Market plans, November 19

This will be our final market of the year, and of the forseeable future. As the final market day before Thanksgiving, this will be a great time for consumers to stock up on useful items for the holiday meal.

Parsnips: These should be nice and sweet following many cool nights; those we tested recently were good. They’re even better in late winter or early spring, and we may be distributing some to CSA next year, but there will also be one round available for Thanksgiving shoppers.

Spinach: An early harvest from beds primarily intended to overwinter for CSA, like the parsnips. It tastes great right now and will make some excellent salads.

Cabbage: Medium-large Napa cabbages, harvested several weeks ago and kept in cold storage. Juicy and well-flavored, these make fantastic slaw as well as sauerkraut, soups, and more.

Daikon radishes: Sweet to mildly spicy, these versatile white radishes can be sliced on salads, pickled, stir-fried, roasted, and more. They store very well and will last several weeks in your fridge.

Winter squash: A small selection of good winter squash, useful for all sorts of baking and cooking.

Garlic: One final pulse of diverse garlic; consider purchasing a large quantity to last you into winter. Most of these will last into January, a few as long as March.

Green tomatoes: At this point, these are our special winter-keeping Mercuri tomatoes, which have a great flavor when green and the ones with a hint of ripeness will slowly ripen on your counter. Some will inevitably go bad, but most store quite well into the winter. They’re plenty good used now, for green tomato pies, chutneys, relishes, fried in cornmeal, and so on. Give some a try.

Herbs: Parsley, thyme, oregano, mint, tarragon, sage, and probably cilantro. Herb bundles will easily store until Thanksgiving and beyond. This evening we used a bundle of oregano that went unsold the last time we attended market, two weeks ago; it was in perfect condition. All of these herbs store well in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Market plans (November 12) and other farm happenings

We will not be at market this weekend, following our biweekly fall schedule. We intend to sell at the final outdoor market next weekend (11/19), the last before Thanksgiving, and then be done for good. Restaurant sales continue to be strong, with a nice set of deliveries this week to Sycamore, Red & Moe, and Uprise Bakery.

As usual, the decision to skip market partly reflects other seasonal needs on the farm. This weekend opens hunting season, and I don’t think we’ve ever gone to market that weekend. I’ll be in the woods along with a hunter friend, and Joanna will be doing farm work and waiting for the sound of fresh meat. Deer have been quite active here for months, a large population that could use some thinning to lower pressure on the woods and fields, and I’ll be happy to replace wolves for a few days.

Also happening on the farm (apologies for no photos; it’s been too busy to remember the camera):

Following our fourth CSA tour, we are now nearly full for 2012 (with two tour attendees still contemplating their decision and two more households on a waiting list in case there is an opening). This is a very good feeling. We are looking forward to the efficiency of a system that provides a home for everything we grow; no more bringing home 30% or more of our harvest from market. The 2012 CSA will be smaller than we need for long-term economic stability, but we’re willing to take a lower income next year in exchange for less stress and more on-farm and product efficiency. We (and members) will judge the results at the end of next year and decide where to go from there.  We’ll certainly be in the spotlight, with little room for disappointment, as we have 3 Columbia-area food bloggers signed up as CSA members.

Winter preparations continue to move forward, as we remove infrastructure, hoe final weeds, mulch beds, seed late cover crops, plant overwintering alliums, maintain compost piles, and more. We had one load of clean straw delivered; it’s amazing how quickly a few straw-mulched beds can make a farm look tidy and attractive.

Food preservation is an ongoing feature of life this time of year. We recently took a delivery of six bushels of organic apples from Blue Heron Orchard in NE Missouri. Three of these were intended for friends and neighbors who wanted access to organic apples, and three are for our own preservation and winter storage. We held a marathon apple-processing session on Tuesday afternoon-evening, in cooperation with the neighbor, working together to turn a bushel each of our apples into canned applesauce and nine trays of dried apples. We also made and canned apple butter, and another round of green tomato-apple pie filling, a great winter treat. We’ve been drying large quantities of green and partially ripe peppers, and will be starting soon on fermenting sauerkraut. We have more food preserved this year than ever; with no more shelving space, we now have full canning jars lining the front of most of our bookcases. A winter project for me is building more shelving/storage area in the kitchen for such preserves.

We’ve now had close to 3″ of rain in the past week, a delightful occurrence. Our stream still has no flow, an indication of just how desperately dry the ground has been. Many tasks are easier now, such as pulling t-posts from beds and moving portable animal fencing. The pig is now doing a much better job of turning up ground than he did in the bone-dry months.

We continue to rotate animals onto new pastures as long as the weather remains nice. Our goat population is larger than usual, with the temporary addition of a buck for breeding purposes. We moved the pig on Thursday to fresh pasture where he can turn in more fescue now that the ground is actually moist. He later escaped after battering down a cattle panel gate, and we found him happily trotting along near the house. Fortunately, he’s quite friendly and can be lured anywhere just by running in front of him; he follows behind like a well-trained dog. And fortunately he didn’t get into any growing areas or cause any other problems while he was out. We redid the gate with more reinforcement, as befits a large and powerful hunk of live pork. Can’t wait for the cool stretch of days we need to start the processing (a goat and many young roosters are on the list, too).

I’ve finally gotten started on our new chicken house, a larger building intended to overnight-house our growing laying flock in a more secure and convenient setting. Its location will allow the birds access to multiple acres of pasture and woods, including our developing orchard. I’ll be sneaking time to work on this when possible, but at least have the foundation done and the frame up. We intend to move the birds in by early December.

Logging is on hiatus as my chainsaw developed an attitude and is in the shop. Just as well, there’s more than enough to do as it is. Still, I’m itching to get back to one of my favorite jobs.

Then there’s the weekly restaurant sales calls, harvest, and deliveries, along with market prep and attendance (probably) by the end of next week. Things don’t really slow down here until well into December.

Market plans, November 5

Joanna will be at market this Saturday with some good seasonal items. There won’t be many greens, as the lack of rain has effectively kept these from regrowing. We’ve had to pull our drip irrigation due to repeated freezes, and sprinklers can’t keep up. The plants are alive, and we hope will recover and regrow with potentially wetter conditions upcoming, but for now we’re not willing to harvest from them any more. Plus, at our last market two weekends ago, we hardly sold any greens (half pound collards, few pounds of lettuce, few pounds of baby braising mix, etc.) so we’re mostly reserving greens for restaurants at this point. Given that we finally recieved some decent rain Wednesday night (over an inch), with more in the forecast for next week, we expect the greens to recover and start growing again, just not in time for this market.

We’ll be hosting our last CSA tour of the year Saturday afternoon at 2pm. The CSA is currently about 60% full, and judging from the response to the first three events, could well be nearly full by the end of the weekend. If you’re considering it in the background, this would be a good time to let us know.

AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Napa cabbage: Juicy, tasty cabbages; they range from 3-7+ pounds each. We just love these for slaw, fresh kraut, stir fries, and more (but especially slaw). We can go through multiple heads a week, keeping a big bowl of slaw in the fridge. For more on using fresh fall cabbages, see this post from 2009; it notes that we hadn’t yet tried growing these for market sale. Now we have, there are lots, and they’re excellent. We charge a high price for these, but for fresh organic cabbage, they’re worth it.

Green tomatoes: Like greens, these sold poorly two week ago, despite being abundant and tasty. I wish more people experimented with all the ways to prepare and preserve green tomatoes; local foods will be most successful when customers use the abundances when they’re available (another reason we’re looking forward to CSA).

Garlic:  Some varieties are sold out, but there are good quantities of others. With our only remaining market being the weekend before Thanksgiving, this weekend would be a good time to stock up on some winter storage garlic.

Daikon radishes: A reasonably mild, long white radish. Works well for cooking or pickling, or slicing onto salads. Can have a bit of heat, though less so than many fall radishes, and gets sweet with cold weather.

Watermelon radishes: A pretty green radish with a red core that earns its name when sliced. A bit spicier than daikon, but still sweet enough for use on stronger salads. Also a good stir-fry radish.

Leeks: Several short, thick varieties that have a lot of volume and good flavor. One of our favorite fall/winter meals is potato-leek soup. These should be sliced and given a good wash, as we hilled them with soil to increase the white flesh.

Pumpkins/winter squash: We will have a small quantity of pie pumpkins and delicata squash. These are hard to grow organically, and we spent a lot of time squishing squash bug eggs and nymphs on these plants, so they won’t be cheap. The delicatas that we’ve been eating have been delicious. Sometimes winter squash need some assistance from sugar and spices to taste good, but not these delicatas. We’ve been eating them straight out of the oven without any additions, even salt.

Herbs: Parsley is available in abundance. We’ll also have thyme, oregano, tarragon, mint, and maybe some cilantro.

Market plans, October 22

We’ll be at market this weekend with a wide variety of produce, hoping to be noticed among the expected glut of produce salvaged from frost-sensitive plants.

Napa cabbage: Big, beautiful, juicy, tasty cabbages; they range from 3-7+ pounds each. We just love these for slaw, fresh kraut, stir fries, and more (but especially slaw). We can go through multiple heads a week, keeping a big bowl of slaw in the fridge. For more on using fresh fall cabbages, see this post from 2009; it notes that we hadn’t yet tried growing these for market sale. Now we have, there are lots, and they’re excellent.

Green tomatoes: I suspect the market will be overrun with post-freeze salvage produce like green tomatoes, which is always frustrating as the supply way outstrips the demand. I wish more people experimented with all the ways to prepare and preserve green tomatoes. We have…let’s just say an abundance.

Green peppers: Same as tomatoes, above. Our plants were loaded with developing fruit coming into this week of true freezes. We’ll be drying multiple batches of these, but hope at least some will sell. The pig doesn’t like these as much as green tomatoes, so some may end up as compost.

Garlic: As before, we’ll be bringing a large quantity of garlic, expecting people to be interested in both seed and storage garlic. Several varieties are sold out or low, but the overall quantity and diversity remain. We’ll start planting our own stock in the coming week.

Baby greens mix: Our very nice mix of young greens, including arugula, tat soi, mustard, mizuna, beet greens, and more. Great for sauteing, braising, soups, pastas, and more, or for strong/spicy salads. Featured on the menu at Red and Moe lately.

Baby lettuce mix: Tender young lettuce greens, great for salads with the season’s last summer produce.

Daikon radishes: A reasonably mild, long white radish. Works well for cooking or pickling, or slicing onto salads. Can have a bit of heat, though less so than many fall radishes, and gets sweet with cold weather.

Anaheim hot peppers: Mild-medium heat, great flavor. Small ones harvested pre-frost, great for stuffing with cheese and roasting, or for chopping into sauces.

Other greens: Collards and mizuna for sure.

Leeks: We love leeks, and these should be quite good with a few frosts under their belt. The stalks aren’t quite as long as we had hoped, but they are relatively thick, and they are tasty.

Herbs: Parsley is available in abundance. We’ll also have thyme, oregano, sage, tarragon, mint, and maybe some cilantro.

Market plans & CSA tours

We will not be at market this coming weekend. We currently plan to attend three more markets (unless bad weather intervenes):
October 22
November 5
November 19 (just before Thanksgiving)

Last week we gave a preview of some items available for the rest of the season.

Our CSA tours last weekend went well, we thought, with interested people enjoying beautiful weather to tour the farm and some good discussions of farm management methods and CSA details.
We are starting to officially sign up people with a $50 deposit to guarantee a space in the 2012 program. Our goal is to have all slots reserved with this deposit by mid-December, and to take the first real portion of payment in mid-January (we’re targeting a three-part payment plan for the year, maybe Jan-March-May?). Given that we consider the CSA to cover January-December of a given calendar year, it will be best to start the program off right with all members signed up. At the same time as the January payment, we intend to distribute the first share of the year, composed of winter storage items possibly including garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, winter squash, leeks, cabbages, and/or more.

Many people responded to the first tour offerings with interest but regret that they were out of town or otherwise unavailable that weekend. Thus we will be offering two more tour days:
Sunday, October 30, 2:00 pm
Saturday, November 5, 2:00 pm

We hope these dates will accomodate many interested people, and we can move toward really filling up the program. If you’re interested, please consider making time for one of these events, and/or otherwise letting us know of your serious interest in the CSA. As before, we ask for people to RSVP for the tours so we know what to plan for. We’ll be accepting reservation deposits at the tours or at market on days we’re there (or we can work something else out). Just to be clear, like most CSAs, deposits and payments are non-refundable.

Market plans, October 8

We’ll be at market this Saturday, kicking off a busy weekend for us. Saturday and Sunday afternoons we’re hosting CSA farm tours for interested customers; please let us know ASAP if you’re interested in attending. Many have written to say they’re interested but out of town that weekend, and we will be holding more events later in the year, but both of this weekend’s tours will be happening as we have signups for both days and can still accomodate more.

At market this weekend:

Garlic: We are sold out of two varieties (German Extra Hardy and Chet’s Italian Red), but have all the others. Like the last market we attended, we’ll be bringing extra garlic as people tend to start stocking up this time of year, and looking for planting stock as the planting season is about to start (mid-October through early November).

Onions: We’ve sold most of the braids we initially made, and it’s so dry here the onion necks won’t braid properly, so we may end up just selling some loose.
Green tomatoes: A nice seasonal specialty, explore all the possible uses for these underappreciated items. We love the traditional Southern way, skillet-fried in fresh-ground cornmeal, but there are so many more options. Find lots of ideas in past blog posts here and here.

Greens: Mustard, chard, and kale will all be available as loose greens. Lots of uses for these; saute them with garlic, chop into soups and stews, top pizzas, etc. We may have some baby greens to offer, though it depends on on total yield and restaurant needs.

Sweet peppers: Our usual mix of shapes and colors, great for eating fresh or almost any cooking use. Our top uses are pepper salads, and cooking/roasting for sauces.

Hot peppers: Anaheims & jalapenos. Anaheims can be roasted and frozen for later sauces (or make & freeze the sauce now), and are excellent dried if you have a food dehydrator. Jalapenos can be dried as well, and exceedingly useful.

Daikon radishes: A reasonably mild, long white radish. Works well for cooking or pickling, or slicing onto salads. Can have a bit of heat, though less so than many fall radishes, and gets sweet with cold weather.

Peanuts (hopefully): Fresh green peanuts, perfect for Southern-style boiled peanuts. We haven’t found time to do a test dig yet, but we know there are (or were) some peanuts down there because there are vole holes in the bed and peanut shells at the surface in places…. We hope they’ve left some for us, and we hope to get some to market on Saturday.
Herbs: Parsley, cilantro, dill, thyme, oregano, tarragon, sage, mint & possibly more.

Rest-of-the-season preview:
We plan to continue on the every-other-week market schedule for the rest of the season, assuming weather cooperates. So, the current plan is that we will be at market on Oct. 8, Oct. 22, Nov. 5, and Nov. 19. Here are some of the product that we expect/hope to bring in the remaining weeks.

Leeks: These look big and beautiful. We usually like to wait for a nice cold spell to start harvesting these, as it improves the flavor. They’ll need a good cleaning before use, becuase we hilled them with soil to get a nice, long blanched stalk.

Chinese cabbage: We have quite a few heads of Bilko cabbage, a very tasty variety. The heads are large and may look daunting, but they store well and are so good that we power through them in the kitchen. A huge bowl of slaw can disappear very rapidly at our table.

Sweet potatoes: We had a reasonable yield this year, in spite of some rodent damage. These are currently curing, a process that enhances the sweetness & overall quality. The varieties that we grow produce mostly smallish roots that are perfect for cubing and roasting. Yum.

Winter squash: These are also curing, for the same reasons as sweet potatoes. We’ll likely bring some of the Delicatas and/or Acorn squash to market, since these are short-storage varieties. The long-storing butternuts we’ll reserve for CSA members after the new year (when the flavor tends to be best anyway).

Parsnips: We expanded our parsnip planting compared to last year after reasonable success, though we’re a bit concerned about possible damage from carrot flies or other burrowing insect pests based on a couple of roots that we’ve looked at. Plus, we’ve had to irrigate these a lot, and rodents have been burrowing right along the irrigation in other beds; that’s not a good combination for a root crop. We won’t know the yield until we harvest, and these benefit from remaining in the ground until late fall/early winter.

Market plans, October 1

We’ll be skipping market this weekend, in keeping with our every-other-week plans for the fall. This is especially necessary this week for several reasons:

(a) we expect a frost both Friday and Saturday night, and need time to deal with that (it’s technically not our first, that was 9/14, but this one may be stronger). We’d rather deal with that properly than go nuts trying to do market prep and market itself along with frost management.

(b) with plans to attend various events in Columbia later on Saturday, including the Farmageddon film & disussion panel that night, we’d be overstretched and exhausted.

(c) sales of the non-garlic produce we brought were once again poor, including only 3 lb of the fantastic mixed baby greens that we’ve grown for years and never had trouble selling before. So we’ll work harder to market that mix to other sources instead.

(d) the dry weather means that we can do a lot of important fall projects that will put us in a better position for next year; these include hauling and incorporating manure into beds, hauling leaves from the woods for mulch, cleaning up crops that are finished and composting them to limit overwintering of insect pests, and much more. Skipping market saves us several otherwise lost work-days we can invest in the future.

We’ll be back next weekend, October 8, with more garlic, onions, another shot at greens, possibly cabbage, green peanuts (if frost kills them back), and more.

Market plans, September 24

We’ll be back this week with an array of interesting items. Overall the stand will be smaller from now on, as we intentionally cut back on fall planting to allow more freedom to work on our CSA transition. For example, we’ve recently been establishing plantings of spring-yielding items like sorrel, spinach, and strawberries which we intend to use for early shares.

That being said, there will still be produce into October, and I think we’ll continue our every-other-week market attendance. I realize that’s probably annoying to customers and less than ideal business practice, but it works very well for us in terms of still making sales while gaining more time to work on the farm.

We’re starting to do some restaurant sales on the weekend, especially to Red & Moe. This cuts into our market supply but makes our harvest & sales workload more balanced and reliable compared to the uncertainty of market. Thus, most of the items below may or may not show up on the stand depending on restaurant orders through Friday.

AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Garlic: 11 varieties available. This is a good time to start thinking about stocking up for winter, or buying seed stock for October planting. We’ll start bringing more than usual to account for the uptick in demand this time of year, and several varieties are starting to run low (Chet’s is already gone).

Onions: Long braids work really well for households who want to stock up for a few weeks. These are really efficient for us to offer, and we like selling them this way, but at some point we may offer loose onions as well.

Green beans: Nice, young mix of heirloom beans with nice texture and flavor.

Mustard greens: Large leaves excellent for sauteeing or soups; I love these skillet-cooked with garlic and vinegar.

Mixed baby greens: A nice mix of spicy, flavorful greens good for cooking or strong salads.

Summer squash: These are still producing wonderfully, especially for a long-lived organic planting. Young, tender, and tasty.

Cucumbers: These are nearing their end, but there should be some of our tasty color mix available.

Sweet & hot peppers: Color mixes of sweet peppers, along with mildly hot Anaheim peppers.

Herbs: We will have cilantro, dill, parsley, thyme, oregano, mint, tarragon, sage, and possibly more depending on what looks good at harvest time.

Market plans, September 17

We will not be at market this weekend. Last week’s income didn’t really justify returning with the same mix of items, so we’ve been working to arrange other sales venues for some of it, and just preserving the rest or sending it home with our workers. In addition, we have a lot of on-farm projects to work on and with fall coming on (we got a light frost Wednesday night) we’d like to truly get started on our off-season task list.

We still have a good quantity of garlic remaining, and have recieved numerous inquiries from people looking for a winter supply and/or planting stock. From this point on we’ll probably come every other week or so, as we did last year in the fall, balancing the long time commitment of market with the desire to meet demand for fall garlic sales. There will be some other fall items available, like cabbage, radishes, and greens, but these are more stable in the field and so can adapt to an alternating market schedule the way regularly-harvested crops can’t.

Our apologies to those who will miss us, but it’s just not worth it overall right now.

Market plans, September 10

We may be ready to move on from market, but the farm isn’t. A variety of items are still yielding, although this week’s wonderfully cool weather has naturally slowed down the production from heat-loving items like okra and squash. We’re moving onto the downward slope from the peak of summer production, and have intentionally cut back on fall plantings to give us more time to plan and prepare for next year (insect pressure and drought have also made some of these cuts for us).

AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

Green beans: Nice mix of heirloom beans, picked small for good tenderness and flavor.

Summer squash: Small, tender, high-quality squash for all sorts of uses. Try making a batch of zucchini relish; we tried this recipe this year and really like it (we replaced some of the bell peppers with Anaheims).

Cucumbers: A mix of standard greens, sweet heirloom yellow/whites, and picklers. The whites and yellows are extra-sweet but seedier, while the greens are pretty standard. This last planting is starting to decline, so they may not be available much longer.

Hot peppers: Green anaheim & jalapeno hot peppers.

Sweet peppers: Delicious red and yellow sweet peppers are yielding nicely. We have several varieties of open-pollinated/heirloom sweet peppers that we think have amazing flavor and can be used just like bell peppers: Doe Hill Golden Bell, a sweet, roundish, yellow-orange pepper that is Joanna’s favorite; Sheepnose Pimento, a sweet red pepper shaped similarly to the Doe Hill; Chervena Chushka, a pointy sweet red pepper with nice thick walls; and Jimmy Nardello’s Italian Frying Pepper, an all-purpose narrow pointy pepper that is Eric’s favorite.

Edamame: Last week for these. The two plantings timed to continue past this were ravaged by rabbits while young.

Okra: Our usual two varieties.

Garlic: We’re nearing the end on one or two varieties, but there’s still plenty of diversity.

Onions: Market table space is currently very limited for us at the moment, so we’re selling onions by the braid; look for them hanging off of the tent. Both yellow and red onions are now cured. These are good storage varieties, and we personally plan to be eating from this batch of onions through March. We expect some percent loss in storage over a period of seven months, but storage of few weeks to a couple of months should be no problem for these when hanging these braids in normal kitchen conditions.

Herbs: Parsley, sage, thyme, mint, tarragon, oregano, and possibly more depending on what looks good at harvest time. Green coriander from the spring cilantro planting is done, but we may have a very limited quantity of fresh, young cilantro leaf bundles from our fall planting. We’ll also have bundles of garlic chive flowers; these edible blossoms can be put on salad, snipped onto pasta, or used as a garnish, for example.