Author Archives: Matt Gordon

Week 18

In this week’s share:

  • Basil
  • Lettuce (2 mini heads)
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Kale (Monday got “Rainbow Lacinato”, Thursday will probably get “Dazzling Blue Lacinato”)
  • “Sangre” Potato
  • Beets
  • Yellow Onion
  • Cucumber (Thursday may get summer squash instead)

Rain has arrived, and with it come changes on the farm and in the CSA share.  Late summer crops continue but cooler season and fall crops are coming on as well.  Sangre potatoes are very creamy baked or boiled.  There will be about 3 more distributions of other varieties of potatoes throughout the rest of the season.  Kale makes a return this week and it’s the first harvest off of our second planting of brassica braising greens (planted out in July).  Some variety of braising greens (collards, kale, chard, mustards) should be in each share from here on to the end of the share in mid-November.

We are mowing down the basil to give you the last of that for the season this week.  It doesn’t like rain or cooler weather very much so would probably decrease in quality very quickly after this wet week.  Green Romano Beans are on the u-pick list this week and will continue to be if they are still around next week.  Same goes for cherry tomatoes.  The cut flowers are still available for u-pick as well but often deteriorate quickly in cold wet weather so get your flowers while you can!

In other farm news, we finished the last of the direct seeding last week (spinach, mustards, and turnips), put the plastic side walls back on the hoophouse, and trimmed the stalks and roots off of the rest of the stored garlic.  Hope you all are enjoying the refreshing moist air as well as the slightly shifting produce mix.

Best, Farmer Matt & the Crew.

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Week 17

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I forgot to take a picture of the share Monday so this week’s update is late (sorry)! Here’s what’s in the Thursday share this week (Monday’s was slightly different):
* Kohlrabi
* Garlic
* Lettuce (Mini heads: “reef” and “little gem”)
* Celery
* Cucumbers
* Summer Squash
* Sweet Peppers
* Tomatoes
* Eggplant
In the take it or leave it bin there were some hot peppers and padron peppers.
The summer squash and cucumbers are probably on their last or next to last week here, right on schedule (according to the plan we made in the winter)!  So the share will be changing a bit as we head into fall.  We will still have a decent amount of peppers and a few tomatoes for a while, though eggplant may also be done.  The romano green beans will most likely be on the u-pick list next week.
This is the last of the celery for the season.  It was starting to get spongy and weird – hopefully I gave you mostly decent parts of the plant, but you may have to trim off bits.
Kohlrabi!  Remember how to eat it?  Just peel the skin, slice into matchsticks and dip in your favorite dip!  Yum!
As we head toward fall I thought I’d tell you about some of the different crops that will come into the share sooner or later from now until the end of the share.  We’ll have potatoes, winter squash, leeks, kale, collard greens, spinach, fennel, winter radishes, turnips, mustard greens, beets and parsnips.  Oh, and carrots!  Yes carrots will be back.  Our final planting of them is looking good so it should provide at least some orange sweetness for your fall eating pleasure.  I have definitely been a bit frustrated this year at not having more carrots to give out as I know it’s a favorite item.  We’ve had various issues with our carrot plantings, mostly weeds and spotty germination.  Carrots are one of the toughest crops to keep the weeds from getting the best of them.  At our farm our energies are scattered around caring for so many different crops and the carrots apparently were in a spot with high weed pressure, so many of them got really crazy weedy really fast, making it not worth the effort to try to salvage what little was there (though we did that too).  It’s definitely a lesson learned for the future: prioritize the carrots early on in their life, no matter what else is going on!
In other farmy news, in advance of this weekend’s oncoming rain, we decided to pull some of the winter squash out of the field and into storage.  Martin and Matthew made good use of Josh’s farm hand cart to make picking them up easy.
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As always, make sure you make use of the cookwithwhatyouhave.com recipe website as a good go-to for veggie recipe ideas, and let me know if you have any questions or comments on the CSA.
Happy end of summer to you!
– Matt

Week 16

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It was a smoky and ashy harvest day Tuesday from the forest fires to the east.  I never imagined we’d be harvesting in respirators, but the air was pretty intense so it definitely felt like the thing to do.  Ash covered everything outside but luckily it’s not a food safety issue.  Just make sure you wash all of the produce well this week.

  • Lettuce: “Nevada”
  • Tomatoes
  • Shallots
  • Beets
  • Summer Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant (Thursday will get romano beans instead)
  • Sweet Peppers

The shallots are the new item here.  They can be stored like onions (on the counter) as well as used in place of onions.  Expect the result to be a little richer, sweeter, and more complex.  Here are a few suggestions from “Bounty From the Box” by Mi Ae Lipe.

  • Crispy deep-fried shallots are a highly popular topping on noodles, stir-fries, rice, fish, and other Asian dishes.
  • Shallots have a natural reddish-pink coloring between their layers. If you marinate bits of shallot in a little rice vinegar or white wine vinegar, the color ascends to a beautiful magenta and will provide an electric accent to, say, blanched green beans or fresh peas.
  • It’s hard to beat the classic French vinaigrette, made with minced shallots, vinegar, mustard, oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Caramelized, roasted shallots are a sumptuous treat with meats, poultry, and potatoes, or as a luxurious side dish in their own right.
  • Chop shallots finely and use in a favorite tuna, egg, chicken, or potato salad.
  • Shallots make good company with fall and winter vegetables; try them braised or roasted with Brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots, rutabaga, and sweet potatoes.
  • Shallots make a wonderful sauté base instead of onions.
  • Try a thinly sliced shallot in your favorite salad. They are dynamite with fresh avocado and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • A twist on the Swedish smörgåsbord treat: a little finely chopped shallot atop pickled herring on slices of dark rye bread thickly spread with good butter.
  • Shallots are delicious in compound butters; mix with your favorite herbs.
  • For a dish that delights and surprises, make fried shallot rings rather than onion rings.
  • Instead of garlic mashed potatoes, substitute finely chopped, sautéed shallots for the garlic.
  • Roast whole shallots with potatoes and rosemary for a hearty, satisfying winter meal. Great with a little balsamic vinegar, too.

Josh’s photo of our morning captures the eery quiet orange-grey light.  Follow Josh on Instagram here: instagram.com/slowhandfarm

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Week 15

In this week’s share:

  • Not pictured: either Potatoes or Carrots (Monday got potatoes, Thursday will get potatoes or carrots)
  • Swiss Chard
  • Sweet peppers (current varieties: Jimmy Nardello, Gypsy Queen, Liebsapfel, Stocky Red Roaster)
  • Mini Head Lettuces
  • Onions
  • Summer squash / zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Basil
  • Tomatoes

The transition to late summer means more color, especially the reds and other bright colors of tomatoes and peppers.  The summer squash and cucumbers are still producing, but they are slowing down a little bit.  The eggplant may have hit its peak as well and start to reduce production a bit.  Basil is still going strong.  This week we are giving out a bunch of basil that includes fibrous stems, so you’ll need to pick the good tender leaves off yourself.  We have a really beautiful looking stand of summer-planted rainbow chard right now so we thought we’d put that out this week again as well.  Lettuce doesn’t love this summer heat, but being vigilant with the irrigation they are doing ok.  These mini heads actually look pretty nice this week.

Sweet peppers are yummy raw cut into salads, or try roasting them and then removing seeds and skin. What you’ll be left with is deliciously sweet, soft pepper flesh that’s easy to keep in the fridge or freeze in freezer bags for longer storage.  Roasted peppers can be used in stews, pasta sauce, salsas, and more.  Or just eat them on their own or with some olive oil and salt.

 

Notes from the field this week:  We pulled all of our onions out of the field yesterday and made long rows of them on the ground by variety to continue their curing process.  They will be probably flipped once after 5-7 days, allowed to cure some more, and then put into crates for storage in a cool dry location.  Here’s what the onion field looked like before pulling out the onions.  Note that the onion tops were all down.After getting the onions out of the field we covered that area with tarps and will be running drip irrigation under them to encourage the crop residue and weeds left in the field to break down for a few weeks.  Once the beds are cleaned up in this way, we will seed a cover crop into that area.  A few other areas have already had this tarp treatment and are ready for a cover crop sowing.  Right now it is too early to plant our standard cereal rye and vetch that is a great overwintering cover crop mix, so we are going to put in sudan grass (a summer cover crop) mixed with crimson clover.  The sudan grass will grow fast in the last bit of summer heat but die in a hard frost creating a thick mat of mulch to protect the soil through the winter, while the crimson clover survives the cold weather and will be able to take on a lot of biomass in the spring as the days get longer.

In other news Martin and Mark were able to put in supports for the peppers to keep them from falling over too much with the weight of their fruit.

Mark has been doing a summer term internship with us this year for his Clackamas Community College Organic Farming certificate program.  He has been an amazing contributor to the farm crew, and yesterday was his last day with us as the summer term is over this week.  He was specifically working on hoophouse and irrigation management, as well as recordkeeping and planning.  Thank you Mark for all your help, your attention to detail, and your curiosity!  Here’s Mark taking care of some weeds in the hoophouse:

Well I know I said the summer squash was slowing down a bit, but a few of those patty pan plants are doing the opposite.  Check out this cluster!

Week 14

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This week’s share features the return of the sweet onion!

  • Sweet Onions – “Ailsa Craig”
  • Collard Greens
  • Lettuce – “Samantha”
  • Parsley
  • Summer Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes – Slicers & Larger Heirlooms
  • Sweet Peppers

Summer is in full force still with good quantities of tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers and squash cruising into the packing shed.  Peppers are starting to ripen up as well.  Note that peppers with green on them will ripen into a fuller color if you leave them at room temperature for a few days.  The flavor improves with the color.  We pick them a little early because there is more chance of pest, disease, or rot issues if we let them get to full maturity on the plant.

Collards and kale don’t usually love the summer heat.  They tend to get tougher and less sweet.  However this summer I’ve been giving them extra water recently and the collards and some of the kale is coming back nicely.  Also, the variety of collards we’re growing (‘Yellow Cabbage Collards’) is actually supposed to reach peak flavor during late summer.  That would be now!  So I figured we should give it out in the share and see what everyone thinks.  My take was that they are pretty sweet raw right now, so hopefully that translates when cooked.

Josh recently brought one of his new farm hand carts to the farm to try out.  It’s super light and easily maneuverable.  One of the unique things about it is you can make different tops for it depending on what you want to do with it.  Here it is pictured with just a flat top – good for carrying bins of produce or tools.

Some folks have mentioned wanting to pickle the cucumbers in the share but not knowing where to start.  Here are a few options:

  • Cookwithwhatyouhave.com has a recipe for quick refrigerator pickles – click on “pickles” on the right hand tab once you’re logged in.
  • I love this site thekitchn.com and here is there take on easy refrigerator pickles –http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-refrigerator-pickles-83971
  • Bounty from  the Box Cookbook has this simple quick pickle recipe:

Barely Pickled Cucumbers

Makes about 3 cups

Author Note: Kids love these crisp, salty, slightly acid, and yet sweet cucumber slices, which make excellent refreshers on hot summer days. You can make this recipe with whatever ingredient proportions best tickle your taste buds.

  • Several large cucumbers
  • 3 parts water
  • 1 part white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Sugar, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Generous amount of fresh dill, slightly crushed
  1. Fill a large container that has a cover about half full of water. Add the vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper, and dill in the proportions desired (taste a few times to check acidity, sweetness, and saltiness).
  2. Wash and dry the cucumbers (peeling is optional). Slice the cucumbers as thinly as possible and add to the brine.
  3. Cover and refrigerate. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. These cucumbers taste better on the second day, and will keep for 3 to 5 days. As you use up the slices, you can add fresh cucumber to the brine.

Variation: For spicier cucumbers, add 2 or 3 slices of jalapeño pepper.

— Mi Ae Lipe, as appears in Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook, by Mi Ae Lipe

And if you’re feeling adventurous, here’s a recipe for Lacto-Fermented Pickled Vegetables:

http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-lactofermented-mixed-pickles-recipes-from-the-kitchn-194011

Week 13

Here’s a bright and sunny August share for you!

  • Sweet peppers! – Long skinny are “Jimmy Nardello” and the rounder one is “Liebsapfel.”  They will ripen/redden up more on your counter top.
  • Swiss Chard
  • Beets
  • Eggplant
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce – Romaine

Note that we will likely have bulk basil for pesto and bulk saucing tomatoes for sauce available for additional cost at CSA pickup.  Please let me know if you’d like any!  Complimentary U-pick items are still in effect: cherry tomatoes, cut flowers, and various herbs.

Our field of onions has started the process of curing in the field as you can see here.  The first thing that happens is that their tops fall over…

img_1650Then we cut off their irrigation to help them start drying and curing.  After a few weeks of that we pull them out of the ground (especially if the forecast calls for any significant rain) and put them somewhere dry with airflow and let them cure for a few more weeks.  After that, they can be cleaned up a bit and distributed!  We do have some more sweet onions that don’t store as well so those will go out into the shares first starting next week.  In back of the onions here you can see the leeks.  Leeks are super cold-tolerant and will stay in the ground all fall (and winter if there are any left after the CSA wraps up).  We will be waiting to distribute those until closer to the end of the share (October / November).

We planted out our last succession of lettuce in the field for fall harvest.  We have one more succession that will go into the hoop house in about 3 weeks for the last lettuces of the CSA season.  Martin and Sam did an amazing job hand weeding a bed of carrots yesterday that will also be for the fall.  It set my heart at ease to know that we will have this favorite crop this autumn.  I admit I was getting a bit worried!  There is still another 3/4 bed to get to, but seeing one done is quite satisfying.  I am grateful for the amazing crew of folks we have tending to the farm this year.  There are many, many other weeding priorities, some of which have gotten a bit away from us due to the massive focus on harvest, planting, and irrigation over the last few weeks.  But with this cooler weather I hope to get on top of most of them.

Enjoy this cooler week, and remember Monday pickup will be on Tuesday instead next week due to the eclipse!

Cheers, Farmer Matt & the CNF crew.

Week 12

In this week’s share:

  • Tomatoes! First of the season!
  • “Gypsy” pepper – at this stage it’s flavor is between a green pepper and a sweet pepper
  • Cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Eggplant
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Green Romano Beans
  • Summer Squash

I realize I neglected last week’s blog post – whoops!  The heat wave had me thinking only about irrigation apparently to the neglect of all other things!  The farm has survived the heat, not too worse for wear.  It may have negatively affected pollination of some of the fruiting crops (e.g. tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash…) but we won’t know that for a few weeks.  We may have a period in a few weeks when those crops have reduced production.

We’re giving out about 2 weeks worth of carrots this week because we had to go through the whole bed to not let the weeds completely take over.  They store well in the fridge in a plastic bag.  We’ll probably be waiting a few weeks for the next planting of carrots to size up.

Yes tomatoes are really here!  The slicers are called “Matina” and the large pinkish ones are an heirloom called “Pruden’s Purple.”  We have U-pick cherry tomatoes available starting now as well, in addition to the cut flowers and herbs.  Ask us where to find these items when you pick up.  I’ll be leaving paper bags (for cherry tomatoes), clippers, and rubber bands (for u-pick flowers & herbs) next to the sign-in sheet.  I’ll also mark the cherry tomato u-pick area with some yellow flags, so you can find them if we’re not there.

What else have we been up to?  Well, harvesting, washing, and sorting takes up most of our farm days now.  We did find a little bit of time to do a few other tasks today though.  We are saving seed from a selection of rainbow chard from last year and that seed is pretty mature, so we chopped those plants down and laid them out on some netting to get them out of the irrigation spray.  There they’lll dry a bit more before we attempt to clean the seed off the stalks.  Then the crew got into some serious carrot weeding.  Unfortunately our carrots seem to be planted in a very weedy area this year.  It has and continues to be a struggle trying to keep them reasonably unencumbered by crab grass and pigweed.  But we made a bit of headway on that today.  There is always an unending list of to-do’s on the farm, but these bountiful days we keep adding to that list without being able to check many things off except for the most necessary; harvest and distribute produce, and irrigation.

OK… A few pictures to end this post.  First, a view from the south side that some of you don’t see much because you come to pick up from the north.  On the right you can see the kale and collards, which really don’t like this heat.  It turns them tough and leathery.  We aren’t giving them out these days much because it’s just not their best season.  A few beds behind them we’ve planted more kale, collards, cabbage, and kohlrabi for the fall season.  They are babies right now, just a few inches tall.

Inside the hoophouse: on the left is a cover crop of sudan grass that is growing between our early spring crops and our late fall crops.  We will mow this down any day now, cover it with a tarp and leave it for 3-4 weeks before we prep that area for fall plantings.

Here is that heirloom tomato “Pruden’s Purple.”

The view from the “3 Sisters” area: Corn, beans, and winter squash are growing together.  In the alleyway here you see sudan grass cover crop coming up where the Walla Walla sweet onions used to be.

That’s it for now.  Have a great week!  Note that the Monday 8/21 pickup is being moved to Tuesday 8/22 due to the eclipse.

Happy eating, Farmer Matt & the CNF crew: Josh, Martin, Sam, Mark, Matthew