CSA distribution #13 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Monday July 29 and Thursday August 1. Nice weather and good food have balanced a few unfortunate surprises this week. This is roughly the halfway point of the CSA for members, though given the long lead time for actually growing produce, it doesn’t feel the same way on the farm!

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCECSA13_3
SURPRISE! Shiitake mushrooms (updated 7/29) These caught us by surprise, as the mushroom logs had done absolutely nothing throughout the wet spring, but last week’s inch of rain triggered something, as you can see above. These will make it into everyone’s shares this week; enjoy this special treat while they last.
NEW! Okra Both this and eggplant are starting to yield; first week quantities may be small as we’ll do our best to divide up the harvest; likely will be going to full shares only this week. Plenty more coming on.
NEW! Eggplant Limited quantities as for okra; probably only enough for full shares. We’ve found that using these as fresh as possible really improves the flavor and minimizes bitterness. For eggplant skeptics, try baba ghanooj.
NEW! Jalapenos Probably just one per share. Pepper plants are loaded, though.
Potatoes New potatoes, Red Norland and/or Kennebec. Store them on your counter, but since they haven’t been cured, plan to use them reasonably soon.
Slicer tomatoes We grow mostly small-midsize tomatoes, as they’re far more efficient and less risky than the big slicers. Still great flavor, and easier to handle.
Cherry tomatoes These are coming on nicely, with our favorite blend of varieties.
Edamame (for real this time) These will be ready for Monday. May still be a small initial quantity, but you’ll get some. Edamame should be boiled in salted water for ~5 minutes, then shelled and eaten fresh. Very labor intensive to pick, so be sure to savor these!
Sweet onions Another week of Cipollinis. These aren’t a long storing type, so our plan is to harvest & distribute most of them fresh.
Summer squash First planting is done, second planting growing but several weeks away.
Cucumbers Still plugging along, quantities may start dropping
Scallions THIS is the last week for these, we mean it this time.
Basil Standard option for everyone again. Start freezing pesto; it’s a great winter treat. Mixed drinks with basil are fun, too.

HERBS
Due to standard basil in shares,  will again do 3 other bundles per full share and 1 other bundle per single share from the following list.

Dill heads
Coriander

Lime basil
Eric made a pesto with the lime basil that was quite extraordinary.
Thai basil
Green coriander

Parsley
Orange mint
Kentucky Colonel mint
Tarragon
Papalo
Green shiso
Best stored flower-bouquet style in a jar of water on the counter (as for basil); refrigeration causes chilling injury and will make it turn brown.

MENU SUGGESTIONS
This is the time of year when several items go into the shares that are quite perishable: okra doesn’t maintain its quality for long, eggplant tastes best if prepared when ultra-fresh, and the ripest tomatoes should be eaten quickly. So, when thinking through menus, it is a good idea to plan to make use of these items first.

Nice meals this past week included new potatoes with butter and parsley, lime basil pesto with cashews over pasta, cucumber/tomato/sweet onion salad with mint/vinegar dressing, beet soup, baba ghanooj with vegetable slices & homemade crackers, fried okra, and more.

FRESH EGGS
Eggs for regular egg purchasers only this week. We really need more eggs in our diet, and the laying is still low. We’ve seen another black rat snake around, this one even fatter than the previous one.

RECENTLY ON THE FARM
CSA13_2
We have several batches of young chicks hatched and out on pasture, being raised as the next generation of laying hen (and meat roosters). Above, Eric tending to the older 15-bird flock; a younger 24-bird flock just went outdoors this week. These are intended to replace many of the older hens that are currently laying so poorly. We’ve also been taking advantage of the no-milking situation to day-graze the goats in some areas that normally wouldn’t be practical with lots of kids and daily milking needs. The paired photos below show how much just four non-producing goats can consume in one day, in this case a patch of giant ragweed.CSA13_1

WHAT’S GOING RIGHT
Summer food is here, tomatoes especially! Our blackberries are also producing quite nicely for our own consumption and preservation. An inch of rain and a week of cool weather have been really, really welcome. Conditions have been excellent for getting fall crops established. This is a pleasant change from last year’s struggle to get anything at all to germinate and grow in the hot & severely dessicated ground.

WHAT’S NOT SO GREAT
Our regular Wednesday morning helper quit with no warning, leaving a large hole in our weekly work schedule. We’re still discussing what to do about that.

We also had an unexpected outbreak of mold in the stored, bagged whole grains we use to make customized chicken/hog feed. We keep these on pallets in our garage where the temperature is stable & the indoor cat can control mice, but once the temperatures rose, a bunch of mold formed on and in certain bags. We now have a dehumidifier running, which we probably should have done before, but didn’t expect that much moisture to be present. We have to dispose of hundreds of dollars of spoiled items, and scramble to find replacements. Keep in mind, organic grains are not easy to source in Missouri; this batch came from Nebraska. This also means our feed will temporarily contain roasted organic soybeans instead of organic alfalfa meal, as the latter was preferentially hit by mold. Argh.

WEATHER NOTES
The VERY welcome (almost) inch of rain we received did wonders for our mental state, but the dry spell/drought isn’t over. That water was absorbed by the soil and vegetation in no time; giant mud cracks simply scoffed at this feeble threat to their existence. We still need that regular inch/week of rain to really restore balance. However, the forecast involving the potential for several inches means we could soon be complaining about too much rain. The cooler temperatures are quite welcome for now, though they do slow down the growth and ripening of items like okra, peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes. We’ll gladly take this cool weather over the extreme heat that prevents proper pollination & fruit set, though.

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