CSA – Week #9

Hello, all, and greetings on this rather wet Tuesday.  There’s been no shortage of rain here these past few days.  I think we’re pretty ready for a break from the wet stuff, though most of the crops have been loving it.  It looks as though a break is coming…the rest of the week looks mostly sunny and much warmer.  And what have we been doing?  Well, more harvesting, of course, more, more, more…mountains of zucchini and summer squash, oceans of cucumbers, waves of beans, galaxies of cherry tomatoes!  Also, the weeding continues, though the weed pressure has dropped off considerably now that we’re getting deep into August.  In the office, Sonya is turning some of her attention towards next year, specifically next season’s crop rotation plan.  The whole crew has also been moving the sheep regularly, and today we attacked the pile of sheep manure delivered to us a few weeks back.  A good chunk of this wonderful stuff has now been spread on portions of Field 1 and will be tilled in tomorrow.

Also, the battle against various pests goes on.  It’s been a bad year for bugs.  Earlier in the summer, I wrote about how bad the flea beetles were.  Well, they still are, and they’re really doing a number on our kale, a crop we don’t normally expect them to do much damage to.  There’s not much that can be done about it at this point, though we hope that the approach of autumn and cooler temperatures will help relieve the pressure.  I’ve sprayed a time or two for leaf hoppers, which are enjoying the potatoes, beans, and cabbage.  Also, the dreaded tomato horn worm has appeared, first in the new hoophouse, then in the field, and now in the old greenhouse, too.  What to say about the worm?  If you pumped one up to hundreds of times its normal size, you’ve have the perfect B-movie monster.  These chubby green worms chow down enthusiastically on tomato foliage and fruit.  They grow incredibly fast, so one worm can do an amazing amount of damage to a plant in a very short amount of time.  The most common method of control is to simply pay attention for damage when harvesting the tomatoes and pluck the beasts off by hand…when this happens, they have a charming habit of writhing around, clicking, and often vomiting green tomato goo at you.  Here’s a photo…be afraid.

On to the veggies!  The ninth CSA share of the 2011 season includes the following:

2 lb bag of potatoes
5 cucumbers
1 head of lettuce
2 lbs of zucchini and/or summer squash
2 lb bag of green beans (may include green, wax or purple beans)
1 sweet onion
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 lb bag of beefsteak tomatoes
1 bulb of garlic
CHOOSE ONE: 1 pint of husk cherries -OR- bag of green bell peppers -OR- bag of eggplant -OR- bag of broccoli and/or cauliflower (Friday CSAers:  farmer’s choice)
1 bunch of basil

The potato varieties this week are Sangre (red skin, white flesh) and Chieftan (yellow skin, yellow flesh).  Once again, we recommend that you keep the onion and garlic included in your share in the fridge.  And what the heck is a husk cherry?  Also known as a ground cherry, these little guys are related to the tomato and tomatillo but are much sweeter than either of their relatives.  We love simply snacking on them.  Remove the outer husk first, though!  They are also excellent in smoothies and on salads.

Overwhelmed with cukes?  Well, pickles are always an option.  Sonya recently posted the following recipe for “Slightly Sweet Dill Refrigerator Pickles” on the farm’s Facebook page…she found it at epicurious.com.

  • 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds medium pickling cucumbers, scrubbed, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 large bunch dill, coarsely chopped (stems included)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole white peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons dill seeds

Divide sliced onion between two 1-quart wide-mouth glass jars. Pack cucumber slices horizontally in jars. Top each jar with dill.  Using mortar and pestle or resealable plastic bag and mallet, crush mustard seeds and peppercorns together. Place crushed spices in medium saucepan. Add vinegar, 1 cup water, sugar, coarse salt, and dill seeds. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Ladle mixture evenly over cucumbers. Leave jars uncovered and chill 24 hours. Cover glass pickle jars tightly with lids.

Also, many thanks to our off-farm CSA members in Portland and Lewiston for being so good about returning your share boxes to us each week, and a special shout-out to those of you on and off the farm who return pint and quart containers, egg cartons, etc.  Last week, there was even a pile of rubberbands in a returned share box, no doubt saved up from all the bunched greens and herbs distributed so far this season!  We try to reuse whatever we can, so we appreciate you making the effort to return all that stuff to us!

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10 Responses to CSA – Week #9

  1. Auntie Mere says:

    Adore the t. hornworm! Such an audacious, delicious beastie.

  2. Ellie Leight says:

    Great picture of that tomato worm! I’ve grown to “love” them too. I was just wondering what you folks do about pests of the animal world like woodchucks and rabbits and such. Seems like they’re visiting in larger numbers than ever.

  3. John says:

    Audacious is right! They do what they do very well, I’ll give them that.

  4. John says:

    We’ve been very lucky over the past 4 seasons to have had minimal trouble with bigger critters. We lost a lot of corn our first season to raccoons…had trouble with a single ambitious woodchuck, too, but caught him in a hava-heart trap and released him far away. Our deer fencing has worked very well, though we’ve seen a little deer damage in our newest field recently. For us, it’s the bugs!

  5. susanne says:

    Last weeks eggplants and garlic made a wonderful delicious baba ganoush, and the tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and cilantro, a fattoush salad that had the power of time travel. The flavors brought a remembrance to a great time of life. Thank you so much for the art, science, and magic that all your work is creating for us.

  6. Ezra says:

    Here’s one of my favorite videos ever of Farmer John, some unlucky hornworms, and some lucky chickens. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HGtw0_8VDs

  7. John says:

    You are most welcome! “Taste memory” is a powerful thing, and I’m glad you were taken back.

  8. John says:

    Thanks for sharing, Ez! Those worms had it coming…

  9. Deb K. says:

    If you ever get tired of trying to find the well camouflaged hornworms try searching at night by flashlight. Some of their lovely green has a reflective quality and shows up wicked good.

  10. John says:

    Wow! I had no idea. We’ll keep that in mind. The fact that they are reflective somehow makes them seem even more hideous…

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