farm in Centerville)
Basil

Fruit share: blueberries from Berryhill in Xenia

This spring our cabbage did not make it into the ground. Fortunately we were able to trade veggies with our friend Michael Malone of Hungry Toad Farm so that we could get some cabbage this week. We are starting our fall cabbage this week, but that won’t be ready for a couple of months.

Farm notes

As everyone is well aware it has been awhile since we’ve had a good rain and unfortunately it looks like it will be a while until we get another good soaking. This complicates things around the farm. The most obvious consequence of dry weather is the amount of time that we spend setting up and running irrigation, but we right now we are more concerned with the effect that dry weather is having on cultivation and tillage.

This time of the year we are constantly cultivating the fields with hand hoes (don’t really know why the drought doesn’t effect weeds!?!). Hoeing is usually not a difficult task, but when the soil is too wet or too dry hoeing can become almost impossible. When it is wet the hoe just picks up dirt and quickly becomes useless. On the other hand when the soil is too dry as it is now it can feel like we are hoeing in a rock garden. It is impossible to hoe ground that has not been recently irrigated.

Tillage is also negatively effected by the dry weather because the ground has become so hard that our chisel plow and tiller don’t work like they are supposed to. With the chisel plow we can’t cut into the ground as deeply as we would like. And the tiller doesn’t work the soil to the fine texture that we need to direct seed some of the fall crops.

So, we’ll wait for rain and rush out into the fields as soon as it comes!

Recipes

Broccoli and Fennel Risotto (use your sweet onion in place of shallots)

Browned Cabbage (A favorite recipe of mine growing up. You can omit the caraway seeds if you wish)

Ginger Basil Cabbage (summer squash, zucchini and broccoli would be good additions)

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard is a green that has a variety of stem colors including white, red, pink, yellow and orange. We grow ‘Rainbow Chard’ which features all colors and ‘Fordhook Giant’, which is the white stem variety. Chard is related to beets, but has been breed for the leaves, not the root. Like all greens, Swiss chard is loaded with nutrients, making it one of the healthiest vegetables. The entire plant, stem and all, can be used in your cooking. Swiss chard makes a great substitute for spinach and is especially good in quiches and casseroles.

Crustless Swiss Chard Quiche

Swiss Chard Sautee

Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup

Sweet Onions

The sweet onion that we usually grow is a variety called Candy. Sweet onions are different from regular onions in taste and culture. Culture-wise, sweet onions are a fresh onion, that is they are harvested and consumed right away, whereas other onions are cured and stored for some time (developing those onion skins). As far as taste goes, we think little beats the sweet onion. It is milder then regular onions but still has great onion flavor and has a touch of sweetness that allows you to enjoy them raw. We love to make sandwiches that feature sweet onions and whatever else is fresh from the garden. A simple sandwich of sweet onions, cucumbers and mayo is something we look forward to ever summer. Try them in lettuce salads or dice them into your egg or tuna salad. And of course they can be used in anything you cook and are especially wonderful when caramelized.

Cucumber Salad

Sweet Onion Burgers

Caramelized Onions

6/24 CSA week 5

In this week’s box:
Broccoli
Kale
Red Leaf Lettuce
Raspberries
Fennel Bulbs
Hakurei Salad Turnips
Summer Squash and Zucchini
Flat Leaf Parsley

1. Fruit share: blueberries from Berryhill outside of Xenia!

2. Flowers share begins this week and will run for ten weeks.

3. It’s hot! We do everything that we can to make sure that your veggies will be fresh when you pick them up, but if you find that some of the greens are a bit wilted you can shock them back to life using the following method. Submerge the greens fully in ice water for 3-4 minutes. Remove and shake dry, then store wrapped loosely in a plastic bag ideally in the crisper portion of your refrigerator.

Farm notes:

It’s a cliche and in our experience a reality that farming is very cyclical. Sometime this past week we settled into our main season routine. Monday and Friday are harvest days. Tuesday we make CSA boxes and deliver them and Saturday we are at market. Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday are left for farm work (planting, cultivating and general maintenance). Also since we are now getting into flower season at the market Emily is cutting sunflowers every day of the week and cutting other flowers for most of the day on Thursday.

Additionally at this point in the season we have also gotten most of the spring/early summer projects out of the way. The garlic is harvested and hanging in the barn. The tomatoes and peppers are planted and tying the tomatoes has begun. Remay (lightweight row covers that we use on many spring crops) is getting cleaned up and we are replanting where some spring crops are finished. Large scale tillage with the tractor-mounted rototiller has been replaced by precision cultivation with wheel hoes (which is exactly what it sounds like – a hoe with a wheel in front to make it easier to hoe long rows and larger areas) and the walk behind tiller.

Of course soon enough there will be the main season projects: pulling onions and setting them up to cure in the barn and digging all of the potatoes…but, thankfully we have a couple of weeks to get caught up on our weekly chores before we have to begin doing that work.

This Week’s Recipes

Parsley Buttered Turnips

Penne with Kale, Olives and Feta

Soba Noodle Stir-Fry (I would double recipe and add chopped turnips and summer squash)

Salmon Cakes with Fennel Zucchini Slaw