Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May 28, 2013 - Locavores

What's in the box?
Chicken Little with Teeny & Tiny...Folded Comb...still sitting

Lettuce,  Bok Choi, Amaranth, broccoli, turnips, Carrots, New Potatoes, peas, fresh garlic, onions, carrots. This week's herb is basil.   If you got a box, you also got beets.

There were a few eggs.  Now that those silly hens and chicks are moved to the maternity and nursery wing, the other hens are back to laying.  Each of the five hens who took up broody duty this year have hatched at least one chick, some as many as four!  However, it remains to be seen how many of these are roosters.  I've already got my eye on one who certainly acts like a plucky young cockerel. 

George, large and in charge.
Poor Folded Comb, she sits and she sits and so far only one wee chick under her wing, but she is determined.   Meanwhile, George is still head rooster and keeps a close eye on his flock.  His son, Stewart (Stuart) is running the traveling hens and woke everyone up very early this morning to report a coyote on the prowl.  All I saw was tracks.  And yes, after we finish with the house of Stewart, we will move on to the French Court.  Of course, we hope that none of them end on the guillotine.  

How about those carrots?
Every color of the rainbow.  Let me know what you think.  I'm just as happy with plain old orange carrots.  Some of these have quite a history.  The dark purple ones are Turkish Black carrots.  The yellow carrot is closest to the original carrot. 

The broccoli this week was Purple Peacock and De Cicco.  That's the end of the beets.  Even some white Egyptian Beets made it into the boxes.  I myself love golden beets.  I must start more of these in the fall.   Of course I like all beets.  It will be a few weeks before we see anymore of these.

This week's onions were Cipolla Rossa Lunga Di Firenze  which is the name of the red torpedo onions and the yellows were:  Pukekohe Longkeeper out of Australia.  I hope to have both of these again.  Meanwhile the onion trial for seeds continues.  The gopher is sure enjoying these.  I wonder what onion stuffed gopher tastes like?

Have a great week. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mer Folk CSA May 22, 2013

What's in the box?
Basil wanting to be at your house

Lettuce, braising greens Pak Choi and Komasu, Beets, Amaranth, Turnips, Carrots, New Potatoes (I couldn't resist) artichokes, peas, fresh garlic and parsley. This week's herb is cilantro.  If you got a box, you also received Mare des Bois Strawberries and flowers.

There were a few eggs.  John, if you're reading this, don't eat yours, stick them under a chicken. 

And this week's special gift:  Strawberry jam

Critical shortage of cloth bags and vases
Okay, I could not pack the lettuce in cloth bags, because we were out of them.  I was not able to pack basil as there were only 5 vases.  I've made 46 bags.  That's a lot of bags.  Please don't pack your
Apple of the earth
marbles or lunch in them or start your own quilt project...If you really want some, you can buy them from me at $5 a bag.  As the weather gets hotter, it will be impossible to keep these veges from wilting without the bags.
The garlic harvest has begun

New Potatoes
Leo can't believe I stole a whole row of potatoes, just because I wanted to eat them.  These are as fresh as potatoes get.  These are Yukon Golds.  There really won't be any more potatoes until June.  I think the corn will becoming in then too.   Keep your potatoes out of the light, the fridge and away from onions.   Mine only made it from the field to a pot.  We had them boiled and buttered and there weren't any leftover...phooey.   I'm sick of rice.   Yes, it's true.  I'm a potato snob.  I hate buying store bought potatoes and we eat rice or pasta rather than buying potatoes.  And we have been out of potatoes since February.  I dream of potatoes, mashed, fried, salad, scalloped...

Fresh from the field
This year's garlic comes to us from Joseph in Paradise.  Utah that is.  Joseph is a GGG.  Great Garlic Grower.  His area is free of rust and he generously supplied us with bulbs to plant last fall.  Yes, when I say generous, I mean overwhelmingly generous.  Since the dinos roamed the earth, Leo and I have saved and replanted at least 75% of our own garlic.  Sadly, Garlic Rust has overtaken the farm and we can no longer save our own garlic bulbs.  We are experimenting with bulbils and are hoping for TGS (True Garlic Seed) from one of the many folks working on this project.

Today's garlic is  Joe's Diversity Garlic, which means, this could be from any country or any kind.  Joseph has everything in his fields.   I have sent out the small garlic this week and we'll be cleaning the larger garlic for future weeks.

Today's lettuce is brought to you by Lieven.  Lieven is a very good breeder in Belgium.  We always grow Lieven's Leeks, and we'll see those later in the season.  Lieven sent me some of his lettuce seed to check out.  I'm sure it's very tasty as the gophers are eating it all.  I managed to get these few heads out of the field before they ate those as well.   The are an incredible diversity of form and color.  They look like big flowers to me.  We had a great salad from this last night.  And I made dressing from the leftover jam.  Yes, there's always one jar that isn't full enough to process.
Lieven's Lettuce
Strawberry Jam Dressing
2 T of strawberry jam
1 t. of mustard
2 T of olive oil
2 T of Balsamic Vinegar
1 T honey

Mix it up add salt and pepper to taste.  The balsamic and strawberries go great together.  If I get enough berries from the field, I'll make a straw-balsa jam.  Black pepper and strawberries also go great together.  Who would have figured?

Have a great Memorial Day, be safe.  Can you believe May is over?   My how time flies when you are weeding.

Friday, May 17, 2013

2012 Lentil Trial


Lentil Harvest

2012 Lentil Trial

The Lentil Trial was planted on May 25, 2012.

It was harvested on September 16, 2012.

The lentils grew without any problems or diseases.  Only one variety, did not produce a harvest, PI 486128, which shattered when removing it from the field, leaving only a handful of lentils.
June 21, 2012

The Lentils were planted with mycelium and the soil was composted the previous fall.

It was irrigated via recycled rubber hose with micropores.  It received irrigation throughout the summer every two weeks, and probably could have gone to every three weeks.   Lentils were very drought tolerant. 

We were very impressed with the way Lentils smothered out weeds.  We only weeded them once during the season, and they held their own through the rest of the summer.  The lentils began flowering in August.  By late August they began to dry down and we stopped irrigation in September.  By mid September they were ready to harvest.  During harvest, we put tarps in the field, identified where each variety began and ended, cut the plants from the roots, and placed each variety on a separate tarp.  We then moved them to the barn to continue drying down.
July 23, 2012

We found the lentils to be a completely trouble free crop.  The gophers hardly bothered them, and you can see they are very active in the photo on July 23.  Note the missing beans from the trellis.
Our problems with the lentils only came about post harvest.  We were not able to process them with any of our regular equipment.   The lentils would not go through the pea sheller, or our bean sheller. 

We ended up threshing them by stamping on them in tarps and winnowing.  This was very labor intensive and we were not able to process them until January.  As many of you know, at that point in September, we had our hands full of melons, squash and beans to harvest.

August 10, 2012
We did discover that after winnowing in front of a fan, the lentils come out cleaner by floating in clean water.  The jar on the right shows lentils just winnowed and the other jars all show lentils that have been washed and the debris floated away.  After washing we dried them overnight in the dehydrator, with air only, no heat.  These lentils were then placed in the freezer for 4 days, prior to moving to refrigerated storage.

We did not find signs of weevils or any other pests in the dried lentils or while they were in the field.
August 27, 2012

In 2013 Spring, we discovered that the shattered lentils re-sprouted in the field.  Unfortunately, this Spring was extremely hot and dry and the irrigation has already been pulled out of this field.  So we were not able to save them.  But that they dropped seed in August and returned the following spring leaves us to believe that we can treat them like favas or lupinis, planting them in Autumn, the same time we plant garlic.  Which we plan on doing for Fall 2013.

We believe that lentils have potential as a crop that we do not harvest, as a legume, they will continue to improve the soil in marginal areas and we believe that they have potential as a crop that we do not harvest, but instead run chickens on.

Not every crop that we trial ends up having a potential for our CSA customers.  Some just benefit the farm, and some have benefits and uses that we have not discovered yet.  After removing the seeds, we found that the vines made excellent compost.

September 16, 2012 Harvest Day
We here at Foothill Farm would like to thank the USDA for allowing us the opportunity to experiment with their germplasm.  We would especially like to thank Clarice Coyne for her knowledge and continued help with our on farm trials.

The lentils used in this trial were:  Baby Blue which we purchased commercially,  PI 632632 - French, PI 606609 a French DuPuy Lentil, PI 298122 - French,  PI 298121 - French, PI 486128 French Du Puy Lentil, PI 616674 - French.  All seeds with a PI designation are from the USDA.

A small amount of the seeds from this trial will be offered at Homegrown Goodness.  If you are looking for a large amount of seeds for eating or planting, look for lentils for sprouting.  These offer a much better deal than purchasing them 100 seeds at a time.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Locavores May 13, 2013

What's in the box?
Rain rain everywhere but here.

Lettuce, braising greens Pak Choi and Komasu, Beets,  a wee bit of broccoli, Turnips, Mare des Bois Strawberries,  spinach -last of the season,  artichokes, peas, fresh garlic and parsley.  If you got a box, you also received squash & flowers. 

Why are there no eggs? 

Okay, there are no eggs because there are 4 hens who have disrupted the entire flock.  We've had to move them to the maternity ward.  Two hens have hatched their clutches, and 2 are still sitting. 

Okay, where's the missing hen?
Since all of the eggs are fertile, whenever a hen gets broody, Leo gives her a clutch, a separate box and moves them into the Chickery.  Where we tend to them separately.  However, when ever one hen gets broody, the whole rest of the flock acts silly.  Hens climb on top of hens.  Some stop laying.  Some lay on the ground instead of in their boxes. 

A couple of hens, climbed into boxes and proceeded to sit on nothing.  Now that's just plain unreasonable, and they got kicked out of the hen house.

Dixie Chick with the band
Some hens take their jobs very seriously.  Folded Comb here for example, if Leo or I don't lift her off the nest everyday, she goes  into a trance state and neither drinks nor eats.  Her mother was the same way.  Cuckoo Marans are known to be a broody type chicken.  I like that, because each spring, new chicks are hatched to replace the older hens.  Last year, Dixie Chick only hatched roosters.  So one of the older roosters (not George), but another was replaced with Stewart (Stewie).  Stewart is very excited to have his own flock, and after a few weeks with the traveling hens, we'll put him with the main flock and let George retire with the traveling hen troupe.

On the farm
The cukes, zukes and some early squash went in last week.  So I felt safe sending out the end of last season's squash.  Since this was harvested in October, you should eat it soon.  Anyone who saves seeds for me from their squash (remember what color it is) will get something special in their box.  It's hot and I don't think that the spinach or lettuce will continue much longer. 

The onion trial, finally flowering to make seeds.
Over Mother's Day weekend, we frantically kept watering, trying to keep up.  With each day in the 90's and the hot wind a blowing, as soon as one row got watered, it was ready the next day to be watered again.  Leo spent way too much time in the sun, and by Sunday evening was feeling pretty poorly.  So take his reminder, to take it easy out there as it starts to turn into a bake oven!

Beet Cake
  • 4 medium beets, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup safflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  1. Cover beets with 2 inches water in a pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until very tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp paring knife, about 30 minutes. Drain. Puree beets in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk in eggs, water, oil, vanilla, and 1 1/4 cups beet puree (reserve remaining puree for another use).
  3. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan (3 inches deep) with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment, and coat with spray. Pour batter into pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Turn out cake from pan, and discard parchment. Let cool completely, right side up.
  4. Transfer cake, cut side down, to a platter. Pour chocolate glaze over the top, and let set, about 30 minutes.

    Now this recipe is from Martha Stewart who says you can't taste the beets.  I can taste the beets and I like it still.  Serve it with plenty of Vanilla Ice Cream...
This is what I made for me for Mother's Day.  Along with beet greens and pickled beets, spaghetti with meatballs and spinach in a basil lemon sauce.  Yes, I had everything I liked.  I hope all you did too.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mer Folk CSA - March 8, 2013

What's in the box?
Leo ditches me by hiding in the asparagus.

Lettuce, braising greens - all Asian - Komatsu/Bekana/Choi, Amaranth, Turnips, First Mare des Bois Strawberries of the season,  spinach,  fresh garlic and parsley.  If you got a box, you also receive artichokes and rutabagas.

This week's special gift:  salsa and corn meal.

Think of Amaranth as a stronger spinach.  They are loaded with C & A.  It is NOT good raw.  Yuck, spit.    However, it is really yummy cooked.  Last night for dinner I mixed it with the spinach and we wolfed it down:

Making Hay
James Beard Creamed Spinach & Amaranth
Wash your greens and take the amaranth of the stems.  Chiffonade them.  In a frying pan put 2 T of butter and 2 T. of cream.   Add the greens, and stir till wilted.  Add salt, pepper and serve.  I added Gorgonzola to the cream mixture (because I had it).  It's also great in Indian food and Chinese Food.

If you are having trouble with rutabagas, go here and make this:  (I use the Deborah Madison Vegetarian cookbook pretty much all the time).

Beth washing veges

One of my favorite things to do with parsley is to make parsley butter.  Wash and chop about 1/2 a bouquet of parsley and mix it in with one cube of softened butter.  Take the green parts of the fresh garlic, chop it fine.  Now spread it on French Bread, sprinkle it with salt and paprika.  Broil it and you have delicious garlic bread.  Parsley butter with or without garlic can be used to make spinach or braising greens.  Add a little lemon and put it on potatoes.  With just plain parsley and butter, you can make a mean scrambled egg.  Parsley will keep fresh in a vase on your counter for a week, as long as it has water.  Take it out of the vase and lay it on a cookie sheet and let it air dry to save some for later.

On the farm
Over the weekend we planted cukes and zukes.  I hope to get the squash in by Friday.   Green beans are up!  Which means we'll see them in June.  Peas and lettuce are hating life.  That last little hot spell made them very unhappy.  The tomatoes are up and flowering, so by the Forth of July we should be eating maters.  I'm very sad that all those clouds passed without a drop of rain.   Beth and I decided that if you have something you can get more, but if you have nothing, you can't get any.  Hence, the's going where they don't need it.
Onions flowering
I'm not sure if we'll even see peas this year.  Remember the bumper crop we had last year?  The complete lack of rain and the excessive spring heat have kept them very small.  I picked one bag this morning.  Last year,  I picked 10 every other day!  Well hopefully it will be a good year for corn, tomatoes and hot weather crops.

Have a great week.  Please remember to return the cloth bags.