July 30, 2012
July 30, 2012
Melons are here! Expect watermelon this week in your share, as well as more cantaloupe, as these crops reach full ripeness under the hot summer sun. (If you happen to receive a melon that is not ripe, PLEASE let us know. If it's at all possible, we'll do our best to replace it...)
As you know, the heat & drought continue to be about as bad as it can get in this climate. The bad news is obvious, that the excessive heat will begin slowing down harvests real soon (but not yet!). Most summer crops, like tomatoes, beans, peppers, cucumbers, etc., should be entering their periods of peak production, but are instead beginning to taper off. There's only so much heat crops can handle and still produce at normal levels. There were at least 19 days in July (so far) that exceeded 99 degrees, which is simply too much for most crops. We essentially lost July... and we can't get it back.
The good news is that we're still harvesting! Despite the blistering conditions crops still show signs of hanging in there. And, even if production falls in the short run, which we sadly expect, we are the size & kind of farm that can bounce back quickly from devestating weather like this. And, as hot as it's been, we've loved how tomatoes, melons and other heat-loving crops have fared, at least in terms of July harvests and their ability to stay alive and kicking. As soon as the weather cools, we'll hit the ground running on fall crops.
Farmwork is very personal on small, diverse farms like this. Like any farm, we suffer during summers like this, when an entire month is lost to extreme conditions. However, since most of our work is done by hand, we can observe, up close, the exact effects of weather that is clearly beyond normal, gaining invaluable insight into the directions we need to adapt. We see exactly which varieties thrive & which don't. We see which techniques work & which don't. Already dozens of small changes are in play for next year should this kind of weather continue, changes that prepare us for the worst and thrive during the best.
As much as this weather tests our patience, fortitude, bottom line & confidence, we're hopeful in the fundamentals of what we do, in the strength of the principles of taking care of the soil, learning from failures, and building on successes.... and working with & for you through it all. We will get through this....
In the meantime, let's enjoy the harvests at hand!
There is watermelon for everyone this week, as well as eggplant & beets again! (Please let us know if, for some reason, your melons are not ripe. We do our best to insure full ripeness, but we cannot "look inside", so a few might pass through that are less ripe.)
Here's what you should expect in your share this week:
Cherry and/or Salad Tomatoes
Green-to-red sweet peppers
Cherry and/or Salad Tomatoes
Please Note that watermelon will be in a SEPARATE box at your pick-up location, since they are often too large to fit in your share boxes. Don't forget to pick them up!
- Thank you for returning boxes to your pick-up spot! The ability to re-use boxes all season goes a long way to keeping costs down, and making CSA work.... Thanks!
- Plastic pint containers can be re-used! If it's not too complicated, please return pint containers so that we can use them again & again. This is one of the many ways we're able to keep costs down.... Thanks!
- We're excited to offer green beans, but are highly aware that they come in limited quantities. Beans are very difficult to grow & harvest in large quantities on small farms like ours that hand-pick beans. Beans are more frequently offered as a u-pick crop. Since most of you are unable to pick your own beans every week, we're happy to harvest them for you. Just know they are one of the most time-consuming crops, if not THE most time-consuming crop to harvest by hand.
- Eggs will begin to be available for purchase AT the farm soon, as our new chicks are just now beginning to lay. These first eggs are very small at first, and the amount of eggs will slowly increase in the coming months.
- Live Springs Farm is now taking orders for meat for delivery to the farm on the LAST Friday of each month. For the time being, pick-up will only be available AT the farm. If you want to change your pick-up day to match meat delivery, please let us know! And... please make your orders with Live Springs at least 1 week prior to the last Friday of the month.
- We want your feedback and will try and put together a form for you tell us more of what you want! Thanks!
Recipes for the Week
2 cups coarsely chopped cantaloupe (from ½ melon, seeded)
¼ cup sugar, or to taste
½ TBS fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 cup ice cubes
Purée all ingredients in a blender until smooth, then pour into a 13 by 9 inch metal pan and freeze until the mixture becomes a firm slush, at least 40 minutes. Scrape with a fork and serve in chilled glasses
Recipe from Gourmet magazine
"Make-your-own" Melon Sorbet
Make your own Melon Sorbet:
1 cantaloupe or honey dew melon
¼ cup agave, honey or other sweetener
- food processor or blender
Freeze melon chunks: Cut cantaloupe in half and scoop out seeds. Cut into wedges and remove peels. Then cut wedges into chunks and place on cookie tray in freezer.
Sorbet: Remove melon chunks from freezer and place in food processor. Let set for about a half hour to thaw slightly.
Add a splash of lemon juice and about ¼ cup honey or agave syrup. Add about 1/4 c. hot water and blend until smooth. Add more water if necessary to desired consistency, and add more sweetener to taste.
Chilled Cantaloupe Soup1 cantaloupe - peeled, seeded and cubed
2 cups orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Peel, seed, and cube the cantaloupe.
- Place cantaloupe and 1/2 cup orange juice in a blender or food processor; cover, and process until smooth. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in lime juice, cinnamon, and remaining orange juice. Cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour. Garnish with mint if desired.
About Last Week at the Farm
Every day begins with a morning check-in. We go over the plans for the day, schedules for the week, and general expectations for what's ahead. For too many days in July, the daily schedule was altered to take excessive heat into account, meaning that we had to squeeze a full days work into the safer, morning hours, and had to make sure we weren't exposed for too long outside under the hot afternoon sun.
Regardless of the weather, rain, snow or shine, we begin the day with harvest! Below, Oscar prepares to bring in a portion of a pepper harvest, while Bailey & John, cut basil. Basil LOVES this weather, by the way.
We hope to wrap up harvest before the real heat kicks in, but a lot of harvests have been big enough to carry through until late morning, when the sun hits its first peak while harvests must go on! You can see Bailey, below, adapting to the blistering rays of the late morning sun. It's absolutely imperative that we protect ourselves from the potentially damaging effects of so much heat & light. This weather will surely pass..... we want to be in good shape when it does.
Crops continue to grow, and they must be maintained. Stacey & John, below, trellis our third rotation of tomatoes. The plants look fabulous. We keep them on regular rotations of irrigation, & keep them weeded & trellising.... add to that the fact that the fungal blights that normally attack tomatoes are also suffering under this excessive heat, and tomat plants are faring very decently.
The remaining question is whether they are setting fruit or not. That's the important question. Summer fruiting crops, like tomatoes, squash, egpplant, & cucumbers have a lot of difficulty producing the respective fruits that we love when conditions are so hot. It's easy to forget that the average high temperature for July & August for the last 30 years in this area is 89 degrees! Doesn't that sound lovely? Needless to say, a high of 89 is IDEAL for robust summer production.... 105 degrees is not. Regardless we do the work necessary & hope for the best.
Weeds also grow in the sections irrigated. Below, we free another bed of scallions... plus flowers.
Somehow we've been able to continue planting, but only under very strict conditions. In the photo below, Shannon drops basil starts onto a bed that had just contained some lettuce that did not make it. That lettuce, though, HAD BEEN irrigated, which meant there was enough moisture to till. We timed this planting to correspond EXACTLY to when that section of the field was due to be irrigated so that we wouldn't miss a beat. When temperatures are this extreme, irrigation schedules must be absolutely precise.
Sometimes conditions aren't so nice. Below, we transplant lettuce & flowers into another leftover bed from the spring that has sat idle under the intense heat & drought. The soil here is bone dry, but loose. Since tilling dry soil is absolutely out of the question, we hope these 'left-over' beds are adequate, since they are all we have (with the exception of the
By the end of the day, another harvest is successfully concluded, weeds are pulled, new crops are in. We can refresh ourselves for another day, and another week. The land & the crew have been through a lot already this summer, with a lot more to come. Here's to summer, and all that it is!
This kind of weather can't continue forever, right? With more excessive heat in the forecast, and no real end in sight, we'll plan to keep doing what we're doing, which means another week of irrigating like crazy & waiting for opportunities to plant fall crops. Our growing concern is our inability to plant & sow for fall. We've been through this before, but it'd be nice to begin establishing fall carrots, beets, spinach & cabbage beds sooner rather than later. This kind of weather is just hard to work with day-in and day-out. It's all about just gettng through it in one piece.
Hope everyone is enjoying the harvests! If you have any questions, or if any problems come up, we're always here.... The quickest way to reach us these days is to call.... we're at 618-444-0567.
Until Next Time,
Kris, Stacey, Jacob & Anna,
and everyone else at Riverbend Roots Farm