Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm! Welcome to Week 9 of our Main/Summer Season CSA. Hopefully our CSA members are enjoying their boxes. Week 9 is an egg week and Week 9 is the half way point of our Summer CSA. Next week, Week 10, will be a chicken delivery week.
We have had an unusually wet (and somewhat cooler) summer here on farm. This is evident by our need to still mow our grass. Usually by now the heat of summer combined with a the usual need for rain, leaves our grass brown and dry. Not so this year! In fact, Farmer Don is mowing right now. Unfortunately, this year of lots of mowing, our riding lawn mower seems to be in need of a transmission. So, we are now mowing more than half our yard with the tractor! The tractor makes the task of mowing go quicker, but it does tear up the lawn a bit. Maybe next year we will finally bring sheep on farm and allow them to do the mowing for us. I think we will also have to budget for a new mower!
Tomato harvest is in full swing, with lots of cherries and heirlooms being picked. Farmer Don asked me to mention that we harvest our tomatoes, especially the heirlooms, slightly on the green side. We do this to prevent the tomatoes from cracking and therefore spoiling in the field. For this reason, the tomatoes you receive in your boxes may require a day or two the kitchen table to fully ripen. With the varied colors of some of our heirlooms, it is sometimes tough to determine when they are ripe and ready to eat. I like to tell people that ripe tomatoes will feel slightly soft to touch. Speaking of tomatoes, we are getting some certified organic bulk Roma tomatoes from a neighbor. If you are interested in making sauce, please contact us.
Continuing on with harvest. Beans continue to be available, as do summer squash. Cucumbers are almost done and will be available in very limited numbers going forward. Barring any nasty blight outbreak, we anticipate tomatoes to be available in good numbers for quite a few weeks. Swiss chard continues to look great and our next planting of kale will be sizing up shortly. New last week, we saw collard greens become available. Escarole and dandelion greens will be harvested for several more weeks. We are still harvesting salad greens and heads of leaf lettuce should again become available in the next few weeks. Tomatillos are looking good and a small planting of ground cherries are starting to mature as well.
The seed house is still a flurry of activity as we finish up seeding for the season. Lots of lettuces, Asian greens and cooking greens being seeded and germinating. Fall crops are being planted in our fields, as well. Last week we direct seeded fall greens and radishes and today we planted rutabagas. Winter squash and pumpkins are looking good and with a bit of luck we will have a nice harvest this year.
In years past, I used to feature a crop each week and pass on recipes. I am thinking of bringing this tradition back for the next few weeks. This week I want to talk a bit about tomatillos. Tomatillos or husk tomatoes are a staple in salsa verde or green salsa. They are high in vitamin C and fiber and also provide dietary sources of potassium, magnesium and niacin. Tomatillos have a papery husk around the fruit. To use, peel the husk away and rinse the fruit. On farm, we add tomatillos, raw, to salads. One of Farmer Don's specialties, this time of the year, is pico de gallo, which he also adds tomatillos to. Tomatillos pair very well with pork. I would suggest getting the slow cooker out and making a pot of chili verde using a pork shoulder. I can't seem to find a weblink to my recipe, but here is a fairly straight forward recipe (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/slow-cooked-pork-chile-verde-53094411). Another farm favorite tomatillo recipe is Tomatillo Bread Salad. The addition of black beans to this salad makes it a meal for lunch or dinner. The recipe comes from a CSA farm in Arizona (http://www.tucsoncsa.org/2009/07/tomatillo-bread-salad/ ).
In our kitchen, in addition to using tomatillos, we have starting to binge eat tomatoes. Our kitchen table always has a bowl of cherry tomatoes for snacking and several large heirlooms ripening. As mentioned above Farmer Don keeps us supplied with fresh pico de gallo. Tonight for dinner we had a farm favorite -- BLT's. It is so nice to have our own lettuce, tomato and bacon! And the bread was locally made as well! This weekend, I am planning to make and can some tomato sauce. Hopefully this year I will also get some tomatoes canned and some ketchup made.
This past week we said good-bye to another of our summer interns. Jane will be heading a bit south to start her freshman year at Gettysburg College. Thanks Jane for all your help this summer! Good Luck at college, you will be missed on farm.
So, the hour is getting late. Farmer Don just came in from late night animal chores. I need to print this newsletter, allow him to read it and hopefully get it sent out either tonight or early tomorrow morning.
As always, thank you for your support of our small farm and sustainable agriculture. "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies".