San Fan Bok Choy
Baby Daikon Radish
Hakurei Salad Turnips
Yu Choy or Mustard Greens
It has been a few weeks since we have provided any updates and in that interim we have experienced some of the most extreme and bizarre weather in our seven seasons of farming here in Green Bay Virginia. Early September bounced between grey and cool conditions and extremely hot and humid conditions. Then we waited with anticipation to see what Hurricane Florence would do. Over the weekend it was grey, wet, and a bit windy; but overall pretty mild with only 1.5” of rain. On Monday though, the aftermath of the storm hit our farm, as well as many others throughout the region, pretty hard. It was a harvest day, we worked outside for 12 hours, trying to get our orders together while receiving a whopping 4” with occasional strong winds and tornado warnings. In hindsight we should have not been out in the fields, as it was not helpful for the soil or crops, not to mention unpleasant and slow for us. Walking in the pathways and messing with the soil, while it is so wet compacts the soil in a way that is difficult to reverse. But we are so habitual about harvest days and always attending every scheduled market that we always work regardless of weather. Plus we had already had our previous Saturday market cancelled, so we needed to get to market and move some produce. Overall though, we were really lucky that the storm was not more harmful and our thoughts go out to all the lowland farmers in North Carolina as well as all those in the continued path of the storm that got hit really hard. These unpredictable storms can make or break a farms season, meaning peoples livelihood. It should be recognized that this is a risk farmers have to take, we have no way around the weather, all we can do is try to prepare and mitigate whatever risk we can.
In our seven seasons we have never received more than 2” of rain in a day, so managing 4” with our extremely heavy clay soil was beyond nerve racking. We had spent some time the previous week readying our farm; but there is only so much we can do. Over the past three years we have been making long-term adjustments to our tillage systems, soil health, and drainage capabilities; because we experienced a storm one October that destroyed a large portion of our Fall crops and left standing water for over a week. This storm also exposed how much soil loss we were seeing with heavy rains, so it woke us up to needing to make some serious changes. Perhaps some of these methods have paid off as we are definitely seeing some damage to Fall plantings; but not in such an extreme way as we expected. It takes weeks to truly understand all the damage though and last week’s continued rain and grey did not help the plants take off. We look forward to this coming week though, some beautiful weather that will help the fields dry out and perhaps let the crops breathe.
Prior to the big storm, we were looking at one of the best Fall stands we have ever had, meaning even with being hard it, we are still in an ok spot with oncoming successions of crops; but it is meaning that we have less flexibility with our produce. Right now our Summer stuff is not really producing (too much grey and wet), the last of the beans and tomatoes just petered out to nothing. We hope to see more Okra; but it stood dorment for the past two weeks. Our fall crops also got a beating and stagnated a bit, so our choice of crops in the shares has become pretty limited. Hence the condensed amount of radishes and turnips, lack of cut greens (we lost three successions of Arugula and are seeing bolting in all our lettuces), late oncoming of broccoli (first heads are rotting from the rain) and less variation with the bunching greens (we lost a succession of broccoli raab and the Russian kale was devastated). All of this may mean smaller shares or less variety coming later in October; but overall we feel pretty good about our prospects. We hope you do too. Enjoy the share……Brian and Autumn
New Potato Tempura – Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu
(Try this recipe with Yu Choy, Daikon, or Mustard Greens as well)
½ lb medium-sized potatoes
Best quality rapeseed or peanut oil
½ cup unbleached cake flour
½ cup cold sparkling water1
8 tsp fine white sea salt
3 ice cubes
organic soy sauce for dipping
Cut the potatoes into ½” wedges (measured on the thick side). Drop the potato pieces into a small pot of salted cold water. The potatoes should be covered by about 1”. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the centers still have some give but the outsides are soft. Drain and cool.
Line a cookie sheet with a thick layer of newspaper and top with a layer of paper towels. Set next to the stove. Over low heat, warm 4” of oil in a medium-sized heavy, stainless steel saucepan. Whisk the flour with the sparkling water and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Take out two pairs of long cooking chopsticks or tongs. Use one pair to dip in the batter and one pair to remove the tempura from the oil. Increase the heat on the oil to about medium-high; the oil should not be smoking. Test the oil with a drop of batter before starting. It should sizzle and immediately form a small ball as it hits the oil; but should not brown. Adjust the oil temperature as needed.
When the oil is hot, drop the ice cubes into the batter and stir once. Add 5 or 6 pieces of potatoes at a time to the batter. Pick up one piece at a time, let the excess batter drip off, and slip into the hot oil. Roll the tempura pieces gently as the batter turns a pale (slightly) golden color. When all sides are cooked, remove to the prepared cookie sheet. Continue cooking until all pieces have been fried, but (if possible) serve each batch immediately. Dip in fine white sea salt or soy sauce before eating.
Arkansas Black Apples
Red Round Radish
Red Ace Beets
Pepper Mix (Cubanelle, Anahiem, & Poblano)
Bunching Greens (chard, collards or the like)
Lettuce (Bibb & Panisse Oakleaf)
Japanese Red or Southern Giant Mustard Greens
San Fan or Black Summer Bok Choy
Thai and Asian Long Eggplant
Scarlett Queen Salad Turnips
Jalapeno or Serrano Chiles
Sweet Red Peppers
Eggplant with Thai Basil
1 lb eggplant, cut into ½-inch slices
4-5 cloves garlic
1-2 medium sized fresh red or green chilies (or sweet bell pepper for the meek)
1 Tbsp light soy sauce or tamari
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp palm sugar or dark brown sugar
1 bunch Thai basil
Slice the eggplant into ½ inch rounds and fry them over medium high in a wide skillet with ¼ inch of canola or other frying oil. When things get going, the eggplant slices will absorb the oil and you will gradually see it penetrate through to the top. Make sure that they don’t get too brown on the bottom before this happens. If the eggplant slices absorb all the oil and still don’t look wet, you must add more—but don’t worry, because they will release much of it as they cook. When they look like they have absorbed enough oil and they start to get nice and brown on the bottom, flip them over and brown them on the other side. If the pan is dry at this point, don’t add more oil because the slices have absorbed enough to fry themselves. When they’re done, drain the slices on paper towels
Meanwhile, cut the garlic into slices and the chilies into diagonal rings. When the eggplant is ready, remove it and add 2 Tbsp of fresh oil to the pan, add the garlic and half the chilies, and stir-fry until the garlic is golden. Add the soy sauces and sugar, stir for about 30 seconds until the sugar starts to bubble, and return the eggplant to the pan. Add torn basil leaves, stir and serve, garnished with the rest of the chilies (if you dare!)
Lacinato or Russian Kale
Salad Greens, Bibb, or Butterhead Lettuce
Romano Beans or Okra
Sweet or Shishito Peppers
Leutschauer Paprika Peppers
Highlander Yellow Onions
Welcome to our Fall CSA season. We get really excited this time of year, as there is so much diversity of crops. This cool front and shortening days really makes it seem like Fall, although we still have 2 weeks until it is officially here. While we appreciate the weather shift, we are a bit apprehensive of the potential storm later in the week; but all we can do is wait and watch. The weather has a strong hold on us and learning to work with it is the most we can do.
As you can see this week’s share includes more greens, the first of our lettuces and kale as well as some of our paprika peppers. Although these are traditionally dried and used as a flake or powder, they are also delicious when fresh, quite spicy and sweet, with some stone fruit and earthy qualities. We have included a recipe for smoking them, if you crave the smoked paprika flavor; but feel free to use them as they are in any sauté or saucy dish. Once again we had a pretty lame onion yield; but we did get some and although small in size they pack a lot of flavor. These are cured and will hold for a few months either in a pantry or in cold storage. Same goes for the potatoes. Enjoy the share…..Brian and Autumn
Flat Leaf Parsley
Crimson Spineless Okra
Dancer & Italian Eggplant
Celebrity & Salad Tomatoes
Sweet Italian & Peruvian Aji Peppers
Red Round or French Breakfast Radishes
It’s our last Spring/Summer share, signifying a slow seasonal shift into Fall. Mainly marked by the shortening day lengths and sometimes cooler nighttime temperatures, by no means are the Summer days over though. Here in Virginia many of the Summer heat loving crops thrive into October; but we also see the return of more temperate and cool season crops beginning in September. This year they are coming on fast and furious. This is our favorite season as we have the most diversity of crops at one time. Meaning extremely challenging harvest days and wonderful times in the kitchen. Although this coming week is looking quite hot and humid, we are looking forward to some cooling off in the coming weeks, as our workdays are more full than at any other point in the season. We are on a specific weekly planting schedule through the first week of October, in order to sustain successions of various crops through next Spring. We cross our fingers for adequate moisture (not too much rain), so we can direct seed when needed and have to be diligent about keeping weeds in check and pest management in order to have healthy crops. Cover cropping is also a crucial part of our September schedule. We get cropland cleaned up, beds shaped and various cover crops seeded for over the winter, to protect from run off and build soil health; while being ready for early Spring plantings. In addition we are raising two flocks of meat birds throughout the fall; our broiler chickens and Muscovy ducks, so we have to dedicate time to moving these flocks throughout our pastures twice a week. Fall is a busy time, the last big push to get us through the season, with a focus on the coming season and the myriad of projects to do through the Winter to keep the farm in good health.
This week’s share is bringing back some greens and radishes after a big hiatus; paired with the best of summer. The Peruvian Aji dulce peppers, look like little pumpkins and are fabulous thinly sliced in a salad or paired with fresh tomatoes. They are thin skinned and delicate compared to the other sweet peppers. Okra is back, the planting is putting off huge amounts, like many of the warm season crops this summer, we are getting huge amounts at one time and then the crops dwindle a little bit. Fried okra is always fabulous; but you can also try it braised with some tomatoes and sweet peppers for a delicious simple dish. The arugula and radishes have some spice, as always when grown in the heat; but they go great with the sweetness of the tomatoes and peppers. If you make pizza, this here share has some great options. Check out the recipes below and enjoy the share……Autumn and Brian