CSA Newsletter: Week 8, 2015

Our newsletter from July 27:

Dear CSA members,

We had a great and much-needed break last week! Everything fared well while we were away, though the weeds seemed to take the opportunity to grow twice as fast. We’ll be working hard to get on top of those this week. We’ve also got a little work to do on the irrigation system as we need to get extra amounts of water to the plants during this hot weather. We’d hoped to get it up and running yesterday evening, but had some trouble with a loose pipe joint and the mosquitoes finally convinced us to give it up for the night. We’ll have another go at it this evening.

Tomatoes shot up too this past week and a few are even starting to color up. Won’t be long now! In between the weeding and irrigating, I need to find a few hours to work on the next string of their trellises. So far, they look pretty good, with just a few symptoms of Early Blight showing up on the lower leaves. But with tomato diseases, being proactive is key. As with all organic growing, keeping the plants as healthy as possible is essential to helping them resist disease. We also give them a little extra boost this time of year by spraying them with a mixture of liquid fertilizer, beneficial microbes, and an extract of Japanese Knotweed. The foliar fertilizer ensures that the plants have the nutrients they need as they are developing fruit. In the past we’ve use emulsified fish for this, but this year we’re trying a new product made from produce waste from grocery stores. It sounds like a great idea—recycling produce waste back into fresh produce. We’ll see if the plants like it! The idea behind spraying a microbial mix on the plants is that crowding the plant surfaces with non-pathogenic micro-organisms will make it harder for the disease-causing guys to gain a foothold. And the Japanese Knotweed is supposed to trigger the plant’s defense system, so that it’s all prepared to fend off those pathogens should they show up in larger numbers.

The cucumbers and yellow snap beans decided to swing into full production mode while we were gone. Unless we get hit hard with downy mildew (we spray the same mix of stuff on the cucumbers as we do on the tomatoes to help them resist this), it looks like it could be another bumper cucumber year. We’ve got three different types of slicers planted: Silver Slicer (the white ones), Marketmore, and Green Finger (the skinny ones). We also planted just a few plants of pickling cucumbers, though the slicers work as pickles too, if you pick them small. If any of you are interested in cukes for pickling, let us know. I let the dill go to flower, so that’s available for pickles as well.

As I mentioned in the last newsletter, we pulled garlic about a week and a half ago and hung it in John’s barn to cure. It’s probably not fully cured yet, but we’re going to give you some of it today because we know that many of you love that fresh garlic flavor (try beet hummus or pesto with fresh garlic!). Be forewarned that it may not have the shelf life of fully cured garlic, though it should still last a good while on your countertop and even longer in the fridge.

We dug the first red potatoes yesterday and have them for you today. Last night John made some delicious red potatoes and parsley, so we cut some parsley this morning for you too:

Red Potatoes with Parsley

Ingredients: Red potatoes, Parsley, Butter or Coconut Oil. Optional: Garlic, minced.

Cut potatoes into chunks and steam or boil them. While they are cooking, chop parsley. When potatoes are tender, drain them thoroughly. Heat butter or coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. If you are using minced garlic, add that and cook briefly, then add potatoes and toss to coat. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, mix in parsley and serve. Salt & pepper to taste.

One of our members shared this kid-friendly beet bread recipe with me (thank you, Sarah!) so I want to pass it on to you along with your next helping of beets. It can be found online at http://www.food.com/recipe/sweet-beet-bread-327628?soc=socialsharingpinterest.

Sweet Beet Bread

Ingredients: 1 1⁄2cups flour (can use half whole wheat); 3⁄4 cup sugar; 2 teaspoons baking powder; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; 1⁄2 teaspoon salt; 1⁄4 teaspoon allspice; 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg; 1 egg; 1 cup raw beet, finely shredded; 1⁄4 cup oil; 1⁄4 cup orange juice or 1⁄4 cup other fruit juice; 1⁄4 cup applesauce; 3⁄4 cup pecans or 3⁄4 cup walnuts, chopped

Grease a loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3 or 8 x 4 x 2) and set it aside. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl (except the nuts). In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add the beet, oil, orange juice, and applesauce. Add the wet ingredients to the dry all at once and mix until they are just combined. Fold in the chopped nuts.

Pour the mixture into a prepared loaf pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Sarah’s modifications: I roasted the beets first to get them nice and soft. Then I added 1/2 cup mashed beet to about 2-3 mashed ripe bananas to make about 1 cup of beets that the recipe called for (I just used a potato masher to mash them all together). I only had apple juice on hand, so I used that instead of OJ. I omitted the nuts but added some mini choco chips to some of the bread and some frozen blueberries to the other half before baking. 

Also think about adding beets to salads with some nice balsamic vinegar dressing, feta or blue cheese, and toasted pecans or walnuts. Yum. This will probably be the last week of salad mix for a little while, since lettuce does not approve of 90 degree days. I really didn’t think we were going to get another cutting from it this week but the flavor is still good even if the leaf size is pretty uneven. I hope you enjoy it!

Have a wonderful week and stay cool!   Amy & John

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About Harvest of Joy Farm LLC

At Harvest of Joy Farm LLC we seek to develop, practice, and share farming systems that mirror the resilience, diversity, and self-sufficiency of a healthy biotic community.
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