ShopTalk - Regular Season
a home Base For Shareholders
June 24, 2017 - DIstribution Week #4
(you can still get the newsletter the usual way - just scroll below for our .pdf archive)
what's new this week
Early Summer Favorites
Bunching Beets: These are delectable beets with their greens on. Or, you could think of them as a bunch of Swiss chard, with a fun surprise at the bottom! Chop up the whole thing (greens, beets, stems) and saute, steam, or stir fry (see recipe below).
Scallions: Spring Onions, Green Onions, Bunching Onions, or whatever you want to call them. They are a good substitute for onions and leeks (which can't be harvested until August & September). Use the entire plant to spice up a stir fry or dress a salad. Also, great grilled!! Very mild. We should have a good supply of these through mid- August.
Chinese Cabbage: This vegetable is cabbage for over 1 billion people. Use the whole head for stir fry, kim chi, etc. It's taking a while ripening all at the same time, but we should eventually have it for 2 - 3 weeks as we have a decent crop this year.
Collards: This hearty cooking green needs to be cooked for a while and then it reveals a savory, satisfying flavor. We have a small early crop this year which you should see on and off until a much bigger crop is ready in the fall.
what's on the way
REcipe of The Week
SHOPTALK - OLD SCHOOL
(you can still get the newsletter the usual way - just click on the week for a .pdf to print)
What's happening at the farm
Pic of the week
HOW WE FARM
The Spray Rig
We always feel a bit strange when the spray rig is riding around the farm like it will be on Monday. It just seems odd to be running the sprayer around an organic farm. The sprayer stands as one of the ultimate symbols of conventional farming - disparaging comments about "nozzle-heads" spraying the crops to protect from weeds and bugs. But, using biological materials and applying them through water is practically as old as farming (think manure slurry applied to crops in ancient China, etc), and spraying continues as an important part of organic farming as well.
This week marked an important milestone on the farm - the emergence of the young larvae of the Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB). The striped adult beetle has babies (larvae) which grow and have a voracious appetite for potato plants. If we did nothing they would surely eat our entire crop. We deal with the beetle first by crop rotation. By moving our potatoes (and other related plants in the Solanaceous family - tomato, eggplants, and peppers - the "deadly nightshades") each year we make thebeetles search for our plants instead of having their dinner table set for them. Then we scout the fields. If the populations are significant (more than 10% of our plants have larvae) we control them with a bacteria called spinosad. This is a natural bacteria which was originally found in the Caribbean by a vacationing biologist at an abandoned rum distillery, and is now multiplied in fermentation tanks. When eaten by the potato beetle larvae, it causes them to lose the ability to eat (then they starve and die). It is specific to these larvae - so no other insects are killed in the process. It also breaks down into harmless elements after a few hours. So when we find our populations in the potato (and eggplant) field to be above the threshold, we will spray the bacterium on the plants. We may have to do this again a week later and then the solanaceous crops are usually all set.
The other milestone we have reached this week is that many of our plants have grown and are now standing tall in the field. This is the time for us to use horn silica. Introduced by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1920s (as part of what later became known as "Biodynamic Agriculture), this substance helps plants photosynthesize and convert nutrients into plant tissue. It is quartz crystal that is crushed and put in a cow horn. Then the horn is buried in the ground during the summer months. When the horn is dug up, the silica is diluted in water and stirred for an hour. That material is then sprayed on all plants that are more than 4" tall. In the spring we spray one other Biodynamic preparation (horn manure) which helps to stimulate the life-giving element in the soil.
So the next time you see one of us running the sprayer through the fields, hopefully we'll know, that you know that we're just helping our plants along a bit, using materials that are at worst harmless, and at best perhaps a bit useful.
SUMMER VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
We love having volunteers and are grateful for the help! Spring and Summer are busy times and can be a good time to volunteer.
If you meet at the harvest shed, at the barn, at 8 am or 1 pm Monday - Friday, you'll find us and we'll be able to plug you in to a useful volunteer activity. We have volunteer opportunities for all ages and abilities. What we ask of volunteers is that you be up for any type of task within your ability. If you are interested in helping us with a specific project, or on a regular basis, send us an e-mail so we can discuss your interests!