Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sweet potato harvest, Late season surprises, October beans

hello from the farm,

this newsletter is nicely formatted on the web at:

 See what happens when your farmers wish for rain?  We were glad for all of the rain yesterday. We can safely say that the soil has ample moisture now!  We began our sweet potato harvest on Tuesday and we already have more sweet potatoes from one of the four beds than we typically get from the entire four beds.  The farm is all decked out in autumn color this week and looks brilliant. The fall crops are doing very well and we are more than satisfied as we bring the loads of fall crops in.   

So when is the last harvest?  November 13, 14 and 15 is our expected final harvest.
Joyous about Jujubes?  Did you like them?    Your feedback is appreciated, just jot us an email line.

The aces up our sleeves:
Aside from the amazing October purple beans, we have some interesting cards to play in these remaining harvests before mid-November.  Some of the surprises we plan to unveil from the field are: bok choi, napa cabbage, parsnips, carrots that emerged belatedly, and possibly broccoli and cabbage too from the replanting that we did after flea beetles annihilated the first planting.  We're crossing our fingers that they will mature before the hard freezes occur. 

Sweet Potatoes!

Along with carrots, sweet potatoes are usually one of the trickiest crops for us to have success with.  Deer absolutely love to eat sweet potato vines, which stunts the plant significantly. Weeds also take a toll during the long season that sweet potatoes are in the ground. Fortunately we had a secret weapon this year--my parents showed up one day wanting to lend a hand and did a number on the redroot and lambsquarter that was running amok, coming up through the vines. The voles, who think it clever to hide in among the vines while secretly feasting on the tubers, didn't hang out there this year, and lastly we grew the vines on ridges as per the recommendation of trainee farmer Del, who is an old hand when it comes to sweet potato growing.  All these factors came together to produce a great harvest. 
A sweet potato harvest pictorial:
Mature sweet potato vines that are aging away with frost-aided decline showing.

First we mowed off the sprawling vines, then we pulled the vines away to the side
Then the digger/shaker came through and sifted the potatoes mostly to the surface

Law Reh and Elizabeth revel in the memorable harvest
Law Reh secures the load and then takes them to the greenhouse to cure in warm and humid air for ten days

Free Veggie Share for Life!  
 The new land that Homefields purchased to keep it from being developed and to guarantee that we would have land for future growing came with the house and barn as well.  That house and barn with 2 acres are not needed for our farming operation and are well suited for someone who wants to raise a family, animals, garden, homestead, or simply have space and a perpetual view of their favorite CSA farm :-).  To thank any shareholder who would become our good neighbor by purchasing the property we are offering a free half share with purchase.  

--must be a 2014 shareholder in good standing
--free half share continues for as long as purchaser owns and resides on the property. The farm share cannot be transferred. 
128 Letort Rd, Millersville, PA 17551

The meadow view which overlooks our misty farm fields. 

 Monthly Farm Tour
Want to get a behind the scenes look at the workings of the farm? There is a monthly farm tour on the 1st Tuesday of the month at 9am.  If you are planning to attend, please email  Tour lasts approximately 30 minutes. No Dec/Jan/Feb tours when the farm is bleak and cold. 

Serving Suggestions for the harvest this week:

Popcorn: homemade popcorn from our fields is just the thing for cool fall evenings.  Everyone seems to have a slightly different technique for popping popcorn but here is what works for me:
-shell the popcorn by rubbing two ears together.
-winnow the chaff out by pouring from one pan to another in the breeze outside. (optional, the chaff doesn't seem to hurt anything)
--store in sealed container in the freezer until ready to use.
-heat oil in a pan to cover the bottom generously
-throw in a test kernel or two
-when they pop, pour enough popcorn in to cover the bottom of the pan plus a little more, stir well to coat with oil, put lid over top of pan, allowing steam to escape, and keep shaking on high heat until popping slows considerably. Remove from heat, salt and eat! 

Pumpkin:  yes, they are somewhat edible, especially the tasty seeds when roasted in the oven with some oil or butter!  The pumpkin is not nearly as tasty as butternut squash, which is what is really contained in a can of so-called "pumpkin" from the store. 
Pawpaw: keep in refrigerator until ready to use, then ripen on the counter if needed--fruit should be soft with light speckling (this doesn't take more than a day)  To eat, cut in half, and spoon out the fruit, don't eat the skin or seeds.   Plant the seeds outdoors or bring to the farm and scatter in the fencerow perimeter trees.

Butternut Squash: one of the very best winter squash for flavor and long keeping! Roast in the oven in halves, you can also roast the seeds as per pumpkin seeds.

Hakurei turnips: aka salad turnips.  The tasty turnips from Japan are sweet, mild, and best eaten raw.  Yum. You'll soon be a surprised turnip enthusiast!

Indian corn/ornamental corn: this makes incredibly good and fresh cornmeal for use in cornbread, cornmeal pancakes, waffles and more!  Allow to dry a few weeks, then shell it, bring kernels to the farm and grind in our grinder. Store cornmeal in freezer if not using immediately.  
Winter squash:  firm winter squash are great for baking, "pumpkin" pie, faux spaghetti noodles in the case of spaghetti squash or halved and baked in the oven with butter and maple syrup and/or brown sugar.  The acorn and delicata squash we are harvesting now are not types intended for long storage. Use within a week or two for best results.  (The Long Island Cheese squash and butternuts that will be harvested later on are the best keepers, which is why they are at the tail end of things). 

Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are just about finished. We might find a few.  

Your farmers

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