Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week 14 Newsletter.

Welcome to Week 14!

So I am thinking the cooler temperatures may be settling in for the season.  I just watched the weather and it looks like a slight warm up over the weekend, but highs in the 60's and low's in the 40's for the rest of the week.  I even heard mention of the f word for Thursday night.  Frost that is.  Frost is most definitely a nasty word around here.  Frost means the end to many of our summer crops.  Frost also mean lots of extra work for us as we scramble to try and cover tender plants and harvest what we can.  Frost, of course, also means we are closer to winter, which also means a lot of extra work for us.  But, that is a topic for an entire newsletter!  So we will move on.

I want to thank everyone who braved the rain to come out to market this past Saturday.  It was a cold wet day.  Seeing so many customers dedicated enough to local foods to come out in the weather, lifted all the vendors spirits.   

This week, the first of our winter squash made an appearance in boxes.  Delicata and Acorn squash will again be available for next week.  Butternut and spaghetti squash will become available in the next few weeks.  Both Delicata and Acorn squash are good sliced in half moons and roasted in some butter and maple syrup, honey or brown sugar.  As a side note, unlike like most winter squash, the skin of the delicata is edible.  Acorn squash are great for stuffing.  Follow one of the many stuffed acorn recipes available or simply use a mixture of rice or quinoa and beans seasoned with a bit of salt, pepper and your favorite herbs.  I find it best to first roast the squash a bit, then stuffing it and then return it to the oven for a final roasting.

As many of you probably know, here at Dancing Hen Farm we are big fans of cookbook author Deborah Madison.  We have many of her cookbooks and honestly feel we never go wrong with any of her recipes.  This weekend at market, Farmer Don was encouraging everyone to try a simple shredded radicchio salad with a walnut vinaigrette and toasted bread crumbs and hard cooked eggs.  We made the salad again this week for dinner and WOW!  it was better than we even remember it to be.  I have posted pictures of our version on both our facebook and blog (http://www.dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com/ ).  The recipe is from Vegetable Literacy and here is a website  which talks about the book and lists the recipe.   http://tablematters.com/2013/04/01/higher-vegucation/

Out of the kitchen and on to the farm. 

With the cooler temperatures moving in we are starting to get our extended season production systems in order.  This includes closing up our unheated greenhouses.  We keep the plastic top on these houses during the summer, but we remove the end walls and lower side walls for ventilation.  In the fall we rebuild the end walls and re-install the sides to make a nice protected environment for our plants to grow over the winter.  We are finally giving up on the majority of our tomato field and will be turning it over for winter production.  This field will be planted with lettuces and cooking greens. We will build mini greenhouses over these beds to protect the plants during even the coldest of winter temperatures.  Our goal is to harvest into December and then, depending on the weather, stop harvesting until the end of February when the protected plants start to grow again.  We will continue to harvest from these fields into April and early May.

Fall crops still maturing in our fields include greens, brussel sprouts, cabbage and  broccoli romanesco.  The cabbage is starting to head up and we expect to see a harvest out of these plots in the near future.  We are continuing to try and nurse our brussel sprouts into sprouting.  Stay tuned for the results!  Broccoli romanesco unfortunately is a bit of an inside joke here on farm.  Last year was our first attempt at this crop.  Romenesco is the funky space ship looking lime green vegetable falling somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower.  Last year we had beautiful huge plants.  When I say huge, I mean 4 feet plus tall with gigantic leaves.  Unfortunately, the plants got bigger and bigger, but we never saw any flower heads to harvest.  And also, unfortunately, this year, we are again producing beautiful plants, but no flowering.   Stay tuned on this crop as well.  I am sure you will hear cheers ringing from the farm if we find beautiful space ship flower buds in our romanesco field!  Or maybe you will hear us this winter cheering on the deer as they devour the huge, beautiful, non-fruiting plants?

I am sure you have noticed apples are off the choice for the time being.  We are currently assessing some other trees for harvest.  We need to mow around them first!  We know one is a hard tart apple probably best suited for cooking, but we aren't certain about the others.  We will keep you posted if we are again harvesting from our trees and we will at least try and give you an idea of the characteristics of the apples we are harvesting.  Sorry, but we honestly do not know the varieties.  We have also been in contact with a friend of ours who has organic apples.  We may purchase some apples from him this season and will keep you posted on the varieties we purchase.

This weekend we will again be at Back Mountain Memorial Library Market.  As always, stop by, say hello and pick up some great local food.

As always, thanks to each of you for your continued support of our small family farm and local agriculture.  And, as always, in the words of Farmer Don "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies"

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