Saturday, July 18, 2009

Timber Frame & Sunny Skies

We apologize that we have not been very present on this blog recently. Two of our three apprentices have become sick with Lyme's Disease, an unfortunate hazard of the outdoor work life. While they recover, Jeff and Kate are working extra to keep the animals moving to fresh pasture and to attack the many weeds that have thrived in the wet conditions. The gardens are finally dry enough to get the horses and hoes in there for some much-needed cultivation! I have been busy being the contractor for our house-building project and driving trailer loads of lumber to and from the mill to be planed and to my friend's, Raivo's, shop to pick up the last of the timber frame. Sunday, under sunny skies, Raivo and his crew started assembling the frame. Monday the sun still miraculously shone, and the crane arrived to help us raise the frame. By the end of the day today the frame should be up. Then perhaps I will pause to take a breath, and I will certainly give thanks.

Jeff's CSA Crop Report: The weather is improving, albeit incrementally, but you will probably see the rain's impact on your share for the rest of the season. This is not at all what we would expect this time of year, but neither was the incessant rain of June/July. Normally this would be the time when the variety and quantities of vegetables would be starting to increase dramatically and peak in late August at the height of tomato harvest. But the rains of the past month prevented us from planting certain crops on time and rotted and ruined many plantings, including successional greens and initial bean and corn plantings. This was especially true at The Morris Farm, where the heavier soils we count on for unirrigated summer yields turned into anaerobic muck, completely inhospitable to plant growth. We have been scrambling to make room at the other farm where the sandy loams that normally turn droughty in the summer are the only productive soils we have. In doing so, we have had to compromise principles of resting certain ground each year and not double cropping areas. We had planned the pick-your-own herb garden for CSA members at The Morris Farm, which has obviously been impossible to pull off. Instead we have been harvesting herbs for you for your share. Despite our efforts, we cannot change what has happened to crops, some of which would be yielding food now and others that would be maturing over the next few weeks. Consequently the next few shares might be a bit sparse. We will do what we can and will sacrifice farmer’s market sales to get you some volume and variety in your share, but it may be that we have to skip a week or two, which we would make up at the end of the season. The other head’s up I will give you is that diseases linked to the cool wet weather, and the stress it puts on certain crops, are starting to rear their heads in our tomato and potato patches (but many of the plants are still healthy and doing their best to produce fruit, as the tomato plant pictured here.) One in particular, late blight, is potentially very devastating, having caused the infamous Irish Potato Famine because of its ability to rapidly defoliate a plant and reduce or eliminate yield. We have some organic fungicides, such as copper, at our disposal, but they mean hours of spraying every 5 days and are far from 100% effective. We assure you we will keep doing our best to make the most of the rest of the season and to keep your CSA share diverse and bountiful! Below are a couple related news articles to check out:
July 7th CSA share:
  • peas
  • lettuce mix
  • carrots
  • beets
  • head lettuce
  • fennel fronds
  • broccoli
  • kale
  • chard
July 14th CSA share:
  • shelling peas
  • snow peas
  • sugar snap peas
  • beets
  • mini onions
  • fennel bulb
  • carrots
  • kohlrabi
  • broccoli
  • chard
  • Chinese cabbage
  • cilantro
Today's (predicted) share:
  • kale
  • Chinese cabbage
  • beets
  • scallions
  • salad turnips (These do not taste like winter storage turnips! Salad turnips are juicy and mild and are great raw in salads. Give them a try...)
  • dill
  • kohlrabi
  • broccoli
Many of the veggies in today's share can be thrown together into a refreshing slaw. Slaws offer so many variations; below is one recipe to get you going:
Kohlrabi 'n' Carrot Slaw
from Farmer John's Cookbook; serves 4 to 6

1 pound kohlrabi (about 4 medium bulbs, grated)
2 medium-large carrots, grated
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 large clove garlic, minced (about 3/4 teaspoon)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Toss the kohlrabi, carrots, bell pepper, onion, thyme, and garlic in a large bowl.
2. Whisk the sour cream, oil, vinegar, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
3. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.