Farm Newsletter ** Week 10
It's a beautiful day on the farm today. Getting lots of things checked off of our lists and gearing up for the next big boom of the farm season, tomatoes!
As you know, the hail has provided us with quite a bit of extra work. I apologize for being behind in my emails guys- we're trying! We just have SO much to do right now. As the saying goes, make hay when the sun shines! That's now ;)
A lot of tomatoes are ripening all at one time since the plants are so damaged now, they're putting all of their energy into ripening their tomatoes. That's not ideal... but we're definitely very thankful to have any tomatoes to sell this season!
So now we're harvesting every other day and we're working to keep up with the patch ripening at light speed. We harvested over two THOUSAND pounds in a single day. Then the next harvest we went out and got 1500 pounds. It really is a waterfall right now, but if we had the perfect scenario we'd like a consistent ripening over the next month or so. Again, I am never going to complain about tomatoes ripening, but we've got to work extra overtime to keep up on them!!
As I'm sure you saw on the email- we've got canning quantities available now and we deliver them alongside your CSA! So if you're interested in getting tomatoes, peppers, onions, or even bulk sweet corn, please check out the new Add-on Store I made on our website!
I even added an option for a dozen corn, because we get that request fairly often. If you're having a dinner party and want extra corn, simply navigate to the form and paying online is super easy. I would love some feedback from you if you have any!
This is the first time we're taking tomato/canning orders like this, so if you like it or don't, or want me to add anything please let me know! If it's a common request, I would be happy to add it to the store. We had the same store-like layout for the fall crops last season and it worked great. Hoping this works just as well for all of our canners out there!!
For those of you who would prefer to email me your canning order- please feel free to do so! I understand that some of you have a more complex order than what we can do through the online ordering system.
These are the peppers. A huge majority of our peppers had hail damage. It's not always visible right away though because they get little bruises right away and then over the next bunch of days, they start to show their little bruises and it just keeps getting worse. We are harvesting peppers and picking off all of the bad ones as we go so the rows are full of peppers that look like this. I wish we could offer these even as seconds, but they aren't firm and wouldn't be good for much as they wouldn't keep their form for more than a day off the plant. They get mushy almost immediately after harvest.
We're all in better spirits than we were last weekend that's for sure. We've had a week to pick away at the clean up work in the fields and I feel like we've made really good progress. We still have a lot ahead of us but it seems much more manageable now than it did before. Right after the hail it felt debilitating; it's months and months of work coming to an abrupt end. The hardest part of the hail for me was to watch Farmer Ben out in the fields.
He is the one who pours himself into those fields every day. Watering around the clock and setting alarms all summer long to keep irrigation switching, even if it is 3am in the morning he was getting up to take care of business. He's in better spirits now too. Having the tomatoes coming in and just starting to harvest melons turned around his spirits and we're happy to see him smiling again!
We will have pork for sale starting next weekend! I'll be sending out a special email devoted to our pork that explains pricing, details about our pigs, breeds, how they're raised, etc. We don't use antibiotics and we don't vaccinate our animals because we believe that raising them as naturally as possible will result in the best overall product on your kitchen table! Please keep an eye out next Friday for that email. We sell our pork to our CSA customers and never end up having enough to sell above and beyond that. Next weekend when you get the email, there will be a form to fill out if you want pork this fall. That form is what I need to reserve a whole/half hog for you. You'll get a ton of details next weekend about this!!
THIS WEEK IN YOUR CSA YOU CAN EXPECT:
Jumbo & Family Shares: Muskmelon!! Sweet corn, bell peppers, radishes, basil, tomatoes & grape tomatoes!
Single Shares: Muskmelon!! Sweet corn, bell peppers, radishes, basil, tomatoes & grape tomatoes!
**This is one of the few weeks of the summer where the box contents for the Jumbo/ Family AND Single Shares all have the same varieties. The difference is that the Single Shares get about half of the Family Shares. So for example, Jumbos get 12 ears of sweet corn, Family Shares get 6 ears and Single Shares get 3 ears of sweet corn. It'll be a nice variety box this week!!
MELONS!!! This is one of those varieties that you won't be able to find a comparison anywhere else. These are harvested EVERY SINGLE MORNING because we only harvest the ripe melons. This is how we harvest everything on the farm though, we only harvest peak-of-flavor produce! Melons that are harvested at peak ripeness taste the best but they don't have a long shelf life.
Melons you'll see in the grocery store are often harvested under ripe and allowed to ripen on semi-trucks as they come north from southern US and Mexico. The flavor simply isn't there when they are harvested under-ripe. They might not be bad melons but they sure as heck don't taste like the ones you'll get this week!!! If you're new to fresh-from-the-field-melons, the one tip I have for you is to eat it as soon as possible. First thing I would do it pop it in the fridge (cutting warm melons doesn't maintain the texture of the flesh as well). Once it's chilled I would cut it up into pieces or slices, to have it prepped for whenever you're ready for a tasty treat! I would not store these on your counter for any period of time, they'll go over the hill in just a day or two. Again, that's the trade off for all the flavor though! You'll believe me when you have your melon this week ;)
The basil is kind of stressing me out because it looks OK but it's not the best basil we've ever grown. It's got some hail damage like everything else on the farm right now, and we'll do our best to pick off all of the leaves with holes in them. I just went out and got some for our dinner and it's SO good. Just not the prettiest thing in your CSA box this week.
A couple quick tips for basil- don't put it in the fridge! It'll turn black overnight and you'll wonder what happened to it. For storage, put it in a jar/glass on the kitchen counter with water at the base so it stays nice and fresh. Keep in mind we harvest this every morning for you- so it's not like we harvest the entire week's basil at once and then store it all week. It's literally harvested and bunched every single day!!
Radishes! These are so fun!! Ben hasn't grown icicle radishes in years but he bought some extra seed this season and will have red and icicle radishes for you this week! My plan is to combine the red and icicle radishes for your CSAs, for a fun pop of different colors and a bit of a different flavor. White radishes are softer in flavor and have a higher water content whereas red radishes are a little sharper in their flavor and a touch drier.
TOMATOES! We will be providing grape tomatoes and regular/roma tomatoes in your CSA this week. As you know, we trade off back and forth so if you got regular slicing tomatoes this week you'll get roma tomatoes next week, and vice versa. We do that whenever possible! Sometimes we have too many of one kind or the other so the tradeoff doesn't always work, but we will document what tomatoes everyone gets so it all balances out over the next month of 'maters!!
Grape tomatoes were set on so tough they broke the stakes. I explained that a couple weeks ago- they literally broke the wood stakes that support them! They are loaded. Check out this picture I took yesterday. They look surprisingly well for being through a hail storm but I think that because the plants were all tipped over, it really helped protect them! Ironic how that happened.
As many of you remember, last week we were supposed to have white cauliflower to mix in with the Jumbo and Family Shares. And purple cauliflower for the Single Shares. We didn't have any white cauliflower without an excessive amount of hail damage and we harvested what purple cauliflower we could. The purple cauliflower is so special and I was so bummed we weren't able to give it to all of our Single Share Members this week. If you didn't get purple cauliflower, you were the first to get the red cabbage this season!
The good news is that there are some purple cauliflowers that are so small, just starting to head, that they weren't damaged by the hail. I've got a note to myself and we'll do our best to get that purple cauliflower into the CSAs this week if it's big enough, but maybe the following week if it still needs to grow some (most likely coming week 11).
Here is my sunflower. It's a volunteer plant in my driveway next to the top shed that started from a bit of spilled bird food. We usually pull all the weeds next to the shed but we saw this was a sunflower and thought, why not!? It's not in a convenient place but it sure does make me smile!
A couple weeks ago, one of my kids broke off the top flower. I can't tell you why, but I can tell you mom was not happy!! Then it started producing side shoots and produced several more sunflowers off of that main stem.
Then the hail came through and knocked those around and now it has even more sunflowers. They're small, sure, but that sunflower is tough. Gets knocked down, beat up, and still continues to provide beautiful flowers through all of it....
We're all sunflowers too. We all get knocked down sometimes and we need a minute to recuperate, but when we get back up I think we're even prettier. Even with the little quirks and not-so-perfect presentation.
Even with all these funny side shoots- I just adore this sunflower and the thought process it provokes.
Eat Good & Be Well,
~The Farmer's Wife