Week 5… Labor Day

Good day to everyone!  Hope all is well, and that this weekend brings together the joys of family and community.  In your baskets this week we will have tomatoes, potatoes, watermelons, peppers, purple hull beans, blue lake beans, sweet basil, okra, zinnias, and small tennessee pumpkins.

This week we have been preparing and cleaning our garden beds for the fall.  We started by removing seriously infected squash plants and cucumber plants from the fields, and burning them in small brush piles.  Some of our corn will be removed for use as decoration bundles, the rest of the corn will lay in the field and be tilled in.  The only plastic we used was in the watermelon patch, which will need to be removed.  As the plants die off, we will turn most of them under the soil in order to bring some more organic matter back into the soil, eventually we will over winter the gardens in a variety of cover crops to replenish what nutrients were taken out over the growing season.

With one of the smoldering burn piles I, dug out a basin of coals and stuck in one pumpkin and one squash.  Once covered with coals, about two inches thick, I resumed my tasks in the garden.  Returning about two hours later, I dug up my squash and pumpkin to find a hot and softened delightful treat.  I opened them up, scrapped out the middles, saved the seeds on a piece of newspaper, cut them in two, and began to consume their warm and savory innards.  I admit I am one for testing the raw and un-manipulated flavor of foods, in so doing, It occurred to me that some of our shareholders would like to know an easy way to make good use out of the food we provide.  One recipe that comes to mind is one of many variables, personal preferences and ease of savory or sweet.  Preheat the oven to about 375.  Lightly oil a cookie sheet and the squash or pumpkin whole or cut in half.  If you decide to cut it in half,  remove the innards, save the seeds, and add your favorite vegetables, spices or herbs such as, rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic, squash, carrot, onion, or even pepper, to fill the void.  Place the squash or pumpkin upside down flat, and set the timer for about 45 min.  When it is ready, the outside flesh should be soft and easily indented with the touch of a spoon or fork.  Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes.  For a sweet treat, repeat the process and instead of adding vegetables, lightly add butter and brown sugar to the mix, either stirring it up, or eating it sliced.  I realize these are slightly rough recipes, if you have access to the internet or any good old cook book, you can find many alternate, fun ideas for the oven baked pumpkin and squash.

Remember, that Week 6 CSA pick up will be on Wednesday September 6 from 4 to 7pm at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville.  The address is 1729 Stop 30 Road
Hendersonville, TN 37075.  Call or e-mail me for any questions, comments, or concerns about this date and anything else involving the CSA.  I wish everyone well this weekend.  Safe travels and safe returns…peace and blessings

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Purple Hull Pole Beans

Purple Hull Pole Beans can be cooked like any green bean. They will turn green when cooked but they are a firmer bean and keep more of their texture when cooked. They are great as leftovers added to soups. As the pole beans get a little larger they also get a little “shucky” as Farmer McDonald told me, then you can open up the hull and use the beans inside as “shelley” beans. These can be added to a pot of green beans for added texture and a great source of nutrition. Many people prefer them this way.We tried to include of few larger purple hull beans that would be good as shelly beans in your box last week.

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This week: watermelon

We have five varieties of watermelon: Crimson Sweet, Amish Moon and Stars, Watermelon Jubilee, and Charleston Grey. All of our shareholders received one watermelon with their veggies this week. The Amish Moon and Stars is a very unique variety so I thought I’d share some information I found on this interesting melon.

Moon & Stars Watermelon

Citrullus lanatus

Common names include: Cherokee Moon and Stars, Long Milky Way Moon and Stars, Moon and Stars, Pink Flesh Amish Moon and Stars, Sun, Van Doren’s Moon and Stars, Yellow Flesh Moon and Stars

A magical melon, the dark green and yellow speckled skin of the Moon and Stars watermelon evokes a living galaxy while its happenstance return suggests a storybook ending. The Moon and Stars’ oval to oblong shape resembles Black Diamond, but its trademark silver dollar to pea-sized golden bursts set it apart. Graced with white seeds and a slightly ridged, thick rind, this watermelon can reach up to forty pounds in weight when thump-ready for eating. When heirloom aficionados such as Roger Yepsen and Benjamin Watson describe Moon and Stars, the discussion always returns to flavor, given that this pinkish red or sometimes cantaloupe colored variant is  sweet and flavorful. But flavor is not the entire attraction of this peculiar melon: it is legendary for many reasons.

In the mid 1970s, Kent Whealy began to hear from his Seed Savers Exchange members of a remarkable watermelon introduced to American gardeners sometime before 1900. This Moon and Stars watermelon persisted in seed catalogs through the 1920s, but many feared it had been lost forever. So Kent began a search for this melon, and in 1980 he mentioned the sought after melon on a television show out of Kirksville, Missouri. Fortunately, Merle Van Doren, a farmer near Macon, Missouri was watching and decided to track down Kent. Merle picked up the phone and surprised Kent with news that the melon was not extinct at all; he was cultivating this unusual watermelon— speckled leaves and all—in Missouri. Most importantly, he would save Kent some seed.

Kent went to pick up the seed, bringing a Mother Earth News photographer with him, and although Mr. Van Doren refused to be photographed, Kent posed next to a stunning pile of yellow-starred melons. Featured in the January 1982 edition of Mother Earth News, the back from extinction melon became an instant rage. Since the resurrection of the Van Doren variant, other yellow speckled heirlooms have resurfaced from Cherokee and Amish traditions and all have surged in popularity. Twenty years later, they remain among the bestselling heirlooms offered by the Seed Savers Exchange, and have been picked up and promoted by at least two-dozen other seed outlets. Moon and Stars is truly a stellar success among heirlooms, proving that what was once thought to be obsolete can be revived to the status of a national treasure

 

 

 

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Week 3 August 15-20th

Howdy Folks,  we have been blessed with mild weather and a lot of progress on the barn this week.  The poplar skin looks exceptional.  Pleasant breezes and cool mornings, with shade from our big walnut and oak trees, has allowed for an encouraging farming experience.  This week we will be offering ripening tomatoes, okra, squash, cucumbers, zinnias, sweet basil, silver queen sweet corn, peppers, and potatoes.  Pick up is from 9-12 noon on Saturday at the farm, and Sunday from 9-11 at Our Lady of the Lake.  Remember, if  you were not able to bring your bushel baskets last weekend, to do so this week.

On a not so light note, we are experiencing a true onslaught of squash vine borer, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles affecting the cucurbit family of squash, pumpkins and cucumbers, which is about a third of our garden spaces.  Charlene’s garden behind the stone house and Grace garden near the road frontage are quickly succumbing to this tenacious life cycle.  Our beans our also going through their own natural plight.  With this in mind, we are hoping to barter with a couple of other local farms for extra Continue reading

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Sweet Corn, Sweet Corn August 11, 2011

Well, its been a busy five days of shucking dry brounette haired Peaches and Cream sweet corn.  Our first day of harvesting sweet corn was last Friday, supplying a few of Nashville’s local restaurants, (Burger Up, Flyte, Cabana, Sunset Grille, and Silly Goose), a fair barter with Bells Bend Neighborhood farms and Long Hungry Creek Farm, as well as our CSA members over the weekend.  1,100 ears to be exact!  Silver Queen sweet corn came-on this Monday!  A little more of an over-lap of our two varieties than we had expected,  but exciting none the less.

Squash and Cucumbers are putting up a good fight with the bore beetles, stink bugs, and cucumber beetles.  Hopefully, they will outlast the infestation for another week or so…  Time to turn under a few of those rows of corn and squash and begin planting for our fall garden.  We intend to plant a variety of greens, micro greens, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, and a few plantings to over winter such as strawberries and garlic.

See ya’ll this weekend on Saturday at the Farm from 9-noon, and Sunday between morning masses at Our Lady of the Lake. I’ll bring a little bit of extra corn in case others want to buy more than what is in their share.  This week we will have ripening tomatoes, potatoes, silver queen sweet corn, cucumbers, okra, sweet basil, zinnias, a few squash, and peppers.  Thanks again!

 

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Open House was a great success.

The open house was a great success. Thanks to everyone who came out to the farm today.

In the CSA baskets this week: Corn, Cucumbers, Squash, Zucchini, Potatoes, Basil, Dill, and Zinnias. We also had some Tomatoes and Okra, but those haven’t fully kicked in yet. Thanks to everyone who came out to the farm today and Will is bringing the rest to the Church tomorrow. Thanks for your support!

-ellie

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Hot Hot Hot!

Today was a furnace at the farm.  It was over 101° on the workshop thermometer, and it’s in the shade!

It was a good day though.  We tidied up for this weekends first CSA pickup and Open House Farm.  If you’d like to come out and see the Farm we’ll be there from 9-12 on Saturday.  We’d love to have a lot of people come out.  The sweet corn is starting to come in too, so we’ll be selling it and stuffing the CSA baskets.

Drink lots of water everyone, and see you this weekend.

-ellie

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Hoeing, Weeding and Thinning 101

Everything that grows has and needs energy or “essence”.   Weeds and plants will compete for this energy.  By removing weeds in and around your garden you allow the desired plants to grow with more vigor.

In the beginning, over planting your crops will shade out other weeds that may come up, giving you a better success rate in the long run.  When hand weeding, grab weeds by the base of the plant in order to pull out the root as well.  This step is most important when removing Johnson grass, which should be removed from the garden completely because it grows by rhizomes and can easily reestablish itself.

Discard weeds into the “middles” after you remove the excess soil from the roots.  The sun will dry out the weeds so they die and can later be cultivated, bringing organic matter back to the soil.

The corn rows and pumpkins are cultivated twice and then hilled to bury weeds under.  Hilling certain crops is an efficient way to bury weeds early on and lessen the time needed to weed later.  Hilling involves using a “hiller” on a tractor or by hand, mounding the soil up to the base of the plant and rows.  Not all plants like to be hilled.

A well hoed garden makes it easier to pull weeds.  The best time to hoe is when weeds first begin to sprout and aren’t fully established.  The intention of hoeing is to aerate the soil while loosening up and disposing undesirable weeds.  Using a hoe, or digging fork, begin by digging into the side of the first furrow closest to the plant rows, going down about two to four inches.  While hoeing around each plant be careful not dig too deep disturbing the plant’s root system.  An easy dig and slight lift method works well.   “Scratchin” or “tickling” the surface around the plant and breaking apart compacted soils in and around the plant will allow adequate air circulation to the roots.  One sign of inadequate air circulation to the roots is a slight yellowing of the plant’s leaves.  We noticed this in the squash rows and a few bean rows in “Charlene’s” garden.

While hoeing you can also use this time to thin out your plants.  Thinning is necessary when plants begin to crowd one another.  Thinning will allow each individual plant to grow bigger and healthier by not “choking out”  its neighbors’ root system nor above ground space.  Keep the healthiest plants and discard or transplant the others.  If there are several well established plants close to one another you may be able to transplant to a less dense area of the row.  Each plant needs it’s own spacing:

  • cucumbers 1’
  • beans 6”
  • squash 1’
  • corn 1”
  • okra 6”

These are a few techniques we have learned and incorporated from Jeff Poppen and have been very effective this season.

 

Farm Vocab:

Middles: Made by cultivators.  These are the foot paths which include furrows.

Furrows: Small trenches within middles.

Rhizome: Horizontal stem of a plant that shoots out roots and shoots from it’s nodes.  A rhizome separated into pieces is able to generate new plants.

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Putting up Sweet Corn

It’s time for my third favorite thing in summer, Nature’s way of apologizing for how hot it is.  Sweet corn has started coming in and it is a wonderful thing.

The thing about sweet corn is it comes in all at once, just like squash.  You have to pick it when it’s ready or it goes to waste.  It’s absolutely wonderful when picked and boiled, grilled, or even microwaved still in the husk.

I can only eat a half dozen or so ears of fresh sweet corn, and we have to find something else to use it.  We freeze it.

To freeze sweet corn, it has to be blanched first.

1.  Find a willing friend.  It’s always easier with a friend.

2. Put a big pot of water on to boil.

3. Husk all the corn, getting off as much silk as possible.

4. Drop the corn in the pot and boil for 7 minutes.

5. Get a big bucket of icewater ready to cool the corn as soon as the timer goes off.

6. Cool the corn so it stops cooking.

7. Save the Pretty Ears for service as Corn on the Cob.  These go in a freezer bag just like this.  We save these for when company comes.

8. Cut the rest of the corn off and pack two cups at a time into bags.

9. Label, Freeze, and Clean up!

This will keep well into next year and should be as good as the day it was picked.

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More Fruit

 

Today was a HOT day at the farm.  The guys are here working on the Barn and Lori Brought out some great Brisket for lunch.  The plumbing work is continuing on the Stone house.  Isabella and Brenden helped me harvest some of the last of the lettuce and 8 quarter bushel of squash.  We cleaned up the brush around the Railey family cemetery and got out most of the Poison Ivy around the Apple tree.

With that tree cleaned up, that brings us to a total of 6 apple trees, one pear, one Persimmon, and two Walnut trees. We also found a couple of wild blackberry bushes too.

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