Monday, August 31, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box has greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, summer squash, beans, peppers, basil and parsley,

 Field Notes. Ken has been cleaning and clearing so he can plant green manures.  They will prevent soil erosion over winter.  He has been harvesting many crops twice or more each week as weather dictates - tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, peppers, eggplant, etc.  And he continues to plant fall crops.  

This week he will be thinning fall greens for salad.  Usually we have a couple weeks when there is no lettuce.  Crops planted earlier have bolted in heat. We have had an interesting growing season - LOTS of rain, some heat and many cool nights.  Now as the days shorten there is more dew in  the morning and more chance for fungus, mold and blights to take hold.  Plants that like heat are pushing to fruit. We feel fortunate as we read and hear of other farms with few if any tomatoes this season due to cooler nights and / or blight.

From The Kitchen. Corn and tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans - they all say summer.  This week I have been steaming green beans and topping with some sesame oil and umeboshi vinegar.  I am grateful that we got beans from this last crop!

Ken is thinning the fall greens crops.These small greens are a nutritional power house.  Some folks use them as garnish, others use them in salads.  Enjoy!

Got a request for a biscuit recipe that we use in Ken's upside down pizza.  Here is one: Sift together 2C flour, 2  1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and cut in 1/2 c solid fat - lard or butter. Stir in 3/4 c milk.  Drop onto ungreased baking sheet OR pat out and cut and place on ungreased baking sheet. 450 for 10 - 12 min. Note from Ken: the less you handle the dough the more tender the biscuits.

'Til Next Week, Judith 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Thank you, Ken - Letting in Light and Making Space

Ken started a project this spring - clearing a space between house and pottery show room for apple trees and some of my perennial flowers.  First he pastured pigs in the area, then after a rain pulled weeds and cut brush

This week he cut trees and a friend pulled the stumps

while Ken cut the wood for heat. 

Thank you, Ken, friend, pigs, and trees.  Cutting trees is difficult, but the light is beautiful


August is a time of change.   Days are shortening, nights lengthening, and crops that like heat are trying diligently to set fruit before frost - tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, etc

Tomatoes in the Mobile high tunnel are cresting, peppers are ripening, 

And Ken is planning and planting.  He has planted the next location for the mobile high tunnel.  

Each week we walk the garden and he points out the ends and starts of crops.

He has crops in the garden growing , 

and he will transplant some of this old, saved seed that is obviously viable

Lots to do!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's box has corn, potatoes, tomatoes, ripe bell peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, summer squash, Walla Walla sweet onions, red or Chinese cabbage, Kale, basil and parsley.

Field Notes.   The news here is two fold - RAIN (over 3") and a fast switch from hot (nearly 90 to cooler than usual - an evening temperature under 50 degrees.  The plants and animals had a job to acclimate to forty degree weather shift in less than 48 hours!  Even the farmers were a bit stressed.  Ken says we have been on the edge of too much rainfall most of this season.  In some ways it was a relief after a dry spring and a few years of drought.  The crops look great!  The down side of so much rain is that along with crops growing so well, the weeds are going great gonzos - a phrase from Ken.  He is working diligently to keep weeds cultivated, pulled, or even in some situations mowed so they do not set seed for next season.

Last Tuesday we took a filed trip in the rain to Spooner.  Why?  The Spooner U W Extension agricultural station has test plots and we really enjoy seeing all the field trials of vegetables and fruit.  There are also samples and we discovered a great tasting new tomato and hot pepper.  There are also speakers and Ken spoke to the state fruit expert from River Falls about hardy root stock for apple trees and varieties of raspberries.  And for those of you who read northern Wisconsin newspapers a reporter from the Washburn County newspaper insisted on snapping our photos as we were the only folks (except the master gardener directing folks to the ag station) out in the rain looking at the garden!  It was a nice get away and we each learned new things.

From the Kitchen.  With shorter days, Ken has been in the kitchen in the early morning and later evening.  He made a great chowder for lunch with onion, some pork, ripe red pepper, potatoes, and sweet corn he cut off the cob in a pork stock.  Delicious!

Here is his chocolate zucchini cake

Ken has also been experimenting with a savory "ketchup."  He wants to make a tomato based sauce that has no sugar in it.  He cored and cooked some tomatoes, let the juice drain off, and then ran everything else - tomatoes, peppers, celery, onions and some garlic through a food mill, then ran the pulp through a juicer and then put the sauce in the large crock without the lid to condense.  Then he canned the juice in large jars and the "ketchup" in pints.  We both really like it.

'Til Next Week , Judith

Monday, August 17, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box has lettuce, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant or zucchini, onions, basil, celery,  potatoes and the first sweet corn.

Field Notes. Ken has focused on clearing space for late plantings, planting, cultivating and green manures.  Whew!  He works long hours with a break mid day when it is hot.  Last week's heat placed stress on some crops. Lettuce, which likes cool weather bolted. Bolting is when a plant prematurely starts to go into seed production.  In the case of lettuce that means some varieties become bitter and must go to either the chickens or pigs.  

Some crops require heat.  This week we have the first of the sweet corn.  Peppers, cucumbers, zucchini,  and tomatoes are setting fruit.  Some varieties have crested the wave.  Most crops are like a wave; they start slowly, crest, and then each picking is less.  We have to balance when they are no longer productive enough to warrant the space.

This has been a busy week in the kitchen as we are preserving some of the surplus for later use.  Ken has done some tomatoes, I have made some applesauce and apple juice, and tried my first tomato paste.  Some people love the art and skill of home food preservation.  It is a satisfying endeavor to use and save and know just what is in our food.  Each year someone tells me how cheap something - like tomato sauce - is at the store.  I balance the knowledge of all the nutrients in our soil and in our food and the lack of additives.  And I just prefer the flavor.  I don't think of myself as a great cook, but rather a person with access to great food.
Now is the time to preserve the summer's bounty. 

From the Kitchen.  Preserving food is the focus here.  Even though it was hot we had the stove going.  As mentioned above, I canned the last of the yellow transparent apples as applesauce.  And tomatoes and chestnut crab apples in the form of juice.  My first try at tomato paste was a success.

Ken found a recipe for chocolate zucchini cake in a Penzy's catalog, and since it was cooler this morning he decided to go for it!

'Til Next Week, Judith

Preserving the Harvest - Juicing, canning, Freezing

This time of year we have some surplus and some blemished produce.  We preserve it for later use.  Each person has favorite ways to preserve foods;  some people like frozen beans and some like canned for example.  Usually I blanch and freeze the following when we have surplus: greens, green beans, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, and winter squash.

We use a steam juicer for fruit like grapes, raspberries, cherries, and certain varieties of apples.  Then I can the concentrated juice in quart jars.  

Some apples are best made into applesauce, and some varieties that are good keepers go into cold storage.

Tomatoes get processed into many forms.  Ken likes to core, cut up, and bring to a boil, pour in a colander and let the juice drain.  Then he runs the pulp through a food mill to separate out skins and seeds.   Now he cans the sauce  and juice separately.

I tried making paste for the first time.  I used the ingredients I found by googling tomato paste recipes and included the sauce.  I ran it through a food mill and rather than using the oven in the heat of summer or worrying about scorching on the stove I used a crock pot with the lid off set on low.  Other people use those large electric roasters.

Then I canned the tomato paste in smaller jars.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box contains the following: tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, potatoes, beets, carrots, cucumbers, beans, and basil.

Field Notes.  Onions are curing in racks with garlic and there are more to pull.  Ken is focused on both current plantings and fall plantings.  As the days shorten, he needs to figure out how much sunlight is required to grow fall crops and plant accordingly.  

We are most grateful for the rain last weekend.  Each time Ken starts to plan to irrigate crops that are short on water, we get rain.  The rain started slowly and all was absorbed into the soil rather than running off.  The plentiful rain does present other problems - a new an very hardy crop of weeds.  Ken has been cultivating whenever the soil is dry enough and there is some sun to bake the weeds so they don't just regrow.

From the Kitchen.  Now that we have all the hot weather crops it is time for one of our favorite summer dishes - Ken's upside down pizza.  Warm a flat pan - we use a large pie plate as you mix up some biscuit dough and slice up vegetables and herbs.  Ken places some olive oil in the pan and layers vegetables starting with the ones he wants to cook longest and hottest.  He uses eggplant, peppers, summer squash, onions, garlic and tomatoes.  Then he covers the vegetables with biscuit dough and bakes at high heat - about 400 - for the time it takes to cook the biscuit dough.  Remove from oven and flip.  top with grated cheese.

We have also been cooking up vegetables in the morning and popping eggs on top.  For example, this morning I sauteed onion added green pepper and red cabbage.  Then after adding the eggs, I placed a couple plum tomatoes cut lengthwise on the griddle cut side down.  It was a beautiful and tasty way to start the day!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Harvesting Onions

The onion harvest has begun - and what a harvest!  Last year some of the onion seed did not germinate well, and the weather was not with us for a great crop.This year we had better germination rates AND we had great weather.  We have one of the best crops - ever.

First Ken pulls the onions and lets them dry out in the field,  Then he brought them in and we put them in the racks with garlic so they can cure - the greens dry and the onions keep better.

Once the racks were full, we moved to the overflow area 

and another overflow table.  And there are still the red onions to harvest!!

If you need a large quantity of onions, contact us!

Preserving the Bounty

This time of year as the days shorten, we make time to freeze, can, dry, ferment any blemished or surplus produce.  First we had the applesauce apples - yellow transparent variety

Then Ken started the canning of tomato juice and sauce

And next I made some beet pickles.

Ken made some dill pickles

And I just finished the first batch of apple juice.

I think it will be a tasty winter!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box has lettuce, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers or summer squash, Walla Walla sweet onions, garlic, cabbage, beets, celery

Field Notes.  The farm tour was a wonderful time - perfect weather, delightful people of all ages and an array of food from the farm.  Ken enjoys sharing what he has learned and I like feeding people vegetables!

This week is a mile stone.  Ken has pulled the garlic and the bulk of the onion crop - why a mile stone?  This is the first of the year long crops that will be stored and eaten all winter.Many cultures celebrate this magical time halfway between solstice and equinox.  This was a great start of the harvest - the garlic and onions are numerous, large and firm.  If you need a large volume of onions, contact us!

From the Kitchen. After the farm tour we had the following - kale carrot and onion salad, cucumbers with Asian dressing, green beans dry cooked with garlic and ginger root, beets in a mustardy sauce, tomatoes and onions with balsamic vinegar and basil, and finally applesauce.  I set an index card out with ingredients by each dish so people with allergies can choose to avoid foods if they want.  All those recipes are two entries earlier in the blog under farm tour recipes.

Until Next Week, Judith