Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This CSA box has corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, green or Walla Walla onions,  garlic, lettuce and salad greens, radishes, bok choy and or cabbage, kohlrabi, basil and parsley.

Field Notes.  Rain - how welcome the first of the rain was - and then we got more and more.  The recent hot and steamy weather felt more like July than August.  The plants and the weeds grew dramatically.  The soil is drying enough so Ken can cultivate while weeds are still small enough so hand pulling them is not necessary. Ken was glad to see the rain.  As he frequently says, "No one pays me extra to irrigate!"  He had irrigated many of the fall crops in the field as they were stalled out.  We will see what weather comes next.  

Ken has been planting crops where the mobile high tunnel will go when the summer crops finish.  With the rain they have popped up.  And fall and winter carrots look great.

Ken expanded the area for the pigs into part of the garden as part of a renovation project. Imagine my surprise when I saw them so close to crops.

We are so glad the strawberries and early raspberries were good this year.  The fall crop does not look good because of a new Asian fruit fly called the spotted wing drosophila that can lay eggs in the semi - ripe fruit.  When I go to pick the ripe fruit it is like a popped water balloon.  I have read about traps and we will try them this season.  I am picking off all infested fruit and we will continue to receive information from extension about possible organic solutions.  So far we have not heard of beneficial insects or soil recommendations - our usual approaches - that have been successful.

From the Kitchen.  Time to preserve!  I made some strawberry and raspberry jam from earlier crops, and Ken has begun to can tomatoes for winter use.  He also makes pickles and cultured vegetables.  I plan to freeze a few beans as well. Consider buying produce now to eat in winter - freeze some chard for winter quiches or to add to soups, stuff some peppers, etc.  Check the website order veg page for the list of what we have available: http://kepperspottery.com/?110040#VegetableForm

This week starts the fall brassicas - bok choy and kohlrabi.  I think of these as bonus vegetables because both the stem and leaves are great.  I use kohlrabi leaves like I would kale or cabbage and the swollen stem is crunchy and tasty.  Ken likes to peel, slice and salt for about a half hour for an instant pickle or peel and cube and steam and top with butter, salt, and pepper as a side dish.  Many folks add kohlrabi to stir fry dishes.  Bok choy is a great stir fry vegetables.  I separate the stem from leaves as I cook stems a short time like a minute or two and the leaves I just wilt - under a minute.  I often cook onion, add sliced stems and once the heat is off I add greens and top with an interesting vinegar or dressing.

'Til Next Week, Judith (and Big Red)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Computer Story

This little pink laptop computer has saved my bacon - a couple times.

A couple Tuesdays ago I turned on the computer and went to get a nail trimmer - jagged nails this time of year.  

Ken started yelling (pretty unusual) and I put together the words computer and fire, so I ran across the main floor (me running even more unusual than Ken yelling).  Sure enough there was a flame inside the computer.  Ken later described it as a Bunsen burner shooting out at him.  I shut the computer off, unplugged it and  took it near the door and opened some windows.  Then I set this one up and was back in business.  Subsequently our computer service person has located and set up a model comparable to what we had.

I learned several things from this: having a backup is good.  Taking apart a computer is not hard.  Blowing the dust off the inside of the computer prevents a fire.  And the best news is we did not lose any files or photos. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  The CSA boxes have lettuce and salad greens, cucumbers,  radishes, fennel, tomatoes,cucumbers,  green beans, Chinese or European cabbage, green or Walla Walla onions, carrots, garlic, and basil.

Field Notes.  Rain on Sunday and Monday was welcome - just under an inch..  Ken had planted late season crops and they are popping up.  And the fall crops that were transplanted earlier also needed rain; they perked up. 
What did not need rain was the onion crop, and when we heard the forecast we went out and Ken pulled the yellow storage onions and we got them on racks before the rain.  The red onions are still growing and we will pull them next root day - in about a week.

Ken has been working on an alternative irrigation system for the garden.  A couple years ago we had an irrigation pond dug near the garden.We have been using our drinking water well, but two years ago it began pumping air and we had to stop irrigating during a drought.  Now Ken has two options: - and with our uncertain weather that is a good thing!

The pigs are now in a lower part of the garden for renovation.  They are clearing out a portion of the garden that has become shady in August as the sun lowers in the sky and the surrounding oaks have grown taller.  The pigs will clear out underbrush and this will make it easier for Ken to take out the trees.  When he moved here Ken never imagined how much the trees would grow and shade areas of the growing space.

From the Kitchen.  Summer provides so many options for salads and fresh food.  About this time of year I am trying new ways to prepare old favorites.  One of my favorite late season green beans recipes is to heat a skillet add cooking fat or oil and add the green beans - As they toast add minced garlic and fresh ginger root.  Top with a splash of tamari or soy sauce before serving.

I like to make mayonnaise - not difficult.  Most recipes include a raw yolk or two beaten with a teaspoon powdered mustard, a pinch of powdered hot red pepper, a half teaspoon of honey, a quarter teaspoon salt, and a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.  While beating constantly add by drizzle one cup of oil - olive, sesame or walnut are all nice.  At the end add one more tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.  If raw eggs make you nervous, they can be pasteurized by placing in a spoon and dipping in 165 degree water for a minute..I make the egg whites into macaroons.

I use this mayonnaise for tomato sandwiches, in dressing for cucumber salads, and in cole slaw.  

For cole slaw, cut either Chinese or green salad cabbage into fine slices,  add some salt and turn and squeeze in a bowl.This sweetens the cabbage; Cut onion into fine slices. grated carrot and radish are also nice additions.  I drain the cabbage after about a half hour and add a dressing of mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, and pepper.  I usually leave out the salt as there is some left in the cabbage.  And I use the salt water I drained off in future cooking. - the next batch of pasta for example.

'Til Next Week, Judith

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Harvesting Garlic and shallots

Garlic is planted in fall and harvested once it has stopped growing and started to dry

I cleared the racks so we could place it on shelves and let it cure once harvested.

Ken packs up all the plastic tubs we have for onion and garlic harvest and takes the Farm All B out to the field.  This is the start of using the tractor for the harvest.  we will use it again for the rest of the onions and later for winter squash

Then we bring them in and set them on shelves on the rack

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  the CSA box this week has tomatoes, lettuce and salad greens, green beans, cucumbers, onions and garlic, cabbage or Chinese cabbage, and basil.

Field and Farm Notes.  A friend came for a few days and helped with two projects: he and Ken got the leaking roof off and a new roof on the shed where we store boxes for CSA and on line order boxes.  This may sound small, but building projects are easily set aside when planting and harvesting are more pressing.

The big news is RAIN.  Over an inch on Monday.  Great news for all the fall crops

Our friend also helped harvest the rest of the shallots, Walla Walla onions and garlic.  This is a job of bending and lifting.  The aroma is GREAT!  Nothing like fresh garlic -

And he helped Ken with transplanting.  Some of the beautiful shots are from his smart phone.  Thank you.

Garlic on the racks curing
From the Kitchen.  And with company I had more one more appreciative eater!  It was so nice to hear compliments on the food.  I often think my job is easy; when one starts with good food, the task is just to avoid ruining it!  We ate of summer's bounty.  Meat cooked with garlic, eggs with sauteed green peppers and green onions, and grilled tomatoes.  I like to cut the small firm tomatoes lengthwise and cut out the core and set the cut side down on a griddle just to caramelize the cut side and warm the tomato.  It is an old trick I learned from Ken.  We also had sliced tomatoes with home made mayonnaise, cucumber salad with onions and yogurt dressing

Our friend had not had umeboshi, a great Japanese condiment.  So I steamed some green beans to al dente, and topped with umeboshi vinegar, sweet wine, tamari, sesame and toasted sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds.  Tasty.

'Til Next Week, Judith

Re Roofing the Old Shed

Ken has been here a long time.  So long that many things need maintenance and repair.  One shed that Ken had built decades ago from "what I had around at the time."  The roof had been leaking and it was a decision: repair of let fall down.  A friend came and helped repair.

Ken and I emptied the shed.  Much to the kitten's enjoyment

Then the men took off the roof

And sawed lumber for structure 
and tin on top.

Now it does not leak.  And I have the opportunity to sort and toss what I don't need in the shed

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This week our CSA boxes have potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce and salad greens, cucumbers, green onions or Walla Walla sweet onions, garlic, cabbage, the first beans, basil and parsley.

Field Notes.  After a damp spring, we have moved into dry soil conditions.  Ken is irrigating the garden by the house and the fall crops in the field. 

The egg mobile has been moved and the soil outside the mobile high tunnel prepared so  Ken could start planting the area outside the mobile tunnel.  After the tomato season we will move the mobile tunnel over those crops for fall.

With cool nights the heat loving crops are later this season. Ken has been wrestling with the tie up twine on the tomatoes.  It looked fine to use for a second season, but it has been breaking so Ken has to get out new twine and tie them up.  Our theory is most farms throw out twine and plastic after each season.  We prefer higher quality supplies we can reuse.  So the search is on for multi-season twine.

With August the days are noticeably shorter.  The annual crops are pushing to produce, and so picking things like tomatoes and cucumbers require frequent picking.  The first crop of beans that struggled with cool and damp conditions is starting to produce!  Ken is watching the corn as well.

This year Ken ran an experiment with an early potato variety.  Early potatoes are not as productive as the late season varieties, so we have avoided them.  They have been more popular than expected with the on line orders, so we plan to do this again next season. Please share your opinion with us, too!

From the Kitchen.  Two favorites this week.  These potatoes have soft red skins, and do not need to be peeled.  Just scrub, cube and boil.  They require less cooking time, so I usually check them after 7 minutes.  The parsley in your box would be a great topping along with butter or sour cream.

Ah, tomatoes.  Most people wait for months for "real" ones, and we believe a fresh tomato grown in good soil is well worth the wait.  I have made mayonnaise for tomato sandwiches.  And tomatoes pair well with the basil in your box.  Like all the heat loving crops, it has grown more slowly this year.

We have lots of cucumbers and if you want to make cucumber pickles, NOW is the time.  Email or call me.  'Til Next Week, Judith

Monday, August 4, 2014

Moving Chickens

Ken built a potable chicken coop I call the egg mobile.  It is near the house in winter,

and this year it has been in several locations near the mobile high tunnel for the summer.

Ken just moved the egg mobile to a new spot and the chickens are pretty excited about new pasture

Bees in the buckwheat

Ken plants several different crops as green manures.  This season he planted old seed and buckwheat in the space where the egg mobile is located during winter.  This planting is the tallest, healthies buckwheat either of us can remember.

And the bees have found it.

The whole area is abuzz 

Even dragonflies are in the buckwheat.

How wonderful!

Summer Flowers - August

So much is blooming right now!  There is the buckwheat that Ken planted

and the elecampane that I planted and has self seeded.

Then there is towering Joe Pye weed fronted by daylilies

and the wild goldenrod and self seeded malva. 

These tiger lilies are ready to open

And in the garden are sunflowers wrapped with morning glories and many annuals that Ken planted for the bees