Wednesday, October 30, 2013

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This box has salad mix, the last of the Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pie pumpkins, onions, garlic, late celery, beets, carrots, apples, and either daikon or black radishes

Field Notes.  Wow!  With grey skies and flurries, it feels like November is already here.  Ken is busy with harvest of fall roots - they are beautiful this year.  Last week he harvested potatoes - one the best crops ever.  The fall cabbage are also solid nice looking heads.Those cool summer nights, late season rain, and late killing frost meant great crops.

Ken has been preparing seed and planting beds, planting green manures, and setting up late season hoopettes.  He will be planting garlic and shallots and fall planted onion family next week.  

Meanwhile I have sorted, boxed and gotten the potatoes into the root cellar, buried the carrots and beets in barrels of sand in the root cellar, and started the radishes.  Next will be celery root and rutabagas.  This winter we will try a couple new crops - stay tuned for details!

From the Kitchen.  Since we have had cold night temperatures, we have been lighting the wood cook stove each morning.  And since it has been dark in the morning, Ken has been cooking!  He made a great combination of sweet and white scalloped potatoes - it was great!  Peel sweet and white potatoes. slice onions, and then follow any scalloped potatoes recipe.

Ken also made a pumpkin pie.  And an apple crisp.

What have I been doing? Juicing up various combinations of juices.  And day to day cooking - midday roasts with roasted root vegetables,  baked pork chops with onions and cabbage.  Brown pork chops in an uncovered Dutch oven.  Add sliced onions or leeks once you have turned the chops, and add thinly sliced cabbage and stock.  Add herbs and or spices.  One batch I used smoked paprika, chili pepper, and the other time I used savory and thyme.  Bake at 200 degrees at least an hour - check to make sure there is adequate liquid to avoid scorching - add more stock if necessary; bake until the meat is tender.  Serve with smashed boiled potatoes to absorb the cooking liquid, and a tossed salad.
'Til Next Week

Pigs are Growing - Hogs Now

Pigs start out as cute little animals.  Sometime around Labor Day they become solid hogs.  They still romp and run, and are funny, smart creatures. 

But cute?  No, not really.

These pigs arrived early June, and have eaten culled vegetables and sprouted grains.

They all get on fine and seem to divide up, 

rejoin, chat 

and even appear to be like employees gossiping at the water cooler!

When pigs have tails, the tails indicate contentment or happiness when curled.  

The hogs were cozy in a small shelter, but outgrew it.  So Ken removed the smaller shelter called Hilton junior. 

Then he moved in a large shelter that I call the Hog Hilton

Soon these pigs will go to people's freezers.  They have had a great life and we have enjoyed their help with clearing and digging on the farm.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

CSA Newsletter

Greeting from the Garden!  This box has salad mix, Chinese cabbage, pie pumpkins, sweet potatoes, winter tomatoes, peppers, Walla Walla onions, garlic, sage, melon, raspberries, and Haralson apples.

Last weekend!
Field Notes.  Well, we had a killing frost on The 20th - as late as either of us can remember.  And we have also had snow and cold temperatures this week - As of this writing the daily high temperatures have been 10 - 15 degrees cooler than average.  It has been a busy week.  

Squash and onions inside now
The late frost means the push is on to get vegetables harvested and into winter storage.  Until frost they are still growing and it is difficult to keep the root cellar cool enough.  And with lower temperatures we need to harvest quickly before there is damage from the cold.  

green manures foreground, Brussels sprouts in back
Ken has been clearing spaces and getting ready to set up more hoopettes in the garden and plant  late season green manures.  Once the crops are out, we will also doing more fall planting - garlic and other members in the onion family out in the field.

We are also moving animals to winter quarters. Turkeys went to a wooded area.  

The egg mobile chickens and young hens are by the garden now.

In November the pigs go, so now they are getting root tops as the root crops are harvested for the root cellar.  And Ken brought them a tractor shovel of leaves with acorns in them - a real treat.  

From the Kitchen.  Ken has been making various pepper concoctions and other fermented items to preserve the vitamin C.  He has also been running the dehydrator.  This year he is going to make some apple cider vinegar from the blemished apples.  I have been steam juicing grapes and apples or raspberries and apples with blemished or waterlogged fruit.  I am also thinking of trying some wine from the juice.  

Ken's first of this season
Haralson apples are a late season apple - good eating and wonderful for cooking.  Ken read a few years back that Haralsons make the best pie.  We eat a lot of stewed apples in the morning - we core and chunk apples and bring to a boil in apple juice with warming spices like cinnamon and cardamon or cloves.  Great way to leave the house with a warm stomach.  I have been making apple crisp as well.  I leave the skins on .  Core and chunk apples to nearly fill a loaf pan.  Add a topping or rolled oats, flour, butter a tablespoon or two of organic brown sugar (beet sugar is usually gmo), salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and bake about 40 minutes in a 375 degree oven - look for browned topping and some bubbling juice from apples.

Pie pumpkins are great in pies, cakes, cookies.  Cut the cap, scoop the seeds out and bake or chunk and steam until soft.  Scoop the flesh from the skin and use what you need and keep the rest in the refrigerator for use.  I also toast nuts in a skillet, set aside, place butter in the warm skillet and warm the pumpkin (or squash) and serve with chopped nuts.  A bit of nutmeg - not enough to recognize, just enough to add depth of flavor - a pinch or two.

Black and Gold

For years Ken has grown dry corn to use to make masa.  This year in addition to a gold variety we have grown for years, Ken also received and grew a dark variety - nearly black.

Once mature, he harvests it.  Then we shuck and set on our drying rack.

Next we will shell and store.

Ken Rocks

Part of farming is finding rocks  - sometimes there are many small ones to fill a bucket, sometimes it is a big one in the way.  Ken found a large rock in the mobile high tunnel

First he dug.  But it was too big to remove with levers.

So he got out a tractor with a winch.

And so he removed the rock.  He will probably put it in a beautiful setting somewhere in the yard

Moving Squash and Onions Inside

Ken likes to harvest winter squash after frost.  The cool temperatures sweeten the squash.  We cure it on a rack.  Same for onions, garlic and shallots.

Once temperatures drop too low we cover with a tarp and set a light inside.  Then as temperatures drop further we move them all inside.  I did this Monday as the predicted low was 23 degrees.  Now the rack is empty and we will store the plastic harvest and post harvest bins and racks there.

Root Cellar Progress

It has been a late start to fall, and it was difficult to harvest roots when they were still growing and the root cellar was still pretty warm.  

What a quick  weather change!  From a late first frost to temperatures 10 - 15 degrees below average!

Now I have three of my 5 - 7 barrels of roots buried in sand.  It is work, but I believe they store best this way - coolers can be too cold and freeze food, or too dry and the roots get rubbery or too damp and food gets slimy.  Sand needs to be monitored, but seems more temperate.  And we are not paying to run a cooler or using that electricity. 

Moving Animals

Ken has been busy moving animals to winter locations.  First he moved the tom turkey and we moved the females to a woodsy area east of the house.  Close, but private for them.

Ken also moved the egg mobile from an area near the mobile high tunnel to a spot on the driveway.  He had planted forage for them, and they love the greens.

Next we divided up the nearly grown home hatched chickens - males go to a greenhouse to clean up bugs and plants for winter.  Females - pullets - are in an area adjacent to the egg mobile.  The next day he opens it up so the older hens and young pullets can get used to each other and join together as comfort allows.

Soon the pigs will be moving on.  and then on a warm fall day we will butcher those chickens who need to go

Pigs are now Hogs

Around Labor Day the pigs aren't really pigs anymore.  They have become hogs.  Big guys.  Still running and romping and clever and amiable.

But not cute and if they hit you, not harmless.  Hogs.  They need respect.  

They love it when Ken brings them a bucket of leaves so they can dig for acorns.  Earlier this season Herb brought us some leaves and some bags of acorns.  Thank you, Herb, and the pigs thank you, too

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

CSA Newsletter

Winter location peppers still going outside tunnel
Greetings from the Garden!  This box has salad mix, Chinese cabbage, winter tomatoes, peppers, onions or leeks, carrots or beets, potatoes, squash, raspberries and apples

Cukes on right as hoopettes go up

Field Notes. Ken has been watching the weather - will we have a killing frost?  It is tough to pull plants that are still producing like the zuchetta and eggplant and melons.  He is also deciding when we will dig the late season potatoes and sweet potatoes.  He has been digging carrots and beets for me to get into the root cellar.

The green manures are up!  This is great news - those green manures will add organic matter to the soil, moderate soil temperature, and prevent erosion.  Ken will continue to plant more as crops are harvested.

Greens are coming up in the hoopettes and mobile high tunnel.  Hurrah!

From the Kitchen.  Soups and stews.  Baking squash.  Apple crisp and apple pie.  Fall is in the air.

Last week I made us a bag of salad mix - this was a real treat as usually we get what there is surplus or slightly blemished.  The mix has lively greens like endive, radicchio, and endive.  I rolled and cut the big radicchio leaves to add bits of reddish color and zip in small amounts; then I made a salad dressing of yogurt, bleu cheese, vinegar, honey, slat and pepper.  It wsa great.  If you don't eat dairy, try a garlicky tahini dressing with ginger.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CSA Newsletter

Sarah helping Ken install hoopettes
Greetings from the Garden!  This box has salad mix, broccoli and cauliflower, Walla Walla sweet onions, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, zuchetta, the last grapes, apples, melon, raspberries.

Root cellar
Field Notes.  No hard frost yet means we still have tender vine crops like zuchetta and cucumbers this late.  We have found a tomato variety that can be harvested later than most, so we are still picking those as well.  As we pick these crops, we realize the end is near and look toward the fall vegetables, too.  I have begun root cellaring the larger beets and carrots as we harvest

The crew  - thank you Miranda, Ben, Sam, and Evan
Last week was an exciting week here.  Thursday we had four younger farmers come out to help move the mobile high tunnel.  Ken learned a lot last season when he moved it with only one other person.  He spent time clearing tracks and greasing wheels so it would go smoothly and it went great!  By the time I realized the farmers were here, and went down with the camera, they had moved the greenhouse.  Three were first time visitors, so Ken gave them a tour, and our friend Evan found a chicken of the woods mushroom.

Sarah has a cart like this at home
Sarah, a young farmer friend from Arizona came for a couple days.  She is in the area to attend weddings on two successive weekends.  She was happy to see our farm and help out.  And it was great to compare notes in the evenings on growing and selling vegetables here and in Arizona.  Thank you, Sarah, for your visit and help!

From the Kitchen.  We are having an abundance of fruit this fall.  We are so grateful for apples after last year's poor harvest.  And the melons have done well, too.  Raspberries are small with all those cool nights and lack of rain, but the flavor seems concentrated.

With Evan's mushroom discovery and Ken's discovery of two huge puff ball mushrooms, we have been filling the dehydrator, and making mushroom soup.  Sarah and Ken really liked Monday's breakfast soup: cook some bacon, set aside, cook mushrooms in the bacon fat, set aside, cook onions in the remaining fat, add cut carrots and potatoes and a hearty soup stock.  Simmer carrots and potatoes 'til tender, add the mushrooms to the soup.  Place rinsed pieces of raw kale in soup bowls.  Cover with hot soup to wilt and top with the chopped bacon.

Sarah had a big midday meal when she arrived, and we worked late, so I made an apple crisp for a light supper.  It was a hit with her and Ken.  Rinse and core apples, chunk or slice into a bread pan to nearly full ( I don't peel the apples).  Top with a crumble of rolled oats, flour, butter or lard, a little sugar and salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake until the crumble browns and the apples juice and bubble around the sides.  Serve warm with cream.  We have also been steam juicing apples and grapes with slight blemishes

'Til Next Week, Judith