04/07/09 — Aaron

Table of Contents:

1) In Your Box this Week

2) Farm News

  • Open House/ Potluck and The Onion Creek Crawdaddies: April 19th!
  • A bit about our Hakurei Salad Turnips
  • I say Sweet Potatoes, You say Batatas
  • Intern exchange
  • Plant Sales
  • Log into your JBG CSA Membership Online
3) Events
  • Food Justice Speaker Series
  • Concentration of Power in the Global Food System
  • Fair Food Across Borders
  • Building Local Food Systems
  • Environment, Health and Food Safety
  • Spring Speaker Series
  • Permaculture Winter 2009 Series
  • Austin Organic Gardeners
  • Travis County Master Gardeners Association

4) Quotable Food

5) Recipes
  • Beets with Walnut Vinaigrette
  • Supreme Turnip Salad

6) Vegetable Storage Tips 7) Johnson’s Backyard Garden Contact Information

Please send newsletter feedback, suggestions and contributions to farm@jbgorganic.com

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Haruki salad turnips. A wonderful addition to your box this week.

1) In Your Box this Week:

Spinach Lettuce
Baby Arugula or Salad Mix
Pac Choi
Kale or Collards
Parsley or Mint Hakurei Salad Turnips
Kohlrabi Radish
Green Garlic
1015 Sweet Onions
Last of the Citrus

    This list is subject to change depending on availability and quality of crops on harvest day.  You’ll find the most accurate packing list on the homepage of our website.


2) Farm News

  • Open House/ Potluck and The Onion Creek Crawdaddies: April 19th!
We have picked a date for the special occasion, please joins us at the farm on Sunday April 19th from 4pm til dark. We will provide music and entertainment. Bring a dish to share, your own place settings and all the friends and family you can think of. Bring a chair or a blanket, and BYOB. You do not need to be a CSA member to attend, this is an event for everyone (except your canine friends, please leave them at home). So mark your calenders and peruse your favorite recipes in preparation for this annual event. We’ll meet in the orchard and have a walking tour of the farm with other local foodies.  The Onion Creek Crawdaddies will be our musical guests for the evening.
  • A bit about our Hakurei Salad Turnips
This white "salad turnip" sets the standard for flavor. The flat-round, smooth white roots mature early, just after radishes, and are best harvested young. The flavor is great raw - sweet and fruity - and the texture is crisp and tender. The dark green hairless tops are useful raw or lightly cooked with the roots. Compared with other early white turnips, Hakurei (Brassica rapa) tastes better and stays smoother as it sizes. The  Hakurei gourmet Japanese turnip is probably my favorite winter vegetable.  It's a small (radish-sized) white turnip that is mature in about 5 weeks.  Rinse the bottoms, remove the taproots, halve and cook in chicken stock for a half-hour or so. A few minutes before serving toss in the chopped greens. Great stuff.
  • I say Sweet Potatoes, You say Batatas
Planting sweet potatoes has been our big project this week, so I thought I'd do a little research on the plant. Much to my surprise, there is a great deal of conflicting information out there. Though most sources agree that the plant originated in the West Indies, there is also a fair amount of discussion claiming Central and South America or South Asia or Polynesia as possible locations of origin. One errant source cited Columbus as actually bringing sweet potatoes to the Americas (proof that you can't believe everything you read).
What current popular culture calls the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), actually belongs to the morning-glory family Convolvulaceae, was known in pre-Columbian days as Batatas. This name, from the Arawak language family included the regions of the West Indies, Florida and Louisiana, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and as far south as the coastal regions of Brazil. Sweet potatoes are botanically unrelated to the Irish potato (Solanaceae family, which includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and the weedy nightshades). While sweet potatoes are often referred to as 'yams', the true yam is the tuber of an African tropical vine (Dioscorea batatas) and is not even distantly related to the sweet potato. True yams are still a curiosity in the United States. When researching plants I always start with one of my favorite growing guides, a set of four volumes, entitled Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide: Good Vegetables and Market Gardening published in 1928. The information is still useful, the illustrations are beautiful. Here are a few examples of info they hold about sweet potatoes.


Generally speaking, folks in the northern states prefer the so-called "dry-fleshed" type of sweet potato, such as Big Stem Jersey and Little Stem Jersey, while the southerners prefer the "moist-fleshed" type. This category of sweet potatoes includes the variety Beauregard that we are growing at the Farm.The soft, rich, "moist" varieties are the ones erroneously called "yams" in the United States. A strange fact about these two types of sweet potato is that the "dry-fleshed" ones have more water in them than the "moist-fleshed" ones do!

This week I made a trip to Grand  Saline, Texas, where we purchased 1800 pounds of Beauregard sweet potatoes from Lyn and Betty Melton. They, along with their sons, have been growing sweet potatoes (and hay, summer squash, peas and red potatoes and raising heifers) since 1971. Over the years, they have sold their sweet potatoes at Dallas farmer's markets, to canneries, and to regional grocery stores.

Lyn Melton, sweet potato farmer.

We will use Melton's sweet potatoes to grow our own 'slips' or 'draws'. These are early root cuttings that we will replant, in six to eight weeks, to actually produce the sweet potatoes you will eat. Sweet potatoes are one of the few vegetables where true seeds are used for breeding only.

Will finely tilled and hilled two beds of soil in preparation of laying out our sweet potatoes.  Like carrots, sweet potatoes require a bed of soil that is completely free of clumps which would drastically distort the final shape of the veggie. Adam, Jeff, Dylan and I placed the sweet potatoes in a solid path down the center of each bed, with about a one inch space between each potato. This layer was then covered with two inches of soil followed by a layer of plastic mulch that will help generate the heat needed to produce good growth. The plastic mulch, however, will be used only for the short term. When the sweet potatoes begin to sprout enough to raise the plastic we will poke holes in it to create proper ventilation for a few days then completely remove the mulch. Soon after we will be able to harvest the 'slips' and plant our production crop.

Empty crates and rows of sweet potatoes. Dylan plants our sweet potatoes for 'slip' production. Lyn's Sweet potato harvester. It's just a little more advanced than what Audels recommends.
  • Intern exchange
Lucas left about ten days ago for Los Angeles with his final destination being home in Germany. We keep joking that he's late for work and has become such the slacker. However, a few days ago Adam moved in and he has eagerly jumped in to fill Lucas' shoes. Adam is a local Austinite, musician, stone mason and would be farmer. Dylan will be leaving for Wisconcin on April 15th. He will be working on a CSA farm, where he has worked before, and then plans to relocate to parts unknown. A few days before he leaves, Evelyn will be arriving from Chicago to spend some time with us at the Farm. So, on your next visit to JBG you are likely to see new faces (mixed in with the old faces you already know). Please stop and say hello to Adam and Evelyn.

Adam Davis, our new intern.

And while were at it, here is Adam's 'new' abode.

And while we're at it, here is Adam's 'new' abode.

  • Plant Sales:
We’ve added three varieties of organic tomatillo, four varieties of eggplant, and ten varieties of peppers to our list of starts available for your home garden. Heirloom tomatoes continue to sell at a fast pace as home gardeners get that spring itch to start planting. If you’re interested in enriching your family’s diet and garden experience, check out our web site to place your order. CSA members can have vegetable starts delivered to your weekly drop off site for the next couple of weeks.  General public orders may be picked up at the farm stand, in front of the greenhouse, at 9515 Hergotz Lane. All transplants are seeded to 1? plugs and cost $1.00 each for Johnson’s Backyard Garden CSA members and $1.75 for the general public. We require a $20.00 minimum order, and this minimum can include any combination of the plants we have available. Remember, these starts have been produced in our greenhouse and need to be hardened off for a few days before planting in your garden. Place the starts, still in their tray, under your house eaves or a patio awning. This practice will allow the greenhouse plants to gradually adjust to the colder temperatures of the great outdoors. Water the starts a few times each day to prevent them from wilting in their small 1? plugs.  If a late season frost is in the forecast, be sure to cover your veggie starts with row cover, an old sheet, or a layer of newspaper. Eggplant
irene1 Irene - This traditional egg-shaped, purple black eggplant sets heavily, producing medium-sized firm fruit. Irene is one of the very few eggplant varieties with intermediate resistance to Verticillium races Va & Vd.
eggplant_long_green Louisiana Long Green - Attractive 7? banana-shaped fruits average 6 oz. each. At edible harvest the fruits are light green with creamy-green stripes at the blossom end. Spineless plants average 3-1/2? tall, withstand light frost. 100 days.
rosa-bianca-l7432 Bianca - Prized by chefs and gardeners alike for its creamy, mild flesh and lovely appearance, this Italian heirloom eggplant has become very popular. Well-filled, round to tear-drop-shaped fruit is white with soft lavender streaks outside, and inside flesh white and sweet with no trace of bitterness. Delicious for slicing, stuffing, or any eggplant use. 75 days.
snowy Snowy - Non-bitter fruit enjoyed in a long, uniform 8-10? sharp-white fruit. Earlier to bear fruit than others and will enhance any collection of eggplant when displayed with others of varying colors. 65-80 days.
anaheim_hot_peppers_seeds Anaheim - Also know as the ‘New Mexican Chile,’ this moderately pungent fruit is deep green, but turns red at full maturity. Very smooth peppers are 7-1/2 inches long and 2 inches wide and borne on tall, productive plants that offer good foliage cover for the fruit. Tobacco mosaic virus resistant. Excellent for canning, freezing or drying. 75 days
corodetoro Corno di Torro - Italian ‘bull’s horn’ colorful sweet peppers are 8 to 10 inches long and curved like a bull’s horn. Ripen to deep red or bright yellow and are delicious fresh in salads, but more often are sauted or grilled. Prolific tall plants. 68 days.
cubanelle_sweet_pepperr Cubanelle - This is a large sweet pepper. It is yellow-green in and matures to red. This variety of sweet pepper is very popular among home gardeners. Cubanelle Sweet Pepper is great for frying, stuffing, dipping and on salads. 12 inches. They’re high in vitamin C .
numex_big_jim_hot_peppers_seeds Numex-Big Jim - The largest of New Mexican varieties, this pepper has pods up to 12 inches long that weigh as much as 4 ounces. Their size makes them a favorite for chiles rellenos. Medium hot pungency. As an advantage, plants are able to set fruit under hot, dry conditions. 80 days.
pepper_orion_organic Orion - This is a huge blocky pepper, up to 5 inches long and wide, with thick, heavy walls and 4-lobed shape. Widely adapted, it does well even in warm locations, where its heavy foliage cover shields fruit from the sun. This very high quality Dutch pepper has excellent disease protection with resistance to 3 races of bacterial leaf spot and tobacco mosaic virus. 75 days.
queen-l5718 Queen - Brightly colored bell pepper with a delicious sweet and mild thick flesh. Queen consistently produces big, green, blocky 4 lobed bells that mature to orange. The sturdy plants have resistance to tobacco mosaic virus. 70-74 days.
ringo Ringo - Produces large plants laden with elongated, pointed fruit measuring about 5cm in diameter at the top and reaching almost 30cm in length. With a shape that is somewhat reminiscent of a bull’s horn, they turn from green to a stunning bright yellow as they ripen.This is a later maturing variety better eaten after it turns yellow. At that point it is mildly sweet and perfect grilled and peeled, fried, or used fresh in salads.
serrano-del-sol Serrano del Sol - Very impressive new version of open-pollinated Serrano pepper, this one boasts fruit that is twice the size and two to three weeks earlier than the original. Peppers are fleshy and meaty with the unique Serrano flavor so popular in Mexican cuisine. Measuring about 5,000 Scoville units, they are about the same pungency as a jalapeno, and are quite versatile for sauces, salsas, or flavoring. 64 to 67 days.
tabasco Tabasco - Fiery hot, this is the one that has made Tabasco sauce famous. Green leaf strain that grows best in the South and East. Light yellow-green peppers turn to red and grow on tall plants. 80 days.
telica_hot_peppers_seeds Telica - Plant produces heavy yields of extra large 4 ¾â€ long by 1 ¾â€ wide Jalapeno peppers. Peppers are hot, have thick flesh, and turn from shiny green to red when mature. 75 days.
  • Log into your JBG CSA Membership Online:
You can manage your Johnson’s Backyard Garden CSA membership online. At CSA accounts,you can make payments, check schedule pick up times and dates, and renew or change your order. It’s the best way to stay up to date with your individual account. If you experience any difficulties managing you account, please contact Carrie at the farm Monday- Friday before 12:30 pm at 512.386.5273 or email her at farm@jbgorganic.com.
Farmer Johnson with his crop of new Yukon Gold potatoes. They should be ready for harvest in just a few weeks

3) Events:

  • Food Justice Speaker Series
Grit sent in this list of upcoming events being held at Monkey Wrench Books.  She writes, 'People are paying attention to food like never before. These conversations are raising questions about where our food comes from and its impacts on health, the environment, and human rights. This series highlights efforts towards a more fair and sustainable food system in Austin and elsewhere.'
  • Concentration of Power in the Global Food System
April 9, 7pm, MonkeyWrench Books (110 E. North Loop) Discussion on how free trade agreements -- partnerships between governments and corporations -- centralize food production and concentrate market power. * Paul Martin, Siempre Sustainable Network * Carmen Llanes, PODER & Texas Fair Trade Coalition * Eva Hershaw, Photojournalist * Moderator: Sthea Mason, American Friends Service Committee
  • Fair Food Across Borders
April 16, 7pm, MonkeyWrench Books (110 E. North Loop) Film screening ("Paying the Price") and discussion on migrant agricultural workers in the U.S. and Mexico. * Melody Gonzalez, Chiapas Media Project * Fair Food Austin * Moderator: Cristina Tzintzún, Workers Defense Project
  • Building Local Food Systems
April 30, 7pm, MonkeyWrench Books (110 E. North Loop) Meet individuals and organizations in Austin that are contributing to food access, efficacy and awareness that helps make a local, sustainable food system possible. * Andrew Smiley, Sustainable Food Center * Youth participants, Urban Roots * Erin Flynn and Skip Connett, Green Gate Farms * Moderator: Marla Camp, Edible Austin
  • Environment, Health and Food Safety
May 7, 7pm, Center for Community Engagement (1009 E. 11th Street) Explore the impacts of the conventional food system on the environment, health, and food safety. * Curt Ellis, filmmaker, "King Corn" * Charlotte Herzele, University of Texas at Austin * More speakers TBA Sponsors: American Friends Service Committee, Fair Food Austin, MonkeyWrench Books, Oxfam-UT, PODER, Sustainable Food Center, Texas Fair Trade Coalition, Center for Community Engagement (UT-Austin), Urban Roots, Workers Defense Project For more information, visit http://fairfoodaustin.blogspot.com http://monkeywrenchbooks.org
  • Spring Speaker Series
Varying times on select days through May 30. Check Web site for schedule. 10 a.m. today: Mixing It Up With Dave: Container Patio Gardening at its Best!’With Dave Mix, Pacific Home and Garden. Free. The Great Outdoors Garden Center Nursery, 2730 S. Congress Avenue. www.gonursery.com
  • Permaculture Winter 2009 Series
7 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, through April 8. Permaculture talks and videos about sustainability. Habitat Suites, 500 E. Highland Mall Drive. Free. 619-5363. www.permie.us.

  • Austin Organic Gardeners:
The Austin Organic Gardeners meet the second Monday  of every month at Zilker Botanical Garden. www.austinorganicgardeners.org Meetings start at 7 p.m.
  • Travis County Master Gardeners Association:
The Travis County Master Gardeners Association holds it’s monthly meetings on the first Wednesday of each month. www.tcmastergardeners.org Meetings starts at 7 p.m. Sweet potatoes waiting to be planted.

4) Quotable Food:

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly. ~M. F. K. Fisher

5) Recipes:

A recipe from Sandra Martin:

'I am normally not one to enjoy beets, but I found this recipe which made a believer out of me, and I wanted to share it with other JBG CSAers. You can also use your CSA parsley in it. I have adapted the recipe from The Greens Cook Book by Deborah Madison with Edward Espe Brown. Enjoy!'
  • Beets with Walnut Vinaigrette
serves 4 1 lb. beets Walnut Vinaigrette 1 T. sherry vinegar 1 T. balsamic vinegar 1/4 tsp. salt 1 T. walnut oil 1-2 T. olive oil feta or goat cheese crumbles Italian parsley black pepper Preheat oven to 400 deg. Peel beets and cut them into roughly the size of a medium radish. Dress with olive oil and salt and pepper, and bake for approx. 50 minutes or until tender but not too soft, turning once. While beets are baking, prepare vinaigrette. Combine the vinegars and salt, and add the oils. While the beets are still warm, dress them with the vinaigette and the parsley. Taste for tartness, adding more balsamic vinegar if needed. Season with black pepper. Sprinkle with feta or goat cheese crumbles.
  • Supreme Turnip Salad from cooks.com
3 turnips 2 tart red apples 1/2 c. chopped raisins 1/8 c. grated orange rind 1 tsp. sugar 1/2 tsp. salt 3/4 c. alfalfa sprouts (optional) Parsley bits 3/4 c. mayonnaise 3 tbsp. fresh orange juice Fresh pulled turnips add a delicious zesty flavor to this nutritious salad. Peel and grate turnips. Core and coarsely chop unpeeled apples. Combine mayonnaise, sugar and orange juice. Pour over turnips and apples. Add remaining ingredients and toss. Serve immediately or chill. An Alabama joke for Aaron and Brenton. Quess which one is the computer programmer and which is the farmer.........
6) Produce Storage Tips:

We aim to grow and package our vegetables to maintain the highest taste and nutritional quality possible. However, once they’ve left the farm it’s up to you to keep them fresh and nutritious. There’s no refrigeration at the CSA drop points so it’s best to pick up your box as early as possible. Here are some additional tips on how to store this week’s share:

Spinach, Kale, Chard, Lettuce, Salad Greens, Pak Choi, Braising Mix and Cooking Greens will stay fresh in the crisper for 4-7 days and should be kept in plastic bags. Any bunch greens can be freshened by cutting an inch of the bottom stalks and soaking the entire bunch in cold water for 10 minutes. Place in a plastic bag in the fridge for a few hours to revive. Carrots, Radishes, Turnips, Beets, and Parsnips should be stored in plastic bags. They'll last two weeks in the fridge. Take tops off carrots before storing, leave greens on radishes, turnips and beets, with both roots and tops in the bag.

Oranges and Grapefruit are best kept at room temperature of 60-70 degrees and used within two weeks. Do not store in plastic bags.

Parsley and Cilantro are best with bottoms of stems trimmed, placed upright in a jar of water in the fridge. Basil can be stored upright in a jar of water at room temperature, or in an open bag on the counter. These three all do well frozen also (they will loose texture but not taste).

Checkout our storage tips on our website for a more complete guide, and of course, feel free to contact us with any questions. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is your guide for how to can, freeze, dry, pickle or ferment just about anything.

Brenton and Hea discuss 'potting up' the pepper starts. This means they will be removing the 1-inch starts to flats with 2-inch cells to accomodate the growing root system.

7) Johnson’s Backyard Garden Contact Info:

Johnson’s Backyard Garden 9515 Hergotz Lane, Box E Austin, TX 78742

Office Phone: 512.386.5273 Office Hours: M-F 8am to 12:30pm

e-mail: farm@jbgorganic.com website: www.jbgorganic.com