Posts Tagged ‘onions’

As we’ve been growing the farm this year, we’ve been getting the Hale Ranch in Potter Valley into full production. What goes really well with all the fresh leafy green vegetables, lamb, pork, and chicken we already grow and raise? We think lots of onions, potatoes and beans are good crops to grow. Not only do people like to eat them, but they are storable. Plus, we can partly mechanize their production.

Our potato field in Potter Valley.

A potato plant.

This year, we planted all the potatoes by hand, but next year, we hope to use a two-row transplanter. Our friend in Covelo is going to give it to us since he does not grow a lot of potatoes. As in past years, we bought certified potato seed from Colorado, putting in an order together with Sanhedrin Nursery, Live Power Community Farm, and Inland Ranch. For harvest in July or August, we will be using a potato digger, given to us by a fellow in Willits. It is for use by draft horses, but we’ll be hooking it up to the tractor.

We also finally finished transplanting onions and shallots earlier this month. We have about 11 beds of onions and 2 of shallots, for about 1/5 of an acre. They have really been enjoying the cool weather.

.2 acre of onions and shallots

This week, we plan on planting garbanzo, kidney, and heirloom pinto beans at the Hale Ranch. Some of the seed we bought ourselves, and some were purchased by Doug with the Mendocino Grain Project. We will grow the crops – seeding, weeding, irrigating, etc. – and Doug will harvest and clean it with his equipment. We are hoping the season will continue to bless us with great growing weather!


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  • Skyphos Butter Lettuce
  • Ripbor or Red Russian Kale
  • Perfection Fennel or Hon Tsai Tai
  • Tyee or Tarpy Spinach
   Welcome back to the “winter” vegetable CSA. We hope everyone is enjoying the spring greens that were missed over the rainy winter. The spinach – two varieties called Tarpy and Tyee – are rapidly maturing in this warm weather, so expect to see quite a bit more in the next couple weeks. To keep your greens fresh for a few days in the refrigerator, we recommend you wrap them in damp dishtowels. This will keep them a tad moist, just like the misters in the produce case do at the grocery store.

One section of the Coyote Field is planted with brassicas (cabbage family crops).

The first planting of broccoli is just barely starting to go to head (flower), so expect some later this month. We are growing a lot of cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage at Heart Arrow Ranch and in Potter Valley. This past week alone, the kales have really taken off. Our chard is still quite small, but you can still expect some before the end of the CSA. Also, the beets have amazing greens and the roots should be sizing up this month. So, there’s a lot to look forward to. This week, it’s all greens, and we will have more harvests of arugula and radishes in the weeks ahead.

Here we are transplanting onions in Potter Valley

This week, the change to warm weather was marked by moving our sheep from the rangeland at Heart Arrow to irrigated bottomland in Potter Valley. We have them munching down the grass in a field where we plan to grow about 4 acres of melons and winter squash. The “natural lawn mowers” are quite happy helping us to remove all the organic matter so we can plant there on time.

Eat well,

Adam & Paula

A view of the sheep enjoying the rangeland at Heart Arrow Ranch a few days before moving to pasture in Potter Valley.

Spring Butter Lettuce & Parsley Soup

Adapted from, 5/12/10

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 big head of butter lettuce, cored, washed and dried
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 cup, loosely packed, Italian parsley leaves
  • 4 cups homemade chicken broth or stock, hot
  • 4 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh snipped chives
  1. Heat olive oil in a medium soup pot set over medium-low heat, add the onion and sauté until soft (about 15 min.) Stack the lettuce leaves and cut them into ¼-inch wide slices.
  2. Add the cut lettuce to the cooked onions and stir gently until the lettuce wilts (about 2 min.). Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley and pour in the chicken stock.
  3. Increase the heat to high and when the stock boils, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 4 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and cool just slightly. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup thoroughly. If the soup seems too thick, add water to reach your preferred consistency. Taste and correct for salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle into soup plates and top each portion with a spoonful of yogurt, if using, and a sprinkling of herbs. Serve immediately.

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Newsletter 3.3


Royal Acorn Squash
Delicata Squash
Braising Greens


Thanks to Covelo Organic, we have LOTS more carrots. We hope this will sustain your vitamin A needs over the holiday. Remember – no CSA shares Saturday, December 25 or Tuesday, December 28. It’s Christmas and Adam’s birthday, respectively! We have more little storage onions, which are perfect for dishes not requiring loads of onion.

Thursday morning, we had frost – a rarity – at Heart Arrow Ranch, but the row cover on our greens protected the crops. While the morning remained densely foggy in Redwood Valley, the sun was shining on Laughlin Ridge. It was still chilly for the two newborn lambs, though. In the past week, six of our ewes have given birth to eight healthy lambs.

twin lambs born last Saturday

The barley crop at the south end of Ukiah is growing fine, and our Berkshire pigs are gobbling up food so quickly that we will have to grind batches of their feed – last year’s grain crop – more frequently. We still have CSA Berk Shares (organic pork CSA shares) available until January 1. Let us know if you want to learn more about them.

We’re also working on permanent fencing for our beef cattle and sheep. Our bull escaped a few weeks ago and ate all the dino kale in the Pond Field, so this winter, we are taking on the expensive but necessary task of fencing. With Golden Vineyards’ help, we are putting up more fencing a bit at a time.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Eat well,
Adam and Paula

Braised Mixed Greens

Adapted from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen


1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for finishing
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, 1 slivered, 1 halved
A few leaves or a few handfuls of sorrel or a
handful of chopped cilantro and parsley
Salt and pepper
1 ½ cups cooked beans
3 to 4 slices chewy bread
Shaved parmesan or crumbled gorgonzola


1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat. Add the slivered garlic after the onion starts to soften. Cook for another minue, and add the greens and herbs. Season with salt.
2. As the greens cook down, turn them in the pan. Once they’ve collapsed, add ½ cup water or bean broth, lower the heat and cook until tender. Just make sure there is some liquid in the pan for sauce. When the greens are done, add the beans, heat them through, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Toast the bread and rub it with the halved garlic. Arrange on plates and spoon on the greens and beans. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with cheese.

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We have diligently been seeding spring vegetable crops in our new greenhouse. For continual harvest through the spring, we seed a number of each vegetable every week or 2 weeks. Look at how well they are starting!

The Siskyou sweet onions have just started to pop through the soil.

This is one of several varieties of lettuce we are growing.

On this table we have basil, various brassicas, and beets (not yet germinating).

These seed potatoes are being allowed to sprout a bit before we plant them.

Here are more brassicas and chicory.

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This month has been the first full month of full-on winter vegetable planting. It’s kind of neat to see where we were with the winter CSA last July. In some ways, we are ahead this year, and in others we are behind. We know what has to get done when, but as last year, the dearth of sign-ups, and more important – money – has been an obstacle.

Despite the heat and lack of financing, we are busy bees on the farm. We had a handful of folks keep the CSA afloat so far such that we’ve been able to purchase seeds & some irrigation parts, and to pay our bills.

Some of the garlic we harvested earlier this summer for the winter CSA. It tastes as great as it looks!

Some of the garlic we harvested earlier this summer for the winter CSA. It tastes as great as it looks!

The winter squash & pumpkin field right after laying the irrigation drip lines and right before planting.

The winter squash & pumpkin field right after laying the irrigation drip lines and right before planting.

We saved a lot of onion seeds. The flower heads of old spring onions are finally drying out, and we are able to gather that seed.

We saved a lot of onion seeds. The flower heads of old spring onions are finally drying out, and we are able to gather that seed.

We cleared out spring vegetables by hand. Then with shovel, wheelbarrow, and hoe, we top-dress the beds with compost, incorporate it into the top soil, and flatten the surface of the bed. Ready for planting!

We cleared out spring vegetables by hand. Then with shovel, wheelbarrow, and hoe, we top-dress the beds with compost, incorporate it into the top soil, and flatten the surface of the bed. Ready for planting!

To keep the newly planted carrot seeds moist (and to help germination), we cover the watered beds with soaking burlap. We have to make sure the beds remain moist.

To keep the newly planted carrot seeds moist (and to help germination), we cover the watered beds with soaking burlap. We have to make sure the beds remain moist.

Back at the squash field, this Waltham Butternut plant is growing happily.

Back at the squash field, this Waltham Butternut plant is growing happily.

So this is what winter vegetable growing looks like. This is what local food and eating with the seasons look like. For us to keep growing winter vegetables, we really need folks to sign up! If you have questions or concerns about joining the winter CSA, we are more than happy to talk (or email) with you.


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Alien Onions

that’s what the rossa di milano onions look like – alien antennae or planets. in a cute and fuzzy way. we’re saving their seed. to spawn more alien alliums.





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April 11, 2009


Scarlet Nantes Carrots
Red Ace & Bull’s Blood Beets
Ruby Ring Spring Onions
Lincoln Leeks
Fiero Radicchio
Various Lettuce
Italian Dandelion or Frisee Endive


This week brought us a few chilly days, but the rain was quite welcome. We haven’t had any frost issues up at Heart Arrow, although it has been important that we shut the greenhouse doors at night to keep our tomato starts warm and happy.

Before the first rain came, Adam did a lot of mowing at the Potter Valley property. We’ll probably refer to that piece of land as the Hale Ranch. A lot of our spring seedlings are ready to get into that ground, so when it is drier, we will be spreading compost and cultivating as soon as possible. The grapes at Heart Arrow are starting to bud, so we moved the sheep out of the vineyard and into the surrounding grassy areas to pasture. Moving the sheep is always an adventure or challenge; they are not the brightest animals. Two ewes had lambs this week – a single and twins. The sheep pretty much lamb all year round. We also put our four angora goats to pasture in a very green part of the garden, where the grass is super tall. It’s food for them and grass mowing for us.

Also, our first batch of 200 broiler chicks came in the mail from Iowa today! In case there was any question about food safety and using poultry manure as fertilizer, as a general rule, you do not harvest produce from that fertilized ground until after 120 days (4 months) of application. That is the USDA National Organic Program Standard, as well as what several university cooperative extension services recommend. So, we are going by that rule. The grass will uptake much of the nutrients, so there definitely will not be any danger of nutrient runoff if we get a fluke rain either. At this point, we are planning on planting the potatoes in that part of the garden; potatoes require a lot of nitrogen.

The broccoli and cauliflower we have left has not come to head yet, but they should do so soon before the end of the month. The fiero radicchio has finally matured to a good size – another chicory for your basket! They are so good for you. Unfortunately, the indigo radicchio was unexpectedly munched by Peter Rabbit or his friend a while ago, and it never recovered.

Blessed Pesach and Easter!
Adam Gaska and Paula Manalo


onion starts. These storage onions will go in your CSA baskets in December.


A Friday New York Times op-ed piece entitles “Free-Ranch Trichinosis” by James E. McWilliams, made me mad. Here’s a history professor at an ag college in Texas telling us that free-range pigs have more trichinosis than factory farmed pigs. What does he know? I wondered. What would Google reveal about this guy? Turns out he’s a flak for a PR firm “enviromedia: social marketing.” Couldn’t the New York Times have Googled this guy before printing his PR message for factory farming? Does the Times care?

Slate, the online journal, published another McWilliams piece about organic topsoil containing toxic metals. Apparently the evidence was slim, as even he admitted in the middle of the third paragraph: “Still, some evidence indicates that organic soil can, in some cases, be more contaminated.” Whew – wonder what he got paid for that weighty analysis?

What does all this mean? I think it means that small-scale organic agriculture is scaring big ag enough to make them hire PR flaks to turn out propaganda disguised as reporting.

What should we do? Buy our food from local farmers who share with us their farming methods. That’s what the CSA is all about. Thanks, Adam and Paula!

Janie Sheppard

broiler chicks

broiler chicks

Radicchio and Parmesan Omelets for Two

(A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen: easy Seasonal Dishes for Family and Friends, by Jack Bishop)


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small head radicchio, halved, cored, and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. When the foaming subsides, add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the radicchio and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the radicchio into two piles on a small plate. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel.
  2. Beat 3 of the eggs with a fork in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Repeat with the remaining 3 eggs in a separate bowl.
  3. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the remaining butter in the cleaned skillet over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, pour in the eggs from one bowl. Cook until the edges begin to set, about 15 seconds. With a spatula, pull the cooked edges in toward the center of the pan, then tilt the pan so the raw eggs can run underneath. Repeat until the omelet is just set, about 1 minute.
  4. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the cheese down the center of the omelet and top with half of the radicchio filling (about 1/4 cup). Use a spatula to fold one side of the omelet over the filling. Roll the omelet onto a warm plat. Wipe the pan clean, lower the heat to medium, and make a second omelet with the remaining butter, eggs, cheese, and radicchio. (Note: The pan will probably be a bit hotter when making the second omelet, so the time may be a bit shorter.) Serve immediately.

Serve with roasted potatoes seasoned with olive oil, garlic, salt, and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary.

Hale Ranch, tall cover crop.

Hale Ranch, tall cover crop.

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