Thursday, July 31, 2008

Computer blues...

Yesterday was a stressful day for us... We realized just how much of our life is on our computer's hard drive! OMG!!! EVERYTHING! Newsletter templates, recipies, farm photos, family photos, plans for the future, expence reports for hubby's job, favroites from the internet, graphics of the farm, accounting stuff, more!
Then when you cannot get your computer to start your first temptation is to go online and

find a fix! Then when you find a computer at Best Buy my first inclination is to go read reviews and find prices on the internet! Oh no!

Yesterday morning the computer was working. After the thunderstorm rolled through it would not turn on... PANIC! After much fussing with internal workings which involved unplugging stuff inside the computer we got it to turn on, QUICK!!! Every USB drive and Memory card in the house, to pull off everything important... (For some reason the computer would not read the DVD drive.) It did stay on the rest of the day and seemed to be working, but how reliable is it? So we need a new computer, but more than that we NEED a backup system!

It's strange, we are turning into a "real" business...

Posting recipies...

I have felt kind of iffy about posting recipies from other sources on this blog because I really do not know anything about the copyright implications...

Today I ran across this post which I found pretty funny...

So the long shot is, if I have time to rewrite the directions, I can post it and be basically safe. The list of ingredents is NOT subject to copyright. Not that I would want to steal anyone's work, but really for basic stuff... How many ways are there to make refridgerator pickles or zucchini bread?

Still, linking is a lazy bloggers way to post recipies... So I may keep doing that...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Carrot tops? Who knew...

I always feel wasteful throwing away (or composting) my beautiful carrot tops. I mean they are so beautiful they must be good for SOMETHING!
Yesterday one of our members mentioned Carrot top soup! I have not tried it, but here are a couple links to recipes...
If anyone finds anything else to do with the carrot tops let me know!
Good luck!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Whole beet recipie...

Here is a recipie a member shared with us last week... She said the trick was when you add the parts to create a really nice texture...

Take 4-6 med beets with fresh greens.

Cut greens off beets, leaving about 1 inch of greens on beets. Place beets in sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender when pricked with a fork, 15-30 minutes. While beets are cooking, remove stem from beet greens. Chop stems into 1 inch peices. Chop greens seprately.

Drain cooked beets and rinse in cold water. When beets gave cooled enough slip peels off with fingers.

Cut beets in slices.

In saucepan saute stems in 1-2 tablespoons butter until tender. Add greens and saute until bright green and just temder. Add sliced beets and heat through .

Dress with;
-2 T lemon juice
-2 T grated ginger
-2 T olive oil
Stir until coated, enjoy.

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Killer Zucchini

I am a bad blogger! When life gets really crazy it is easy not to update as often as I should! Here is a picture of the extra zucchinni from this week... We only picked the big ones and we ended up with 44 of them! All of these from our first squash plants to produce, in a week two new kinds (a "normal" zucchini and eight ball) will be in. Soon after those will come patti pans and our yellows... So I do hope everyone likes summer sqaush!

We were joking before pickup that everyone was obligated to take two! Then you could have extras if you'ld like...
In the end it was not as bad as feared, we only had 7 of the monsters left... We are endevering to pick them smaller! But these things are growing SO FAST!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Discussions with members...

It is always fun to be able to talk with members at pickups. It is the best part of selling at a farmers market and with a CSA is is so much better! I get to learn a little of their lives and share a bit of ours.

Today one of our members expressed surprise that we do what we do - farm and both work full time jobs. She thought that when we started our family "something would have to give!" Believe me, we know this! But we think that a farm, especially one like ours is probably the best place to raise a family, and we will be able to make it happen. Poor hubby was able to manage on his own last year when I was recuperating from surgery for a month, so I'm sure we'll be able to work it out. Not easy, but we can do it!

Another member shared their family's wonderful news! Congratulations and remember to bring photos next week!

Then there is a family that totally amazes me. I really don't know how they are even contemplating it, but they are actually starting to be car free! Today, dad and 12 year old son (I'm probably guessing wrong and don't tell Victor) showed up for pickup on bikes. They live 7 miles away, much of it hilly! Mom even commutes to work on her bike (15 miles) on days she does not take RTA. They are letting their car sit except for when it is "necessary" and when it dies they will rent when they need one... I am amazed and really have no clue how they do it!

A forth member shared his addiction of heirloom varieties from the catalogs! His wife said he starts in January and I said I understand! I think it was in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle where Kinsglover's husband asks her "Why not mark the seeds you don't want instead!" That would be a MUCH shorter list...

One more thing came up today and a member suggested that we provide a way to offer recipes from members to each other. Maybe in a bulletin board setup. I was thinking about managing this on our website or the blog and it just seems like more then I can do right now, but I was thinking maybe a Yahoo Group (email list serv) would be just the ticket! Then I could limit it members, still moderate it, but not have to constantly update it... I will try to get it set up this week. Maybe in the future we could set up a message board on our website, but I have no clue how I would even start that. Maybe there is a web designer out there who would work for food?

Anyway, thanks for all our members for sharing a little bit of your experience with us and letting us share a bit of ours with you...

Week 4 newsletter...

One of our members suggested we post the newletter information so if people wanted they could read it here and not take one. I think that's a great idea! Of course no pressure for anyone who wants to one to take home and read...
Here is the farm newsletter for WEEK 4 - 2008 SEASON

On the Farm this week
This week we have harvested the first of our summer squash. We are sure in no time you will be absolutely sick of these! Although we do have a few different varieties in so you will see a diversity of shape, size, and color. The first this year are the Costata Romanesco zucchini which we describe below. The second type (a “normal” zucchini) are not far behind but the crows seem to like gouging holes in them, so we will have to see how many we actually get, enough I’m sure to satisfy everyone.

This week we realized how BIG our tomato plants were getting! Our belated efforts at staking had mixed results, so some of these may just get mulched and allowed grow as they like!
The Green Beans have been taking their grand old time to grown enough to offer them to everyone, but we expect next week we will have them available. The cherry tomatoes are starting to get the slightest blush of red on them, so in a couple weeks we should start to have those as well. The peppers are starting to finally take off, about time! We have a handful of peppers now, I’d expect 3 or 4 weeks will see peppers in the shares. And once they start they will not stop until after the first frost!

This season is turning out to be our best yet, in spite of getting off to a slightly slow start. There are lots more wonderful varieties you will see in your shares in the next 14 weeks!
In your share this week:
× Green Onions
× Spring Onions
× Red Lettuce
× Beet Bunch
× Zucchini

This week's produce notes:
-Mature beets can be stored without the tops for up to three weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper.. When cutting tops from beets, leave at least 1/2 inch of the stems and at least two inches of the tap root on the beets. If you want to use the tops store them separately, and use as soon as possible.

We know everyone has had a LOT of beet greens. You can store them for winter by freezing them. First blanch by boiling (at a rolling boil) for 1 minute – do this in small quantities. Then quickly cool (ice water bath works.) Drain and pack in freezer bags.

Quote of the week:
“My work has also motivated me to put a lot of time into seeking out good food and to spend more money on it.”

-Michael Pollan

Heirloom spotlight - Costata Romanesco

The name means “Ribbed Roman.” This zucchini can reach up to two feet in length and is prized for it’s firm texture and good taste, even as it get larger.

These are HUGE plants, with individual leaves reaching 15x18 and a plant reaching up to 4 feet high, yet they still yield relatively low when compared to modern varieties.

This week's Recipies:
The key to eating locally and seasonally is to cook from your ingredients and not your recipes, but these may help provide a starting place.

Finally there is a member only's farm even coming up. Please check your email for details. I hope to get the emails out by Tuesday evening.

Who knew squash could get that big?


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Friday, July 18, 2008

Wonder if there is intrest?

We are considering offering a series of gardening courses for people who want to grow more of their own food. It would go something like this the four P's of gardening:
  • Fall class - Preparing your garden

  • Winter class - Planning your garden

  • Spring class - Planting your garden

  • Summer class - Protecting your garden

They would then tie into the canning classes (which we still are hoping to offer this year!)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Peninsula Pthon Day!

Looking for something to do this weekend why not go down to Peninsula for the Peninsula Python Day?

Lots of activities are planned and who knows you may just see a Python?
Please note the python shown is NOT the Peninsula Python, which was rumored to be 18 feet in length!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I should probably play the role of "knower of all" and queen of produce growing and not admit when somthing impesses me but... Carrots impress me. Beets and turnips are nice,. but carrots! Beautiful carrots with bushy tops! Every time I pull one I want to hold it up and say "Look!" In fact, picking them today was slowed by that very thing... Stopping to admire the color, length, girth, or general apperance of about every 10th carrot.

"Look at how yellow this one is!"

"Look at how long it is!"

"Look at how this one looks like two fused together at the bottom!"

Plus carrots are something you know everyone eats!

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Week 3 Wendsday's HOT harvest.

Wow was today hot... By the time I picked the lettuce it had cooled down to 88. It was 95 when we started! On days like today picking order and handeling is SO important. Pick the heartyest stuff first and work to the most delicate. Today that went beets, carrots, green onions, bok choi, then beet greens. All that stuff is then washed and bunch. 40 minutes before pickup I picked the lettuce. On a day like today I was very worried it would all wilt so I put 3 heads in a basket with a ice pack on the bottom and then pointed a fan at them. Then only 2 went out at a time. The very last thing to get picked was the sqquash blossoms. With 15 minutes untill pickup I was searching for them.

I always feel a little scared picking them because of my bee allergy. I am always worried I'l get wacked even though I have never been stung while picking even the time I grabbed a sqaush blossom with a bumble bee inside. My hand buzzed and an angry bumble bee flew out but I was not stung.

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OK! I have no clue why I am making such a stupid face! But I figured I'd post this photo anyway, because I am proud of how wonderful our heads of lettuce are turning out. Look at this thing! It is huge!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Victory Gardens?

Did you know that Burpee reported a 40% increase in sales of seeds this year? 40%!

We had a heck of a time ordering our chicks this year. Everyone we called were sold out for over a month! They all reported a huge increase in first time orders.

I suppose the actual (or perceived) increase in the cost of food is driving some of it. Some is being driven by the

In WWI and WWII home gardens were a part of the solution. Huge drives focused on people growing and preserving more of their own food. While many people today think this is impossible for them, it is often not. Most people who own homes have some spot to put a small garden or at least a few plants. Front lawns do not have to be just grass, although you may end up fighting an association. In our region there are more and more community gardens as options for people who live in apartments.

Maybe it is time for a new Victory Garden movement? Maybe it is already happening?

While it is not the whole answer by any means, anything that helps us take a small step away from dependence on oil is a step? Could your garden be part of this, your own small part of a much bigger solution?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Local Sunday!

The rain is good for many things. Yesterday morning when I was catching up on my magi zines and it was raining outside (meaning no Sunday morning field work) and hubby made waffles for me. Using local spelt flour, our own eggs, last years honey, Amish butter, and milk from our herd share. The only thing not local was the powdered sugar he dusted on top (next time maple syrup!)

Around noon the sun had come out so we went out and picked and weeded. We discovered enough carrots to include them in the week's share! Then we washed everything up, bundled and set up. Unfortunately, the first 3 members came right on time (I was late they were not early) and I had neither washed the mud off my arms, changed out of my dirty picking shirt, or brushed my hair. I looked a sight! So after they left I left hubby in the sorting shed while I ran to the house and made myself a little more presentable.

After we talked about next year and late season plans a little hubby then went out to do some more weeding (have I ever mentioned how much we covet a cultivating tractor?) And I waited for the rest of our members. Sunday pickups are nice because they are a little slower paced then Wednesday's. Same number of people but more time for them to come.

Around 4:30 hubby stopped by the sorting shed again and showed me an amazing red onion he had pulled from our garden. Our onions are bulbing up and this one was 3 inches in diameter and beautiful. I am so excited to have nice onions! While I finished up with pickup, the last couple members came, and I cleaned up the shed, hubby went in to make a pizza for supper.

We had made dough with whole wheat flour from our co-op, the cheese I had made from our herd-share milk, the veggies were all from our garden (except for a couple mushrooms from PA), the sausage was from local pork, and we cracked one of our eggs on top. I do have to admit that hubby put a little imported Italian salami on top, but wow did that add something to it... All in all it was one of the best pizza I have eaten in a long time.

We finished off the evening by doing nothing productive. We read a little, surfed the Internet a little, and watched the Tour 'd France and Next Food Network Star (which is a post in itself!)

All and all it was a good day. We got stuff done, our members got good food, we got good food, and had some time to breath... If only there were more days like that.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Week three pickup.

Week three and the first of the carrots, a handful of squash blossoms, and beautiful lettuce. I have to say the carrots and lettuce are the best we have ever grown! Every year we end up with A LOT of something. Last year was the year of peppers. 2004 was the year of the eggplant and 2005 was the year of the summer squash. This year is turning into the year of the beets! Beets every week so far and usally with beet greens too! And more beets are on the way... But at least it is a veggie that you can make cake from! Really how many veggies are as verstile as a beet? Root and greens do diffrent things. Eat raw or cooked. Soup or salad . 100 uses.

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Rainy day and mixed feelings....

Right now it is still raining lightly out and I have mixed feelings about that.

When it rains on a weekend the amount of stuff we can do is greatly reduced. Which means I have a lazy time. We did 4 hours or so of field work before the rains started yesterday. It rained HARD! which watered in the plants we put in the ground, but means that it is still to mucky to get out there and do much. It is nice to have a little rest, but there is SO MUCH to do!

It has been a VERY rainy year, in case you had not noticed. I am NOT complaining, because the type of relatively steady rain we have had since May is a rarity in most years, but it does mean that field chores get reprioritized and things get put off. This is the kind of year when our "real" jobs really hurt us, because if the weather is nice on Thursday and Friday we are still really limited to what we can get done between 5 and 9... Oh, and you want supper? Take away another hour...

We still need to pick for today's members, so around 12 we will go out and get that done, picking in the mud means washing will be a pain, but other then picking and starting some cabbage seed for the fall that is all there is to do...

So this morning I have some time to get caught up on some reading!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Before weeding.

Way back at the end of our far field and given up for not growing a month ago we decided we better weed it as the lettuce seems to actually be growing...

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One hour later.


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Friday, July 11, 2008

Weird dream...

I know that other people's dreams are boring, but I had a very strange one last night, so here it is...

I was a chef in London. I was reading the paper and found a review of my food in the newspaper. Although the review was less then 100% complementary I was very happy it was there, but it was all wrinkled, so I pinned it to a board to flatten out.

Later (after many strange dream events that make me wonder about my sanity) I was walking around London with Gordon Ramsey. Fearing his rebuke yet desperately wanting his praise I showed him my review. To which he responded "At least it's flat!"

"At least it's flat..." A methophor for my life perhaps?

(My recent blog posts are perhaps emboldened by the fact that so many people seem to be reading it, it must not be THAT boring... Please comment if I am wrong!)

"Yes, Oma..."

When I recently saw my grandmother (Oma) she looked at me and commented "You have an awful lot of color!" I told her we've been spending a lot of time outside recently in the gardens.

She looked at me disapprovingly and told me to "Be careful!"

This is the same grandmother who when I was a little girl would firmly (but lovingly) remind me to sit up straight and not fidget. Not fidgeting was the hard one for me! She would also occassionally remind us that I was a "lady" and should act like one. I suppose ladies are careful and don't get baked in the sun while weeding their carrot rows...

But I would like to point out to all the world one of me Oma's greatest escapades. We have always known she is a strong women! That was never in doubt. In the 1950s she left both her children in Germany and came to Ohio to establish a new life for them. My grandfather died in a Russian POW camp following the seige of Stalingrade. (Thanks Sis for your research!)

But Oma is never boastful and talks very little about herself or her life in Germany so we were very suprised when we got this little juicy tidbit out of her a few weeks ago...
One day she was swimming in the Rhine River. She decided to swim all the way across! But when she got to the other side she looked back and decided that it was to far to swim back because she was tired and it was pretty wide where she swam acorss...

So she would have to walk across the bridge which was a way up the street. So she would have to walk through Mannheim to the bridge and across in her bikini!
I guess bikinis were all the rage in France in the mid 1940s. So of course my fashionable grandmother had one. (She actually blushed when she told us, I have never seen my late 80's grandmother blush before!)

Now, I am sure this was in the age before sun screen. So I think my Oma needs to be greatful I am not hoeing those onions in a bikini!
(She'll have a heart attack if she finds out I posted this... so to all the grandkids... Don't get me in trouble OK?!?)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

NY Times Article

One of our members sent a link to this article on CSAs that appeared in the New York Times.

We dream of being 200 members, that is a lot of work and a lot of members. Last year we had 22 members. This year we are at 32. Next year we want to start the season at 50. 2010 we hope to double to 100. With a goal in 2012 (year 5 at our farm) of near 200 members.

But that is a LOT of new equipment and stuff (wash line, walk in cooler, high row cultivating tractor, ect, ect, ect...) and more then the stuff it will be a big change in our current lives. We will need to be on the farm a lot more then we currently can be, so we working through all of that and the possibilities that exist.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Look what we picked!

Leeks and potatoes! Well, Ok baby leek and baby potatoes... but still... pretty cool for a city girl like me!

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Seeds galore...

Yesterday evening we tilled under a few of the rows that were just not growing! In their place we put in more kale, beets, turnips, green beans, lettuce, fennel, sunflowers, and carrots. In all over 3000 feet of stuff went in!
You may be asking yourself, "Isn't it late to plant?"
No! Well, not for most stuff. We are pushing our sunflowers and the fennel may have trouble bulbing if we have a cool fall, but otherwise, we should be OK. Much of the stuff we put in is under 60 days, that means it should be ready in early to mid September.

We still have at least 4 major plantings to go in! More roots crops, more beans, more lettuce, more of lots of stuff. The fall broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage crops are in the process of being started. They still have a while before they are in the field. As late as the beginning of September we will be planting radishes, lettuce, and other cool loving crops... Still plenty of time to plant. In fact enough that we are going to be turning more ground soon!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Sometimes living so close to nature brings us a little closer then we would like to... well, nature. For some reason we are a favroite place for snakes, this little guy is just the latest in a long line of slithery creatures we have found in or right next to the house...

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Second week of pick up...

Second pickup all ready! In the garden we are seeing lots of baby summer squash and the first of the baby green beans may be ready for next week. The season is finally in full swing. Recently we have dedicated a lot of our time to foliar feeding, spraying natural fertilizers (like fish emulsion) on the leaves of our plants. Wow, are they responding. The oldest summer squash plants are waist high, and the tomatoes are a deep dark green! And as an added benifit, carrying a 40 pound backpack sprayer around the garden counts as exercise... The lettuce bed is looking really nice, they are starting to head up....

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

First week of July...

The garden is finally growing well! Things are getting bigger and I figured now was a good time to do a little photo survey of our farm and how things are growing.
We have always had a hard time growing carrots, because we had pretty heavy clay soil before. Not so anymore. Our carrot rows have really taken off since we started to foliar feed them. Yesterday I was weeding and noticed two large tops right next to each other, so I thinned one out and got this! A real to honest little baby carrot!

A couple weeks ago our squash were just little baby things, now the leaves are as big as dinner plates and they are getting blossoms! Won't be long until we have summer squash! (Come over here little bees!)

This is photo of our beet row we have 3 succession plantings going. One after another 2 weeks apart. So members should expect lots more beets in their baskets! Yummy!

Lettuce is another one of those things which has been a little hit or miss for us in the past. So dependent on weather, it can be difficult to field grow. A little luck this year and we finally have gorgeous little heads. Sunday members, got only a tiny bit this week, Wednesday members got a lot more. Sunday members should expect a bigger share of lettuce this coming week.
It will be so strange to be able to offer onions! They are coming along nicely! Next year we are planning a 1/4 acre onion plot, hopefully everyone likes onions!
Time to stake the tomatoes! They are starting to spread out a bit. These are Matt's Wild Cherry a nice heirloom cherry tomato. AND they have little baby green tomatoes on them! These plants will bear all summer, so get ready for cherry tomatoes! Obviously these plants are benefiting from the foliar feeding, they have gone from being a light kellyish green to this dark green beautiful color.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Anouther food outbreak and local farms

I always get so scared when there is an outbreak of disease from a food born pathogen, especially one linked to fresh produce.
Invariably calls are made for better food safety. And that means more regulation, red tape, and less freedom. But people are smarter then that, right?
The recently passed George Carlin said "Think how smart the average person is. By definition, half the people are stupider then that!" I've been thinking of that recently.
What happens when children die? People want something done, and indiscriminately. The local movement is still small and so many people still think that food comes from a grocery store and before that a refrigerated truck. Someone should "DO SOMETHING!" about food safety.
But big ag will want small farmers to take on the same burden as they do, and if the answer ends up being UV light or chlorine baths or "certified fields" or special handling facilities will they exempt small producers? Probably not, and with the extra requirements come up front costs that most small farmers cannot afford.
Last year the board of the Countryside Conservancy visited our farm and asked us one simple question. "What can we do to help you?" Our answer was simple "Be there to offer legal support when they try to make what we do illegal..."
This spring I signed a multiple page contract and bought a part of another farmer's stock so I would have the right to purchase an agricultural product directly from him. And even that may or may not end up being accepted by the State Department of Ag when push comes to shove. This farmer may be risking his farm and his family's lively hood to sell me a product I want to buy.
What happens if produce goes that way? If all washing and prepping has be done in a certified facility? I can say that all my produce is washed with the same water that my family (and an entire city) drinks and as we do not have any recirculation system it is all fresh water (we wash with a garden hose) but will that be enough? Probably not... What if fields have to be tested? How much will that cost? $1000 a field a year? Not much if your field is 5,000 acres, but we have two 1 acre fields and a 1/4 acre field in production right now...
900 people are sick and who knows how many more. They are still looking for the source. It is a horrible thing and "something should be done" but I fear that "something", as more incidents like this occur (and they will,) will cast a wide net and catch many who have nothing to do with the problem.