Summer Share 2016 - Week 10 - Middle Way Farm
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Summer Share
Weekly Newsletter 

Week 10
July 31, 2016
What You Will Find in This Newsletter
  1. Important Notes
  2. What's in the Share?
  3. Place Your Custom Order
  4. Farmer Reflection
  5. What to Do With Your Share
  6. Recipe of the Week
  7. Photo of the Week
Important Notes
Still Looking for Responses to Mid-Season Survey. Its short and painless - Click the button below!
Take the Mid-Season Survey!
CORRECTION: Mid-Season Joiner CSA shares NOW start in 3 weeks! Tell your friends and colleagues

CORRECTION FROM LAST WEEK: The Mid-Season Joiner starts Week 13 (week of Aug. 22) with both standard shares $225) and custom shares ($160 for $140 credit). If you know anyone who might be returning from a summer away, starting an academic job, or otherwise might be looking to join a CSA for just the late summer and fall, please let them know we have CSA shares available! Also, fall share sign-up for November and December continues to be open and will be until filled! Forward this e-mail onto to someone who might be interested and they can use the button below to get to the sign-up page. 
Sign-up for Mid-Season Joiner or Fall Share

What's in the Standard Share
(With Custom Order Options and Prices)

Basil, Sweet - 1 pint ($2.50/1.5 oz. pint or 2 pints for $4)
Beets, Greentop - 1 bunch ($3 per bunch)
Cucumber - 1-2+ cucumbers ($1/small cucumber or 3 small cucumbers for $2.50; $1.50 per large cucumber)
Eggplant, Globe - 1 eggplant ($2/eggplant or 3 for $5)
Eggplant, Japanese - 2 eggplants ($1.50/eggplant or 3 for $4)
Garlic - 1 bulb ($1.50/bulb)
Green Beans - 3/4 lb quart ($4/quart)
Onions, Fresh Candy - 1 pound ($3/pound)
Pepper, Green - 1-2 peppers ($1/pepper or 3 for $2.50)
Tomatoes, Medley (Cherry & Juliet) - ~1/2 pint, depending on harvest (Standard Share only)
Summer Squash - 1-2 squash ($1.50/squash) (some squash from Lacewing Acres in Ames, certified organic)
Also Available for Custom Order

Arugula (reduced price) - $3 per 6 oz. bag or 2 for $5
Basil, (Choose cinnamon, lemon, or Thai) - $2.50/1.5 oz. pint or 2 pints for $4
Beets - 1.5 lb for $4
Beets, Small Pickling- 1 quart (~1.33 lb) for $3
Broccoli -  1 pound+ bag for $4
Cabbage- Choose green, savoy, red, or Napa.  $2.50/head or 2 for $4 
Carrots, Greentop - $3/bunch
Kale, Lacinato - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Kale, Red Curly - $2/ bunch or 3 for $5
Kale, Green Curly - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Kohlrabi, Green or Red - $1/bulb or 3 for $2.50
Leeks - $3/bunch
Parsley - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
New Potatoes, Purple Majesty (limited supply)-  1 quart (~1.75 lb) ($4/quart)
Turnips, Scarlet - 1 quart (~1.33 lb) for $2.50 or 2 quarts for $4
Zinnia (flowers) - 1 bunch with returnable quart jar ($5/jar)

All annual & perennial herbs and annual vegetable plants are $2 each

Fruit Share

Blueberries - 1 pint
Iowa Peaches! - a few  

Possibilities for Next Week
The tomatoes continue to progressively ripen with the cherry and juliet tomatoes set to begin producing more heavily and the roma and slicers ripening a few at time. Its been a banner year for eggplant so far. If its getting to be too much, let me know! I'm looking for an opportunity to dig the rest of the potatoes as well as the rest of the spring carrots (without tops). Both should be available again next week. Looking to procure some certified organic sweet corn locally, possibly as soon as next week. 
Place Your Custom Order
Farmer Reflection

Friday was an odd day for this summer - 75 degrees and cloudy. It happened to be the perfect day though to get a back log of fall transplants in the ground. Most of these things I would have liked to plant more like mid-month (July 15) but because of first rain and then heat, it had to wait till now. The 3 month climate prediction for Iowa (the entire United States, in fact) is for above average temperatures. If we have a fall anything like the last two, I am hoping for an extended period of growing conditions in October that will give these crops time to mature despite their delayed planting. 

We planted a second round of basil, which is meant to extend that season by a few weeks this fall when the early planted basil begins to decline in quality. The next round of lettuces for salad mix were planted under shade cloth. I have been aiming to transplant lettuce every two weeks for a continuous supply, but this planting was delayed by several weeks and so ended up being two different greenhouse seedings combined. I'm taking a week off from lettuce in shares and at market this week in order to allow the previous planting a week more to mature. I think it struggled a bit during the recent heat.

Next, we put in the late zucchini and cucumber, which like the basil, will help extend the fall harvest of the early planted cukes and zukes. I immediately sprayed these plantings with kaolin clay (along with a bio-innoculant fungicide and fish emulsion fertilizer) to act as a barrier to feeding by cucumber beetles and squash bugs, which are quite thick in the original planting. I also sprinkled diatomaceous earth (DE) in a band around and on the new transplants. DE is the powdered, fossilized remains of ancient diatoms (hard shelled algae) and is mostly composed of silica. The fine powder absorbs lipids (fats) from the exoskeletons of arthropod insects (like cucumber beetles and squash bugs) causing them to dehydrate and die. Its a rather gruesome death to imagine, but both insects can be devastating to cucumbers and zucchini, especially young transplants. The plants are damaged by their feeding action but are usually killed by the diseases that the insects spread between plants. DE is also a low-risk pesticide, both in its limited effect on non-target insects and its relative harmlessness to being handled by people. Its short-term protection that I may reapply one or two more times as the plants get established. 

Last we planted the final round of fall brassicas, including broccoli, cabbage (Napa and savoy), kohlrabi, and romanesco cauliflower. These plants went into beds in the newest plot on the farm. I plowed in 8000 square feet of alfalfa, clover, and timothy grass this spring and have been planting in it since late May. I grew an inadvertent cover crop of weeds (mostly amaranth) on the section where we transplanted on Friday, but I managed to mow and till them in after the recent rains, with pretty good kill ahead of planting. 

After a few nice weeks off, I've begun irrigating again. In my first year of farming in 2013, when I had just a 1/3 of acre in one block to manage, I watered using store-bought sprinkler on a stand. I could move it around the garden over the course of a week and cover almost every spot. It was crude but workable. After a record setting spring, that summer starting in July was dry. In 2014 and 2015, I was lucky to have two years in a row of regular, well-spaced rains and relatively mild temperatures. I didn't irrigate in 2014 but decided to purchase a drip irrigation system in the off-season. I did not install that system until August 2015 and only irrigated on limited basis for just about a month that year. This year I was slow to get drip irrigation lines out to the early planted crops but at this point everything that has been transplanted since June is on irrigation lines. I've even discovered the technique of pre-irrigating: running the drip lines for 12-24 hours before planting, It softens the ground, which makes it easy to plant, and the transplants go immediately into wet soil. 

Week 10 marks the mid-point of the CSA season. I hope that you have enjoyed the bounty of the farm has provided so far and are looking forward to late summer and fall produce! If you have not already, please take the mid-season survey to give me feedback on the contents of the share. Please also let friends, family, and colleagues know about our Mid-Season Joiner share, which starts in 3 weeks and continues through the end of the summer share, and the Fall share, which provides 4 boxes in November and December.

Your farmer, 

What to Do with Your Share

BasilYou will receive two types of basil in your standard share - green, sweet Italian and purple. Both can basically be used interchangeably but have some specific uses attached to each variety. I cut the basil as tips, meaning that they come as leaves with short stems attached. You can remove the leaves from the stems or leave the stems attached, depending on what you are using the basilfor. 

Preparation & Cooking: Basil should be washed and dried (either in a salad spinner or on a towel) before using. Check out the Recipes of the Week for ideas for both the green and purple basil. Purple basil is also known for being used to infuse vinegars and salad dressings, as well as a garnish. Fresh basilshould be added at the end of cooking to preserve its flavor. 

Storage: Basil will actually turn black if it is exposed to refrigerator temperatures for a long period of time (let's say over a day). You can temporarily store basil in the fridge to keep it fresh and not wilted, but do not leave it in there. The best way to store cut basil is on the counter, out of the sun, wrapped in a plastic bag so it doesn't wilt. Using as soon as possible is always a good idea. If the basil is wilted for any reason, you can typically revive it to some extent by soaking in cold or ice water for a while. If you get basil as whole stems, you can freshen the cut at the bottom and put in a vase of water. They will keep well this way as long as you keep the water level up and change the water every few days.  

Greentop Beets  - Beets often seem to be a love it or hate it vegetable. Fortunately, I think a good portion of the people who think they hate beets have only had them pickled or boiled. There are of course of some people who truly just don't like the flavor of beets, but until you've had them roasted I don't think that you've given beets a fair shot. 

Preparation & Cooking:  Trim off the leaves just above the root. Beet greens are wonderful themselves, probably my favorite cooking green. They can be boiled, steamed, or sauted. They do not keep well, so use them as soon as possible. I learned the technique below from chef Kamal at Relish and its now my preferred way to prepare beets. Trim off leaves and scrub beets clean but otherwise keep them whole. Put as many beets as you want to prepare in an all-metal stockpot with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Bring to boil on moderate heat with the cover on. As soon as the water boils, put the entire stockpot in the oven, covered. Thebeets will steam in the pot over the next half hour to one hour, depending on the size of the beets and the number in the pot. There is no risk of burning thebeets and little risk of overcooking them, so this is a great way to prepare beetsfor kitchen multi-taskers like me. Remove from the oven once beets can be easily pierced with a fork. Leave out to cool or run under cold water if you want to use them immediately. The skins with slip easily off the cooked beets and you can use these cooked beets themselves or use in other recipes calling forbeets. I love them sliced in a salad with hard boiled eggs. They can also be stored immediately with the skins on and pulled out of the fridge, peeled, and chopped as needed. 

Storage: Keep greens in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity and use within a few days. Roots should also be kept in a sealed plastic bag but can keep for well over a month. I have kept unwashed beets in cold storage from October to June and could have kept them longer if I hadn't sold them all! 

Cucumbers - I grow several prolific American, burpless slicing varieties. While the European types with thin skin are wonderful flavor, they are more difficult to grow and sustain more pest damage. I don't grow small pickling types. 

Preparation & Cooking:  I like to leave some of the cucumber peel on by peeling them in stripes. Check Recipes of the Week from last week (Week 9) for a good ways to get your fill of raw cucumber. 

Storage: Keep cucumbers in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity and use within a week or so. 

Eggplant -  Japanese eggplant are the long, skinny type with either dark purple or pink skin. The globe eggplant are the larger purple eggplant. They can be used together but each has unique qualities that make them suitable for particular dishes. See below. 

Preparation & Cooking:  Japanese eggplant's thin skin does not need to be peeled, but globe eggplant should be. Japanese eggplant tends to be milder and less bitter than the globe variety but also spongier, so it soaks up marinades (but also frying oil) more readily. There are many ways to cook eggplant â€” try grilling, sautéing or baking thin slices coated lightly in oil. Baba ganoush is a simple and wonderful eggplant spread using just a few ingredients - eggplant, lemon, garlic, salt, and tahini (sesame seed paste). We particularly like roasting slices of eggplant until they are very tender and just a little crisp, then tossing in soy sauce or salt. Delicious! Eggplant picked at the right stage should have few or no seeds inside and will not be bitter. However, in order to ensure that there is no residual bitterness, you can slice eggplant up, coat in salt, and leave in a colander for 15 minutes or so. The eggplant will begin to "weep". You can then rinse the salt and liquid that has weeped off the eggplant. 

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Use within a week, while the eggplant is still relatively firm. It will begin to shrivel and discolor when it gets too old. 

Garlic, Chesnok Red - At this point I am calling the garlic fully "cured". This particular variety is a hardneck type (has stiff, woody neck, fewer larger cloves), as opposed to the softnecks (have a soft pliable neck, more smaller cloves) that you find in grocery stores. Chesnok Red has the distinctive red streaking in the inner skins that is sometimes seen in different varieties of garlic. As compared to a typical softneck, Chesnok Red has a stronger, spicier flavor. 

Preparation & Cooking: I peel garlic by smashing the unpeeled clove with the side of my knife on the cutting board, which causes the paper to split and slip off more easily. Just got a recent tip about preparing garlic from the Splendid Table on National Public Radio. Crush the peeled garlic clove with the side of your knife or a garlic press and sprinkle with salt. Mince up the garlic and salt. The salt helps draw out the flavor of the garlic and also acts to enhance the flavor of the subsequent dish.

Storage: Keep this garlic on the counter. Don't refrigerate cured garlic, as this will actually encourage it to sprout. Peel cloves can be refrigerated but should be used quickly. Leave cloves unpeeled for best shelf life and to not risk mold or pathogens developing. 

Green Bean - I am now picking from the 2nd planting of green beans, with the 3rd one not too far behind. So far its been much better than the first planting! 

Preparation & Cooking:  Like cabbages, broccoli, and just about any other vegetable, roasting is a great option for green beans. They can also be sliced and sauted in oil or butter as a side dish. Green bean pate is another favorite recipe of mine. 

Storage:  Store in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer for up to a week.Green beans, like peas, diminish in quality fairly rapidly the longer they are stored, so the sooner you use them the better. 

Green Peppers - We divide the pepper field up into two sections each season - one where we pick green peppers as soon as they are large enough and the other where we leave those green peppers to ripen into red (or orange or yellow depending on the variety) peppers. The next few weeks, only green peppers will be available. You may receive either green or purple peppers, both of which are "green", and you may also receive peppers of various shapes and sizes, but note that they are all sweet peppers. 

Preparation & Cooking:  Being "immature" peppers, green peppers do not have the sweet flavor of colored peppers. I like to saute them with onions in the skillet for eggs. To quickly prep, cut the pepper in half lengthwise and pull out the stem and seeds from the top of each side and discard. Slice the peppers lengthwise. 

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Use within a week or so, while the peppers are still relatively firm. They will begin to shrivel with age.

Storage:  Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer on high humidity. Use within a week or so. The tops with begin to yellow as they age. 

Fresh Candy Onion -  We are in the midst of onion harvest, with less than half curing in the greenhouse and most till to be harvested. Some of the Candy onions have been out of the ground and drying for a week or so. These will be the ones in the shares this week. 

Preparation & Cooking: When preparing, trim off the root and the top of part of the leaves that is yellowed or tougher. I quickly clean and peel onions by slicing off the root and the top and cutting them in half, then taking off the top layer of skin. Candy onions are known for their particular sweetness, like a Vidalia onion. Great for any recipe that calls for onion as well as slicing and grilling or roasting. 

Storage: You can keep these fresh onions on the counter, but not a sealed container. They are still wet and may mold if not given good air circulation. The fridge is also fine but not necessary or preferred. The onions will continue to dry at room temperature and eventually will no longer have "wet" layers. 

Tomato Medley- During the start of the tomato season, when only small amounts of cherry and juliet (mini-roma) tomatoes are ripening, what assortment is ready goes to the standard shares first as a medley. As the season progresses and the picks get more abundant, I begin to differentiate types of tomatoes and offer them individually for custom order.  

Preparation & Cooking:  Both cherry and juliet tomatoes are wonderful for snacking and salads but you can also slice them and lightly roast or saute as well (they can also be dried in dehydrator this way). 

Storage:  NEVER refrigerate tomatoes unless you're trying to keep them from going bad for a short period of time. They lose their flavor in the fridge. Keep them on the counter and use ripe tomatoes within a few days. Unripe tomatoes may be held separately from ripe ones and given a few days to develop full ripeness and flavor. 

Summer Squash/Zucchini- You may get either yellow or green zucchini or yellow striped summer squash from Lacewing Acres. Many people consider the yellow ones to be summer squash and not zucchini but it doesn't feel like meaningful difference to me. The plants and the fruits look exactly the same to me. The yellow zucchini does have a slightly thinner skin and maybe is a bit sweeter. 

Preparation & Cooking:  Smaller zucchini have thin skin and are the most tender for eating raw or light cooking. I really enjoy them lightly sauted in butter or used to make tempura, a light flour coating for frying.  Larger zucchini tend to have thicker skin and if they are overly mature might even have seeds starting in them. These zucchini are best for shredding to be used in breads, cakes, and zucchini fritters, which are a favorite of ours (see the Recipes of the Week). 

Storage: You have two options with zucchini. You can keep them out on the counter but they should be used within a few days, especially if they are smaller (they tend to shrivel faster).  If refrigerating them, keep them in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity and use within a week or so. 

Recipe of the Week

Curried Eggplant With Tomatoes and Basil

Here's a nice, simple, vegetarian main dish using both eggplant and basil

Serves 4
Hands-On Time- 15 min 
Total Time - 25 min



1 cup white basmati rice
Salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1 eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/4cup plain yogurt (preferably Greek), optional


  1. In a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, combine the rice, 1 ½ cups water, and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Stir the rice once, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 18 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, eggplant, curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until eggplant is tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the chickpeas and cook just until heated through, about 3 minutes.
  6. Remove the vegetables from heat and stir in the basil. Fluff the rice with a fork. Serve the vegetables over the rice with yogurt, if using.


Photo of the Week

Trying to realize some efficiency of effort and space by planting these cucumbers on the trellis that once had snow peas. They are covered in the kaolin clay and diatomaceous earth described in the farmer reflection. Instead of tilling the weedy pathways, I weed whacked them and we'll be covering them in a thick layer of wood mulch to kill what's there and prevent further growth. 
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