Addendum to Heavy Lifting

I forgot to mention that we have been selected to participate in a survey on CSA customer satisfaction being conducted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.  Details regarding the survey and a link to the survey will be included on a card that I will put a card into each delivery box for delivery members and on the sign-up table in the pick-up tent for on-farm members.  Feel free to contact me with questions.

Thank you for your participation!

Heavy Lifting

Not much time to write so first a couple of announcements then some other stuff.

We are taking orders for 2018!  Thank you to everyone who signed up so far.  We appreciate your support!  To reserve your spot for 2018 (we turned a few people away this season due to being sold out) simply put down a deposit of $100 — either cash or check.  Or if you prefer to use a credit card you will have to go through our online store and pay the whole amount.  Also for those savvy enough to know how to use PayPal you can send your down payment to my email address.

WinterShares are being distributed.  The first pick-up/delivery will be the garlic, onions, shallots and squash.  Next week the rest of the shares (which is potatoes) will be available.

Speaking of next week, that will be the final week of the season!  Please make a note of it.

Last chance for syrup.  Stock up for the winter!  Purchase in the tent or we can send it out in your delivery box.

Due to untimely rain we still have not planted the garlic.  Stay tuned as we figure out what we will do.

It looks like a beautiful week for farming.  If anyone is interested in helping out please contact me.  We have a couple of projects that could use a “many hands make light work” approach.

Farm News

As I mentioned last week we had a frost on Monday night.  It killed the warm season crops and even scorched some of the cool season crops.  But we managed to harvest everything we wanted.  It took us longer than we hoped.  The sweet potatoes didn’t get harvested until Wednesday and Thursday but they don’t seem any worse for the wear.  We have a pretty good crop of them.  They currently reside in our greenhouse “curing”.  When we first dig the potatoes the skins are quite delicate and easily scarred.  By heating them to around 85 degrees for some number of days we can heal the scars and toughen the skin.  Curing also helps sweeten the potatoes.  So we are waiting until next week to hand them out to give them a chance to cure.

Speaking of putting things in the greenhouse.  This time of year involves a lot of moving of heavy produce.  Not only do the sweet potatoes need curing but also the winter squash.  So much of our energy is in moving heavy things into and out of the greenhouse, then washing them, then packing them for later distribution.  Way too much moving around.  There are a few things we can do to improve the flow but there would still be a need to move lots of heavy things too many times.  It becomes obvious why large scale producers have so many fork trucks.  Hydraulics are a wonderful thing if.

So if you see me and I look a little shorter or one arm seems a little longer you now know the cause — lots of heavy lifting.

What will we have this week?  Rutabagas!  Ok, maybe that didn’t really need an exclamation point. Lots of carrots.  The rest of the peppers (there are still quite a few).  Some leeks and onions. Garlic.  Tomatoes from the hoop house.  Brussels Sprouts!  Maybe another place where an exclamation point isn’t necessary? Some kohlrabi, some cabbage, some beets and some other things.  Oh and of course winter squash and pumpkins!  Don’t miss next week since it is the last week and there will be sweet potatoes!

FlowerShare gets gourds this week.

The final CoffeeShare is this week.

SeafoodShare and SalmonShare are next week.

All other shares are done for the season.

As always, do not hesitate to contact me with questions, comments, volunteer offers, etc.

 

The Five Letter F-Word

A couple announcements then on to farm news!

Due to all the rain this past Friday night the Garlic Planting Gala is rescheduled to Sunday October 15th from 1:00 until done, followed by a bonfire and potluck.  Sorry we can’t make it on Saturday the 14th but there is already something in the way.  Let me know if you can make it.  We are typically done planting garlic by 4:00.  Eating by 5:00 and done by 7:00 so plenty early.

We are taking orders for 2018 (2018 already?  Seems like it was only yesterday when all years started with a 19!)  You can reserve your share by putting down a $100 deposit.  Send/bring in a check, or bring in cash.  If you want to pay with a credit card you have to pay the full amount since our store doesn’t allow partial payments.

We are starting to assemble WinterShares.  These may or may not be available this week.

Farm News

Frost.  We got our first frost of the season last night.  We saw the forecast was for frost so we went into frost mode Monday.  What is frost mode?  When frost is forecasted for the first time in the fall we review what is left in the field that is frost sensitive, then develop a plan to harvest as much as we can during the time we have available.  Typically the frost sensitive plants still around in the fall are tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, eggplants, beans, hot peppers, sweet potatoes, and okra.  Since this year’s frost came later than usual the beans were already done for the year.  The outdoor tomatoes and cherry tomatoes were done as well.  If the frost was earlier we would put row covers on the beans to get them through the cold.  We would keep the pepper plants alive by running the sprinklers overnight (click here to learn why this works!)  That way we could have several more weeks of peppers and beans.  But with it being late in the season we just harvested the peppers green and let the bean plants perish.

We harvested all the ripening tomatoes in the hoop house.  There is a good chance these plants will survive since they are indoors but there is also a chance they would not.  By harvesting the ripening ones we hedge our bets and don’t lose all of them yet still have a chance for more later.

We harvested all the remaining tomatillos, eggplants and hot peppers.  There are quite a few baby eggplants this week but then we’ll be done with them for the season.  The okra was harvested as well though it was pretty well done for the season — okra likes it hot.

That left the sweet potatoes.  We started digging them on Monday until we ran out of time.  They look pretty good and though the frost will kill the tops we still have a day or two to dig the roots.  Hopefully today or Wednesday we will finish this project.

That’s pretty much how our long, frost-plan Monday went.

What will we have this week?  The usual onions, and garlic.  We’ll also have peppers, eggplants, hot peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos (not many), winter squash, pie pumpkins, potatoes, a few okra, a few cabbage and lemongrass.

This week also includes FruitShare, CheeseShare, EggShare, IceCreamShare, and MeatShare.  As mentioned above we may or may not have WinterShares available.

That is all for now.  Let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, etc.

Garlic Planting Postponed

Due to the rain we are postponing the garlic planting until Sunday, October 15th.

Garlic Planting Gala Status

Just a quick message to update you on the plans for the garlic planting gala.  With the forecast of showers this evening into tomorrow morning there is a good chance we will have to reschedule the event.  If the forecasted rain does not occur we will have the event as planned.  In any case, please check the farm web site for an update before you head out to the farm.  The most likely reschedule date would be Sunday October 15th.

As always, do not hesitate to contact me with questions.

A Squishy Squashy Week

Four more week!  Four more weeks!  What’s up this first of the four?  Find out after these brief announcements.

One last reminder about the Garlic Planting Gala this Saturday from 1:00 until done, followed by a potluck and a bonfire!  This is a great opportunity to meet your fellow farm members, see where your food comes from and enjoy some nice weather (my forecast calls for temps in the 60s and plenty of sunshine!  But if there is a threat of rain please contact me, check the website or facebook page before coming out).  Please let me know if you can make it.  The more people the faster the project and the sooner we get to eat!  There are activities for all ages and physical abilities so don’t let that stop you.  In the past we’ve had helpers from 1 year old to over 70!  Let me know if you can make it.

We are taking orders for 2018 VeggieShares!  To reserve your share all we need is a check for $100, $100 cold cash or if you are clever you can send $100 through PayPal to my email address.  If you want to purchase using a credit card unfortunately you’ll have to order online and pay the full amount for 2018; our online store doesn’t allow partial payments.  We sold out in 2017 and hope to do so in 2018 so tell all your jealous friends that now is the time to reserve their share!

FlowerShare this week (actually started on Friday) is three pumpkins.  You can pick them up at your usual pick-up location.  If you don’t have FlowerShare please do not take a pumpkin.  We will have pie pumpkins for VeggieShares later this season.

We still have honey and maple syrup for sale.  On-farm members can purchase them in the pick-up tent.  Drop site members can send me an email to order and we will include it in your next delivery; payment can be made either through PayPal or by sending a check.  Honey is $10 for a 12 oz jar.  Syrup is $10 per pint, $6 per half pint.

WinterShares will be going out over the next couple of weeks as we assemble them.  They may come in multiple shipments i.e. onions one week, potatoes the next, etc.  We may have extras if those who haven’t yet ordered one want to purchase one.  We’ll know more as the season progresses.

Farm News

This past week we harvested the winter squash, pie pumpkins, gourds and ornamental pumpkins.  This is a large task that we typically undertake after a frost.  Once the frost hits the plants die and the squash are easier to find.  This season we don’t see frost in the forecast so we decided since it is October it is time for squash.

We have a few varieties of squash.  The most abundant are the carnival squash.  These look similar to acorn squash but are mottled with various fall colors — quite festive!  They are delicious with a flaky consistency.  For a quick squash meal they can be cooked in the microwave.  We’ll hand these ones out first.

A similar squash we grew this year is the sweet dumplings.  They are smaller than carnivals with fewer fall colors on the outside.  We didn’t get very good germination from these so there aren’t many of them.  We also had germination problems with our acorn squash so those are not very abundant either.

Another similar squash is the delicata.  It is a longer, slimmer version of the sweet dumpling.  It has a sweet flavor with a flaky consistency.  People like to use them for stuffed squash since they are boat shaped when cut lengthwise.

Spaghetti squash is a unique variety where the flesh, when cooked, can be scraped out into spaghetti-like strands.  It is a great pasta substitute.  We cook it by boiling the whole squash until it is easily pierced by a fork, then we cut it in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon.  Finally we switch back to the fork to scrape out the spaghetti strands.  It looks like a yellow football without the laces or NFL logo.

Butternut is a favorite of mine.  Its fine-textured flesh is quite sweet and flavorful.  Plus with a small seed cavity there is a lot of good eatin’ on these bad boys.  We cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and bake it in the oven until done.  A little butter on the cut side makes it even better.  Butternuts are the squash that look like jumbo peanuts.

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers

You might also see a few hubbard squash.  These are the extra large, grey squash that look like something out of the horror movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.  We grow these as a trap crop for the cucumber beetles.  The beetles seem to prefer hubbards over the other squash so we reduce the beetle pressure on our main crop by planting the hubbards.  Some years the hubbards survive and we get squash off these plants.  Typically we don’t send them out to delivery sites because they would take up the whole delivery box — they are that large (see picture).

Finally we have the pie pumpkins.  These look like small pumpkins but the flesh is less stringy and sweeter than the typical ornamental pumpkin.  They are great for pies, muffins, soup (inside the pumpkin) and decorating until you are ready to eat them.

Once we harvest the squash we cure them for a week in our greenhouse.  The curing process helps seal any wounds and hardens the skin to reduce future damage during storage.  We’ll be giving out the first of the squash before it is fully cured but that shouldn’t be an issue.  It can be eaten right away or you can store it until later in a cool, dry spot in your house.  The butternut squash will get sweeter the longer it is stored — of course don’t wait until it rots though because it will suddenly be less appetizing.

So besides squash what else will we have this week?  The usual onions and garlic.  The tomatoes are still going even though it is October!  The warm weather has allowed the eggplant to keep producing.  Some may say the continuation of eggplant are the yang of the warm weather ying.  Carrots, the last row of the second planting.  We have a few tomatillos, a few okra, some storage cabbage (great for storing), kale, a bit of chard, peppers, and probably a few things I am forgetting.

FlowerShare is the only additional share this week except for MeatShare arriving on Friday.

I think this is long enough.  What do you expect when it is raining?  As always, do not hesitate to contact me with questions, comments, suggestions, jokes, etc.

More Leeks than the White House!

First a couple announcements then on to farm news.

We have a couple of new, seasonal, local, tasty sweet products for sale: maple syrup and honey!  The honey comes from bees residing here on our farm but managed by a local bee hobbiest.  The maple syrup comes from Sanderson Family Pure Maple Syrup out of Hastings.  Both are about as local as we can get!  Both can be delivered with your produce to your drop site; on-farm pick-up members can purchase either when you pick-up in the tent.  The syrup is $10/pint, $6/half-pint.  The honey is $10/12oz jar.  Let me know if you’d like us to send some your way.

Don’t forget about the Garlic Planting Gala on Saturday October 7th from 1:00 until done!  Learn how to plant garlic, get some fresh air and enjoy lively conversation.  This $67 value is yours free with your Fresh Earth Farms membership!  Please let me know if you can make it.  Dinner and bonfire to follow the planting!

Farm News

Once a year I dedicate the newsletter to the people who work behind the scenes to provide you with the delicious, nutritious, wonderful produce every season.  Though I always claim to be the hardest working person in farming there are a few others who desperately try to keep up.  Making this farm work is not a one-man job.  It takes more people than I can possibly afford.  But we make do with what we can and this season our make-doers are some of the best make-doers in the industry.  So here are the people you should thank for this season’s bounty.

Many of you have met Rebecca over the years.  She has been with us for almost as long as the farm has been around.  If it wasn’t for her my job would be twice as hard.  She takes a lot of the pressure off trying to manage all the moving parts.  If a worker is looking for something to do Rebecca always has an idea.  She is an invaluable asset and we are lucky to have her these many years.

I guess next in seniority would be my son Alex.  Though only a mere 14 years old he comes across as closer to 14 and a half.  Alex has been with us about as long as the farm has been here — he arrived about two weeks after the farm started.  He was a little unprepared to start work right away but over the years he’s ramped up his game.  He is now a fully functional farm worker with all the responsibilities and benefits it bestows.

Third most senior person would be Linnea.  She just started last week yet somehow she is third in seniority?  Yes, she has had several stints with us over the years.  Linnea tends to wander around the U.S. and with family in the area occasionally wanders our way.  And when she is in town she has an open invitation to work on the farm.  She is a high energy worker with a ready smile and laugh.  No wonder we appreciate her coming back!

Next in line would be Ethan.  Ethan worked with us early in the summer before he headed off for his freshman year at University of Guelph.  Sounds like someplace in the middle earth!  Being part Canadian he fit in well here at the farm.  When given a task or two he would forge ahead until it was complete.  Nice to have a first time worker who didn’t need constant supervision!

Then there is Isaiah.  Isaiah comes to us through his sister Rachel who you may remember from a few years ago.  (This was not the first time we’ve had siblings work here at the farm.  Linnea’s sister worked here the first year Linnea stopped by and of course Alex’s brother also worked here occasionally).  Isaiah has experience at his parents CSA farm in Nebraska so was quite familiar with rescuing plants overrun with weeds.  In fact he may have more experience in this aspect of farming than all of us combined!  Unfortunately he had to go back to finish his final semester at college this past August.

Finally there is Tony.  Tony is another 14 year old who came to us through Alex.  Tony and Alex made a great team, much like Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Fey and Poehler.  They were so in sync that together they accomplished the work of one person!  Plus he had a good sense of humor and lent us his “Rick and Morty” DVDs.  Pretty close to the perfect farm employee!

We’ve also have a few people to thank for volunteering this summer.  Yachiyo and her family came out a couple of times.  Great onions and garlic harvesters!  Don’t get me started on how well they wash the onions.  Pam also came out a couple of times though the second time I don’t think she expected to get so dirty.  Funny, she hasn’t been back since… Ali and her son came out to help harvest edamame but chose the hottest day of the year (up until this past week’s hotter day!)  Maybe they will be back on a cooler day this fall or next year.  Terri helped with the edamame as well but chose a cooler evening time.  We all have Scott and Carol to thank for all the delicious potatoes we’ve been enjoying and a special thanks to Scott for helping keep the equipment running.  Hopefully I didn’t forget any other volunteers; it’s hard to keep track over the course of the summer.

And finally a special “Thank you!” to my wife Susan who stepped up when we were far short of help at the end of the summer.  Her washing a weighing skills were extraordinary.  She somehow found the time to help out and still keep her own business running.  How does she do it?

Though I am more than happy to take all the credit for all the produce you get each week there is some thanks that needs to be spread around.  So “Thank you!” to all the employees and volunteers who helped make this season the most successful ever!

What will we have this week?  Potatoes and leeks!  Seems like it might be soup weather so how about potato leek soup?  We will also have some beans from the third and final planting of beans, some carrots, the eggplants just won’t stop, there will be some tomatoes, kale is still looking great, of course more garlic (it keeps for many months), a few cucumbers though the plants are giving up the ghost, maybe kohlrabi again, some more peppers, and other things that escape me right now.

Fruit, cheese, eggs and seafood (starting Tuesday if it arrives in time, otherwise Wednesday) this week.  We’ll keep trying to make bouquets for FlowerShare.  It gets more difficult each week.  Hopefully everyone like zinnias!  Next week’s FlowerShare will be pumpkins!

As always, do not hesitate to send in questions, comments, suggestions and RSVPs for the garlic planting.

The Eye of the Hurricane

What do hurricanes and CSA farms have in common? Find out right after these brief announcements.

Just a reminder about the Fall Garlic Gala!  Come see the farm, get a little dirty planting garlic, then sit back and enjoy some good food, great conversation and a pretty ok bonfire.  Saturday October 7th from 1:00 until we plant all the garlic, eat all the food, and run out of things to discuss.  Please let us know if you can make it.  This is a family friendly event and there are things to do for people of all abilities!

We’re still looking for help — either paid or volunteer.  Please spread the word!

Farm News

This week may be a great week to catch up on all the produce currently sitting in your fridge.  I feel we are entering the calm eye of the hurricane.  The last many weeks have had a whirlwind of produce.  I look to the future and see a lot more on the horizon.  But this week we seem to have a bit of a lull.  The transition from Summer to Fall is a tricky time of year to keep the shares full.  The warm season crops are winding down and the cool season crops haven’t ramped up yet.  Plus certain fall crops are better after a frost.  So the shares may be a bit smaller than we would typically expect.  Maybe that is a good thing.

Tomatoes

You may have noticed recently that some of our tomatoes aren’t as clean as in the past, may not look as nice and may not last as long.  If you have some of these tomatoes you have some that were grown outside the hoop house.  The difference is pretty stark and clearly shows how great it is to have an indoor growing space for the tomatoes.  Now this year has been an especially hard season to grow tomatoes outside.  It has been fairly cool with frequent rain in August.   The coolness slows down the growth and maturity of the tomatoes.  The rain exacerbates the spread of tomato diseases.  Even with the indoor space the reduction in sunlight and the cooler evenings slow the production of the tomatoes.  So you’ll continue to see fewer tomatoes until sometime next summer when they ramp up again.

Watermelons

We finally started harvesting the watermelons that weren’t eaten by the deer.  Thursday and Friday folks got them last week.  Tuesday and Wednesday folks get them this week.  Watermelons are tricky since we can’t really tell reliably how good they will taste unless we do destructive taste testing.  Let us know if the melon you receive is as tasty as the deer seem to think!  Speaking of which, the deer prefer the Yellow Doll melons (expensive seeds) to the Sugar Babies (inexpensive seeds).  They have expensive tastes.

Rain

After a long wet spell this summer we were inundated with an overwhelming supply of dry.  This dryness forced us to start irrigating various crops these last several weeks.  It also prevented us from planting the fall cover crops; no reason to plant crops if there is no rain to get them to germinate!  But finally the forecast had 100% chance of rain on Saturday!  Yay!  I spent four hours planting cover crops on Friday.  Unfortunately that 0% chance of no rain was all the chance it needed to not rain.  So we got no rain.  After irrigating more on Sunday and a forecast for spotty passing showers on Monday we finally got some reasonable rain today.  I must say these spotty passing showers seem not very spotty nor passing very fast — both good.  Unfortunately however, the rain occurred on a harvest day — not good.  However this gives me more time to write the newsletter (good or not good, you be the judge).

What will we have this week?  As I mentioned this is a good week to catch up on eating the produce in your fridge.  It will be a lighter than normal week.  As always onions, and garlic.  Plus we should have peppers, some tomatoes, some cherry tomatoes, some tomatillos, some eggplants, some cucumbers, some carrots, some edamame, something else and maybe some other things.  Oh, and I think we will start harvesting the kale again.  We like to wait until we have a frost to harvest the pie pumpkins and winter squash.  We prefer to wait for a couple frosts before we harvest the rutabagas and Brussels sprouts.  So far no frost (yay?)  The third planting of beans is a week or two away (so no frost for them!) And finally, we want to wait until next week to harvest the leeks so that that can go with the potatoes we plan to harvest next week.  Seems like I should have labeled this section “What won’t we have this week?”

I believe there are no other shares except FlowersShare.

As always, do not hesitate to contact me with questions, comments, jokes, puzzlers and future weather related farm analogies!

 

 

Edamame

I think last week was the first week in the history of Fresh Earth Farms that I didn’t get around to writing a newsletter.  Too much to do, too little time and not enough help.  So something had to give, and it was the newsletter.  But I’m back, better than ever (or maybe pretty much just the same…)

Garlic Planting Gala, the social event of the fall season, will take place on Saturday, October 7th from 1:00 pm until done with food and fire to follow.  This is a great opportunity to see the farm. get some fresh air, exercise and meet your fellow farm friends.  This is a kid friendly event!  There are all types of activities including stooping and standing.  Please let me know if you can attend.

On the labor front, we are still looking for help either as occasional volunteers or regular employees.  If you know anyone — including yourself — who has a hankering for farm work please send them our way.  Also, we have a couple of major projects that require extensive sitting — no farm work hankering required.  If you are able to sit and have some free time on your hands come on out.  We will teach you the ancient art of garlic processing.  And once you’ve reached master level we can show you the more ancient art of onion processing.  Both require you to sit (or stand if you prefer).  A firm grip is helpful but if you don’t currently have one by the end of the process you will, or maybe hand cramps.  Later this fall, sometime around the first frost, we will be educating all who are interested in the ancient art of sweet potato and squash harvesting.  I highly recommend this class.  Lots of stooping and carrying of heavy bins.  What could possibly be more fun?  Plus the grip you acquired from processing garlic and/or onions will serve you well in harvesting squash!  Of course if you prefer to only stoop and not carry heavy bins we would gladly carry the bins for you.

Farm News

With the weather cooling many of the warm season crops are slowing down.  We have passed peak tomatoes, peak cucumbers and hopefully peak eggplant.  The sweet corn is done for the season.  The last planting was enjoyed immensely by the deer and/or raccoons.  Unfortunately that limited our enjoyment.  Hopefully you had your fill of sweet corn.  Summer squash is pretty much done; most of the plants are dead.  There are still more cabbages; I don’t know if that is good or bad. It seems like we’ve had a lot of cabbages this year.  The peak of the second planting of beans occurred last week.  We’ll get more from them for a while but probably not pounds and pounds of them.  The sweet peppers are producing well and should continue until frost.

How did you like this past week’s carrots?  It is a new variety we are trialing this year.  Every time we find a carrot we love it goes away.  Frustrating.  Anyway, I have my opinion of the new carrot but I don’t want to tell you to influence your response.  Let me know what you think.

We’ll continue to dig potatoes every other week or so.  The variety from two weeks ago was Norkotah, a russet potato.  This week we will be transitioning from Norkotah to Kennebec, a large, general purpose potato.  Time to find your general purpose potato recipes!

Hopefully we can start finding ripe watermelons that aren’t eaten by the deer (seems to be a trend here).  If we are successful, look for them where you typically pick-up your produce — no promises.

Speaking of deer, they seem to have found our fall beets and are grazing on the beet tops.  Is there nothing these creatures won’t eat?

Speaking of deer, since we covered the edamame with a plastic mesh we eliminated the deer-eating-our-edamame-plants problem (is there nothing these creatures won’t eat?) but that didn’t eliminated the Japanese-beetles-eating-our-edamame-plants problem.  The good news though is unlike the deer, the Japanese beetles leave some of the plant to photosynthesize and vuola we have edamame this year!  For those new to this delicious legume, below is how to prepare and eat edamame.

So what all will we have this week?  I already mentioned the edamame, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, beans, cucumbers, cabbages, onions, garlic and possibly watermelons.  Other than that we might get some kale, and okra.

FruitShare, CheeseShare, EggShare, CoffeeShare, FlowerShare and IceCreamShare are this week. Flowers are slowing down as well but at least the deer aren’t eating them.  We’ll keep making bouquets until we can’t anymore.  Then on to pumpkins!  MeatShare was last week.  If you didn’t pick it up please do so this week.

How to prepare and eat Edamame

Edamame are a variety of soybean that is picked at an immature stage.  They are a popular appetizer in East Asian cuisines.   To my knowledge, no edamame soybeans have been genetically modified.  I suspect the market is too small to support the research necessary to bring it to market.  In any case, the ones we grow are not genetically engineered.  We pick them green before they get hard and starchy.  At this stage they are nutty and delicious.  We have about five days where the edamame is perfect – big enough to eat but not overly mature to be starchy.

Edamame should be cooked before consuming.  Eating it raw may lead to intestinal difficulty in some people.  To cook, place the whole pods in lightly salted boiling water for five minutes.  Drain and serve hot, sprinkled lightly with a bit of salt for flavor.  Do not eat the pod!  It is not edible and has a whole lotta fiber!  Put the cooked pod in your mouth and pull it out while lightly gripping the pod with your teeth.  The beans should pop out of the pod and fall into your mouth with a little bit of salt you used to season them.  Chew.  Swallow.  It’s really that simple!

That is all for now.  Do not hesitate to volunteer or send in questions, comments, suggestions, etc.

Puzzling Potatoes

Pepper Key

Cartalk recently had a veggie puzzler that was very apropos for this time of year and this particular season.  If you go to the link it includes the answer so if you want to think about it first I will summarize the puzzler here from a farmer perspective and provide the answer at the bottom of the page.

But first, we are still looking for help!  We are down to the last two people.  School seems to be sucking up all our employees.  If you are looking to get out of the house now that the kids are gone do not hesitate to come out to volunteer.  If you can make it a regular thing we can make you an employee and pay you big bucks (it’s all relative).  We had some great volunteers last week.  They said it was more fun than the State Fair (at least that is what I heard them say).  And the food was better (though you have to prepare it yourself).

Now back to the puzzler:

Say you have a big crate of potatoes that weighs 100 lbs.  Typically this happens when someone new works on the farm and keeps putting potatoes into the crate until it is full not realizing that the old farmer has to carry that crate to the pick-up tent.  Anyway, when the potatoes were put into the crate they were 99% water, 1% tasty goodness — otherwise known as potato.  The old farmer couldn’t move the crate so he left it and eventually forgot about it.  After walking around the crate day after day for months on end he decided he had to finally get it out of the way.  So he got his dolly and wheeled it over to the scale so he could more effectively grumble about the wasted effort in producing these potatoes.  When he read the weight he was surprised to learn that due to dehydration the potatoes were now 98% water.  How much did the potatoes in the crate now weigh?

I thought it was apropos since we have been struggling to dig potatoes these last few weeks due to all the rain we’ve been getting.  It seems like just when the ground is drying another pile of rain comes down.  I’m thinking the potatoes we are growing this year have to be like 99.9% water!  Actually potatoes aren’t that full of water and aren’t even 99% water.  They are more like 80% water, somewhat hydrophobic compared to cucumbers or zucchini!

Anyway, the season has been challenging in many regards.  With the cool, cloudy weather of late many of the warm season crops are maturing more slowly.  Our tomatoes are slowing down; no more 4-6 lbs per share.  The sweet corn is less sweet due to the cool weather, though this week’s corn is super-duper sweet due the variety.  The watermelons that haven’t been eaten by the deer aren’t ripening yet, which confuses me as to why the deer are eating them already!  Though we won’t know for sure until later this fall I suspect the cool weather will lessen our sweet potato harvest.  Sweet potatoes like it HOT!

The rain is also affecting the crops by providing the ideal environment for diseases to grow.  The cherry tomatoes are ripening faster than typical due to the disease pressure.  The summer squash is slowing down and getting powdery mildew but maybe some of you are thinking that’s a good thing!  The onions have spots on their outer scales.  The insides seem to be good but we’ve found in past wet years that the more waterlogged they are the shorter their storage life.  So keep an eye on your onions!

On the positive side the carrots and beans are doing great!  The fall salad mix popped up days after we planted it.  The fall broccoli looks decent.  The fall beets are coming along nicely.  And the leeks!  Don’t get me started on the leeks.  So as is expected every year, some crops are dong great.  Some crops are doing not so great.  And the rest are doing just fine.

Speaking of crops, what will we have this week?  Potatoes (hopefully).  We will transition from the dark red norland potatoes to the norkota russets sometime this week.  Sweet corn.  This is a new variety that replaced our usual third variety.  I’m not sure if it is an improvement, but it does taste great.  Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, onions, GARLIC (should have put that first!), tomatillos, beans, cabbage, and I’m sure some other things I forgot.

FruitShare, CheeseShare, EggShare, SeafoodShare, SalmonShare (both arrive on Tuesday so may not get here it time to deliver), and FlowerShare.  Flowers are also slowing down but we’ll keep making bouquets as long as we can find flowers.

That’s it.  As always, do not hesitate to contact me with questions, comments, suggestions, puzzlers and jokes.  Speaking of puzzlers, here is one that our 12-year-old neighbor told me yesterday when he was helping wash cucumbers:

A cowboy rides into town on Friday.  He stays three days and then rides out on Friday.  How is this possible?  You’ll have to wait for the answer to this one since he never told me.  In the mean time, the answer to the potato puzzler is 50 lbs.