Tuesday, July 21, 2020

BGF NEWS - JULY 21, 2020 - VOL. XLV, NO. 8

In this week’s box:

Basil: Genovese or Italian Large Leaf
Cabbage: Golden Acre or Jersey Wakefield
Cucumbers: Suyo Long, Marketmore or Striped Armenian
Head Lettuce: assorted varieties
Root Bouquets: Beets (asst) & Baby Turnips: Hakurei
Summer Squash: 8 Ball (green,round), Golden Glory (bright yellow zucchini),  Patty Pan(scalloped white, green or yellow), Slik Pik (thin, yellow) or Zephyr (green & yellow)
Sweet Onions: Cipollini

and at least one of the following: (please see **NOTE  after "A Little Detail...)     
Beans: Empress, Fortex and Golden Goal
Broccoli: Gypsy
Cauliflower: Goodman
Eggplant: Orient Express
Okra: Bowling Red & Candle Fire
Snap or Snow Peas
Tomato "Snack Mix":
Golden Rave, Blush, Black Cherry, Juliet, Red Torch &/or Sweetie

For those with the Egg option [Full shares]: one dozen free-range eggs
For those with the Herb option: Thai basil, edible flowers, chocolate mint

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 1.3"

The rain on Tuesday evening was glorious, exactly what we needed plus just a little extra wind. No damage and the perfect amount of rain. The crops (and the farmers) are all feeling much better about things... except the weeds! It's amazing what rain when it's needed can do. It also gave us the opportunity to get some indoor work done since it was too wet to work the soil. So Wednesday marked the start of Fall transplant sowing. We now have 35 flats of fall crops growing in the high tunnel including cabbage, broccoli cauliflower, chard, kale, lettuce and I'm sure something else I can't think of right now. It's always a bit ironic to be sowing cool weather crops in mid-July but that's the way vegetable farming goes.
'Thelma Sanders' acorn squash

'Minnesota Midget' melons
Since the rain we are seeing some good progress in the mid season crops. The squash and melons are developing nicely and the eggplants added some nice growth. We are finally seeing the start of ripening (color) on our tomatoes and peppers! 
'Striped Armenian' cucumber
Our newest crop development is the Striped Armenian cucumbers. This is the first year for this crop and we have been eagerly awaiting their harvest. Yesterday was the day and we harvested exactly one! But we anticipate it is the first of many. They are a smooth, sweet member of the cuke/melon family and we look forward to hearing how you like them.

The popcorn is growing like crazy and we are finally tassled and pollinating. This indicates that the kernels are beginning to form. Did you know that each silk strand at the top of the ear is connected to a "potential" kernel on the cob and if that silk isn't pollinated individually, the kernel won't develop? It takes A LOT of pollination to produce a full ear of corn!

Finally, it's time to start talking about the most important subject, TOMATOES! Though we sent out a very few of the first "snacking tomatoes" last week, this week we are finally seeing the real start of tomato season. While still not quite enough for everyone, most members will get at least a taste of several of our small tomato varieties this week so it's time for the official introductions.  These are our smaller varieties and tend to ripen earliest. As you can see, we raise a variety of colors of tomatoes, so color isn't your best indication of ripeness, touch is. A ripe tomato should yield to a gentle squeeze of your fingertips. If it feels hard, it's probably not quite ripe. Just leave it out on your counter for a day or 2 and try again.
 Here are the tomatoes that go into our "Jubilee Cherry Tomato Mix" also referred to as snacking tomatoes:

Black Cherry: Beautiful black cherry tomato with rich flavor.
Blondkopfchen: Small yellow 1” cherry tomato with excellent sweet taste.
Blush:yellow fruit with orange blush when fully ripe. Very low acid, meaty, and super sweet.
Glitter: sweet, brilliant orange mini-roma
Golden Rave: Small 1–2 oz yellow, plum shaped tomatoes with good tomato flavor. 
Honeydrop: sweet, fruity, yellow bite-sized tomatoes
Juliet: Small 1 – 2 oz red mini-roma, perfect flavor and shape for slicing onto pizza or salad.
Red Torch: Yellow-striped red mini roma 
Sunrise Bumblebee:  Bite sized swirls of red and orange, inside the fruit and out with a sweet, fruity taste, 
Sweetie: Bite-sized, sweet red cherry tomato
Tommy Toe: Large round red cherry with big tomato flavor

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.

Beans:Fresh beans are an easy "store."  Just leave them in their plastic bag and keep them in the produce drawer.  Can last up to 2 weeks.

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.

Cucumber: Store unwashed cucumbers in a sealed plastic bag in the vegetable crisper bin for about a week. Keep cucumbers tucked far away from tomatoes, apples, and citrus—these give off ethylene gas that accelerates cucumber deterioration. You can do a lot of fancy things to the skin of a cucumber, but when it is young, fresh (and unwaxed), it really only needs to be thoroughly washed. However, if the skin seems tough or bitter you can remove it; if the seeds are bulky, slice the cucumber lengthwise and scoop them out.

Edible Flowers: store in a sealed plastic or glass container in the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days. Calendula and bachelor buttons should be petaled before using, throw away the centers. Violas, nasturtiams and nasturtiams leaves can be used whole, though I usually petal my nasturtiams as well.

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.

Green top onions:  not the pencil-thin scallions, but nearly grown (though not-yet-cured) onions are an early summer treat. Keep sweet mild onions in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a week or two, but beware the fatal moisture accumulation that causes them to spoil. To prolong their storage, wrap in a paper or cloth towel before storing in plastic. Also, don't just toss the tops, several years ago a CSA member taught us a great recipe to use them! See recipe below.

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."

Peas: best kept in a plastic bag or glass container in your refrigerator. Use within a week.

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!

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

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