Natural events, August 2015

The remarkable thing about August was the pleasant stretch of weather late in the month, with highs not exceeding the low 80s and lows not exceeding the mid 60s. We enjoyed many lovely August dinners on the porch, amazed by the comfortable temperature and low humidity. Typically, Missouri August comes with amazing food and miserable weather, so to enjoy eating August food in pleasant weather outdoors was a delight! Precipitation moderated in August (in comparison to the soggy months preceding it), though the month managed to give us both too little and too much rain. The bulk of the month’s rain came in a 2.89” one-morning dump, with the rest of the month contributing only about three-quarters of an inch, for a grand total of 3.67”. All in all, not a bad month, given what this state is capable of serving up. We haven’t hit 100ºF all summer (and we’re hoping it stays that way).

Which of these things is not like the others? The answer is below the break (along with many more photos).

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Buy Chert Hollow garlic at World Harvest in 2015!

This year, our diverse culinary garlic will primarily be available at World Harvest Foods, an international grocery in south Columbia, near the intersection of Nifong and Providence. Look for the display opposite the cheese counter. We grow a dozen varieties, of which about 5 will be available at any given time; stop by regularly to experience the full diversity! If you are interested in a bulk purchase, please contact us directly and we’ll put together your order for pickup at the store.

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2015 varieties and ID codes

Each garlic head sold at World Harvest is labeled with an ID code to help you keep track of varieties at home. The table below relates these codes to the variety and its culinary properties.

Hardneck Varieties
Robust & exciting flavors. Heads structured with cloves arranged around a stiff central stalk; cloves generally large and fairly uniform in size.
Variety ID code Approx clove count Description
Bogatyr BOGA 3-7 A good general-purpose garlic. Hot raw flavor, rich when roasted or cooked.
Brickey BRIC 8-10 A family heirloom from a market customer. Delicious sautéd, spicy hot when raw.
Georgian Crystal CRYST 5-7 A really nice roaster, sweet & rich. Intense raw flavor. Big cloves for the garlic lover.
Georgian Fire FIRE 4-6 A delight for lovers of spicy food. Adds a zing to salsa or gazpacho.
German Extra Hardy GEXH 3-6 Excellent for roasting, as the cloves produce a complex sweet flavor under high heat.
Russian Giant RUGI 4-6 Large cloves are a garlic lover’s delight. Carries some  spicy heat raw or roasted.
Samarkand SAMAR 9-11 Peppery and distinct, both sweet and hot. Medium cloves for all-purpose use.
Shvelisi SHV 10-12 A “just-right” general-purpose garlic, with moderate clove size and quantity.
Siberian SIBER 4-8 Robust and rich when cooked, an ideal garlic to feature. Our favorite.
Softneck Varieties
Classic garlic flavor. Heads structured with layers of cloves, which vary in size within a head but are generally smaller than hardnecks.
Variety ID code Approx clove count Description
Chet’s Italian Red CHET 12-18 Rich flavor when used raw; ideal for dressings and pesto.
Lorz Italian LORZ 9-16 Some zing when raw, but minimal aftertaste. A Slow Food Ark of Taste variety.
Tochliavri TOCH 10-18 Recommended for all uses. Spiciest of the softnecks. Excellent roasted, sweet & well rounded.

Advice on choosing garlic varieties:

Any garlic variety can be used in any culinary situation calling for garlic. No need to fret, for example, if you bought a variety suggested for roasting if you decide to saute; just use it! Chances are the results will be delicious.

However, matching the right garlic to the right use can yield some spectacular results. Here’s a cheat sheet of some of our favorites:

  • Favorite roasters: Georgian Crystal, Tochliavri, German Extra Hardy
  • Favorite sauteed: Siberian is a standout, but all are excellent
  • Favorite raw, if minimal aftertaste desired: any of the softnecks, but especially Chet’s Italian Red
  • Favorite raw, if spicy flavors desired (in salsa, for example): Georgian Fire, Russian Giant

Most importantly, have fun exploring the possibilities!

More information

Pesticide drift: the rest of the story

National Public Radio is airing a story about pesticide drift threatening organic farms, which includes a portion of our story from 2014. The nature of radio stories inevitably leaves out details and context, so here we re-link to the three-part series we wrote for our website, laying out our experience in more detail. It’s an important read for anyone interested in this topic:

Experiencing pesticide drift, part I

Experiencing pesticide drift, part II: Calling in the government

Experiencing pesticide drift, part III: how drift isn’t taken seriously

We also wrote an article for small-farm trade journal Growing For Market about the topic.

Are birds damaging our apples?

What’s doing this to our apples?

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For weeks, we’ve been finding cavities dug out of our young apples, often with some kind of rot starting within the excavation. We don’t find any insects or caterpillars inside the  cavities, nor any frass. Generally the cavities have smaller wounds nearby. This damage devastated the fruit on our William’s Pride tree, damaging over half the fruit. As they were nearly ripe, we were able to carve around and eat some of the damaged fruits, but still lost a lot of apples. About the time the William’s Prides were gone, the same thing started happening on the two nearby Liberty trees, a worse loss because Liberty doesn’t ripen until September, so the fruits are way too underripe to eat. Not being able to identify any insect behavior linked to this has been maddening, until a belated two-part aha moment cleared things up. Continue reading

Natural events, June 2015

The month of June has been brought to us by the letters R, A, I, N, and the symbols @$#!. This has been an awfully wet period for much of our region, starting after the first week of May, in which round after round of rain keeps sweeping through. This has caused all sorts of agricultural headaches, including supercharged weed growth, plant disease, soil erosion, muddy farm roads, and soggy, un-hoe-able soil preventing us from planting, maintaining, and harvesting crops for sale or personal use. We’ve been keeping on-farm precipitation records since late 2009; here’s what the cumulative rainfall numbers look like for each year starting at the beginning of May:

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While other years had higher totals at times, they also all had longer periods between rainfall events, providing a chance to dry out and get work done. This year, after the first week of May, only TWICE have we gone three days in a row without measurable rainfall, and the daily totals are often heavy. We’re not regretting our sabbatical from the CSA this year, as it’s been stressful enough managing the land under these conditions without the added pressure of biweekly harvest and deliveries.

Nevertheless, we experienced a lot of interesting natural phenomena in June, and took a lot of photos, so read on for an illustrated tour of the farm’s ecosystem during this time of year.

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Cooking with kid: Stir fry with tenderloin

Tenderloins are lovely pieces of meat, as tender as the name implies. They are located along the backbone, internal to the body cavity, so you can’t reach around and feel your own like you can loin/backstrap. Removing this cut from the carcass is a bit awkward, and sure enough when butchering the goat kid featured in this cooking series, I managed to put a big knife cut through of one of them. The tenderloins are long and skinny, and those from a kid are on the small side: Crystal’s were about a half pound (including two thin strips, not photographed, that may or may not “officially” be tenderloin). What would I do with smallish pieces of meat, tender and suitable for quick high-heat cooking, with a pretty bad gash though the middle of one? Stir fry seemed a sensible answer.

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Natural events, May 2015

A late April dry spell continued into the first week of May, overlapping almost perfectly the time we would otherwise have expected to find morels. Our farm-total morel count this year was one (technically in late April). Then it turned wet and has remained so; we recorded rain on 18 days of the month. Temperatures were remarkably pleasant, with the warmest days in the low 80s. Despite the overall cool weather, it did not frost in May. Our last spring frost was the morning of April 28, though we just escaped frost on May 20 thanks to persistence in cloud cover. May is always a good month for nature observation; photo highlights below.

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