CSA distribution #21 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Monday September 30 and Thursday October 3. The harvest quantities are currently bounteous, and one of our biggest worries right now is how to fit everything in the bags. We’ve started to put shares that are overflowing due to lots of extra requests into two bags. We’re afraid that even standard full shares may be pushing the overflow level by next week, now that multiple bulky leafy greens are ready for harvest. On the other hand, several summer crops have dropped off in production enough to retire them, including cukes, zukes, okra, and ripe tomatoes. But lots of great fall flavors are appearing in their place.

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE

NEW! Shiitake mushrooms That 2.76″ of rain on 9/19 initiated a flush of mushrooms that is the biggest we’ve ever seen. We’ll provide a nice pulse of mushrooms as part of the share. Extra requests will be filled with 2nds quality mushrooms as available (most of which will be small or malformed mushrooms but otherwise perfectly good). Most of these will be ready for harvest over the weekend, so Thursday members should be willing to use them reasonably soon after distribution.
Selling additional mushrooms If you want more shiitakes than the standard share amount, we’ll offer them for sale at $12/lb for members (we consider that retail is worth ~$16/lb). A quart weighs ~1/2-3/4 lb, and a mostly full produce bag weighs ~2 lb. Shiitakes cost much more to produce than vegetable crops, and as a high value crop, we feel that they need to generate some extra income when they do this well, if we’re going to justify their continuation. (UPDATE: Clovers on Broadway has decided to buy some as well, so there’s another option for those interested.) Sales will be first come, first served; feel free to email us if you know you want to reserve some. You will still need to request them on the survey to get your order in, but emailing a mushroom reservation will help even the playing field for Thursday members.
NEW! Lettuce heads 
Frilly green ones or smaller romaine-types.
MAYBE? Fresh shelling beans Yum! We’ve never sold or distributed these before, so we’re unsure about estimating the yield. These are pole beans that we didn’t harvest at green bean stage; the seed part of the bean is now sizing up in the pod. It takes a bit of work to shell these out, and the ratio of discarded pod to edible bean is depressing; we ended up with ~1/4 beans from a starting quantity of 1.25 lb of in-pod beans (though some of those were picked a bit small). However, these are supremely yummy and worth the work. We shelled them, boiled with salt and a couple of sprigs each of thyme and sage, and savored the result with no additional adornments. They took longer than we expected to soften up, not quite an hour. They’ll make a spectacular side dish.
NEW! Napa cabbage Large, bulky cabbages excellent for coleslaw and more. These have a mild cabbage flavor, and they make superb Asian cabbage slaw. If you’re feeling overwhelmed in produce, these do work very well for kraut, so this might be a good time to experiment with some fermentation. We’ve kept these under shade cloth since transplanting, and that seems to have done a pretty nice job of excluding most cabbage worms.
MAYBE? Broccoli  We decided to take a chance and try to grow broccoli at a scale for the CSA this year. These plants have suffered from voracious caterpillars, and any heads that do go out may be a bit wormy, too. These may not mature all at once, but our hope is that we’ll get broccoli to everyone who wants it, even if that happens over a couple weeks.
Pac choi We have just enough to get one more out to each of the full shares.
Saute mix
Eggplant
Kale Now adding some curly kale in with the Red Russian. The curly kale has been under shade cloth, and that means fewer caterpillars.
Sweet peppers Plants are still loaded.
Anaheim & (NEW!) poblano peppers The anaheims will be ripe & red this week. We’ll also be including some poblanos (green &/or ripe red) in the mix. Ripe anaheims look really similar to sweet peppers, so we’ll put all hot peppers in a plastic bag to minimize confusion.
Serrano/jalapeno/cayenne peppers
Many of the hot peppers had been green in past weeks; we’re moving on to mostly ripe ones now. Again, these will be in a bag to avoid mix-ups with sweet peppers. 
Okra It is slowing down, most members seem to be tired of it, and we’re certainly tired of picking it. Any members who want more can contact us about a pick-your-own opportunity; Sunday afternoon/evening would be the next picking time if anyone wants it.

HERBS

We’re going to back off on herb quantities this week due, offering 2 per full share and 1 per single share. If the shelling beans work out for distribution, we’ll throw a couple sprigs each of sage & thyme in with them, because those flavors work so well with the fresh beans.

NEW! Sorrel Lemon-flavored leaves make a nice addition to salads, for example. 
Thai red roselle

Habanero peppers
Curly parsley
Flat-leaf parsley
Chives
Garlic chives
Thyme
Oregano
Sage
Mint (harvester’s choice)
Tarragon
Lemon balm
Basil
In the interest of next year’s pepper crop, we’re going to retire the basil planting. That will let us get the cover crop established sooner.

FRESH EGGS

Eggs will be limited in supply this week and generally only available for regular egg customers. We have some WWOOF-type visitors coming to help on the farm for the next few weeks, and we need to make sure they are well fed.

RECENTLY ON THE FARM

This being fall, we’ve been busy harvesting not just crops for immediate distribution but also an assortment of storage crops, some for CSA, some for our own food supply, and some as research for possible distribution in future years. Sweet potatoes, winter squash, popcorn, dent corn, dried cowpeas, and dried pole beans all require significant harvest & post-harvest attention. We’ll likely be featuring a number of these items (including ones that we won’t be distributing) in the upcoming Fall Harvest Celebration on November 2.

Fall isn’t all harvest, though. We recently seeded spinach, a hardy overwintering crop that tends to bridge one CSA year to another. If all goes well, the first harvest off of this planting will go out in the Thanksgiving share this year, and 2014 members will have their spring greens cravings satiated with winter-sweetened spinach from these same beds. The act of planting a crop for next year inevitably triggers our fall planning mode, with endless discussions ensuing about what changes to make for next year, with crops, for the CSA, and on the farm in general. We will be seeking feedback from members, certainly through an end-of-year survey, and perhaps also at a happy hour discussion at a restaurant.

WHAT’S GOING RIGHT

We haven’t had to deal with frost yet, and each week frost holds off means that we’ll be better prepared for it when it finally does come. This is especially true because we have some extra help lined up in early October.

WHAT’S NOT SO GREAT

There’s always too much to do at this time of year, with shortening day length a very mixed blessing, and this year there’s too much to eat as well. Okay, so we shouldn’t complain about that last bit.

WEATHER NOTES

What glorious weather! We’d appreciate some more rain, but overall, we’re enjoying the pleasant, stable weather with no serious frost threat. You’re really seeing the effects of continued stable weather in your abundantly stuffed share bags.

2 thoughts on “CSA distribution #21 & newsletter

  1. Another perfect use of Napa cabbage would be kimchi. We’ve had great success riffing on this vegan recipe at Serious Eats, but there are plenty of others.
    http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/01/homemade-vegan-kimchi-recipe.html?ref=search

    Also, kimchi-brined radishes are one of our new favorite treats. Let them ferment with some of the liquid from a kimchi batch (a few bits of the kimchi won’t hurt either) and they aren’t full-on kimchi radishes, but they ARE wonderfully flavored.

    • p.s. If you don’t have the Korean chile powder, any dried chile powder you like is a good stand-in. We’ve used dried chiles we’ve dried and crushed into… well, almost powder. The more red the chile you use the more classic the color, but aside from that it’s flexible.