Fresh Facts : Did you ever hear a bird sing off-key?

By August 7, 2013Newsletter

Volume 6, Week 49, August 2-3, 2013

The nice thing about August is it starts an hour later than June. Since we start picking at daylight, that means 5:15 in June, but 6:15 in August; how sweet is that!  August is a bridge month where we’re still doing our stone fruit, but the intensity backs way off. The further from bloom you get, the less volatile our fruit becomes. In May, our fruit can change dramatically in half a day. If you’re not alertly conducting the orchestra, that cue to the woodwind section a half a beat late (or early) is really painful to recover from. Next thing you know the brass section’s too loud and percussion hit a cymbal crash during a quiet spot and the audience is headed for the exits…May is intense, June is precise, July is heavy, August is predictably plodding. Remember how we have different varieties every five days to a week in May? In August, it takes a couple weeks to harvest a variety. A day’s worth of maturity in May would take three days in August and it’s all a function of that variety’s distance from bloom.

Okay, I saw that yawn. You’ve heard enough already about picking peaches.

*****NEW SUBJECT*****

Did you ever hear a bird sing off-key? When that thought went through my tiny brain I honestly laughed out loud. I thought of writing a children’s book: Mildred the Meadow Lark Forgets Her Song. Can you imagine Mildred going around to the other animals in the forest asking: “Mister Frog, do you remember my song?” Now I’ve been around plenty of people who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket—and the worst is when they don’t know it—but I’ve never heard an off-key bird, or cricket, or frog, have you? I’ve never seen a poorly landscaped meadow in the woods, nor an ugly patch of wildflowers. My obvious point is this: There is a beautiful harmony to creation that agriculture must work within to function properly so all the stake holders can prosper maximally. Yes, you can force crops and livestock to perform unnatural acts, and yes, you can force short term production results, but there’s always going to be undesired consequences down the road for all stakeholders. Managing the variables for encouragement of potential rather than forcing an outcome takes a lot more intuitive finesse, not to mention humility. A farmer becomes a lifelong learning applicator of acquired experience. Where I’m at right now with all of this, quite frankly, is with the microbial world. I’ve spent the last decade learning to manage the above-ground microbes that cause my fruit to rot prematurely by cultivating and applying more friendly denizens of the microscopic world. All the while, there’s this other subterranean universe that’s ready for adventure. Yes, we’ve always been biological in our soil fertility—homegrown chicken manure and compost—but now we’re inoculating our soils with additional strains of microbes. We’re specifically feeding these microbes with humates, and we’re humbly learning. The results are really exciting folks.We all know that “www” means World Wide Web and we think of the internet. But there’s another “www” beneath our feet that connects us to the “www” of microbial activity within each of us every time we take a breath or a bite. I think as we upgrade this new internet access we’re going to see improved performance across all platforms as we all EAT HEALTHY!!!


Shaved Squash and Tomato Pasta


12 oz rigatoni or other short pasta

1 clove garlic

¼ c olive oil

1 yellow or green squash

¼ c grated parmesan cheese plus a bit more for topping

1-2 lbs heirloom tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch tarragon  leaves, chopped

4 oz fresh mozzarella, roughly chopped

salt and ground pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and garlic, and cook until done. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Thinly slice the squash on the wide side of a box grater or mandoline. Combine squash, tomatoes, olive oil, and tarragon in a large bowl and add 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Mash the cooked garlic with the flat side of a knife and add to the bowl along with the pasta and cheeses. Toss until combined adding the reserved pasta water as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. May drizzle with extra olive oil and parmesan cheese.

Corn and Tomato Salad


2 cups cooked corn kernels

1 pint halved cherry tomatoes or 2 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes

1 diced cucumber

juice of 2 limes

¼ c chopped cilantro

2 tbsp olive oil

1 chopped and seeded chili pepper

salt to taste


Toss all of the above together. You may add or take away ingredients to your liking.  Add ons could be red onion, garlic, diced zucchini, or bell pepper.  This salad can also be used as a taco salad or served as part of a fajita dinner or in burritos.

Save a Few Seeds to Grow Your Own Heirloom Tomatoes

Loving the beautiful heirlooms in your box this summer? Want to love and nurture them in your own backyard next year? Since these are heirloom varieties, not hybrids, the seeds will yield plants that are true to the parents. Prepping the seeds for storage is a process, and part of it is smelly, but it makes a great summer discovery project, straight out of the AHO box.

Here’s how to do it:

Choose your favorite tomato and cut it in half. Squeeze all the insides (including juice, seeds, and pulp) into a bowl. Transfer the tomato insides to a wide-mouth jar. Cover the jar with a paper towel or high quality cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band to keep insects out. Allow the seeds to ferment for one to four days. (This is the smelly part. Keep temperature below 70 degrees and keep out of direct sunlight so the seeds don’t cook.) A layer of foam or white mold will likely appear on the top. This is normal and will not negatively affect your seeds. (If the liquid juice from the tomatoes dries up before seeds are fermented, you can add water. Add only half as much water as there is tomato mixture.) When the seeds have fermented, the gelatinous seed coatings will float to the top of the jar. Hollow, nonviable seeds will also float up to the top and the good seeds will sink. Skim the foamy mess from the top of the jar and strain out the seeds that settled at the bottom. Spread the good seeds out on paper plates (seeds will stick to plastic, glass, and paper towels) to dry for several weeks. Seeds are dry when they crack in half when bent. Store the dry seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place until next year’s planting time.

Stone Fruit Storage Tips

Listed below are our basic stone fruit storage tips from an late spring newsletter article. Fruit is still coming of course, so we thought it might be nice to have a little refresher for those who may have joined in the feast mid-summer. Pay attention to individual pieces to watch for the moment of perfect ripeness, judge by softness, color, and scent. Keep the fruit dry, avoid washing until you are ready to use the fruit. Store fruit in a single layer on the counter rather than in a bowl to allow for air circulation. Leave fruit at room temperature until almost as ripe as you like it, then refrigerate.


Check out our blog: for more details on storing and freezing your stone fruit. 


      What’s in this Week’s box:

  -Seasonal Stone Fruit

The Peterson Family, Kingsburg


Silveira Farms, Atwater

-Sweet Corn

Huckabay Family Farms, Kingsburg



-Summer Squash

JND Farms, Madera

-Cherry Tomatoes*

-Chili Peppers

-French Tarragon


-Heirloom Tomatoes

-Summer Squash

KMK Farms, Kingsburg

*Denotes Large Box Only 

+Certified by QAI

All farmers certified by CCOF

Due to availability contents may
vary on the day of delivery.


Author Jessica Lessard

More posts by Jessica Lessard

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