It is clear. I am too busy farming to stay on top of posting the weekly newsletter and recipe suggestions that go out with the CSA box each week! So here we are again, unloading about 6 weeks worth of tidbits and tidings. Recipe ideas to follow!
RedHFarm May 29, 2014
Well folks, here we are – the first week of your CSA deliveries! Veteran members can tell you that this is how it works each year – one moment the season is looming somewhere in the future, and then at the drop of a hat…its here! With the blink of an eye the bounty overwhelms us and the harvest begins in earnest. Each week for the next 20 you’ll receive a box of delights straight from Red H Farm. Sometimes there will be extra goodies from neighbor farms and friends – apples gleaned about the county, figs from a friend’s tree, pineapple guava from an uncle. For the most part, however, the things you’ll be enjoying throughout the year will be tended and cared for by yours truly.
While it has been feeling like summer for a good month now, this should be your reminder – we’re still in the throws of spring…albeit an unusual and toasty one! Its been a struggle for some of the crops – the spinach and arugula went straight to seed in the last heat wave (new plantings will hopefully give you a taste in a month or so, if the weather evens out), but there’s still spring goodness to be had – delightful rainbow carrots, sweet beets and fresh green broccoli. That said, an early surprise awaits you in the box – cucumbers, usually a month out from now! A small greenhouse planting means a taste of summer in the heat of spring.
Please leave the last week’s box out for me to pick up each week, we reuse them!!
Welcome to the farm!
In the Box: Red Russian Kale, Collard Greens or Rainbow Chard, Tom Thumb Butterhead Lettuce, Salad Mix, Bunching Onions, Rainbow Carrots, Beets, Golden Sweet and Sugarsnap Peas, Broccoli, Cucumber, Cilantro
Red H Farm
June 5, 2014
Well, I might be the only one that feels this way, but there’s nothing that makes me happier than waking up to a nice, cool, foggy morning. I’ve noticed over the years that they’re fewer and farther between – the foggy mornings, breaking around 11am into a sunny and 75 degree day used to be defining characteristics of growing up in south Sebastopol, and I swear just 5 years ago they were a defining microclimate for our farm. But as time has passed and that silly old climate has kept a-changin’, I’ve noticed more and more early morning wake-ups to blazing, bright, the-day-is- upon-you-get-out-of-bed-and-get-to-work sunshine. It will be 85 degrees out before long! How I loathe it! There is something about a cool foggy morning that says, wait, sip your coffee a bit longer. Read just one more article in the paper. You have the whole day before you, no need to go check your gopher traps, water the greenhouse or begin moving mulch. You have all day for such tasks. Of course the logical farmer would hop to and get to work before the heat. Me? Sometimes I’m the anti-farmer. I love a slow morning, a relaxing breakfast, a few moments of pretending that endless tasks don’t await me just outside the door. So, these last few days have been lovely – lovely and foggy and dewy and cool. Not for long of course – we’re due for more 90 degree weather this weekend. With it undoubtedly clear blue skies and the compulsion to work work work! And happy cucs, squash, tomatoes and beans of course! A good thing in the end I’m sure…
In the Box: Red Kale, Rainbow Chard, Rainbow Carrots, Beets, Bunching Onions, Butterhead Lettuce Hearts, Broccoli, Snow and Snap peas, Garlic, Summer Squash
Red H Farm
June 12, 2014
Busy busy busy days out here on the farm! Many of you know that we’re in the process of transitioning the main farm site to no-till. This means that rather than using a tractor to mix up the soil each spring, we’ll build the soil such that it is soft and loose and rich, allowing us to plant right into it at our hearts desire. This is a slow process, and the nuts and bolts involve a lot of compost, a lot mulch, a lot of shoveling and an increasingly well-used wheelbarrow. While it slows things down on the day-to-day (despite lots of happy plants in the greenhouse that would love to be plunked right into the ground any time now, they’re forced to wait until bed after bed is prepped with load after load of nutrient-rich compost) in the long run the benefits abound. Rich soil with intricate and constantly building microbial life. Happy critters like worms and snakes calling the farm home, without the abrupt and fatal destruction brought about by tilling. Carbon sequestration. Moisture retention. And hopefully, hopefully, HOPEFULLY a reduction in time spent weeding! It also makes for a more beautiful farm, as the fields take on a garden-like atmosphere with more and more walkways being wood mulched…one of my very favorite by-products
Fennel? What the heck do I do with fennel, you say? Grate it in salads, braise it with greens, roast it and enjoy it with beets and a sweet-tangy dressing. Check out the greens pie recipe included last week – its delicious and calls for optional fennel. Use the tops for soup stock. And this week – cauliflower gratin!! Check the back of the newsletter for your weekly recipe idea.
In the Box: Red Kale, Chard, Red Romaine or Bronze Beauty Lettuce, SugarSnax Carrots, Beets or Cucumber, Summer Squash, Broccoli, Purple Cauliflower, Cabbage, Fennel
Red H Farm
June 19, 2014
A big variety of activities taking place at the farm these days everyone. Transplanting, mulching, tomato trellising, melon seeding, compost spreading, potato planting and a big one – laying irrigation. Now, most of you know that we farm two different spots here at Red H, primarily because our main farm site sits very low, at the bottom of a very, very subtle valley. As such, it turns into nothing short of a swamp in the winter, most of it impossible to grow in. It doesn’t usually dry out until late May or early June, long after the earliest spring crops should be in the ground. This can be a pain, however, there’s another side to that coin. Most of your crops thus far have been grown at our satellite location. However, all the cooking greens in your box each week (the chard and kale) are from the main farm site. As we’ve begun to transition to no-till, we’ve been building up beds (particularly in the ‘driest’ areas of a very wet field) and creating a way to get into the ground earlier, without need of a tiller. It’s a slow process requiring copious amounts of compost and mulch and a fair amount of trial and error (for instance, the abundance of red kale and chard each week, and the lack of dino kale and collards has to do with where each crop was planted, and how the late rains affected those spots….dino kale’s location went from drying out to alligator territory over night, and we lost quite a lot of the crop!). The benefit – nothing at the main farm site, including the kale and chard you’ve enjoyed, and also squash, cucumbers, all of the tomatoes, peppers and melons and even new plantings of head lettuce have required irrigation. For the past three weeks you’ve been enjoying dry-farmed greens, a lovely by-product of a too-wet field. Only now, in late June, are some crops beginning to show signs that they could use some water. The melons, squash and cucs are all fine, most of the tomatoes as well. The greens could use a boost, and thus the irrigating will begin on an as-needed basis. This is a great thing folks, particularly in a dry year, and possibly dry future. And our new no-till practices will only make this better, as lots of compost and organic matter will hold more water in the soil while heavy loads of mulch will keep that moisture from evaporating. I’m so excited to bring you food that is not only grown without the use of any kinds of chemicals, but also food that is grown more and more in harmony and with overwhelming respect for nature and her fickle ways!
Note: Some carrots may be better for cooking than fresh eating this week as they get less sweet the longer they’re in the ground.
In the box: Red Kale, Rainbow Chard, Red Romaine or Oak Leaf Lettuce, Broccoli, Green Onions, Purple or White Cauliflower, Basil, Summer Squash, Fennel, Cabbage
Red H Farm
June 26, 2014
We’ve hit that time in the year (well, the solstice of course!) when there is a fading of some of spring’s goodness, and a slow introduction of the summer to come. It’s a bit early this year, I have to tell you – veteran CSA customers can attest that usually June is filled with huge bags of salad mix, spinach and beets galore. And we often don’t see squash and cucumbers until late June or early July. Things are just all mixed up! Don’t fret – there will be more beloved salad greens and beets in the near future, I’m hoping. But, this warm spring has made the simplest thing – germination – of some of those spring crops tricky. We’ve unfortunately had some degree of crop failure with our last couple plantings of beets and lettuce (and spinach? That was bolting in May! Sheesh.) But, I’ve invested in a small bit of infrastructure that I am hoping will help. As you know, we use drip irrigation on the farm because it is the most water conserving method. But, for germinating those densely planted crops, like salad mix, carrots, bok choys, beets and braising mix, micro sprinklers come in handy! They’re short little sprinkler wands fastened to a length of black poly tubing. The tubing is laid down the bed, the sprinklers turned on, and soon the whole bed has a nice, even dose of moisture. So. There will be a lull in the spring goodies we tend to try and push through the whole summer….but, they’ll be back soon, so have patience and a bit of compassion for those little seeds
(and this persistent farmer!) and in the meantime enjoy some cabbage salad with shaved carrots, roasted cauliflower tossed with pasta, braised kale and parmesan cheese, and perhaps a daily dose of zucchini bread
To me, the cauliflower is best enjoyed cooked when the heat is on like this – it has a bit of a bite, raw. However, folks have been saying they’re loving it raw, so its just a matter of taste. The cosmic purple carrots are a spicier variety, so little ones might enjoy them roasted rather than fresh as well.
In the Box: Red Kale, Chard, Purple Cauliflower, Carrots, Garlic, Basil, Cabbage, Summer Squash, Cucumber
Red H Farm
July 3, 2014
Another busy week on the farm! The micro sprinklers are doing their job – the braising mix is germinating, the tiny cotyledons of a few beets have uncurled themselves out from the soil and the salad mix is just barely starting to emerge. Throughout the rest of the farm irrigation is laid, transplants are taking root and space is becoming scarce. As irrigation kicks in, we’ll take the opportunity to give a little extra TLC to all the greens that have been struggling this spring. With hopes of rejuvenating the dino kale and collards, I gave them their first soil soak with a fish and kelp emulsion yesterday evening. This nutrient boost should help perk them up and inspire a growth spurt. Perhaps we wont have to wait until the fall planting matures to get a taste of them in the CSA boxes!
While we’ve been enjoying the small harvest of greenhouse cucumbers for several weeks now, one of my favorite indicators of summer has finally arrived – the first true cucumber crop has arrived, and everyone will enjoy a hefty Armenian cucumber this week. One of my favorite cucumbers, Armenians can get absolutely huge – and even hollow inside – and still taste completely sweet, with small seeds and a crisp crunch. Juice them, slice them into salads, make tzaziki, dip them in hummus or make some quick refrigerator pickles for your 4th of July BBQ….the cucumber harvest has begun! I’m still enjoying the carrots best when they’re roasted – the bigger of them have a wonderful, rich carrot flavor. The small ones, however, are very sweet and crisp and are still quite tasty eaten fresh. *For pickles, slice cucs and stuff them in a mason jar with whatever you like (garlic, dill, mustard seed…). Prepare a brine, about 2/3 vinegar, 1/3 water, enough to fill jar. Add a hefty pinch of salt and another of sugar (more or less depending on your preference). Bring it to a boil. Turn it off. Pour it over cucs. Put lid on jar. Place in fridge. Enjoy the next day…or even in just a few hours! In the Box: Kale, Chard, Lettuce, Summer Squash, Cucumber, Broccoli, mini Cauliflower (best cooked), Cabbage, Basil, Carrots, Beets