Provider Farm

From our fields, for your family


September 30, 2016

Don't forget to get your renewals in by October 14. Winter shares are also still availale.

This Week's Share

It is October so it means it is time for the pumpkins to enter the share. The kiddos have been looking longingly at the pumpkins decorating the renewal table and the pumpkins are cured, so we won't hold out for any longer. These pumpkins are sugar pumpkins, the type that are good for eating (jack o' lantern pumpkins are watery) so they can serve a dual purpose, decoration and food! They will make a fine pie, or a curry or muffins. Just don't let them sit out on your stoop when its too cold if you hope to eat it. Pumpkins like to be warm and temps below 50 degrees will cause them to degrade more rapidly.

Our broccoli successions have not been flowing quite as intended this year. Usually once the broccoli starts, we have it in good supply until the end of the year. I'll chalk that up to the drought slowing growth of the plants. Fortunately, the next planting is looking good and ready so we should see it this week. Unfortunately, it also happens to be in a field heavily impacted by deer despite our fencing and best efforts to keep them out. So lets hope they just stick to the chard and lettuce. Speaking of chard, it has been decimated by the dear so this is probably the end of the chard season and boy was it a good one. I don't think we've ever had such consistent gorgeous chard.

New this week is our fall radishes. We grow both watermelon radishes and purple radishes. Watermelon radishes are white on the inside and a beautiful rose inside when you slice into them, like a watermelon. These radishes are sweet and crunchy with a very mild radish kick. They are fantastic in salads raw, but also cook up great in soups, root roasts and stir fries.

This week we'll have red potatoes in the share. These are delicious roasted, sauteed and mashed. i have been enjoying them in curries.


Recipe of the Week: 

Black Eyed Peas and Rice with Pumpkin

  • 1 cup dried black eyed peas
  • 1/4 c. peanut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 to 2 chilis chopped, or one whole habanero (do not chop)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 c. pumpkin cut into 1/3" dice
  • 2 c. long grain rice
  • 1 1/2 c. coconut milk
  • salt to taste

Pick over black eye peas and wash and drain them. Soak the beans over night Drain and boil in 4 cups water. Cook until tender, reserve liquid.
Add oil to pot and add onion. Cook until edges of onion browns. Add chilis and garlic. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes then add pumpkin. Fry a few more minutes then add rice. Stir and saute rice for a couple minutes. Add beans, coconut milk and 1 1/2 c. bean water.
Turn heat down and cook 25 minutes . Remove from flame and let rest 15 minutes.

World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Our fall beat game is strong.
Our fall beat game is strong.

Dear Friends,

September has drawn to an end. The leaves are changing and October is here with all that it brings with it. This week we put in the last seeding of salad greens and planted the last heads of lettuce. We have reached the last line of our crop plan and now we are moving our attention to bulk harvesting roots and getting ready for winter. The weather has taken a definite fall turn as well. Temperatures dipped below 40 degrees on Sunday night, taking out the last remaining zucchini and summer squash. We have had a lot of cool, cloudy days and even a bit of rain this week. It’s a welcome change after the endless hot and sunny day that was our summer. The sweat shirts an wool hats are back out in full force on the farm, and it won’t be long before we start seeing regular frosts in the forecast.

The unseasonably cool night on Sunday caught us a little bit by surprise. For most of the crops we’re still harvesting a little dip in the mercury is no big deal. For our sweet potatoes however, the chilly night was just the latest in what has really been a series of unfortunate events for one of our favorite crops. From the get go our sweet potatoes got off to a rough start. Unlike regular potatoes where you plant a little chunk of potato, or broccoli where you plant a transplant you start from seed, when we plant sweet potatoes we plant what are called ‘slips’. Sweet potato slips are a portion of living sweet potato plant. We don’t make our own slips, instead we buy them from a sweet potato company usually these places are located in Tennessee or North Carolina. Slips are usually about 8 inches long, and have a clear top and bottom, sometimes they have a few leaves, other times they look totally dead. You stick the slip in the ground and after a few days it starts to put out roots, then new leaves, then it grows into a big healthy sweet potato plant.

The slips we got this year were not good. They were slimey and looked pretty much like garbage. In the past we have planted slips that looked totally dead, only to have a beautiful looking field of sweet potatoes 2 weeks later, so I didn’t think too much of it and we planted the slips. After a couple of weeks it was evident that the slips had mostly died and were not going to grow. At that point it was past the season to order replacements and we were stuck with what we had. “Alright I thought, it’s not great but we will just have fewer bigger sweet potatoes…. It will be fine” The ground hogs had other ideas.

Just as the slips that survived started to really settle in and grow, they caught the eye of a couple hungry ground hogs. What few plants we did have were under a full fledged assault from what I assume must have been thousands of ground hogs, considering all the damage they were doing. We covered the plants with row covers to try and ward off the hungry mammals, while we searched for their hole. After a few weeks we were able to get the better of the ground hogs, but they set the sweets back considerably. Adding insult to injury, while the row cover was protecting the sweet potatoes from ground hogs, it was allowing the weeds to flourish, undeterred.

 At this point we seriously contemplated just tilling in the whole crop and calling it a loss. After some deliberation we decided to weed them the best we could and just roll with whatever we got. Fast forward a few weeks and we were shocked to see a beautiful field of sweet potato vines. Lush and dark green the plants were doing great. There was however a problem, all the stress in their early life had severely stunted their development. Usually we start to find decent sized roots by the end of August. This year they were still teeny tiny by the beginning of September. Delaying the harvest as long as possible seemed obvious. The problem with sweet potatoes though, is that they are extremely cold sensitive. You really don’t want them to have to go through any extended period of cold temperatures. We also weren’t sure how much growth we would really get with the shorter days and cooler temps, but we decided to just see what would happen.

As September rolled along we were finally starting to see sweet potatoes form. Maybe it’s all going to be ok… Enter the rodents. Voles I believe but I’m not totally sure. The sweet potato vines create a very safe habitat for small rodents to sneak in and nibble on their roots. This is similar to what happened with our carrots earlier this season. At this point, it started to really feel like the deck was stacked against our sweet potatoes this year. Not wanting to give up at this point, we set traps and took all the steps we could think of short of releasing thousands of feral cats in order to combat the rodents. September 25th, I was actually starting to feel okay about the sweets, they just need a couple more weeks and we will be alright. September 26th the vines were all dead from the cold.

Well so much for that.

Once the vines die you have to get the crop out. So we did. There were definitely some sweet potatoes in there, not as many as we would have hoped for,but some sweet potatoes none the less. All in all we probably got less than 25% of what we hoped for but that is just the way the cookie crumbles some times. We have extra of other storage crops so we may be able to pull off a trade and find some sweet potatoes from one of our farming friends who had a better year.

I should also mention that good or bad, sweet potatoes need to cure for a few weeks. Right at harvest they are very starchy and not at all sweet. It takes several weeks in high heat and humidity post harvest for the starches to convert to sugar, so they won’t make their way into the share for a few weeks yet.

On behalf of your farm crew,

Hannah, Holly, Chris, Erica and Larry

Your Farmers,

Max and Kerry

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