Folks….sometimes the farm season just gets away from you (or blogging about it at any rate!) Below is a monster blog with tons of past newsletters for your reading enjoyment. My apologies for such a crazy delay!
Red H Farm, August 23, 2013 – Week 4
Aaaaaaaaand…..they’re off! The tomatoes that is. Veterans of Red H Farm know that because of our west county location and our very special little micro-climate we wait a bit longer than others to enjoy tomatoes. But when they come, they’re good. We’re growing over 40 varieties of heirloom tomatoes this year, and then another 10 or 15 heirloom cherry varieties. The small taste you’ll get today are just the beginning, a few of the earliest varieties including Stupice (the round red), Black Plum (the small pinkish/purple oblong ones), Green Zebra (the green striped), Purple Russian (the big pinkish) and more. And both basil and cilantro of course pair perfectly.
Tomatoes are just one tasty treat in the box today though. You’ll continue getting an increasing amounts of sweet peppers and today there is a specialty to enjoy – tender pea shoots that are delicious mixed with your spinach or salad mix, used to garnish grilled fish or just nibbled all on their own.
As you know, lots of farm projects underway this week and next. We’ve beeen prepping a new field for fall and winter crops (all the broccolis, cauliflower, favas, cabbage, greens, peas etc.) – its been getting nibbled down by a lovely herd of horses, and the sprinklers are running to soften the dirt of for some tillage. Come Monday or Tuesday, a whole host of new baby plants will be cozy in the ground! Keep checking http://www.redhfarm.com for updates and don’t forget to like your farm on facebook!
In the Box: Salad Mix, Spinach, Pea Shoots, Kale or Chard, Peppers, Tomatoes, Squash, Cucumbers, Beans, Radishes, Herbs
Red H Farm, Newsletter September 5, 2013 – Week 6
Well, busy days here at the farm. Busy days filled with BABIES, to be more precise. Lots of baby plants making their way into the ground, slowly but surely. Planting will continue throughout this month, lots of root crops and green onions, peas and favas to go. What’s more, there is a HUMAN baby! That’s right, I am Auntie Farmer Caiti four times over now. My nephew Daschle was born at 5:27 am on Wednesday morning. Needless to say it has been a busy week. But never fear, in between hospital visits, making sure the house is cozy and clean and dog-sitting a very anxious pup, the farm work has continued! Irrigation laid, mulch spread, amendments applied and plants tucked snugly into the soil.
Irrigation has become particularly important these days, as this summer has taken a turn for the hot and windy. Being pummeled by gusty breeze and left to bake out in the sun can be tough for tender new plants. Those conditions tend to suck the moisture right out of the soil, straining even established plants. We thankfully run the farm on a drip system that concentrates watering at the root base, eliminating excess evaporation. This system helps conserve water while meeting the crop’s needs.
Amazingly, the dastardly weeds are not terribly affected by the adverse weather conditions…in fact, somehow they seem to thrive in ALL conditions….sigh. 😉
In the Box: Salad Mix, Spinach, Kale or Chard, Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Summer Squash, Cucumber, Pears, Herbs, Sweet Peppers, Ancho Peppers
Red H Farm Newsletter, September 20, 2013 – Week 8
Busy days at the farm and off this week – it is truly harvest season! Working to pull together extra treats for all of you during the bounty of harvest season has been a joy. This week I spent Thursday morning gleaning delicious figs from a gardener in Forestville with an overloaded tree. They are delicious fresh, can be enjoyed sliced onto a pizza with a bit of goat cheese, or make a delicious compote slow roasted with lemon and sugar to be enjoyed with some fresh ricotta – indulge!
Tomatoes continue in abundance and I encourage you to take a few minutes here and there to preserve them when they’re a bit more than you can get through in a week. If it does indeed rain tonight check out the roasted tomato soup recipe at http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2011/09/roasted-tomato- soup-with-broiled-cheddar/ and cozy up for the turn of the seasons.
The pepper plants are still heavily laden with fruit, and they will continue right until the frost gets us some time next month. This week I am including a recipe for stuffed peppers – both red and green peppers of different shapes and sizes can be used. Also, there are lots of recipes for chile rellenos out there, and the dark green pasilla peppers are just what you are supposed to use for that dish! Enjoy!
In the box: Cucumbers, Summer Squash, Red Russian Kale, Beans, Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Figs, Baby Beet Thinnings, Peppers, Ancho Peppers
Red H Farm Newsletter, September 27, 2013 – Week 9
Well folks, its World War Gopher over here at Red H Farm. Its been quiet thus far this summer – moles have been a disruptive (though not malicious) force, but we haven’t been losing much to gophers (the biggest pest we usually contend with here at the farm). Until now. I have attributed the quiet to the dry spring, ample hawk and owl populations and the gophers snakes I’ve been spotting on the property. But NOW the gophers are coming on with a vengeance. And they’re setting up camp in our carrot beds. I’ve been working at it every day, but unfortunately I fear I am losing this war. The carrot beds are rapidly disappearing. As one of our best crops, I would hate for folks to miss out on their sweet crispness. And while there are lots more planted with the fall crops, on the off chance they don’t come to fruition before the temperatures drop and the days become so short that growth stalls, I’ve started harvesting. All of this is to say that I want you to enjoy the delectable carrots now, because we might find them lacking later this fall (though I’ll never admit defeat!)
In other news, the fall crops are growing steadily and the summer crops are still going pretty strong. The hum of the dehydrator will ensure tomatoes through the winter months and the sweet scent of melons has begun wafting across the field. The bounty is on!
Apples courtesy of the Lapinski family orchard in Sebastopol!
In the Box: Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Melon or watermelon, Apples, Peppers, Kale, Bok Choy, Carrots, Microgreens/Edible Flowers, Arugula/Salad Mix or Spinach
Red H Farm Newsletter, October 4, 2013 – Week 10
The season has officially changed. We’ve somehow stumbled upon that time of year when I begin nervously checking the weather forecast – ALL the weather forecasts that is – to mentally prepare for the inevitable frost. As soon as I see a nighttime temperature hitting 39 degrees, I assume the worst. In part I have legitimate reason – the nature of the land at Red H (just a bit lower than the neighbors, and open to the elements) means that many a morning I look out to see a frosty white film covering the crops, while the neighbor’s lawns look perky and green. You can imagine the quiet fury. However, in my weather forecast checking frenzy, I’m startled to see temperatures that will allegedly stay above 40 throughout October. Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOOK at the forecast, but that kind of news – I don’t believe it for a second! Nevertheless, we’re looking at a funny Fall it seems. One that will keep the summer crops feebly dragging on as the plants lose steam but the weather holds up. Potentially one that will allow for a whole new generation of pests that typically die off or go dormant thanks to the frosty temperatures. And one that just MIGHT allow for the ripening of watermelons, the extra time to process more tomatoes and some increasingly red and orange (rather than green!) sweet peppers. One can only hope!
In the box: Carrots, Sweet Pepper Mix, Poblano Peppers, Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Charentais or Petit Gris de Rennes Cantaloupe, Orangeglo/Sweet Siberian/Katanya Watermelon, Cucumber or Summer Squash, Basil, Baby Lettuce, Kale or Chard
Red H Farm Newsletter, October 11, 2013 – Week 11
High 86, Low 40. High 85, Low 41. High 81, Low 40……yeah right! Low of 40. Ha! That’s right, low of 40 means frost at Red H Farm. Sadly, the otherwise lovely turn of seasons has reared its head in the most harsh of ways this week – we’ve had several light dustings of frost. Not enough to completely wipe out all the summer crops, but still a number done on the cucumbers and beans, the basil and melons. It’s a characteristic of our low-lying farm, the cold air just settles right down and gets comfortable this time of year. Despite knowing its coming, I must be honest – it still gets me down. All those lush crops turned brown and withering. All the fruits that aren’t quite ready, never to be harvested and enjoyed. Sigh. This is, however, slightly mitigated by the pending harvest of winter squash (my favorite!), the lush broccoli plants, the mulch spread over soon-to-be-dormant beds, nourishing the soil. These are also hallmarks of this time of year. Despite the nearing loss of tomatoes and melons, peppers and squash, there is still much to come! One thing I feel I must note. This has NOT been the year of the watermelon! After a bumper crop last season, which was particularly exciting considering it is a tough crop for west county, they just didn’t thrive this year. Now that the frost has come, I went ahead and harvested those that seemed CLOSE to being ripe (though tiny!). This means there’s a good chance some of you will end up with melons that aren’t quite bright colored, juicy and sweet. My serious apologies about this – its as disappointing for me to give less than perfect crops to you as it is for you to receive them, believe me! But hopefully there will be some enjoyment – or at least hydration – when you eat them 😉 MELONS on the other hand – I hope you’ve all been enjoying the Charentais and Petit Gris de Rennes cantaloupe – two French heirloom varieties that are abundant this year. I just love’em. Remember, the more orange and fragrant, the sooner you need to enjoy them – for some, that means today!
In the box: Collard Greens, Kale or Chard, Cherry Tomatoes, Watermelon, Cantaloupes, Sweet Peppers, a nibble of Summer Squash, Head Lettuce, Carrots, Green Onions
Red H Farm, Week 12 – October 17, 2013 Newsletter
If you didn’t see the post on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Red-H- Farm/483049365121232), we’ve hit that time of year when the field is scattered with funny things – burlap bags, chicken scratch bags, blankets, sheets and of course the more official solution – frost cloth. Yep, battling very light frosts on nearly a nightly basis now, and doing my best to stretch out the tomatoes, peppers, and melons as far as they’ll go. With the forecast dipping down in to the 30s according to one trusty weathergal, I went into go mode and did some mass harvesting. Not of everything, but all the watermelon. Word on the street (and by street I mean little paths between beds that a fellow CSAer was walking down with me) is that watermelons will continue to ripen after harvested. Course, according to many experts (and by experts I mean random sites found through the great and powerful Google) they will stop producing sugars once harvested. So, they’re all in, and we’ll see what we get. I’m afraid my experience hasn’t been scientific enough in nature to use a refractometer or keep track of any sugar findings. Feel free to give them a few days unless they feel at all soft. Give them a knock – hollow? Good sign #1. Nice yellow spot on one side, where they rested on the ground? Good sign #2. Good sign number three (the tendril opposite the stem dies back) is moot as the plants were withered by the frost and there was no way to tell!
In the Box: Kale, Rainbow Chard, Carrots, Lettuce, Melon, Watermelon, Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers, Green Onions, Tomatillos
Red H Farm, October 24, 2013 – Week 13
It is inevitable that some of you are relishing the lasting days of heat, only just beginning to break. On the farm they mean continued tomatoes and melons, the last green peppers managing to turn shades of red and orange. Meanwhile, others are craving the cool days of fall, days that might indeed be skipped over this year as we head steadily towards the winter months. These folks are itching for slow cooked stews, sweet winter squash and any excuse to get that oven going. What all of this means for the crops is a heck of a lot of confusion. The hot days we’ve had coupled with chilly nights mean that no crop is particularly in its zone. The first of the broccoli have begun to form heads, only to loosen up while still small – the heat sends it right to seed. At the same time the summer crops continue to steadily whither away. There are ups and downs to all of this – on the downside, the earliest of the fall crops tend to suffer. On the upside we’ve hit that great moment of overlap when there are still tomatoes and the weather is just getting right for some toasty soup. As the tomatoes wane in flavor a bit and are a lesser version of thier former packed-with-flavor selves, they are still perfect for roasting and turning into a cozy soup. Throw in some of the greens and perhaps a roasted pepper or two and you’ll be good to go. And, have no fear – those wintery crops are still coming, just on a bit of a bumpy road.
On that note, some HOLIDAY NEWS – I want to let you all know that beginning next week the winter squash will make a steady appearance in the box. You’ll have plenty in time for several Thanksgiving pies – both the traditional sugar-pie pumpkin and some blue varieties that I prefer.
In the Box: Red Kale, Dino Kale, Spinach or Lettuce Mix, Bunching Onions, Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Watermelon, Melon, Tomatillos
Red Farm Newsletter, November 1, 2013 – Week 14
Well, all we had to do was mention the confusion of the seasons, contemplate the anticipation of winter squash and wax poetic about weather meant for cranking on the oven. Suddenly….its here! The temperature gauge seems not to have surpassed the high 60s in the past few days and we’re due for some chilly weather tonight. Peppers and tomatoes were harvested earlier this evening, beating the impending frost. Watermelon sit in crates, brought in from the field two weeks ago. Blankets cloak the last of the hot peppers still on the plants, waiting to be dried for later this winter. Some melons remain in the fields, potentially meeting their doom in a few short hours. The tomatoes…some are covered, some plants are so thick and intertwined with one another that parts may be protected and we’ll continue to eke out a harvest. Its hard to tell before the morning. Either way, I think its safe to say – the season has changed.
Meanwhile, as the summer crops continue their abysmal withering, fall crops continue to come along. I see the tiniest of purple cauliflower finally forming heads. I’ve just uncovered a patch of arugula hidden amongst steadily growing grass (quite spicy, for those enjoying it this week) and the lettuce and spinach persist. I’ve also spent part of the week constructing a series of raised beds, using repurposed pallets (check out the facebook page!). Its an experiment, but should be perfect for Little Gem lettuce, arugula and baby radishes – we’ll see!
In the Box: Kale, Chard, Tomatoes/Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Jalapenos, Watermelon, Winter Squash, Beets, Bunching Onions, Arugula or Spinach
PS – the blue squash is edible! Perfect (preferable I think) to orange pumpkins for pie even! Use as decoration of course, but don’t forget to cook them up eventually!! For those who prefer an orange pumpkin for pie, you’ll get some next week!
Red H Farm Newsletter November 8, 2013 Week 15
It finally happened this week folks – THE KILLING FROST. The frost that sits so cold, so long that even the protected tomatoes, the partially covered peppers, and the last few melons scattered about and covered haphazardly by overturned buckets and heaps of irrigation line can’t weather the chill. The summer crops are, officially over. Well, alright, with the exception of the last of the peppers and hot peppers that were salvaged before the damage was done, and are being kept in refrigeration for your enjoyment this week, and perhaps next week as well. Other than those (okay OKAY, and maybe there is some dried summer goodness that will be coming your way in the next few weeks if you MUST know), summer is officially in the past. The weather, though getting more mild, is still a bit warmer than a farmer typically expects for November, continuing to cause some undesired outcomes in the brassicas (things like broccoli and cauliflower), but I have faith they’ll get on track. For now, there is plenty to enjoy in the continued bounty of greens, sweet and nutritious beets, and the continued presence of delectable winter squash (this week, a traditional sugarpie pumpkin for your holiday festivities). The carrots this week are finally the last of those I mentioned being decimated by gophers earlier in the season. They lasted longer than I expected, but have now reached their end. There are new rounds of carrots planted that are doing fairly well, so I do indeed hope that after perhaps a 3 week hiatus, you will enjoy them again later in December. We’ll see….its always an adventure!
A special note – this week I have included a very special treat. Red H Farm salted honey caramels with dried cornflowers (from the farm). They are an add-on available for purchase this holiday season. Consider some for an appetizer before the dessert course, or as a gift for someone special! $1/each, minimum order 10 caramels.
In the Box: 2 bunches (1 each) of red kale and/or dino kale and/or chard and/or collards, Beets, Carrots, Sweet Peppers, Hot Peppers, Sugarpie Pumpkin, Bunching Onions
Red H Farm Newsletter, November 22, 2013 – Week 17
Rain, oh rain! The city dweller, the lover of picnics, the sunbather, the beach-goer…all have dreaded this day, embraced the joy of the ‘endless summer,’ basked in joy of mild temperatures. The farmer? We rejoice! We praise the day when we can contemplate pulling in irrigation. When we can forget that emitters in the drip line do not work, that the water table is dropping by the day. We love the rain! Particularly at this time of a particularly dry year. Lets hope it continues in a moderate, consistent kind of way, of course!
Folks, we are just about to Thanksgiving – the holidays are upon us! You will find several things in the box this week that you might like to tuck away for the occasion. A bundle of herbs will hopefully be useful for stuffing and turkey, for those who indulge. The sugarpie pumpkin should confirm that everyone has enough (along with the blue or sugarpie pumpkin from a couple of weeks ago) for a pie or two. The purple skinned- potatoes will add some color to your mash. Finally, I have included a small sliver of quince paste for everyone to try! Quince is a peculiar fruit that most aren’t terribly familiar with. It’s a bit of a cross between an apple and a pear, except quite acerbic and dry – not a fruit one would eat raw. However, it is the fruit behind the traditional Spanish snack, Membrillo (or quince paste). Cooked down quince, combined with sugar, cooked down and then left to dry in a warm oven for several days. Traditionally it is eaten with manchego cheese, on crackers or bread. A treat to enjoy this holiday season! These particular quince were gleaned from the Luther Burbank Experimental Farm in Sebastopol.
The lemons this week are from the Hurst family in Napa (my aunt!) and the pineapple guava (another peculiar fruit, to be enjoyed when a bit soft) are from the Hachmyer family (my uncle!) right next to the farm. Enjoy!
In the Box: Cooking Greens, Salad Greens, Beets, Lemons, Pineapple Guava, Sugarpie Pumpkin, Rosemary and Sage Bundle , Basil, Purple or White Cauliflower, Bunching Onions, Purple Potatoes, Quince Paste
Red H Farm Newsletter, December 6, 2013 – Week 19
Oh, the weather outside is frightful…..and the crops sure are feeling it! Frozen solid, it has looked like snow out in the fields the past couple of mornings. Winter crops are hearty, and they are able to handle temperatures dropping into the mid twenties now and again, defrosting once the sun comes out in the morning. Three days in a row…that can be tough. They’ve made it through the last two, and the plants are strong, so I have high hopes they’ll survive a third night of chill. I’ve bundled up the less resilient crops (mostly just salad mix) using frost cloth and hoop tunnels in hopes of increasing their survival chances. So far so good!
You have a lot of interesting crops this week, both grown here on the farm and gleaned from other growers and gardeners. There are more persimmons (check your inbox for lots of explanation on how to use them) from Blankity Blank Potatoes and Produce, lemons from some family of mine in Napa, Pineapple Guava gleaned out near Full Bloom Farm in Graton, and dried tomatoes! The dried tomatoes are Red H Farm heirlooms processed throughout the season. My favorite way to enjoy them? As a snack like you would any other dried fruit. They’re also delicious thrown on pizza, in soups, pastas etc.
Only two more weeks left in the season! The final week is a bonus for those who have been signed on since the beginning – a 21st week. I’ll be in touch regarding extending into the first few weeks of January for those interested, pending crops!
In the box: Cooking Greens (Collards, Cauliflower Greens and Chard), Salad Mix, German Butterball Potatoes, Purple of Sicily Broccoli, Bunching Onions, Hachiya Persimmons, Lemons, Pineapple Guava, Dried Tomatoes, Winter Squash
Red H Farm Newsletter – Week 20, December 13, 2013
Folks, the pickings are thin. Actually, let me rephrase that – the pickings are dead! Night after night of this harsh weather (despite reports of “getting warmer,” its still dipping well into the 20s every night out at the farm) proves too much for unprotected crops. The cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage that should have populated the last few boxes simply can’t handle frost after frost, with continued cool weather during the day. So, the larder is quite bare – but not totally bare! I have protected the lettuce, so we’ll be able to enjoy a smattering of that these last two weeks (to explain, frost protection is quite costly – our small size does not yet afford us the opportunity to protect all crops, so I chose the most sensitive and popular to protect). The greens are struggling to maintain, but there is enough left to harvest, even if growth has slowed or stopped. The onions manage to survive some chilly temperatures. And the beets and carrots, though also not the happiest of crops as the ground is freezing more than we’re used to in these parts, are nevertheless more protected by the earth. That, plus storage crops means a decent bounty for the week.
Times like these are a good reminder that nature will have her way! It also reminds farmers like myself how grateful we must be for communities that support us as you have – there aren’t enough crops for the farmers market, or the restaurant. Most farmers I know have ended their season early, losing out on the profits of these last few weeks of seasonal markets. I am ever grateful to have such a supportive group of folks, willing to take on the risks associated with such a climate-dependent endeavor as farming. With one more week to go – a bonus week for those who have been with the farm since the first week of the season – I know we’ll make it through
In the Box: Cooking Greens, Salad Greens, Winter Squash, Potatoes, Persimmons, Bunching Onions, Cippolini Onions (that oddly never quite formed bulbs…), Beets, Baby Carrots