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New Terra Farm News -- Factoids of Interest to the organic foodie
July 10, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Written & Published by Scott Kelland
Written at New Terra Farm
13510 County Rd 15
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Hurrah! its not raining (much), things are growing, and I'm writing.
here's whassup in this issue:
1. Opening Notes
New organic stuff (and free stuff) from the farm
For a limited time we are offering a free sample of these tasty treats. If you would like to try them, drop us a line at email@example.com or call 613 269-3884, and we will send you the product list.
ps If you have a friend or neighbour who might be interested is some of this guilt-free extravagance (the chocolate cookies have hemp seed and flax and are ORGANIC, how healthy is that?) you can get a free treat for them too. Just let us know who they are; unlike our veggies, we can deliver these goodies to more than just our CSA customers.
Watch for a flyer in your delivery bag next week.
Next delivery day is Wednesday July 23, and cut-off for ordering is Saturday July 19
Opening NotesWell, monsoon season appears to be over, at least for now. I just read in a local farm paper that we had twice the average precipitation in June. I know we never had two consecutive days without rain for just about the whole month.
The impact on the garden has been to slow things down a bit, especially the sun-loving crops like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. These crops also went in a little late (due to aforementioned monsoon) so we will not see production from them for a few weeks yet.
You may have noticed the broccoli is funny-looking, this is apparently (according to my research) the result of too much rain and not enough sun. But the broccoli is still edible, if ugly.
The only real casualty so far were the lettuces we planted in early June; we uncovered them to weed, they got hammered by the rains and hail and we lost quite a few. We have planted more mesclun mix to try to keep the salad stuff coming, and later lettuces are doing OK, so the salads will keep coming, but may be slightly reduced for a short while.
On the good news side, the sugar snap peas are doing well, the snap beans are starting to bear (will have limited quantities next week) and the cukes and squash plants look healthy; we kept them covered during the showers so they came through in good shape.
We are going to fill up our new movable hoophouse with tomatoes and peppers, to attempt to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the end of the season a bit. Hopefully with this protection these goodies will keep producing well into the fall.
This section will be of interest to farmers and those considering the leap to farm living or any of you curious folks who just gotta read EVERYTHING!
One of the biggest challenges with making your own value-added food products - e.g. preserves, breads, or processed food of any kind - is the regulations governing these activities. More and more rules are being imposed on the small producer; ironically this is due at least in part to the sins committed by the 'big guys'.
You are pretty much required to have an approved commercial kitchen to ensure you don't run afoul of the regulators. This can be an expensive proposition, easily running into a high 5-figure cost to build and equip your kitchen.
The good news is, there are other options. All you really need is ACCESS to a commercial kitchen. Many establishments in your community might be able to give you access (for a fee, of course). Some possibilities:
Approaching one of these organizations might let you get access to a fully-equipped kitchen without breaking the bank.
Another big consideration is the time required to create your products. If your value-adding activities compete for time with your other farming activities, somethings gotta give.
For that reason we strongly suggest you consider finding partner to take on some of the work. Its difficult to manage more than one enterprise and do them all well. A partner can take some of the load and management responsibility, and you can split the proceeds equitably. If you have created a market with your CSA operation, other partners can be recruited to supply other things to that market.
Final point, do some market research BEFORE investing a lot of money in your new operation. Confirm there is a demand for your product(s)- e.g. are you sure that everybody must love pickled squid lips (or whatever) as much as you do?
A good way to do this is to ask your existing customers if they would be interested in some new stuff. Try to get some estimate of the size of the market e.g. what percentage of your current customers would be interested, how big an order would a typical order be, how frequently they would order; whatever you can find out.
Then do some cash flow analysis to figure out your costs to make (or source) and distribute the product, play with pricing, and determine if there is a reasonable expectation of profit. Then, try a small low-risk launch and see how she goes. Good luck!
You cant have too many carrots! Organic carrots grown in good soil taste so much better than the other kind, you will eat all you can grow.
You might want to plant more than one variety, to stretch out the harvest. We plant an extra-early type, maturing in about 55 days, and a main-season type maturing in about 70-75 days.
We make 4 plantings throughout the season, to keep the carrots at optimum picking size. We make the first planting about 4-5 weeks before last frost, if the ground is dry enough to work.
Carrots are another crop where we sprinkle some wood ashes in the bed, to provide extra potassium. We plant carrots in short rows across our beds; the rows are spaced 3-4 apart. In one 16-foot bed, therefore we can get 46-48 rows, yielding more than one hundred feet of carrots (about 80-100 lbs)
On the home garden scale, you might consider planting just a square foot of carrots at a time. You can fit in four rows of about 6-8 carrots in each row, yielding 24-32 carrots, or about 6-8 lbs. To keep the harvest coming, when the first square foot of plants is well up (3-4 weeks), plant another square foot.
To make carrot planting easier, use pelleted seed. The individual carrot seeds are coated in clay, making a BB-sized pellet that can be precisely spaced in the row. Pelleted carrot seed is available from William Dam in Ontario, and Johnny's Select Seeds in the U.S.
Here's how to plant carrots:
This is a crop where weeding, watering and thinning are critical to good germination and good production. Once the carrots are well up, weed the bed and thin them to 2-3 apart in the row (easier if you used pelleted seed). We give our carrots a foliar spray of liquid kelp at this stage. Water your carrots consistently for good growth.
Make the sauce with the vegetable or chicken stock, 1 tbl of the remaining soy sauce, the remaining wine, and the cornstarch. Whisk thoroughly and set aside.
In a large wok or skillet, heat one tbl of the peanut oil over high heat. When very hot, add the meat or tofu and stir fry, turning constantly, until well browned (6-8 minutes). Scrape out the contents of the wok into a bowl, and return the wok to high heat.
Add one tbl of peanut oil, and when very hot add the onions and firm vegetables e.g. carrots, and stir-fry until slightly softened, 4-5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of soy sauce, cover, and cook until veggies soft, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the wok and add to the meat or tofu.
Return the wok to high heat and put in the remaining oil. Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for one minute. Add the slivered green vegetables and stir fry for 1 -2 minutes. Add the remaining soy sauce and stir fry until the veggies are limp, 2-3 minutes.
Add the meat mix and other veggies to the wok, and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce and pour into the wok. Stir fry until the sauce thickens, 2-3 minutes.
Serve immediately, with hot rice or noodles.
Not one but THREE low-ku's about shoes (SHOES??!!) I'm not sure why either, but the proper nouns in the following are all shoe brand names.
return to ones Roots
Old Friend and Me Too
Th-th-th-that's all folks.
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