Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Big Red Farm Stand, Wednesday October 1, 1-5pm

Hello friends,
Smallest farm crew member
chows down on watermelon

For those of you keeping score, that rain we were so excited about last week didn't amount to nearly enough; we only got about half an inch, which just barely settled the dust.  So, dust off, as it were, those rain dances again -- we still need them!

We are sorry to announce that tomato season seems to be drawing to a close (well, we're mostly sorry).  Heirloom and cherry tomatoes will be pretty much done after tomorrow, and the other varieties are starting to slow down.  This coming week will be the last week to order bulk tomatoes -- that is to say, you can order any time up to 9pm next Tuesday, 10/7, and next Wednesday, 10/8, will be the last opportunity to pick up your order -- but we anticipate having tomatoes at the farm stand for at least one more week after that.

Happily, fall crops are coming in right on schedule.  We have tons of broccoli, winter squash, and potatoes of various kinds (look for red-skinned and Russet this week), as well as newcomer red cabbage.  And, since we're still having beautiful, warm, sunny days, I can't recommend our yellow-fleshed watermelon highly enough!  We've been cracking one open for the farm crew most afternoons, and there's nothing so refreshing after two hours of picking tomatoes or digging potatoes...

Yarn drying, weighted with
various kitchen implements
to set the twist
And as if that weren't enough, it's October, and October means yarn!  This week we will have some handspun yarn from the fleeces of two of our sheep, Andy and Edgar.  Skeins are 100 yards, fairly fine weight, $10 each.  Come check out our woolliest farm product!

Late blight looks like rot,
but the "rotten" spot is
hard, not soft

Late blight, arguably the most serious of the many fungal diseases to which tomatoes are susceptible, is a perennial problem for chemical-free growers in the Northeast.  It seems to show up at some point every year.  There are preventative sprays that are approved for organic production, the most common being copper (which isn't exactly a totally benign substance), though folks are having good results spraying with compost tea as well; the idea is that the compost tea contains lots of beneficial bacteria and fungi which will fight off the diseases.  Lack of time and equipment has so far prevented us from experimenting with compost tea, but it certainly sounds like the way to go.

We have been noticing small amounts of late blight in our tomato rows for a couple of weeks now, but nothing compared to last year; this is probably due to what a dry season this has been, a not insignificant silver lining!  In 2013, if memory serves, we stopped picking tomatoes somewhere around the second week of September, because late blight had rendered the fruit unsellable.  This year, we are actually wondering whether disease or cold weather will finish off the tomato season first -- at this point, the field is wide open!

Who you gonna call?
Jonas and Kedzie.
The other sure sign of fall is that we put our last cash crops of the season into the field this week.  The farm crew planted the last few trays of lettuce and kale seedlings, which should carry us through to Thanksgiving.  The only things we'll be planting from here on out are cover crops and next year's garlic.

Fall is the big time for brassicas -- a huge plant family that includes cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, arugula, turnips, bok choy, and much more -- and as you surely know if you've ever grown any of these veggies in your own garden, there are these little green caterpillars, the offspring of the pesky Cabbage Moth, that love nothing more than to reduce your nice brassicas to something resembling Swiss cheese.  One of the very few pesticides we use on the Big Red Farm is Bt (Baccilus thuringensis, a bacteria that is fatal to caterpillars but non-toxic to humans and other animals and birds), which we spray on the brassicas every ten days or so to combat these "cabbage worms."  This week, two members of our farm crew donned backpack sprayers and fought the good fight to keep your broccoli, kale and cabbages caterpillar-free.


I am going to take this moment to confess that I am not actually a huge broccoli fan.  Broccoli was one of a number of vegetables that I had to make a conscious effort to learn to like once I became a farmer, and the plain steamed version, with or without cheese sauce, still does nothing for me.  However, there are lots of other ways to prepare broccoli, as it turns out: roasted, slawed (if we can pass that as a word), and frittered, to name a few.  These broccoli parmesan fritters are... well, I think it's right there in the name.  They're really good, especially with a fried egg on top.  {Broccoli Parmesan Fritters}
Several people have asked me what to do with winter squash in recent weeks.  There's always the slice-it-in-half-scoop-out-the-seeds-and-roast-with-butter-and-maple-syrup approach, which is especially great with the smaller varieties, like Acorn and Delicata, since each half makes a nice single serving.  There's also this salad, which I've made dozens of times, and it is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.  But in looking around for something new, I came across this recipe for Delicata Squash Sformato, sort of a souffle that doesn't souffle (no air or egg whites whipped in, just squashed baked with other tasty things).  Though the original recipe calls for Delicata squash, you can use any kind at all.  {Winter Squash Sformato}


This week we hope to have the following available from 1pm to 5pm in front of Pop Hall:
  • Basil (limited quantity) - $1.50 bunch
  • Beets - $3.00 lb
  • Broccoli - $2.50 lb
  • Red Cabbage - $2.00 each
  • Carrots - $2.50 bunch
  • Eggplant - $3.00 lb
  • Flowers - $5.00 bouquet
  • Garlic - $1.00 bulb
  • Kale - $2.50 bunch
  • Lettuce - $2.50 head
  • Mint - $1.50 bunch
  • Okra (limited quantity) - $2.50 pt
  • Onions - $2.00 lb
  • Sweet Peppers - $3.00 lb
  • Assorted Hot Peppers - 2/$1.00
  • Potatoes - $3.50 qt
  • Rainbow Chard - $2.50 bunch
  • Cherry Tomatoes (limited quantity, last week for these) - $3.50 pt
  • Heirloom Tomatoes (last week for these) - $3.50 lb
  • 'Juliet' Mini-Plum Tomatoes (limited quantity, last week for these) - $4.00 qt
  • Roma Tomatoes - $2.50 lb
  • Slicing Tomatoes - $2.50 lb
  • Watermelons - $2.75 each
  • Winter Squash (Acorn, Butternut, Delicata) -- $1.50 lb


The farm stand is located right in front of Pop Hall, at the top of the stairs that lead down into the Bowl. Enter campus by the main gate on Route 206 (opposite the Lawrenceville Post Office and Craven Lane) and bear right into the circle. Bear right again at the fork in the road and continue straight until you see the Farm Stand signs.

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