August 21, 2011
August 21, 2011
A Fun-Time Potluck at the Farm
Thanks to everyone who came out last Friday to the farm! We had a wonderful time visiting with you, meeting you, walking the fields with you (at least until the heat got to us!), and enjoying all your wonderful dishes. The kids all had a wonderful time, too, didn't they? It's always a pleasure to have some down time with you all, put faces to names, and hear your stories...
We welcome everyone to our next potluck, Sunday, September 18, from 5 to 7 p.m.!
And the Drought Continues....
If the shares seem on the small side this week, they are. Of course, we are very happy with what we're able to get, and continue to give you the best of what the week provides, but the farm is at 50 days since the last soaking rain, which is new territory for us. The crops, the soil, and farm infrastructure are stretched thin as the drought deepens. You simply can't replace the benefits of an inch of rain. Other pressures, like bugs & diseases, increase, too, when crops are stressed.
We're not alone. Other farms in our area are facing the same long odds, and we're all helping each other keep morale up as we face these unique challenges right in the heart of the growing season. It's almost comic how much our ability to do our job hinges on the weather being at least a tad normal here & there. We also appreciate knowing all of you who have known us for several years, or who have been members of CSA's before... your encouragement is always appreciated, as well as your reminders that you know these ups & downs happen with ecological, organic agriculture.
To new members, please know that share sizes are dependent on the weather, and that as bad as it can get sometimes, it can also be great, since the weather will come around at some point. We make adjustments to our planting schedule in order to make up for any crop losses that are experienced... and then we love it all when the weather is great! This is why eating locally is such an adventure! Each year & every season has it's own character, flavor, & style.
Also know that we all learn so much during the extremes. We learn from our land and use all this to get better. Small-scale, local farming is well-positioned to adapt to changes in the local climate... it's just that we have to be patient with things like droughts, heat waves, & deluges, which is, naturally, difficult.... The point being that things are really tough out there right now, but the future is very bright.... And we all will appreciate a good, normal rain, and all the crops we expect, when it returns!
One Drought-Time Adjustment.... Summer Squash & Cucumbers!
We want to tell you about what's been happening with summer squash & cucumbers. Both of these "fruits" are crops we like to have every week during the summer. They're a staple, and we grow about 15 different varieties to make it interesting... and, in order to have a continuous supply, we grow rotations throughout the summer about 3-4 weeks apart. The first two plantings did just fine this spring, but..... by late June, when we planted our third rotation, things suddenly went awry....
We sowed our third rotation of cucumbers & squash on Thursday, June 23. It was a beautiful day & things were swell... However, over that weekend, rain came down in buckets, to the tune of 3 inches by Sunday. We checked our recent sowing and saw immediately that they were rotting in the wet soil.
So, we sowed them again that next Friday, July 1. Again, what a lovely day! We were concerned about the squash & cukes getting in a bit late, but were happy to get them in again. But, that Sunday, July 3, an unexpected rain fell in buckets again, this time at 1 1/2 inches. It was really wet on the Fourth of July... but we noticed something else... when we checked on the seed, we noticed that it was kind of difficult to find the seed. Moreover, it appeared as if there were little holes where the seed should be....Nevertheless, the planting was a goner, again! This was the first time we had been so unlucky with these crops.
Not wanting to lose any more time, we sowed them again on Tuesday, July 5, for the third time! If you remember, July 3 was our last soaking rain.... we didn't know this at the time, but still, it meant that we wouldn't be losing the crop to excess moisture again. We checked on the germinating seeds a few days later, however, only to discover again what we thought we noticed a few days prior: the seed were gone! Indeed, some critter had actually stolen our squash & cuke seed! This had never happened before, so we were a little put off.
What an ordeal! Squash & cucumbers are a 'bread'n'butter' crop during the summer, a staple of the weekly share you can count on. This was becoming more difficult every week....and stranger by the day.
Cucumbers & squash received our full attention at that point, and we went back to basics. No longer able to trust (or control) the seed in the fields, we sowed them again on Saturday, July 9, for the fourth time, but this time at home, in the greenhouse, in sowing flats, where we could maintain vigil over our dwindling seed supply.... We watched.... we waited... then, success! They germinated within a week, and late on the evening of Sunday, July 24, we transplanted them back in the field... Phew.... a whole month after initially sowing the third rotation, there it was, standing in the field, ready to do it's thing, getting drip irrigation under the coming heat....
Four weeks later, here we are. And we can't wait to get squash & cucumbers to everyone again! They are finally just now getting to harvest stage, and we are very proud of them. The squash & cucumbers coming to you in the next weeks are true survivors, surviving dreadful heat and no rain.... and rodents, squash bugs, cucumber beetles... ugh!
This is a prime example of some of the unexpected challenges every farmer & gardener faces, and how we make small adjustments in how we do things in order to solve problems... We hope the harvests come by the bucketful! ... but we're watching them closely....
What's In Your Share?
Recipe for the Week
Here is a great idea for peppers, which can be converted to a vegetarian by leaving the sausage out, or substituting...
Sweet Pepper and Sausage Frittata
from Jeff Cox, The Organic Cook’s Bible, 2006
½ lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 ripe sweet peppers, red or yellow, cut into very thin 2-inch strips
1 large red onion, cut in half, sliced thin, and separated
¼ cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz.)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Crumble and cook the sausage in an ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.
2. Add the peppers, onion, and ½ cup of water to the skillet and cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the peppers are tender and the water has evaporated.
3. In a bowl, beat the eggs, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir in the mozzarella and sausage, then pour this mixture over the vegetables in the skillet. Cook over medium heat about 3 minutes, until the egg mixture begins to set around the edges. Place skillet in the oven for about 12 minutes, until the frittata is set. Loosen the frittata and slide it onto a warm serving plate. Cut into wedges.
Beets & beans should be returning for everybody in the coming weeks, along with radishes... We're putting a lot of effort into our summer crops to take advantage of the remaining warm season, while also preparing for fall. As you know, we really need rain, and are doing what we can in the meantime. We'll continue telling you about what's happening at the farm!
All the best,Kris, Stacey and Riverbend Roots Farm