Tuesday, September 22, 2020

BGF NEWS - September 22 , 2020 - VOL. XLV, NO. 17

In this week’s box:


Baby Turnips: Hakurei
Celery: Chinese Pink
Garlic
Jubilee Cherry Tomato Mix (see 7/21 newsletter for details)
Kale: asst bouquets
Lettuce: Magenta or Muir
Peppers: asst. (see 8/11 newsletter for details)
Tomato: Slicers (see 7/28 newsletter for details)
Winter Squash: Acorn (Thelma Sanders) or Delicata

and perhaps one of the following: (please see **NOTE  after "A Little Detail...)     
Broccoli: Gypsy
Cauliflower: Goodman
Eggplant: Orient Express
Mini Bell Peppers: bite-sized, sweet red, yellow & orange peppers
Okra: Bowling Red and Candle Fire (final harvest)
Summer Squash: see descriptions in "A little detail"

For those with the Egg option [Full & Half Shares]: one dozen free-range eggs
For those with the Herb option: sweet basil, sorrel, savory

Featured Recipes:  
BGF New Favorite Kale Salad (recipe at the end of the 7/7/20 blog post)
Skillet Greens with Cumin and Tomatoes (use cherry tomatoes for this one)
Turnip and Cherry Tomato Salad 

What’s up on the farm?

 

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00" 

Happy Autumnal Equinox to you all! This is one of my favorite days of the year. I've always felt like it's the tipping point towards the "backside" backside of the calendar, a time of slower pace, hearty foods and crisp, clean air. It's a time of reflection on the farm, as we start looking back over the growing season to access our successes and our failures and to decide what crops, products and processes to keep or to retire. It quickly morphs into looking forward as we make our plans for next season and start placing seed and supply orders. It's also our wedding anniversary and this year marks 24 years of marriage for us. It's hard now to imagine what those crazy kids were thinking all those years ago, but it sure wasn't, "hey, let's move back to Iowa and become vegetable farmers!" And yet, here we are. No regrets, well, not many.

This past week we returned to our irrigating rotation. Our fall crops loved the nearly 3 inches of rain a couple weeks ago and are continuing to enjoy the cooler temperatures, but we are already dry on the soil surface with little to no rain in the forecast, so a-watering we will go! Last week we cleared more spent crops and transplanted chard and a couple beds of head lettuce, so the irrigation is particularly important for these new crops We also sowed some additional Asian greens and another planting of arugula.

In preparation for this week's delivery, we finally went out and harvested all the winter squash beds. I had been avoiding this task because we had a pretty disappointing squash year (after last year's bumper crop) with most of the plants dying off from insect pressure long before they could set a good crop. Once it was clear that those plots weren't going to produce much, we quit paying attention to them, so the weeds took over and served to hide the frustrating lack of squash. Well today was the day of truth, we waded into the tall grass to see what we could find. On some varieties, it was exactly what we expected, almost nothing. On a couple of others, it was an "ok" harvest.
 The crew did manage to get in one good round of their favorite annual farm game, Squash Your Boss!
"Squash the Boss"
So we are sending out some squash in today's boxes. They are good squash, but given their short plant life, I am not expecting them to store very long, so please plan to use then in the next couple of weeks.

We plan to spend the rest of the week clearing the high tunnel eggplant and tomatoes and getting those beds replanted with the final fall crops.
And speaking of "final" we've had some questions about the end of the CSA season, so here's the answer. The last CSA delivery of the season is scheduled to be on October 13th, so we have three more weeks after today. After that, you can order our produce and products via our weekly VegEmail deliveries through the end of October. Starting in November, we will move to bi-weekly deliveries that will continue throughout the winter until the start of the farmers market season.

And a final note, while we're on the subject of "the end." About two weeks ago we started seeing the first glimpses of purple flowers amongst all the fall yellows.
Frost flowers
Uh oh, those are New England asters, the plants my grandpa always called "frost flowers". He believed they were the indicators of frost and when you saw them blooming it meant the first frost would follow in two weeks. We've not found the "2 week" measurement to be particularly accurate, but they are indeed the harbingers of the end of the growing season.

A little detail on your produce this week:


Broccoli & Cauliflower: Wrap loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for up to a week. Immediately before cooking, soak, head down, in cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt to a 8 cups of water) for 5 minutes. Any [organic] critters will float to the top where you can rescue them or allow them to suffer a salty death. (Note: If you soak broccoli/cauliflower in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and too wilted to enjoy.) Slice the juicy, edible stems and use them wherever florets are called for. Peel particularly thick skin before using.

Carrots: These "mid-season" carrots are a little different than the candy-sweet gems of cool weather carrots. They are a little more strongly flavored, a little earthy. This makes them perfect for cooking and more complicated recipes, as some might not love them for fresh eating. Refrigerate dry, unwashed carrots in a plastic bag for two weeks or longer. Peel carrots or scrub carrots well with a stiff brush just before using. Trim off any green spots, which can taste bitter. When slicing or chopping carrots for cooking, be sure to make all the pieces relatively the same size; this will ensure an evenly cooked dish. 

Eggplant: Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild.  The shape of an eggplant determines how it is best prepared. Slice a straight, narrow eggplant into rounds for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded, bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir-fries.

Okra: These lovely, dark red, horn-shaped vegetables are a warm weather treat. Extremely cold sensitive, store in their plastic bag in the warmest part of your fridge, or place the plastic bag in a small paper sack and store in the crisper drawer and use within the week. Traditional southerners will cut into rounds, bread in cornmeal and fry, but our favorite version is our dear friend Annie's method, "All I do is rinse off the pods and lay them in a saucepan with a little water in the bottom. Ten to fifteen minutes is all it takes...twenty if the pods are really big and "woody" feeling. I put salt on them and eat as finger food. It reminds me of young sweet corn."

Peppers:  Place whole, unwashed peppers in a plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for a week or more. Rinse peppers just before use. For sweet peppers, cut around the stem with a small knife and lift out the core. Slice down the side to open it up and then cut out the inner membranes. Store unused portions in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator.

Scallions (green onions)- are best kept upright in a glass with about 1" of water in it, more like flowers than vegetables. Loosely cover the tops with plastic and you will be amazed at how long they will keep. We like to throw a handful of chopped scallions into nearly any savory dish, right near the end of the cooking time.

Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel. These do not need to be peeled to use, just slice them up and go! Our varieties: 8 Ball (green,round), Golden Glory (bright yellow zucchini),  Patty Pan(scalloped white, green or yellow), Slik Pik (thin, yellow) or Zephyr (green & yellow)


Tomatoes:

 always store whole tomatoes at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Once cut, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Turnips: keep best if separated from their greens.  Greens are stored in a plastic bag and can be cooked like mustard or collard greens (you can add them in with your Braising Greens Mix).  Trimmed roots can go into a lidded container or zip-close bag. These aren't your grandma's turnips. These are a sweet, Japanese salad variety that is particularly tasty for fresh eating. They will still work great in cooked dishes, but we love to eat them raw, often right out of hand, like an apple. One of the farm crew's favorite mid-field snacks.

 Winter Squash:  Store winter squash in a cool, dry, dark place with good ventilation for up to a month, depending on the variety. Once squash has been cut, you can wrap the pieces in plastic and refrigerate them for five to seven days. To make it easier to prep winter squash for your recipe, try the prebaking method: pierce the squash to allow heat to escape while it is in the oven, then bake the squash whole at 350° F until it is just barely tender to the poke of the finger, 20 to 30 minutes. This softens the shell and makes cutting and peeling much easier. 


A few other details: All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  

** NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.
That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Luci, Indigo & Sky)


Indigo, Luci & Sky

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

BGF NEWS - September 15 , 2020 - VOL. XLV, NO. 16


In this week’s box:


Basil: Thai Magic
Carrots: Asst
Chard: Rainbow mix (swiss cheese chard)
Jubilee Cherry Tomato Mix (see 7/21 newsletter for details)
Lettuce: Magenta or Muir
Scallions
Peppers: asst. (see 8/11 newsletter for details)
Tomato: Slicers (see 7/28 newsletter for details)

and perhaps one of the following: (please see **NOTE  after "A Little Detail...)     
Broccoli: Gypsy
Cauliflower: Goodman
Eggplant: Orient Express
Mini Bell Peppers: bite-sized, sweet red, yellow & orange peppers
Okra: Bowling Red & Candle Fire
Summer Squash: see descriptions in "A little detail"

For those with the Egg option [Full Shares]: one dozen free-range eggs
For those with the Herb option: purple basil, mountain mint, par-cel

What’s up on the farm?


Precipitation in the past week: 2.2" 

What a lovely Fall preview we got last week! Rain and crazy cool temperatures made for a rather quiet week on the farm, relatively speaking. With the fields too wet to work, we got the cucumbers and melons cleared from the big high tunnel and replaced them with napa cabbage and kale transplants and direct seeded a couple varieties of choi. 



We also spent quite a bit of time trimming and cleaning garlic, onions and shallots. The dogs are very dedicated supervisors during such inclement weather activities.  The deer took advantage of the dogs hiding inside and made a buffet of our new bed of swiss chard, so we also sowed new flats of replacement chard this week and will find a less "attractive" place for this planting. 
Speaking of chard, the cucumber beetles that decimated our green beans, then moved to our older Swiss chard bed. We cleared the worst of the damage and let them regrow, but we are still seeing early damage on most of the leaves. The damage is cosmetic and the greens are still tasty and nutritious, so we decided to send them out to you anyway. Think of it as the "farmer's share" as these are the products we often eat because they aren't "pretty" enough to send out. We hope you can enjoy them anyway. 
We are also sending out bundles of our Thai Magic basil. We don't often send it out as the leaves, though tasty are pretty small. They are perfect though for sprinkling whole on pasta or pizza. If you are patient, you can certainly strip off the leaves and use it for pesto. Or if you aren't patient, just re-trim and put in a vase of water on your counter to enjoy as a fragrant bouquet.

When the weather finally cleared this weekend we got to join in the celebration for crew member, Hannah's high school graduation. What a fun gathering of family and friends to share in the joy of her accomplishments. Congratulations Hannah!!


Meet the Crew: Sky
The final crew member this season is Sky, our 2 year old mini Blue Heeler- Australian Shepherd mix. She is the clown of the team, bouncing around the farm chasing rabbits, squirrels, grasshoppers, bees and occasionally alpacas (not ok). She loves to play fetch and to hang out with the farm crew for pets. However, far and away her favorite game is stalking and pouncing on Luci. This is not Luci's favorite pastime and there is often some tussling involved.

A little detail on your produce this week:


Broccoli & Cauliflower: Wrap loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for up to a week. Immediately before cooking, soak, head down, in cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt to a 8 cups of water) for 5 minutes. Any [organic] critters will float to the top where you can rescue them or allow them to suffer a salty death. (Note: If you soak broccoli/cauliflower in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and too wilted to enjoy.) Slice the juicy, edible stems and use them wherever florets are called for. Peel particularly thick skin before using.

Carrots: These "mid-season" carrots are a little different than the candy-sweet gems of cool weather carrots. They are a little more strongly flavored, a little earthy. This makes them perfect for cooking and more complicated recipes, as some might not love them for fresh eating. Refrigerate dry, unwashed carrots in a plastic bag for two weeks or longer. Peel carrots or scrub carrots well with a stiff brush just before using. Trim off any green spots, which can taste bitter. When slicing or chopping carrots for cooking, be sure to make all the pieces relatively the same size; this will ensure an evenly cooked dish. 

Eggplant: Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild.  The shape of an eggplant determines how it is best prepared. Slice a straight, narrow eggplant into rounds for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded, bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir-fries.

Okra: These lovely, dark red, horn-shaped vegetables are a warm weather treat. Extremely cold sensitive, store in their plastic bag in the warmest part of your fridge, or place the plastic bag in a small paper sack and store in the crisper drawer and use within the week. Traditional southerners will cut into rounds, bread in cornmeal and fry, but our favorite version is our dear friend Annie's method, "All I do is rinse off the pods and lay them in a saucepan with a little water in the bottom. Ten to fifteen minutes is all it takes...twenty if the pods are really big and "woody" feeling. I put salt on them and eat as finger food. It reminds me of young sweet corn."

Peppers:  Place whole, unwashed peppers in a plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for a week or more. Rinse peppers just before use. For sweet peppers, cut around the stem with a small knife and lift out the core. Slice down the side to open it up and then cut out the inner membranes. Store unused portions in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator.

Scallions (green onions)- are best kept upright in a glass with about 1" of water in it, more like flowers than vegetables. Loosely cover the tops with plastic and you will be amazed at how long they will keep. We like to throw a handful of chopped scallions into nearly any savory dish, right near the end of the cooking time.

Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel. These do not need to be peeled to use, just slice them up and go! Our varieties: 8 Ball (green,round), Golden Glory (bright yellow zucchini),  Patty Pan(scalloped white, green or yellow), Slik Pik (thin, yellow) or Zephyr (green & yellow)


Tomatoes: always store whole tomatoes at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Once cut, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

A few other details: All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  

** NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.
That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Luci, Indigo & Sky)


Indigo, Luci & Sky


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

BGF NEWS - September 8 , 2020 - VOL. XLV, NO. 15

In this week’s box:


Cabbage: Jersey Wakefield, Golden Acre or Omero
Celery: Chinese Pink
Fennel
Jubilee Cherry Tomato Mix (see 7/21 newsletter for details)
Leeks
Peaches: Native Iowa White
Peppers: asst. (see 8/11 newsletter for details)
Potatoes: asst.
Tomato: Slicers (see 7/28 newsletter for details)

and perhaps one of the following: (please see **NOTE  after "A Little Detail...)     
Broccoli: Gypsy
Cauliflower: Goodman
Eggplant: Orient Express
Mini Bell Peppers: bite-sized, sweet red, yellow & orange peppers
Summer Squash: see descriptions in "A little detail"

For those with the Egg option [Full & Half Shares]: one dozen free-range eggs
For those with the Herb option: Sweet basil, chives, lemon thyme


What’s up on the farm?


Precipitation in the past week: 0.55" (last night, and still raining!)

I usually start writing this portion of the weekly newsletter on Sunday. As I write this, it is 94° and quite windy. We've had no rain since the tiny shower last Tuesday and the wind is sucking every last bit of moisture out of the soil and crops. To say that I am looking forward to this week's forecast of 3 days of rain and much cooler temperatures is an understatement. That said, a 40° drop is going to be a pretty extreme shock for our warm-weather crops. They will certainly appreciate the rain (though I anticipate some exploding tomatoes) but with lows forecast in the mid 40's in a few days, we are about to witness some very grumpy tomatoes, peppers, basil and eggplants. These crops don't like anything much below 55° and especially with the tomatoes, it will affect their production and more importantly, their flavor. Cold weather tomatoes will be fine in cooked dishes, for sauces and soups but their glorious days of topping your favorite sandwich will be past. So celebrate that flavor this week for sure!  
Our fall crops are continuing to grow slowly with irrigation, but they are going to LOVE the coming week's weather! Some good rain and cooler temps are their favorite things. We might even be back in lettuce for next week's delivery if all goes well. Meanwhile, you will find the farm crew stuck in the packing barn most of the coming week, cleaning garlic and onions.

This past week marked the start of the fall fruit season for us. You got a "tiny" preview with the little Asian pears we thinned a couple of weeks ago. This past week we harvested all the Asian and Bartlett pears and started on the first of the peaches. 

We have planted a lot of different peach varieties over the years but the little native Iowa white peaches are far and away our most successful. They are small fruits and very fragile when ripe, so you will likely never see them at the store or even at farmers markets. Their flavor is a little different than the southern yellow peaches, more rich and flavorful, a little less sweet. They are highly fragrant and delicious though, a real Iowa treat.  Because we don't spray chemicals on our farm, our tree fruits are often a bit ugly but since most of it goes into our jams, it doesn't really matter. However when we have a bountiful crop, we like to share it with our members and customers and then you get to experience the delight of freshly harvested fruits with the added "character" of some random insect or weather damage. 
The peaches in today's delivery came from an old peach tree that was planted by my grandfather on hid farm (next to ours). This tree is about a week ahead of our peaches in ripening so when my cousins invited us to come harvest some of the bounty, we were pleased to have enough to share. We hope you enjoy them!

Speaking of sharing, I'm pretty sure all our members are familiar with Peace Tree Brewing Co. Our Des Moines members pick up at the DM Branch and our Marion County members know that Knoxville is the birthplace of PTBC and are familiar with their community involvement. Long time Marion Co members may even remember that the Knoxville taproom was our original pick up location for CSA & VegEmail. You might also know that PTBC owner Megan McKay is a long-time member of the CSA and a dear friend of the farm. You probably don't know that when things were at their lowest on the farm in 2012 due to a serious long-term health issue that threw everything into turmoil, the staff from Peace Tree came out to the farm and spent a day helping us catch up prepping beds for planting, they even brought lunch for themselves and our farm crew. These days they provide us a home for the DM CSA and our VegEmail sales and often help us promote both of these programs. Well, now our friends at Peace Tree need our help. With the current health crisis, business was already tough but now they are shut down again in Des Moines for anything other than to-go sales. We want this fabulous, community-minded business to survive so now it's our turn to support them. Here's the deal. We bought a $10 gift card for each of our CSA boxes. We want you to PLEASE take those cards and use them. If you are able, spend the gift card and a bit more (or a lot more). Don't drink beer? They have root beer and hard seltzer. Don't drink either of those? Buy a few 6 packs to gift to friends. Don't need anything now? Buy gift cards to use later. If we all make a small effort, it can add up to a big difference to our friends at Peace Tree. This goes for other small local businesses as well, most food & beverage establishments are hurting and if we want them around tomorrow, we have to step up today. Thanks, enjoy one (or 6) on us and pay it forward.

Meet the Crew: Indigo
Dog crew member #2 is Indigo, our 6 year old Blue Heeler. Heelers are traditionally very smart, independent working dogs with a crazy level of internal drive. Then there is Indigo. He is 98% companion dog and about 2% working dog. He loves the farm crew and is everyone's buddy.  His favorite task is supervising bean harvesting & packaging (also known as snack time). He loves to play ball and romp and tumble with Sky, but meals and treats will always trump playtime.

A little detail on your produce this week:


Broccoli & Cauliflower: Wrap loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for up to a week. Immediately before cooking, soak, head down, in cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt to a 8 cups of water) for 5 minutes. Any [organic] critters will float to the top where you can rescue them or allow them to suffer a salty death. (Note: If you soak broccoli/cauliflower in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and too wilted to enjoy.) Slice the juicy, edible stems and use them wherever florets are called for. Peel particularly thick skin before using.

Cabbage: Store dry, unwashed cabbage in the refrigerator, preferably in the vegetable bin. The outer leaves may eventually get floppy or yellowish, but you can remove and discard them to reveal fresh inner leaves. Cabbage can keep for more than a month. Once it’s cut, seal it in a plastic bag and continue to refrigerate for several weeks. Rinse the cabbage under cold running water just before use. Peel away a few of the outer leaves, then cut the cabbage according to your needs with a big, sharp knife, and then chop, sliver, or grate. Our (ok, Jill's) favorite ways to eat cabbage is either to spread a single leaf with peanut butter and roll up for a walking snack. Or for small cabbages, pull apart the leaves and sauté them in butter until wilted…divine!

Eggplant: Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild.  The shape of an eggplant determines how it is best prepared. Slice a straight, narrow eggplant into rounds for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded, bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir-fries.

Leeks: Loosely wrap unwashed leeks in a plastic bag and store them in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. They will keep for at least a week. Cut the leek about 1 inch above the white part, where the leaves begin changing from dark to light green. (Save the unused greens; they’ll give great flavor to your next vegetable stock.) Fan the leaves under running water to dislodge any dirt collected there, then pat thoroughly dry. You can julienne a leek by cutting it lengthwise, or slice it crosswise.

Peaches: these little beauties are very fragile and will go from not-quite-ripe to over-ripe in a heartbeat. You can speed ripening on the countertop or slow it in the refrigerator. Their flavor is best at room temp or slightly cool, but not cold.

Peppers:  Place whole, unwashed peppers in a plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for a week or more. Rinse peppers just before use. For sweet peppers, cut around the stem with a small knife and lift out the core. Slice down the side to open it up and then cut out the inner membranes. Store unused portions in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator.

Potatoes: Keep unwashed potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place, such as a loosely closed paper bag in a cupboard. They will keep for weeks at room temperature, longer if you can provide their ideal temperature of 40 to 50 degrees. Beware: the low temperature of your refrigerator will convert the starch to sugars. Moisture causes potatoes to spoil, light turns them green, and proximity to onions causes them to sprout. (You can still use a potato that has sprouted, however; simply cut off the “eyes” before use.) Scrub potatoes well and cut off any sprouts or green skin. (Clean delicate new potatoes gently.) Peeling is a matter of preference. Cut potatoes according to your recipe. If baking a whole potato, be sure to prick the skin in at least two places to allow steam to escape.

Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel. These do not need to be peeled to use, just slice them up and go! Our varieties: 8 Ball (green,round), Golden Glory (bright yellow zucchini),  Patty Pan(scalloped white, green or yellow), Slik Pik (thin, yellow) or Zephyr (green & yellow)


Tomatoes: always store whole tomatoes at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Once cut, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

A few other details: All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  

** NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.
That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Luci, Indigo & Sky)


Indigo, Luci & Sky




Tuesday, September 1, 2020

BGF NEWS - September 1 , 2020 - VOL. XLV, NO. 14

In this week’s box:


Basil: sweet
Edamame: Midori Giant
Jubilee Cherry Tomato Mix (see 7/21 newsletter for details)
Kale: asst.
Peppers: asst. (see 8/11 newsletter for details)
Shallots: Ambition (tan) and/or Camelot (red)
Tomato: Slicers (see 7/28 newsletter for details)

and at least one of the following: (please see **NOTE  after "A Little Detail...)     
Beans: Mix
Broccoli: Gypsy
Cantaloupe: Minnesota Midget
Cauliflower: Goodman
Eggplant: Orient Express
Mini Bell Peppers: bite-sized, sweet red, yellow & orange peppers
Summer Squash: see descriptions in "A little detail"

For those with the Egg option [Full Shares]: one dozen free-range eggs
For those with the Herb option: Cardinal basil, mountain mint & lemon balm 


What’s up on the farm?


Precipitation in the past week: trace (x2)

Well, technically it did rain on the farm this week, though it was just a couple of brief showers that didn't even show up in the rain gauge. So irrigating is still the name of the game. The new crops are germinating and the transplants are settling in fairly well, but we are seeing "end of the season fatigue" in many of our mid-season crops. The squashes (summer and winter both) are mostly gone, fallen to the cucumber beetles and squash bugs. The beetles then moved over to the beans and are ravaging that crop as well. We were able to get a bit harvested, but they aren't perfect. It was likely the final harvest for the beans, but we are foliar feeding and watering them to give them the opportunity for another flowering if they are willing. 
Tomato Blight
The tomatoes are still putting on a productive show (notice the quart of cherry tomatoes this week!) but most of the plants are slowly succumbing to blight. This is a normal occurrence here, but a little earlier than we would prefer to see it. We're not at the end of tomato season yet, but it is coming sooner than later so celebrate those tomatoes now! 
The peppers could care less about blight and are producing just fine. We lost a sowing of head lettuce during the heat last week, it all bolted before it was harvestable size, but we hope to be back in lettuce from other plantings in a couple of weeks. The new greens crops are also on their way, so not all is lost! 
Edamame!
The bright spot this week are the shallots and edamame! This was the best looking edamame we've ever grown are we are excited to send it out this week. We hope you enjoy it! The shallots are another favorite crop. They are like the grown-up cousin of onions and garlic, with a rich, refined taste. They are best used in recipes that show off their qualities, like vinaigrettes or cooked with vegetables or eggs.

Meet the Crew: Luci
This week we are moving on to the four-legged crew members. Luci is a Jack Russell Terrier and at 11 years old is the oldest of our pack. She loves all things on the farm, except Sky who is an ever-present pesky little sister. Her favorite activities are supervising harvests, riding in the Ranger and when the crew clocks out for the day (the time sheets are kept within reach of the treat bucket, and Luci is VERY convincing). Her least favorite things are thunderstorms and fireworks.

A little detail on your produce this week:


Basil hates the cold and will turn black with exposure. Keep long stemmed basil in a glass/vase of water on your counter top (out of direct sunlight). Stems that are too short (trimmings/tops) should be placed in a plastic bag or clamshell, with a dry paper towel. Then put inside of a paper bag (for insulation) and put in the warmest part of your refrigerator (usually the door) or on the top shelf towards the front.

Broccoli & Cauliflower: Wrap loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for up to a week. Immediately before cooking, soak, head down, in cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt to a 8 cups of water) for 5 minutes. Any [organic] critters will float to the top where you can rescue them or allow them to suffer a salty death. (Note: If you soak broccoli/cauliflower in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and too wilted to enjoy.) Slice the juicy, edible stems and use them wherever florets are called for. Peel particularly thick skin before using.

Cantaloupe:  If your cantaloupe seems a bit short of ripe, keep it at room temperature for a few days or until there is a sweet smell coming from the stem end. Once the melon ripens, store it in the refrigerator. It is best not to cut a cantaloupe until you are ready to eat it. If you need to return cut melon to the refrigerator, do not remove the seeds from the remaining sections as they keep the flesh from drying out. Use within 3-5 days.


Edamame (vegetable or green soy beans): Store beans on or off the branches in a bag in the crisper drawer and use within 1 week.  To use, separate beans from branches and cook in salted, boiling water in the pods or shelled, depending on how you plan to use them. In case this is a new vegetable for you, the pods of edamame are not edible, so be sure to shell them before eating.

Eggplant: Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild.  The shape of an eggplant determines how it is best prepared. Slice a straight, narrow eggplant into rounds for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded, bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir-fries.

Peppers:  Place whole, unwashed peppers in a plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for a week or more. Rinse peppers just before use. For sweet peppers, cut around the stem with a small knife and lift out the core. Slice down the side to open it up and then cut out the inner membranes. Store unused portions in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator.

Shallots: the "fancy" cousins of onions, shallots have a rich flavor that really shines in soups, sauces, salad dressings and egg dishes.  Store like onions, in a cool, dark place with good air circulation. 

Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel. These do not need to be peeled to use, just slice them up and go! Our varieties: 8 Ball (green,round), Golden Glory (bright yellow zucchini),  Patty Pan(scalloped white, green or yellow), Slik Pik (thin, yellow) or Zephyr (green & yellow)


Tomatoes: always store whole tomatoes at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Once cut, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

A few other details: All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  

** NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

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That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Luci, Indigo & Sky)


Indigo, Luci & Sky