Monthly Archives: August 2015

Everyday beauty

I bought a smart phone recently and find myself taking more photos of our farm’s everyday beauty.

IMG_1673 cabbage green shades
The cabbage family grows in many shades of gray-green. From front, two types of cabbage, then Brussels sprouts, then more cabbage, then our new solar array.  We installed the array for its blue tint.

IMG_1909 eggplant shadows
Once in a while, an eggplant will form rings of color emanating from the stem and calyx.  See how the rings echo the shape of the calyx?  We assume it’s related to light exposure with a new ring forming during each day/night cycle.  It could be temperature-related instead.  There’s a science project in there!

IMG_3145 alfalfa moth2
The alfalfa is in full bloom. We planted it on the scrubby parts of our farm and rarely cut it – it’s there to keep the soil in place and provide habitat for beneficial insects. The blooms come in every shade of lilac. The scent is incredible at full bloom. Of course, the alfalfa blossoms draw many visitors.

IMG_1678 billy frog2
Billy rescued this gorgeous frog and relocated it to a safer spot. Caitlyn took the photo.  We think it’s a leopard frog but could be a pickerel frog.

IMG_1283 flowers in peppers
IMG_1293 ageratum
We plant flowers in our pepper fields to separate the different varieties. (We grew 28 pepper varieties this year.)  The flowers help us keep our bearings, but also bring a jolt of color that we all appreciate.

IMG_1893 pepper label flowers2
The pepper variety marker gets placed at the base of the flowers so it’s easy to find.

IMG_1762 fennel flowers
Steve tilled around this patch of bolted fennel to provide short-term habitat for beneficial insects.  It’s another fragrant beauty.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (August 27/28, 2015, week #15, purple EOW)

Make salsa this week. We’ve sent all the usual ingredients; ripe tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, hot peppers, sweet peppers. Your choice between the sweet Walla Walla onion or the more pungent red onion. I mentioned to the crew that this is our annual salsa box. Their immediate response was ‘Watermelon salsa! Kale salsa!” Turned out that at least one person in the group had made salsa with every ingredient in this week’s box.

Tomatoes, 3.8 lb, mixed slicing & plum
Cilantro, 1 bunch
Garlic, 1 head
Walla Walla onion, 1
Red onion, 1
Jalapeño chiles, 2
Red frying peppers, 2+
Orano peppers, 2+
Yellow or orange bell pepper, 1
Orange or yellow watermelon
Kale, 1 bunch
You will receive two things from this list:
Cucumber OR heirloom tomato OR zucchini OR cherry tomatoes

Next week’s box will probably contain tomatoes, peppers, basil, onions, sweet corn, beans and more.

Jalapeño chiles – These are hot.  You can reduce the heat by removing the seeds and inner membrane of the pepper.


Comforting Classics

Quick Juicy Salsa
Roasted, Seared and Simmered Salsa
Kale Smoothie
Watermelon Popsicles
Blue Room Cilantro Marinade

Outside the Box Recipes

Salsa Carnaval
Braised Lentil and Kale Salad with Grilled Steak or Salmon Chimichurri
Cheese and Sweet Pepper Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce
Watermelon Lassi
Cilantro Oil

Kitchen Sink Recipe

Taco Salad with Kale

Quick and Easy Dinner Idea

Szechuan Pepper and Zucchini Kebabs with Shrimp

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Halfway there

This week begins the second half of our CSA season. There’s so much great produce yet to come.

These is peak work season for us.  We’re harvesting like mad, but still getting our winter storage crops established.  Let’s share some highlights of the past week.

IMG_1697 onions on wagon
Onions are the first seeds we plant in the greenhouse each February. They start as tiny threadlike seedlings, and need so much tending between February and August.  It feels like an accomplishment to nurture them from their weak beginning all the way to harvest.  About one third of the crop is harvested.

IMG_1699 onions in greenhouse
IMG_1753 onions in greenhouse
The onions spend a week or two in the greenhouse to dry before going into cool storage. At top, Gage, Billy and Boi roll crates from the harvest wagon into the greenhouse.

IMG_1744 muskmelon tasting
From left, Jon, Billy and Boi sample muskmelons at lunch. Steve harvests watermelons, the crew harvests muskmelons. We grow multiple varieties. Learning to judge ripeness for each variety requires lots of sampling. It’s part of the job.

IMG_1779 dana kelcie weed carrots
When our harvests are finished each day, we head out to the fields to weed carrots.  Five acres of fall carrots have kept us at this task for weeks.  From left, Kelcie and Dana weed carrots.  Dana is one of several folks leaving us to return to school, either as a student or (like Dana) a teacher.

IMG_1732 rain from porch
After 31 days without rain, Tuesday night’s storm was very, very welcome.  Dry weather is great for the vegetables (it keeps most diseases in check) but hard on Steve who is responsible for irrigation.

IMG_1711 grease travelling gun
IMG_1713 grease travelling gun2
Steve greases the travelling irrigation gun. It’s been used heavily during the past four weeks.

I realize that’s a lot of photos but so much is happening.  Enjoy your week.  Enjoy your veggies.  Beth

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (August 20/21, 2015, week #14, green EOW)

Sweet corn, 7 ears
Muskmelon OR red watermelon
Tomatoes, 3.8 lb, mostly slicing tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes, 1 pint
Orano orange peppers, 2
Red frying pepper, 1
Colored bell pepper, 1
Cucumbers AND/OR Silver Slicers AND/OR pickles
Small globe OR Japanese eggplant, near 1 lb
Walla Walla onions, about 2
Thai basil, 1 bunch
Some sites will get 1 modest head lettuce.

Next week’s box will probably contain tomatoes, peppers, melon, cucumbers, zucchini, kale, onions, garlic, cilantro and more.

Orano peppers (orange, tapered, sweet) – These are great snacking peppers.  Sweet and flavorful, they are excellent raw.  Pack one in your lunch.  These sweet orange peppers look like frying peppers but behave like bell peppers during cooking.
‘Thai Magic’ basil – This basil variety has a hint of anise flavor.  Great in Thai and Indonesian dishes, it’s a fine substitute for Italian basil.  We plant this cultivar for variety, and because it is resistant to a disease that often damages basil in late summer.
‘Summercrisp’ lettuce – We’ll fit these into boxes where there’s room.  As usual, we harvest lettuce small this time of year to avoid problems that develop in warm weather.


Comforting Classics

Zesty Corn Relish
Baba Ghanouj
Laurie Colwin’s Tomato Pie
Bread and Butter Pickle
Green Salad with Grilled Shrimp, Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Thai Basil Vinaigrette
Rustic Roasted Italian Frying Peppers and Tomatoes with Ziti

Outside the Box Recipes

Sweet Corn and Basil Lasagna
Marinated Roasted Asian Eggplant
Smoky Tomato Vinaigrette
IPA Pickles
Thai Cucumber and Tomato Salad
Charred Sweet Peppers with Parmesan

Kitchen Sink Recipe
Feel free to add corn kernels, and roasted or grilled eggplant to this dish. It is very forgiving.


Quick and Easy Dinner Idea

Rice Stuffed Tomato

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Big picture, small details

Steve had a chance to step back and take a broader look at organic farming this week. He attended the Student Organic Seed Symposium (SOSS) in Madison, not as a student but as a community member. Steve studied plant breeding at UW/Madison and we maintain close ties with the horticulture department, which houses one of the largest public vegetable breeding programs in the country.  I’ve written before about our collaborations with Dr. Irwin Goldman and Clare Luby at UW/Madison.  I’ll write soon about this year’s projects.

SOSS describes itself as a “student-driven symposium focussed on fostering dialogue between students, researchers and industry professionals.”  I read that and thought “farmers too” then realized that (ha!) we are “industry professionals.”  The symposium brought some of our heroes to Madison: Tom Stearns of High Mowing Seeds; Rob Johnson, founder of Johnnys Seeds; John Navazio, friend and crop breeder at Johnnys Seeds, plus Irwin Goldman and Bill Tracy of UW/Madison.  They are all stars of organic vegetable breeding.  Steve attended the Organic Seed School, a day of discussions and demonstrations about breeding vegetable varieties specifically for organic conditions, then joined a evening discussion on the same topic.  Our farming work often feels routine this time of year.  It’s good to pause, consider the larger issues we are involved with, and learn something new.

IMG_1670 nienhuis
Today, UW prof Jim Nienhuis brought a group of students, scientists and farmers to visit our farm. All are visitors from Central America. Jim brings a group each year to tour our farm. The group is intensely interested in small scale agriculture. We answer as many questions as we can.  I think we learn as much from the exchange as they do.

Then it was back to work for Steve, specifically melons.  Steve harvests every watermelon we grow for you, unlike other crops which are harvested by our capable crew.  Judging watermelon ripeness is exacting, and Steve remains the expert.  The man loves watermelons and wants to send you our best melons.  You would not believe how many he eats this time of year.  Beth

DSCF7591 steve david melon3
Excuse the older photo. I haven’t snapped Steve in the melon patch yet this year. From left, Bri, Kyle, David and Steve harvest melons.

When should you refrigerate tomatoes?

Ripe tomatoes (top) and less-ripe tomatoes (bottom).

As usual, we have packed a mix of ripe and less-ripe tomatoes so you can stretch them through the week. The top two tomatoes in the photo are ready to eat. The bottom tomatoes need to ripen at room temperature for a few days.  Put on your counter or keep in a brown paper bag.

Tomatoes retain their best flavor and texture when stored at room temperature, no lower than 55oF.  However, you should refrigerate your tomatoes if they are fully ripe and you don’t expect to eat them right away.  It is better to sacrifice a little flavor and texture than lose your tomatoes to rot.  Also, fully-ripe tomatoes are less sensitive to chilling injury.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (August 13/14, 2015, week #13, purple EOW)

Sweet corn, 7 or 8 ears
Tomatoes, 3.5 lb, mostly slicers, maybe a few Romas
Red watermelon AND/OR muskmelon
Italian beans, 3/4 lb
Carrots, 2 lb
Red bell peppers, 2
Red Italian frying pepper, 1
Walla Walla onion, 1
Red onion, 1 or 2
Parsley, 1 bunch
We have some small harvests to share.  Each site will receive globe eggplant OR Japanese eggplant OR Silver Slicer cucumbers OR cucumber OR zucchini.

Next week’s box will probably contain plum and slicing tomatoes, melon, peppers, garlic, herbs and more summer veggies.

Melons – Each site will get either ‘Starlight’ red watermelon OR a ripe muskmelon.  One or two sites will get a small red watermelon plus a small muskmelon named “Sugar Cube,” a variety bred to be small and tasty.
Onions –  We’ve sent a sweet Walla Walla onion plus a more pungent red onion.  The mild Wallas are best raw, the red onion will fry nicely.  We sent this combination because you can tell them apart.


Comforting Classics

Carrot Salad with Caramelized Lemon
Sweet Red Pepper Sauce with Capellini
Light Corn Vegetable Soup
Basic Summer Tomato Sauce
Eggplant and Pepper Bruschetta 
Marinated Carrot and Onion Pickles

Outside the Box Recipes

Sesame Noodles with Peppers and Carrot
Smoky Red Pepper Sauce
Corn O’Brien
Catalan Tomato Bread
Eggplant Tomato Tian
Balsamic Onion Jam

Kitchen Sink Recipe
Feel free to add shredded carrot and even a bit of shucked corn, if desired. Add more liquid to accommodate these extra vegetables.

Shrimp and Pepper Paella

Quick and Easy Dinner Idea

Strip Steaks with Sweet Pepper Ragout

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August 6/7, 2015

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (August 6/7, 2015, week #12, green EOW)

Sweet corn, 10 or 11 ears
Red or yellow watermelon OR 1-2 muskmelons
Slicing tomatoes, 1.9 lb OR 1.25 lb plum tomatoes + 1-2 slicing tomatoes
Italian beans, 2 lb
A bell pepper OR 1-2 eggplants
Cucumbers OR pickles OR Silver Slicers
White onion, 1 large
Basil, 1 – 2 sprigs
You’ll receive 1-2 zucchini if we can fit it in the box.

Next week’s box will probably contain sweet corn, Italian beans, melons, tomatoes, peppers, onions, herbs and more.

White onion – This onion is more pungent than the Walla Wallas that we’ve sent recently.  White onions can be fried at high heat but are not as easy to fry as a yellow storage onion.


Comforting Classics

Tomato and Pepper Braised Romano Beans
Chicken and Corn Pudding
Tomato Tarte Tatin
Aromatic Zucchini Basil Bread
Salmon with Brown Butter Cucumbers
Richard Olney’s Onion Pudding

Outside the Box Recipes

Tofu with Sweet Peppers, Romano Beans, Tomatoes and Eggplant in Tikka Spice
Siwik’s Mexican Grilled Corn
Tomato, Cucumber and Corn Panzanella
Chorizo and Zucchini Soft Tacos
Chilled Cucumber Melon Soup with Coconut
Brazilian Onion Bites

Kitchen Sink Recipe
Feel free to add shredded zucchini, blanched corn and chopped pepper too. Just add more liquid.

Tomato and Green Pepper Shakshuka with Eggs

Quick and Easy Dinner

Melon and Tomato Salad with Ricotta Salata

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