Funky Apples and Sooty Blotch

Upper Meadows Farm Red Delicious AppleI know, it sounds like some sort of garage band.

A few of you asked me what was going on with the Red Delicious apples that we had at last week’s CSA distribution. The short answer is: 26 days of rain in June.

The technical answer is that the endless rain we had in June and the very cool weather left our apples with something called sooty blotch and flyspeck. SBFS is a fungal complex that stakes its claim to the outside of an apple. The blemishes it causes compromise the beauty of the apple,  but they don’t affect the safety or, thankfully, the taste of the fruit.

If I were a conventional grower, I would have knocked out SBFS by waging chemical warfare on my apples, dousing them with fungicides. But I’m not.

Our Delicious apples are from an older scion graft and so still have more of the flavor and less of the shape that characterizes the beautiful, but tasteless “Delicious” apples that everyone is familiar with today. This season’s apples may not be visually pleasing, but when you get past the skin and bite in, you will understand why they were called “delicious” in the first place.

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Our Fall Crops

Mizuna

Mizuna

Fall means a lot of new crops in the field. We’ve got five kinds of lettuce planted, as well as endive and escarole. We’ve planted several kinds of mustard greens and Asian greens, including mizuna. In case you’ve never had that Japanese green before, it looks a lot like a delicate dandelion with its dog-toothed leaves, but its taste is closer to arugula. You’ll want to get some stir-fry recipes ready for the Asian greens, although they are equally good in salads. Epicurious has a few pages of recipes for Asian greens here.

We’ve got more cabbage growing, red, green and Savoy, and we’ve got high hopes for our shitake mushrooms.. We’ve got six different kinds of radishes, including some that pack a really powerful punch, as well as three kinds of turnips and a lot of sweet peppers. The Swiss chard is coming along nicely.

The winter squash may be a different matter. The deer seem to be treating the rows of squash as their personal salad bar this year, taking a bite or two every few feet as they move through the rows. We’re going to hope they decide they’re sated soon. The beets don’t appear to like this crazy weather year at all, though we may get some beet greens.

Speaking of weather, the temperatures have been dipping rapidly already up here: We’ve had a few nights close to 40. But we’re doing what we can to nurture our crops along. Everything that has been planted is under row covers, reusable fabric that protects the crops from cold and bugs. We’re also taking full advantage of the irrigation system we put in earlier this year.

But Mother Nature has to do her part, and bring us the daily sunshine that all these crops need. If you know a sun dance, do it now.

Coyotes Get Ugly

Here at Upper Meadows Farm, we raise pastured poultry. That means that our chickens and turkeys are either roaming free in a fenced-off area, or in portable floor-less pens that allow them plenty of space to move and forage freely.

Chicken range cage

Chicken range cage

That freedom, however, can also make them targets for predators. We are located on the edge of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area’s 75,000 acres of nature which is a mixed blessing. This past week, coyotes descended on our turkeys.

High security turkeys

High security turkeys

Yes, coyotes. You may think of them as belonging to the Wild West, but coyotes are very, very present in New Jersey, and their numbers are growing. A story that ran on the Web site of the New Jersey Skylands visitors’ guide put their numbers at 3,000, concentrated mostly in the western sections of Sussex  county as well as Passaic, Morris and Warren counties.  Next door,  Pennsylvania and New York have considerably more, and no coyote ever worried about crossing state lines.  Coyotes are predators and, unlike the one in that cartoon we saw when we were kids, they are deadly.  When I got to my turkeys, 10 birds were dead and an eleventh injured. That’s at least an $800 loss in revenue to the farm that I cannot make up by Thanksgiving.  Even if we could get more turkey poults (day old turkeys) they wouldn’t grow fast enough to catch up. So it is not just a financial hit for us but a loss to the 11 families who would have been enjoying those  fabulous  free range organic turkeys this thanksgiving.

Sometimes, that is life on the farm.

Get Your Pasture-Fed Beef, Organic Chicken

We’ve got pasture-fed beef and organic chicken for sale, and you can order both with our brand new, easy to use online order forms! Just tell us what you want, and we’ll deliver to our regular farmers market and CSA distribution sites.

upper-meadows-cowsAbout Upper Meadows’ beef: Born on farm, this Angus-Holstein-Herreford cross was 100% grass fed. Upper Meadows Farm has maintained all pasture under Organic Certification since 1992.This beef is lightly marbled with superior taste and exceptional quality. All packages are vacuum packed and flash frozen to ensure highest product quality. Please indicate which cuts you’d like to pick up at your local CSA distribution or market. Use our NEW Online Beef Order Form to place your order. All beef orders are filled on a first placed, first served basis. We cannot guarantee orders placed less than 48 hours before distribution or market.

Order Pasture Fed Beef

About Our Chicken: All chicken is 100% certified Organic. Our chickens are grass fed, chickenscratchpastured, supplemented with Certified Organic grains, and processed on-farm. Our birds come to you whole, with the giblets in a separate bag. Please indicate how many chickens and when you’d like to pick them up at your local CSA distribution or Market using our NEW Online Chicken Order Form. All chicken orders are filled on a first placed, first served basis. We cannot guarantee orders placed less than 48 hours before distribution or market.

Order Organic Chicken

WHERE AND WHEN YOU CAN PICK UP YOUR BEEF + CHICKEN:
Click here for Market and Distribution details.

Volunteer Time!

Hello all!

First, I’d like to take a minute to thank all of our members who have already fulfilled their volunteer hours! Together you have planted half a ton of potatoes, harvested for your fellow members, helped manage weed control, and helped distribution run smoothly. Thanks! We really appreciate all of your hard work!

Haven’t worked your 4 hours yet?

We have an awesome opportunity to get involved on farm coming up this Sunday August 9th!

All of the information on our Roof Raising Barbeque can be found here on our e-vite.

We are asking all of our members who have yet to volunteer to take a look at their calendars for the rest of the season and work in some time to volunteer at distribution or here on farm. You can find details on volunteering in this previous blog post.

Don’t have time to volunteer?

A $30 buy-out of your volunteer time will help us to hire extra labor to run distributions, harvest, and manage the fields!

Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions! I look forward to seeing you all!

The farm in photos

Virginia has been pestering me for new photos of what’s growing here at Upper Meadows Farm and today, I finally obliged.

Forellenschluss lettuce, ready for salad

Forellenschluss lettuce, ready for salad

The red cabbage gathers momentum

The red cabbage gathers momentum

Green cabbage gets ready for its debut

Green cabbage gets ready for its debut

The hops are hopping

The hops are hopping

Purslane carries an omega-3 wallop

Purslane carries an omega-3 wallop
Purslane, an abundant weed also available in cultivated form, delivers a spicy kick with an undertone of citrus. The versatile herb also contains some of the highest levels of alpha-linolenic acid, a beneficial omega-3 fatty acid. The Wall Street Journal (7/22)