Posts Tagged ‘potatoes’

veg share june 2013

Mendocino Organics Vegetable CSA- Tuesday, June 18 2013

In Your Share This Week

  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Scotch Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • New Potatoes

This past week has been beautiful spring weather – sunshine, blue skies, afternoon breeze – which is ironic, as Summer officially begins this Thursday. The Summer Solstice is a turning point in the growing season as the days will start to get shorter. This is basically the deadline to get any summer crops in the ground, and time to start planning the fall plantings.

In case you are unfamiliar with new potatoes, just to let you know: these will not keep in storage. You will notice that they have delicate, thin skin, so don’t hold onto them for longer than the other vegetables. While some places recommend not washing them, we gently spray the dirt off of them and let them dry before we pack them. This variety of potato is called Carola, and as a “new potato,” you should find them sweeter and perhaps more buttery than “old potatoes.”

Last night, we tried the potatoes cut up very small and sauteed in oil with chopped up broccoli, carrots, and bacon. You can also simply boil them and enjoy with butter and seasoning.

Here is an easy recipe, loosley adapted from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables (Harper Collins Publishers, 1996):

Kale and Potato Soup

A Portuguese recipe, called caldo verde (green broth) in Portual, where cabbage is often substituted for the kale.

  • Kale
  • Potatoes
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Optional: 1 garlic sausage
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Cut the kale leaves, without stems, into a chiffonade. Chop the potatoes very fine. Bring the water to a boil with the salt. Add the chopped potatoes, return to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the kale and cook 2 minutes more. Taste for seasoning. If desired, serve with sliced garlic sausage heated briefly in the soup and a splash of the olive oil.

Note: The proportion of kale to potatoes in this soup is not terribly important. Nor do you need to chop the potatoes; but if you slice them, they will need to cook a little longer before you can add the kale.

Field Notes

It looks like we’re going to harvest our own fava bean seeds to replant. We’re trellising the greenhouse cucumbers and should have some to harvest soon. We’re wrapping up summer planting, and everything looks good. We’re preparing to start fall planting, so we’ll be assessing our seed inventory.

When we’re trying to grow food for most of the year, we have to stay on top of our planting schedule. Each season is unique and has its challenges. For the fall harvest, most of the crops are cool weather crops, and it’s not very cool in the summer time when we’re trying to grow them. So we grow a diversity of crops to hedge the risk if something does not grow well.

We’re still taking sign-ups for the Fall Vegetable CSA Season. It’s for the 6 weeks following the Main Season (4 weeks in November, 2 in December), and it’s $120. Let us know if you’re interested and haven’t signed up already!

Eat well,

Adam & Paula

Potatoes and Field Corn

Potatoes and Field Corn


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Potatoes to plant

As odd as this weather has been,

we’re taking on a positive spin.

The landscape is telling us now

that spring is ’round the corner. How?


Newts and ravens are active again.

We’re getting lots of eggs from just 20 hens.

Our over-wintered lettuce is flowering.

The greenhouse is popping with seedlings.


So, this week our seed potatoes arrived,

Fourteen varieties stacked very high.

We hope to plant the spuds this month

And sooner than not, we’ll have tubers for lunch!

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Farming is like dancing – there are slow dances and fast jigs and every pace in between. We’re at another hurried hustle this time of year. Summer crops like tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers are giving bloated harvests that call for routine attention.

Making tomato sauce with black plum tomatoes.

Yet under the guise of bounty, nature is slowly inching toward the quieter time of the year – fall and eventually winter – when crops slow down and the land lays still. So we are simultaneously prepping the ground and planting cool weather crops (those biennials like broccoli, lettuce and carrots) and preserving summer’s warm wealth in curing, pickling, making sauce and making sauerkraut.

Romanze potatoes that supplemented Live Power Community Farm CSA shares a few weeks ago.

With the higher food output this year, we’re also striving to consistently provide for markets we haven’t worked with regularly in the past, like Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op and Ukiah Brewing Company and Restaurant. We’re also finding that the markets and nearby restaurants can’t absorb all that we are producing, and CSAs are not in high demand here, so much of our food is shipping to the Bay Area. Hopefully, we are serving our community not just with our food but by bringing outside revenue in during these challenging economic times.

The pick-up truck loaded with an evening harvest of Riverside onions and Russian Banana fingerling potatoes.

As busy as we have been expanding farm production this year, we haven’t had much time to write about the process here. But, we’ve been striving to document with photos the daily work we do to grow as much nutritious, flavorful food as possible. Part of the process has been spending money. As they say, you have to spend money to make money. This season alone, we’ve acquired many tools to help us grow more food so it’s more affordable to buy and so that we don’t strain our bodies:

  • three-bottom plow
  • flail mower
  • Farmall 100 cultivating tractor
  • toolbar & flex planters
  • 5.5 HP water pump
  • hog panels
  • poultry netting
  • 30′ x 70′ high tunnel
  • sunblocker shade structure

One of the flex planters on a toolbar we purchased in the Delta.

The shopping list goes on, and that’s only major capital investments. Fortunately, we don’t always have to buy things outright. Other farmers are lending us equipment or letting us make payments. A community of growers is so essential particularly when when you start out with nothing.

Berkshire pigs enjoying cucumbers

We’re also raising another round of pigs that will be ready in time for the holidays. Not only is pork really tasty, but our pigs will happily eat vegetable culls or whatever does not sell at the farmers market. Heritage Berkshire pork is delicious, so we’re definitely raising those pigs again!

The sheep grazing on irrigate pasture in Potter Valley.

We also bought a few more ewes and lambs to increase our sheep flock. Hopefully by the end of this season, we’ll have about 100 ewes. Our new Shropshire ram, Macho, should be getting familiar with the ladies now…

So, we continue to refine our farming system – doing trials of different crops to see what we can grow well, trying new feed rations and growing better hay and pasture for cost-effective yet delicious meat, fine-tuning all the mechanical processes, and improving relationships with all our customers. We’re very excited to be growing a lot more food this year. It’s a challenge, but the hard work is rewarding when we are able to partner with nature and people to nourish ourselves and our community.

About 1/3 of the onions

The durum wheat should be harvested soon.

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5-second video of the digger in action this past Sunday in Potter Valley.

Wow, this antique implement beats digging potatoes out by hand. And a big Thank You to the wonderful folks who helped us bag the potatoes! We harvested about 1/3 of the potatoes planted, and we estimate we bagged about one ton. We did not find much blight, but per normal organic growing practices, we will not be growing potatoes in that field again for at least three years.

Like all machinery used the first time, we had to tinker with the digger before it ran smoothly. The former owner had a funny attachment for the digger, so it did not stay on the tractor until we just chained it. We will get an appropriate pin for next time we harvest. Sometimes, you just have to make do and get it done for the moment.

Everyone is eager to help.

A quick fix.

Dust, steel, potatoes.


Potatoes ready to be picked up and sorted.

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Potato Harvest Party!

Dear friends of the farm,

Please join us for a fun afternoon of farming, food, and friends! This Sunday, August 7, 2pm – 4pm, we’re hosting a Potato Harvest Party at one of the properties we’ve been farming in Potter Valley.
We’re going to get our “new” old potato digger going to dig up the potatoes, and all we have to do is pick them up! Many hands make light work, as they say… A fellow in Willits graciously gave us his potato digger, which was originally designed for use by draft horses, but we’ll be using one of our tractors to pull it. We’ve been digging the potatoes out by hand, but it’s not very sustainable for our backs, so we’re very excited to get this relic of small-scale mechanized agriculture going.
You may have tried our potatoes this season at the farmers market, Westside Renaissance Market or in the Live Power CSA shares. So, come check out the land, help out and take home a couple pounds of potatoes! We’ll provide refreshments and answer any questions you have about growing potatoes, vegetables, and anything about our farm.
Please RSVP if you plan on coming so we know how many folks to expect. No dogs, please. Hope you can make it!
Adam Gaska & Paula Manalo
Mendocino Organics
(707) 272-5477

Potato digger

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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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Compost Tea

It has been a while since we made compost tea, but we wanted to give our potato plants a boost. The field where we are growing potatoes was basically fill (clay and rocks) before we started cropping, so the soil could really use the tea on top of the compost and green manure (cover crop cultivated in) it’s already received. Plus, potatoes need a lot of nutrients to thrive. Here we are experimenting using a fire hose to apply the finished compost tea.

If you are unfamiliar with compost tea, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service describes it as “a compost extract brewed with a microbial food source—molasses, kelp, rock dust, humic-fulvic acids. The compost-tea brewing technique, an aerobic process, extracts and grows populations of beneficial microorganisms.”

Take in those microbes, potato field!!

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