Thursday, December 8, 2011

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This box has squash, onions, garlic, shallots, beets, carrots, black radishes, potatoes, celery root, and maybe greens.

Field Notes. Ken is quite excited about our pulling the plastic on the new mobile high tunnel - he has been working on soil and getting beds ready for early planting. The weather was with us and we are grateful.

We took some time off, left town to visit my parents, and have not been home to monitor the weather. Our faithful farm sitter has kept the hoopettes closed. We left with many greens in the hoopettes, but the December harvest is dependent on the weather. Last year we got early snow and that acted as a blanket to keep soil temperatures and the produce warm enough to survive through December. We have seen both snow and cold temperatures (usually under 15 without snow cover signals the end), but we will see on Tuesday. If we have greens, you will get them!

And now I move to tax prep and seed orders. I will be sending out an evaluation and request for deposit. We continue to work hard to plant only what we can sell - less waste as far as seed, effort, etc. We want to improve our winter offerings and serve our faithful members better next season. Thank you for all your input and support.
From the Kitchen. It is cook stove and oven weather now. Ken often gets up and bakes squash in the morning. We eat some and he makes soup or pie from the leftovers. We also bake apples and make apple crisp. We focus on warming soups and stews with root vegetables. At my parents' Ken made some cream soups, lamb stew, apple crisp, and I made my first batch of kale chips. They were really quite good -

During the winter Ken starts micro greens and those will appear in next month's box. We also start sprouts and add grated carrots and grated black radishes and celery root to sprout slaw salads.

Celery root is a winter favorite. I scrub. peel, and add a piece to whatever I am cooking - soup, stir fry, steamed vegetables- like I would add celery or celery leaves- a small amount goes a long way.

Kale Chips

For years people have raved about kale chips. I had my doubts. Well, while visiting my parents, we went to their favorite natural food store and kale was on sale - why not. So, after Ken had baked an apple crisp, I cranked up the oven to 400 and took washed dried kale that I had ripped into large pieces without the spines, and mixed with olive oil and a bit of salt. Then I placed them on a cookie sheet, popped into the oven. I checked and once they were crisp, removed to a rack to cool. They WERE good. And my mom thinks they would be great as a soup garnish - great color and texture.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mobile Hiigh Tunnel - The plastic is pulled!

What an exciting day last Friday! In the midst of Black Friday, deer hunting, and holiday travel, about twelve hearty volunteers from yoga co-students, tai chi students and teacher, CSA members, friends all came out to help pull the plastic on the new mobile greenhouse.

As usual I missed the big dramatic pull as I was cooking and directing people to site. But unlike the other big pull, I did get to participate. Once the plastic is pulled, it is stretched evenly into place and bent wire called wiggle wire is snapped into a metal channel to hold the plastic in place at the shoulder.

Then more wiggle wire is set in place to hold the plastic just above the crank part way down the sides. Then the plastic is trimmed and flipped so the straight, uncut edge can be placed and set with wiggle wire below the crank for a skirt.

Then sand bags are placed on the skirt to hold it down.

And ropes are zig zagged through loops on the sides.

Meanwhile brave height hearty folk climb up and down ladders to trim the plastic along the arches on the ends. Other people placed the lower skirts on the ends in place with more wiggle wire.

And these amazing people did ALL this in about two hours.

My main job was to reward them with food once the job was complete. We stuffed a squash with brown and wild rice with marinated pork, onion, and herbs. There was also cornbread, sauerkraut, bees with fennel, cultured vegetables, tossed green salad, apple crisp, squash pie, and more desserts brought by workers.

Ken has been working soil and getting ready for planting - hurrah and grateful thanks for all their help.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pork in the Freezer, Lard in the Jars

I picked up the pork yesterday and got it in the freezer. This morning Ken roasted bones for stock and rendered the lard. He got it all in the jars for me.

Many people have a negative attitude about lard. Lard like all animal fat will contain toxins when the animal has been fed or exposed to toxins - they are stored in the fat. BUT fat from animals fed a natural, non-toxic diet and that are outside in sunlight, contains high levels of vitamins A, D, E & K. This is in marked contrast to hydrogenated and denatured fats which irritate arteries and stimulate the body to increase cholesterol production.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ken in the Night

The other night I awoke and as I headed down the stairs, there was Ken and the cat at the computer!

Mobile High Tunnel Update

Ken has resumed work on the mobile high tunnel.  He had taken a break to catch up on harvest, fall plantings and other farm work.  He had not expected to be able to get back to the greenhouse, but the weather has been with him.

He worked on some bracing and then has been cutting pieces of end wall and installing them.   He is nearly finished!

Goose Herding in Snow

Ken had moved the geese to the field a few weeks back.  He moves them through areas and they clean up old crops and green manures.  This gives the yard a rest during the time the grass grows more slowly.

Saturday he, Jenny and I went out and moved them back in the snow.

Other than the two stragglers it was quite easy.

Now they are in their winter quarters, and once we have some snow, Ken will let them roam the yard.

Oscar the Wonder Dog

Oscar, our younger dog, had a surprise a couple weeks ago.  On Monday, November 7th, Ken went down to pull the fence posts from the pig yard.  Oscar was with him, but leapt ahead to chase a squirrel.  Ken heard a couple blodd curdling yelps, and as he approached Oscar, he noticed Oscar was on three legs and a stick!  Oscar had impaled himself on a sharp stick in the woods.  Ken pulled the stick from Oscar's right armpit - buried about three inches in.  Oscar limped to the house and lay down on a dog cushion.

Ken called our vet tech friend, and she explained that punctures need to drain - watch him and report back.  After some blood and clear fluid, Oscar seemed back to his old wild self.  Then Ken rigged up a towel so Oscar could not lick the wound and it would seal.  Oscar resembled an ox in yoke as the wide towel went under his neck and was tied above with string so the ends stuck up and out.

I am happy to report Oscar seems to be fine - only a small scar.  Oscar the Wild Dog!

Sorting the Winter Vegetables - the big ones!

Here we are - wrapping up outdoor tasks as it becomes an iffy thing once we get to Thanksgiving.

I have been sorting the vegetables to bury in sand in the root cellar.  And here are two that were huge.

When Jenny and Sean came out they were helping us with various tasks.  Jenny held this daikon so I could get a photo.

Monday, November 14, 2011

There are more hoopettes now
Greetings from the Garden!  This week's box has lettuce, salad and braising greens, broccoli and / or cauliflower, green peppers, carrots, onions, garlic and shallots, pie pumpkins, and sage.

Field Notes.  Ken says. "Nice to have such an elongated fall - doesn't put the push on things.  Always tough to predict..."  The mild fall means great greens.  Last year we had a very cloudy, rainy October, and there just was not enough sun for things to grow.  This year we have had mild temperatures and lots of sun - we could use some rain or snow.  Last year's early snow acted like a blanket and the frost did not go into the ground so we had greens late in fall and early in spring.

 Earlier work on the end wall with Bentley
The warn sunny weather meant Ken took a break from work on the mobile high tunnel to catch up on field work.  He has done so and now has returned to working on the mobile high tunnel.  He has tightened up supports and is now cutting and putting end wall pieces in place.  Once he has finished that all that remains is pulling the plastic.  Either we will do that this fall, or more probably next spring.  Ken plans to plant the stationary hoop in late winter and then the mobile with hot weather crops in spring.

From the Kitchen.  Thanksgiving and fall cooking have begun.  Ken bakes squash and then makes pie from any leftovers.  He also has been using up the utility apples in pies.  I continue steam juicing the apples and am trying some apple elderberry wine.   

The carrots in this box are small or oddly shaped - they don't make the cut for root cellaring, but there is no compromise of flavor.  Maybe glazed carrots for Thanksgiving?  We also include a few shallots in the box as some of the best stuffing we ever had was made with our shallots - great idea.  And of course we include pie pumpkins and sage for the season.

The stationary tunnel has provided us with green peppers for Thanksgiving - this is a first.  And we may even have a tomato for each box.

At this time of thanks giving, we wish to express our thanks for all your support.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This box has lettuce, salad and braising greens, cabbage, beets, winter squash, shallots, garlic, onions, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and apples.

Field Notes. Fall is here - longer, cooler nights.  Ken is harvesting greens, and will pull more vegetables for the root cellar.  We are moving squash and onion family members to cool, dry areas.

Ken continues to plant green manures like clover, rye, and winter wheat.  He is also clearing garden space so he can continue setting up hoopettes in the garden.

And next Monday the pigs go down the road.  Another indication that winter is coming!

From the Kitchen.  Lots of peppers this week.  Consider stuffing them!  We seemed a bit slim and then during that last warm spell - bang!  There were so many they were breaking stems.  And if stuffed peppers aren't one of your favorites, many people chop and freeze or dry peppers for winter.  We add peppers to so many dishes - they are really high in vitamin c and conventional peppers are one of the crops sprayed with large amounts of pesticides.  Ken can't eat conventional peppers without becoming ill.

It is also onion family week!  Garlic will be great in the stuffed peppers.  Shallots are wonderful - like a cross between onion and garlic.  I like them minced in salad dressings.  Some of the best stuffing for Thanksgiving we ever had was made with our shallots.  If you experiment and find a new idea, let me know so I can pass it on!

Next Harvest is 11/15 - see you then!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Moving the Turkeys

One of the tasks we tackled today was moving the turkeys from the perimeter around the orchard - a cool spot to the south sloping hill - a warmer spot for winter.

First we moved Ken's portable Quonset type coop for the tweens.  He set it on hay bales and we moved the tweens and their mom.

Then he moved the "Hog Hilton" which doubles as a windproof winter turkey shelter.  Then we got fencing set and caught and moved the adults.  

Once they were all near each other everyone settled down.  Ken checked on them one last time and headed off to other chores.

Hoopettes in the Garden

Ken has been clearing space, planting fall and next season's crops, and setting up his low hoops or "hoopettes" so the crops are protected from the  freezing temperatures and / or grow more quickly.  Many greens will take frost and do quite well - especially Asian greens.  


Ken will continue planting and setting up the hoopettes.  Most years he has about eighteen in the garden for late fall and early spring crops As you can see there are more in process

CSA Newsletter

October 10, 2011 - Sorry when the blog changed, I thought this published, but it did not. 

Greetings from the Garden! This week's box has tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, eggplant, lettuce and salad greens, an Asian green, mizuna and braising greens, celery, broccoli, apples, and melons.

Field Notes. Friday was an exciting day! A crew arrived and we raised the arches for the mobile high tunnel. It went smoothly as some people had put up as many as five of these greenhouses. There were three of us first timers. After the arches went up, people worked on purlins and other cross pieces. We had a nice picnic with some food off the grill after that. Saturday a friend came over and helped with anchoring and the three of us got the end wall window vents in place. One more large group task remains: we need to pull the plastic. But we are excited at the progress so far.

Ken spent Sunday doing some catch up work on fencing new areas for geese and pigs. We are also going to be digging roots this weekend and starting to get roots dug and buried in sand in the root cellar. And as always planting continues in the garden - greens for this fall and next spring. Ken has some of his hoopettes set up already, and will continue to plant and get ready for winter. He will also be clearing crops from the greenhouse in the field so that will be ready to plant. The heat loving crops like tomatoes are staring to wane.

From the Kitchen. We are in transition. Tomatoes are slowing down and greens are shooting up. This week we have all the ingredients for ratatouille, a french vegetable dish with garlic onions, tomato, pepper, and eggplant. I usually serve it with rice. It also may be the last week for eggplant, so it would be a good week for eggplant and pepper kinpira, an Asian dish. The recipe is posted on the blog on
August 31, 2010

With cool nights, the radishes are growing. This week we have daikon radish. This large mild radish is versatile. Grated like angel hair it is served with sushi. I often grate and toss with tamari for an instant pickle. Pickled with turmeric, daikon is a frequent side dish to rice and vegetables in Japan. In fall daikon is a great addition to soup, stew or stir fry.

We are at the end of the celery crop - Enjoy!

The biggest daikon

Wow! Ken dug this and Jenny held it up so I could get a shot - one big daikon!

Root Cellaring

Part of fall harvest is root cellaring.  I have tried many ways to keep roots in good shape through the winter, and have found that burying them in sand in a cool, damp root cellar keeps them about as fresh as just dug from the ground.  I think this is because the sand is like the soil they where they grew.  

The down side of root cellaring is that it is labor intensive.  But there are also advantages - once the work is done, there is little maintenance - checking temperature and keeping towels damp, and no added costs of buying a cooler that dries out the vegetables, and paying for the electricity to run the cooler. 

Here are a couple shots of this year's beets as they go into sand

Monday, October 24, 2011

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This week's box has tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes or squash, beets, onions, black radishes, chard, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, salad greens, braising greens, and apples .

Field Notes.
Ken got the garlic and shallots planted yesterday. He had been digging roots, and I have been filling the root cellar. I bury the roots in layers in sand in large barrels. I have tried several methods, and think they keep best this way. Labor intensive, but effective.

Ken has also been planting green manures like clover and rye. He is trying to get the open areas the roots came from planted so they will start growing before winter sets in. In addition to all the nutrients these bring to the soil, this will help us avoid erosion if it is a windy winter without snow cover.

From the Kitchen. Many of the greens are wonderful this fall. I love these pungent winter greens - arugula with cooked beets walnuts, and some goat, sheep, or blue cheese. Or braise by adding to a sauteed onion. Wilt and dress. So many colors, flavors and textures - heaven! If there are too many greens, consider a breakfast soup. I add greens to soups just before serving. Or make a borscht with the beets and cabbage. Nice to start a cool day with something warm in one's stomach!

And with cool mornings and evenings I find myself happy to light the oven and bake a squash or sweet potato. Roast some beets. Bake a roast... Enjoy taking time to cook on these increasingly cool and dark evenings.

Monday, October 17, 2011

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This week's box has lettuce and salad greens, braising greens, tomatoes, peppers, leeks, potatoes, sweet potatoes, radishes, apples, melons, and parsley.

Field Notes. Ken has been working to catch up on field work before he resumes work on the high tunnel. He has been harvesting roots for me to put in the root cellar for winter boxes. He also spent part of a day hauling manure and bedding material. He has been working on fencing for geese and hogs.

Meanwhile I have been cleaning and sorting onions and garlic and starting the task of filling the root cellar. Friends came out Sunday for the big dig. They helped Ken pick up the potatoes, then one helped me sort and pack while the other helped Ken dig more roots. The potato production is down this year - was it the cool dry spring, the deluge of water in late July, the weeds that grew while it was so wet Ken could not weed, or the dry late summer? We aren't sure. But there are enough potatoes and plenty of onions and squash and radishes, and we shall see what else.

From the Kitchen. Many fall items this week. Sweet potatoes are great baked or boiled. Ken often makes scalloped sweet and white potatoes. And we have had sweet potato and potato hash browns - also good.

Leeks and potatoes make a great cream soup - and these are the last of the leeks. Saute leeks, add soup stock, add peeled potatoes. Simmer and puree. Add some milk, cream or sour cream - delicious.

Fall radishes are larger, but don't be intimidated!. We often grate them and add to slaws and salads. Some people grate and add vinegar or vinegar and cream.

These apples are Haralsons - said to be a perfect pie apple. Ken often poaches apples in apple juice with spices like cinnamon or cardamon or star anise. Nice to have warm food on these cool mornings.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pigs are Getting Bigger

The pigs are getting so big! They are changing to HOGS.

During the heat, Ken made a wallow for them to cool off

Beautiful weather

It has been a beautiful fall - and there is a reason they call it fall. The path to the field is littered with leaves.

And the dogs crunch their way through them!

The Window Vents in the End Walls

On Saturday once the arches were raised, we had more help. Our friend Bentley came and helped with anchoring and getting the windows in the end walls.

He and Ken lifted the panels, and I slid in the bolts so they would stay in place. Thank you for all the help!

The Arch Raising

On Friday several people arrived for the arch raising. We had two hay wagons and ladders and tools.

First people picked up and walked the arches down

Then the ends are slid into the upright side walls.

And sometimes a bit more persuasion is needed.

As the arches are put into place, the spaces need to be double checked for consistency. And then the purlins are put into place.

What a beautiful sight! Thank you to all those who helped.