Monthly Archives: September 2013

Equinox tasks

Our tasks are varied and interesting as we transition from summer to fall.  Here’s what we accomplished this week.

  • Harvest, harvest, harvest.  Many summer crops are still ripening (tomatoes, peppers) but the fall crops are ready too.  Workers who joined us this year have little experience with cauliflower and broccoli, so they are learning these “new” crops.  We harvested almost all the winter squash.  I’m eyeing the sweet potato field.  We’d like to get some dug this week.
  • Till down finished crops.  Wow, it’s a relief to finish off some weedy fields.  The squash, melon and cucumber fields are done.  The crew pulled out the drip tape and plastic mulch then Larry tilled, killing off many, many weeds.  It was an instant farm make-over.
  • Steve seeded the final vegetable planting: a field of spinach which will over-winter as small plants.  It should be ready to harvest for the first CSA box next year.  Steve cleaned and lubricated the planter and tucked it away for winter.  It joins the transplanter and other tools that we’re finished with for the year.  There is one more thing to plant (green garlic) but plant whole bulbs by hand and we won’t need the seeder.
  • Plant cover crops.  Lush cover crops of rye and hairy vetch are the backbone of our soil management system.  They improve soil texture and fix nitrogen naturally for next year’s crops.  Steve plants fields to cover crops as they are freed from summer crops.  He’ll continue this job over the next month.
  • Wrap up Bike the Barns.  This didn’t involve much, just tidying the areas used for lunch service and putting the greenhouse benches back in place.  The rental companies returned to pick up the tents, toilets, plates, tables, and an enormous grill rented to cook the homemade sausage.
  • Host a field day for other farmers.  We welcomed a group of 30 farmers for a tour and discussion.  The topic was growing, harvesting and storing late fall crops for winter sales.  That’s one of our specialties.
  • Fix things.  Larry got one of our pick-up trucks running again.  The crew cheered.  They have missed the vehicle during recent harvests.  Steve and Larry worked on our root harvester today in preparation for the beginning of carrot harvests next week.  The 60-year-old harvester needs to be in reliable shape for the rest of the fall, especially during November when we bring in our winter’s supply of carrots, beets, parsnips and other roots.
  • Pack CSA boxes for all of you loyal Tipi members!


Bike the Barns 2013:
rain + hardy bicyclists + great food = success
.
Wow, the Bike the Barns (BTB) fundraiser through FairShare CSA Coalition was exciting this year.  We hosted the lunch stop.  Six hundred bicyclists registered and over 500 rode 30 to 70 miles through the rain.  The riders remained in good spirits even after getting soaked.  We cleared one greenhouse the day before the event, once we realized it was going to be chilly and wet.  The dry greenhouse was a welcome place to eat lunch.

Why do we host the BTB ride?  We are happy to support fundraising for Fair Share’s “Partner Shares” program.  This program supports CSA shares for low-income households, including some of our longterm CSA members who have turned to it during financial crises.  I’m glad the program is there to help.

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Rented tents and other supplies arrived during beautiful weather on Friday.

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By Sunday the weather turned wet and cold, but didn’t keep the riders away.  Ironically, that was our biggest rain in eight weeks.

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Cooks from Monty’s Blue Plate served lunch in our outdoor washroom.

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The ingredients were sourced from local farms.

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Our largest greenhouse was a warm place to eat.

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Steve (in yellow) did not get many takers for his farm tours.

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The sun emerged in time for the after party at Evansville’s Lake Leota Park.

What’s up with the cauliflower??
Do you remember the cool nights in August?  Well, our cauliflower and broccoli plants formed early heads in response.  They are nice quality and very early.  We will pack broccoli and cauliflower for everyone again this week.  Basically, you are getting much of your October cauliflower now, so expect fewer heads in late October.  On the other hand, the broccoli will probably produce steadily.  Amazingly, even the Romanesco broccoli has formed heads.  This is great news, as we often lose many Romanesco to frost before they can reach harvestable size.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes
We send one Anaheim chili per box this week.  Anaheims resemble the Italian frying peppers that we sent last week.  Let me repeat something I wrote a few weeks ago. “Anaheims are hot peppers.  They usually have medium spiciness although it varies from pepper to pepper.  Anaheims are easily mistaken for Italian frying peppers.  We never send them in the same box for that reason.  Keep this in mind if you have frying peppers left over from last week.”

Superior white potatoes, 3.5 lb.
Pak choy, 1 head
Slicing tomatoes, 3 lb
Red bell peppers, 1 or 2
Broccoli
Cauliflower OR Romanesco broccoli
Yellow onions, 2
Chili peppers: 2 poblanos and 1 Anaheim
Cilantro

Some members will get raspberries OR an heirloom tomato.

Next week’s box will probably contain winter squash, peppers, carrots and more.

Superior white potatoes – These are from Chris Malek of Malek Family Stewardship Farm.  Chris grows all our potatoes.  Superiors are excellent all-purpose potatoes, useful for boiling, baking, roasting, etc.  They are a true Wisconsin variety and were developed at one of the UW research farms.
Pak choy (large head with green leaves and pale green or white stems) – This Asian green is very similar to bok choy.  Like bok choy, it is good for stir-frying or sautéing.  It is also good in soups.  You can think of the stems and leaves as two separate vegetables.  The stems require longer cooking.  The leaves will cook almost as quickly as spinach.  Bok choy stores well, so feel free to pull off leaves as you need them, or use the whole head at once.  Refrigerate in a plastic bag.
Slicing tomatoes – Tomato quality is still good (thank you dry weather) so we continue to send them.
Red bell peppers – Many of these are a small but flavorful variety called King Crimson.
Cauliflower – Some heads are yellowish because they were exposed to sun.  The color difference is harmless.
Romanesco broccoli (pale green conical head, possible tinged with purple) – Only one site will get Romanesco this week.  This is one of our prettiest vegetables.  Look at it closely to appreciate its branched beauty and repeating spiral pattern.  It is called broccoli, but is closely related to cauliflower which it resembles in flavor and texture.  Like broccoli and cauliflower, it is fine eaten raw or cooked.  It requires cooking times intermediate between the two.  Don’t overcook it.  I usually steam it, then dress it simply with a butter-lemon-garlic-mustard sauce.
Poblanos chilis (2, red or dark green, blocky triangular shape)
Anaheim chilis (1, red or medium green, long tapered shape)
Both chilis are of medium heat.  Both are easy to peel once roasted.  As usual, the heat is concentrated in the seeds and midveins.  Remove the seeds and midveins is to lessen the chili’s heat.  We roast these chilis and add to many dishes: tomato soup, salsa, lasagne or other casseroles, etc.

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Busy week

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Bike parking during the Bike the Barns event at our farm on 9/15/13.

It’s been an action-packed week, so this newsletter is brief.  I’ll post more photos from Bike the Barns next week.  The event went well despite the wet weather.  Can you believe it?  The weather has stayed dry for months, but it rains during the ride.

Raspberry U-Pick.
We’re having a raspberry u-pick this weekend.
Date:  Sunday Sept. 22
Time: 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.
Price: $2.50/pint
Berry condition:  Excellent.  The berries are at their peak right now and the picking is easy.
General u-pick info and directions:  Go to this page.  Please read before visiting the farm.

Veggies List and Veggie Notes (green week)
We are easing out of summer crops as the fall crops mature.  You know it’s fall when we have winter squash and cauliflower for you.  We will continue to send tomatoes as long as the quality remains good.

Delicata winter squash, 2
Cauliflower, 1 head
Broccoli, 1 – 2 heads
Edamame edible soybeans, 1 bundle
Slicing and plum tomatoes, 2 lb of each, for 4 lb total
Bell peppers, 1 or 2
Italian frying peppers, 2 or 3
Green OR yellow wax beans, 0.6 lb
Yellow onions, 2
Parsley, 1 bunch

A few sites will get an heirloom tomato or raspberries.

Next week’s box will contain potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers and more.

Delicata winter squash (pretty cream and green striped squash) – These are flavorful, thin-walled winter squash.  We always start the winter squash season with delicata or Sweet Dumpling squash because they are ready to eat at harvest, unlike butternut squash which need curing.  Storage:  Store all winter squash at room temperature.
Preparation: These squash have a central cavity that can be stuffed if you wish.  Cut squash in half, scoop out and discard the seeds.  To cook, I place the cut squash face-down on a cookie sheet, then put some water in the pan, and roast at 400 oF until easily pierced with a fork.  The water in the pan is optional.  The flavor is best if you allow the pan to dry during the cooking, so the squash has a chance to caramelize.
Cauliflower (large white or yellow head) – Some of the cauliflower is yellow because it was exposed to sunlight.  This planting surprised us by forming heads earlier than we expected.  We usually tie leaves around the young cauliflower heads to protect them from sunlight and blanch them white.  These heads grew exposed to light, hence the yellowish tint.  It is purely an aesthetic issue and does not affect the taste.
Edamame, edible soybeans (bundle of stems, leaves, and pods) – See our August 28 post for info about edamame.
Yellow onions – This is the first delivery of our yellow storage onions.  These are pungent and will fry well.

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Raspberry progress

We received interesting news from our collaborators at UW/Madison.  I’ve written before about the new raspberry fruit fly pest. We are participants in a fruit fly monitoring program through the entomology department.  The scientists visit weekly to check insect traps at our farm and 19 other sites.  This week, they told us that we are one of their “success stories.”  Apparently our raspberries are in better shape than at other farms, suggesting that Steve’s control efforts are working.  He sprays the field every week, rotating among our limited organic pesticide options.  Most other growers spray too, so we’re puzzled why our berries in better shape but we hope the trend holds.

We will pack raspberries for one site again this week, and welcome feedback on the berries you receive from us.

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Raspberry u-pick this past weekend.  Our children and a friend are at the front, with members down the row behind them.

The raspberry u-pick this weekend went well.  We trained members how to pick the berries to avoid fruit flies.  It’s pretty straightforward.  Remember, we’re having another raspberry u-pick this weekend.
Date:  Saturday September 14
Time: 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.
Price: $2.50/pint
General u-pick info and directions:  Go to this page.  Please read before visiting the farm.

Bike the Barns preparations.
The Bike the Barns fundraiser arrives at our farm this Sunday, and we are dutifully getting ready.  Imagining our farm through the eyes of 600 bicyclists makes us realize how weedy it is.  Oh well, it’s September.  The event has given us a needed push to clean up.  We’ve cleared areas for tents, rented toilets, food prep areas, etc.  There’s a team of ham-radio operators who need their own space.  There’s a special spot to park the 600 bikes.  We’re looking forward to the event.  I’ll take lots of photos.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes

Swiss chard, 1 medium bunch
Leeks, 1 or 2
Mixed green and yellow wax beans, 1.4 lb
Slicing tomatoes, 2.5 lb
Plum tomatoes, 2 lb
Cherry tomatoes, 1 pint
Bell pepper, 1
Anaheim chilis, 2
Red onion, 1
Walla Walla onion, 1
Broccoli, 1 head
Basil, 1 or 2 sprigs
A few sites will get raspberries OR an heirloom tomato as we rotate these harvests to all of you.
We will also pack garlic if the delivery arrives tomorrow.  Otherwise we’ll send it next week.

Next week’s box will contain winter squash, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beans and more.

Leeks (look like big scallions) – These alliums have a milder flavor than onions.  Nonetheless, they can be used in recipes that call for onions.  To wash, split the leek lengthwise, from the green tops about halfway to the base, leaving the base intact.  Rinse well under running water, separating the layers to flush.  If necessary, split the leek further if soil has penetrated more than halfway down the leek.  Shake dry.  Leeks are generally eaten cooked.  They can be sauteed, steamed or roasted.  Intact leeks will store 2 to 3 weeks if covered loosely and refrigerated.  The outer leaves will yellow.  Just peel them off and discard.  The inner leek layers will be fine.
Anaheim chilis (long and slender, red or green) – These are hot peppers.  Anaheims usually have medium spiciness although it varies from pepper to pepper.  As usual, the heat is concentrated in the seeds and midveins.  Remove the seeds and midveins is to lessen the chili’s heat. Anaheims are easily mistaken for Italian frying peppers.  We never send them in the same box for that reason.  Keep this in mind if you have frying peppers left over from last week.

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Thuggish tomatoes

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The tomatoes have us outnumbered this week.  Really outnumbered.  The fields were eerily quiet as every worker picked or washed tomatoes.  Our tomato plants have made a concentrated fruit set and there are so many ripening at once.  All our customers got tomatoes this week: CSA members (in the box plus extra orders), stores, and one wholesale customer who buys 8000 lb each year to freeze for winter sales.  It’s a miracle we had time to pick anything else.

Save the date for our pumpkin u-pick and gleaning party.
This is our most popular farm event.  See this week’s email for the date.  This is a members-only event, so I don’t put the date or other info on the website.  We’ll send more information via email as the date gets closer.

Let’s talk about raspberries.
We are sending the first raspberries of the year to one site this week.  Last year, we did not send raspberries because we were ambushed by a surprise fruit fly infestion, specifically spotted wing Drosophila.  This year, we have sprayed regularly with organic pesticides, giving us pretty good fruit fly control.  We find that picking the berries less ripe also helps.  However, it is inevitable that there will be some fruit flies in the berries.  Toss out soft or problematic berries.  This is a tough situation for all raspberry growers and we are still learning how to manage this new pest. We’d like to hear your comments on the berries you receive.

Raspberry u-picks.
We expect to offer raspberry u-picks for the next month, fruit flies permitting.  We’ve set the first two dates.
U-PICK #1: this Sunday 9/8, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. or until berries run out.
U-PICK #2: next Saturday 9/14, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. or until berries run out.
U-pick price:  $2.50 per pint of raspberries.
We will provide pint containers and boxes to carry the berries home.
Berry report: This a tasty red berry called Caroline.  Berries are abundant right now.  We will teach you how to avoid berries with fruit flies.  However, if you are squeamish about the thought of tiny fruit fly eggs in your berries, then you should not pick.
Who’s invited?: All CSA members are welcome, whether weekly members, EOW members, or families splitting a share.  It is OK to invite non-members to the raspberry u-picks (but not to the busy pumpkin u-pick).
Where:  Here at the farm, 14706 W. Ahara Road, Evansville, WI.
Raindate:  There are no raindates.
Other details:  We’ve posted directions and other info on our website.  Please read before coming to the farm.  The berry field is weedy and stubbly, so we suggest closed shoes.  As usual, please leave your dogs at home.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes.  We’ve sent ingredients to make salsa: tomatoes, cilantro, hot pepper and sweet onions.

melon (honeydew OR red watermelon)
sweet corn, 3 or 4 ears
mixed slicing and plum tomatoes, 5 lb total
Italian frying peppers, 3
cilantro, 1 bunch
Walla Walla onion, 1
white onion, 1
serrano hot peppers, 2
lacinato kale, normal store-sized bunch
Most members will get two items from this list:  broccoli OR globe eggplant OR raspberries OR an heirloom tomato

Next week’s box will probably contain tomatoes, peppers, leeks, carrots?, Swiss chard and more.

Honeydew melons (white rind, pale green flesh) – These need extra attention to determine when they are ripe.  For years we have struggled to grow good honeydew melons, trying new varieties and techniques but never harvesting more than an armful.  This season … success!  About 80% of you will get a honeydew this week.  Most of these melons were harvested slightly under-ripe (to prevent splitting) and should sit at room temperature for one to three days develop full flavor and sweetness.  Ripe honeydews feel slightly soft to a firm touch.  Some melons are closer to ripe, some are still hard as we pack them.  We hope you enjoy them.
Watermelons – The watermelons are ready to eat.
Sweet corn – Many ears have insects at the tip so be prepared to cut off the tips.  It is a widespread problem in this harvest so we cannot avoid those ears.  However, this batch of corn tastes great.  This is the final sweet corn delivery.  We originally planned three sweet corn deliveries but the weather intervened and stretched the harvests to five deliveries (not counting the deliveries of just an ear or two.)  We find we like this schedule.  Next year, we’ll deliberately plant more, smaller fields.  It reduces the risk that one group of EOW members will get most of the corn deliveries.
Italian frying peppers (long, slender, red or green) – See our previous post for more info about these peppers.
Walla Walla onions (sparse, loose yellow skins) – These are sweet and wonderful in fresh salads.
White onions (whiter in color) – These can also be used in salads but are more pungent.  They will fry much better than the Wallas.
Serrano peppers (small green or red chili) – These are HOT.  They are small so don’t overlook them in the bottom of your box.

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