CSA Newsletter: Volume 4, Issue 14

Flying Tomato Farms News

A newsletter for members of Flying Tomato Farms C.S.A.

Vol. 4, Issue 14


Last night’s rain was a great blessing—things had gotten pretty dry and I’d been doing an intensive watering rotation. It’s nice to have a break!

At the Clay County Fair last weekend, I won Best of Show in the Horticultural division for my heirloom Blue Solaise leeks. Lots of other ribbons, too. I had planned on setting up to sell, but their were so many other farmers market vendors there jockeying for space, that I thought it best to cede my space for the really big truck farmers with tomatoes and corn by the truckload.

I am doing a bit of planning for next year—saving back seed potatoes and cleaning out rows to manure and let lie fallow for the winter or seed with fall green manure mix. I’ve also been doing some research on trace mineral content of the soils and will likely purchase some organic greensand to help replenish some of the trace minerals that are lacking. I also plan to use a seaweed/fish emulsion mix instead of straight fish next year because our area is iodine depleted, and seaweed is one of the best sources of iodine, which helps our thyroid glands function properly. Studies have shown that using a seaweed-based fertilizer can raise the mineral content of the produce.

While I’d prefer not to source too much input from outside sources, the greensand is a long-term, slow-release source of nutrients, so I won’t need to reapply it every year. The seaweed—well, maybe if I make a winter trip to the coast I can pick up a few bales of seaweed mulch or seaweed concentrate to bring back.

Another fall garden issue is re-planting things like garlic and shallots. Despite my best of show ribbon for the leeks, they are not quite a big this year as in past years—I’ll be delivering some in a few weeks. However, some of the larger leeks have sprouted baby leeks around their bases—those I’ll remove and replant to see if I can grow them a bit bigger and keep them over the winter, too.

If you are really fond of any of the potato varieties you get and you have your own garden—you can save a potato or two and plant them next spring. Potatoes in the grocery store are often irradiated or treated to prevent sprouting, but none of the potatoes you’re getting are treated, except with love! Organically grown potatoes are a really good idea—the big potato farms often spray their fields with herbicide or defoliant to kill off the tops so they can harvest quicker. If you’ve seen the big potato fields in eastern Washington or Idaho, you’ve seen the enormous dead zones this practice creates.


Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, shallots, and cucumbers.

A few more varieties of tomato this week—along with Taxi (yellow) and Stupice (red), there are Red Zebras (striped red and yellow when completely ripe), and a few black tomatoes—Nyagous is the roundish one, Japanese Black Trifele is the pear-shaped one, and the big black slicing tomatoes are heirloom Black from Tula. Black tomatoes (which are actually more of a dark reddish-brownish color) will generally have slightly green shoulders. Judging ripeness by the softness of the tomato in your hand is the best way.

There are also a couple paste tomatoes—the slightly flattened longer ones are heirloom San Marzanos, the small apricot-shaped ones are heirloom Principe Borgheses, and the short, blocky ones are a spontaneous cross of San Marzano and Zapotec Pleated, which is a Mexican heirloom. I had a few of these last year, too, and thought they were simply a mutation of San Marzano, but now that I’m getting them both from seed saved from San Marzano and from Zapotec, their true parentage is becoming more clear. I’m going to try to keep this spontaneous hybrid going and see how it does in the second generation—I saved seed from these last year (but didn’t grow them—these came from some of my Zapotec saved seed) and will do so again this year. My own tomato variety! What will I name it? San-potec? Za-zano?

After that long-winded discussion, I should say that you won’t get all of these varieties this week (except Stupice, Taxi, and Red Zebra), but you’ll be getting more of a variety as the season progresses. I’ll keep you posted so you can let me know your favorites. I swear I’m going to cut down on the ridiculous number of tomato varieties I’m growing—next year.

The red potatoes are from “Mike” (Vito) Gaidelis of Red Rooster Farms in Wakonda. They are a good storage variety, so if you haven’t finished your Yukon Golds from last week, you’ll want to eat those and hang onto these. Fingerling potatoes from my gardens will come soon!

The shallots are French demi-long and are a very mild form of onions (allium cepa). They are best for mild dishes, as their delicate flavor can easily be overwhelmed. Try them raw in salads and dressings, and with potato salads, chicken or fish, and white wine sauces. These keep best in a dry place (as do potatoes—but don’t store potatoes and onions together). I keep my potatoes in my pantry and/or basement, and I keep my shallots and garlic on top of my refrigerator.

Cukes! They keep coming. Mostly they’re still Summer Dance and Mideast Prolific, but you might see a “Straight Eight” or two—they’re the ones with more spines. The Lemon cucumbers are starting to produce—but they are notoriously slow to get started. Maybe next week or the week after.

Soba Noodle, Wakame, and Cucumber Salad

One package soba (buckwheat) noodles*

One medium-sized cucumber

A few thin slices of onion

Three tablespoons (dry measure) wakame seaweed*

Soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, dark sesame oil (or just use store-bought Asian Sesame dressing, lime juice, and soy sauce).

Cook soba noodles according to package directions, rinsing with cold water after they’re tender. In the meantime, rinse and soak wakame strips—then chop into smaller pieces. Slice the onion. Cut open cucumber the long way and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Cut into thin “half-moons.” Mix seaweed strips, noodles, cucumber, and onion. Season to taste with rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Squeeze a big wedge of lime over the top, toss, and serve (or chill awhile first). Makes about 3-4 servings—two or three servings if it’s the main/only course.

*(Organic!) Soba noodles and wakame strips are available in Jones’ natural foods section. This recipe makes a great, cooling dinner—I made it last night, and it was the first time I’d ever cooked with seaweed at home. You can add a little shredded chicken if you like.

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