We’re Still Standing, Ya, Ya, Ya

There has been a hodge-podge of mixed veggies in the CSA Boxes recently. Some members received lettuce and escarole which we discovered growing in the weeds! Robert calls this year a Survivalist Garden. The beets are pretty much gone at this point. They never got very large, but one can do a lot with two or three pretty little beets!

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We do not see many eggplant on the first wave, the boxes will have them whenever possible. We do have hopes for the second and third waves of eggplant. The peppers are doing better in some areas of the garden than in others. We trust they will increase in September. We are starting to find a very few ripening tomatoes. Don’t expect many in the beginning! The plants are all staked up and looking good. A great deal of effort has been put into the tomatoes. Fingers crossed! We discovered these growing in the weeds!

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They are some of the largest melons we have ever grown! The excessive rainfalls can be thanked for this! We trust the sunshine has been sufficient to make them sweet. Use your own judgement as to when to eat them. The melons were weeded clean at one point and then Nature took over and we thought they were lost. The beets on the other hand were weeded many times and you know how they turned out. An interesting year to say the least, but we’re still standing and have not felt the need to close the CSA down! Thank you one and all for hanging in there with your CSA Farmers!

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Weeds have been getting a bad rap, so I want to post this photo of our “backyard.” Obviously, there has been no time to use the weed eater. The area is overgrown, but look at the beautiful, purple flowers on these weeds. The butterflies love them!

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On a housekeeping note:  We began the season with three (3) labeled boxes for each CSA Member. Presently, I have one (1) box on the shelf. I know some members do not even take the box from the pickup site. However, if you do and you are “hording” CSA Boxes, please return them! And if you have tossed them out, please stop by Ingles and locate clean boxes to replace them. It has become necessary for us to go into the “unlabeled box” part of the harvest season going forward. Thank you in advance for the boxes!

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Home Sweet Home

If one discounts the 19 inches of rain we got in the last two weeks of May and the nearly four inches we got last weekend, the harvest season has been great! In other words, 2018 has been a difficult year for WNC Farmers. Then again, farmers are always complaining about the weather. It goes with the territory when one works 100% in Mother Nature!

The last week in August I moved around the CSA Box deliveries so that I was able to make a trip with our grandson, son, and daughter-in-law to visit my parents at my “family farm of origin.” Robert stayed behind to harvest, weed, and monitor the gardens. He preferred this to a 1200 mile road trip with a five-year old! It was an EPIC TRIP with most all of the family able to be present. Still, there is nothing like Home Sweet Home.

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It takes a couple of weeks to see what an excessive rain will do to the plants. Some are starting to die off due to downy mildew, but we trust enough will survive to keep us in business! The cantaloupe and honey dew melons are getting larger, but really need some sunshine if they are to ripen to the desired sweetness. When you find them in your CSA Box, use your own judgement as to when they are ready to eat–thump them, sniff them, press your thumb into the rind–whatever is your method of choice to determine  ripeness. Here on the farm we have another tried and true test. We call it the VARMINT TASTE TEST–when the varmints start tasting, it is close to harvest time!

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CSA Boxes will continue to have potatoes (red this week), a few garden beets, small cabbages (the size “stressed plants” produce), some zucchini, patty pan squash, and whatever cucumbers are available (these plants were hard hit with the latest rains so I am using the ugly cukes, too).  We are taking a few green peppers and see an eggplant ready to harvest here and there, so there will be changes in the August Menu. And then surprises along the way are also a possibility!

I just had to snap a photo of the ONE gladiola flower which the rabbits DID NOT eat.

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I shall put this gladiola photo in the album with the ONE strawberry the chipmunks DID NOT eat.

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Wildlife critters. . . gotta love ’em!

 

We’re B-A-C-K

The garden growth is really picking up since last weekend when I posted the most recent Blog! The boxes this week have some real weight to them. I feel safe in saying, “We’re BACK!” The CSA Boxes contain Yukon Gold potatoes, onions, red garden beets, cabbage, some zucchini, and abundant amounts of cukes and patty pan squash.

The cabbages are quite small as they were stunted by the rain. Perhaps they next wave will be larger. Then again, many members may prefer a smaller head of cabbage.

Be sure to read about beets on the web site. If you have cooked them before, you know how badly they can stain. And the word for how they “stain” inside the body is called “Beeturia.” While you are on the above link, you can also learn about cucumbers. They are actually a fruit and not a vegetable! We lost the cauliflower, beans, okra, rutabaga, and melons in the rains, but we have high hopes for the rest of the vegetables you will see on this Vegetable Identification page.

 

 

Cukes, Squash, Repeat

A few words on patty pan squash. We are growing ten different varieties, so take a moment to appreciate the individual shapes, colors, and sizes. They basically taste pretty much the same and all have the same texture. The patty pans can easily be combined with the zucchini in dishes. The first fruit on any plant is always the largest and then they get a bit smaller the farther down they grow from the main stem.

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During the month of July, we are going a little Forrest Gump with the patty pan squash! You can have raw squash, steamed squash, stir-fried squash, sautéed squash, baked squash, fried squash, oven roasted squash, stuffed squash, grilled squash(for the larger ones).  Squash with zucchini, squash with onions, squash with Parmesan, squash with pasta, squash sandwiches, squash chips, squash chilaquiles, squash with tomatoes (not ours as they won’t be ready until August). Squash casserole, squash bread, squash soup, julienne squash, shredded squash, chopped squash, diced squash, whole squash (for the smaller ones—place on the side of a plate of spaghetti!) Squash with coconut, squash with EVOO, squash with butter, squash with Ghee, squash with pesto, squash on pizza, squash with shrimp, squash with chicken, squash with pork, squash with beef, squash with tofu.

In case you get “squashed out,” consider stuffing squash, baking them until fork tender, freezing them, and then popping them into freezer shrink-wrap bags. They will defrost in the oven and be just as delicious next winter!

Your July CSA Boxes will also contain potatoes. We are starting with the Yukon Golds because they seem to be the most mature. I have notes about “new potatoes” on the web site under “P” for “Potatoes.” Also, there will be green zucchini and yellow zucchini and even a random green and yellow zucchini.

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And cucumbers! We believe we grow the best cukes in the county! We think the soil and micro-climate have something to do with this and the specialty seeds which we plant. I won’t Forest Gump you with cucumbers, but do a Google Search and you will find many great salads available.

The garden beets are too small to harvest, but they look good at this time. Robert has spent hours weeding them so they can mature. (Note the weeds on either side of the beet row.)

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Weeds are the ONE THING that were not affected by the May rains! And weeds have taken over the farm. We have concentrated on saving those crops which we think will be able to grow to maturity! We have always prided ourselves on the great variety in our CSA Boxes, but this year too many crops have died, rotted, or gotten the blight or rust. Below is our third attempt at planting tomatoes! They are looking good, but will be late which should make them sweeter.

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We are pleased to have what we believe will be a bountiful supply of cukes, patty pan squash, zucchini, and potatoes. Hang in with us and in August they will be joined by sweet bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes.

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By September we will be adding sweet potatoes and a variety of winter squash—at least all of these crops are looking good at the moment. As long as a hurricane front does not settle over the gardens, we should be fine! Every year is different. Every year presents its own challenges!

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This photo enhancement is called “Sahara” which is rather appropriate considering the recent temperatures! The last plantings are on the left of this picture. Will they survive? One can only try and drip irrigate when it is not raining—at least we can control the irrigation amounts.

Mother Nature’s Terms

We are so excited to see the patty pan squash plants looking so healthy. There will be nice quantities in the next few boxes! The cucumbers are also starting to produce which is a true sign of summer. The eggplant and tomato plants look good, but they are still small and we are some time away from seeing any of them in the CSA Boxes.

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The last wave of tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers will be planted by the end of the weekend. You can see this area of plant starts in our driveway is getting smaller by the week. Up until now we have been both harvesting and planting on a daily basis, along with pulling weeds, of course! Robert says he is growing “roots” in his knees and palms. The grasses are just one of the weeds which flourish during rainy seasons.

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The green beans were planted much earlier than usual this year in hopes of getting them to maturity before the rust hit the plants. The earlier photo below shows the beans just starting to grow at the base of the fence. Unfortunately, the rains and subsequent heat damaged the plants. There will be a pitiful amount of green beans this season. However, the garden beets are looking very good! They are larger than in this photo (see the red stems), but still have a ways to go before making an appearance in the CSA Boxes. Where one crop fails, another succeeds! In 2017 we had beans and no beets. Looks as if 2018 will be the exact opposite!

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In your CSA Boxes next week look for the first small cabbage, cucumbers, onions, a mix of patty pan squash varieties, green and yellow zucchini (although these are much slower than the patty pans for some reason), perhaps some new potatoes, and the last of the lettuces early in the week. We are officially moving into the summer vegetables!

We feel blessed to have made it thus far without a forced break in veggie box deliveries. The simple fact is Mother Nature’s terms can be cruel. We are grateful for the nourishing food our gardens are providing this harvest season!

 

On the eighth day . . .

“And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.”–Paul Harvey

WNC Farmers are having a difficult year. We see the area tomato farmers have finally been able to get their tomatoes planted. I trust the two inches of rain we got last Tuesday was not too much for their tiny plants. It certainly did a number on our gravel road requiring Robert to dust off his road maintenance skills. We have observed that the wildlife seem to flourish no matter what the weather. The rabbits have finished off most of the gladiolas and are starting on my “miniature” zinnias!

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Meanwhile, our garden is looking good again! The number of summer squash (patty pans in ten varieties and shapes) and zucchini (both green and yellow) will be increasing this week. And it is possible there may be a cucumber here and there as they are starting to grow. This is the third planting attempt of cukes as the first two attempts were rained out. I told Robert I thought the cukes tasted different this season. He said, “It is because the plants are stressed!

Keep in mind that we need to know if you plan to leave town on vacation. We can happily prepare a box for you when you return (skipping over the day you are out of town). Or, we can harvest your box early if you want to take it with you. Please, just don’t forget to tell us!

In your box this Fourth of July week (yes, we deliver boxes on the fourth!) expect to find onions, kohlrabi, lettuce, escarole, endive, squash, zucchini, and perhaps new potatoes! (Read about Handling New Potatoes on this link). CSA Box contents are always subject to change, but this is our best guess as of today.

And Happy Fourth of July!

 

 

Just Eat IT

Last week I said there was escarole in the CSA Box. I was wrong. There were two kinds of endive, but no escarole. This week there will be escarole! I always say, “Chop it all up and make a salad.” Or, to go “Weird Al” Yankovic on you, “Just Eat IT!” However, I understand some CSA Members like to put a name on each veggie they eat, so perhaps this photo will help.

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The romaine is on the right and the escarole is on the left. Yes, OUR romaine is safe to eat! When you break the leaves off at the base, the romaine will be “crunchier” and the escarole will be “tougher.” And if you look closely, you will see that the romaine leaf edges are “smoother” and a darker green than the escarole which is “jagged” and a bit lighter in color. They are about the same in size–at least for now.

You will have two different varieties of endive again this week. The variety on the left is significantly larger in size, but has the same “jagged” leaves as the smaller variety on the right which we have grown in the past.

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In your veggie box this week look for green and purple kohlrabi, red lettuce, romaine,  two varieties of escarole, endive, onions, snow peas and the first zucchini and patty pan squash. Of course, on any given day, the contents could vary slightly due to harvest decisions.

There will be just a couple of the zucchini and squash to start, but we trust we will have you saying “UNCLE” by the end of the season! The zucchini come in green and yellow. The summer squash consist of ten varieties of patty pan squash. Also, we are growing some yellow straight-neck summer squash this summer; however, the rain did kill many of the straight-neck plants as they were in a low area. Like all veggies, squash and zucchini being slowly and grow to a crescendo.