Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box has GREENS - lettuce, spinach, salad, cilantro, chives, parsnips, potatoes, onions, garlic, gobo and the last of the storage carrots, and a black radish.

Field Notes.  Rain.  Plants have popped!  Irrigating is just not the same as rain.  We had some unusually warm weather, but several crops just were just waiting for some rain.  The greens are thriving outside the heat of the tunnel, and the soil inside the new location is warming for tomatoes, peppers, etc. Now we are watching weather for late cool weather or frost.  If  - or when - this happens we will be running around covering heat loving seedlings that are hardening off.

Fall plantings are also jumping ahead - the garlic looks great.  In the field Ken's fall planted rye is taking off.  

And Ken has planted several of the early crops - the first potatoes and peas for example.  Soon the first beet crop thins will be harvested; these are a colorful, tasty green.  

From the Kitchen.  Each spring we have a couple of boxes filled with greens.  Although they are not heavy, they pack nutrition and spring cleansing qualities.  If you are not much of a salad person, try sauteing an onion and adding the greens just long enough to wilt them.  Then add what ever will compliment your meal - If we are having pasta with tomato sauce, I tend to serve greens with cream or yogurt.  If I am serving a main course with cheese, I add interesting vinegar and oil to the greens.  When the meal is Asian I add toasted sesame oil and seeds to the greens. 

I also  put chopped greens in a bowl and pour hot clear broth soups over them - this is a great warming start to a cool spring morning.  And in Asia, they often salt greens to back up the chlorophyll flavor and make the greens taste sweeter.  And I cook greens in egg dishes - spinach quiche or spinach omelettes.  We are still in prime egg season!

About this time I pull out the curried potato and parsnip soup recipe.  Saute onion with some curry, add broth and cook potatoes and parsnips.  Puree.  Add some yogurt or cream.  Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a sprig of green - cilantro or chives.

'Til Next Week, Judith

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Moving the Mobile High Tunnel

Ken has been watching the weather  - he wanted to see a consistent warming trend before he moved the mobile high tunnel off the current greens to let them stay cool and to warm the soil for the summer heat loving crops like tomatoes and peppers.

We got some very warm temperatures and we wondered if we could vent the tunnel enough so the greens did not overheat and bolt - go to seed.  Ken asked some friends if they could help.  Early on Tuesday they came over and helped

Ken spent Monday getting ready, and after our helpers left Tuesday Ken anchored the mobile down and closed it up so the soil could warm up.

Then I helped him get up some fencing around the greens now outside the tunnel.  And the light rain was great for the greens

Changes in the Field

This has been a cold and grey spring.  the weather has changed, and Ken has been busy.  He moved enough six gallon buckets of compost to place one every four feet on each side of the medium tunnel in the field - all 178 feet!

And Ken is glad to see his fall planted rye coming up!

Moving the Hens

Our older hens over wintered in the garden where they cleaned up weed seeds, broccoli plants and such.  This week Ken moved them from the garden to the perennial flower (weed) bed that had been an eyesore for years - since I had some knee problems.

Now the chickens are in their new home, and eating the green grass as it comes up - so far no flowers.

A Garden buddha is watching over them

And Ken has been working preparing beds so he can plant more in the garden. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings From the Garden!  This week's CSA box has greens - salad, braising and spinach, potatoes, sun chokes, carrots, onions, garlic, turnips, daikon radish, squash, and chervil

Field Notes.  Once the weather changed, Ken has been busy. He got compost out to the medium tunnel in the field - a six gallon bucket every four feet.

And he got ready to move the mobile tunnel off the greens to its summer location.  Today a crew came and helped move the mobile high tunnel to the summer spot. 

Now the greens are cooler outside the greenhouse and the soil inside is heating up.  Once the soil is warm, Ken can transplant the hot season crops.  

Ken also moved the chickens out of the garden so he could get it ready to plant.  For now the chickens are under the watchful gaze of a lawn buddha
From the Kitchen.  This week Ken has begun harvesting greens that were under the mobile green house until today.  He was concerned they were getting too warm - odd after this generally cool, cloudy spring!  So we have some spinach - a versatile green.  We enjoy it in a salad - I like to use ricotta or feta cheese in the dressing.  I also saute onion, wilt spinach and serve warm with cream or vinegar and cream.  It is great in omelets or cream soups.  When spinach is added, menus usually use Florentine - tomato soup Florentine.

We have some cool weather herbs - chervil is often found in French fine herb blends.  It is a beautiful green, fresh delicate flavor.  We like it added to egg dishes.

'Til Next Week, Judith and the crew

Monday, April 11, 2016

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box has greens. potatoes, parsnips, sun chokes, carrots, celery root, turnips, squash, onions, black radish,.

Field Notes.  We are in a transition time.Last week saw our first harvest from hoops rather than sunny windows in the house.  The greens are slower than usual this season as we have had some colder temperatures and less sunlight than most years.  

Ken has been wrapping up pottery making, maple syrup season and the felling and cutting of trees shading the garden.  We have been splitting and stacking wood for next winter.  The cool mornings have been perfect for this task.  

Much of farming is taking advantage of windows of opportunity.  Too cold to plant?  Cut wood.  Raining?  Work in the green house.  Ken is a master juggler of many diverse tasks and rarely drops a ball.

From the Kitchen.  This week starts sun choke season.  Sun chokes are also called Jerusalem artichokes - they are not related to artichokes and they are not from Jerusalem!  They are indigenous and related to sunflowers.  The tubers are a crunchy texture with a slightly nutty taste.  They contain inulin, a cousin to insulin, and therefore are good for blood sugar issues.  I just scrub making sure I remove any grit where the outside skin overlaps.They are good raw, wonderful pickled as they stay crunchy, and great in fast cook stir fry.  Warning: over cooked sun chokes become grey mush!  

I like to fast fry in hot oil or fat, add minced garlic and tamari or soy sauce just before serving.  Sun chokes are a great substitute in recipes that call for water chestnuts.  Enjoy

'Til Next Week, Judith and the Crew

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  this week's CSA box has potatoes, celery root, carrots, onions, garlic, squash, turnips, black or daikon radishes, greens, and the first spinach of the season.

Field Notes. Ken has been planting inside and in the long medium tunnel in the field. He is juggling plants in several places - a hoopette in the garden, greens inside and out of the mobile high tunnel, seeded areas in both the mobile high tunnel and the medium tunnel in the field.

This week Ken has been wrapping up projects as well.  We are nearing the end of the maple syrup season.  And Ken has been felling trees.  Over the decades he has selectively cut and now the large oaks and maples are shading growing areas - garden, orchard, mobile high tunnel and field.  Last season we had a dramatic reminder as we could see the crops were smaller in the part of the row that was shaded part of the day.

Spinach from last season
From the Kitchen  Greens are growing!  Seeds are sprouting!  these transition times of year are full of drama.  Today we start with spinach form the garden and field outside the mobile high tunnel - great in salad, added to eggs or steamed or creamed.  I love feta cheese in salad dressing on spinach.

Ken's squash pie
And I have been savoring several of the vegetables that will be ending soon - winter squash, for example.  With these last few cool grey days it has been nice to light the oven and bake potatoes and squash. 

It is egg season and so I have been making mayonnaise for deviled eggs and and also making custard.  Maybe I will make spinach quiche!

'Til Next Week, Judith

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Big Red Grows into His Name

A couple years ago in June we were given a tiny orange tiger kitten.

Ken promptly named him Big Red.

Now he is growing into his name.  He is a good worker - he takes care of small rodents that would damage produce.  Thanks, Big Red!

Felling Trees

Ken has selectively cut wood to encourage beautiful oaks.  Now decades later the trees are shading the growing areas - garden, orchard, and field by mobile high tunnel.

So Ken has been felling the oaks.  He will use them well: large trunk portions will be cut to lumber, medium branches will host shiitake mushrooms, small wood will heat the house and the smallest wood will go in the cook stove to cook our food in winter

Ken also had a younger man with proper equipment fell a dying maple that was between three sheds - one is our pottery show room.

Now Ken is cutting the fallen maple into smaller pieces.

I will help organize brush and help move wood

Maple Syrup - Tree to bottle

Ken makes maple syrup.  Each spring when the warm weather starts he taps trees.  Optimum weather to collect sap is sunny 40 degree days with no wind and nights in the 20's.  The sap goes up during the day and down during the night.  Some goes into the spile and to the bucket.

Ken collects the sap from the buckets.  This year I helped him a couple times.

Then he fills a shallow pan called an evaporator and lights a fire under it to boil down the sap to syrup.

When it is nearly syrup we bring it to the house. 

There I get it to the right sugar concentration - 219 degrees, 32 on the Baum scale and 66% on Brix scale.  

Then we filter and bottle it.  This year in addition to our usual reused juice jars, we also filled pint bottles and 8 oz bottles.  

Then I label them and they are ready to sell.  Some people call maple syrup liquid gold.  It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. I like to think that two five gallon buckets of sap make one quart of syrup!