Posts Tagged ‘squash’

Newsletter 3.4

IN YOUR BASKET

Spaghetti Squash
Turnip
Braising Greens
Red Russian Kale
Green Onions

NOTES FROM THE FIELD

Happy 2011! We hope everyone had a great holiday season and is looking forward to weekly local vegetables again. We farmers are especially excited for the sun-filled week ahead. The rain came down so much on Heart Arrow Ranch that we have found new sinkholes and slides in the landscape. The land literally moves here.

Snow by Adam's loft on New Year's Day

Many more lambs have been born, keeping us busy, as we have to check them often and sometime bottle-feed them. In the month of December, over 20 lambs were born. We finally castrated our baby bull, which was like a mini rodeo event. And our pigs are in hog heaven as long as we give them enough straw bedding. With livestock, the rain makes manure and soil management challenging.

In the dry week ahead, we expect to cultivate and start planting vegetables in the new greenhouse. Even today, it was quite warm inside it. And we are spending most of our evenings on crop planning, budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and general brainstorming. Crop planning, including crop rotations and cover cropping, really means planning a year out. The weather that actually happens – like when the rainy season actually ends and starts – forces us to make adjustments in those plans along the way. As many of you know, that’s what makes farming challenging, but having CSA members like you, it’s less risky and more manageable. Thanks!

Eat well,
Adam and Paula

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Herbs
Adapted from MarthaStewart.com

Ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise, seeds
removed
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, & more for brushing
1 tbsp packed light-brown sugar
Salt & pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup blanched hazelnuts (1 oz.), toasted and coarsely chopped

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400º. Brush the cut sides of squash with oil, and sprinkle with sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Place squash, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, for about 45 minutes. Let it cool slightly on the sheet on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
2. Using a fork, scrape the squash to remove the flesh in long strands. Place the strands in a large bowl. Add oil, Parmesan, parsley, cilantro, hazelnuts, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss, and serve immediately.

Did you know that you could eat spaghetti squash and meatballs?

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We have not posted news in a while, but it is no wonder – we are so very busy! And this week is no exception. As all the vineyards in Mendo are bustling with harvest, we have been assisting with the grape harvest at Golden Vineyards. It’s always exciting to collaborate with the Goldens, and although we’re doing a lot, we enjoy taking part in the grape harvest madness that has taken over the region. In some ways, the success of our farm depends on the success of the agriculture around us.

In terms of our own harvest, we have been doing a lot of it. Since September, we have been supplying the five NCO Head Start centers in Ukiah with weekly CSA produce shares. Some of the summer’s bounty have been melons, sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, sweet peppers, chard, and more. Periodically, we have supplemented the Live Power CSA produce shares with our vegetables as well.

Since mid-August, we have been supplying produce to the bar and restaurant, Bar Agricole. This week, we are sending some lamb their way. It required us driving down to Occidental and back on a Sunday night to drop off the lamb for processing, but that is what we have to do as there is no place for us to do that in Mendo…

Speaking of lamb, our sheep still reside at 3WG in Potter Valley. They have been very happy there thus far, and we’re still putting in time and labor to rehabilitate a couple of the fields there. Growing hay and pasture is still somewhat new for us, so we are going to try growing a specific mix in one field and see how it compares with the other fields. There is still some tractor work to be done so that the irrigation water flows across the fields correctly. Many of the ewes are bagging up (their udders are becoming full of milk) meaning we will have more lambs soon. If you are interested in buying our lamb for your freezer, let us know. We may have some available right now.

Also, we are in the home stretch of the meat chicken CSA. This Saturday, October 23, we will have the 5th batch of chicken shares available for pick-up at the Ukiah Farmers Market. We also plan to have extras for market sale as well.

Earlier this week, we also got together with Doug from the Mendocino Grain Project to get some of our grain cleaned. Some grain we will be reseeding and some wheat will go toward the grain CSA.

This week, we have also been harvesting and curing the winter squash for the Winter CSA. So far, we’ve harvested a couple varieties of acorn, lots of spaghetti, and delicata. The butternut, kabocha, and other plantings are still maturing.

One truckload of many!

You may not have heard, but we finally got a 4-wheel tractor in August. Fall planting has been happening much faster with the large disk and shovels for bed-shaping!

With it being autumn now, we are following the weather forecast closely; we must plan for the first substantial rain. While we are doing all this harvesting, fall is when we plant our hay/pasture and grain. This year, we will be growing barley at the south Ukiah property.

Perhaps when the days are super short and we’re inside more, we will have more blog posts for you 🙂

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FYI, there is only one week left to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount and get $25 off a share of the Winter Vegetable CSA 2010-2011! Just by sending us a commitment form and minimum $50 deposit to secure your share before August, you get $25 off your share price!

2010-2011 Winter CSA Brochure & Commitment Form (Word .doc)

2010-2011 Winter CSA Brochure & Commitment Form (.pdf)

Even more reason to sign up now – we are going to limit the CSA to 50 shares this year. That is less than the number of shares we took on last year. And, we already have 23 commitment forms in hand! There is only so much that the two of us can physically do, and with the commitment we have made to Bar Agricole, who has partially capitalized our season already and committed to buying our food, we think that we can grow quality winter vegetables for 50 shares this year.

Acorn squash in mid-July for the Winter CSA.

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The past couple days, we have been out in Potter Valley planting crops, weeding, cultivating, irrigating, and really getting into the ground there.

At the Hale Ranch at Mid Mountain and East Road, we’re growing winter squash for the Winter CSA, melons and watermelons, sweet corn, and dry beans.

Here you can see the winter squash that Adam cultivated between rows with the two-wheel tractor, and Paula hoed around in-row. Afterward, we watered them and in one day, we noticed a lot of growth.

We are still planting a lot of winter squash, including these Waltham butternut seedlings.

Tomorrow morning, Keith at Lover’s Lane Farm will be bringing some bees over to help our melons get pollinated and increase the chances of good production.

Over at 3WG Ranch, we had a very challenging past couple weeks. Basically, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to get the hay out of the pasture in time for us to start irrigating and get our sheep over there. Right now, the sheep do not have anything green to eat at Heart Arrow Ranch, and buying food for them is expensive and unsustainable. The long story short, we have been able to get hay baled or in the process of getting baled, and we’ve started to irrigate the pasture. The canal system in Potter Valley is quite impressive, and we’re having fun with the flood irrigation (as well as our dogs, especially on these hot days).

Ziggy standing in the field where we need to move the bales. At one time, the landlord(s) grow melons here, and we might do the same in the future.

One of the "red caps" where water just flows out when you open it.

Canal water is flowing into the big pipe that irrigates parcels at 3WG Ranch.

Moving hay bales

Yesterday evening and today, we have been picking up hay bales out of one parcel by hand and into a dump trailer as the neighbor did not have time to give us a lesson on using the hay bale wagon. (If you did not know, there is a specific vehicle/machine for picking up and moving hay out of a field. You can see a few if you drive around Potter Valley.) We want to irrigate that parcel soon, as we are irrigating the field next to it. And the sheep want to come out here soon!

Irrigating and cropping in Potter Valley is vastly different from farming on the hill at Heart Arrow Ranch because (1) irrigating is less expensive, and (2) its is FLAT which means more mechanized cropping.

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IN YOUR BASKET THIS WEEK

Garlic
Various Winter Squash
More Various Squash
Cooking Greens Bouquet
Red Express or Farao Cabbage
Lincoln Leeks

NOTES FROM THE FIELD

It is cold and wet and mighty difficult to get much of anything productive done out in the rain. Reconstructing the greenhouse has been put on hold and all the animals are very wet. We are getting a lot of bookkeeping done though!

While the water is nice, the wet, cloudy, chilly days mean that the vegetable crops have not been growing much. This week, we are doling out much more of the winter squash while it’s still storing well. There is not enough of one type of cooking green to bunch, so we are using our artistic license and creating tasty mixed green bouquets. You will never find it in a grocery store except for maybe at Westside Renaissance Market. The rain pounded some of the small lettuce seedlings, but the second planting of lettuce heads are okay and will hopefully be up to size in a week or two. Again, that depends on how much sun breaks through.

A couple days this past week, we were digging trenches all day to reinforce the drainage system of the garden, particularly the steeper north section. There has been a little erosion and a couple plants washed away here and there, but no major wash outs. The water has been really rushing down the hill and through the little canals we made. We had to dig many lines or trenches across the roads to direct water away as well.

This week, an NRCS staff person will be coming out to the ranch to see what kind of conservation planning and rangeland fencing we could do and receive cost-share assistance for. We are also contemplating possible applying for a new NRCS pilot program that offers cost-share assistance in building a high tunnel – one of those big plastic greenhouse-looking things that helps extend the vegetable season.

Just for fun, here are pix of us harvesting veggies: http://bit.ly/5PBnuV check it out while it’s still online.

Eat well,
Paula & Adam

Cabbage & Walnut Stir-Fry
(adapted from Practical Cookery: Vegetarian)

Ingredients:

1 medium cabbage head
4 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp walnut oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
8 scallions
8 oz firm tofu, cubed
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 ½ oz walnut halves
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp poppy seeds
salt & pepper

Instructions:

1. Shred the cabbage thinly and set aside.

2. Heat the peanut and walnut oils in a preheated wok or heavy-bottomed skillet. Add the garlic, cabbage, scallions, and tofu and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.

3. Add the lemon juice, walnuts, and Dijon mustard, season to taste with salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender.

4. Transfer the stir-fry to a warm serving bowl, sprinkle with poppy seeds and serve immediately.

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Adam standing amongst our open-pollinated Nokomis Gold feed corn.

Adam standing amongst our open-pollinated Nokomis Gold feed corn.

Waltham butternut squash

Waltham butternut squash

red kuri squash

red kuri squash

feed corn & wheat. all for the sheep.

feed corn & wheat. all for the sheep.

watering the squash. unclogging one of the sprinklers.

watering the squash. unclogging one of the sprinklers.

It has been so much fun watching the winter squash and pumpkins grow. We kept the weeds down really well when they were first transplanted, and since then, they have just thrived. We’ve sown a cover crop over them so that when we are done harvesting, there will be plenty of forage and crop residue for the sheep to graze.

The winter wheat we planted last year has gone to seed again, so although it is a weed amongst the feed corn, it’s still good food for the animals as well. As a biodynamic farm, we strive to produce most of the animal feed on-farm, and this is one way we are working toward that goal. This also improves the soil, and in the future, we will be able to plant vegetables (for humans) in that spot. Vegetables like brassicas and potatoes require a lot of nutrients from the soil, and cover cropping and grazing animals on the land will add much fertility.

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As we near the end of August, we are sensing the close of Summer. Our ewes are beginning to lamb again, the days are getting noticeably shorter, the grapes are ripening…Autumn is coming! This also means that we are also deep into our winter vegetable farming…

napoli carrots

napoli carrot

We have carrots growing. Carrots take a very long time to germinate (2-3 weeks), and in the heat, we have to keep them moist and cool to get the little plants going. That means hand-watering them twice a day. It’s a lot of work, but we love carrots 🙂

looking over the south section of the garden

looking over the south section of the garden

To the left of the oak tree, you can see a brown, cultivated section of the garden. With the walk-behind tractor, Adam roughly shaped the beds. We have started to shovel compost on the beds, shovel up the sides, and rake them flat. Then we laid out the drip tape from last season and started seeding beets and spinach. The next couple days, we’ll be doing that to the rest of that section and transplant our chard and seed more root crops.

flats of kale, cabbage, and cauliflower

flats of kale, cabbage, and cauliflower

In the green section to the left of the oak tree, the cover crop will be cultivated in, and beds made in the same way. We’ll transplant many of the brassicas (picture above) there.

acorn squash

acorn squash

We are very happy with how well the winter squash and pumpkins are producing. At this point, now that the squash plants are in the ground, we just have to irrigate them until harvest. We had to do a couple rounds of cultivation as weed management, but we’ll be under-sowing the plants with cover crop soon.

potatoes

potatoes

And the potato plants are doing their thing. We don’t do much with them since they’ve been planted. Some weeding and watering in the beginning, but we just wait to harvest them now.

So, we have a lot going on with the winter vegetable farming. It would be great if more people sign up and send deposits soon. We’re putting in a lot of time and energy on the winter crops instead of the summer crops, meaning we’re not selling a lot of summer produce, meaning we’re not making a lot of money from produce right now. It will be a few months before we have lamb to sell, and we are not raising a lot of extra meat chickens outside the poultry CSA because their organic feed is so expensive. Please sign up for the winter CSA today!

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