August Fifth

It is so interesting how a little weather shift with some cooler temperatures has us thinking and feeling Fall. There is never a dull moment on the farm. We are busy harvesting, weeding, and yes, even planting still! The running gear wagon is loaded up with transplants scheduled to go into the ground this week with transplants of fall kohlrabi, rutabaga, broccoli and lettuce. Soon we will direct seed fall Spinach as well.

We finished up garlic harvest last week and got a good start on onion harvest. The Amish say never to let an August rain fall on your onions. Very slim chances for rain in the forecast make getting the onions all out in time probable. All of the white, yellow and chippolini onions are in and we’re about half way done with red shallots. We will finish up red shallots and red onions this week. We always fall behind on our weeding this time of year when we’re using all of our labor hours for harvesting and very little time is left for weeding projects. We’re hoping that once onion harvest is done we’ll have a little time to squeeze in some weeding as well.

We ‘cure’ our onions in the greenhouse where it is shaded now with a blanket of shad cloth over the top of the structure. Onions need a few good weeks of dry weather to cure where their tops dry down and onions harden a little and let go of the moisture what was in their leaves. Onions are the very first crop that we start in the first week of March in the greenhouse. We seed them by hand into soil block trays when there is still snow on the ground and the farm is quiet and still. They own the greenhouse for a couple weeks in the early part of the season when they don’t have to share heat, space or farmer love with any other crops. Now, as the greenhouse is finally empty of transplants, they move back in and dominate ALL of the greenhouse space as their full, mature, bulbous selves in early August.

Onions are a surprisingly tricky crop to grow. They require very early transplant in the first part of the season. Onions are the very first crop that the crew transplants in their first week of work on the farm in late April/Early May. They are tiny, grass-like looking plants that are tricky to keep out of the weeds. Onions also have several different diseases that can affect their growth. If a farmer is lucky and their crop of onions looks good, they last battle is getting them out of the field in time before any of the layers begin to die back into the onions themselves which causes rotten layers in the onions. Onions also like a very dry stretch of weather for curing time. If it’s too rainy and wet during curing, they cure or dry down too slowly which, again, will cause them to rot. Onions really are like people with so many layers of complexity to fully understand who and what they are!

Another sign of Fall on the farm is that we are seeing some of the first ripening winter squash fruits out there. It’s a little early to go in for harvest, but seeing pumpkins turning orange and kabocha squash turning red, our eyes widen a little! We aslo began harvesting the first of the tomatoes this week. Tomato production should increase to where we are sharing 8lb bags regularly. It will be a steady incline in production now for several weeks. This week is simply the first picking of the season with one tomato per member. Surely, summer is not over, we have yet to fully indulge in the magnificent fruits of our labors. We just love sharing all of this beautiful food with you!

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Soooo....What's in the Box????

Melons-  Every member received two melons this week. We tried to give everyone a Yellow Doll Watermelon and one Cantelope, but many people received two Yellow Doll Watermelons.  This cute little yellow watermelon has yielded very well for us in past years and is a tried and true variety that we have really loved growing.  The Cantelope melons are beginning to ripen.  We went through the melon patch and picked all of the cantelopes that were showing signs of ripening.  If your cantelope does not smell melony, you could give it a little time on the counter to ripen up.  Cantelope will ripen off the vine on the counter or in 50 degree storage well.  Watermelons do not ripen off the vine.  

Sweet Corn-  5-6 Ears per member this week.  Farmer Adam is doing an excellent job of keeping the racoons out of the sweet corn this year!  We have moved into our second succession of sweet corn this week.  We should have 2-3 more weeks of sweet corn givings ahead of us averaging about 5-6 ears per box.  While we have all seen sweet corn being sold on the roadside, sweet corn really does prefer to be kept cold.  From the moment it is picked, the sugars begin turning into starches.  For best flavor of your corn and the highest sugar content, we recommend eating it up as soon as possible.  Corn does need to be kept cold for any amount of storage to slow the process of the sugars turning to starches.  

Cauliflower-  One cauliflower per member this week.  

Broccoli-  One broccoli per member this week.  

Celery-  This week we started to cut the celery plants apart because many of them had rotten centers.  We removed the centers and bunched the stalks.  Celery will oxidize once it has been cut, so the cut ends of the celery may look rusy or brown, but this is normal.  When you're ready to cook with your celery, cut off the brown ends and use the rest of the stalks.  Celery will keep best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  Remember to use your celery leaves in stocks, soups, juices or minced into your salads.  Locallly grown celery has a darker green color with a stronger celery flavor.  

Peppers-  So this is a little early to be picking peppers.  Some of the Ace variety is ripening to red. Some of you may have received a red pepper.  We are seeing some kind of a disease on some of our pepper plant leaves that is causing the leaves of the plants to drop.  Because the leaves of the pepper plants are dropping, many of the young, green peppers are exposed to the sun.  The sun will scald the exposed fruits.  This week we made the difficult decision to pick any of the green peppers that were exposed to the sun and in danger of being sun-scaled.  Our goal is to only give sweet, red, yellow and orange peppers all summer/fall, but in this scenario we are forced to pick some of them green before they ripen to colors.  Our hope is that you can find a use for a few green peppers this week.  Adam is working hard to try and stop the spread of this disease we have on the pepper plants with the boilogical fungicide that we can use (copper) that is approved for certified organic growers.  More on the pepper production next week!  

Zucchini/Summer Squash-  Zucchini and summer squah harvest is waning quickly.  The plants are still producing a little, but the numbers are down.  We are still thinking we'll get more for next week yet!  

Cucumbers-  Cucumbers are also waning in production.  You may notice that the cucumbers are less perfect looking in form.  We are lowering our quality standards a little now as we get into the later part of the cucumber season.  

Lettuce-  One head of red leaf lettuce per member this week.  Lettuce keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Eggplant-  You may have received one standard eggplant or two Japanese Eggplants.  

Tomato-  Tomato production is just beginning!  You will notice that we harvest any tomato with a 'blush'.  By 'blush' we mean any tomato that is beginning to show any signs of color.  Tomatos ripen so quickly off the vine that we simply could not wait until they were 100% ripe to pick them or we would be sending you tomato sauce in your box and not tomatoes!  These tomatoes will ripen very nicely off the vine if you leave them to sit on your countertop or windowsil to ripen.  They will not ripen in your refrigerator.  You may have received either one whole tomato or a half pint of cherry tomatoes.  The cherry tomato variety that we grow is called Sun Gold.  Sun Golds ripen orange and not red, do not wait for them to turn red!  Again, some of these Sun Gold cherry tomatoes were picked a little under-ripe.  Leave them on your countertop to ripen for a few days!  

Onion-  One white onion per member.  The onions are still very fresh looking and feeling!  So fun to slice into a very fresh onion like this with a good, sharp knife!  

Garlic-  Fresh garlic!  You'll notice when you go to cut up your garlic that the membrane around each clove of garlic that is usually papery is now a thicker, fresher membrane that has not quite cured yet, so it will look different than what you're used to.  This is the Armenian variety with just three to four large cloves per bulb.  You'll love using this kind of garlic in your cooking because you'll spend a lot less time peeling tiny cloves!  It has a much crispier and juicier feel to it as well.  

Basil-  Cute little bunches of basil for your pizza, bruschetta, or however you fancy!  Basil will turn black in your refrigerator.  Keeps best like cut flowers in a glass of water.  

Beets-  .85lbs beets per member this week.  It hasn't proven to be our best beet growing year.  We will have another week of beets next week for everyone.  Beets keep best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Next Week's Best Guess:  Red Cabbage, Cantelope, green beans, celery, onion, tomato, sweet corn, parsley, chard or kale, beets, broccoli, hot peppers, cucumbers, zucchini/summer squash

Recipes:

Slow Roasted Beet Salad

Grilled Eggplant Ratatouille Muffaletta

Stuffed Summer Squash

Crisp Cucumber Salsa

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