July 16, 2012
July 16, 2012
It's still hot out there, but we're enjoying the harvests! Peppers, eggplant, and green beans are finally on the harvest schedule, and will be available for shares as soon as the harvests are big enough, maybe as early as this week....
The weather continues to hug the edges of extreme, with drought continuing, and temperatures barely cooling off. It looks like it's hot & dry again this week. We're hanging in there, irrigating the most popular, in-season crops, and being VERY patient. Among the difficulties presented by extreme conditions is that it is difficult to predict exactly what the share will look like, week to week, since crops go through a lot of stress every day just to do their thing.
Despite the rough conditions, we've been pleased with production, so far, and are putting in the work to keep it going. We actually got a couple of plantings in this week, which is nearly impossible when the ground is as bone dry as it is. But we found that the beds we had tilled under after the spring are remarkably clean of debris, leaving a bed ready for planting!
So... everybody, please stay hydrated and cool, and we hope you enjoy the harvests this week.....
Here's what you should expect in your share this week (*please note that extreme weather makes it difficult for us to predict exactly what to expect come harvest day, since field conditions are volatile, so there may be changes to this list by harvest time.... we'll send updates if this is so):
Cherry and/or Salad Tomatoes
Cherry and/or Salad Tomatoes
Coming Soon: Green beans, carrots.
- We discovered that one of our cucumber varieties has a very bitter skin. This variety is called Sultan, which has a very smooth skin, and we highly encourage to peel the skin before eating! We like the fact that most of our cucumber varieties can be eaten whole, unpeeled, so we apologize for this bitterness, but are at least happy to have discovered it now.
- Speaking of bitter flavors.... if you ever run across something like this, where the flavor or quality of one of your vegetables is clearly bad, PLEASE let us know. It's almost impossible to ensure that every single item we pick is perfect, as much as we try, and we hate the idea that you might get something bad, so we hope to have the opportunity to make it up to you....
- 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!
- With all the pint containers in your share, remember that 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!
Recipes for the Week
You gotta love tomatoes! At the farm we grow many varieties of tomatoes, among them heirloom & hybrd slicers, and cherry, sungold, & salad varieties.
Heirloom tomatoes are 'UGLY'! They can be big, scruffy, misshapen, cracked, scarred, you name it.... but this is because heirloom tomatoes are chosen for FLAVOR, not appearances.
The best way to enjoy an heirloom tomato, in our opinion, is to make a meal of it! Slice some fresh bread and make a 'dip' of olive oil, balsamic vinegar & salt. Layer your bread with sliced heirloom tomato, basil, and a soft cheese like mozzarella or feta. Dip or drizzle the balsamic dressing & you have a meal!
Or check out the recipes below:
Basil Tomato Pizza
4-6 whole basil leaves
3-5 cherry tomatoes (sliced)
1 garlic clove (thinly sliced)
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (fresh works best)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare and roll out your favorite pizza dough, ready for ingredients.
2. Lightly brush pizza dough with olive oil. Then top crust with your favorite tomato sauce, 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 3-5 thinly sliced cherry tomatoes, 1 sliced garlic clove and basil leaves.
3. Place pizza in oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
CHICKEN BREASTS WITH CHERRY TOMOTAOES & ZUCCHINI
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 zucchini (trimmed & cut into ½ inch cubes)
2 tablespoons (chopped) shallot
2 cups red & yellow cherry/grape tomatoes (halved)
½ cup black olives (chopped)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (~ 6 ounces each)
½ cup dry white wine or vermouth Salt pepper
1½ cups long grain white rice or orzo (cooked according
In a large nonstick pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat.
Add zucchini cubes, stir occasionally until lightly browned (~ 6 minutes.)
Add shallot until softened (~1 minute.)
Add tomatoes, olives, and rosemary, stirring occasionally until tomatoes are heated
thoroughly but don’t collapse (~2 minutes.)
Season w/ salt and pepper.
Transfer mixture to a plate and set side.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to frying pan. Season chicken w/ salt and pepper.
Cook, turning once, until brown on both sides and firm when pressed in the middle
(~ minutes total.) Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
Add wine to pan and bring to a boil.
Return veggies to pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring once or twice.
Transfer to a warm platter, top w/ chicken breasts. Serve w/ rice.
8 oz. baby patty pan squash and/or baby zucchini (about 2 cups)
2 pints red and/or yellow grape tomatoes (about 4 cups)
1 to 2 cups fresh arugula or romaine lettuce, coarsely torn
2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil, tarragon and/or chives
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. In a large saucepan cook squash, covered, in enough lightly salted boiling water to cover until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain. Cool vegetables by adding cold water and ice cubes to pan. Drain well.
2. In a serving bowl combine the drained squash, tomatoes, arugula and herbs. In a screw-top jar, combine remaining ingredients. Cover; shake well. Add half to salad; toss to coat. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Pass remaining dressing.
Quick Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange whole cherry tomatoes in a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the roasted tomatoes to a serving dish and stir in some fresh basil (optional) serve hot or warm.
About Last Week at the Farm
Big harvests last week! Shannon is cleaning scallions in the field prior to bunching, with the first cucumber planting at her back. It was a pleasure harvesting crops in cool temperatures after experiencing the scorching heat the previous week.
Peppers are among the summer crops that are finally looking ready for harvest. Harvests of summer crops start as a trickle, as the plant takes time to set and grow fruit. Once the plants get going, however, the hope is that harvests grow more bountiful each week.
Oscar is harvesting black-eyed susans above, as well. Flowers are an increasingly popular item at Farmers Markets, and a way for us to increase revenues for the farm to take pressure off the vegetables, so that we can offer MORE veggies to you in the share while paying for much-needed infrastructure improvements at the farm. Plus, they feed pollinators and other beneficial insects. This year our goal is to figure out how to grow & pack flowers efficiently so that we can offer a "Flower Share" down the road.
As mentioned above, we were able to transplant new crops last week! Above, Shannon & Oscare are transplanting scallions.... which followed a big planting of lettuce, basil & flowers. This is incredible, because the soil is bone dry, which makes planting nearly impossible. These beds were simply left-over from the spring. Without any rain, they've just sat there, free of weeds, dry as dust, ready to go.
In order to plant, however, into bone dry, dusty soil, it was imperative that we irrigate immediately. You can see the drip lines above already adding moisture to the planting. Ultimately this is an experiment, but at least these new crops have a chance!
Where you irrigate, of course, weeds will grow. Above, John is pulling one of thousands of new weeds from the watermelon patch....
.... and carrots & beans.... With all this heat & drought, how will these crops fare? It's soon to tell, but at least they're irrigated, weeded, and loved.
Did I mention irrigation? Sometimes, during conditions like this, the farm gets to be a mess. Above, Shannon & others are pulling old drip tape out of one of these tangled messes. Moving drip tape is a chore we don't look forward to, but it's part of our routine during times like this....
You're all aware that we continue to be in the thick of a persistant drought & nasty hot weather. The natural expectation is that crops will suffer. These conditions, as they persist, force us to make priority decisions.
Unfortunately, we had to give up celery last week. It was looking great... but it's simply way too hot & dry for celery, and giving it the water & attention it needs would have taken time & water away from crops that are more in-season than celery. Like tomatoes, melons, beans, carrots, cucumbers, etc. Too many times in the past, we've succumbed to coddling crops like this only to realize they were never going to do well under such stress anyway.
The growing concern, however, is that our fall plantings may be delayed. With the soil so dry, it's impossible for us to prep new land for planting. Soon, we'll need to transplant most of the crops that will feed us into September, October & November, so we're more than a bit hopeful that rain will return. In the meantime, we keep up the work at hand, and stay true to principles of good farming as we know them (which includes planting into soil we don't need to till!).
Hope everyone is enjoying the harvests! If you have any questions, or if any problems come up, we're always here....
Until Next Time,
Kris, Stacey, Jacob & Anna,
and everyone else at Riverbend Roots Farm