CSA distribution # 17 & newsletter

Our next CSA distribution will be Monday July 23 and Thursday July 26. There’s really nothing to add about conditions on the farm. We’ve gone over a month now with no meaningful rain; the 0.31″ that fell Wednesday night really didn’t make an appreciable difference though it’s better than nothing. It’s still absurdly hot with no relief in sight; next week’s temperature forecast is in the 103-104º range. We did take a day off this past week to do something fun and relaxing, which we’ll write about soon, but the day-to-day conditions continue to be stressful and exhausting. Read on for more about this week’s share & other on-farm stuff:

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE
Above is a typical full share from last week. This week will be a bit different as a few things start up while others vanish, but this is about the right amount/volume we’re shooting for as the summer progresses.

NEW! Jimmy Nardello’s Italian Pepper We love these long, sweet, red peppers; read more here. We use them in just about everything.
NEWish! Scallions/green onions
The last batch of scallions we gave out two weeks ago may have stored a bit too long, based on some we used at home. Our apologies if some of you found them less than ideal. This next batch will be a fresh harvest from one remaining planting which we’d kind of forgotten about, before returning to regular onions next week.
Jalapeno peppers
Back after a week’s break, these have a nice medium heat and flavor. Use them to add spice to anything, or halve & seed them before stuffing with soft cheese and roasting for a great appetizer.
Okra Starting to fruit and growing fast. These are an heirloom variety, Burmese, that can grow quite large and still be tender and tasty. Remember that these have a relatively short storage life. Try them fried in cornmeal, or chopped into soups or curries.
New potatoes Variety TBD, likely Purple Viking, which has a purple skin and white flesh. These are towards the starchy end of the potato spectrum, very good mashed. We’ll update this post if we end up changing the variety. Amounts per share will once again be based on the yield, which seems to depend largely on what the voles stole. Last week was better than much of what we had last year, but still not great. So enjoy the potatoes as a special treat.
Cherry tomato mix Should be about a quart this week.
Mid-sized slicer tomatoes
Enjoy these roasted or sliced, they’re very versatile. A note about tomato storage & handling: We generally let tomatoes ripen up most of the way on the vine. Tomatoes picked a bit under-ripe will generally ripen up nicely if placed stem-end down on the counter. Monitor occasionally just in case a bad spot starts to develop. If it does, cut that out, eat the rest. Generally speaking, it is best to avoid refrigerating tomatoes, because that affects the flavor. However, if you have really ripe tomatoes that you just can’t eat right away, refrigeration may be a better choice than letting them rot on the counter.
Big ugly heirloom tomatoes
We actually included these last week given how fast they were ripening. These are the extra juicy & flavorful tomatoes that are worth eating on their own. They’re riskier to grow than the smaller slicers we focus on, but are so good we decided to include a few in our planting plans (partly due to survey responses last winter about what members were hoping for in their shares). So far the risk is paying off in what is to this point an excellent tomato year.
Cucumbers & summer squash (uncertain)
These are declining fast due to heat-induced pest/disease stress and we’re definitely not sure what will happen by next week. They may be on the survey but not arrive in your bags. Another, smaller, cuke planting has small fruits and looks healthy so far. We’re moving into the planned-for break from squash. New plants are started, but only time will tell how they’ll do.
Cured garlic Last week was Georgian Crystal again, due to a slight miscommunication within management. This week we’ll offer two heads: 1) Georgian Fire is hot & spicy raw, great for salsas; if you’re not a big fan of spicy, cooking will mellow the spiciness. 2) Tochliavri is a softneck variety that has great flavor but is fairly mellow used raw (little/no aftertaste), making it great for pesto, gazpacho, etc. The softneck varieties are a little substandard this year, with small cloves and lots of volume of clove skins. The ones we’ve used have had some useful garlic inside, just not as much as we’d like. NOTE TO PARTIAL SHARES: We’re trying to figure out how to balance offering diversity/quantity of garlic to partial shares. Here’s our thought: We’re going to start offering 2 varieties pretty regularly. If you say yes to both on your survey, we’ll give you small heads of each variety. If you say yes to one and no to the other, we’ll give you a bigger head of the one you want. That way, if diversity of garlic varieties is more important to you, you’ll get smaller heads; if big heads is more important to you, you’ll get less diversity. Seem okay?

HERBS
We’re going to return to 4 herb bundles/full share and 2/part share this week, but move basil from guaranteed item to one of the choices.

BACK! Thyme It is Greek Salad season, and thyme is an excellent addition to the dressing.
Basil:
The current planting is maturing, starting to flower a bit, and developing a bit of woodiness in the stems. These signs often coincide with development of bitterness; we think it is doing okay so far, but this extreme heat may stress the plants, too.
Lime basil  Looks like many of you have discovered the joys of this herb based on the number of “Yes” responses on last week’s survey. This variety starts flowering early, but usually bitterness is less of an issue, at least for a while.
Thai basil

Parsley
Shiso: Mix of red & green varieties. Really pretty! There’s lots of this, so bundle size will be generous.
Green coriander: Great for salsa.
Sage
Tarragon

Orange mint
Kentucky colonel mint

VIEWS OF THE FARM

Here’s how our two main production areas looked Wednesday afternoon. These panoramas give a sense of how dry conditions are overall, though they also make the crops look worse than they really are. Most of the established crops are actually doing reasonably well (it’s us that’re wilting, along with the squash & cukes). We’re working on a photo essay of crop close-ups, to show how different the drought situation is on a diversified vegetable farm than a monocultured commodity farm; look for that sometime next week. In the meantime, we’re scared of our next water & power bills, given all the irrigation and cold-storage needs for a year this hot & dry.

ON-FARM FOOD THIS WEEK
Here are a few meals we enjoyed this week; on-farm ingredients listed in italics.

Fresh pizzas, such an easy meal using homemade no-knead dough. From left to right, potato/garlic/rosemary/goat ricotta; tomato/basil/goat ricotta; potato/sweet pepper/parmesan. Potato pizza is a great way to highlight potatoes if you don’t have many of them. One small-medium potato, very thinly sliced, can cover a full-sized pizza.

Last Sunday we met up with our friend Liz from Happy Hollow Farm, after she’d finished selling at the Sunday market. Over drinks at Broadway Brewery, with live bluegrass in the background, we had a great time catching up and sharing stories/complaints. It was very refreshing to hear and share similar stresses on our similar farms, and know we’re not alone in being addled by heat or in other frustrations. We bought a leftover head of summer lettuce from her, something we don’t grow this time of year, and put it to good use on these two meals:

Above left, BLT of homemade bread, farm-cured pancetta, pesto, tomatoes, Happy Hollow lettuce. Above right, deluxe salad of HH lettuce, carrots, beets, cucumber, peppers, goat cheese.

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