Monday, August 29, 2011

September is here...

And that means the garden has begun its last desperate attempts to throw everything it has into seed production in the hopes of producing offspring for next year (read 'seeds'). That's good for us as humans since seeds come in nice little packages called fruits and vegetables. Yum.
One of the benefits of this lifestyle is low grocery bills. And here's why. We've been canning up a storm to get ready for winter. Lizzie loves to help in the kitchen. She helped me peel potatoes, wash carrots and peel beets this week. What a trooper!!!

This week's harvest was another record on the Sun Gold Tomatoes. Each of our share members received about 8 lbs of tomatoes this week. To put that into perspective, you just spent a little under 10% of your budget at the farmers market if you took your share purchase price and went to the market all summer instead. Good deal!!! Of that 8 lbs about one pound is Sun Gold Tomato. Enjoy!!!

Speaking of records...this is what 153lbs of tomatoes looks like before we break it into individual share amounts. Pretty impressive! Well done greenhouse tomato plants.

And...the heirlooms are finally here. This week we picked in enough quantity to put them into the shares. We have simply added up the total and started filling bags so you'll likely get a miscellaneous mixture of some of these types of tomatoes. To read some of my thoughts on heirlooms please visit one of our archive pages from last summer. I love them (that's the short version).

More carrots!!!

This week also marks another 'first'. Both for you the member and me the farmer. As you know I trial new varieties every year. One of them this year is this pole bean. Cherokee Trail of Tears is the name of the bean and it's truly the most wonderful taste I've ever experienced in a pole bean. I will definitely be growing these from here on out. I tried one in the garden today and nearly fell over. It stopped me in my tracks. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

If you're interested in learning more about this see you can visit the website of the company from which I purchased it. (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds).

OK, so I was harvesting carrots the other day in the rain and Emily, Lizzie, Kate and Maeve (my sister-in-law and niece) came out to the garden for a visit/breather for the kids/photo shoot. I pulled this amazing Danvers carrot just before they got out there. I couldn't resist showing it off. I've never seen a Danvers get this big. I'm going to save it and replant it next year and see if I can get it to produce similar offspring. I have about 9 beds of carrots left and hopefully I'll find another one or three of similar size. I may enter it into the Common Ground Fair Exhibition Hall.
Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Very full...very heavy share bags.

Hi all:
This will be quick. I want to get to Bangor to avoid Festival traffic. Not sure it's possible but we'll see. First thing I want to report is that this week's share has grapes!!! I never intended to include grapes in our CSA and only planted the vines for interest. However, they're going crazy and have lots of fruit so you all get the benefit. These are seedless and tasty. Enjoy.
Also, the pocket camera I usually carry finally succumbed to farm life. It no longer focuses at all. Thus, Emily takes photos for me from now on on her fancy camera. She's also a trained photographer so they will be great photos as is evidenced by today's blog. Here, Lizzie and Martin help daddy with the wheelchair cart.

Our second planting of summer squash finally came due.

Potatoes! There would be more but it got dark fast last night and it was also raining. I quit while I was ahead. And by ahead I mean blind and soaked...

It used to annoy me to no end when I dropped a tomato on the floor while packing or found a bunch that had blossom end rot or other blemishes and had to compost them. If you've never seen a pog (herd of pigs) go crazy for mushy tomatoes dumped in their feed bowls then you don't know why it no longer bothers me that much. I'll be dumping 15 gallons of fresh 'seconds' in for the pigs tonight. It's better than T.V. Seriously.

This is just pleasant. Next year's bean poles...assuming Irene doesn't have other plans this weekend.

Ok, so we have sweet corn. Every share got half a dozen. But we're organic and don't spray insecticides so you have to do what people have done forever and not get grossed out by nature. You may find a worm in your corn. Just cut that part out! It's fine! The corn is still delicious! And rest easier knowing you are eating sweet corn that did not have chemical poisons dumped all over it!

Things to come...

This week's share is very heavy because of the zucchini, potatoes and all the tomatoes. Speaking of that. Hope you like tomatoes. Be careful with the bags please and enjoy!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Time to spare...nearly

Another harvest day, another great sunrise at the farm, shrouded in fog yesterday.

Good morning hens.

Good morning pullets.

Good morning turkeys.

Sorry for the late blog post everyone! Yesterday was very, very busy. For those who don't know, Brittany is out of commission for a bit as she recovers from surgery. Learn more on her facebook page as she keeps us updated. We wish her a speedy recovery and are sending good thoughts her way!

After yesterday's harvest I was thinking 'I can't believe I used to harvest alone every week, and have earlier delivery times.' What was I thinking? As though I needed it, yesterday was a nice little reminder of how crucial it is to have good (or in the case of Brittany, excellent) help on the farm. I barely made it to deliveries by the skin of my teeth as the saying goes.
But enough about that. I can think of no better way to start this post officially than to show off a triumph. The rare and elusive perfect Brandywine Tomato. It's nearly impossible to get these to grow so well and produce blemish free fruit but here is one great specimen. And that means the heirloom tomatoes are in full swing.

This week's share continues to contain only hybrid tomatoes from the hoophouses but soon you'll be getting heirlooms too. and they may look a little like some of these beauties.

But what hybrids lack in flavor (and ours are actually pretty good if I do say so myself), they make up for in vigor. As you've probably noticed, your tomato bag is more and more full each week. Go tomatoes!

Speaking of hybrid vigor, as you might know from following our facebook page, I've been working in the greenhouse on the rainy days to lower the tomato plants. They were up to the top of the houses and showing signs of curling around the rafters. First step, strip all foliage off the bottom of the plant (I go up to my chest for starters). You can see the single stems and walkways full of leaf stems in this photo.

Next step, climb up the ladder and uncurl the sisal from the tomato hooks and lower the plants gently.

And curl them into a spiral, ever so delicately. As you can see, the stem turns into a spiral and rests on the ground. I hope I don't have to do this again before the frost but we'll see. If I do, that just means more tomatoes!!!

While I was working on this project I noticed this plant in the middle of the Quonset House. No leaves!

And bites taken out of the fruit. That can only mean one thing (and it's not a good thing either). If you can't see the Giant Horn Worm in this photo (and it's there, upside down, two branches below the tomato with the bite), scroll down. Be prepared to feel like you're in the twilight zone. They don't call them 'Giant' for nothing. These things are annoying. Hard to see, they can devesate a plant overnight. I had to rip out the one you see above yesterday. There was still plant left but it was so stressed it wasn't worth the space in the greenhouse.

FYI, chickens like Giant Hornworms...
This week's beans are the first of the pole and more interesting bush beans. Golden Butterwax and Dragon's Lingerie. Yes you read that title right. One of the most interesting and fun times of year for me as a diversified farmer is seed catalog time. I love to sit down by the fire (seed catalog time is November - February) and read these like books, dreaming of summer and what I can accomplish in the coming season. I'm not sure which I like best, the pictures, the descriptions or the interesting and unique names breeders have given to their vegetable masterpieces over the years.

I'm very fortunate to have another amazing helper on the farm. Becky is a friend of the family and she comes up to weed for me each week. She's truly amazing at it! I call this year's dry bean, shell bean and Dragon's Lingerie bean field, beans a la Becky. Thank you Becky!!!

This is a great snap bean that is best cooked lightly. I like to simply saute them in olive oil or butter until just tender but so they still retain their color. Then just add a little salt and pepper and you've got a delicious side.

Gold of Bacau is my favotie pole bean thus far. I try new ones each year but I may stop and just go with this one. It's amazing. The flavor is beyond compare, the texture is elegant and they are huge!!!

This photo is just to show off the carrots in your share and also inform you that at this point in the season I don't include the tops. They have grown too bitter to be used for cooking and they are valuable additions to the compost pile here at the farm. Yey potassium!

Here's a shot to remind everyone of the insanity of the industrial 'food' system. This carrot would be discarded (read thrown in the trash because they don't compost in the industrial system). Why? It doesn't look right. That's it. Is it less carrot for that? Does it contain less nutrition? Nope. So I include things like this. In fact, you get three carrots in one!

We had some trouble with our summer squash this spring (mostly germination) so I'm having trouble meeting demand each week for the CSA. So until our second planting fruits I've started mixing in other types of summer squash. You received one of these types in your share. Let me know if you have questions about what something is.

I call this photo, 'Thanks to diversity'. Because we don't shun all biological processes on the farm and try to create a system devoid of fauna in our garden, the birds drop nice surprises for us in the fall. In this case, 'Love-lies-Bleeding Amaranth from last year showed up in the cucumbers. Thank you birds for giving me something beautiful to look at while I picked cucumbers.

Speaking of beautiful...

Also at the farm, we're getting ready for fall and winter by starting our seedlings. Here is some cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and pickling cucumbers at the edge if the herb garden.

From whence came the dill in your share. You'll notice that there are both flowers and fresh sprigs in the share. That way you get the best of both worlds. Don't have a use for dill right now. That's ok. Hang it to dry and you can use it later.

More seedlings. Come on little ones, winter is almost here...