Tuesday, July 28, 2020

BGF NEWS - JULY 28, 2020 - VOL. XLV, NO. 9

In this week’s box:

Cucumbers: Suyo Long, Marketmore or Striped Armenian
Fennel: Perfection
Head Lettuce: assorted varieties
Golden Oyster Mushrooms
Jubilee Cherry Tomato Mix see 7/21 newsletter for details
Potatoes: Red Gold
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)

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: Slicers (see description below)

For those with the Egg option [Full shares and Half Shares]: one dozen free-range eggs
For those with the Herb option: sweet basil, rosemary, par-cel

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.4"

Winter squash also prefer cooler temps
A little bit of rain and a lot more color on the farm this week. Now that the high temperatures have settled down a bit our crops can get back to the business of pollinating and ripening. Did you know that pollen sterilizes above about 95°? So when the temps rise above that, the flowers go unpollinated and no fruits develop. Fruiting crops also tend to slow down the ripening process when it is hot, so tomatoes and peppers stop coloring and just seem to take a break until the temperatures fall again. So everyone on the farm, crew, crops and livestock alike all appreciate the more moderate weather this week.

We dug the first of the early potatoes this week and it was less than impressive. About 250 row feet, dug by hand only yielded about 55lbs of potatoes. Ah well, we're hopeful for better yield with the later varieties. In the meantime, everyone gets a little taste of fresh potatoes.

Leek harvest
We also started the onion harvest, which looks much better than the potatoes! It was a bit of a muddy morning, after the rain, but such is the way of things. Then we layered on the mud with the leek harvest. It's a good thing our crew has such a great attitude!

I wish our cucumbers had as good an attitude as our crew. Unfortunately they are increasingly grumpy and when cukes get grumpy, they die. The cause is a serious pest called the cucumber beetle. It causes some surface damage to the fruits due to chewing, but the real issue is that they spread a disease called Cucumber Wilt. Wilt is a rather bland way of saying "death". There is no effective, chemical-free defense for this insect, so we just plant multiple varieties in multiple locations (and extra plants) hoping to slow down the loss. So enjoy whatever cucumbers we can get into your boxes in the next couple of weeks as their season is quickly coming to an end.

 So let's get back to some happier news, the tomatoes are coming!!
While we "met" the cherry tomatoes last week, Here's an introduction to the rainbow of slicing tomatoes that should appear in your boxes this season:

Azoycha: Lemon-yellow medium-sized fruits with sweet, yet rich flavor.
Black Krim: purple/red slicing tomato with excellent full flavor 
Cosmonaut Volkov: medium-large red slicer with a full-rich flavor
Dr. Wychee Yellow: Large orange tomato with meaty, rich tasting flavor.
Granadero: Red plum tomato with thick-walled fruit; ideal for fresh tomato sauces, salsas, and salads
Green Zebra: Small, 2 1/2" olive yellow with green stripes and a sweet zingy flavor
John Baer: meaty red heirloom slicer
Marmalade: round, orange fruits with sweet tomato flavor
Mountain Fresh: red slicer with well balanced flavor
Paul Robeson: Large, brick-red fruits with dark green shoulders.  Has a sweet, rich, smoky flavor.
Pantano Romanesco: A large, deep red Roman heirloom. The flesh is very rich, flavorful & juicy.
Porkchop: Bright yellow slicing tomato with sweet tomato flavor with hints of citrus
Redfield Beauty: 3”– 4” flat pink fruits with excellent, full flavor.
Rutgerslarge, red with excellent flavor for fresh eating or canning
San Marzano II: Red paste tomato with old world taste
White Queen: Medium-sized, smooth white-skinned tomato with sweet, juicy flesh, low acid.

 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. 

Finally, I want to circle back to our crew. Last week I was "informed" that the crew wanted to have a potluck at lunch on Monday. They were pretty dismissive about the details and let me know I could bring the plates and silverware. Those of you who are native mid-westerners know this is almost a painful assignment because we aren't really "doing our part". Regardless, I did as requested amid mild grumbling. It turns out that the gathering was a plot by our fabulous crew to celebrate the farm's 15th anniversary season. They had asked earlier in the season if we were planning a big gathering like we did for our 10th year, but given the current "situation" it wasn't to be. So this was their solution. Have I mentioned how amazing our crew is and how lucky we are to have them? 

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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