Provider Farm

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August 14, 2016

This Week's Share

It feels like we have traveled through so many ecozones this summer. First a multimonth long drought left our fields in desert like conditions. Now we apparently live in a tropical rainforest. We are starting to see the extreme weather affecting some crops. Lettuce is no fan off the heat and we are heading into a lettuce drought for at least this week and next.

The dry weather was great for the basil to help ward off downy mildew, a disease that has begun to creep into the Northeast and do in basil before its time. However, with all the humidity and rain we have had, we are starting to see the telltale signs of the disease on the underside of the basil leaves announcing its arrival. This probably mean the basil crop is not long for this world. We will continue to harvest it until it bites the dust. It may not look that pretty but it still tastes good. Basil is damaged by refrigeration and should always be stored on your counter with the stems in a cup of water. It is especially true when downy mildew moves in and the leaves become even more susceptible to chill injury.

The cukes also have their own form of downy mildew and we expect them to be done in very soon.

Enough of the bad news. A early harbinger of fall, the sweet peppers are starting to change color and we should start to see brilliant red and yellow peppers trickling into the share. The fall greens are also ready and our ultra nutritious collards will be making their debut into the share this week. Collards are one of my favorite cooking greens but not super popular in the share. It could be because people don't like them but I am going to hazard a guess that they are just not a very well known vegetable. They are really delicious in the recipe of the week. I know I repeat this recipe a lot but it is one of my favorites and collards shine in it. Collards can also simply be sauteed with some garlic and onions. Add a little water or broth at the end and cook until they reach your desired tenderness. We basically put collards in anything we would use kale in:stir fries, eggs, soups...Their big leaves also make great sandwich wraps.

Recipe of the Week: 

Curried beans and Kale

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tbs. oil, butter or ghee
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbs. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 c. broth
  • 3 cups cooked chick peas or black eyed peas
  • 1 chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 c. chopped greens (any combination of kale, collards, mustard, swiss chard)
Directions: 

Heat oil in pan and add onions, garlic and cumin. Cook until softened. Add the greens and cook stirring until softened.
Stir in curry, ginger, and coriander until absorbed. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes and salt. Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.

Credit: 
1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles

Melon City

Obligatory crew with melons pic.
Obligatory crew with melons pic.

Dear Friends,

Sweaty and sweltering. Between the thunderstorms, rain showers, heat and humidity it feels like we spent the entirety of this past week soaked in one way or another. When we weren’t getting rained on harvesting squash, or hiding from lightning in the truck we were sweating through our t shirts on the back of the transplanter under a blistering sun. Oppressive is a word that comes to mind when I think of the jungle like conditions that have descended on the farm. We do our best to plan the days tasks in such a manor that the work flows easily and we aren’t putting ourselves or our crew in terrible situations. We’re used to trying to ward of heat stroke some days while avoiding the risk of catastrophic lightning strikes other days. When the forecast is calling for both, well that’s a pickle. Fortunately as of Friday afternoon, I can proudly say that no one was struck by lighting or passed out due to heat exhaustion, so Kerry and I can breathe a sigh of relief and hope next weeks brings some more hospitable conditions.

So what do we do when the heat index is over 100? We harvest melons of course! You make hay when the sun shines, and you harvest melons when they’re ripe. This week is what I would call peak melon here at Provider Farm. The Monday morning melon harvest started off like any other. Dew covered vines, and your farmer’s eyes searching for the familiar sights of ripe melons. It wasn’t long before we knew we were in for a big one. First the melons were picked, then windrowed and finally loaded into the truck. By the time all the melons were ready to be shuffled back to the home farm we were the proud owners of over 7,000 pounds of fresh delicious melons. Add the 3,500 pounds we harvested Thursday and we have over 10,000 pounds of melons!

So what happens to all these watermelons and cantaloupes you’re probably wondering. Well, first we distribute what we need to distribute. We can easily go through over 2,000 pounds of melons in one single share distribution. Sometimes more depending on the average size of the melons. So that takes care of 4,000-5,000 pounds. What happens to the rest?  Well, fortunately for us, most of that 10,000 pounds was Crimson Sweet Watermelons. These are the bigger, pink watermelons that are probably the most familiar to all of us. They’re the watermelons I grew up eating. I say fortunately because, in cold storage, or even out of it, these watermelons stay good for a much much longer time than the other melons. We will hold on to the extra Crimson Sweets and keep them cool. By doing this it allows us to extend the CSA melon season a bit longer than the actual melon harvest season.

Of course quality is of our utmost concern, so we frequently go into the cooler and eat two or three watermelons to make sure they are still as sweet and delicious as they were when they were harvested.  While the Crimson Sweets consistent and steadfast in their quality the Sugar Babies, Sunshines and cantaloupes are like a brilliant flash in the darkness. The cantaloupes especially seem to go by oh so fast. From peak ripeness to a little too far gone seems to happen in a few mere days. We’ve even tried picking a little on the less ripe side to see if we can get the cantaloupes to last a bit longer but to no avail. I honestly have no idea how grocery stores can sell cantaloupes unless they are growing them themselves. Maybe they have a cantaloupe patch on the roof that I’ve never noticed. I really don’t know. It’s a shame since cantaloupes are by far my favorite melon, but no matter what we do they just don’t seem to last.

To prolong the joy we freeze as many cantaloupes as we can. When she is not busy taking care of Shep, my Mom is the farm’s principle melon freezer. We put the frozen melon in smoothies primarily and I can honestly say we use it more consistently than any of the things we try and preserve. We are equal opportunity melon freezers here at Provider Farm, and we freeze watermelons too, seeds and all! Fun fact watermelon seeds have the same nutritional profile as almonds(or so I read online, so take that with a grain of salt).

Here I am getting caught up in our melons and forgetting that there is work to do.

Until next week.

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