CSA distribution #13 & newsletter

Our next CSA distribution will be Monday June 25 and Thursday June 28. Summer crops like tomatoes, beans, and peppers are getting quite close (we had the first taste of all three this week), but in the meantime enjoy a few more weeks of the last spring crops like beets, carrots, and cabbage. We got 2.62″ of rain in locally strong thunderstorms on Saturday (most of the region got far less), but much of it ran off before soaking in and it’s impressive how fast the soil dried out again under repeated hot, sunny, windy days ever since. It was a nice one-time soaking but we need regular rain to make a real difference, especially as temperatures continue to rise. The Kansas City forecast office of the National Weather Service included this nugget in their Friday morning forecast discussion:

There appears to be little chance of any meaningful rainfall across the region for the entire forecast. With 100+ readings expected by the end of the week the drought conditions will undoubtedly worsen across the area in the coming week

While summer vegetables like temperatures in the 90s, once we get toward 100 and overnight temps get too high, plants stop setting fruit and various other bad things happen. In the meantime, read on for more about what we’re doing and cooking on the farm.

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE
We hope you enjoyed the shiitake mushrooms; I doubt they’ll appear again before the fall, but who knows? It felt very good to get some of these out to people.
Scallions
Green garlic: best stored in the refrigerator.
Cabbage
Carrot roots
Beets: probably freshly-pulled beets w/greens. Guide to beet varieties: There are four visually distinct types of beets: The golden ones are obvious; they tend to have lower yields than the reds, so there aren’t a lot of these. Chioggias are pink on the outside and have a bulls-eye pattern of pink and white concentric circles when cut open. Cylindras are long & cylindrical, as the name implies; these are great for slicing into a series of nice uniformly sized pieces. The remainder of the beets (~60% by planting area) are round red hybrids. We’re trialing three varieties of these this year, but they’re basically impossible to tell apart unless you check the planting records at pulling time. We generally prefer open-pollinated varieties (often heirlooms) for most crops, but we’ve found that the hybrids perform much better when it comes to beets. Last year we also felt that the hybrids were less susceptible to developing bitterness, especially as the weather heats up.
Kale: same harvest batch as last week. No restaurants ordered any, contrary to expectations, so we’ll distribute the rest. We expect our greens to last two weeks from harvest, so this kale should be fine, but don’t assume it still has two weeks of life on it when you receive it.
Summer squash(small and larger): Squash have been interesting so far. They’re producing heavily, but we’re not getting the restaurant sales we anticipated (compared to last year), so have way too many nice small squash on hand. We think this is due to slow restaurant business plus pretty much everyone in the area producing heavily and thus flooding the market; all our restaurant sales have been slow lately. Among CSA members, we’ve had higher than expected demand for “large” squash, which is wonderful, but ironically I’m picking them too regularly to generate enough overgrowns for everyone. This past week we just substituted in the weight equivalent of smaller squash in some peoples’ shares and hoped you didn’t mind. If you very specifically want a large squash, but not several smaller ones instead, make a note in your survey. Keep requesting that squash, otherwise the overproduction is going to start going to the pigs. Here’s some inspiration on using/preserving lots of summer squash.

HERBS

Basil: We’re going to list this in the produce section of the survey so you have a chance to request extras. Basil generally does not store well in the refrigerator; it will usually turn brown from the excessive cold & drying. Long stems can be stored in a jar of water at room temperature (as you would a bouquet of flowers). Short stems will store in the refrigerator in a bag or sealed container for a little while.
Green coriander
Lavender: The lavender is slowing down, but we’ll take the chance of offering it one more week & hope we can fill requests.
Oregano
Sage: BACK
Tarragon

Orange mint
Kentucky colonel mint
Garlic chives
Chives
Catnip

GARLIC HARVEST
Like everything else this year, garlic harvesting has had to happen much earlier than usual. We always think of garlic as being day-length sensitive and mostly independent of weather conditions for its maturation, but not this year. As I write this on June 21, we have all the garlic harvested and are ~80% finished with sorting and hanging it in the barn for curing. For a good background on our garlic handling methods, read this post from last year; note that it was published in July 12 when we had just finished that year’s harvest. There are various odd and/or worrying traits about this year’s garlic, which we think relate to the unusual season, and which we’ll be writing about (hopefully) soon, but there will be plenty of garlic for CSA. Our main worry now is the quality of seed garlic for fall planting.

ON-FARM FOOD
We’ve certainly been able to enjoy a wide variety of produce and interesting meals lately, with the onslaught of produce variety resulting from this early growing season. We ate the first green beans, tomatoes, and peppers right around the solstice, absurdly early for us; last year our first cherry tomatoes matured in mid-July. Here’s a photo essay of some nice on-farm meals for CSA inspiration; all on-farm-sourced ingredients listed in italics.

Above left: fried rice with organic rice, eggs, squash, carrots, peas, scallions. Above right: pasta with organic penne, carrots, peas, herbsAbove left: cast-iron-sauteed squash, sweet potatoes (last year’s!), peas, fennel, beets, carrots, scallions. (We grow our own sweet potato slips & were holding a few good roots as backups in case of catastrophe. Most of the sweet potatoes are now planted, so we can now consume the extras, which still taste great.) Above right: kale, green garlic, scallions sauteed in home-rendered lard, balsamic vinegar.Above left: homemade crepes (eggs, milk, flour, water, oil) with two fillings: fresh tomatoes, basil, goat’s ricotta and pico de gallo of fresh tomatoes, cilantro, banana pepper, goat’s ricotta, citrus. Side of sauteed squash with World Harvest parmesan. Above right, how to use lavender flowers in desserts. Honey-lavender ice cream (goat’s milk heated and infused with local honey and fresh lavender flowers, sent through our ice-cream maker) topped with lavender butter cookies (based on this recipe).

 

3 thoughts on “CSA distribution #13 & newsletter

  1. i’m super jealous of your delicious looking meal pictures! i’m coming over for dinner soon! 🙂
    glad you found the snake! i killed to coons last week and haven’t had any more trouble but i know the fox is still out there. have you all had any trouble with your electric fence not being “hot”? i have two fences strung together and have walked the perimeter numerous times and there’s no obvious grounding happening. when i touch the ground with one hand and the fence with my other hand it shocks the shit out of me. but when i just touch the fence i can’t even tell that it’s on. any thoughts? hugs to you both!!! 🙂

  2. Liz,

    My understanding is electric fences lose some effectiveness during drought conditions. With so little moisture in the ground, it’s harder for the charge to travel back to the grounding rod to complete the circuit. We have the pigs in two net fences on a solar charger, and it’s only reading about 1/3 what it’s capable of; you’re using a solar too, right? The rest of our fences are run off a plug-in charger, including our probably several miles of 5-strand high-tensile. There are actually special plug-in chargers sold for dry areas like NM or TX, and we’re thinking of investing in one. On the other hand, you don’t have to work so hard to keep the weed load off the net fences under these conditions…

    You might also consider investing in a fence tester. Not real expensive, and saves on shocking the shit out of yourself.

    Caught our most troublesome coon, too. Used a rotten peach in the trap.

    Good luck getting through this week’s heat.

  3. Liz, I water my grounding rods (electric net around goats and wires around garden) every day when it is this dry. I also just added more grounding rods, as that also helps. Eric and Joanna – this is a really interesting blog – I would have nicer things to say but I just looked at the 2-week weather outlook and I’m too depressed to type anymore… -Sarah