CSA distribution #29 & newsletter

Our next CSA distribution will be Monday October 22 and Thursday October 25. After a much-needed break, in which we took some enjoyable time off and got some useful work done, we’re back to the usual routine. This week’s share will really reflect the transition to fall crops, with a last trickle of stored summer items outweighed by numerous fall greens and other new products. Coming up on Saturday October 27 is our big CSA party (details here), following which we’ll skip another week of distributions (the scheduled posted in week #22 is still valid).

The last week’s fall colors have been surprisingly vibrant, highlighting the farm’s transition into still-growing cool-season crops even as most plants wind down for the year. Above, several lush beds of leeks contrast quite nicely with the ridge beyond. Migratory birds have been quite active, with Robins, Yellow-Rumped Warblers, and Juncos passing through in especially large numbers. We have lots on our plate this coming week, including preparing & planting all of next year’s garlic (over 2,000 heads), preparing to separate the goat herd into two pastures for breeding purposes, building the roasting pit for next week’s party (and all other prep), harvesting & distributing another week of shares & restaurant orders, and so on. Fortunately, the weather remains delightfully seasonal and we have a beautiful work environment to enjoy it in. Next weekend should be a lot of fun, and we’re looking forward to the food and company.

Mid-late October is our usual garlic planting time; it’s a long-season crop that won’t mature until next summer. This is a significant task, especially given the 12 or so varieties we grow. Back during this summer’s harvest, we separated all the garlic into various grades by head size and quality, reserving more than enough of our desired qualities to provide fall planting stock. Now, in preparation for planting, we’re going through all of these to separate cloves from heads, inspect them, and do a final sorting by quality for planting. So far this year, this task has been worrisome. We wrote about various problems and oddities in the garlic back in July, and are continuing to see concerning features such as mold in our stored planting stock that we think are related to the earlier problematic weather & growing conditions. Thus we will not be distributing garlic again until after we finish planting, to make as much potential planting stock available as possible.

NEW! Sweet potatoes
After a few weeks of curing, the first round of these delicious roots will be available. Give them a good scrub, dice or coin them (don’t peel), toss with olive oil & salt, and roast them at 450ºF for a real treat. We’ll distribute some of the smaller ones and those that got a slight jab by the pitchfork during digging, since these won’t store as long but are perfectly good now. Just slice around any damaged spots and send those bits to the compost pile. Sweet potatoes can also be used for pies/custards, stir fries, soups, and more. Store these on your kitchen counter, NOT in the fridge. They’ll do just fine at room temperature for many weeks.
NEW! Lettuce mix Multiple varieties of baby leaves make this a tasty salad mix that should last up to two weeks, as it’ll be fresh-harvested the day before distribution.
NEW! Turnips Possibly several varieties, including regular purple-top turnips and the smaller/sweeter Hakurei varieties; these roots can be roasted like potatoes, incorporated into soups, or stir-fried. We’ll deliver them without greens unless specifically requested, as they store better that way and the greens are an acquired taste, especially when so many other greens are available.
NEW! Leeks These delicious alliums are a staple of fall/winter cuisine with a sweet, distinctive flavor. Use them however you would onions, especially in settings where their flavor is featured (don’t bury them in complex soups). Leeks are especially good featured in sautes, leek & potato soup, and omelettes. Leeks are good at getting dirt & grit within their multiple internal layers, so the best handling procedure is to slice them lengthwise and rinse while riffling the layers to wash all grit out. The tough upper greens aren’t very good for direct eating, but make excellent additions to stocks.
Saute mix Mix of robustly-flavored baby greens, including mustard/kale/arugula/tat soi/mizuna that make excellent strong salads or sautes. Like lettuce mix, should last close to two weeks given its fresh harvest.
Mustard greens Richly flavored cooking greens good for soups or sautes.
Napa cabbage Same types of heads as share #28, these large and juicy cabbages have lots of uses. If you can’t fit these in your fridge right away, store them in your delivery cooler in a temperature-moderate place, maybe with some ice. They’ll store quite well if kept stable and cold. These are starting to show some cabbage worm damage, so you may want to give them an extra-good wash and/or slice up carefully with an eye for these obnoxious little caterpillars. That’s the price of truly organic cabbage in Missouri.
Green tomatoes At least one more round of these, which store marvelously in our walk-in and are still great for all the usual uses (pies, frying, relishes, salsas, etc).
Mixed peppers These store almost as well as green tomatoes, and we can give you one more week’s worth. These will be a mix of green and semi-ripe, a mix of types, mostly fairly small. Great for general-purpose use and a last taste of summer.
2nds winter squash Though squash yields weren’t great, we have some mixed-quality butternut squash that won’t store forever. (We’re hoping to distribute the best ones in Dec. or Jan.) They’re hard to judge from the outside, and may be either quite good or not so good. One of the things that frustrates us about winter squash is that is can be hard to tell. Here’s our typical approach to squash: Bake them without having a specific recipe in mind. After baking, taste. If extraordinary, eat plain. If pretty darn good, eat with some sorghum/maple syrup/brown sugar and raisins, or maybe in a soup that relies on a good tasting squash. If so-so, use as an ingredient where other flavors will shine. For savory dishes, garlic and sage go well with squash and can perk up a mediocre one. Mediocre ones are also quite acceptable for baked goods, such as pumpkin pie/custard, pumpkin bread (a recipe that we need to post), or other pumpkin-pie-spiced sweets; use pureed winter squash in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin. If really bad, send to the pigs/chickens. Take a chance on them if you like.

4 bundles/full share and 2 bundle/part share this week.

Orange mint
Kentucky colonel mint
Lemon balm
Dill leaf

2 thoughts on “CSA distribution #29 & newsletter

  1. We’re not breeding the entire herd next year, due to the drought damage to our pastures this year. You may remember that we had to butcher all our kids mid-summer to reduce our stocking rate, and even so have had to start repeating pastures this fall, something we don’t like to do. With a reasonable chance of another dry year coming up, we don’t feel it would be responsible to stock another large herd on pastures that, at best, will need a better year to recover. This also relates to hay prices & availability; we already were unable to source good grass hay for the winter, and don’t know if good hay will be available next year, so don’t want to overcommit ourselves to a larger herd than we can manage with our own resources.

    This also relates to the lower-than-desired demand for milk sales, which means we don’t really want to milk everyone next year as the income didn’t justify the work. Again, we’ll reassess in another year but the drought gives the perfect context for not pushing this aspect of the farm in the short term.

    Therefore, when we bring in the breeding buck this coming week, we need to separate the herd so he only has access to those does we want bred. The others will just be brush-eating companions goats next year, and we’ll judge breeding plans again next fall. Breeding can take a few weeks for success, so we need to pasture both herds separately for at least that long.