Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This box has tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cukes, eggplant, onions, broccoli and kale, melon, grapes, lettuce, salad mix, basil, parsley, and the first potatoes.

Field Notes.  Last Thursday was the harvest moon.  Often there is a killing frost around the harvest moon, but so far we have only been nipped in high spots in the field.  This means we still have summer crops like zucchini.  Ken has begun harvesting winter squash.  Soon there will be acorn squash in the boxes.  We welcome any feedback about your preferences - receive summer vegetables or move on to fall ones.

Ken is clearing space to plant green manures like rye and winter wheat.  He wants to get them established before real cold sets in so the soil is not blown or washed away if we do not get snow cover.  Naked soil can not only blow or wash away, it is more susceptible to temperature extremes - the microbial life heads deeper or dies.  

Ken is also looking at scheduling "the big dig" when the potatoes come out of the ground.  Then more green manures will be planted.  He is also looking at the crops like beets, carrots, rutabagas and celery root that I will be burying in sand in the root cellar for winter.  

With the equinox, days have gone from being equal to night, to shorter days and longer nights.  There is much to do!

From the Kitchen.  Saturday I was cooking down some tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and onions for a spaghetti sauce that night.  Ken came in with tomatoes he had harvested and pointed out that the song homegrown tomatoes was playing.  We had a good laugh. 
Ken has been creating various lacto - fermented recipes.  Fermentation has returned to popularity with Michael Pollan's new book.  He interviewed a well known fermentation expert and writer Felix Sandor Katz.  When one makes fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, probiotics are created in the process and if kept in a refrigerator and not canned, the vitamin C in the vegetables is also preserved.

Consider making some sauerkraut or other combination of vegetables.  It is a fun project, and the results are tasty and healthy.  For the less adventurous or time strapped, we also sell sauerkraut and many combinations of other vegetables.
'Til Next Week, 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This box has tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini or zuchetta, cucumbers,  peppers, onions, greens - lettuce, radicchio, pea shoots, etc, kohlrabi, corn, melon, grapes.

Summer squash - one of the first to go with frost
Field Notes.  This week marks the calendar start of autumn.And we have started seeing the start of frost damage to tender plants.  Ken is working to get space for the hoopettes in the garden, the next location of the mobile high tunnel, and planning transplants for these areas.  And there are fall planting of crops like garlic.  He is also looking at where there will be green manures over winter.  There are still many crops to harvest - later varieties of apples, potatoes, winter squash, and all the roots that will go into the root cellar.  This time of transition starts in August and continues until November.

Kale - tastes even better after frost
People saying things that indicate they think we finish with frost - no, we have lots to do!  Our goal is to provide our members and on line customers with as many food choices as possible year round.  That means work year round.

From the Kitchen.  Frost and cool weather lead me to process the summer crops and start thinking about heavier meals like root vegetables - Sunday Ken's aunt, uncle, and cousin and wife came by and I served chicken, rice, cooked beets warmed in butter, olive oil and crushed fennel seeds and a medley of sauteed onions, sliced carrots, and sliced cabbage with thyme and cream added just before serving.

Now is when I start lighting the cook stove and making slow cook dishes like beans, and I start lighting the gas oven for roasted vegetables - medleys of onion, carrots, beets, and other root vegetables.  I cut into chunks, toss in oil and herbs and roast in a shallow pan, turning frequently.

I am still eating all those delicious summer vegetables, but now I am cooking the tomatoes instead of eating them raw.  Ken made two delicious meals - a tomato sauce with onions, tomatoes cut in chunks, peppers, garlic - we have had it with pasta.  He also made a tasty cream soup of carrots onions,  and other items he found in the kitchen.  He added ginger and it was a warming treat on that cool night.

'Til next week

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This box has tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, Walla Walla onions, garlic, zucchini or zuchetta, cabbage and or kohlrabi, lettuce, greens  - radicchio, beet thins and or arugula, basil, carrots,corn and apples.

Field Notes.  What dramatic weather swings!  Wen we have 70 on Sunday and 90 on Monday the plants go into shock.  Chickens lay fewer eggs.  It has been an unusual and unpredictable season.  With all the early season snow, who would have thought we would be so grateful for any rain we can get right now.  Ken looks at the internet weather map and most times announces it is heading north of us.  Ken has been irrigating the greenhouses, and is planning to irrigate the next location for the mobile high tunnel.  We keep hoping for some rain so it is not necessary.  After Monday's heat it is hard to imagine predicted lows in the 30's later this week!

Harvest time.  Ken spends part of just about every day picking something - tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, apples.  He is tasting the occasional grape as they will be next.  Last week I got most of the elderberries before the birds did!  They are now off the stems and in the freezer for a batch of juice or wine.

The days are now dramatically shorter, and the push is on to get it done.  In about ten days at equinox, the days will be only 12 hours long - seems short after about 15 hours in June.

From the Kitchen.  Ken has been in the kitchen.  He made a pie from all the apples with blemishes.

He pickled some peppers and made a batch of spaghetti sauce on Sunday night.  

I made a batch of corn chowder with corn cut off the cobs.  I cooked some bacon, sauteed onion and red pepper in the bacon fat, added some sliced cabbage, cooked corn cut off the cob, and added some milk and herbs - thyme and savory.  I served it topped with chopped bacon on top

With the weather swings I am using the oven on cool days and then making cucumber salad, sliced tomatoes, and other no cook food on the hot days.

'Til Next Week, 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This box has tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, cabbage, eggplant, peppers, Walla Walla sweet onions, lettuce, garlic, basil, the last beans, and apples.

Mobile tunnel - wide open in the heat
Field Notes.  We were pretty excited to get some rain - about 1/2 inch - last week.  It is still dry.  Ken is about to start irrigating in the greenhouses again. The peppers look a bit dry.  The good thing about greenhouses is the ability to control temperature and moisture;  The bad thing is you have to control the temperature an moisture.  Growing in greenhouses allows for extended season, but it also means irrigating and monitoring and opening and closing greenhouses.  It also means that when it rains Ken does not take a break - because he can work in the greenhouses.

Onions in the Drying racks
As the days shorten, we are looking toward fall and winter storage crops.  Thanks to friends, the onions and shallots are harvested and curing in racks.  Soon we will be moving them to make room for winter squash.  Although many people harvest winter squash before frost, Ken and I believe they are sweeter if allowed to go until the first light frost.  

From the Kitchen. We are enjoying this cool down - the oven is not a four letter word, and so Ken has made his baked ratatouille regularly. It is a great, flexible recipe to use whatever you may have for eggplant, zucchini, onion and tomato.  

With Ken at a family picnic and me home for pottery and vegetable sales Sunday, I made a pasta with cream sauce and used onion, garlic, mild red pepper and broccoli.  The contrasting color and texture was great!  I have also been sauteing onions and peppers and adding eggs in the morning for a colorful breakfast.  I also add peppers to rice dishes.  I tend to minimize cooking time on peppers as heat lowers their vitamin C. 

Cabbage is great.  I like to saute onion, add sliced cabbage, simmer briefly in stock and add butter or umeboshi vinegar before serving. 
'Til Next Week, 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ken's Turnip Au Gratin

We grow turnips and like turnips.  But turnips are not topping the vegetable charts.  So Ken made a turnip au gratin.  Follow any recipe for potatoes or any other vegetable au gratin - a cream sauce topped with cheese.  He also had some sweet Walla Walla onions in the mix - delicious!