Thursday, July 2, 2009

Knee High by the 4th of July

We've delivered for about five weeks, and soon we'll be having our peppers and tomatoes to add to the list. The last couple of weeks have provided some delicious raspberries, and our blueberries are just getting started.

Every year it seems like the conditions are right for some plants, while not as much for others. This year, for example, our onions are growing as never before--we have huge Walla Walla Sweets, our carrots have been great, as have our snap peas. The broccoli is very slow, however, and the leeks have never really taken off. Our corn is easily knee high, and it looks like we will have a great crop, and the potatoes are looking great too.

The semi-greenhouse we have over the tomatoes and peppers is really helping them along. With the 90-degree Fahrenheit heat this week, we should be able to send some peppers in our boxes next week.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

First Deliveries

Last week we made our first CSA deliveries. We decided to use wine boxes, because we are in Oregon Wine Country, and they are just about the right size. Included in the box is a list of the produce, and often a recipe.

This week, here is what is in our box:

Rounded Rectangle: Jeff’s Oatmeal Bread Ingredients: • 3 T. Yeast • 2/3 cup shortening • 1 cup warm water • 1 T salt (4 tsp if you use unsalted butter) • 3 cups boiling water • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats • 1/2 cup honey • 1/2 cup molasses • 11-12 cups flour 1. Proof yeast in 1 cup warm water.  Combine boiling water, rolled oats, honey, molasses, and shortening and salt. Allow to cool until lukewarm. 2. Stir in 4 cups of flour and beat well. Add yeast, and mix thoroughly, stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on flour surface and knead 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, or beat in KitchenAid for 2 minutes. 3. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise until double in bulk 1 1/2 hours-2 hours. Punch down; divide dough into quarters, cover and let rest 10 minutes. 4. Grease four 9 x 5" bread pans and coat inside with rolled oats. Shape dough into loaves and place in pans. Cover and let rise until double about 45 minutes. 5. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 325 degrees for 30 minutes more.   *Dough should form a ball that comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Using enough flour makes sure that the loaf does not “fall” after it cools. Tom Thumb Lettuce
This unusual miniature butterhead lettuce produces heads about the size of a baseball, ideal for individual salads. Dark green somewhat fleshy outer leaves wrap around a creamy yellow mild-flavored interior.

New Red Fire Lettuce
A feast for the eyes as well as the palate. The most ruby red loose-leaf variety in our Territorial Seeds company trials. New Red Fire produces an impressive loose leaf head, excellent for the specialty market or gourmet restaurant gardener.

Zlata Radish
This flaxen, soft-skinned beauty comes to us from Poland. Zlata is a silky yellow, medium-sized, round to plum shaped radish with a crisp, bright white interior. Its crunchy texture and excellent, mildly spicy flavor will add zing to any relish tray or salad.

Yaya Carrots
A very sweet, crisp Nantes carrot that raises the bar on flavor and quality. Yaya's 6 inch, bright orange, cylindrical roots hold very well in the ground making it an excellent choice for a fall crop. Add the extra sweetness that comes along with cool weather and you have one delectable carrot. Strong tops make Yaya a great variety for bunching.


We don’t know what kind it is, as Thelma McKibben had it on the farm. We know it is hardy though, as it has survived being moved three times. Bestma’s Rhubarb Crunch recipe included.

Walla Walla Onions

Just a few early ones.

Salad Greens

A combination of Beet Greens, Swiss Chard. Add to your salad to give it an added zip, or add to a stir-fry.

Oregon Giant Peas
This snow pea has unusually large, broad pods growing to 5 inches long. They are thick, very sweet, and tender, and remain so longer than others. The plant is 30-36 inches tall, similar to that of Oregon Sugar Pod II. Developed by Dr. Jim Baggett at Oregon State University.

A loaf of Jeff's Oatmeal Bread

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Soon, very soon

It looks like we will begin deliveries for the CSA members next week. The sunshine as of late has helped us catch up a bit, and the semi-greenhouse we built a couple of weeks ago will also help with the peppers and tomatoes in this area. We transplanted more tomato and pepper plants from Territorial Seeds, which Jeff was able to stop off at on his trip down to the ELCA Oregon Synod Assembly last week. Included are a range of tomatoes that include chocolate cherry tomatoes and Gill's All-Purpose, which Territorial describes as "A cross between Wasatch Beauty and Pepper tomato, Gill's All-Purpose was bred in 1947 by the Gill Brothers Seed Company in Portland, Oregon." We also put in some sweet peppers and Italian pepperoncini, and the corn is finally up!

It was a beautiful day out on the farm, so our Oregon Pioneer Roses are in full bloom, the first to bloom each spring. We're trying out a recipe for rose jelly, where you make a "tea" with rose petals, and then make it into jelly. As Mom put it, "We'll either have some rose jelly, or a nice syrup to pour over our pancakes." We'll let you know how it turns out, and for the CSA folks, you'll know by whether it is labeled as "Oregon Rose Jelly," or "Oregon Rose Syrup..."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

We've been doing a lot of planting for the CSA, although the early stuff is quite a bit behind given all of the rain we've had. We've talked with a couple of others gardners, and most of us are running about 3 weeks behind what the normal growing season is. We've put in some corn, planted more lettuce, and planted the first round of green beans.

We also built a bit of a greenhouse structure over two of the beds in order to help with production for the tomatoes and peppers. The latter often suffer a lot out here, given all of the wind we have coming through the Van Duzer corridor from the coast. The tomatoes just need heat!

Hannah, Miriam and our friend Kristy helped us put up the greenhouse. We've also had Beth and Erik over several times working on the the garden, and that has been a big help. Below are some pictures of what we've been up to!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Article on Ethical Eating

Siobhan Phillips writes an interesting article on Ethical Eating, where she looks at whether or not people can eat the way that Michael Polan (Omnivore's Dilemma) or Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) suggest. On the one hand, I am heartened by the fact that she concludes that yes, one can. On the other, I find it interesting that her original perception of eating locally, more carefully, and simply is something that is elitist--rather than something born out of excess and a reliance on people processing our food for us. Still a good article, given her goal of trying to find out how it can be done.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Signs of Spring at Barn Owl CSA

There are signs of spring at the BOF-CSA, especially since the last major planting in March's tsunami-like conditions. Beth and Erik came over and we replanted spinach and transplanted peas (the latter to replace the lovely meal provided to the voles). We also planted potatoes, including the staple Yukon Gold, but also some Territorial Seeds All Blue Organics

and Russian Banana Fingerling OrganicPotatoes.

The sun is out, although who knows for how long, but trees are blossoming. We're also assuming that our barn owl couple is nesting, as they are now very upset when we go in the barn...

Enjoy a few spring pictures

Two indications of spring; the goldfinches have changed color, and the pear trees are in bloom.

Sunrise on the farm...

...and a bit of sun for planting.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oregon Spring--rain and voles

The week before spring break we were able to get some seeds into the ground, in some ways taking a chance on the weather given that the forecast was for rain. And rain it did. Even with the raised bed, I wondered about whether or not the seeds would be washed away, and some of the lettuce (which is planted very shallowly) probably did. It has been so cold and wet, that germination is taking it's time, and I still have yet to see whether or not some of the beets and spinach will come out of the ground.

We are having a particularly big year for voles, which are a smaller version of a mouse almost, and their holes and paths are everywhere. When I got back from Guatemala went out to the garden and noticed three nice 18 inch wide rows of pockmarked soiling, almost looking as if a golf ball had been dropped onto the ground repeatedly. The voles had gone through and dug up every single pea individually. One of my former students and her husband (Leslie Lukas-Recio and Manuel Recio) run a specialty farm called Veridian Farms (Shameless Plug: check them out at the Portland Saturday Market if you get a chance) took one look at that and said, "yep, need to transplant seedlings." You would think that with two barn owls, two cats and all the hawks around we would keep them down a bit, but there are some real vole hotels around this place.

The good news is that we got our Territorial Seed potatoes; they will be ready to plant this week, and we will get another load of mushroom compost to get the rest of the raised beds filled. In the meantime, some more of that nice warm weather would be nice!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

First spring planting

A lot of seeds and plants we are using are from Territorial Seed Company, which is based out of Cottage Grove, Oregon. Steve Solomon started Territorial in 1979, and later sold it to Tom and Julie Johns in 1985. One of the reasons we use their seeds is because Solomon started Territorial with the idea of developing seeds that were better suited for the Pacific Northwest, and this is also his philosophy in his book (now in its 6th edition) called Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades: The Complete Guide to Organic Gardening. We use Solomon's book as our CSA bible, since it is so well focused on this region.

A couple of weeks ago Hannah, Miriam and I worked in some of the organic fertilizer mix from Territorial, and did some prep work for the raised beds. I had hoped to get some planting done earlier, but we have had snow and pretty cold soil temperatures. This did not stop me from getting the garlic in earlier, but we finally got some planting done today. I have a couple of students who are working with me on the CSA, and even though it was raining like crazy today (after a nice sunny end of the week on Thursday and Friday), we practically had to do it. Beth and Erik showed up and were game for some wet weather planting. In part, this needs to be done because I (Jeff) leave for Guatemala for a Habitat build on Thursday, meaning no planting would be done until the beginning of April!

A couple of the things we got in are kind of cool, one of them I mentioned earlier is the garlic. The garlic I chose is a Inchellium Red Garlic, a mild garlic which was originallyfound up on the Colville Indian Reservation in Northern Washington.

We also put in some Walla Walla sweet onions, and some Copra onions. The reason for the two kinds is that the Walla Walla's are typical of sweet onions, in that they need to be eaten fairly quickly after harvest. Copra's on the other hand, are good as storage onions. Once they are set out and hardened off a bit, they will keep for months.

We also put in the first round of carrots, spinach, beets, radishes, lettuce, kale, leeks. All of these are good cold weather/early summer crops. We also put in some Oregon Giant snow peas, developed by Jim Baggett at Oregon State University. They could have gone in much earlier, given the fact that they germinate in very cold weather. I always like instructions such as "plant as soon as you are able to work the soil," which really means, as soon as you can stand the weather out there, get out and plant them!

Friday, February 27, 2009

New Raised Beds

The Barn in Question, at least for the Barn Owls

New raised beds, using logs blown down from a storm

The "help," filling the raised beds with mushroom compost

Thursday, February 26, 2009

First, there was reading

Over the past year we have been doing a lot of reading about food and food production. Probably the book that led most directly to the Community Supported Agriculture idea was Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. At the same time as I was reading that, I was also reading Supper of the Lamb by Capon, which is about how we consume food. My friend Mark Pederson lent me the latter book, written by an Episcopalian priest in the 1960s, and it is interesting to see how that long ago Capon was questioning the amount of food we eat, and the lack of regard with which we eat it.

Pollan's book got us to thinking about how we use the seven acres we have, not particularly well. The key to that book for us was that it gets you thinking, even if you realize you cannot reach the ideal. Some of the books you may want to look at are:

Mark Bittman, Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating, 2009
Robert Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection, 1967
Ellis Jones, The Better World Shopping Guide, 2008
Ellis Jones, et al., The Better World Handbook, 2007
Barbara Kingsolver, et al., Animal, Mineral, Miracle: A year of food life, 2008
Michael Pollan,
The Omnivore’s Dilemma, 2007
In Defense of Food, 2008
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock’s Long Shadow, 2007