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Posted 2/23/2008 9:54pm by Betsy Austin.

What's Happening?

February started out cold and snowy. Dare we hope that spring is on its way, since the ground hog probably didn’t even want to poke his nose out??

Mom and I have been working out in the high tunnel. We were finally able to really start planting things the early part of February. {We had a touch of spring fever and just had to plant something the last week in January. We planted onion and garlic sets and the snow peas; all of which are starting to come up} Then the sun went away and it snowed some more. {We are trying very hard not to complain about all the snow, but we are ready for spring!!} We have planted more spinach, beets, carrots, the sugar snap peas, and a wide assortment of greens. {chard, kale, mustard, mizuna, orach, bok choi, arugula, pea greens} Spinach peas and greens are already starting to come up. The beets and carrots should be up this next week.

In the greenhouse, we have onions, leeks, parsley, cabbage, celery, celeriac, artichokes, chard, kale, kohlrabi, collards, and pansies up and growing well {these are for our early planting outdoors once the snow melts. We also have lettuce, chinese cabbage {not sure how it will do, we generally don’t have much luck with it outdoors} and endive transplants that we hope to get set out in the high tunnel this next week.

Della has been busy starting herbs, many of them new ones this year. She is also researching more small fruits to add to our offerings. Fruit is one of the things that we just don’t have enough of!! Our tree fruit {apricots, apples, pears, and plums are just so iffy in our location. Our weather patterns right here along the river fluctuate so much in the early spring. We get enough of a warm spell to get the trees all excited…. Then boom…. We get a hard frost just when they are all blooming!!!! We probably won’t see any fruit from any of the new stuff this year, but we can look forward to some interesting and unusual things in the years to come.

We also have tomatoes up and growing!! We will transplant them into the high tunnel in early April. We are growing the same ones as last year {purple prudens, black pineapple, amana orange, black cherry, yellow and red pear} plus are trying out some new ones. Japanese black triefle is one we have tried outdoors and is a medium size pear shaped tomato with excellent flavor. Old flame or hillbilly is also one that we have grown outdoors in the past. It is a beefsteak size and is a mixture of yellow and red in color and very flavorful. {very similar to striped german, just matures a bit earlier}. We also found a bi-color cherry {red and yellow mixed} that we haven’t tried before. In addition, we have 5 or 6 varieties of determinate tomatoes that we’ll start in March to trial in the high tunnel.

In March, we will be starting more transplants: melons and cucumbers for the high tunnel, broccoli and cauliflower for outdoors. As soon as the snow clears {and some of the mud dries up}, we will be doing repairs on one of the greenhouses, pruning trees, berries, and shrubs. And hopefully getting beets, carrots, radishes, peas, and all those early transplants planted outdoors. We are so looking forward to spring!!!

The best news of the month is the new addition to our family!!! Mom’s youngest granddaughter had a beautiful, healthy baby girl!! Her name is Sara and we are all thrilled to be “greats” We are also looking forward to another new addition. Mom’s oldest granddaughter is due sometime in the late summer!!! {do you suppose that will make us even greater??}

seedlings in the greenhouse

New Website

After several years of thinking about doing a website, we have finally made the leap!! While we can grow just about anything {and do}, I find all this computer stuff a bit intimidating. Once I get over the huge learning curve though, I think it will be a fun and useful addition. It is up and running now and I am adding more content to it as time goes on. Bear with me {and visit often} as I learn and add more stuff that is fun!!! Please visit and let me know what you think. I have an idea of what I would like to put on there from the farm perspective, but I need some input from the consumer perspective. Your viewpoint will be helpful to me as I add more good stuff!!

It has a number of neat features that I hope will be of use to everyone. It has a searchable recipe section {shared with other farms on the small farm central network}, which has a variety of recipes from lots of other farms. {and once I figure out just how it works, I can add some of our recipes as well}. It also has a blog that I hope everyone will visit and add comments to.

I would like to post the newsletter there as well. I need to know from you all if this would be helpful. Would you go to the website to read it or would you rather I send you a copy snail mail? I am hoping that it will be more interactive if many of you have internet access. I can send a copy snail mail to those who don’t have internet or that would rather have something they can sit back and relax while they read. {like I prefer to read a real newspaper. To me it is just more relaxing and I get more out of it}. Anyway, let me know what your preference is.

I would also like to use it to let you know what is available each week. I’m not sure how helpful it will be. Most of the time, I don’t know exactly what or how much will be in the CSA each week until we get through picking on Friday. If the weather is a bit cooler there is not as much or something that I anticipate will be ready isn’t. If the weather is a bit warmer there may be some things that are ready earlier than anticipated or the heat will have pushed past it’s prime. We’ll just have to see how it goes as the season progresses.

Anticipated CSA start date

We are planning to start the CSA pickup Saturday, April 5. If the weather will cooperate, we should have peas {both sugar snap and snow}, beets, carrots, turnip {the white salad ones}, radishes, green onions, green garlic, salad greens, spinach, lettuce, endive, chard, kale, bok choi, arugula, mustard, mizuna, pea greens, orach, and more….

I will let you all know in March if this date needs to be changed. At this point, I don’t anticipate a problem but we will have to see just what the weather decides to do!!

Thank you to those of you who have gotten your first payment in early. Please remember that your first payment is due February 28. {3 payment options; all, 1/2 or 1/4}

Full….$1,100

Mini…$ 700

Tiny…$ 575

We are looking forward to seeing all of you!!

Get Fresh!! Learn to Cook with Local Foods

As childhood obesity becomes an epidemic and food travels more miles to get to our tables, consumers are losing touch with where our food comes from and its importance to our bodies. In this expedition, students will reconnect with the value of food and nutrition in growing and making their own food. This class will run from March 26– May 14. It is an after school program and will be held at Centennial Middle School on Wednesdays 2:45– 4:45. Jenny Shine, one of our CSA members, will teach the class. For more information or to register your child, please contact Diane Bruske at 209-1358.

This is an exciting thing for us here at Circle A. Not only will Jenny be using fresh products from several local farms, the class will be coming here to learn first hand where and how some of the food they are preparing is grown. They are planning two visits to the farm. On April 9 they will get to see some of the produce they will be using in the class growing and will help us plant tomatoes, melons and cucumbers in the high tunnel. On May 14, they will be able to see how the things they help plant are growing and will be helping us with another fun project. {not sure what yet, we are waiting to see what the weather is doing closer to that time}

We hope that this will be the first of many farm to school type classes offered in the area!!

Potato {Solanum Tuberosum}

The potato is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Other members of this family include tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, belladonna, and deadly nightshade. The potato originated in the Andean mountain region of South America. It is estimated that the Indians of this region cultivated them 7,000 years ago. There are over 5,000 known varieties worldwide; 3,000 are found in the Andes alone. The English word “potato comes from the Spanish word “patata” which originally came from the Nahuatl word “potatl”.

In 1536, the Spanish conquistadors conquered Peru and carried the potato to Europe. It took over three decades for it to travel to the rest of Europe. It was mostly grown as a curiosity by amateur botanists. Much of the resistance to the potato as a food crop seems to have stemmed partially as its reputation as food for the poorer classes and more importantly to its relationship to poisonous plants. In 1589, Sir Walter Raleigh introduced the potato to Ireland on the 40,000 acres of land near Cork given to him by Elizabeth I. By the mid-1800, the Irish were so dependant on this crop that its failure created widespread famine. The potato arrived in the Colonies around 1621, when the governor of Bermuda sent several large chests containing potatoes and other veggies to the governor of Virginia at Jamestown. French fries were introduced to the U.S. when Thomas Jefferson served them in the Whitehouse during his presidency {1801-1809}. In 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space.

Potatoes are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, copper, potassium, magnesium, and dietary fiber.

The potato has been used for a number of folk remedies. Washing the face daily with cool potato juice treated facial blemishes. Carrying a potato in your pocket was supposed to help relieve toothache. To ease sore throat a slice of potato was put in a stocking and tied around the throat. Rubbing affected areas with water that potatoes were boiled in eased aches and pains.

rose finn apple potato

Onion {Alium cepa}

Onions are members of the Alliaceae family and are related to leeks and garlic.

The word “onion” comes from the Latin word “unio” for single or one because the onion plant produces a single bulb, unlike garlic that produces many small cloves. “Onion” also describes the union {also from “unio”} of the many separate concentrically arranged layers of the onion bulb.

Native to Asia and the Middle East, onions have been cultivated for over 5,000 years.

Onions were highly regarded by the Egyptians. They believed the spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life. They placed them in the tombs of their kings so they could carry these gifts bestowed with spiritual significance with them into the after life. Onions were also used as currency for the workers who built the pyramids. In ancient Greece, athletes ate large quantities of onions because it was believed that it would lighten the blood. Roman gladiators were rubbed down with onions to firm muscles. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, onions were such an important food the people used them to pay their rent or gave them as gifts.

Did you know? There are more than 1,000 varieties of onions. The onion ranks 6th among the worlds leading food crops. The United States produces over 2 million metric tons of onions annually. Each year Americans eat over 18 pounds of onions on average.

For grins and giggles, here are some loony laws that have been passed regarding onions. In Harlsburg, IL, it is illegal to take onions to the local movie theatre as a snack. Citizens in Attica, Iowa aren’t allowed to throw onions at other people under any circumstances. Onions can’t be eaten in Budd’s Creek, MD except by people over 21 who have written permission from their dentist. And in White Horse NM, no married woman is allowed to eat onions on the Sabbath unless she is “properly looked after”. How, you ask? Her mate must follow 20 paces behind carrying a loaded musket over his left shoulder.

onion braids

Please Share With Us!!

Do you like potatoes or onions? If not, what do you use instead? What is your favorite variety of potato or onion?  What type of potato do you like best? {white, blue, fingerling, russet, etc.} Do you have a favorite way to fix them? Do you have a story to share?

Me, my favorite potato is German Butterball. It is a yellow fleshed heirloom potato and if you have never had one, you just don't know what you are missing!!! It's rich buttery flavor is out of this world!! I'm trying to decide what my favorite way to fix them is... Hmm ..Mashed..I find the flavor so rich I don't even add butter!!  Baked... excellent with a bit of broccoli and cheese... pan fried with a touch of garlic and onion...Yumm!!..Oven fries..with a bit of garlic powder and herbs... I just can't decide!!.....

Anyway Happy Almost Spring!!!!

 

 

Posted 2/19/2008 2:47am by Betsy Austin.

Have some great pictures we just added!! Scott{he and his wife, Jenny are CSA members} came out today and took some shots of what's happening. Although there is still quite a bit of snow on the ground, we can see some signs of spring. This is probably one of my favorite times of the year, watching for those first fleeting signs that winter is just about over; plants peeking out of the snow, seeds starting to germinate in the greenhouse and high tunnel, buds on the trees starting to swell, the promise of things to come. Everything looks a bit barren right now, but I now have the hope that this too shall pass!!!lavender peeking out of the snow

We've been busy the last few weeks, getting the high tunnel planted and seedlings started in the greenhouse. We have spinach, peas, beets, carrots, green onions, green garlic, chard, kale, and all sorts of greens coming up!! I am so excited!!! I can just taste that first pea of the season!!

snow peas just coming up; Mom and I got spring fever back in January and just had to plant something!!!

Posted 2/7/2008 9:50am by Betsy Austin.
After several years of talking about a website we have finally made the leap. While we can grow just about anything {and do} all this computer stuff is a bit intimidating!! I have a love/hate relationship with my computer; if it would just do what I want it to do when I want we'd get along just fine!! Like last night. I got back from the monthly VOGA {Valley Organic Growers Association} meeting over in Hotchkiss. The main topic was the care of fruit trees and orchards, but I got to touch base with a number of my friends and fellow growers{whose passion and enthusiasm are incredible}. Anyway, I was all jazzed and decided to work on the website, had what I thought was a pretty good first blog entry all typed out, clicked on what I thought would post it on the site and....... it went away!! So bear with me as I work my way through this process, check back frequently as I work my way through each page. Hopefully, I will have much more information on our farm and what we do here, some great pictures to share, etc over the coming weeks.