Saturday, August 7, 2010

Newsletter #5: June/July 2010

I hope you all are enjoying the fruits of our labor. We certainly are...almost every night we plan our meals around what's been harvested that day. To be reinvigorated and sustained by the very thing that exhausted you in its creation is somehow incredibly gratifying. Tonight it was a creamy raw zucchini pasta on greens, German Butterball hash, and buttery sweet corn. The mandolined zucchini made a surprisingly full-bodied linguine, the butterballs an almost delicate hash and the corn, well, there's nothing like fresh sweet corn. Yesterday we sampled the butternuts harvested early in July, stuffed with goat's cheese, walnut and carmelized onion. It was quite good, but I'm going to let them cure just a bit longer before passing them (and acorn squash) on to you all.

I believe, especially considering the intense heat and June drought, that the summer harvest has been plentiful. Let's just say drip irrigation saved our collective behinds. (I've pictured here items included in a sample "plus" option mid-July box: zucchini and crookneck squash, heirloom and assorted cherry tomatoes, Jericho romaine lettuce, basil, garlic, charleston bell pepper, chili pepper, hungarian hot wax pepper, diva cucumber, along with organic figs and bread sourced locally. June brought two of my favorite bed buddies into the light, garlic and potatoes, and we continue to pull them from our "root cellar" supply. This week's fingerlings ought to please the most discriminating of potato palates. We've been pleased as well with corn production of late - surpassing our early yields - and expect to harvest it through the month of August. The next round of corn is around 10 ft. tall...we can only hope it bears ears to match.

To address the overflow of tomatoes (and lettuce before that) Holly and I have been attending the Krankies Farmer's Market downtown. It's been a gratifying experience and a terrific way to interface with other farmers and the community. We have not been in a couple weeks and it looks as though we won't be returning until possibly fall. Our harvest, while ample, is not so much to justify our presence there for the next couple months...more importantly, we would never risk shortchanging our CSA members by selling an excess of produce. The amount we've brought to market has been carefully calculated so as to avoid overselling. I mention this because some farm CSAs have been accused of doing this to make a few extra bucks, and I wish to be steadfast in our commitment to our shareholders. We've thoroughly enjoyed serving you all (so far) and I hope you all have relished the experience as well. It is truly an amazing feeling to do what you love and have a community at your back, particularly one benefitting directly, and on such a basic level. I can hardly begin to count my thank-you's to you all for helping our family build something so important to us...

Before I get trapped in the sap, I would like to discuss some cultural adjustments I'd like to make for next year's main season. First off, tomatoes. We'd like to provide them June through September, and while we will continue to include them in our shares this season, production has been tapering off. We've provided around 3 Lbs plus cherries every week since mid-June. This will drop off steadily until our late-planted tomatoes produce in earnest. Next year we will better space the plantings to better ensure a plentiful supply through the end of the summer. We will also plant more root crops and succession plant them to extend and (hopefully) increase our harvest of carrots, beets, potatoes, onions and garlic. Most of these have gone directly from the ground to your shareboxes, with smaller amounts going to storage. While I'm sure you all have tasted and appreciated the wonderful richness that is a new potato or onion, it's nice to save a bunch to divy out as time passes. As for beets, I don't necessarily plan to store them (though I do appreciate a good pickled ginger beet), but I would like to have plenty of them come June and July of '11.

I should talk a bit about peppers. First off, we will grow a different variety of main-crop bell pepper next year. The mini-belles you've received are California Wonders - we've wondered why they're not larger. While they're extremely prolific, they've also been strangely small...I believe we received the wrong seed. (It couldn't be our fault.) Thankfully we grew other varieties, and of all the sweets, the Flamingos have greatly outperformed the other varieties. (They're the pale yellow to orange variety in the boxes this week.) As for hot peppers, they're ridiculously productive, as usual. We mixed hungarian wax (pale yellow/orange), jalapeno (smaller green or red) and chilipeno peppers in the boxes this week with a recipe for stuffing them, although there are many ways to prepare them. (Thanks, Nancy, for the sample jar of hot pepper jam - superb.)
Another item you all have received lately are royal burgundy beans. They're to be treated like green beans, though I find the flavor somehow better - maybe it's a trick played by the novelty of them. Your kids will marvel at how they turn from purple to green on the skillet. I'm interested to hear any ideas on preparing them, as we've not had time to experiment much since harvesting. I find garlic and butter go well with most anything!

This morning we harvested watermelons and cantaloupes. It turned out quite a few watermelons were hiding amidst the vines, and we pulled more than expected. We will be passing on some of these modest melons on to you all this week. As for the cantaloupes, let's just say we swallowed the evidence. There will be more ripening in a few weeks or so, hopefully they will resist rot better than those we fished out of the straw this morning.

So a couple of reminders...please try and return all used containers (clamshells, egg cartons, etc.). Please let me know if you need particular herbs for your boxes as I will be happy to provide them. Right now we have genovese, thai and red basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, dill, mint, lemon balm, sage and chives. Also, we will be drying some batches of tulsi (or holy basil) tea. We've grown quite a bit of it to dry for the tea we drink daily. It has many health benefits, lowering blood pressure and regulating metabolism. I will be happy to provide a sample to anyone requesting it.

Once thank you all for your continued support. Farewell and goodnight.

-K. Isaac Oliver

I leave you with a few photos.

(1) Red Rubin Basil
(2) Cosmos
(3) Clover. One of the many weeds calling our garden home.
(4) Hairy Vetch and a Monarch.