Will first frost bring untimely end to summer’s lovely bounty?
Patchy frost and areas of frost are in this week’s forecast Wednesday and Thursday night for Southern Wisconsin. Both days, we’ll cover as many sensitive crops as we can. Yet many vegetable plants are extremely fragile. A killing frost spells the end for many varieties. Cold turns tomatoes, eggplant and peppers to goo. Leaves and stems wither and crinkle brown. In a few quiet, still hours of frosty night, all that wonderful life, nurtured and tended for half a year, dies. Dela and l will try to get your vegetables to delivery points as early as possible Wednesday, to return quickly home. We must help each other assemble metal hoops, extend row cover and weight down plastic coverings over as many beds as possible. Volunteer help either day is appreciated. It’s always hard to tend to seasonal chores like frost protection when we must still harvest and deliver mid-week.
High tunnel work – After weeks of repairs and strengthening measures, our first high tunnel was ready for a new plastic roof. Everyone pitched in to stretch the covering up over the metal frame, weave metal springs into channels the length and width of the greenhouse and re-install the south and north curtains, all torn apart in a series of storms several months ago. I’m still working on end curtains and doors, but Dela and I have already started planting cool season varieties that will yield monthly harvests, all winter long. Old vines and plants are being removed, organic compost tilled into the ground, drip tape laid. If anyone wants to help me construct additional low-tunnels, this is among late-season tasks we hope to accomplish before winter. There is also quite a bit of sweet potato digging to do. Son Joel and son in-law Aaron have gotten to work re-roofing a lean-to machine shed north of our century-old dairy barn. We’re eager to set this up as a shop for machinery repair and welding. We may also locate an oil seed press in this building, to process our first sunflower harvest. These are a few of CSA volunteer favorite things. Email email@example.com or call 608 897-4288 to let us know when to expect you.
Milk soap sales – The one farmers market (in Oak Park, Ill.) that we were still attending this season, has concluded its 15-week run. We’re looking for additional locations to sell our farmstead soap, especially as holiday and year-end gifts. We’ve successfully sold our farmstead skin care products in school benefits, fair trade sales and winter farmers markets. If you can facilitate our invitation to a favorite event in your neighborhood or community, we would appreciate your help. Making soap from goat milk helps us pay for many livestock needs – organic feeds, hay equipment, land rent, buildings, fencing, vet care. Dela was consistently making, and we were selling between 5,000 and 8,000 bars of soap each year until the economy began cutting our sales about 3 years ago. Please help us connect with new markets and new customers if you can.
This Week’s Vegetables are:
- Summer Squash
- Spicy greens mix)
- Assorted tomato varieties (4 lbs)
- Yellow beans
- Ice box red and yellow fruit water melon varieties, or orange and green fleshed cantaloupe varieties
- Assorted Peppers
- Green Beans
Cooking Tips for the Week
End of Summer Stew (from Dela and Sarah)
- 1 medium eggplant cubed
- 1 to 2 medium onions chopped
- 6 garlic cloves minced or pressed
- 1 medium summer squash cubed
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- Red pepper flakes to taste (1/4 to ½ tsp)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups water, broth or tomato juice
- 1 cup cut beans
- 1 or 2 chopped red or green bell peppers
- 1 ½ cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- ½ cup dry wed wine
- 2 cups chopped chard with stems
Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Add eggplant and cook 5 minutes. Add squash, basil, pepper flakes and water. Simmer 5 more minutes. Add beans, peppers, tomatoes, wine and chard. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until veggies are tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cheese or yogurt.