Fresh Earth Farms - CSA

Fresh Earth Farms Newsletter 8-10-10

It has been and continues to be very busy here on the farm.  Seems like the work peaks around the same time the temperature peaks!  Not fair.  But now that I think of it, the work also peaks when the temperatures dip.  And it also peaks when the temperatures stay constant.  In fact the works peaks from about Mid March to the end of October, then it stops peaking.

Our biggest project right now is digging the garlic.  We have a lot of garlic to dig and a short time to dig it.  We want the garlic to be mature and as large as possible but if it is left in the ground too long it starts to separate.  Once it separates it allows pathogens to enter the bulb which shortens its ability to store.  So we have to get it all in as soon as possible.

We stated the project last week and got two beds out of thirteen done.  Yesterday we brought in one more bed after we finished the harvest for the day.  Today we are focused on getting as much as possible in, but it is starting to rain so time to write the newsletter.

The attached picture is what garlic looks like when it is planted upside-down.  The clove that was planted knew which way was up but the person who planted it didn’t.  I’d like to say something like, “How does it feel to be dumber than a garlic clove?” but since the people who helped were volunteers I will just say, “Good thing garlic cloves are smart!”  Actually there are very few of these so our helpers are smarter than 99.9% of the garlic cloves.

Once we harvest the garlic we hang it in the garlic curing chamber for the appropriate amount of time to “cure”.  That is why it is called a garlic “curing” chamber.  Most people who see the garlic curing chamber comment on how closely it resembles a detached garage.  This is just clever camouflage to protect the garlic from unscrupulous garlic wranglers.  You can never be too careful.

Once the garlic is cured we cut off the tops and roots and start handing it out.  Hey wait a minute Chris.  Why does garlic have to cure?  Great question.  The best answer in my opinion is that uncured garlic is hard to peel.  Another really good answer is if you cut the tops off before it is cured it exposes the bulb to pathogens that could cause it to rot.  So you could dig the garlic, cut off the tops and use the garlic right away — after struggling to peel it — but we don’t want our members to struggle, so we cure it as a benefit to you.

We grow eight or so varieties of garlic, three of which seem to do better than the others.  Our most productive garlic is Chesnok Red.  We call it Cheshok Red because when I first bought it I misread the handwritten “n” as an “h”.  I think this is how most new garlic varieties are created.  Another variety worth mentioning is Music.  It has the biggest bulbs and cloves.  Frequently there are less than five cloves per bulb – five big cloves per bulb.  It is a challenge to increase the planting stock of Music. Since a new bulb is created by planting a clove from the old bulb, and Music usually only has four cloves, we usually only get four new bulbs, if all works perfectly, from each old bulb.  So trying to increase the planting stock is a long term project.

I would expect we’d start handing out garlic sometime in the month of August, probably in two weeks or so. 

What is on tap for this week?  Hmmm, not completely sure yet.  For the most part the brassicas are gone.  We tried to nurture the broccoli along but we never got a break in the heat so it never really got very big before it started separating.  Last season was a lot cooler so we had good broccoli until late in August, then we had more late broccoli in September.  This year we are waiting until we get a cool break in the weather to get the fall broccoli in.  Hopefully it will come soon or there will be no fall broccoli.  Thus is the nature of farming.

But back to the question.  We will definitely have tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, summer squash, onions (maybe the cippolini onions) and cabbage (though this is about done as well).  We should have peppers, eggplants and a few cucumbers.  The original cuke plants seem to have given up on producing new fruits and the second planting haven’t grown sufficiently to produce fruits yet so therefore the “few” in the above sentence.  Hopefully the new cukes will start coming on in a few weeks.  We should be getting beans from the second planting.  We will probably dig another bed or two of carrots.  I think there will be fennel and Daikon radishes, but no guarantees.  I’d go out and take a look but it is raining right now.  Oh, and we should dig up a few more of the beets and maybe basil and maybe cilantro if it is big enough.  Wow, that is more stuff than I originally thought!  Wait, there is plenty of sweet corn as well!

There is always EggShare.

No FruitShare this week.  We will be getting wonderful Colorado peaches next week.  You can order them a la carte.  $39 for a single layer box (about 9#) and $63 for a two layer box (about 20#).  Let me know by Monday if you would like to order them.  They are certified organic and delicious!

Pick-up your MeatShare from last Friday if you haven’t already.

Pick-up your CheeseShare from last Wednesday if you haven’t already.

That is all for now.  Send in your questions, recipes, brain teasers, etc.

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