April 2, 2019

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Lettuce, Carrots, Oranges, Onions, Chard, Beets and Escarole

What’s in your FLOWER BOUQUET: Rosemary, Flax, Tulips, Anemones, Daffodils and Ranunculus





Tuesday April 16 & Saturday April 20



Saturday April 13  From 11-4  at Good Humus 

Activities for the Day:

~Picnicking with your family

~Pizza making 

~ Annual Plant Sale 

~ Farm Tour-Veggie Fields with Jeff  

~ Flower Fields with Ali

~ Farm Stand with Good Humus Goodies

Kids Activities: 

~Making paper seedling pots

~ Plant the pots with either seeds or plants. 

~ Nature walk (there are a lot of owl pellets to find)

~ Spring flower bouquet making along with vetch head crown making

We are getting ready for the plant sale part of the Farm Visit and have potted up veggies plants in the last few days for your gardens. This is wonderful spring event at our farm in Capay Valley great fun for the kid at heart, as well as anyone who wants to purchase amazing quality plants for their summer garden. The date is the same day as UC Davis Picnic Day and a nice alternative for those who want to get out of dodge that day. We hope you can come out to the farm! Bring your friends that would be like to join you with a picnic in the country, spring time has exploded and it is quite stunning to see.

Volunteers Needed!We sending a shout out for this Saturday; please ask your family about a great volunteer opportunity for older kids and their family members to help out at the Good Humus Open Farm Day? Annie Main is offering free pizza and a beverage in exchange for help in the kid’s hands on activities and other tasks during the Open Farm Event this Saturday. It will be a fun day at the farm with oven fired pizzas, picnic items, plant sale, kid’s activities and farm tours. Those interested, please contact Annie at humus@cal.net or call her at (530) 787-3187.


This Week on The Farm

It is a certifiably wet spring by all measures.  Not February, nor March and now the first 10 days of April have offered any chance for planting seeds.  Potatoes that were planted in the last dry spell in January are seriously endangered by the cold wet soil’s pathogens.  The blooms of the fruit and nut trees have offered their gifts to a cold wet world in which pollen has difficulty in performing and insects of all kinds that participate in the spring ritual tend to stay home.  At times like this on the farm, we can’t help but have a fleeting moment questioning the validity of setting your life’s security in the way of something so mysterious as the weather patterns.  The saving grace is that though there are a lot of things that farmers can change, the weather is not one of them, so that burden is lifted. And then we use the tools at our disposal to change the things we can.

            The greenhouse is a fabulous tool.  Tricky and risky, having the entire summer crop of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, basil, parsley, and some flowers all held under one roof and totally dependent on constant daily attention to water, light and heat conditions in each 1” square world.  We have spent a good portion of our 40 years learning through experience, combining failed trials, observation of others, distilling the advice of others, research and constant infrastructure improvement to get a little better. Starting with a few two by four cold frames made from old greenhouse glass, sprinkled seeds in a flat, and garden hose watering, we have moved to a 20 by 24 plastic greenhouse filled with individual celled flats filled with a carefully blended soil mix and garden hose watering.  This year we have added a heating cable system under the flats to try to solve a problem with root development.  All for the care of a summer’s worth of vegetable starts that let us sleep during a rainy spring.

            Spraying is a fabulous tool.  The hard part is to actually feel good about it.  Not feeling good about it is helped by noticing that the trees that are sprayed can survive while unsprayed trees die.  It helps to notice that a crop of apricots can be salvaged through a timely spray.  I have been learning all my life about what happens when I don’t spray, because I hate to spray.  If brown rot spores, fire blight bacteria, peach leaf curl spores, or shothole fungus were endangered species, this would be a good place for them because residual and thriving populations of all these survive my lax attempts at suppression. Over the years, there has come a sense of failure each time I spray, a failure to provide the tree or vine with the proper environment in which a fungus can live without exploding into the yearly epidemics of leaf and fruit rot.  But a year like this forces my hand, as the free moisture and humidity and somewhat warm conditions create a perfect climate for fungal and bacterial growth.  So yesterday you would have seen me out spraying a copper compound on the apricots, trying to keep the life cycle of the brownrot spore at bay, spraying a copper formulation to inhibit its proliferation on the young flowers, fruits and shoots of the apricots.  

            Some moments stick in my mind that must have something to say about my attitude toward spraying. Before I even started farming, growing up in a house surrounded by my father’s one-eighth acre farm, while watching him spray antibiotics to control fireblight on his pear tree, I remember he turned to me and said that no one should plant a tree that they are not willing to take care of, and if it dies from something they should have done and didn’t, well then they had no right to plant it.  Then in one of my first years of farming, I was doing some orchard work for an egotistical maniac.  He had about a half acre of magnificent old apricots that were just coming into bloom. He came out of his office and told me that he had decided that this year he wasn’t going to spray them.  I so vividly remember watching the struggle that ensued as those trees opened their leaf and flower buds, only to be destroyed by an untimely rain and a brownrot explosion, struggling two weeks later to put out a second set of shoots from adventitious buds, a few showers killed those and the trees just died. I echoed my Pop then and cursed him and the laws that allowed uncaring and insensitive people to be put in the care of generations of work and life.  Ed Looney, whom I honor and remember as the mentor of my farming life, turned to me in the middle of another spray day.  “Sometimes you can spray four or five times and still lose the crop, and other times you may miss several sprays and be fine.  You just never know”  Even as I have had to learn to forgive myself for my poor practices that result in the death of trees,  all those memories work together to somehow help me make a decision what to do on a spray day.

            Out on the farm, we are saving up these wet, cold rainy days to remember when we are in the middle of hot summer days so we can pull the memories out for some relief from what we know will come!  Jeff


Torta Verde

The second is torta verde, a savory pie from the Liguria region of Italy. In this torta, a thin olive oil crust holds a mixture of Swiss chard, feta cheese, onion, potato and eggs.  The torta was born out of necessity, according to the Saveurarticle. Its home region — the rural areas of Liguria north of the Italian Riviera (like the town of Triora) — is a place where wheat flour has historically been quite expensive. And so the torta, with its thin crust enclosing a wealth of vegetables and cheese, was created so families could stretch their flour budget.


1 1/4 cups all-purpose white flour sifted 

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

Up to 1/2 cup cool water

Make the dough

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.Drizzle the oil into the flour, mixing with a fork to combine.In measures of 1 tablespoon at a time, add water to the dough and mix. Continue adding spoonfuls of water until the dough holds together -- try to add as little as possible because less water means a flakier crust. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it is smooth and elastic.Shape into a ball and wrap in waxed paper or place in a sealed container. Refrigerate for 2 hours.


8-10 large leaves Swiss chard leaves finely chopped 

1 tablespoons salt

2 medium potatoes 

1 small onion peeled and finely chopped

2 tbsp minced fresh parsley

1 1/4 cups crumbled feta cheese

Pepper to taste

2eggs lightly beaten

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

Make the filling

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Remove and let cool.  Once cool, peel them and dice into rough pieces (about 1 cm on a side). Wash the chard and remove the stems. Finely chop enough of the chard to make 150 grams. Place the chopped chard in a colander, sprinkle with 1 tbsp salt, toss to mix, and set aside over a bowl or in the sink for 20 minutes. Rinse chard to remove excess salt, and then squeeze chard to press out liquid. Combine potatoes, onion, parsley, cheese, and chard in a large bowl. Mix in eggs and 45 grams (3 tbsp) oil. Set aside. Place an oven rack in middle of the oven. If you have a pizza stone, place it on the oven rack. Set oven temperature to 375 F (190 C). Note that if you are using a pizza stone, you'll need to preheat the oven for a much longer time.


Roll the Crust and Fill the Torta

Lightly oil and flour a 14" pizza pan (or cookie sheet). (I like to use a heavy steel Chicago-style pizza pan.) Divide dough into two unequal pieces: one-third and two-thirds. The bottom crust will be rolled out to 15" in diameter, the top crust to 13" in diameter.Roll out the pieces of dough on a floured surface. They will be very thin -- almost thin enough to see through. If the dough snaps back as you roll it, let it rest for a few minutes so the gluten can relax. I generally work on the bottom piece for a few minutes, then switch to the top piece, and continue to switch back and forth until the dough is rolled.For a perfectly round torta, cut the dough into a circle using the pizza pan as a guide. For a more rustic preparation, leave it as is.Place bottom crust into the pan, stretching it gently if it snaps back.Spread filling across the dough, leaving 1" of exposed crust around the edge.Roll the top crust to a 13" circle. It will be very thin.Place atop the filling so that it drapes slightly over the filling onto the bottom crust.Lightly wet the edge of the bottom crust, fold over the top piece, and crimp to make a seal. Use your fingertips to press down the filling and make indentations in the torta.Drizzle 15 grams (1 tbsp) oil over the pie.Using a fork or knife, poke some holes in the torta to allow steam to escape during baking.Bake the torta for about 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.


Root Vegetable Salad

Some like the challenge of finding new ways to combine the vegetables we have on hand. This salad was a recent favorite experiment. The escarole lends a pungent bite; for milder flavor but similar texture, use romaine lettuce.

3 beets trim tops, but use them on other recipes

2 parsnips

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons mince fresh tarragon leaves or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon

1 apple

½ cup chopped walnuts

2 cups lightly packed slivers escarole (use our Italian mix) or romaine lettuce

Salt and pepper

Scrub beets and parsnips. Put beets in a 4-5 quart pan and add 2 quarts water. Cover pan ad bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add parsnips, cover, and continue to cook until vegetables are tender. Drain vegetables and let stand until cool enough to touch, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile in a large bowl, mix oil, vinegar and tarragon. Pull skin from beets; discard. Cut vegetables into ½ inch chunks and add to bowl. Peel and core apple; cut into ½ inch chunks and add to bow. Add walnuts and escarole. Mix salad, adding salt and pepper to taste.


Orange Glazed Carrots

"A wonderfully easy glazed carrot recipe that the whole family will enjoy. Great for special occasions or an everyday meal." 

1 pound carrots 

1 bunch of onions

2 stalks of green garlic

1/4 cup orange juice 

2 tablespoons butter 

1 pinch salt 

Place carrots in a shallow roasting dish add butter, onions and green garlic and cook until tender. Pour orange juice over carrots, and salt, mix well and return carrots to pan. Simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Serve