Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Veg Variety Winners 2014

2014 Veg Variety Winners at GFF

Every year we attempt to identify the top 10 varieties that were grown on the farm during the year.  Criteria include production, quality of fruit, taste and plant health.  Additional factors that may increase the rating for a variety might be performance as compared other varieties of the same type or one that surprised us by doing far better than anticipated.  You might also note that we will give a tie break to a variety that has not been awarded a top 10 slot over one that has.

 For those who want to see what has gone before:
Honorable Mention
There were a few others we considered for the top ten and they didn't quite make it.  In particular, Bronze Arrowhead did what it usually does -well.  But, we have to admit that we didn't put as many in this year and that's the only reason it didn't make the top ten.  Ok, that, and we've semi-officially removed it from the competition.

French Breakfast

Dwarf Blue Scotch
Bronze Arrowhead

Nebraska Wedding
10. Sweet Siberian watermelon
It was nice to have a decent batch of watermelon this season, even if they were pretty late (September) due to the colder Summer we had this year.  Sweet Siberian is the shortest season watermelon we grow and it sets fruit that land in the 5-10 pound range.  This makes it perfect for the CSA since we can load in 50 or so fruit and not take the whole truck to do it.
Seeds are part of the fun!
The texture has a bit of a grainy feel to it and the taste has overtones of honey, which actually matches up nicely with the texture.  The color can take you aback when you first see it and you'll be tempted to say it isn't ripe.  But, after you taste it, you'll stop worrying about the color.

9. Bloomsdale spinach
Bloomsdale has made our list in the past.  This year, it was not likely to make it.  The extreme cold prevented our over-Wintered spinach from doing much and we had some issues with all of our spring seeded crops.  Until the Fall/early Winter batch started getting harvested, we were feeling a bit low on spinach.  The quality and taste were top notch this Fall and they handled the extremely cold November weather pretty well.  A more normal Fall would have increased the harvest, but we cannot complain about the taste.
Late Fall or early Spring, this spinach is the best tasting you'll ever get!
Bloomsdale has savoyed (bumpy/wavy) leaves that have a bit more substance to them.  We tend to eat them raw with some of our favorite salad dressing.  But, we were treated to some lightly sauteed spinach in butter, sea salt and GFF garlic at the Savory Spoon.  Wow.

8. Eden's Gem melon

Individual sized servings and great flavor.
An amazing thing happened this year.  We have melons and watermelons on our veg variety winner list this season.  In our minds, that is an accomplishment since we have not had terribly successful years with these in the past.  Eden's Gem provides us with 1-2 pound melons that have green flesh and a wonderful scent and taste.  Production is very good on relatively compact vines.  We expect even greater things from them next year.  Our harvert numbers landed at .91 per row foot.  We figure that one marketable fruit for every row foot is reasonable, though we might like more.  This season had a perfectly good reason for the reduction, and it had nothing to do with the variety and everything to do with the mulch that lifted up and beat many of the plants to death.  So, given that - Eden's Gem had a very nice year.

7. Northern White garlic

The garlic did just fine this season.  In fact, it was one of the crops that did as well as we expected it to do.
Where's the photo bomber?
Essentially, 2014 was a year where very few of our crops exceeded expectations and many of them limped in with a low level 'acceptable.'  We aren't complaining about that because we met our obligations to our customers and provided very good produce to them.  But, when you're trying to highlight things that were exceptional, you don't want a crop that just met the anticipated levels to be at number 7.  But, let's be fair here.  Our expectations for some of our crops that have done well in the past are often higher.  Our expectations for garlic are certainly not low, so we should just get over it and admit they earned the spot.

Once again, taste from these has been excellent.  Remember that sauteed spinach?  Northern White garlic with it. mmmmm.

6. Jupiter bell pepper
We are not entirely sure how we made it through the season without taking a picture of these lovely bell peppers.  Jupiter tends to be a bigger and rounder green bell pepper with a mild taste and fairly thick walls.  Production numbers were very good, but it was the average fruit size that made us take notice.  Just under a half pound per fruit, these were surprisingly large and extremely good looking.  We don't expect this much size from Jupiter every year, but our previous history has been good.  This just happened to be a year where many of our peppers did well and Jupiter actually did better than most.  The strain from High Mowing has been nice since it allowed us to return to producing this open pollinated pepper after it became difficult to locate a new seed source a few years ago.

5. Scarlet Ohno Revival turnip
The farmer is falling down on the job - he failed to get pictures of this too!  This is one of those cases where we were pretty excited about the IDEA of this variety to begin with.  Purple Top White Globe turnips are fine and we've had some good luck with White Egg as well.  But, we've been looking for a turnip with even better taste and quality.  Catalog descriptions are one thing, historical claims for Scarlet Ohno are another thing.  But, the reality was well worth the effort to try it.  We wonder exactly how good this one will get once we figure out optimal timing for our plantings.

We roasted Scarlet Ohno with some Purple Majesty and Carola potatoes.  A little of bit of spicing - including some garlic from the farm - and we had an excellent roast vegetable dish.  Surprisingly, those who tasted Scarlet Ohno raw liked it quite a bit.  So, some thin slices in a salad are definitely not out of the question.

4. White Wing onion

A pleasure to pick in 2014
You've read about onions a few times already this season because we were very pleased with our results in 2014 so I'll refrain from writing too much here.  Much of the excellent results came in the form of White Wing onions.  For the most part, we simply harvest these and give them as fresh bulb onions rather than curing them.  They are a good short season onion, with good quality and taste.  We are considering splitting production into two successions and don't really consider White Wing for storage purposes. 

3. Broccoli - Belstar and Gypsy
Yes, we know.  It isn't fair if you select two varieties in one slot.  But...  It's our list and we can do it if we really want to.  So there!
Main heads + side shoots = happy CSA members
The cooler Summer supported an excellent broccoli year.  The taste was excellent, the insect pressure was minimal and the main shoots were supplemented by excellent side shoot production.  These are both hybrid varieties.  But, we have had a terrible time finding a good open pollinated that produces at levels we need for our farm.  That doesn't mean we won't keep trying.  Nonetheless, we are very happy these two varieties give us a solid anchor of production with quality that we can build from.

Side by side production of Belstar and Gypsy for our main season succession had Belstar at 1.27 pounds per row foot and Gypsy at 1.31 pounds per row foot.  Gypsy splits the production 40% main heads and 60% side shoots.  Belstar is 67% main heads and the rest are side shoots.

2. Purple Beauty bell pepper

When a year works, a year works.
We try not to overload the list with similar vegetables.  But, when a variety distinguishes itself, you've got to give its due.  And, our peppers in the SouthWest field were surprisingly good.  We figured we would have problems given the cooler weather. And, in fact, there were some issues.  But, we had these in our best drained field, which helped us to overcome weather issues.

Peppers averaged .38 lbs each with excellent quality.  While I have yet to run the per plant production numbers, they are quite good.   It was a nice treat to easily be able to pick enough Purple Beauties to give all of our CSA members a chance to try them.  As far as taste goes, Purple Beauty rates simply as a green bell for taste.  This is certainly not bad.  But, this is a case where the year's production characteristics pushed it to the top of the list.

1. Listada de Gandia eggplant
Prettiest eggplant on the block.
And, here it is!  The number one vegetable variety of 2014 at the Genuine Faux Farm!

Listada de Gandia is produces beautiful striped Italian eggplant that regularly get people at the market to stop and ask about them.  Their taste matches most deep purple eggplant as long as you don't let them age too long on the vine.  But, that is true for all eggplant of this type.  We prefer to pick them at an average 3/4 pound size.  This allows the consumer to eat them without pealing. 

Production-wise, Listada has had up and down years.  In some of the down years, we have to admit that we didn't give them the best shot.  Remember, there are multiple variables when it comes to the success of a variety on our farm.  One of those variables is the effort the farmers put into the crop.  We freely admit that eggplant don't always get a high priority ranking since it is not a favorite vegetable for many of our CSA members.  So, if adversity strikes the crop, we may cut our losses sooner in order to succeed on other fronts. 

This year, Listada and Black King carried the load for eggplant.  Black King is an Italian type purple eggplant and is a hybrid.  Listadia is an open pollinated heirloom.  Usually, odds are given for the hybrid to win.  This year, with side by side production with all treatments given at the same time (planting, watering, weeding, picking) Listada de Gandia made the hybrid look weak.

Marketable Fruit:  Listada 360  Black King 272
                   Weight: Listada 284.8 lbs  Black King 217.9 lbs

Listada does have a shorter production window, though it ran from August 4 to September 30 this year.

We hope you enjoyed our Veg Variety Winners for 2014.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Best Medicine 2014

A "year in review" of humor in the blog was started a couple of years ago, so we thought we'd treat you to the same for this season.  There are two categories.  Line of the Year may appear in any type of post.  Needless to say, it may actually encompass more than one sentence/line.  Hey, it's our blog, we can use whatever rules we want!  Post of the year was selected for the perceived entertainment value.  Of course, entertainment value is subjective.  And, since the farmer and his lovely bride were the only two judges, you can feel free to comment and correct our flawed insight!  

If you wish to read any of the posts that have been highlighted here, feel free to take the links provided.

Previous Best Medicine posts are linked here: 20132012, 2011, 2010, 2009

In fact, I have been known to count the 'ringy dingies' of the phone while I'm waiting for someone to pick up my call.  And, I have been known to get caught in the middle of the "Ah ah aaaaaah" part when someone actually does answer.  This usually happens on days when I'm feeling ah countable...  (get it? No?  Never mind.)

From The Count Ah ah aaaaah! - November 15

Remember - You can't have your kayak and heat it too.

From The May Blitz -  May 6

Hey!  Um... You missed a spot.
Hey!  Um... You missed a spot.
From Farmer for Breakfast and Other Oddities - July 9

 I am detecting a case or two of harrow-worship going on here
 I was going to show "dat" harrow, but instead I showed you "disk" one.

From The Tired Farmer's Almanac - June 6

I'm cooler than you.
I'm cooler than you.
From Goodbye June - July 6

Mice make crunchy noises when you [see them walking on Rice Crispies. ed]!

From Cubbie's Corners - January 12

We feel that we pecked a good one for your review.  We worked hard to pullet off.  It definitely had a wing of truth to it.  Sources were eggselent.  Ignore at your peril.  If you do, the yolk will be on you.

From Chicken Decoding Special Forces - January 30

Hey, if a human has a giggle fit while walking, they zigzag a bit.  If a butterfly, who flies in a zigzag pattern giggles, it probably results in flying a straight line.  This all makes sense as long as you allow yourself to believe that a butterfly can giggle  Once you accept that, the rest is easy.

 From The Mulberry Hedge - April 7


Most photo bombers are opportunistic and don't usually go too far to seek out opportunity.  This one probably isn't any different from the rest.
From The Trials of Photographing Garlic - September 3

Tammy mentioned the fact that there was supposed to be a meteor shower at some point during this time period.  But.. She DELETED it.
From In the News - Meteor Shower Deleted - December 15

Ooops!  You missed one.
Have you ever looked at the word "remarkable?"  The "k" just makes it stand out.  It also is easy to type.  So, I like it.
From The Oooo Aaaah! Bird - April 24

Besides, it isn't as cold by the lake as it is by Embarrass, or maybe Tower.  If you want cold, you go there.  Or maybe Hudson Bay.

From Brrrreaking Out of the Cold - February 10

And the final symptom?

11.  The farmer spends time making creative blog posts about fictional syndromes.

From The Season for Farmer Delusional Syndrome  - February 5

"Hey!  There's one of them cats they need all of that litter for!"
"Ah Yep.  You don't suppose he got some litter stuck in that hoodie of his do you?"

From Traffic Stoppers - November 10


*cue Indiana Jones music*

Wait a minute.  Why does this music have castanets in it?  I don't remember those.  Oh.. that was your teeth chattering?  Umm never mind the music then.

 From Adventures in the Negative - January 27

I was NOT going to get caught and I was going to make each delivery without squashing any squish (yes, you read that right)!
From Drive By Vegetabling  - January 16

At some point after the birds approach adult size, they change from "Turks" to "Knuckleheads."  In this case, the farmers find new energy for extra syllables because the birds sometimes find ways to elicit extra energy from the farmers.

From Time to Talk Turkey - October 15

We're afraid if we mess it up, we may have to start a new product line of pre-cooked chicken.  Hey!  Why not?  They do it with brats!

From It's Officially A Tradition - April 1

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2014 GFF Photos of the Year

Voting is completed!  We have edited this post after tallying votes via Facebook, this blog and email.  We will leave each of the photos as is in their category and simply add an extra label for the winner.  Scroll down to see which picture won our 2014 GFF Photo of the Year!

Best in the Out Standing in Our Field Category
Evening Tomato Harvest
Typically, tomatoes are harvested on the farm mid-afternoon just prior to the final loading of the truck or a CSA Farm Share distribution.  We don't typically end up picking in the evening until September.  And, when that happens, there is usually a farmers market to go to the next morning.  The camera was probably already out on the cart and the evening was shaping up to be a beautiful one.  Tammy decided to grab a picture with Rob in the depths of the tomato forest while the sunset begins to shape up behind the barn.

Best in the Around the Farm Category 
2014 Genuine Faux Farm Photo of the Year
High Tunnel Sunset

Both Rob and Tammy saw this color combination and both of us tried our hands at it.  By the time stamps on it, it looks like this one is Rob's.  But, there are some other versions of the same photo that are pretty nice as well.  Iowa sunsets can be very nice, with lots of subtle color variations.  We just liked how the plastic of the high tunnel changed the color a bit.

Best in the Around the Farm Category (runner up) 
B) Farming on Tatooine
This is another Tammy photo.  While Rob was trying to get work done on the new tractor (June work days can get very long), Tammy decided to try and get a shot of the full moon as it came up to shine light on our work that night.  It was just an interesting artifact of the lens that leads to a shadow moon in the picture.  Of the tries Tammy made with the camera, this is the one where the shadow moon was strongest and looked the most like a 'real' moon.  It wasn't intentional, but it sure ended up as an interesting picture.  
Best in the Veggie Category
The Perfect Black Krim
Black Krim tomatoes have a tendency to have radial cracking at the top and are rarely blemish free.  They just taste so darned good that anyone who likes a top notch tomato will not care much about the looks.  But, when you find a Black Krim that is this free of problems with this kind of color, you just have to photograph it!  Rob and Tammy reserved this particular tomato for their BLTs that night.  Ok... is your mouth watering yet?

Best in the People Category
Photo Bomber Strikes!
Rob takes most of the pictures on the farm, but Tammy is raking in the awards this year.  I know it has nothing to do with the background of this particular picture, it must be the garlic.  Yep, that's it.  In any event, this was one load of garlic from our 2014 harvest.  I seem to recall that she was asking that I stand by the garlic for the picture.  Apparently, I cannot follow instructions.   Or perhaps, I like to extrapolate too much?  Extrapolate is a great word.  Fun to type, fun to say.  And, a fun picture.
Best in the Critter Category
Ummmm.  You missed a spot
The tables are turned and Tammy shows up in a photo.  Our outdoor cats are pretty friendly once they get to know you - even if they do tend to hide when large numbers of people appear.  Mrrranda decided to be more friendly to the camera than she used to be.  Se actually ran AWAY from the camera when she was a kitten.  Even if she was initially running to the photographer just prior to the appearance of the camera....  This picture may not be the very best for composition or quality, but with the caption, it makes it well worth it.
Best in the Flower Category
Candy Trio
Then, there are flower pictures.  For some reason, flowers caught our attention more this season than some of the others.  There were many good ones to choose from.  We think Rob was more interested in flower pictures this year because we had some help keeping the flower beds looking better.  In other words, we enjoyed them more - which was the goal all along.  If we recall correctly, this day lily is called Strawberry Candy.  Usually, they don't line up in such a tight cluster.  The lighting was right and the background didn't really fight with the rest of the picture.  So, this one works nicely.  We are both big fans of day lilies and iris.  So, if you wonder why so many pictures of different kinds of these show up on our blogs, you know now.

Monday, December 15, 2014

In the News - Meteor Shower Deleted

I sometimes wish I was quicker with pulling out my notepad and pen when amusing things get said or done around the farm.  Given the right mood, the two of us have the ability to take discussions in all sorts of absurdly wonderful directions and I sometimes wish I could remember them well enough to report them and then play with them further on the blog.  After all, if they amused us, won't they amuse you?

Why don't I remember them, you might ask?  Well, if you fall into a giggle fit, your brains fall right out of your ears and you have a case of temporary amnesia. 

However, I do remember one specific conversation a couple of days ago that started with an observation that we could see the stars.  This was particularly noteworthy to us since we knew temps were forecast to be higher than usual for this time of year, but the sun was not forecast to show itself during that period.  Of course, the couple of moments we got with clear skies was at 9:00 at night.  After the typical lament that we would have liked a few moments of sun versus the continual fog, drizzle and overcast/cloudy skies during the day by both of us, Tammy mentioned the fact that there was supposed to be a meteor shower at some point during this time period.  But...


Ooops, you missed one.
This is one of those cases where I know Tammy heard what she was saying.  She just wanted to get to the point sooner without all of the connections that get a person from point A to point B.  But, WHY would you want to let something like that go?  And we didn't let it go - we had fun with it.

So, for everyone out there who was hoping to see a meteor shower recently.  You didn't see it because Tammy DELETED the meteor shower.  It had nothing to do with incessant cloud cover.  So there!

Rob was particularly disappointed because he felt it was about time to take a shower.  So, if the next time you see him and you feel that he is stinking up the place - blame Tammy.  She deleted the shower he was going to take.
I don't care if she deleted it, take a shower anyway!  I, the Sandman, have spoken.

For those who have interest in things like meteor showers, Tammy gets email posts from the Space Weather site.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Best Photos 2014 - Out Standing in our Field Category

Best in the Out Standing in Our Field Category

To vote, simply leave a comment with the letter of the picture you like best.  Or, leave a reply in our facebook posts.  Or, send us an email.
A) The Slope That Wasn't
B) Frost Preparations
C) Evening Tomato Harvest
D) The Onion Weeding Adventure
E) Moving the High Tunnel

Friday, December 12, 2014

Best Photos 2014 - Around the Farm Category

Best in the Around the Farm Category

To vote, simply leave a comment with the letters of the TWO pictures you like best.  Or, leave a reply in our facebook posts.  Or, send us an email.

A) Broccoli and Onions

B) Farming on Tatooine

C) High Tunnel Sunset

D) Coming Unhinged

E) A Fence with No Home

F) Color and Shadow on the Farm

G)Oak Hey!

H) Pleasant Evening on the Farm

I) Hooked Up and Ready to Go

J) Is the the Bucket List they refer to?

K) Gate to Opportunity - or just chickens

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Best Photos of 2014 - Veggie Category

Best in the Veggie Category

To vote, simply leave a comment with the letter of the picture you like best.  Or, leave a reply in our facebook posts.  Or, send us an email.

A) Lettuce Futures Look Good
B) Nebraska Wedding

C) The Perfect Black Krim
D) The Paul Robeson Twins

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Best Photos of 2014 - People Category

Best in the People Category

To vote, simply leave a comment with the letter of the picture you like best.  Or, leave a reply in our facebook posts.  Or, send us an email.

A) Got It Covered

B) Cool Mural!

C) Photo Bomber Strikes!

D) The Weeds Didn't Have a Chance

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Best Photos for 2014 - Critter Category

Best in the Critter Category

To vote, simply leave a comment with the letter of the picture you like best.  Or, leave a reply in our facebook posts.  Or, send us an email.

A) Baby Beeps!
B) Ummmm.  You missed a spot
C) Which way do we orient this picture?
D) The Feline Union Sit-On Event