Summer, Italian Style

We have three great vegetables  in your share this week that really work well together: eggplant, sweet onions and fennel. These three will get you ready for tomatoes and peppers that are coming right around the bend.

We started harvesting eggplant last week and this vegetable goes with almost anything you can roast, grill, fry, or bake. The skinnier Asian varieties have thin skin and don’t need to be peeled.  Our favorite way to enjoy these is split with liberal amounts of olive oil brushed on before almost blackened on the grill.  Mark Bitman, NYT food writer has a great article on everything that can be done with grilled eggplant here.

Sweet onions are a summer treat. They don’t store like the ones you find in the produce aisle and really do best raw or with minimal cooking. The have a low sulfur content (that make you cry onion scent) and blend well with light summer produce like summer squash, cukes, and eggplant.

Fennel, like eggplant, really shines on the grill. Halve or quarter this bulb and slather with olive oil before hitting the grill. Cook until it starts to brown and is tender when pierced with a knife.  Roasting in the oven with eggplant is also great. Toss with some summer onions and you are in business.

What’s in Upic:

Flowers

Herbs

What’s in the share with week:

Fennel

Kohlrabi

Eggplant

Sweet Onions

Cukes

Zucchini

Lettuce

Chickories

Arugula

Chard

Tough on Greens

Life is tough for leafy greens this year. Many of you have surely noticed that the diversity and amounts of leafy greens we’ve had so far have been less this year. This is not because we think you need fewer greens or that we have devoted the time we used to spend on these crops to some other hobby, we quite simply have been struggling with them this season. Stress from heat, wet and pests have pushed several plantings to bolt before they were of size to harvest. Notable losses have tatsoi, boy choi, arugula and most painfully, kale.

We plant these crops in multiple successions over the season and hope to harvest one and seamlessly move into the next, providing a relatively constant supply. For example, we sow tatsoi nine times, kale ten and arugula eight between April and August. There is always the expectation that we will lose or have poor yield from a planting or two during the average summer. This summer has not been average. We have several good looking plantings in various stages of growth and hope that our greens supply will become more regular as we move into August and beyond. As always, we’ll continue to do our best to bring you the best produce each season will allow. Your support of the farm and our family makes all we do here possible. Thanks.

Praise the Weeding Crew!

Thanks to a group of almost twenty folks this past Saturday and another ten on Sunday we were able to clean up the weeds from the lettuce and bok choi you see this weekend get a good start on the parsnips. Everyone was hung ho and we flew through over a thousand bed feet of crops! Many hands…

Weeding Wednesdays 11-1 -meet us at the CSA barn.

What’s in Upic?

Beans…the last week for this planting

Flowers

Herbs

What’s in the share?

Kohlrabi

Arugula

Baby Bok Choi

Lettuce

Carrots

Beets

Scallions

Show Me Heat


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I grew up in the great state of Missouri where July is hot. Thinking back, I  have memories (not necessarily fond ones) of sleeping with my family on the floor of the living room under our one ceiling fan (no ac in 1977) and sweating so much that there was real concern of dehydration before the sunrise. This week has been hot, but not Missouri hot. That said, my blood has thinned in the twenty plus years since I lived in the midwest and I’m looking forward to some moderation.

Who loves the heat? Most of our crops have been soaking it up. Tomatoes, sweet potatoes and melons especially have been flourishing to the point that I can almost watch them grow. With all the heat irrigation has been a constant, running our watering systems at night to cut down on loss from evaporation and deliver water to the plants that has not been super heated by the sun first. The inch of rain we had last night (sunday) was a blessing as it meant we can take a break from running water for a few days at least.

Wheat Harvest

A few of us spent Sunday afternoon harvesting our trial wheat crop with great success. We have been growing out three wheat varieties supplied by researchers at UMaine Orono with the hope of adding a bit of grain into our rotation here. As this crop matured we had hoped to find someone local who could harvest this 1/4 acre crop mechanically but had no luck. We contacted our friend Jim Cornish of Harpswell and he managed to round up a few folks with scythes and in a couple of hours we had the whole crop cut, tied and loaded on the trailer waiting for the threshing machine to be fired up next weekend.

Weeding Wednesdays Are On

Come join the crew on Wednesdays from 11 to 1pm as week tackle weeds (which love heat) on the farm. Meet us at the CSA building and we’ll go down to the fields together. Thanks to Otey and Paul for their help last week.

What’s Orange, Crunchy and Sweet?

Carrots make their first appearance this week and we hope to have a pretty steady supply most weeks for the rest of the season. We are harvesting these sweet roots this week with the help of our farm camp kids and they did a great job today helping up pull over 300 lbs. in about 25 minutes.

What’s in Upic…

Flowers

Herbs

Snap Beans

Whats in the share?

Lettuce

Chard

Carrots

Summer Squash

Cucumbers

Nature is messy…then there’s the farm.

July is our plateau. We have planted all of our major crops. We are starting to spend more time harvesting crops than caring for them. The days are getting shorter. The farm crew is halfway through their season with us. All of these things are happening this week and I can’t find the tomato stake driver.

Amongst the straight rows, uniform crops, and closely timed succession plantings, agriculture does very well to mimic nature and all of her chaos, especially on this farm in July. When we stop to look around at what we do for a living here we’re either amazed, horrified or a bit both. I could wax poetically about the successions of the seasons, the wondrous cycles of life and death we witness, or the nobility of a days work, but in reality farming is about taking a whole year to make a mess and then clean it up.

We are growing twelve acres of vegetables this season. On those twelve acres we have 48 different crops and within those crops over 120 different varieties. Each crop and many of the varieties require their own specific treatment (spacing, trellising, watering weed control, etc) and most treatment has some special tool. Over the course of a season, try as we will to stay organized, all of this stuff that we need gets spread all over the place. Imagine hammers, lawn staples, wooden stakes, plastic tubing, rope, wire hoops, irrigation pipe and thousands of square feet of white row cover spread over twelve acres. Now most things are stacked or collected in buckets which helps them from “going back to the earth” but that doesn’t make it any easier to find the one bucket of staples when you can’t remember in which 4000 square foot tomato house you left them.  Thankfully much like the big bang/big crunch formation theory of the universe, July signals a stop to our outward momentum and we now begin the slow process of coalescing back into a tighter, more dense pattern i.e. our mess is hidden in the barn for the winter.

Weeding Wednesdays

Come join the farm crew from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm Wednesdays in July to help tackle some of our weeds and chit chat while we work. It’s a great way to get into the fields and see what’s going on with your food as well as to get to know some of the folks that work hard to bring it in each week.  Meet at the CSA barn at 11:00 each Wednesday and we’ll go down to the fields together.

What’s in Upic

Peas (waning, they don’t like the heat)

Herbs

Flowers (just a few to start)

What’s in the Share

Broccoli

Beets

Lettuce heads

Cucumbers

Zuchinni

Coming next week…carrots!

The British Invasion…

Each Monday the farm crew and I take a field walk to look over all the crops and make a list of tasks, ideas, and problems to solve for the week ahead.  Yesterday I felt like Ed Sullivan as everywhere we went I was introducing the beetles. We have been invaded by this pest family, and while it happens every year at some point, this year they seem to have all gotten off the boat at the same time. In the potatoes we have colorado potato beetles which eat the leaves of the plants almost as quickly as they can reproduce.  In the zucchini, cukes, melons and winter squash the cucumber beetle has moved in they eat everything, leaves, flowers and fruit.  And in the Brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, arugula, bok choi, etc.) we have the flea beetle.  Small and fast these guy take many small bites out or each leaf, leaving what looks like shotgun damage.

It appears the warm spring has left us a healthy overwintering population of these guys. We hope that our crop rotation, some well-timed organic controls and our friendly on-farm army of beneficial insects will keep John, Paul, George, and Ringo from taking over the whole place.

Sweet Goodbyes

Goodbye to strawberries and hello to cabbage! While we sometimes wish strawberries would last all summer, they wouldn’t taste as good and we couldn’t savor that June excitement if they kept going and going.  Cabbage on the other hand, that’s a crop to build some solid, long-term enthusiasm about. These “one-meal”  heads have become a mainstay for us the past few years. They’re tender and mild, great for cole slaw, stir fry or braising. Look on the website for some good starter recipes if you are coming up blank… Don’t fall behind with the cabbage, we have savoy heads coming right along as well! And as with all the produce please let us know if you’d like additional ideas and recipes!

Bitter and Sweet

In addition to some lovely lettuce heads we also have three additional greens to toss into your next salad. Radicchio, endive and escarole are all members of the chicory family and can offer some new texture and a bit of bitter richness to the standard tossed salad. They do well with stronger dressings (balsamic vinaigrette) that are tossed together with all of your ingredients. My favorite is radicchio. I love the color!

Upic Field Opens this week!

This is the official opening week of our Upic field with snow and snap peas as well as a few herbs. We are asking that you limit your pea picking to 1 pint this week to ensure that everyone can enjoy this crop. We will have pint boxes in the field. If you are new to the CSA and the upic field here’s how it works…

Here’s the skinny on how Upic works. We prepare, plant, and weed this ½ acres plot just for you, the members of the farm. Growing there you will find green beans, herbs, flowers, and most notably this week, peas. These are crops that are particularly rewarding to harvest and can add a lot of value to your share as they often are great accompaniments to the “field crops” we harvest and wash for you each week.

The important thing to understand about this field is that it belongs to everyone who has a share in the farm. There are 250 shares this year and we try very hard to plan each planting so that everyone will be able to enjoy every crop. The idea is that all of these crops are compliments to the field crops and not necessarily staples in and of themselves. While we would love to be able to plant enough Upic basil for everyone to make pesto for the winter or sow enough beans to share with your neighbors, it’s just not possible in the space we have to work with. Those of you that split shares, we ask that you be particularly aware of your picking quantities.

With the exception of these first couple weeks we will not suggest amounts for you to take from the upic field. The idea is that we all take our share and consciously leave behind enough for everyone else. The upic field has always been our grand experiment in community spirit and in thirteen years of CSA growing all over the Northeast we have never been disappointed.

What’s in the share this week…

Broccoli

Cabbage

Lettuce

Chickories

Cucumbers

Summer Squash

Happy Eating,

Seth & Maura