Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Still planting

Summer's bounty

We have not done much planting here for the past few months - just a few beds here and there. This includes salad greens - as I'm sure many of you have noticed their absence the past few weeks. However it has generally been too hot and dry for greens to grow well this summer and the ones we have planted have mostly just bolted.

But we are trusting that soon it will not be so hot and, yes, it will even eventually get cold. So now is that very short window in time where we can get greens, turnips, radishes, etc. planted so that they may reach maturity before we lose the sun too much and they stop growing (toward the end of October). If we time it right we will have many greens for the last weeks of the CSA and also through the winter! How is this possible? Well many crops, while they don't grow through the winter's short, cloudy days, will certainly stay fresh and vital right in the ground as long as they are provided with a little protection. These include crops like spinach, lettuce, kale, turnips, carrots. The protection comes from our hoophouses (with two layers of plastic) and the white, floating row covers directly over the plants.
And I don't know about you, but here at Muddy Fingers we are definitely looking forward to some cooler temps!
Additions to the selection to look forward to next week:
maybe apples
hopefully some lettuce mix
Probably next week will be the last week for melons - hope you've loved 'em as much as we have the last few weeks.

Monday, August 16, 2010

weeks 11+12

the garlic is all pulled from here and a cover crop of appin turnips has been planted, they will grow this fall and open lovely channels in the soil, leaving lots of room for microorganisms and earthworms in the soil. They will die over the winter and act as a "biofumigant" naturally killing disease organisms in the soil.
this is the kind of photo we like to use as a background on our computer in the winter to remind us of how lovely the summer is!

its seems we have slipped to a bi-weekly update, sorry don't know where the time has been going lately. we've spent the week picking for you all to eat, pruning raspberries for next summers yummy berries, harvesting onions, cutting tops off of garlic, doing some planting of greens for later in the CSA season, and even some things that will overwinter until next june and hopefully be in the CSA during that lean month next year.

Hearing no replies, we skipped the meteor sleepout this year, and were a little sad to do it, we'll have to get a date set for a september event soon so that it can go out and onto your calendars before too long.

The cultivating event last week was informative and helpful, and we are looking forward to going to see the setup at a local farm this week as well, so we should be well on our way to buying some new weed control tools for our selves.

food you may see this week:
melons! tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, garlic, onions, lettuce, spicy greens mix, chard, a few beets, zucchini/summer squash, potatoes, beans, parsley, basil, cilantro

things you won't see: (or at least not many of you will) cucumbers, our newest planting has gotten downy mildew and is dying even before it comes into full production- darn!

a few updates:
we are a sponsor for a symposium entitled "awakening the dreamer, Changing the Dream" which will take place on saturday august 21st from 9:30-4:00 PM at wisdom's goldenrod in hector. register on line at www.awakeningthedreamer.org

also, NOFA-NY (Northeast Organic Farming Association of new york) is hosting a locavore challenge as a way to promote local farms and raise funds to help keep small, organic type farms like ours strong. Want to pledge to eat local for a day, a week, or the whole month of september? Pay a small fee to get resources to help you learn where to get food from organic and sustainable farms as well food ideas to get through the month eating the local/100 mile/250 mile/seasonal diet (if you have read any of the spurt of recent books about this topic, you may be interested in trying it yourself!) You have a good headstart on it by being in a CSA!

this recipe sounds so tasty that i have to post it despite the fact that i just said our cukes are doomed, i'm sure it would work stuffed into peppers instead!

feta-walnut stuffed cucumbers: from prevention magazine
1/2 cup walnut halves
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup fat free milk
1 small clove of minced garlic
1/2 t paprika
1/8 t ground red pepper
4 medium cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded.

combine walnuts and parsley in food proccesor, and pulse until powdery, add rest of ingredients (except cukes), and puree until smooth. fill cucumbers wiht mix and pat in place, slice into wedges and sprinkle with paprika before serving.

this is a good way to try tomatillos if you are a pork eater, thanks wendy for sending this recipe!
3/4 lb cubed pork--or, works well with cheaper bone-in cuts like pork steaks or western style ribs
1 lb coarsely chopped tomatillos
1-2 cans Great Northern beans, rinsed
1 can chicken broth
1 large (or more) onion halved and sliced thin
1 4 oz. can mild green chilies
6 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
1 t. cumin
S&P to taste
1/2 c lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
sour cream (optional)

Brown meat on all sides. Place in slow cooker and add remaining ingredients to cumin. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7. Add S&P and taste. Stir in cilantro and cook ten minutes more on low. With wooden spoon, shred meat against side of cooker. Serve with optional sour cream.

hope your week is lovely and if you are about to send a beloved child (or the unlikable ones, too) off to school, may you all enjoy good food together before its cafeteria fare for them and lonelier dinners for you! take time to cook together this week!
liz and matthew

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

week ten

this week the tomatoes and cherry tomatoes seem to really be starting, finally! i was chatting with another farmer at the market this week and he commented that his tomatoes were taking a long time to ripen, too!
lets see, this week has been another dry one and pretty hot, too. We have been irrigating, but the pond is getting low enough we are starting to worry a little.

this year our focus has been on how to make our business more efficient and profitable. to this point, we have made a modest living at the farm, but not necessarily the kind that will sustain us long term. We have been keeping lots of records, which we will use this winter to determine which things we grow are profitable and which are not. With a CSA we may not be able to drop all of the crops that are unprofitable, but armed with the knowledge we will be able to look into how to grow things more efficiently and which items would be acceptable to stop growing. we'll keep you posted once we do all the math.

one area that we know needs to be improved upon is weed control and we have spent some time since we bought a cultivating tractor last fall (you may remember the photo- it looks like a little orange dunebuggy!) reading about weed control with it. There are lots of options for tools to hang below it to use to kill weeds and we are still not positive which one(s) are right for us. We visited a nearby farm a few weeks ago and they were kind enough to give us the basics and show us their tools and even let us weed some of their vegetables! (wait, they let us do their work for them, we've been swindled!) all joking aside, they were very generous with their time and we learned a lot, but still don't feel confident in this new technology on our farm. We are looking forward to sending an representative to a workshop tomorrow about tractor cultivation and there is one more local farm we'd love to visit as they have a system like ours- with permanent beds and paths, which is a little different than how lots of other people do things and needs to have tools set up differently. We'd like to get one or two cultivating setups set up by the fall so we are all set up for next year. The weeds really slow down by the fall, but it doesn't hurt to get some practice in first on a less weedy patch, where the crops maybe will be easier to see between the little weeds.

love these large mild onions

its funny, we farm on small scale, and a slightly awkward one. We can certainly use well made tools that are geared towards home gardeners, and we do. But we can also benefit from technologies that larger scale farmers use. Sometimes it is hard to find the balance between when a technology will be cost effective for us and when it will just be nice to have but not make a difference in whether the crop profits or not.

For example, with our cultivating tractor, we do have one basic set of "Beet knives" for it. These are shaped like half of an elongated "V" and weed next to beets and other crops. we have used them several times, but they are not quite the right tool for what we were using them for. To cultivate a bed with them takes about 3-5 minutes to actually do the cultivating, but it also takes several minutes to check the gas, oil, coolant, and what not on the tractor, start it up and drive it to the field. To use a hand held "scuffle hoe" (a capital D shaped blade that scrapes tiny weeds with two sharpened edges on the curved side of the D, works on the pull and the push stroke) it can take as little as 12 or 15 minutes per bed (or much longer if the weeds are large!) So when there are lots of beds to be done, the cultivating tractor makes sense, but if there are only one or two to be done, (or there are lots of different kinds of beds that require the tool to be adjusted to different positions) the scuffle hoe can be just as fast.

these are the kinds of questions that our record keeping will help us to better understand, we are really looking forward to sitting down and looking through each crop at the end of the season.

new this week: shallots. nice large mild onions. lovely mild salad turnips

also chard, kale, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, tomatillos, lettuce mix

coming soon, melons!

we saw this cool humming bird moth at the farm, we had only seen them in the insect books before! (sorry these photos seem less clear than they used to, though this wasn't that clear to start with)

still looking for feedback on the august and october events. any ideas, let us know. we are thinking of doing the meteor shower sleep out on friday the 13th, let us know if there is any interest, if not, we will plan something else later in the month. We are interested in having co-operative extension do a nutrition event, give us feedback if you have it.

ok, happy eating, see you around!
liz and matthew