Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Week 20


Hello all,

Rain and beautiful weather usher in the final week of Bluebird Farm 2010 CSA. The official Bluebird Farm rain gauge registered 2.1 inches from the first drops Sunday am to the final rain Monday night. Thankfully, the rain came in well measured bursts interspersed with drizzle. The last thing we wanted was a 2 inch deluge in one hour.

On Monday our older pigs loaded into the trailer to go to the butcher. Getting to the trailer was a little bit of an adventure. We had mixed the two age groups of pigs together about two weeks ago. So we had to somehow open the fence and herd the big pigs out while holding back the seven, very curious and excited little pigs. In the end four little ones came along for the walk to the holding pen. They had a great time exploring the woods without the older pigs bothering them (they were too busy exploring as well). But after the hullabaloo of corralling the older pigs into the holding pen the younger pigs were ready to head home. Petunia had jumped into the herding at the corral (usually she was more in the way than a help) and now she wanted to “help” with walking the young pigs home. So Marie and Petunia led the way along the forest road with the four little ones trotting along behind. I brought up the rear to make sure no one stayed behind. It was pretty funny seeing Petunia’s fluffy tail leading four curly pig tails up the road.

The big vegetable field is looking tired and worn out. The tomatoes are showing more blackened branches than ever before. Many fruit are damaged by insects, the sudden switch from dry to wet, and fungus that invades when plants become weak. It is the sort of garden that makes me start to think about clean up: the hard, dirty, but ultimately satisfying work of pulling up plants, taking down trellises, removing irrigation, mowing, and soil preparation for next year. I can already see the field in its fall state. The landscape of towering tomatoes, sprawling vines, and unruly weeds replaced by the groomed look of a made bed or mowed lawn-a welcome respite from the exuberance of summer vegetable gardening.


The garden from the hill. Next year's garden is in the far left

We feel a little like the garden at the end of a season. Our muscles are past tired and our minds have trouble with basic organization and focus. Cooler weather and shorter days make us want to spend more time reflecting than actually working (of course we don’t get to do that quite yet). As we talk about this year we never cease to be amazed at all the support and encouragement we receive. When we moved back to North Carolina we didn’t expect Morganton to be very interested and passionate in what we are doing at Bluebird Farm.

A moment with the bee (look closely in the center of the photo)

In our early planning discussions we frequently pointed out Morganton’s proximity to Hickory, Charlotte, and even Winston-Salem. But you have shown that you care about what we are doing. You care where your food comes from, you want to know your farmers, and you believe in what we are doing. We have been humbled, excited, and inspired to receive this response. Without such positive feedback it would be hard to want to continue working this job that is challenging in the best of years (and this wasn’t one of the best years). And so, even as we clean up from this year we are preparing for next year. We have been spreading organic soil amendments (manure, granite dust, lime), seeding cover crops, and writing down thoughts and observations about this year’s crops before they fade in our minds.

We want to hear from you as well. Please watch for an upcoming survey about your experience with Bluebird Farm CSA. We will be asking questions about quantity, quality, variety, communication, and logistics. When you do receive the survey please take the time to fill it out. Community supported agriculture requires open communication both ways between farmer and consumer.

With our increased knowledge of the fields we are working, improved soil conditions, and more planning based on a year of work we look forward to a great year next year. We hope you will join us!

Bluebird Farm after the CSA

· You can find us at the Morganton Farmers Market on Saturday 10/2 and 10/9 from 8-noon

· We will restart our Farmer Fridays at Catawba Valley Brewing Company after the Morganton Market ends with greens, eggs, pork, and chicken

· We will continue to be at the Hickory market on Wednesdays and the Conover market on Saturdays through October

· We will have pork and eggs available for much of the winter, see upcoming emails for availability at the farm and in town

· There is one post-CSA chicken batch in mid-November

Week 20 box

New!

Sweet potatoes

Boc Choi

Swiss Chard

Kale

Old favorites

Tomatoes

Peppers

Basil has retired for the year

Recipes

Roasted Sweet Potato Puree with Coconut Milk (from Grub by Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry)

3-4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

4 tablespoons pure maple syrup (molasses is good too, but does have a stronger flavor-start with 2-3 tablespoons if using molasses and taste for flavor)

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse sea salt

½ cup coconut milk, warmed

· Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly oil a baking dish or roasting pan

· In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, maple syrup, olive oil, and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Toss well.

· Transfer the sweet potatoes to the prepared pan and roast for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until slightly crisp on the edges.

· Remove from the oven. In a food processor, combine sweet potatoes with the warmed coconut milk. Puree, adding more coconut milk for your desired consistency, and transfer to a serving dish.

Parky’s Southern Braised Kale with Sweet Potatoes (from Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon)

3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed

1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil such as canola, corn or peanut.

1 bell pepper, diced

½ onion diced

1 to 2 jalapeno peppers minced

2 pounds kale, washed, tough ribs removed leaves stacked and coarsely chopped (you may substitute any hearty green or combination of greens)

1/3 cup mild vegetable stock

1 orange

1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 medium tomatoes chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

· Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add sweet potatoes, lower heat, and simmer until just tender, about 25 minutes

· Heat oil in nonstick deep skillet over medium high heat. Add bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno. Saute 5 minutes

· Add kale. Top with sliced sweet potatoes. Pour the stock over the dish, cover, and braise until the call is cooked, but still bright green, 4-5 minutes.

· Grate the rind of the orange; squeeze its juice into a cup. When the kale is done uncover and add about 1 tablespoon of grated rind, 3 tablespoons of the juice, 1 tablespoon vinegar, the tomatoes, and salt and pepper.

· Taste, adjust flavors with orange, vinegar, salt and pepper as necessary.

Preparing for winter

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hello all,

CSA Farm Day- many of you are up to your ears in fall activities and are unable to come the CSA day this Saturday. If you are able to come we need to hear from you by tomorrow evening (Wednesday 9/22).

Remember, after this week there is only one more week of CSA. We have had a great season with all of your support and encouragement. Come see us at farmers markets through the month of October. There will be one more CSA chicken pick up for all chicken CSA members on Wednesday, October 13th.

Friday began early, picking up some baby chickens from the post office. Whenever I call down there in the morning they seem a little surprised to receive such an early call. They also seem relieved that someone is coming to get the noisy babies out of their office. The chicks are usually chirping so loudly that I can hear them over the phone as the post master looks at the address on the chick box. The only way to get them to quiet down just a little bit is to crank the heat in the car on the drive home-even on a hot morning like Friday. Now the chicks are happily munching, cheeping, and growing in their shelter.

video

Happy chicks

Our pigs are now (at least most of the time) getting along together. Two weeks ago I wrote about the big pigs chasing the little pigs all the time when we tried to put them in the same pen. We had to put up an electric line between the two groups to let the little pigs have some peace and quiet. However, the older girls (who have never broke down their fence before) continually broke through to the young pig area. After almost a week of constantly moving pigs and fixing fences we just took the fence down and told the little pigs to “stand up to those big bullies”. So far they have done just that and everyone is enjoying being a pig in the woods!

happy sheep

In the garden we have planted almost everything we plan on planting this fall. All we have to do for them is some minor weeding and harvest. But there is never time to sit around at the farm! We have been busily preparing next year’s area. We have spread lime to improve our pH, granite dust to make up for our potassium deficiency, and horse manure to add nutrients and organic matter. The next step is to plant a winter cover crop and hope for rain. Actually, because we need the cover to germinate before it gets to cold we will probably put up overhead irrigation (sprinklers-as opposed to the drip irrigation we use for vegetables) to ensure adequate moisture.

Week 19 box


Stir fry mix

Cherry Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Eggplant

Peppers- see recipe below

Basil

Parsley


Recipe:

Roasted Pepper Spread

1 or 2 cloves of garlic, peeled

6 medium bell or sweet peppers, chopped roughly and roasted (see below)

8 ounces Neufchatel reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1 can chickpeas, 15 oz, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon miso (you can find it at Nature’s Bounty. Maybe Ingles? If you want to substitute it try tahini and salt instead)

2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice

Minced parsley

Mince garlic in food processor. With the motor running, add each ingredient until smooth. Garnish with parsley.


Adapted from Passionate Vegetarian, 2002.


William and Marie

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Week 18 CSA







Hello all,
Another reminder to all Wednesday chicken shares: tomorrow is the day to pick up your fresh pasture chicken. If you have a chicken share and you usually pick up your veggie box at Phifer or Nysie’s on Wednesdays, please come to the farm for veggies and chicken.

Important dates for the CSA: This is 18th week out of the 20 week CSA. The last veggie and egg CSA date is Wednesday, September 29th or Saturday, October 2nd. Please remember that you are all invited to the CSA Farm Day on Saturday September 25th for a beautiful fall afternoon of farm fun. The last chicken CSA pick-up is Wednesday October 13th from 4-6 pm.

It has been gorgeous dry, clear, dry, cool, dry, breezy, and dry weather. While we can’t complain too much about the weather we could stand a little more rain. Luckily enough we timed our last several plantings in the garden with the wet days we have gotten.
Our fall transplants of boc choi, chinese cabbage, lettuce, and kale are standing in vibrant green rows out in the field. However, you wouldn’t notice their bright little sprouts against the brown soil at first. What catches your eye are the giant white caterpillars, well not really caterpillars, but that’s what we call them. We have metal hoops about waist high and about 6 feet across from foot to foot. We set the hoops up over our garden beds and stretch a white spun fabric over them. Many of you have seen this row cover at the farm or in our photos. Right now we are using a lightweight cover for insect protection. Later in the fall we will switch to a heavy weight fabric for frost protection. Currently we have three of these hoops side by side running the 120 foot length of the field.
It is like entering another world when you lift the edge of these hoops and look under. The wind doesn’t blow; the air is moister and a little warmer. It’s like a little protected vegetable haven. Under each hoop are two beds separated by a narrow pathway. And down the beds are our little rows of bright green fall vegetables. Their green is almost incongruous with this time of year. Most grass, trees, and other plants are the dark rich, tried green of late summer. But not the vegetables, they have the bright almost neon green of spring in their leaves.
We tried something new with spinach this fall. Spinach is notorious for its poor germination. Ask almost any farmer or gardener about spinach and they will either tell you they have trouble growing it, or they have no trouble because of some complicated scheme they devised to make it work. Our new complicated scheme is to place the seeds between damp paper towels. We then put the towels in a plastic bag in a dark cool place for about three days. At this point almost all the seeds have germinated! They had little roots less than a quarter inch long. I then made small trenches about 1 inch deep and put the seeds down the bottom. I was afraid that the seeding might break off the roots and that the seed wouldn’t be able to regrow. But hey, farming is about trying new things. Next I put fish emulsion across them to give a little boost. Then I tamped the soil back over the seeds. Today we have rows of spinach with their two cotyledons (false leaves) reaching upward. Now the battle with the insects begins. We hope to win that one with the help of cooler nights. With any luck we will have some delicious spinach in a few weeks. Just in time for the last CSA week? We certainly hope it will grow quickly for Week 20, our last CSA box.

Week 18 box
New this week!
Stir-Fry mix (can also be used as a spicy salad mix)
Chop roughly and lightly stir fry in dishes the last few minutes. It is also good added to quiches. If eaten raw treat kind of like arugula-eat alone or add to lettuce for a peppery spice. It’s great with feta cheese too.
Some old favorites
Cherry tomatoes-
Tomatoes- all of the tomatoes are winding down with the cool days, love them now, because they are leaving us soon!
Eggplant- maybe? We’ll see what pops out of the garden tomorrow morning
Peppers
Basil- Lots of flowers now- soak flowers in honey for a wonder flavor
Look forward to Swiss chard soon!

Pasta with Mizuna and Sausage
Mizuna is one of the primary greens in our stir-fry mix. I love its peppery flavor more than other spicy greens like arugula. Use stir-fry mix in this recipe (I thought it sounded better with Mizuna in the title) Feel free to substitute the sausage with cooked mushrooms.
1 large onion, cut into ¼ inch slices
1 tbl sp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup chicken broth
½ lb-1 lb of your choice of sausage, mostly cooked- a little pink is fine,
½ cup roasted peppers, cut into bite-size pieces
1 bag of Stir-fry mix, leaves chopped into 2 inch pieces, stems diced into ½ pieces
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
12 oz medium bow tie pasta
¼ shredded Parmesan cheese or Manchego
½ tsp. freshly cracked pepper

1. In a large skillet cook onion in oil until tender. Stir in garlic, broth, sausage, roasted peppers. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Add greens; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until greens are wilted. Remove from heat.
2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Toss pasta with sausage mixture, basil, cherry tomatoes,cheese, and black pepper.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Week 17 CSA

Hello all,
We love hearing all of your wonderful food and farm stories. Thanks for sharing- nice stories with good food, family, and friends!

Some business
• Please return your boxes! Thank you for all the returned egg cartons and tomato pints
• We are taking deposits for pork and lamb packages. If you aren’t sure now, there will be another chance in December.
• Don’t forget the CSA day on Saturday September 25 from 4-6:30pm. Please include the number of people you expect in your party in your RSVP. We look forward to a glorious fall afternoon at the farm.

Sometimes while farming we try things that we really don’t know if they will work or not. On Monday we tried combining our younger pigs with the big ones. The younger pigs have spent the last 6 weeks or so in a corral with a small run on it. We were moving them by herding them to the pig area in the woods. Unfortunately, they had become very comfortable with their space and were reluctant to leave their home. Eventually we had to shut them out of their corral and shove them far enough away that they began to explore instead of trying to return. Of course there was one stubborn one that I had to pick up and carry about 20 feet through briar infested woods to get her moving.
Once they were on the road through the woods the little group of seven moved along pretty well. As soon as the big pigs noticed the little ones walking toward them through the woods they leapt to their feet and ran to their fence snorting, “barking” and sniffing. The little pigs, surprisingly enough were not particularly intimidated. I say surprising because the labels “little” and “big” pigs are no exaggeration here. As I mentioned the little ones are still pick-up-able, about 90 lbs, albeit not very comfortably. The big pigs however, are approaching 300 pounds. The top of their back easily come up to mid-thigh on me. The little pigs can literally run between the legs of the big ones.
Once the little ones were in the fence with the big ones the curiosity of the large pigs turned into bullying. If the seven little ones stayed together over in one corner, they would be mostly left alone. But should they try to venture out the big ones would sneak up on them and start chasing trying to get a good bite out of the little ones ears. This culminated in all of the little pigs breaking out of the fence and having a little pig party in the woods. We thought we’d try it out- some pig herds can be mixed ages, but our big pigs don’t enjoy sharing. Now the little ones have their own paddock next to the big pigs. We hope they can sort out their differences across the fence and one day live in harmony. For now they enjoy being neighbors.

Week 17 box

Tomatoes
Eggplant
Cilantro- roasted peppers (poblanos) and cilantro with rice makes a great Mexican rice
Basil

Peppers- lots of peppers this week- The peppers aren’t ripening anymore with the cool nights, so we are picking big ones and letting little ones grow before frost!
Sweet bell peppers- roast these peppers for bistro-style sandwiches, dips, steaks

Poblano peppers
- sweet and rich flavor, medium spicy, best flavor roasted
This person has an amazing collection of poblano recipes that I love: http://poblanorecipes.blogspot.com/#111335279721479951

Corno di Torro
- sweet Italian heirloom pepper, great for frying or roasting

Feel free to freeze them! How about halving and freezing them ? (takes up less room in your freezer) or better yet, chop roughly and freeze.
Make your own roasted peppers: Roasting peppers is simple. You may roast chopped peppers or char and blacken the entire chile or pepper with intense heat or direct flame. That means you can roast a poblano, chile, pepper, jalepeno or anything else with a gas grill, charcoal grill, gas stove range, electric or gas broiler.
Chop roughly into pieces , place on a baking sheet, and roast at 350 F for about 20-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. The longer they cook, the more the peppers will caramelize. Make sure to use a “freezer” bag, not storage bag if freezing the peppers.
Here’s a quick way to knock out a batch of whole roasted peppers. Place the peppers or chiles with stems under a very hot grill or put the peppers or chiles on a baking sheet under a preheated broiler until the skin blisters slightly and is black in spots, about 5 minutes on each of two sides. Place in a large bowl with a towel over it until cool enough to handle; this steams the skin off. Peel most of the skin off. Don’t rinse the flavor away! Use a paper towel if needed! The pepper can then be used for days in many dishes. Or freeze for later.


Recipe:
Rustic Ciabatta Pizza

This late summer rustic pizza owes its style to the rich flavors of late summer, the days the vegetables have spent soaking up the sun- their personality blends so well with ciabatta bread and olive oil.
3-4 small ciabatta loaves or 1 large loaf
Eggplant
Pepper
Tomato
Basil
Shredded mozzarella or feta
Olive oil
Sea salt
***the ratio of the vegetables depends on everyone’s personal tastes***
Cut eggplant into thin rounds or coins and spread very thinly across a baking pan. Brush lightly with olive oil. Chop peppers roughly into pieces and spread across a baking pan. Place both pans into a 350 F oven for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the tomato and sprinkle with sea salt. Chop the basil. Slice ciabatta in half and brush with olive oil. Layer eggplant, pepper, tomato, basil on ciabatta halves. Top with cheese and basil and bake for 12 minutes.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Week 16 CSA

Hello all,

Week 16 box

Edamame- The second and very last week of this sweet and delish baby soybean. Pluck the pods from the stems. Steam or boil the pods for 4 minutes. Splash with soysauce. The sweet beans will just pop out. This was our first time to grow them and it went very well! Next year, I’m growing lots more- they are packed with flavor AND nutrients. The plants are enthusiastic producers of the beans.

Eggplant- There are 3 possible types you may get (a medium round type, a long and skinny type, and a tiny purple and white type.) Yes, they are strange looking veggies. But oh that meaty flavor! These types of eggplants are not like grocery store eggplants. Ours are Asian types that are never bitter and cook quickly. In fact I took a long and skinny eggplant, poked a dozen holes all over the skin with a small knife and stuck it in the microwave for about 2 minutes. It steams the eggplant very nicely without damaging the nutritional content (I checked). I then let it cool down enough to handle them. Cube into ½ inch pieces and mix into tomato sauce with chopped basil.

Tomatoes- Did you know that William had never had a Tomato and Mayonnaise sandwich until today? I can’t believe it. He wouldn’t eat it on white bread either- he had wheat. His personal summer tomato sandwich is tomato and cheddar on wheat bread. It’s placed open faced under the broiler for 30 seconds and then put together as a sandwich. It’s really good!

Cherry Tomatoes- Chop basil and mix with 1 tbl spoon lemon juice to prevent browning. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and oregano. Let the flavors blend for at least 15 minutes. You can eat it like alone, spoon over Italian bread and broil, or toss with pasta and other veggies. (Pull out that food processor and find the special slicing blade if you have it! I have a slicing blade that cuts a entire of pint of cherries in perfect halves in about 20 seconds. )

Peppers- Make sure to freeze some if you can’t use them all at once. You can throw the entire peppers in a quart freezer bag. They sauté nicely with onions and sausage in the winter. (They don’t hold their structure perfectly, but it’s great for a cooked down sauté over rice or on a bun.)

Basil- Try it with the cherry tomatoes above! Also, try the flowers soaked in a light colored honey like clover honey. You can drizzle the infused honey over lots over things like figs, sliced peaches, cornbread, crepes, buckwheat pancakes.

My first adventure of the week since I last wrote began just hours after Wednesday CSA pick-up. We had finally arranged for a load of beautiful horse manure to be brought to our vegetable field so I headed over to meet the truck and show it where to dump. It was supposed to be a quick project (this is the way many farm projects begin). However, I soon learned that the dump truck they brought the manure in was a very special sort of dump truck, specifically a dump truck that does not dump. Needless to say we spent a good hour trying various methods to unload the truck. In the end we faced the inevitable and got out the shovels. But all is well that ends well and now we have our first load of manure in our field for next year’s crops.

We have discovered that we have a rare breed of climbing pigs! Our younger pigs here on the farm are so eager for any compost we might be bringing them that they have developed the ability to climb up to a standing position using the fence panels of their corral. They love to investigate the sound of running water when we fill their water tank. They use their noses to dig all around the bottom of the tank searching for the source of that tantalizing sound. Just watch out if you get in with them-they love eating shoelaces and nibbling on clothes.

If you aren’t careful farming can be a very isolating occupation. Animals and plants require attention every day. On top of that there is always the next thing to be done so it is all too easy to work, work, work. No matter how much one loves what they do, it is tiring to do it non-stop. A wonderful way to break the routine (while still convincing ourselves that we are working) is through “continuing education.” We had a great weekend of reuniting with several old friends from school who are undertaking various farming ventures of their own. We got to swap chicken raising methods with a friend who worked for Joel Salatin and now has her own place in Virginia. We also spent time with a friend working on several organic vegetable farms in the triangle area. To cap it all off today we attended a field day at a NC state organic field research station. There we learned about the development of disease resistant tomatoes, grafting tomatoes, growing fall broccoli, and the efficacy of various weed control methods.

Talking and cooperation are not always traits that come easily to people, especially independent type-A farmer personalities. But an open dialog between farmers, consumers, wholesalers, government researchers and regulators, and of course farmers talking to other farmers, is one of the biggest changes needed in our food system today. Our food is, more often than not, produced behind closed doors (closed even to regulators as is evident from the latest egg recall). Farmers are hesitant (or even prevented by agreements with companies such as Tyson) from sharing ideas with each other or with their customers. It is a system designed to bamboozle, confuse, and hide. It hides environmental destruction, health safety problems, corporate profits, destroyed rural communities, and societal health impacts.

A great NC organization that works to promote the kind of dialog we need is the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. They provide action alerts on food legislation that could harm small farmers, work to educate consumers, and especially promote farmer to farmer networking. Their biggest event of the year is a conference held each December to bring farmers from all over the Carolinas (and sometimes further afield) together to participate in workshops, network, and squeeze in some socializing. We hope to attend this year’s conference in Winston-Salem to continue our “continuing education.” If you are interested in learning more about the organization check out their website at http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/index.shtml

We thank you for your willingness to make the harder choice. Instead of being spoon fed corn syrup you have made a conscience decision know your food, know your farmers, and know your farm. We thank you.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Week 15 Aug. 25

Hello all,
The last few mornings have been almost chilly! At least that’s how my sun baked body feels as the temperatures plummeted to the high 60’s.
The mix of cooler weather and regular moisture has been great for our transplants. The chard, Chinese cabbage, and broccoli we set out last week are all slowly taking root. The first week or so of a transplant’s life takes place very quietly. When they are first set out the shift in moisture usually causes almost all the leaves to collapse. The leaves perk up after a generous watering, but then nothing. By all outward appearances the plants seem to do very little for a few days to a week. But during this time they are sending their roost out beyond the bounds of their former world-the soil block-and into the great wide world of soil. As the plant’s roots recover and grow they begin sending nutrients back up to the plant. Then, usually without our noticing, the plants begin to grow and before we know it we are looking at a big row of broccoli.
But let’s back up a step. I said the roots send up nutrients to the plant. But they can only send nutrients if they are present in the soil. As we discovered this year, the soil at Silver Creek (the big veggie field up the creek from us) has some serious nutrient deficiencies. It seems (I say seems because with soil you never really know) that our most serious deficiency is potassium. From what we have read potassium deficiency leads to small stems, poor internal water regulation, and a general lack of vigor-all things we observed. To add potassium in the short term we found an organic, water soluble, liquid concentrate that we can apply as a foliar spray. Our long term solution is that we will apply granite dust this fall. The granite dust will slowly break down in the soil releasing potassium (and other minerals) as it does.
The other step we have taken to improve our plants’ health is to apply a high calcium lime. This simultaneously addresses our acidic (low pH) soil and low calcium problem. We hope that these steps and others will help us to continue to improve the quality, flavor, and health of our vegetables.
On a sad note we have conceded defeat to the squash bugs. For a time we hand-picked eggs, larvae, and adults; we tried a few sprays to knock back the population, and we performed wild anti-squash bug dances. But in the end their sheer numbers overtook our already heat stressed plants. At this point even if we did manage to somehow kill all the squash bugs off there is little hope of actually getting any squash.
Week 15 box
New this week
Eggplant! Colorful, tender, sweet (never bitter) Asian types. No salt water soaks are required- just slice or dice and use them in sautés, stir-fry, and for grilling. More to harvest in the coming weeks. It’s my absolute favorite. Try it marinated with herbs and olive oil and grilled. It absorbs flavors very easily. My Hmong neighbor at the Morganton Farmer’s Market likes it stir-fried with sweet onions, peppers, lemon grass, and basil over rice. See more recipes below.
Edamame soy beans! Crazy twigs with delicious little soybean pods. We will have them for 2 weeks.
Continuing favorites
Tomatoes
Cherry Tomatoes
Peppers- Red and Green bell peppers and long Corno di Toro sweet frying peppers
Basil
Cilantro- large fan leaves and fine feathery leaves

Edamame Cooking tips Many of you have had the delicious edamame appetizers at sushi restaurants where you pop the tender, sweet, succulent soybeans out of their shells. Well, now you can have the freshest edamame pods ever at home! They are simple to make and very high in protein, folic acid, omega fatty acids, and other micronutrients.
Pull the pods from the stems of the plant. Use a steamer basket or have a colander ready. Boil about 2 quarts of water to rolling boil. Boil covered for 4 minutes. The pods will be bright green. Drain and rinse briefly. Place in shallow serving bowl with several glugs of soy sauce. (We use about 3 tblspoons of low sodium soy sauce)
Serve warm or cold as an appetizer or as a side dish with dinner. The little pods will pop right open as you eat them. If there are leftovers, take some to work the next day for lunch.

Eggplant recipe:
Pasta and Veggies in Tomato Cream-
12 oz. penne pasta
1 medium eggplant or several small ones, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
2 cups sliced Portobello mushrooms or (1/2 lb Shiitake mushrooms from Muddy Creek Farm
2 red bell peppers, coarsely chopped- 1 inch
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbl snipped fresh oregano or ½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ cup olive oil
1 28 oz. jar of pasta sauce
Dash ground red pepper
1/3 cup whipping cream
Chopped fresh basil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook pasta, drain, set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a shallow roasting pan combine eggplant, onion, mushrooms, garlic, half of the amount of fresh or dried oregano, and the olive oil. Toss to coat veggies. Roast uncovered for 15 to 25 minutes or until veggies are tender, stirring once. Remove from oven. Stir in cooked pasta.
3. Meanwhile, in medium saucepan, combine pasta sauce, remaining oregano, ground red pepper and fresh black pepper. Bring to simmer, simmer uncovered for 10 min. Remove from heat. Stir in whipping cream.
4. Pour sauce over pasta mixture, tossing gently to coat.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Week 14

Hello all,

A bit of business first… Please pick up your boxes at your designated CSA site at the correct day and time. It is very inconvenient for us and for our site hosts when boxes are not picked up on time or simply abandoned. We need to receive notice by EMAIL at least 2 DAYS IN ADVANCE. Please do not call, unless there is a last minute problem. Email.

Please reply to this email to order a nice big bunch of basil for NEXT WEEK (not this week!) to make a batch of pesto. 2 SIZES: BIG AND GIANT -enough basil for about 2 cups of leaves / 4 cups of leaves.

Could it be that fall is just around the corner? We notice the mornings are darker. In fact, they are dark enough that chores can’t start until 6:15-a whole 15 minutes later! Even though it doesn’t feel any cooler in the sticky August air, it hasn’t actually broken 90 out here on the farm for the last four days or so.

In case we couldn’t tell it was fall by the weather, the calendar tells us it is. At the end of July we started out fall Swiss Chard. The hot and humid weather caused some fungus problems with the young transplants, but many survived. Today we were out in the garden planting our babies. It is great to see little rows of greens in the ground again. Its time for transplanting again!

We need to get these fall greens in now because before we know it days will be short and nights will be cold. At that point the plants really won’t do much growing. So we need them to be large enough to harvest right around the time of first frost. The trick is dealing with the late summer pests. We sprayed a cocktail of items to give them a fighting chance: fish emulsion for nutrients, Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) for caterpillar pests, and a kaolin clay to word off sucking insects and provide some “sunscreen” cooling the surface of the plants. To cap it all off we pulled out some of the white row cover you heard so much about in the spring. That will help exclude insects from the garden bed.

On the animal front I had an amusing task yesterday. We needed to estimate the weight of our hogs to see if we could take them to the butcher a month earlier. Since we have no scale we use a measuring tape much like tailors use to fit people for clothes. But this tape measures the pigs length and heart girth (the roundness just behind their front legs). With these two numbers we can estimate their weight. Our friendly pigs really enjoy attention. This usually makes the measuring easier. However, they have been spending their days totally covered in mud to cool off. Then they like to scratch on trees-or people. So as I measured around the pig’s bellies they were trying to rub on me. So I got to hug 200 lb, mud encrusted friendly pigs. Needless to say I needed a pre-rinse before coming in the house.

Today the pigs got an extra fun treat. I took down their fence and moved their paddock to the next space over. After some careful exploring to establish where I had placed the electric fence they started running around, and around, and around snorting and bucking. They thought it was great to be in a new space with fresh ground to root up. Incidentally, a new study has confirmed that pigs can express optimism and pessimism depending on their environment. Pessimistic pigs run from new stimulus while optimistic pigs move toward something new-our pigs are a bunch of sunshine!

Week 14 box

Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes- If you haven’t had a cherry tomato and feta basil salad yet, please do! Simply cut the cherry tomatoes in half and the larger ones in quarters with a serrated knife, drizzle with olive oil, crumbles of feta, and tiny ribbons of basil. Yum.

Roasted tomato basil and feta Pasta

Peppers- Red and green bell peppers AND sweet frying peppers “Corno di Torro” (Horn of the Bull)

Baby “Green” Beans, so nice and tender- just sauté in olive oil with other veggies. Add garlic, lemon juice, sea salt in the last 30 seconds.

Cilantro- Remember to keep in a little cup of water in the fridge. If your fridge is not humid (ie. the cilantro wilts) cover the cup and cilantro with a clear veggie bag.

Basil- What to do with those dainty little flowers? Snip them off and infuse some light colored honey with it! Add a few of sprigs of flowers to about 4 tablespoons of honey. Infuse overnight. Serve with figs, apples, peaches, sweet potato pancakes- get creative!

“Extras”

We have processing tomatoes for sale for $1.50/lb at the farm.


Some Photos of the Farm


Chickens exploring


A chicken exhibiting its athleticism to catch an insect-too fast for the camera!

You know its time to be more social when buckets become your best friend

Flowers always brighten the day

Rain is nice, but it sure makes the grass grow!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August 3rd week 12

Everyone and everything at Bluebird Farm has enjoyed several days of cool, cloudiness with the temps not breaking 80 degrees. How refreshing! That meant the soil cooled down from 90 degrees to the mid 70’s. The plants loved the perfect soil temps and we’ve been watching the veggies and grass grow. It was also the perfect time to transplant more cilantro, the last succession of squash and cucumbers, and an attempt to get snow peas seeds to germinate. Hopefully these last squash and cuke plants will have good growing conditions and we will all swim in their fruits.


The flowers are putting on a show

This must be the Week of the Pepper! You have several types of peppers in your box this week. Not all peppers are bell peppers and not all are spicy- check out the Corno di Toro! Look for several recipes for them at the end of this newsletter. If you can’t use them all, try roasting them and freezing for a pleasant surprise in bean chili this winter.


Pepper Flower
In your box:

Heirloom tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

Cilantro

Basil

Cucumbers

Peppers- see below

What type of chiles and peppers are growing at Bluebird Farm right now?

Green bell peppers: sweet, versatile peppers that are picked before they have turned red or yellow. 2 types:


Red bell peppers: “Ace” is a productive plant- even through this heat that cause most others to drop their flowers! (no peppers if the flowers are dropped) We’ve been watching it develop larger and larger green bell peppers. There’s finally a handful of ripe red bell peppers coming on in the next weeks.

Clockwise from top: Jalopeno, Bell peppers, Coro di Toro, Poblano

Orange bell peppers: “California Golden Wonder” has been slow to grow and ripen, but offers a nice, small chunky pepper. Wait a few weeks to see if they ripen properly.

Long, Sweet Frying chile pepper: “Corno di Toro” or “Horn of the Bull” This highly regarded Italian heirloom is very popular for its sweet taste- never hot. For ease of slicing: try cutting across the whole pepper to make circles up the pepper and then remove the seeds if you wish.

Poblanos on left, Corno di Toro on right
Also try roasting!

Poblano: These are traditionally used for roasting and stuffing (Chile Rellanos is the most famous dish). From the Passionate Vegetarian, “Poblanos don’t offer a nice big cavity just dying to be stuffed. What they do offer is marvelous flavor- sweet, hot, with an undernote of chocolate- and an almost majestic color, a green so dark it’s nearly black. Their cavity is small and triangular; stuffing them is more like filling a small flat purse than a cup. Still, they are not to be missed”
Jalapeño: Small and wedge shaped- Some people love them and others don’t! You may leave the seeds and membrane in for the most heat.

Jalapeño: Small and wedge shaped- Some people love them and others don’t! You may leave the seeds and membrane in for the most heat.

Jalapenos in various states of ripeness

I love roasted chiles! I was first introduced to a freshly roasted chile while staffing a farmer’s market in Colorado for the ranch I was working on. My first bite was of a “Big Jim” chile stuffed with fresh soft sheep cheese, and it was love at first bite! The smells of the propane chile roaster rotating and flame roasting the chiles filled the air, bringing the locals to declare that the heights of summer had arrived!

Roasting chiles is simple. You char and blacken the chile or pepper with intense heat or direct flame. That means you can roast a poblano, chile, pepper, jalepeno or anything else with a gas grill, charcoal grill, gas stove range, electric or gas broiler.

Here’s a quick way to knock out a batch. Place the peppers or chiles with stems under a very hot grill or put the peppers or chiles on a baking sheet under a preheated broiler until the skin blisters slightly and is black in spots, about 5 minutes on each of two sides. Place in a large bowl with a towel over it until cool enough to handle; this steams the skin off. Peel most of the skin off. Don’t rinse the flavor away! Use a paper towel if needed! The pepper can then be used for days in many dishes. Or freeze for later.

Preparing for Stuffing : Cut a slit lengthwise from under the stem to the end point. Delicately scrape any seeds than can be easily removed. Stuff with your favorite stuffing.

Preparing for dicing: Cut a slit lengthwise from under the stem to the end point. Remove the stem, seeds and membrane. Slice and dice.

Or try this relish recipe
Peppers Stuffed with Chile Grits

Try this richly flavored recipe with roasted poblanos, green chiles or bell peppers or even an assortment of peppers! The piquant flavors of roasted peppers melt into the satisfying thick comfort of chile grits. Serve with chips ,salsa, and sour cream or plain yogurt next to shredded lettuce or cabbage.

Note: Have peppers or chiles prepared beforehand. Also note that the peppers are not baked after they are stuffed! I cook the grits while the onion is cooking to save time. Follow the directions on the package. It’s okay to use “quick” grits, just make sure to get plain flavored, watch the amount of sodium in the package, and make them thick!

1 tablespoon oil

2 medium onions, diced

1/2 tablespoon ground coriander

2 cups corn kernels, fresh, frozen or canned

1 clove garlic

1 cup thick cooked grits or polenta

3 tablespoons roasted, diced green chiles or poblanos, or more to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

6 or 7 roasted poblanos or green chiles or (3 medium bell peppers- prepared for stuffing)

Heat the oil over medium heat, add onion and sauté for 4 minutes. Add ground coriander and corn and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add garlic, grits (or polenta), diced green chile, and stir to combine. The filling will need to be thick enough to stick together somewhat. If it’s not, cook and gently stir until thick.

Stuff the peppers or chiles and serve.

Chile Cheese Grits: Add ½ cup shredded cheese to the chile grit mixture and stir to combine

Good thing your farmers are so cool



Silly sheep enjoying new eats. Can you find the odd ewe in the photo below?


July 28 Week 11

Hello all,

Maybe the end of July is a taste of weather to come: Cooler days and regular rain (now just cross your fingers that we don’t get too much moisture causing rots and fungi). We sure hope so because we are already thinking fall. Our greenhouse is full again with trays of baby vegetables. Swiss chards are poking their colorful heads out of the ground, broccolis are stretching, and just behind is kale, lettuce, and cabbage. Can you remember crisp greens? We do! Some of these greens and veggies will be ready in late September and keep going until well after frost into the winter. Did I just say frost and winter? Yes, we’re always thinking of the seasons here. Matter of fact, we will be picking up some high quality hay on Friday for the horse and the sheep. Stocking up on hay from the 1st cutting from this spring. The next cutting of hay this summer won’t be as plentiful because of the dry overwhelming heat. I think the pigs are the only ones who haven’t noticed the heat. They just hang out in their muddy piggy “spa” all day in the shady woodlot pasture.

Chicken Notice

While the weather may have cooled off in the past few days, our chickens were growing up in the middle of the heat wave. In the hot weather they don’t eat as much and consequently are a little smaller than usual. So we will be delaying butcher day. The 3rd CSA chicken pick up will be Wednesday August 11.

Speaking of chickens, we want to hear if you have any favorite recipes you’ve been using with the chickens. We also want to hear if you have had any challenges cooking the whole birds. Marie is considering a chicken cutting and cooking workshop if there are enough folks interested.

Lamb

Our 100% grass fed will be available at the farm during CSA pick-up. Please ask if you would like to purchase some delicious lamb burger. We also have packages consisting of 2 packs of chops, 1 leg roast, and 4 lbs ground lamb. Respond to this email to reserve your package! These packages cost about $80. We are giving the CSA first choice to purchase these packages. We have a very limited supply so you will need to pick it up this Wednesday or Saturday at the Morganton Farmers Market after reserving your lamb.

Week 11 box

Tomatoes

Sweet Peppers (bell peppers and two pointy varieties: lipstick and Corno di toro) Taste that flavor- more than just “sugar water” Don’t get me wrong, I love a sweet pepper, but these peppers have soul! Cross your fingers for ripening peppers... They take forEVER to ripen. You get the least amount of rot if you harvest green instead of red or yellow.

Squash or Zucchini

Basil-Layer a slice of bread or bagel with tomato and leaves of basil, then top with cheddar cheese slices and broil until cheese is melted.

Cucumber (this week we are getting more of our interesting varieties. This may be the first time some of you receive Ruby Wallace Old Time White or Lemon Cucumbers. Both of these cukes are small with light skin: white with yellow tints. Don’t be fooled by the strange looks though, they are delicious and sweet- even with their skin on!) Slice into rounds, sprinkle with a touch of salt and sugar, a splash of vinegar, and some chopped cilantro.

Scallions- mild and sweet, best used for raw dishes for mild onion flavor, like in potato salad

Cilantro- zesty, with the taste of a fiesta! We pulled this one off- cilantro hates hot weather, but we did it! We grew it here at Bluebird, it’s amazing what healthy, fertile soils can achieve!

New Potatoes (large share only) The skins are very tender. No need to peel. Please wash and towel dry if you need to store them in your fridge for more than a few days!

Recipe: Refrigerator Pickles

If your cucumbers have been building up in the fridge fresh pickles are a great way to turn them into a delicious treat. We have also eaten pickled squash that is every bit as good as pickled cucumbers. Maybe you can mix squash and cucs for a colorful pickle mix.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups white sugar (personally I prefer less sugar, but this is up to you)
  • 6 cups sliced cucumbers
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 1 cup sliced green bell peppers

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil. Boil until the sugar has dissolved, about 10 minutes.
  2. Place the cucumbers, onions and green bell peppers in a large bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables. Transfer to sterile containers. Let marinade overnight for the best flavor. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week (if they last that long).

Have a great week!

William and Marie

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Week 10

Hello all,
I thought that this morning I would bring you out to Bluebird farm. Don’t worry, you can leave before the hot, hot afternoon!

6 am

Out the door. I’m still loosening up my shoulders, neck, and fingers. Every morning those three places are the sorest. Walking to feed the cats and up the hill to the chickens is usually enough to warm up my legs.

6:05

Cats are fed. Now comes the hardest part of the morning. I haven’t developed a system of writing down the things I noticed I needed for the next morning’s chores. So I am left to scratch my sleepy head for a moment remembering who needs food and water. I love it when I remember that we are fully stocked.

6:07

This is the part of the walk I usually remember that I forgot something. Today, nothing! I hate turning around.

6:10-7

Open, move, feed, and water meat birds and layer hens. Stroll past the pigs on my way back down for breakfast. Marie has taken care of the baby chickens and started the eggs. Mmmm, by this time I am hungry and sweaty already.


Our hard working truck, loaded and ready for action!

8 am

On the road to Silver Creek Farm

Now is when the day really starts. We head over to Silver Creek farm to work in the vegetable garden before it is unbearable hot. These days there is usually something to harvest every day. Most of the greens we harvest in the spring can hold in the field until we need to pick them for market or CSA. The summer crops on the other hand just keep ripening. Squash, beans, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes all need to be picked every other day or we will find baseball bat squashes, tough beans, and rotten peppers and tomatoes.

Our day often begins by starting the irrigation pump

After the vegetables are in the shade we move on, usually to weeding. While we weed we are constantly scouting for potential problems so that we can address them as soon as possible. These days we are on the lookout for a wide variety of insect “friends.” While the spring rampage of Colorado Potato Beetles has dissipated summer pests are out in force. Cucumber beetles, squash bugs, squash vine borer beetles, stink bugs, bean beetles, tomato horn worms, and a variety of unknown worms are all causing us difficulties. Our primary line of defense against insects is old fashioned hand picking. When we fall behind neem oil and Bassilus Thuringiensus (Bt) help keep the insects at bay.


I hate weeds!

The neem oil, essential oil from the Indian neem tree, also acts as a fungicide. Hot, humid weather provides ideal conditions for many funguses including blossom end rot on tomatoes and a black fuzzy mold on our squashes. To apply oil, Bt and anything else we may need to spray on plant foliage we put on our “ghost buster” backpacks. They hold 4 gallons of liquid and use a hand pump and spray nozzle to pressurize and apply liquids to plant. They are a great tool for precession application of fertilizers, insecticides, and fungicides (all organic of course).

The dreaded bean beetle larva (the yellow fuzzy thing)

12:30

Time for lunch yet!?

By now it is almost too hot to function in the field. We are hungry, hot, tired, and usually a little grumpy. This is not a good time to come visit. Homeward bound to lunch and a nap. Rejuvenated we will catch up on inside work during the heat of the day before heading back out to move sheep, seed, more weeding, put up crow
deterrents….

A garden visitor

Week 10 box

Leeks
Basil
Tomatoes
Squash
Peppers (you have been getting various sweet green peppers. All peppers are green when unripe. They then reach a final color depending on the variety-red, orange, yellow… Being unripe fruit, green bell peppers have a sharper flavor compared to the sweet ripe fruits. Last week you also received some jalapeños-the small green pepper with purple mottling)

Recipes

Leeks

Leeks are a non-bulbing onion with a mild flavor. The white part of the leek is the sweetest. The greens are perfectly edible. The higher up you use the stronger the onion flavor. How much green to use is a matter of personal preference.

To prepare leeks Remove roots. Then slice half way through the leek along the length. Hold the leek upside down and rinse well. The growth habit of leeks means they tend to fill up with dirt as they grow so they need a good wash.

To cook either

Dice and sauté in butter to serve with just about anything.

Or try

Cutting the leeks into three inch lengths and sauté in butter. Then place the leeks on a piece of good bread, cover with a tomato slice, then top with gruyere or mozzarella cheese. Broil just long enough to melt the cheese.

Pesto version 1

Ingredients
1 big cup of basil leaves
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ tablespoons of pine nuts
3 tablespoons of original parmesan cheese
1 ½ medium sized garlic cloves

Directions

Crush the basil leaves using a mortar and pestle after washing the leaves carefully (they should not break before you start crushing them. Otherwise they might lose flavor).

Add the olive oil and mix it very well. When it starts to look like a paste add the garlic and the pine nuts and continue mixing all the ingredients.
After you obtain a nice puree season with salt and pepper and continue mixing for another 2-3 minutes. Now, add the parmesan cheese and again: mix it well.
Let the pesto rest before you use it, so the flavor will unfold. 10 minutes should be enough. Use it with your favorite pasta dish or try another dish, such as pesto chicken.

Pesto version 2

Ingredients

½ cup fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup walnuts or pine nuts
½ cup olive oil, approx.
Salt to taste

Directions same as version 1

Pesto Tips

Pesto can be made with almost any nut. I have had excellent pistachio pestos as well as roasted almond pesto.

A homemade pesto sauce should be kept in the fridge if you don’t use everything in the same day. You can store homemade pesto for about 1 week, if you cover it with olive oil.

To freeze pesto leave out the parmesan cheese. You can add the cheese after thawing. Divide pesto into meal size portions. Freeze in freezer bags.

Don't forget to stop and smell the basil!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Week 9

Hello all,

Hot and humid-but it rained!

A note on the cucumbers: Some of you have probably encountered some of our bitter cucumbers. The heat has worn the plants out. The tired plants send tiny packets of bitterness into the stem end of the cucumber fruit. Some of our varieties of cucumbers are more susceptible to this problem than others. Unfortunately, the bitter plants are the most productive. Last September, William and I enjoyed the amazing earthy taste of the Emperor Alexander cukes. A small number of plants (12!) dumped buckets of sweet cucumbers in that steady, pleasant weather. Now, that same type of plant is producing some of the bitter culprits. Good news, the dark green Straight 8’s, bright white mini cukes, and Little Leaf (mini cukes) are all delicious. Bad news, those varieties make up only 25% of the plants we have in the garden. AND…because of the weather and the fertility issues (overall stress) all of the plants have very little fruit. Those 12 plants last fall would have kept the boxes full of cukes, this summer we have over 150 plants and they aren’t producing properly!!!

Other plant also have trouble when the temperatures get about 90 degrees. Tomatoes and peppers have trouble turning flowers into fruit- (We have 10 tomato plants for every CSA member and over 10 pepper plants for every CSA member!). Frustrating, but can’t complain about the soaring temperatures and dry, crispy weather too much, right? Complaining about it doesn’t get me very far when there is still work to do!

One of the great parts of a diversified vegetable farm is that even when some crops are struggling, others are doing alright. I am absolutely in love with the cherry tomatoes plants. Even if it is more labor to pick them, they are worth it! You can taste summer as you eat the sweet juiciness of the Sungold’s and Black Cherry’s. Their colors of shining gold brilliance and deep earthy red fire beckon me as I pick them from the shimmering tomato vines. Those colors, combined with their productiveness, make me feel at peace in the garden. This is the rhythm I want to see in mid-summer.

On Monday the rain came! I was harvesting tomatoes when the first cool drops fell. I picked the cherry tomatoes faster, making sure I picked any fruit that might swell and burst from absorbing the potential downpours. William cruised through the large heirloom tomatoes, plucking plump globes from the vines. I felt like I should burst into song and pop out into a Bollywood movie set in the middle of a long awaited monsoon. Oh the joy of being soaked by gentle rains after over a month with crispy, dusty soil. We would like to request a little more rain like that, once a week would be perfect.

The rain will also provide a much needed boost to our cover crops. These are non-vegetable crops preceding and following the vegetables. They perform a myriad of tasks in the garden from suppressing weeds to attracting beneficial insects to building soil. We have planted to buckwheat, cowpeas, and millet in areas where spring crops have been removed (they are all food crops, but we are going to till them back into the soil for organic matter).
Our second succession of “green” beans has stated to produce! This week you will find a colorful mix of yellow, green and some purple beans in your box.

A simple, delicious recipe for them is:

Green beans sautéed with lemon

Ingredients

Green beans
Olive oil
Garlic-2-3 cloves
Lemon juice-2-3 tablespoons
Parmesan cheese-2-3 tablespoons

Directions:

Wash beans. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Cook beans until they are hot through (the fresh beans don’t need much cooking, only heating). When the beans are hot add 2-3 cloves of crushed or finely diced garlic. Add lemon juice to taste (about 2-3 tablespoons). Stir until flavors are blended. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Stir in cheese. Serve as a side with just about anything.

Week 9 box

Beans
Garlic
Potatoes (try rosemary roasted potatoes with the bean recipe above)
Rosemary
Swiss chard (for those of you who did not receive it last week)
Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Squash and Zucchini
Green peppers

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Week 8

“Does it smell like fish yet?” That was the question of the night Tuesday. At first we weren’t sure if we could smell fish, but in the end we had success-we had stinky fish smell in our irrigation water! Why, you might wonder, would we celebrate malodors in our irrigation water? What it meant is that we had successfully used the siphon system for injecting fertilizer into the irrigation system at the farm. Now, we don’t have to carry heavy backpack sprayers full of fish on our back slowly spraying plants. We are able to practically run up and down the rows fertilizing. We are fertilizing with Neptune’s Harvest Organic fish emulsion, a good product manufactured from fish processing byproducts from the North Atlantic fish industry. In the long run we hope to design a system of cover crops and rotations that allow us to grow much of our fertility in place. But as you all know, new ground sometimes requires short term solutions to bridge the gap to the long term ideal.

Thank you all for your words of support after last week’s email. It is so encouraging to hear your positive energy and commitment to local, fresh, and healthy food. I think of some of your emails and conversations several times a day as we try to work out solutions to each challenge we face. The fish emulsion fertigation (fertilizing + irrigating) is one of those success stories.

If “does it smell like fish?” was the question of the night then “The sheep are out again!” was the exclamation of the night. Unfortunately, the bad sheep have learned the tricks to getting out of our fencing. Part of the problem is the lack of high quality grass, so they are never happy. As many of you have undoubtedly noticed it is rather hot and dry. With our irrigation systems we are able to grow our vegetables with no water issues. However, unlike Colorado, no one in the South East is equipped to irrigate pastures. It is simply an unjustified expense in our rainy climate. We hope to revisit that rainy climate sooner rather than later. We (and the sheep) welcome some soothing, soaking rains to gently wake and invigorate the grass.

Week 8 box

Your first taste of Tomatoes! We have a wide variety of types from slicing tomatoes, to thick, meaty tomatoes for cooked dishes, to sweet cherry tomatoes. We will try to rotate varieties among the whole CSA. If you receive cherry tomatoes please return the pint container clean and dry for reuse. The thick, meaty tomatoes are usually long shaped with thick walls and are small (quarter size) to large (5 inches tall). These Roma type tomatoes are for dicing into pasta but they are also great for quartering and salting- then adding to salads.

Cucumbers

Squash

Scallions

Basil- Thai, use basil for a flower arrangement, but also use the leaves! The purple flowers can be soaked in maple syrup for infused flavor! Drizzle that over some pork or grilled veggies in the last 30 seconds of cooking for a glaze.

Green Pepper- small, but flavorful- those thick walls sure are difficult to obtain!

Half of the boxes will receive Swiss Chard-Next week the other half can look forward to Swiss chard (we have to give it a longer regrowing period in this hot weather)

Large Shares only-Green beans

Cucumber Yogurt Salad

This is one of my favorite quick dishes for a hot day. Flavors can be adjusted for personal taste.

Cucumber

Plain yogurt

Dill- ***Sometimes we also add coriander ***

Salt

Garlic or Scallions

Either Peel and slice or Peel and grate the cucumber. Salt the cucumber and place in a colander to drain for about 15 minutes

Dice or crush several cloves of garlic

Or

Dice several scallions

Add as much garlic of scallion as you like-personal preference for this varies widely

After Cucumbers have drained mix with yogurt

Mix in garlic or scallion

Add dill and salt to taste.

This salad is a great side for a Mediterranean themed meal.