CSA 2011 – Week 8: Crop Rotation and Irrigation 101

Last week’s discussion with John was so interesting that I decided to follow Joelene Jebbia, our Irrigation manager, around for an hour to learn more about what she does. She began similarly to John, socket wrench in hand out to fix a spigot in the circle garden’s irrigation riser. I spent most of this time just watching what she was doing, and gazing at the amazing array of tools she has in her truck. Once she changed the spigot, we headed out to a greenhouse thatrecently had a fall crop of potatoes planted in it. Joelene was setting up the drip irrigation in it since the seedlings had started to pop out of the ground. As she was busy doing her thing, I got to pick her brain about how she decides what gets planted where and how intensive irrigating all 50 acres really is.

She explained to me that she keeps a record of everything that we plant each year, how much of it, and when it is planted. This aids her in the winter when she plans out where everything is going to go. For next season, for example, it is good to know where brassicas (kale, cabbage, broccoli, etc.) were planted so that we do not plant onions in those places because they seem to do poorly in an area where brassicas once were. It is also important to not plant the same crop into the same ground consecutively. For example, if you plant arugula in one area, and the last of the planting got flea beetles, as it often does, and then you plant more arugula into that same soil, then that new crop will not thrive because there are already existing flea beetles in the soil that will eat it before it gets a chance to thrive.

As Joelene pulled the drip lines down the rows of potatoes, she elaborated that she also takes into consideration the micro-climates of each field. For example, how much sun the field gets, and what time of day it gets sun, compared to how much sun the potential crop likes. Thinking about whether the field is on high or low ground, therefore if it will be wet or just moist early in the season, is another huge factor.

Joelene explained that every year her plans get thrown off a little just by the weather patterns. For example, this year she planned to plant our onion crop just west of the compost piles, but when it was time to plant, the ground was way too wet to plant into. So, she shifted the plan slightly and it will work out. When deciding where everything gets planted, she also thinks about ease of watering, her other main task at the farm. She has to make sure that she will be able to access all of the crops with either overhead or drip irrigation and make it logistically workable for her.

Irrigation takes up a lot of her time year round, and most intensively this time of year. We grow crops in 31 different hoop houses that need to be watered on top of our outdoor crops. For the outdoor crop irrigation, Joelene and Sarah will start laying pipes down in April and continue through June until all the fields are set. Of course, there are a lot of repairs on pumps, drip lines, and pipes that go along with this.

This time of year is the busiest for keeping up with all of the watering, and outdoor watering will usually continue well into October depending on the season. The variability of the weather patterns plays a huge role in all of this, and working with mother nature seems to be your best bet. The potato house was all set up for watering, 2 of 4 that would get done today. After she placed her tools back in their locations, she drove to the tractor where she would begin her next task.

What’s in the box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Rose Gold) – Steam, roast, or mash. These are versatile.
Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
1 bunch Walla Walla onions – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. Try them grilled! The top green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries or pasta.
1 bunch chard– steam, or sauté these greens, much like spinach but not quite as tender.
1 purple pepper– It is wonderful grilled, sautéed, roasted, or raw.
Assorted Summer squash – Try them sautéed, grilled, in a soup or stir fried. Try hollowing out and stuffing the round ones with a grain mixture, goes well with cheese, meat, mushrooms, then bake or grill them for 15-20 minutes.
1 cucumber – Eat raw, on salad, or marinate them.
1 radicchio– They are wonderful grilled and topped with balsamic vinegar.
1 bunch cilantro– Make salsa with the tomatoes! Eat with cucumbers or squash.
Romaine lettuce – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches.
2 tomatoes – Chop raw on salad, sandwiches, or make salsa with cilantro and onions.
1 pint blueberries – I would be surprised if these made it home!

Stuffed Squash
4-5 assorted summer squash
3-4 small-medium Walla Walla onions, chopped
3/4 cup nuts, (almonds work best) ground
1 cup cooked brown rice, quinoa, or bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated cheese, (your choice, Swiss, cheddar or parmesan work well)
2 eggs
2 cloves finely minced garlic
Salt and pepper

For Zucchini, cut ends off and cut them in half long ways and scoop out the inside and set aside. For the rounded squash (patty pans or 8-ball) cut the first inch top off and scoop the inside out. Sauté the onions in olive oil, chop the squash flesh and squeeze any water out. Add this to the onions and cook a little longer. Beat the eggs and add to the nuts, rice (or grain of some sort), cheese, garlic, pinch of salt If the mixture is too runny add more of the grain. Stuff the squash with the mixture and bake in a slightly oiled pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Variation: add other spices if you would like, cilantro would go nicely, or even add some chopped tomato or chard.

Radicchio Salad
1 head of radicchio finely shredded
2 oranges, peeled and divided into sections
3 baby onions, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Dressing:
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Touch of sugar or honey

Place onions on an oiled cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake at 300 degrees for several hours, until onions are dried out and brown. Mix radicchio with dressing and top with orange wedges and onion slices.
Variations: Add cucumber, grated carrots or peppers to this salad. Also, chop your head of lettuce and mix it in with the radicchio for a larger size salad for more people.

 

CSA 2011 – Week 7: Soil Fertility and Cover Crops

I had the pleasure of following Farmer John around the barnyard this morning to get some knowledge of our soil fertility tactics here at GTF. We first discussed cover crops. John says that cover crops work well for farms that have long rotations, or space that they do not need to plant anything into for up to 6 months. In the traditional cover cropping system you let the crop go for awhile, sometimes until as much as 6 feet high. Then, you would disc it down and let the green material break down for another 6-8 weeks before it’s ready to plant in.

We have a bit more of an intensive rotational system because most of the land we farm is planted almost all year round without much of a break, since we over winter quite a bit of crops. We do however have some parcels of ground clear of food crops in the winter that we will utilize cover crops in. When we use cover crops we usually plant field peas, vetch, and rye. Our cover crop system is a little bit more modified than other farms. We will let them grow until just before we need to use the parcel to plant in, and then we use a forage chopper to truck away the greenery as one of our compost feed stocks. We can then plow, disc, and prepare the land to be ready to plant in the next day. This saves us the 6-8 weeks of waiting for the plants to break down in the field. In our case the cover still serves the purpose of holding the soil from eroding in the winter rains as well as keeping the micro-organisms healthy and happily eating away.

As I followed John around to assess a manure spreader that went out of commission last night, he explained that we will use this tactic especially in fields where we will be planting later summer crops such as melons. There is a point in the fall, towards the end of October, that it gets too late to plant a cover crop. If we don’t plant early enough the cover crop will not have a developed root system, and we will end up with an insignificant crop that will not hold the soil or build it. If we don’t plant anything into an empty field, winter weeds can serve the same purpose; or in fact chickweed, which grows in plenty around here, makes a great winter cover.

As John got out from under the manure spreader, diagnosed the problem, and then made a phone call to our loyal mechanic, he added that we tend to rely more on compost than cover cropping. Our compost is a stable addition to the soil. We do two main types of compost: your basic compost and composted chicken manure. The chicken manure compost along with a fish fertilizer that we run through our irrigation are our two main fertilization tactics for crops that need more nitrogen to thrive. We also apply gypsum to all of our fields since our soil is low in calcium. The good thing about gypsum is it doesn’t change the pH of the soil either, which is another important factor. As I wrapped up brain-picking with John this morning, socket wrench still in hand, I was just amazed with the amount of interesting information I had learned. Maybe I should do this more often!

Lisa Hargest
CSA coordinator


What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (purple viking) – See below.
Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
1 bunch baby Walla Walla onions – chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. Try them grilled! The top green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries or pasta.
1 bunch beets – They are great boiled, roasted, or even grated raw and dressed. Eat the greens too; they are great sautéed with olive oil and salt.
1 green pepper– It is wonderful grilled, sautéed, roasted, or raw.
Summer squash (1lb) – Try them sautéed, grilled, in a soup or stir fried.
2 cucumbers – Eat raw, on salad, or marinate them.
1 bunch parsley – Chop it raw as an addition to a sauté, use in pesto with or without basil. See recipe.
1 bunch basil – Make pesto! Eat with tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and salt.
Romaine lettuce – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches.
2 tomatoes – Chop raw on salad, eat plain like an apple!
1 pint of strawberries

On Purple Viking Potatoes
These purple Viking potatoes were freshly harvested this week. The skins are sensitive and have not hardened yet. These potatoes are a bit more starchy, but do well baked or boiled. I would mash them up with some butter and salt. If you wanted to try something different you could boil them whole, then chop and add some balsamic vinegar, mustard and salt while still warm. They are also quite tasty roasted with the usual rosemary, salt and olive oil.

Tabouli
1/2 cup bulgar
1 bunch parsley, chopped finely
1 bunch baby onions, chopped, greens and all
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, julienned (optional)
1/4 cup or more lemon juice
1/4 cup or more extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: chick peas, cucumbers, a pepper

Boil 3/4 cups water, add to bulgar and cover. Let sit for 15-20 minutes, or until bulgar is tender. Add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place in
refrigerator. Add the rest of the ingredients about 30 minutes before serving. Serve cold.

Raw Beet Salad
1 bunch beets, greens chopped off and beets grated
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons honey, maple syrup or sugar

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and season to taste. This is a very simple salad. It goes great on any green salad.
Variations: add grated carrots or chopped parsley to switch it up.

CSA 2011 – Week 6: Water, Water Everywhere…

In the Willamette Valley, most of the time we are spoiled with beautiful, warm, and dry summers. That is really most of the allure of living here. The summers are phenomenal; they warm your soul up enough to last the six rainy months of the year. This past weekend was not the summer that I know. It is interesting to think about how the rain really affects all of the vegetables in the fields. It doesn’t affect them all in a negative way, as it does my personal vitamin D level.

One vegetable that is affected in a negative way is garlic. Our garlic that is trying to dry has a hard time drying in rain, even if it’s covered or under a tarp. The moisture in the air and ground can easily seep its way into that freshly harvested garlic. Luckily the crew is on top of making sure the garlic is covered before rains, but like I said that doesn’t always keep it dry. The tomatoes are not so fond of downpours either. Of course they need water to grow well, but when it pours and then warms up that causes the skins of tomatoes to split. This type of occurrence has the same effect on cherries as well. Some crops thrive in cool rain, for example potatoes and most brassicas (such as kale and cabbage). Lucky for us we grow such a variety of crops that when one crop has a difficult season, there is another crop booming. I guess this goes along with the saying,…

…‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket.’

*CSA Tour and Tasting: Sunday August 28th 2-5pm *
Join us for a farm tour, melon and tomato tasting!

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Nicola and fingerling) – These are best steamed, fried, or boiled.
Purple Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or stir fried.
1 bunch baby Walla Walla onions – chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. The top green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries, or pasta.
1 red cabbage – make slaw, braise it, or use it in a stir fry
2 Leeks – They go great with eggs in a scramble, omelet, in soup, or stir fried.
1 pint sugar snap peas – Eat them raw or do a quick sauté with olive oil and salt.
Summer squash (1lb) – Try them sautéed, grilled, grated raw, soup or stir fried.
Red or Green Leaf lettuce – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches.
2 cucumbers – Eat raw, on salad, or marinate them.
1 bunch dill – Yummy addition to potato salad, cucumber salad, or slaw!
1 Siletz tomato – Chop raw on salad, eat plain like an apple!
1 pint of cherries – picked from the trees down the road at Fritz and Beverley Lonsway’s house.

Recipes:

Stir-fried Sugar Snap Peas

1 pint sugar snap peas, ends and strings removed
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch baby Walla Walla onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Stir fry onions and peas in olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add sesame seeds and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the toasted sesame oil. Season to taste.

Vegetable Leek Medley

2 medium leeks
2 summer squash
2 carrots
4 Tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut top and root end off the leeks and set aside. Cut the leeks in half length wise and chop into 1/4 inch size slices. Rinse the chopped leeks and set aside. Finely chop carrots and zucchini. Sauté carrots and leeks in butter. When they are almost cooked all the way through (5-10 minutes) add the zucchini and cook for another 2 minutes. Season to taste.

Zucchini Cakes

4 cups grated zucchini
1 Tablespoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups bread crumbs
Sea salt and pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mix zucchini with salt and let stand 1/2 hour. Rinse well with water and squeeze dry in a tea towel. Mix with eggs, onion, bread crumbs, cheese, and cayenne pepper and season to taste. Form into cakes and sauté a few at a time in butter and olive oil.
Variations: You could add chopped or roasted garlic, sautéed leeks, shredded carrots, chopped onion tops, or even dill to this recipe!

CSA 2011 – Week 5: Oh the Places Veggies Go

Yesterday morning was a lovely day in the lettuce field. We had over 500 heads of lettuce to pick, but it was Monday, my personal favorite day, and we were all ready to go. Claudia picked a wonderful head of off-type ‘cardinal’ crisp leaf lettuce that was huge and beautiful. It looked as if an artist had come to paint the shadows of red illuminating over the green heart of it right into the soil in which its roots sprang. Later on in the morning we got into a discussion about all of the possibilities of where the produce could go. When I really get to thinking about it, the options seem endless. Just take a head of romaine lettuce for example. Each week we send romaine lettuce to the eight different weekly markets.

So, this lettuce has the possibility of being eaten by people from Portland all the way down the Willamette Valley and out to Newport. We’ve also been selling lettuce to various restaurants and stores in the area. These may then go to other families, probably within the same areas as the markets. There are also some weeks where a head of romaine lettuce ends up in the CSA boxes – that’s 340 different households! That romaine will then get eaten by folks from the Portland vicinity to Newport, Yachats and back out to Corvallis.

What happens when these CSA members have visitors in town to share the produce with? Then the lettuce may get eaten by someone visiting from a different state or even country. There is always the chance that the lettuce won’t get eaten by a person. A head or two could end up not selling and may be too wilted to save. In this case we would compost it, feed it to Joelene’s chickens, or the neighbor’s pigs. These amazing animals will then turn the lettuce into fertilization and the whole cycle starts over again with compost, soil, a seed, sunshine, and water. That’s just romaine lettuce. Imagine where all the other veggies could end up: carrots, garlic, potatoes, oh my! It seems no matter where they go, something or someone enjoys them, whether it be a family, an employee, a customer, an earthworm, or a pig. That is what makes picking lettuce so fun.

Oh the places they go, the smiles they make!

Farmer of the Week: Kim Lamont
What is your job here at GTF? Farm Stand Manager
When did you start working at GTF? In 1988, I started cleaning garlic for John and Sally; we met at an organic gardening club meeting.
What do you do in your spare time? Play with my grandbaby, Luca, who grew on GTF food!
What would you be doing if you weren’t here?
Making yaro tincture, or picking red clover.
If you were a vegetable what would you be and why? A beet because they’re earthy, cleansing, and sweet at the same time!

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Nicola) – These are best steamed or fried.
Carrots, Bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw, or stir-fried.
1 Bunch Baby Onions – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. The top
green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries or pasta.
1 Bunch Chioggia Beets – You can grate the beets raw on salad or slaw, boil or roast them in water, then peel and eat with greens or on salad. Eat the greens! (see recipe)
1 Pint Sugar Snap Peas – Eat them raw or do a quick sauté with olive oil and salt.
1 Fennel– The bulb is the most desirable part, chop it, and stir fry it or make a raw
salad with it. You can use the whole thing with experimenting – the stalk can be
stringy. (see recipe)
Summer Squash (1lb) – Try them sautéed, grilled, grated raw, soup or stir-fried.
Assorted Lettuce (green or red leaf, green butter, or green oak) – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches.
3 Cucumbers – Eat raw, on salad, or marinate them.
1 Garlic Head – Add it to stir fries, roast whole.
1 Siletz Tomato – Chop raw on salad, eat plain like an apple!
1 pint of Cherries

Recipes:

Marinated Beets

  • Cut the beets off of the greens.
  • Set the greens aside; save and use them by sautéeing or steaming.
  • Boil the beets in salted water for about 30 minutes or until a knife can slide through a beet easily.
  • Strain and let the beets cool until they are cool enough to handle. Peel the skins, they will slide right off.
  • Chop beets into pieces and add extra virgin olive oil, rice wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, honey or maple syrup.
  • Use these as a topping for a salad; they go great with blue or goat cheeses.
  • You can even sauté the beet greens and then add the marinated beets at the very end.

Potato-Fennel Soup (from Moosewood)

1 Tbs. butter or olive oil
1-2 thinly sliced onions
2 tsp. salt
4 medium potatoes (1 lb), chopped
1 cup minced fennel bulb
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
4 cups water or stock
3 cloves garlic, minced
Optional toppings:
Sour cream, or fennel fronds, minced

  • Melt the butter or heat olive oil in large soup pot.
  • Add onions and 1 tsp salt.
  • Cook over medium-low heat, stirring 15-20 minutes or until the onions are very soft and light brown.
  • Add the potatoes, garlic, another pinch of salt, minced fennel bulb, and the caraway seeds.
  • Sauté over medium heat for another 5 minutes, then add the water or stock.
  • Bring to a boil, partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender (10-15 minutes).
  • Season to taste

CSA 2011 – Week 4: More than Just Farming

When you think about farms and farming, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me six years ago, it was fields of plenty, chickens, cows – you know the picturesque version of Old McDonald. Since I began working on farms four years ago, my vision is a little different. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it; I love getting up at the crack of dawn to go pick lettuce, or getting to feel the warmth of the morning sun while washing potatoes. However, farmers, small and large, have to deal with regulations, certifications and logistics constantly, probably just as much as any other business if not more.

One of these logistics is our basic organic certification. Oregon Tilth visits us every year in order for us to hold our organic standing. We have to list everything we grow and everything we use in growing our vegetables. We are also in the process of being certified by the AJP (Agricultural Justice Project). AJP is mostly all about treating employees fairly, similar to a fair trade certification. We completed the process for AJP, and we expect to be certified soon. OGC (Organically Grown Company) is going to be requiring all of their produce providers to have the AJP certification by 2012. This is a must for us, since we sell them quite a bit of overflow produce throughout the year. The ODA (Oregon Department of Agriculture) also pays us a visit just about every year, but mainly to inspect our on-site kitchen.

Last week, we had a surprise visit from an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) inspector. OSHA mainly ensures worker safety, and this inspection went pretty well, but it reminded us that being safe in a work place, especially a place with a lot of equipment, is key. This is just one of many hurdles that any organic farm that wants to function as a business must deal with. On top of worrying about seeding, transplanting, prepping ground, composting, harvesting , weeding, washing, and conducting all eight weekly markets, we have these certifications and inspections annually.

Overall, these certifications are positive because they are made to ensure proper treating of the land and workers, a type of check and balance. However, it makes one realize that in order to make a business out of farming, there are a lot of little details to work out and make note of. At the end of the day, it all seems worth it when you get to settle into a lovely bowl of salad greens, cucumber salad and grilled zucchinis. I will be dreaming of August heat and melons and forget all about the acronyms until they come knocking next year.

Lisa Hargest
CSA coordinator

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Colorado Rose Potatoes – These are best steamed or fried
Carrots, bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw or even stir fried.
1 bunch Baby Onions – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. The top green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries or pasta.
1 Cabbage – Make slaw! I like my slaw with a oil and vinegar dressing
1 pint Snow Peas – Eat them raw or do a quick sauté with butter or olive oil and salt.
1 bunch of Basil – Make pesto, add to pasta dishes, salads, or even sandwiches. See recipe.
Assorted Summer Squash (1lb) – Try them sautéed, grilled, grated raw, soup or stir fried.
Romaine Lettuce – Great for salads or on sandwiches, Romaine is the traditional Caesar salad lettuce. See recipe.

 

Recipes:

  • Basic Basil Pesto
    1 bunch of basil, leaves removed
    3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
    2 Tablespoons chopped nuts (almonds or pine nuts work best)
    2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
    Juice of 1 lemon
    Pinch of salt
  • Combine olive oil and garlic in a blender or food processor, blend for 1 minute, or until garlic is fine.
  • Add basil leaves and nuts, pulse until the basil is as fine as you would like it. Add lemon juice and cheese and pulse a but more.
  • Salt to taste.

You can do this by hand if you don’t have a blender or food processor, by hand chopping everything and mixing. Note, you don’t have to use the lemon juice if you don’t wish to, but it does keep the pesto from turning brown on top.
Use Basil Pesto as a topping for roasted or steamed potatoes, or a dip for carrots, cucumbers or peas.

  • Dan the Man’s cucumber salad
    3 thinly sliced cucumbers
    1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
    2 Tablespoons sesame oil
    2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon maple syrup/ or honey
    Pinch of salt
  • Combine all the ingredients and let marinate for 30 minutes before eating.

    Variations:
    Add chopped baby onions or onion tops.
    Add snow peas, chopped cabbage or shredded carrots to make a more slaw-like dish.

Caesar Salad Dressing:
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, chopped
Pinch of black pepper to taste

Use this dressing on Chopped Romaine lettuce for a lovely Caesar salad. Add parmesan cheese or home-made croutons out of leftover bread on top.

Grilled Caesar Variation:  Try cutting the head of romaine into quarters and brushing with olive oil and grill about 1-2 minutes on either side. Take off the grill, chop or keep whole and dress the salad, serve warm right away.