CSA distribution #15 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Monday August 12 and Thursday August 15. We knew last week’s utopian theme wouldn’t last, and sure enough we’ve confirmed an outbreak of Spotted Wing Drosophila (see below) on the farm that is devastating our blackberries and could spell disaster for all sorts of berry harvests in future years; there’s also at least some concern regarding tomatoes. The exact contents of this week’s share are uncertain, being dependent on a variety of items yielding enough, which in turn mostly depends on actually getting enough sun for that to happen.

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE

Please note the links for various produce types that lead to pages with more extensive information about how to handle them and ideas on how to use them in the kitchen. We’ve been working to develop these as a repository of information; some are still a work in progress. We’d be happy to hear comments or suggestions regarding these.

NEW! Sweet peppers We think enough will have ripened to allow one per share, hopefully including singles. These are taking forever this year.
NEW! Green serrano pepper Our first year growing these.
MAYBE Summer squash The next planting is starting to yield, and small amounts are possible. These plants look beautiful, so hopefully amounts will ramp up over the next couple of weeks. Our most recent pest-control search through the planting turned up one adult squash bug, ~4 clusters of eggs, and a very few nymphs: in other words, very low pest pressure for this time of year. This is good news for the plants.
MAYBE Sweet corn If sweet corn happens, it’ll be this week, and it won’t be a huge quantity. If we do manage to distribute some, PLEASE eat it on the night of distribution when quality is at its peak. Won’t know for sure if it will be in the shares until packing day. Still no coon damage, knock on wood. And no damage yet from the flock of ~19 turkeys (5 adults, ~14 young) hanging around, but they have figured out how to fly over  the field fence. Thus, we make no promises. Last year they did have an effect.
Swiss chard
Okra Seem to be picking up; we intend to get some to everyone this week.
Eggplant Seem to be picking up; we intend to get some to everyone this week.
Slicer tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Edamame Last week for these. Maturation is happening faster than distribution, so you’ll be getting some that’s been in storage for 3-4 days. It’ll still be fine, but FYI.
Parsley
Replaces basil as the herb that is doing so well and has been so popular we’re converting it to a standard item this week. Basil (still plentiful!) is back to a normal herb choice.

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

Garlic chives
Thyme Bundles will likely continue to be on the small side.
Sage

Dill heads
One more chance after all… We’ll be harvesting the heads that remain & storing them in the walk-in cooler until distribution time for those who want more dill.
Green coriander
Coriander
Genovese/regular basil
Back to a regular herb choice this week. The seed packet we ordered was for Genovese, but as you may have noticed, it seems that most plants this year are actually a big leaf variety. No matter really; it’s still basil.
Lime basil

Thai basil
Mint (harvester’s choice) The mint is slow to harvest at this time of year because the ugly stems outnumber the pretty ones. For a while, we’re going to offer “generic” mint and harvest whatever is easiest.
Tarragon
Papalo Quite a few members have had a chance to try this now. What did you think? Good or bad? Any preparation tips of what to do or not to do? Have you used it raw or cooked? We (guiltily) haven’t used it yet but have a bundle sitting on our counter right now; we’re thinking of adding some to a tomato salsa.
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.
NEW (& somewhat experimental)! Borage blossoms
These pretty, edible, blue flowers have a flavor reminiscent of cucumber, though their main role is for their looks as a garnish. They’re experimental because we’re not sure how they’ll hold up to transport & storage. We’ll probably try packing them in a small, solid container that we’ll ask you to return. We suggest storing the blossoms in a closed container in the refrigerator & using in a few days; our initial storage trial suggests this will work.

MENU SUGGESTIONSCSA15_1Here’s a nice meal we made recently; the ingredients don’t exactly match any particular share but reflect the way we like to cook with our ingredients. On left, roasted potatoes topped with tomato sauce (tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno), basil, and homemade cheese (made with milk from friends’ goats). On right, baba ganooj on homemade sourdough bread (made with mostly Missouri wheat).

Gazpacho is always a nice treat with fresh tomatoes; try roasting them before blending for a different flavor. To roast tomatoes, preheat the oven to 400ºF, halve the tomatoes, core if necessary, toss with olive oil, salt, & pepper, and spread on a baking sheet. Cook for ~45 minutes, stirring at least once part way through. These can be used chunky or pureed, skins removed or not, depending on personal preference. They’re so flavorful & so versatile in the kitchen: excellent for any preparation that uses saucy tomatoes.

FRESH EGGS
Laying is picking up again, we’re cautiously optimistic about getting eggs to more people.

RECENTLY ON THE FARM
It’s weed time again! We’ve fortunately escaped the torrential rains of the southern part of the state, but we’ve had just enough precipitation & humidity to keep the soil surface persistently moist. These are perfect conditions to germinate lots of weed seeds, including our not-so-favorite weed of fall/winter/spring, chickweed. Chickweed didn’t germinate until late August last year. Perhaps the good news is that the early germination will give us more time to work on reducing the seed bank before un-hoe-able winter conditions set in. Ragweed plants also seem to have taken a cue from the cooler weather, and flower heads are forming rapidly; seems early to us, though we don’t have annual notes on ragweed flower initiation. Fall allergy season may be just around the corner; glad we’ve been using the goats for control of big ragweed stands around the farm (they love it).

WHAT’S GOING RIGHT
Especially good food this week, as we’re finally getting good quantities of the summer items for ourselves, while still finishing off the last of the spring’s carrots, beets, cabbage, and so on. One more comfortable week toward fall weather.

WHAT’S NOT SO GREAT
We have confirmed the presence of Spotted Wing Drosophila, an invasive fruit fly that has been causing havoc in California & other areas for several years. It seems that this fruit fly has now reached most farms in central Missouri. The problem with this critter is that the female has an ovipositor like a hacksaw and can lay eggs in healthy fruit on the plant, not just harvested fruit that is already starting to go a bit soft. By the time the fruit should be ready to harvest, it may have already deteriorated as a result of infestation of the larvae, or it may go bad quickly because of larval presence, vastly reducing the shelf life. We’re already losing many of our ripe blackberries and we floated maggots off of our serving of blackberries this morning; not especially appetizing to most people. No one knows exactly what will happen with this pest, as it is so new here, but it has the potential to affect strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, and more; its arrival certainly changes our calculations on whether to expand blackberry plantings toward CSA quantities. Tomatoes and peppers could potentially be affected, though it seems that high tunnel crops in the off season may be more at risk. We’re keeping an eye on things.

WEATHER NOTES
More mostly cool, cloudy weather, which is starting to be a problem despite the benefits of comfortable working conditions. Summer crops just don’t grow as well without sun, and the constant humidity encourages disease in crops such as cucumbers, squash, and especially tomatoes. We’re exceedingly grateful we’re not trying to farm in south-central Missouri right now, where 10″-15″ of rain or more have fallen in the past week alone, with more forecast. We’ve only received a few tenths of an inch in the last seven days; it’s really still on the edge of drought here, but the consistent clouds and cool temperatures take the edge off that concern. Better mild drought than devastatingly heavy rain.

2 thoughts on “CSA distribution #15 & newsletter

  1. A high tunnel is a type of greenhouse in which the crops are grown in the ground under an arched structure that is covered in plastic. High tunnels provide a relatively warm & protected environment compared to crops grown in the field. Thus, crops such as tomatoes can be grown later into the fall or started earlier in the spring than would be possible in the field. Almost anything can be grown in a high tunnel. But as far as Spotted Wing Drosophila is concerned, the off season tomato/pepper crops in the protected high tunnel environment may provide a refuge for the fruit fly when its preferred wild/outdoor crops are absent. There are many unanswered questions about this fruit fly, though, which is why we’re monitoring our field-grown tomatoes.