Tuesday, August 9, 2022

BGF NEWS - August 9, 2022 - VOL. XLVIII, NO. 10

In this week’s box:


Broccoli: Belstar or Imperial
Cabbage (Red): Omero
Carrots: Rainbow Mix
Cherry Tomatoes: Jubilee Mix (see description on 8/2)
Cucumber: Suyo Long, Armenian, Marketmore or Lemon
Head Lettuce: asst
Onions: Cipollini
Purslane
Summer Squash: asst.
Tomatoes-Slicers: asst. (see description on 8/2)

and perhaps one of the following: (please see **NOTE after "A Little Detail..." below)
Beans: Provider (green) & Carson (yellow) Mix
Cantaloupe: Minnesota Midget
Cauliflower: Snow Crown or Song
Eggplant: Orient Express, Asian Delight or Listada de Gandia
Okra: Candle Fire and Burgundy

Herb It! option: sweet basil, curly parsley, pineapple mint
Bread Share: Honey Oat Dinner Rolls

Featured Recipes:
Roasted Red Cabbage
Purslane, Tomato and Onion Salad

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.20" (where are my rain dancers?)

Welcome to delivery #10 and the halfway mark for the CSA season. It always amazes me when we hit this point, how can we be halfway through already? But here we are.

we're the blue dot
This past week we were officially declared to be in moderate drought in our area. It makes the lack of rain feel so much more alarming when that happens. But as I said above, here we are. We are running nearly non-stop irrigation lines during the daylight hours just trying to keep things alive and to try and germinate newly seeded crops, but all of our crops would really prefer some natural rain. We did get a couple of tenths of rain last week and it was just enough to be able to start the next round of transplanting for fall crops. So far we've planted head lettuce, choi, broccoli, cauliflower, napa cabbage, kale, chard and kohlrabi. We also seeded turnips, choi and komatsuna. There's still much more planting to do, but we really need another rain to make it happen.

We've also been harvesting several root crops including carrots, beets and 3/5 of the potato crop. You'll see some of the carrots in your boxes this week, the beets and potatoes will follow in the coming weeks.  
It was such a relief to see the potato crop coming out of the field. We don't irrigate our potatoes and I was really concerned that we weren't going to have a very good yield. In fact, my test digs of the different varieties were less than inspiring. So when that potato plow starting rolling out lots of nice potatoes, I nearly cried with relief!

The drought and the recent heat has been hard on our current crops. We are seeing lots of loss in our summer squash/zucchini crops and our cucumbers as well, so celebrate those crops while we have them because they likely won't be around for much longer. The lettuce is hanging in there and we are really trying to keep it on the delivery list every week, but we lost a lot of plants to the heat and we may have a week or two break before the next succession is harvestable. The winter squash plots are looking pretty rough and we are seeing quite a bit of die-off due to insects and drought. I think we might manage a small harvest, but it's questionable. These are all crops that are among the hardest to grow chemical-free due to the insect pressures, but we are committed to it, so there are always losses. Never fear, there are still lots of amazing crops to come. 
The tomatoes are really kicking in this week and everyone should see some in their box this week and I think next week we will have ripe sweet peppers heading out to you. We tasted our first watermelon this week and it was promising! Soon, we hope, very soon!

Crew Corner: Morgan
Hello friends, my name is Morgan McKay! This summer I had the opportunity to work with Jill and the crew. The skills and knowledge that I learned in my short time at Blue Gate is something that I am excited to carry with me as I plan to attend DMACC in the Fall of 2023 to receive my Horticulture certification. During my time at the farm, I was introduced to new ways of farming and a broader perspective of agriculture. The patience and teaching environment was a huge encouragement to me as a “rookie” horticulturist. One of my best memories on the farm was my first day on the job and it DOWNPOURED!!

A little detail on your produce this week:


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 or cauliflower in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and wilted to enjoy.)

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 favorite way to eat raw cabbage is as a "walking salad" which is to simply spread peanut butter over a leaf of cabbage, sprinkle with your favorite dried fruit, roll it up into a tube and enjoy. This is a kid-pleaser for sure!

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. Remove the leafy green tops, leaving about an inch of stems. 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. Greens can be added to soup stock for flavor.

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.

Cipollini Onions:  These lovely little Italian onions are some of our favorites. Sweet & mild they are the perfect size for adding just a bit of onion to a recipe. The place they really shine though is in shush kabobs! Due to their flat shape, they are easy to skewer and cook faster. They are mostly cured now, so can be stored like regular onions, at room temperature with good air circulation. Sweet onions  don't store as long as other onions though, so use within a few weeks.

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.

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. Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort.
Green top onions/shallots: 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.


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? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That's about it for now.
If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)
Sky, Wallace & Gromit




Tuesday, August 2, 2022

BGF NEWS - August 2, 2022 - VOL. XLVIII, NO. 9

In this week’s box:


Basil: Sweet
Beets: Cylindra
Cherry Tomatoes: Jubilee Mix (see list below)
Cucumber: asst
Head Lettuce: asst
Roselle
Shallots- Ambition (tan) &/or Camelot (purple)
Summer Squash: asst

and at least one of the following: (please see **NOTE after "A Little Detail..." below)
Beans: Provider (green) & Carson (yellow) Mix
Cantaloupe: Minnesota Midget
Cauliflower: Snow Crown or Song
Eggplant: Orient Express, Asian Delight or Listada de Gandia
Okra: Bowling Red and Candlefire
Tomatoes-Slicers: asst. (see list below)


Herb It! option: Nunum Basil, bronze fennel, thyme
Jam It! option: Salted Caramel Pear Butter & Cherry Jam
Spice It Up! option: Nunum Salt

Bread Share: Korean Milk Bread or 7-Grain Buns

Featured Recipes:  

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00"

So, who's up for pre-cooked vegetables this week? Whew! This is not the weather we look forward to, but it does happen most every year. It's always extra frustrating when paired with a lack of rain, but we are extra thankful for our irrigation system when it happens. 
There are some fun new things heading into the boxes this week including the first of the tomatoes, shallots, mini cantaloupes and roselle. While I'm sure the majority of our members are most excited about the tomatoes, the roselle is one of my favorites! 
For those of you unfamiliar, it is an edible member of the hibiscus family and the leaves have a tart, lemony flavor. It is delicious added to pesto and in combination with other greens. I really like it added to lettuce on my sandwiches. Give it a try and see what you think. As for the cantaloupes, they truly are minis, as in 1-2 servings but they are also the best tasting cantaloupes I've ever had so we hope you enjoy the little treat. 
Speaking of melons, the deer have been partying in the melon patch this week. I don't know what inspired them, but they wreaked havoc with a number of the vines, shredding them down to nothing. Sigh. Don't worry, they didn't ruin the whole patch, but it's still aggravating.
So besides planning a deer roast (just kidding) what have we been up to this week? We harvested all the shallots and hung them to cure. The ones you are getting today are the small ones that still had green-tops. So you can use the bulbs as shallots and the tops as scallions. 
We also harvested all the Adirondak Red potatoes. We were quite pleased with the size and number that we found as red potatoes haven't produced as well for us in the past. We brought in about 360 pounds today. We'll start digging the other varieties soon.

And now it's time to start talking about the most important subject, TOMATOES! We are finally at the start of the season so it's time for the official introductions. Slicing tomatoes are on the "perhaps list" so not everyone will see them this week, but we promise they are coming soon! 
The smaller varieties tend to ripen first and we think we might have enough for everyone to get their first taste this week, so we'll start with those. 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.
Black Strawberry: Psychedelic, purple & red swirled cherry tomato.
Blush: yellow fruit with orange blush when fully ripe. Very low acid, meaty, and super sweet.
Bronze Torch: Green-striped red mini roma 
Gold Spark: sweet, yellow, bite-sized 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.
Orange Paruche: 1" glowing orange globes that are sweet and flavorful.
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

And now our slicing  tomatoes (all except Granadero & Marmalade are heirlooms):
Azoycha: Lemon-yellow medium-sized fruits with sweet, yet rich flavor.
Cosmonaut Volkov: medium-large red slicer with a full-rich flavor
Dagma's Perfection: Medium-sized, slightly flattened, pale-yellow fruits with delicate, light red striping.
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
Matina: Red, golf-ball sized fruits with big, 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.
Redfield Beauty: 3”– 4” flat pink fruits with excellent, full flavor.
Rutgers: large, red with excellent flavor for fresh eating or canning
White Queen: Medium-sized, smooth white-skinned tomato with sweet, juicy flesh, low acid.
Wisconsin 55: A flavorful medium-sized variety that is juicy, firm and ideal for slicing, cooking, and salads

Crew Corner: Joelle
Hello from Joelle! This is my second year at BGF and I have been learning a lot more about vegetables under the tutelage of my oldest sister Danielle. One of my favorite things to harvest is strawberries- and the season is way too short for my taste!
Because of my love for science…I also very much enjoy studying all the bugs and various wildlife wandering across my path in different areas around the farm…field mice…not so much!  
Although they are creepy, and an unpleasant aspect of the farm, it is still fun to look at ticks close-up with my new pocket microscope! I also enjoyed looking at a ladybug that I found who had a hole in her back…I could see down inside. That was fascinating!
If you by chance find a little nature in your CSA box-give it a look over and then consider releasing it in your own yard or a city park.


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, 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.

Beets- Cut off greens, leaving an inch of stem. Refrigerate the unwashed greens in a closed plastic bag and use with your chard mix as beets and chard are closely related. Store the beet roots, unwashed, with the rootlets (or “tails”) attached, in a plastic bag in the crisper bin of your refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks, but their sweetness diminishes with time. Just before cooking, scrub beets well and remove any scraggly leaves and rootlets. If your recipe calls for raw beets, peel them with a knife or vegetable peeler, then grate or cut according to your needs baby/young beets usually don't need to be peeled.

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 or cauliflower in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and wilted to enjoy.)

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 favorite way to eat raw cabbage is as a "walking salad" which is to simply spread peanut butter over a leaf of cabbage, sprinkle with your favorite dried fruit, roll it up into a tube and enjoy. This is a kid-pleaser for sure!

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.

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.

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. Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort.

Green top onions/shallots: 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."

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? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That's about it for now.
If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)

Luci & Sky

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

BGF NEWS - July 26, 2022 - VOL. XLVIII, NO. 8

In this week’s box:


Broccoli: Belstar or Imperial
Cucumber: asst
Head Lettuce: asst
Potatoes: Adirondack Red
Senposai or Vivid Choi
Scallions
Summer Squash: asst

and at least one of the following: (please see **NOTE after "A Little Detail..." below)
Beans: Provider (green) & Carson (yellow) Mix
Cauliflower: Snow Crown or Song
Eggplant: Orient Express, Asian Delight or Listada de Gandia
Okra: Bowling Red and Candlefire
Snap Peas

Herb It! option: Sweet basil, peppermint, anise hyssop
Bread Share: Rosemary Raisin Bites (a farmer favorite!)

Featured Recipes:  
Thai Cucumber Salad

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00" (now hiring rain dancers!)

Whew, this past week was one we don't mind saying goodbye to ! The heat and continuing lack of rain is really starting to wear on the crops and the farm crew! Then last Thursday evening the controller unit for our walk-in cooler failed. Not helpful! As of writing this Monday evening, the replacement was supposed to be here today, but looks like it was delayed until tomorrow. We are lucky that with the air conditioner, we are able to keep the walk-in under 60° so cool enough for short term storage of many of the things we are harvesting right now (eggplant, squash, okra & cukes) but we really need it to be about 42° for others. We are fortunate to have several extra refrigerators around the farm which are currently stuffed with broccoli & cauliflower, which needs those cooler temperatures. 

We hand dug our first small potato harvest at the end of last week, with our Adirondack Reds. This beautiful potato has red skin and flesh, which turns a light shade of pink when cooked. It’s excellent for baking, boiling, mashing, roasting, and potato salad. It's only the second year we've grown this variety and it looks to have done MUCH better this year than last. We're hoping the rest of the potatoes are doing the same! In addition to potatoes in this week's box, you'll find head lettuce that is smaller than what we've sent out so far this season. The heat is causing early bolting in some of our varieties and slower establishment in our most recent plantings. The bugs are also causing some significant damage which requires peeling off of ugly leaves. This is all contributing to smaller heads that we normally like to send out, but we want you to at least have enough to put a few leaves on your sandwiches. We're also sending out the last of our Senposai and Vivid choi today. The bugs love our chemical-free produce as much as you do, so you will probably notice a little more insect damage on those leaves than normal. We don't love it, but wanted you to have one more shot at it before we clear it out for fall crops.

Besides trying to deal with the heat and the walk-in last week we "caught up" trellising tomatoes, cultivating and clearing spent crops, is this starting to sound familiar? This is the theme of our lives at this time of the season. 

We also spent some time appreciating nature as we went along our daily tasks.
A couple of highlights included a Giant Swallowtail resting in the high tunnel basil and finding a tomato hornworm (Enemy #1 of our tomatoes) that was covered with parasitic wasp cocoons.
These tiny (nonstinging) wasps are one of the best natural controls for the voracious hornworms and we are always thrilled to find evidence of them.

Finally, the greatest of challenges this past week was saying farewell to our Luci. At 13 years old, our companion and "protector" had finally done all she could do. She may have been little in stature, but her big personality, fierce bark and huge heart will be desperately missed.

A little detail on your produce this week:


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 or cauliflower in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and wilted to enjoy.)

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.

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. Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort.

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."

Herbs: Besides basil, most herbs keep best standing upright in a glass of water in your refrigerator with a loose plastic bag over the top. To use, simply pull a stem between your fingers and the leaves usually shear off. Chop with a sharp knife and add to your favorite recipes.

Peas: We grow snow peas (flat pod with little bumps showing immature peas inside) and sugar snap peas (rounded pods with mature peas inside).  Both have edible pods and can be used interchangeably in recipes.  They are particularly good in stir-fries and salads, though we tend to eat them fresh as a snack.  Peas keep best in their plastic container in the produce drawer of your 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.  So refrigerated potatoes should be brought to room temperature for at least 24 hours before using. 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.

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!


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? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That's about it for now.
If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)

Luci & Sky

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

BGF NEWS - July 19, 2022 - VOL. XLVIII, NO. 7

In this week’s box:


Basil: Genovese or Lettuce Leaf
Carrots: Rainbow Mix
Choi: Beijing Express
Cucumber: asst
Golden Oyster Mushrooms
Green Top Onions: Candy
Head Lettuce: asst
Purslane
Summer Squash: asst

 and at least one of the following: (please see **NOTE  after "A Little Detail..." below)
Beans: Provider (green) & Carson (yellow) Mix
Broccoli: Belstar or Imperial
Cauliflower: Snow Crown or Song
Eggplant: Orient Express
Okra: Bowling Red and Candlefire
Snap Peas
Snow Peas

Herb It! option: Basil: Sweet Thai, savory, garlic chives
Bread Share: Tavern Fare 


What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.15"

Well, it certainly feels like July on the farm this week! We are spending lots of time watering all the things; plants, animals and humans alike. In between all that hydrating we've gotten some big seasonal tasks crossed off the list. 
The tomatoes are finally all trellised, which starts by pounding in more than 700 posts. That isn't anyone's favorite day, but with some help by The Tall Farmer, we got it done! Then all the plants are woven to the posts with twine. We start with 2 levels of twine and add more as the plants grow taller. It's more work than using tomato cages, but we find it much easier to harvest and our plants are healthier with this method.

The other huge task was harvesting this year's garlic crop. All 3,600 heads are pulled by hand (or dug with a garden fork if they are stuck) and stacked in bundles of 10 in the field. 
Then each bundle is wrapped with a twine loop and carried to the utility vehicle. Once full, we drive them to the packing barn and hang them from the rafters and loft railings where they will stay until they are fully cured. It's a huge amount of physical work in challenging conditions (the loft was about 115° yesterday) but mid-task popsicles help and the knowledge that we love garlic and only have to do this once a year!

Amid these big projects we've also been cultivating, clearing spent crops, harvesting and sowing fall crops like: turnips, carrots, daikon, choi, lettuce and more broccoli. The transplants we sowed a couple of weeks ago are growing like champs (all except the broccoli, which is why we sowed more). Most will be ready for planting in another week or so.

You'll notice in the box contents at the top of the newsletter, the list of "Perhaps one of the following..." is getting really long. That is an indication of the new mid-season crops starting to produce, but we aren't getting enough to include in all the boxes yet. We are excited this week to add beans and broccoli to the list. We look forward to both of those crops producing for many weeks to come! We learned a new recipe this past weekend from our friend Dana at Scattergood Friends School. She tossed cauliflower florets in olive oil with a bit of salt and oven roasted them until they were moderately browned and tender. As they came out of the oven, she sprinkled them lightly with a good natural cheese powder. They were absolutely delicious! I think the same could be done with broccoli with equally tasty results. Give it a try!

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, 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 or cauliflower in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and wilted to enjoy.)

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. Remove the leafy green tops, leaving about an inch of stems. 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. Greens can be added to soup stock for flavor.

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.

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. Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort.


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: We grow snow peas (flat pod with little bumps showing immature peas inside) and sugar snap peas (rounded pods with mature peas inside).  Both have edible pods and can be used interchangeably in recipes.  They are particularly good in stir-fries and salads, though we tend to eat them fresh as a snack.  Peas keep best in their plastic container in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.

Purslane: Considered an invasive weed in many gardens, purslane is a valued green in many parts of the world.
The plant is rich in vitamin E, vitamin C and beta carotene, and quite high in protein. Most noteworthy of all, it is considered a better source of essential omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy plant. Enjoy raw or cooked in any recipe calling for greens. Store in a paper towel-lined plastic bag in your crisper drawer and 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!

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? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That's about it for now.
If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)

Luci & Sky