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Archive for July, 2010

week 7 share

Hi Everyone,

It looks as though the tomato season has arrived. We began picking a
sizeable amount of fruit last Friday, and a lot more have ripened over the weekend.
It’s a week or two earlier than normal, one of the better consequences of this sunny, hot,
and accelerated season. There will probably only be enough for 1 or 2 fruits per member
this week, with more appreciable quantities arriving in the coming weeks. We should
have some peppers and possibly eggplant for next week. The bean plants have begun to
flower again now that they have been re-hydrated. Hopefully they will produce a second
picking of better quality than the first batch. The pole beans have begun climbing their
trellis and will begin to flower soon, so the delicious, heirloom Rattlesnake beans should
start in another 2 weeks.

Another consequence of the hot summer is that the onion crop has matured earlier
than anticipated. The tops have died back on almost all varieties. Once this happens we
must quickly get them out of the field to be dried or they will begin to rot. My workers
spent most of Friday and all of Saturday pulling, gathering, and spreading them out in the
greenhouse to dry. The volunteer work day to help with the onion harvest scheduled for
August 8th is cancelled, since we could not wait until then. The crop looks excellent with
lots of large bulbs of good quality that should store well.

We received some good precipitation on Sunday, which began as a sudden
downpour and continued for another 2 hours as a steady light rain. It caught me in the
middle of sowing a late crop of beans and soaked both me and my bags of seed before I
could flee the field. I often joke that the best way to bring rain is for me to get on the
tractor I use for seeding and head out to plant. I consider this to be a corollary of
Murphy’s Law as it relates to farming. I was in the middle of a row and had to try to
finish as the soil quickly turned to mud and stuck to the wheels of the seeder. What a
mess!
The share for this week will be: Lettuce, tomatoes, summer squash, green
cabbage, beets, Yukon gold potatoes, garlic, daikon radish, a small quantity of either
beans or snow peas and choice of an herb. Look for dandelion greens as an extra, if you
like them (most people don’t).

Enjoy!

Farmer John

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week 6 delivery

Hello Everyone,

We had a great start to the season, with plenty of beautiful greens,
and unusually bountiful shares. As we head into mid-summer greens
generally become more scarce, and in this accelerated season we have
arrived at this point a little sooner than normal.

All of the various mustards have bolted to seed and the kale is
looking quite sad due to the heat and dry weather. At this point only
the Swiss chard remains viable and we have been cutting it quite
heavily during the past 2 weeks. I believe we can harvest sufficient
quantities for distribution this week, but then we will need to let it
rest and regenerate for a bit.   I have been preparing ground to plant
more spinach and mustard greens and I will be seeding these crops as
soon as the weather allows. These greens should become available again
in early September.

Up to this point we have provided you with chiefly “normal” vegetables
with which most members are familiar and know how to use. This week
may be the week that we cause some members to search their cookbooks
and the internet for ways to use some less common vegetables;
specifically radicchio and fennel. Even though I planted over a
thousand radicchio plants many have bolted and quite a few have been
destroyed by the groundhogs.  We may need to offer dandelion greens as
a choice with the radicchio.

This time last year we were swimming in green beans; this season
however both the abundance and quality of the crop has been reduced by
the heat and dryness. The plants are looking better now that they have
gotten some rain and I hope that they will begin to flower again and
produce a second picking.  We also have an heirloom pole bean called
the rattlesnake bean that looks good and should start producing in
about 3 weeks. I am in the process of planting more bush beans for
September harvest.

The tomato crop is looking good so far, and we may have sufficient
quantities to ship out by next week, if not, certainly in 2 weeks.
Eggplant and peppers should also become available in the next couple
of weeks. We will be beginning to harvest potatoes this week, even
though the earliest varieties have not completely died back. This
means that they are “new” potatoes and as such have thin skins that
are easily damaged in harvesting and washing. It will be best to use
them fairly quickly, as they probably won’t keep well.

The share for this week will be Lettuce ( various types), red
potatoes, cauliflower, summer squash, carrots, red torpedo onions,
fennel, radicchio or dandelion greens, Swiss chard, string beans
(either green or wax), and choice of an herb.

Enjoy!
Farmer John

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week 5 delivery

Hi Folks,

I am happy to report that the farm received nearly 2 inches of rain
this past Friday night into Saturday morning. This was much more than
expected and a bit more than was needed, but nevertheless a huge
relief, both to my worried mind and my drought stressed plants. We
were occupying too much time moving the sprinklers around and I was
unable to begin preparing ground for the fall planting which will
begin soon.  When the ground gets dry it shrinks and tightens, making
plowing difficult and dusty.  I will have to wait a day or two for the
soil to dry a bit, but soon I will be able to get some seeds in the
ground.

I picked and ate the first few tomatoes over the weekend. The first
few always end up on my plate, since there aren’t enough to distribute
or even to take to market. And what a delight they are- acidic and
sweet, unlike anything available from far away places, out of season.
The tomato crop looks good so far and I anticipate having sufficient
quantities to begin distributing in 2-3 weeks.  Peppers and eggplant
are on the horizon as well.  The pea harvest is essentially done but
we are still picking a few shell peas and some snow peas which were
planted late. Their replacement in the legume category-the string
beans are just beginning to fill out. The plants have been looking
quite sad this past week or too, a result of the dry conditions and
also the damage caused by the bean beetle. It is necessary to tolerate
some defoliation as we wait for the parasitic wasp to do its job.

While we are on the subject, 2 weeks ago in my update I discussed the
Mexican bean beetle and the biologic control program run by the NJDA.
I like to try to inject some humor into my writings and I jokingly
referred to these insects as “undocumented aliens”.  I received a
message from one of the members saying that she found this offensive.
I apologize if any one else did not find this amusing. I did not mean
to compare undocumented immigrant to bugs, but since in recent days
some politicians have done just that, I suppose that my remark could
have been easily misunderstood.

I have tremendous respect for the hard work done by the immigrant
population, in agriculture and in other areas. I have seen the poverty
that exists in Central America and I have sympathy for the risks that
are taken and the sacrifices made by these folks in order to provide a
better life for their families. The United Farmworkers Union is
currently promoting a program they call “Take our Jobs”, encouraging
average Americans to spend a day doing farm work, in an attempt to
promulgate greater respect for these workers and the arduous tasks
they perform. I guess in some way we are unofficially participating in
this program with the volunteer work days we have been hosting. I wish
to thank those members who came out this past Sunday to help with the
garlic harvest. We were able to bring in about a third of the crop.

We have needed to harvest large quantities of lettuce in the past few
weeks in order to not lose them to bolting in the scorching heat. Some
of these varieties do not hold well and the coolers are getting quite
full. We will be sending 2 different types of lettuce in the shares
this week. Hopefully you won’t mind eating lots of salad this week. We
also had to harvest the Napa or Chinese cabbage this past week, so
that will be in the share.  While I planted sufficient quantities for
all the members and to have for market, a substantial number were lost
to either rot or bolting, so we may need to substitute regular green
cabbage if we run short.

The share for this week will be: Romaine Lettuce, green leaf lettuce,
napa cabbage, choice of kale or Swiss chard, elephant garlic, carrots,
summer squash, cucumbers, peas and or green beans and choice of an
herb.

Enjoy!

Farmer John

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week 4 share

Hello Folks, I hope everyone had a pleasant Fourth of July weekend. We
don’t get to take much of a break for the holiday here at the farm.
Today, Monday was a regular workday and I spent most of yesterday on a
marathon mission to finish planting the winter squash
I confess that I did catch some blues music and fireworks (ooh-ahh) in
the nearby town of Sparta. The lack of rain in the last 2 weeks has us
moving the irrigation equipment around from field to field, a task
that interferes with our other pressing duties. Oh yes, and it’s been
really hot, in case you hadn’t noticed. Many things are burning up in
the fields, especially my workers and I.  It looks like it will cool
down a bit by the end of the week and we have a couple of chances of
thunderstorms to bring some much needed precipitation.
I’m all for Alliums. I rarely cook a dish that doesn’t start with
onions, garlic or some member of this tasty family. This is why I try
to include some type of Allium in each delivery. I apologize for the
absence of the pearl onions that were promised in last weeks share. I
know we planted them, but we just couldn’t seem to find them in the
field.
Everything gets name stakes as we plant but sometimes they get lost
and at this point it’s hard to distinguish the cippolini onions and
shallots from pearl onions. No matter though, we have lots of large
onions that are ready earlier than expected, so last weeks delivery
should be the only one of the season absent of Alliums.
The cucumbers have started producing heavily and a few groups
received some last week. If you didn’t, you are likely to get some
this week.  The pea season has gone by in a flash owing to all the
heat. We have some sugar snaps left and also a meager harvest of Fava
beans, which we will offer as a choice this week.  The bean crop is
coming on strong and will be ready to fill in as the legume family
member in 2 weeks, if not sooner.
The share for this week will be: Lettuce (either Boston or Oak
leaf)  broccoli, beets(either purple or Chioggia, also known as Candy
cane), kohlrabi, sweet onions, summer squash, cucumbers, Swiss chard,
choice of sugar snap peas or Fava beans and choice of an herb (basil
or parsley)   Enjoy!    Farmer John

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blueberries

did you order blueberries?  are you totally overwhelmed with what to do with them?  Well, other than eat them straight…

The first thing we did with our blueberries was weigh out half into gallon freezer bags and pop them into the freezer for eating later on.  But what else?

first up, Alton Brown’s blueberry muffin recipe!  This is really the ur-muffin recipe as far as my family is considered.  (though I have to say, don’t bother with cake flour. All Purpose flour works just fine–and is what’s called for in the book-version of the recipe.)  And as a bonus, the muffins actually work better using frozen berries!

Jonathan's blueberry muffins

Second option?  Blueberry boy bait! This is like a blueberry coffee cake, and it’s delicious.  Really, you can’t go wrong with anything Smitten Kitchen does.

similar to boy bait, but much much fruitier is the blueberry streusel cake from the late, great Gourmet. This one has won over even the stubborn “I don’t like cooked fruit” people.

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