Oh August- the crazy month when both day and night I am immersed in tomatoes whether physically or mentally. The tomato is a very special crop to me. As a teenager, my parents decided that tomatoes were a good crop for my sister and me to be responsible for. During our summer vacations from school, we were responsible for the trellising, picking, and packing of the tomatoes, and in return, the income generated from the tomato crop was used to pay for our tuition at our private high school (and later college). I am eternally grateful to the tomato for affording me many of the learning experiences I have had in life and for my parent’s creativity at teaching me to take on responsibility. I am also very grateful to all of the folks involved here at the farm who have been tirelessly in the past weeks to keep up with the height of the season.
Here’s a peak at what we’ve been up to this week:
- Harvested over 2 tons of tomatoes (for both our wholesale market and CSA)
- Weeded over 3500 row feet of winter root crops
- Renovated 3 fields that were in crops to prepare for winter cover crops
- Picked 500 lbs of string beans
- Mulched our new strawberry patch
- Irrigation, irrigation, irrigation…
- And much more…
We hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor, as I know we are.
Produce and Cooking Notes
Box Contents: Watermelon, Sweet Corn, Herbs, Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic, Beans, Carrots, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Bell Peppers, Jimmy Nardello Peppers, Yummy Peppers*, Eggplant*, Endive. (*Full shares only).
Many of the items in the box this week you have seen already, but there are a few new items for the season as well.
Sweet Corn- This is the first sweet corn of the season. Many of our early plantings drowned in the wetness of May, so we’re very happy these plantings are beginning to produce. Today’s ears are on the young side so they should be very sweet and tender kernels.
Yellow Doll Watermelon- A small but delicious variety of watermelon. It’s by far a farm favorite and since they can break easily, you can often see the farm crew taken advantage of “mishaps” in the field while picking!
Garlic- After 4 weeks of hanging from the rafters of our machinery shed, the garlic harvest is officially “cured”. It will make its debut in your box this week.
Note on the Peppers: I want to remind you that the long red peppers (Jimmy Nardellos) and the bright orange peppers (Yummys) in your box are both sweet peppers. There are also some hot peppers (lighter yellow) peppers for those of you who are adventurous with spice.
Pico de Gallo (Fresh Salsa)
From Epicurious.com (Bon Appetit, July 200)
1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chilies (about 2 medium)
1 garlic clove, minced
Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)
Amazing Endive Salad
Sauté a quarter of a red onion, sliced and a clove of garlic in olive oil until just browned. Throw in a head of endive, washed and torn into pieces, along with a tablespoon or so each of red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. Saute until just wilted and arrange on a plate. Sprinkle with freshly-ground pepper, grated cheese and a hard boiled egg, chopped.
From The Farmer’s Market Cookbook
1 hot pepper
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
3 slices thick white bread, crust removed
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
¾ to 1 cup cold water
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp salt
For the garnishes:
1 small cucumber, diced
1 medium red pepper, diced
2 spring onions, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, crumbled
Chop the chili pepper, discarding the seeds and pith. Puree all the ingredients into completely smooth. Pass the garnishes around at the table.
The rolling waves of thunderstorms continue to move through our little valley, sporadically enough that we are able to get plenty of work done! The tomato harvest this week has taken us all by surprise. We set out early in the week to plan for the CSA: lots of things to do, harvests to bring in, potatoes, eggplant, beets, and zucchini, berries, melons, cucumbers and basil. And probably to grab a few tomatoes along the way, maybe enough to toss a ripe red one or two into everyone’s boxes to complement their sungolds. Four hours later, we are all still knee-deep in tomatoes, running out of buckets, carrying them out by the ton, and wondering when we’re going to get to everything else on the list? Every year this moment comes and takes us like a red storm and we’re reminded of what a bounty farming can really provide us with. As July slips away we’re still trying to get caught up, a little, on the weeding and planting, so that we can stay productive into the fall, but the tomatoes keep knocking at our door. Like a particularly persistent salesman they have arrived and don’t intend to be delayed for long. So hopefully we are ready for them! – hopefully our crew knows their tasks and can work long hours together in harmony, bending, picking, sorting, packing, pound after pound, bushel after bushel, of fresh tomatoes. August, here we come!
Produce and Cooking Notes
Basil – The intoxicating smell of fresh basil continues to fill up our greenhouses and our lives.
Cucumbers – Cucumber harvests have fallen off recently but I think (as I write this) that we will have enough for everyone. Zucchini, on the other hand, are in a lull; you might get one as a surprise but don’t expect it.
Hot Peppers – We will have a selection of hot peppers available today, from mild Hungarian Hot Wax to red hot cayennes.
Sungolds – The sungolds continue to rise as reliably as their namesake.
Eggplant – Everyone can get an eggplant today, although some are admittedly not as big as others!
Beets A few weeks later than the carrots they were planted alongside, our summer beets have started to come in nicely.
Onions - The onion harvest continues to come in, so we should keep having them in your boxes.
Tomatoes –Lots of tomatoes for everyone today – you’ll get a mix including regular red slicing tomatoes as well as a selection of heirlooms.
Bell Peppers – Everyone is getting some bell peppers today, either yellow or purple sweet peppers. In addition full shares are getting the big, skinny, red Jimmy Nardellos, a sweet frying pepper (not a hot pepper!), and the bright orange Yummy Peppers which are a tasty snack for lunches or after work.
Community Tomato Canning Days! “Many hands make light work.” We’ll be canning whole tomatoes at the FoodShed on Wednesday, August 8 and Wednesday, August 22 starting at 9 am and would love for you to join us! Working together, we hope to be done by lunch time or soon after. Space is limited to four additional persons, but there is the possibility of adding more days. Purchase canning tomatoes from Village Acres, bring your jars and lids, and we will all work together on the large six burner stove to get our combined tomatoes canned in one fell swoop. Whole tomatoes are quick and versatile. Canned whole tomatoes make great pasta sauce, can be blended for tomatoes soup, added to stews, or chopped into a wintertime salsa. They are one of the most energy efficient ways to store tomatoes as well! If find there are more folks interested in community canning at a different time, let us know and we’ll try to make it happen. Register by emailing Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org First come, first serve.
Luscious Beet Salad
– from Feeding the Whole Family Cookbook
• 4 large beets
• 1/4 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds, toasted
• 1 bunch beet greens
• 2 scallions, finely chopped
• 1/4 lb. feta cheese
• 3 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• 3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
• 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
Cut cooked beets into cubes. Tear greens into bite-sized pieces and steam lightly (30 seconds or less), if you like, though it’s not necessary. Squeeze excess water out of greens if you steamed them. Toss beets and greens with seeds and scallions. Shake dressing ingredients in a jar and pour over salad. Toss again and sprinkle cheese on top.
Easy Cherry Tomato and Cucumber Salad
From From Asparagus to Zucchini
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 small cucumber
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
pinch of sugar
salt to taste
1 tbsp minced cilantro
Stem the cherry tomatoes; slice in half. Cut cucumber in half crosswise, quarter the halves, and slice. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or so. Serve at room temperature.
from The Farmer’s Market Cookbook
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed, peeled, and chopped
• 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
• 2 lbs ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped, juices reserved
• 4 tbsp best olive oil
• 1 cucumber, chopped
• 1 ½ loaves day-old Italian bread
• 25 basil leaves, cut in strips
• 1 small jar capers, rinsed and drained
• 1 small jar anchovies, rinsed and drained
• In a mortar and pestle, make a dressing with the garlic, vinegar, tomato juice, and oil. Or chop all ingredients as finely as possible and mash them together.
• Tear the bread into bite-sized chunks and toast it lightly. Put it into a salad bowl and toss it in the dressing. Add the cucumbers, tomatoes, and basil. Scatter over the capers and anchovies and marinate for at least 1 hour. Season to taste and eat at room temperature.
I'm sure if we end up in a drought, I'll be complaining about the sunny days, but for now we are all just so grateful the soil eventually has become dry enough to prepare and seed and transplant into. So we've been rather busy this week, but in a very good way. Rather than blogging about rainy days, we've been more apt to be found sitting behind a tractor going at a speed somewhere between snail and turtle, leaving a trail of green behind us. Although we have transplanted some things by hand (first tomato planting, spinach, some chard etc,) we were finally able to use the new transplanter Roy aquired over the winter. While it took a bit of adjusting, it was able to seat 4 people which made the onion tranplanting twice as nice. As has the wonderful timing for Deb to join full time and jump right in at full speed. Before we can transplant though, it takes a lot of work to transform the fields into either smooth seeding beds or raised plastic beds for those that need the extra warmth or weed control. Staying late on Saturday, after the crew worked on field prep, Adam and Dan made enough beds for us to plant to our hearts content Monday and Tuesday with plenty of vacancies for all those trays of onions, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, and cucumbers. Another wave of seedlings will be ready to go out shortly but it feels good to be moving them out to the field not just rearranging trays.
Below is a photo from a few rainy weeks back of Dan and Dave transplanting early potatoes by hand as tractor transplanting was ruled out by the wet ground. It is a bit easier to have the tractor carry your plants, dig your holes, add water, and give you a ride versus planting by hand. However, the potato plants now poking out and growing well makes the early extra effort seem worth it.
The first planting of tomatoes (those early jungle ones) were also transplanted by hand up on the hill above the road. The plastic beds, which were made late last fall, provided the earliest chance to get things in the field.
The forecast doesn't call for sunshine forever and there is more to finish up before the next rain. However, I am so grateful that instead of walking by the greenhouse and feeling guilty at the sight of onions imprisioned in their tiny trays, I can walk to the field and look at the new rows of tidy greens, with plenty of space to grow finally. The same holds true for the corn, beans, peppers, eggplants, sprouting potatoes, zucchini monsters, and tomatillos. A few giant tomato plants waiting to go out here and there is something I can handle. Although most things won't be producing for quite some time, it is a wonderful feeling as we start the first summer distribution this week to know such progress is being made!