Farmer Tanaka's Blog
January 28, 2014
Even though our Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency because of the drought, I seem to feel no sense of urgency. We are entering our third year of record-low rainfall and even though we have a great reservoir system, they are all at extremely low levels. Analyzing the width of California tree rings, which vary based on the amount of rainfall received each year, it is determined that California has not been this dry since 1580.
It is time to panic? I think we need to be aware and all do our part to conserve. Agriculture uses about 80 percent of the water and from previous droughts we have learned to conserve water through better monitoring of our crops, the use of drip irrigation, reducing evaporation and using reclaimed water. I am sure that we can do better just as all consumers can do better.
Here at Tanaka Farms, we use reclaimed water provided by the Irvine Ranch Water District. We also use drip irrigation on all of our crops which puts water right where it is needed, in the root zone. Most of our crops are covered with plastic which reduces evaporation and keeps the moisture in the soil. But, we can do better by monitoring soil moisture closer and changing the direction of our furrows to decrease the fall in elevation to do a better job of irrigating.
We will do our part to conserve. Will you?
January 13, 2014
From all of us at Tanaka Farms, “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
My wife Shirley and I are very happy and proud to announce that on December 21, 2013 our son, Farmer Kenny, wed his long time sweetheart, Christine Kimoto! We are extremely happy and excited for them as they enter the next stage in their lives.
Back to business! Even though our tours, produce stand and CSA deliveries has been shut down for the holidays, the crops continue to grow and need to be tended to. Since we haven’t been harvesting anything, our crew have been able to work shorter weeks and take some well deserved time off. Now, they are ready to get back to it!
Believe it or not, even though today will be in the mid seventies, it is winter time! That is why your boxes are full of winter vegetables! Cauliflower, broccoli, Swiss chard, kale, spinach, lettuces, greens, greens and more greens! That is what grows during this time of the year, so please, be prepared!
This week and from time to time you will have some komatsuna in your boxes. This is a Japanese mustard spinach that has a bit of a bitter flavor. Prepare as you would regular spinach, stir fry, steamed or boiled.
Oh, you should all be getting some strawberries in your boxes this week! The first of the season, they are firm and almost crunchy! Observe how their flavor and texture change over the course of the entire season.
October 14, 2013
Even though I love the pumpkin patch in the fall, the weather for me is not exactly my favorite. One day it can be blazing hot, the next day the Santa Ana Winds will blow the dry leaves off of everything and then the day after comes rain and cold temperatures!
These extreme changes make growing vegetables at this time of the year extremely difficult! The summer crops like squash, tomatoes, melons and cucumbers that enjoy the hot, dry weather succumb to diseases with the cool humid nights. The winter crops like broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce do not grow well as they battle warm weather insect pressures and damage to their tender foliage from the untimely heat spells.
Hot weather crops do not do well and cool weather crops also suffer. So what do we do? Short of growing everything in green houses where we can control the environment, we do the best that we can! That is part of our CSA program that can be irritating and frustrating. As a farmer I want to provide you all with the very best product that I can and when this time of year comes around it is a daunting task to say the least.
Thank you all for being so understanding and helping me through this time of year. I look forward to November and December when the weather stabilizes long enough for the cool weather crops to adjust and mature.
We have just finished planting two acres of strawberries. We have again planted the San Andreas variety that produces early and has great flavor when harvested completely ripe. I cannot wait for January as the first strawberries of the season are by far my favorite crop!
September 9, 2013
With climate controlled growing houses, modern harvesting, storage technology, fast, efficient global transportation capabilities and effective cold display merchandising, we as consumers are very spoiled and have forgotten what seasonal produce is really all about. Tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, bananas, squash, green beans, cucumbers, broccoli, cabbage all year around!
What you receive in your CSA produce box from Tanaka Farms is “local” seasonal produce. We do not have heated controlled green houses to grow summer crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, green beans in the winter. We do not have cool coastal weather to grow good cabbage, broccoli, and strawberries in our hot summers (we are considered high desert!).
As the weather begins to change from hot to cool, you will notice a change in the contents of your CSA boxes. Start looking for different recipes. Instead of the outdoor grilling you might begin pulling out your favorite casserole and stew concoctions.
Enjoy the seasonal changes!
August 12, 2013
If I remember correctly, Labor Day weekend usually marked the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year. It appears that times are changing! I heard that some school districts have started already and of course there are some schools that are on a year round schedule. Yes, times have changed. Us older folks must learn to adapt and accept these changes or risk losing touch.
The farm is always in a constant state of change. If you haven’t been out to the farm for a few months, things look completely different. Where snap peas, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce and radishes once were are now squash and pumpkins. Where strawberries were being harvested are now tomatoes, watermelons, eggplant and peppers. And coming full circle, where carrots, onions, radishes, swiss chard and kale the ground is being prepped for strawberries! A constant musical chairs with our veggies.
Enjoy the last of the watermelon and cantaloupe! I hope that the yellow watermelon seed shortage is over so that we can plant a little bit more for everyone to enjoy next season. The new variety of cantaloupe called Primo was just absolutely delish! We had many great comments regarding both of these melons!
Enjoy the fruits and veggies of summer!
July 15, 2013
Strawberries in the spring are my absolute favorite! Picking a vine ripened, luminescent, bright red, sweet, juicy strawberry and eating it warmed by the morning sun for me is just heaven! It is funny, I don’t enjoy them nearly as much after they have been refrigerated. A cold strawberry just doesn’t quite do it for me.
On the other hand, an ice cold, crisp fleshed, seedless watermelon on a hot summer day is like…. Wonderful!
And speaking of seedless, do you ever wonder where do they get the seeds to plant a seedless watermelon if they do not produce seeds?
Seedless fruit develop in one of two ways: either the fruit develops without any fertilization and the ovules abort without producing any mature seeds or like watermelon where two specific plants (one a diploid and one a tetraploid) are cross pollinated and the resulted seeds (a triploid) produce sterile fruit, the seedless watermelon.
Your botany lesson for the day!
July 1, 2013
Hot, hot and more hot! Sunburned tomatoes and bell peppers, yellowing cauliflower, browning broccoli, more water for the plants and an explosion of damaging insects. All because of the hot and humid weather.
The bad news is that we throw away a lot of damaged produce and our per unit costs go up. The good news is that we plan for these events by planting more and therefore we should have plenty of good produce for your CSA boxes!
The sweet white corn has been really tasty this year. One of my summer time favorites! But what I am really waiting for is our super sweet and tasty seedless, yellow watermelons! If you have not had one of these, you have been missing out! All we have to do is keep the coyotes out of the watermelon patch and we should have enough for everyone!
June 10, 2013
We had another great CSA day thanks to Eileen and Shannon. The recipes and the samples that they had their family and friends whip up were fantastic! Simple and easy recipes along with farm fresh kale, squash, tomatoes, strawberries and Maui onions from Tanaka Farms make things wonderful!
Click here to view the recipes. You can also come up with your own easy recipes. Just about anything can be eaten raw, sautéed or grilled, just experiment a little. There is a little chef in all of us, just don’t be afraid to try!
Summer is almost officially here! Our super sweet white corn is just about ready. We have a few ears that we are harvesting for sale at the farm. It will be a week or two before we have enough to put into your CSA box. Please be patient! It is hard to rush mother nature!
Oh, when you do get some of that white corn, you will notice that the tips have been cut off. Worms! Just about every ear has a worm in it. A moth will lay their eggs in the silk of the corn. The eggs hatch and the larvae travel down the silk and feed on the milky kernels! (Each kernel of corn is attached to a silk.)
Summer is almost HERE!!!
May 13, 2013
Last month I talked a little about juicing. The warm weather that we are going through right now is perfect for a nice cool, refreshing veggie smoothie. Give it try, you’ll never know if you don’t like it until you give it a chance!
Squash, pickling cucumbers and green beans are here indicating that summer is fast approaching! That means tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers and melons will soon be coming! That also means that our CSA box may appear to be not full. But that is because the big bulky winter items like cauliflower, lettuce, cabbage, celery are being replaced by smaller items like squash, beans and tomatoes. Please keep that in mind when opening your boxes.
Our farm, like any other business, must continually strive to improve every facet of our business. One area that we put a lot of emphasis on is production. We are currently experimenting with “grow bags” out in the field. These are more commonly used in greenhouse production but we will be using them outdoors right on top of our current growing beds. The positives are a sanitized growing medium free of the diseases that are in our soil and less water usage. The negatives are the high cost of materials and labor to install the product. Will keep you updated.
May 6, 2013
I think I should be talking about the weather! Four days ago it was Blazing hot and dry with fires raging across the southland. Today is cool and wet! For my main crop, strawberries, what had happened was all of those red, sweet, ripe, delicious fruit that were hanging on the vine waiting to be harvested were blistered and rendered inedible. To much of the fruit that was changing color and was to be harvested in seven days, the skin was tenderized by the heat and has now been finished off by the rain!
For my fellow strawberry farmers that grow primarily for the wholesale trade, this is the dagger that could possibly end their season and possibly their career. The season has been short and difficult. With low prices, lack of labor to harvest their crops, bad weather, this has been one of those disastrous years that everyone would like to forget.
For us, we are fortunate and thankful that all of our customers have been understanding of our situation and have not complained about our pricing and have understood about the shortage. We thank you for your continued support!
April 29, 2013
Juicing appears to be quite the rage! I just watched the documentary “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” a film that I came across on Netflix. This documentary follows the 60 day journey of Australian Joe Cross across the United States as follows a juice fast to regain his health. After watching the film it inspired me, not to juice, but to look into the pros and cons of juicing.
As you can imagine, the debate is huge! I won’t go into everything that I found out right now but I will tell you that incorporating juicing into our diet as a supplement cannot hurt. In fact, for our CSA subscribers juicing has the added benefit of not letting anything in our box go to waste! We have all come to the end of the week and had a bunch of veggies left over and our next box is about to arrive! What better way to use everything up than to juice them!
Get into your cupboard and dig out your blender that you got for Christmas and juice (blend) those extra greens, throw in a little fruit and enjoy!
April 16, 2013
I know that many of you have gardens, which is fantastic. You appreciate the taste and value of freshly harvested vegetables. You also appreciate the work and worries that I go through everyday!
But, the garden is more than just a food production zone. It should be a place for fun. Space to grow flowers, decorative items such as GIANT pumpkins! If you have the space, about a 25’ x 25’ area, why not try your hand at growing one? If you decide to, it is almost time to get things rolling if you want to be ready for Halloween. That’s right, about 150 days to get one of those biggies!
It is a fun project and can be as easy or as meticulous as you want to make it. Go online and search growing giant pumpkins and you will come across website after website touting the secrets to growing a giant pumpkin. And once you have one, you can enter it in the “Pumpkinmania’s Giant Pumpkin Contest” which will be held at my farm again this year on October 27th!
Stuart Shim, the Giant Pumpkin Kahuna, is the founder and organizer of the Pumpkinmania Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest (click here to check out his blog). He will be giving a short seminar this Sunday at the farm on growing these behemoths! He will be giving away some giant pumpkin seedlings and some giant pumpkin seeds to the first 100 attendees to arrive at the seminar. He will also be revealing his “secret” instructions on how to grow giant pumpkins!
Click here to register for this free seminar, sponsored by Stuart Shim, Kellogg Garden Products and Tanaka Farms, to be held this Sunday, April 21, 1:00 pm at Tanaka Farms. The seminar will last about 45 minutes.
See you at the Farm!
April 8, 2013
It is Monday morning, the wind is howling and it is cold! And can you believe that by Wednesday it is supposed to be in the 80’s!
The taste of the strawberries varies according to where they are located on the farm and the age of the plants. Some areas of the farm have a severe two spotted spider mite problem. They suck the juices out of the plants and seem to “dry” out the fruit, leaving them firm and a bit tasteless. Some of the older plants are going through a growth stage that have a lot of fruit on them but seem to be lacking a little flavor. Juicy, but not as sweet as they should be. There are some young plants that have very little fruit on them but they taste just superb! If this was a factory line, quality control would be easy, but, when you are dealing with a living product like produce. You get the picture.
I have been disappointed with the quality of the apples this season. They tasted really good as usual but they were blemished and bruised easily. The bruising led to premature rotting of the fruit. We are finished with apples for this year.
The greens have been fantastic and I know that you may be getting a little tired of all of the leafy items, but they are healthy for you! The snap peas have been incredible! Crisp, juicy and sweet! Eat them raw, slightly sautéed or steamed. Next to the snap peas, broccoli is my favorite. The taste of fresh broccoli is totally different from old broccoli. It has a flavor that disappears with age, so enjoy it now!
Get ready for some squash because the plants have some the size of a sausage. Another three weeks we should have enough to put into your boxes. Summer is coming!!
March 19, 2013
With daylight savings time already upon us, the sun is out until 7pm, it sure feels like summer is here! But look at the date! Spring has not yet officially begun!
Things are changing quickly around the farm. Spring crops are sprouting like green beans, squash and cucumbers. What I am really excited about is the summer crops that we are planting. Big red, juicy, beef steak tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, chile peppers, Japanese eggplant, edamame (soybean), SWEET WHITE CORN, cantaloupe, honey dew melons, mini red seedless watermelon, mini YELLOW WATERMELON! Cannot wait for SUMMER!
Many of you pick up you’re your CSA box from school and with those schools being closed during the summer, you miss out on the great summer produce that we have to offer. Start talking with your site host now and find an alternate summer pick up location for the coming summer to continue receiving your farm fresh produce.
We received some wonderful emails about the strawberry plant that came in your csa box last week. They made many of you smile and especially if you have young children to share them with they are even more enjoyable. Now I know that some of you may not have a green thumb or a suitable location for the pot in your home but they may make a nice gift to a friend or relative!
March 11, 2013
It was a picture perfect day for CSA day and my birthday! Thank you everyone for your birthday wishes! It was great seeing you all out here at the farm. The weather was beautiful, the children were enjoying the games and face painting and the families enjoyed the food!
I am sorry that you weren’t able to get out into the field to pick some of our vine ripened strawberries but as you saw, the fields were pretty muddy. Don’t worry though, we will have another CSA day before strawberry season ends!
Thank you Eileen and Shannon for putting the event together. Thank you Clay and Kathy for decorating my cake! And thank you OCO 12th grade girl’s basketball team for serving and entertaining our guests!
Have a great week!
March 3, 2013
Being a vegetable farmer, of course I like to grow plants, plants that are edible or produce fruits that are edible and nutritious! I would like to share my joy and excitement of tending vegetable plants by supplying you with some plants of your own. If you have children in the house, make sure to involve them with the planting, watering and care of the plant as they will benefit from being able to watch nature and learn where their food comes from!
This week, most of you will have strawberry plants in your box. These do not have to be replanted. You can leave them in the container that they came in and they will produce just fine. They can be placed indoors or out but will definitely do better outdoors. Make sure if you do not want excess water to drip to place a pie tin or something similar under the pot. Keep the soil moist. Right now while it is still cool, probably water every two or three days. Sit back and watch your plant grow!
Those of you that receive your CSA boxes weekly will more than likely receive two of the same kind of plants as we try to get plants distributed to our every other week subscribers. You can look at it as getting twice as much food and pleasure!
February 25, 2013
We are 6” of rain below normal! But of course we import most of our water needs from other areas and it is the snow pack in the Sierras that are critical to replenish our reservoirs. Do you know how we stand?
When you hear of survival, you hear the three basics. Water, food and shelter. So when the topic of water distribution system comes up you should pay attention because decisions that are made in regards to water rights, water distribution and water conservation they will have an impact on you, your family and your community!
This week’s box contains a lot of greens! Some of you may be disappointed while others will enjoy the culinary challenge of it all. The baby beets are cute and once roasted for 20 to 30 minutes in the oven at 400 F, can be popped in your mouth like candy. The beet tops are packed with vitamins A and K and antioxidants such as carotene and lutein. Wash and rip the greens into sections, discarding any large stems, toss them in a pan with hot olive oil for 30 to 60 seconds and you have a nutritious vegetable dish! It is as simple as that.
All of the vegetables can be seasoned for your taste but if you will notice, our FRESH vegetables, are full of flavor! That is the reason why you purchase direct from Tanaka Farms!
February 11, 2013
Back on February 2nd, Groundhog Day 2013, “Punxsutawney Phil” emerged from his dwelling at Gobbler’s Knob and did not see his shadow indicating that an early spring is on the way. So I thought great! Put my shorts on and start planting our spring crops! I am glad that I didn’t plant any warm weather crop yet as we had a frost warning this morning! Even on a so called normal year, a frost warning the second week of February is late. But, no damage on our field so all is good. Supposed to get into the high 70s by the end of the week. Great weather!
With this warmer weather coming on we are on watch for the two spotted spider mite which attack the underside of the older leaves of the strawberry plant. The adults are very small (1/60 inch in length), eight legged arthropods with a black spot on each side of their bodies. They suck on the juices of the host plant and can destroy an entire field.
Battling the two spotted spider mites are difficult using conventional chemical sprays. Trying to control them using organic methods are often futile. Of course the first step is to create a healthy soil environment to grow healthy plants (not as easy as it sounds!). One option in control is the introduction of predator mites, mites which feed on the two spotted mite. Expensive and not very effective if the two spot populations is out of control. Approved organic pesticides (natural occurring such as plant oils) are also expensive and not very effective. I just saw a product called no spider mites. It says when used effectively and as advised it costs less than $4.80 per plant (two foot tall plant). Adjusting for the size of a strawberry plant it works out to $.80 per plant and with over 20,000 plants per acre and we have seven acres of strawberries, well, you can do the math!
And the battles go on!
February 4, 2013
Walking the fields in the mornings at this time of the year is just wonderful! The air is cool, the ground is moist and the plants usually look green and lush! But plants are just like people, you have to get up close and personal to really see what is going on. It is amazing how different things can look from the edge of the field and when you get down on your hands and knees and actually touch the plants.
A good example are the strawberries. From the edge of the field they look healthy with their bright green luminescent leaves and bright red strawberries. But you get down and look real close the older leaves underneath the plants are yellowing and harboring damaging insects. Turn over the bright red, luscious fruit and on the underside you see the brown leathery mold that makes the fruit unedible. Oh well!
At this time of year we are always in rush to prep the ground in between the rains. We rely on our tractors to do the job when we need it done. All of our equipment is very old. The last time that I purchased a brand new tractor was back in 1982! I have acquired a lot of used tractors since then but even those are up there in age. I think it is time to shop for a new tractor.
Let’s see, John Deere, 80 horsepower tractor, set up the way that I need it and with no frills, about $75,000! Maybe I better look for a used one!
January 28, 2013
I missed last week’s update and the big change is what else, but the weather. Two weeks ago it was cold as can be and damaged some of the strawberry blooms. Since then the sun came out and we had some record heat days that sunburned some of the ripe strawberries and then after everything got softened up, the rain came to finish them off. Now with the lack of strawberries, many of you won’t be getting them in your CSA box and we will be delaying the opening of our produce stand!
On the positive side, there were enough dry days for us to prep enough ground to keep planting our spring vegetables. In early December we dropped tomato seeds in our greenhouse and those seedlings are just about ready to plant. That’s correct, tomatoes seeded in early December, planted in the fields in February and begin harvesting in June! Almost seven months! Unlike something like radishes that only take about 40 days from seeding to harvest.
Also with the wet weather that we have had, our cole crops like cauliflower, cabbage, lettuces, napa, bok choy, are thriving and saves us some money on our water bill!
Always have to look for the positives in life!
anuary 14, 2013
I guess that I spoke too soon last week! I thought that there would have been plenty of strawberries for everyone, but the birds near my farm thought they are for them! We lost about four hundred baskets to the little pests! So now I pay one of my men to run around the field from sun up to sun down chasing the little buggers away! What a waste of money!
Being a farmer, I have to talk about the weather. It’s been COLD! You may have seen on the news farmers trying to protect their cold sensitive crops from the below freezing mornings by “smudge pots,” “wind machines” or “sprinklers.” I know you all can understand the use of smudge pots, trying to warm the air. Wind machines you may wonder, but it is basically trying to mix the warmer air, usually found just above ground (inversion layer), with the cold air on the surface to raise the temperature. You may really be scratching your head wondering how does adding water protect your crop from freezing, especially when ice forms? In simple terms, the formation of ice actually gives off heat as it changes from a liquid to a solid. The important part of this and the most common mistake by many farmers is that once ice begins to form on the crop, even if the air temperature is above 32 degrees , you must not turn the sprinklers off until all of the ice has melted! Science lesson for the day!
January 7, 2013
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Did you all miss us!!! It is time to get back to having Tanaka Farms’ farm fresh vegetables back in your daily diet!! And we have a great treat for you………. RED, DELICIOUSLY SWEET STRAWBERRIES!!!!! (I think I have enough for everyone!) I have mentioned before that I believe the early strawberries are absolutely the best! Weather being so cool that it takes a long time for the berries to ripen so they have time to mature and the plant is young so the skin is firm with a bit of crunch to it. Not too crunchy, just has a snap when you bite into it and then the flavor just bursts out into your mouth! And the aroma! We need to bottle that aroma and sell it!
Do I sound excited? I am! Beautiful strawberries, fresh broccoli, bright white cauliflower, crisp celery, flavorful romaine, bright orange carrots!!! I am excited about you all receiving this wonderful box of freshly harvested produce. I cannot wait for you to see and enjoy it!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
December 8, 2012
Another year coming to an end. Time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. All of us here at Tanaka Farms would like to thank everyone for your support and look forward to being a part of your families for generations to come.
Have a happy and safe holiday season!
November 12, 2012
Cool and breezy! The pumpkins are getting mulched into the soil and strawberries are still getting planted. Our earliest plantings of strawberries already have blossoms opening up! I can’t wait for those luscious, red, ripe, delicious berries!
Enjoy any squash, beans, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers as those plants are all shriveling up with the cold nights that are upon us. If this cold rain shows up this week, that will definitely put the finishing touches on the summer crops.
It is now time for cauliflower, celery, broccoli, peas and a lot of leafy greens! That is the seasonal change!
November 5, 2012
After the end of every major season, such as the pumpkin patch, everyone always says, “Isn’t it nice that the busy season is over, now you can sit back and relax!” Yes, the busy season is over but we are even busier now trying to catch up on work that did not get done while we were busy with the in season crop plus we have to tear down and set up for the new season!
There are still two acres that have to be worked up and prepared to plant strawberries before the rain that is supposed to come this weekend. The pumpkin patch has to be cleaned up and prepped before this weekend as we are almost out of vegetable ground. If the predicted rain is light, less than a ¼”, it should not be too much of a problem, but if it is more than that we could be in big trouble. With the cool fall/winter temperatures it takes a long time for the ground to dry out and without somewhere to plant our vegetables, we may not have anything to put in your CSA box come February/March.
No need to worry too much, it seems that things almost always works out in the end but it can be very stressful!
October 16, 2012
I have been asked many times, “why are your prices as high as at the grocery store? If we buy direct it should be cheaper!”
The answer is very simple. It goes back to Econ 101. The economies of scale which is the increase in efficiency of production as the number of goods being produced increases.
A large commercial farm will grow several acres of one particular crop (monoculture) maximizing equipment usage, purchasing power and labor. Our small farm at any particular time will be growing twenty to thirty different crops at different maturity stages at one time and not acres of each but a couple of rows of each (a small fraction of an acre). Where labor is one of our largest costs we are very inefficient. The time spent doing maintenance or harvesting of a particular crop may take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and then it is off to another crop somewhere else on the farm. The time spent traveling and setting up for each crop takes as long or longer than it does to perform the task! On a large farm labor is maximized by being able to perform the same task for many hours at a time.
This why we do not do any wholesaling to restaurants and stores. At wholesale prices we would not be able to cover our production expenses. Even though we direct retail through our produce stand and our CSA program, there are times when even those prices do not cover production costs as there are crop failures due to weather, insects, pests or diseases that are unforeseen and unpredictable. Ahhhhh, the worries of a farmer!
Thank you for your continued understanding and support!
October 9, 2012
Thank you, thank you and thank you! Thank you for all of the wonderful calls and email in support of our CSA produce boxes! You have let us know that we have been doing a GREAT job and the produce has been wonderful and that you understand that there are times when things aren’t perfect. Those words of praise and encouragement are just what we needed! Eileen and Shannon are on the front line communicating with all of you and they hear ALL of the problems that may arise from delivery issues, billing issues and bad produce. Again, we really do want to know when there is any problem as we want to make sure that you have the best experience possible with us but it can become a little stressful at times. So those kind words from you are greatly appreciated!
At last, fall is here! The weather has cooled, rain is in the forecast and our pumpkin patch is in high gear!
Even though Southern California has a mild weather pattern and we can grow just about everything here, unless if you have a green house you still cannot usually grow summer crops in the winter and winter crops in the summer. Take lettuce for an example. The lettuce that you have been receiving has been a little on the small side and I will admit the flavor is not ideal. This is a warm weather variety that we have been experimenting with and it is ok but we are still trying to grow a cool weather crop in the heat of summer. In a month or two you will soon get to see and taste what lettuce should be like!
Another cool weather crop we were experimenting with this summer was broccoli. You noticed the heads were a bit on the yellow side and a little bitter tasting. Soon, like the lettuce, you will see and taste what fresh, in season broccoli is really like! Bright green, tight heads and wonderfully tasting cooked or raw!
We have about 40% of our strawberries planted and it is way too early to tell but hopefully we will have a few strawberries for ME to enjoy for New Years! There may be enough for all of you by the end of January. Keep your fingers crossed!
October 1, 2012
Even though the days are really hot, you can tell that it is fall by the cool nights. I don’t know if the weather is the reason but the tomatoes taste just wonderful! But we have also been having some “arrival” problems!
We have been racking our brains over here at the farm. In the morning, our tomato harvesters try their best to pick only the reddest, firmest fruit to put into your CSA box. In the afternoon, our packers select the ripest, firmest fruit from the morning harvest to pack into clamshells (to protect them from rolling around and being damaged in your CSA box). The next morning, those clamshells are put into your CSA box along with the other fresh fruit and vegetables from our farm. And yet we have had one too many problems with moldy tomatoes showing up in our CSA boxes!
We truly thank those of you that have advised us of this problem because if you don’t tell us, we will never know! Thank you for your understanding as we investigate where and why this is happening. It does not appear to be a handling problem and it does not appear to be a storage problem. The only thing that I can think of there is something happening deep inside of the tomato that has been damaged from the heat. Outside is undamaged and the fruit feels firm but once harvested the tomato quickly deteriorates from the inside out. I find this extremely hard to believe but I am afraid that I do not have any other explanation for this. Again, thank you for your patience and understanding.
We have many brand new CSA supporters signing up now and they have been disappointed with the amount of produce that has arrived in their box. Summer and fall is always difficult making the box “appear” full. Tomatoes, squash, bell peppers, oranges, apples and the like are not very bulky but they are more expensive than leafy lettuce, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach and celery. Even if your box is not full, we try to give you the appropriate value. Also remember that organically grown produce is much more expensive than conventionally grown.
The satisfaction of our supporters is very, very important to us here at Tanaka Farms and we will do our very best accommodate everyone. Thank you again for support and understanding!
September 24, 2012
I cannot remember the last time that it has been this hot and this humid for this long of a time! It is the humidity that brings on the powdery mildew. It affects the squashes, cucumbers, pumpkins the most. When it gets real bad it will even affect the carrots! You may have noticed the dryness of the carrot tops. It is not because they are old but it is from the effects of the mildew. It should not affect the taste, but I hate to admit, the carrots don’t seem to taste as good as they usually do. Sorry about that!
Another apology has to be made for the quality of our produce in your CSA boxes this past week. There were a couple of days that we had a new packer and he evidently did not do a very good job. Needless to say, he is no longer with us. Thank you to those of you that reached out to us to let us know there were some issues. Please, if you have any problems with the produce that you receive, contact us and let us know. We want to make sure that you always get the very best from us at Tanaka Farms!
You will be receiving a little more fruit in your boxes for the next few months as we are a little short of our vegetables. We lost some crops because of insect infestation and we lost some crops because of the heat. In the ideal CSA program, you the consumer would also suffer the losses along with the farmer because you pay up front for a portion of the harvest, good or bad. In our program, we make sure that you still receive your value of produce each week regardless of our production, even if that means that we purchase product from other growers. Fortunately we have made some great contacts with other organic and no-spray farmers so you should always have a great supply of fantastic fresh produce!
September 17, 2012
We have a real treat for you this week! FRESH PEANUTS! We do apologize to those of you that have allergies to peanuts. We do not know if the leaves of the peanut plant have the same effect as the peanut themselves to those of you that have allergies so please be aware.
We intentionally left the peanut on the plant so that you can see how they are grown.
The peanut is not a nut but a legume (bean family). After pollination, the flower stalk elongates causing it to bend until the ovary touches the ground. Continued stalk growth then pushes the ovary underground where the mature fruit develops into a legume pod, the peanut!
Please remove the plastic bag as soon as possible to avoid moisture build up. Store in a cool, dry, dark place.
You may eat peanuts raw but be aware that raw peanuts may have mold spores that create aflatoxin which can cause liver damage and liver cancer. But that is if you consume raw peanuts, afflicted with the toxin, three times a day , for years. Eating a handful of raw peanuts once in a while should pose no ill effects but I thought that I would warn you anyways!
High heat will eliminate the potentially dangerous toxin. The following is a simple recipe:
1)Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 2)Place raw peanuts in a single layer in a shallow baking pan 3)For unshelled peanuts, bake 20 to 25 minutes 4)For shelled peanuts, 15 to 20 minutes 5)Stir once or twice during cooking time 6)Cook until slightly underdone, peanuts continue to cook whe removed from the oven 7)Cool 10 minutes before eating
September 4, 2012
Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer! You cannot tell that to the crops. They still feel the hot summer days and the warm summer nights. I am sure that I have mentioned before the warm weather is a haven for many insects. Corn for instance, if you have noticed they are so infested with worms that we have to cut nearly half of the ear away and even then some damaged ears may have snuck through and found their way into your CSA box. Enjoy the white corn because that is the end of it for us. We just did not have any room in the field to plant anymore!
Our pumpkins are maturing and many are starting to change to that beautiful familiar orange color! We are starting to "bed up," building up our strawberry rows,ef pre drilling our dry organic fertilizer, burying the drip irrigation lines and laying on the black plastic mulch. We want to start planting by the end of this month so that maybe by the end of January you will be able to enjoy some red, sweet, juicy STRAWBERRIES! Farmer Tanaka's favorite fruit!
Enjoy the vegetables and fruits of summer!
P.S. Check out Chef Bonnie's video of what to do with your CSA Box.
August 16, 2012
WOW!!! If you have not noticed it has been EXTREMELY HOT! But I am not complaining! Well, maybe just a little. Some of the crops that were struggling gave out but most of the healthy plants seem to have adapted. If they had a large enough canopy provided by the plant leaves than the fruit probably did not get sunburned. But if any fruit is exposed you can imagine it being blistered and rendered unusable.
We are starting to plant some of our fall, winter cole crops like cauliflower and broccoli. Amazing, have not seen not one bagrada bug until now! These bugs just love these cole crops and they multiply so fast! They can wipe out an entire crop overnight!
Our pumpkins are getting some size to them. It is starting to feel like the change in seasons is upon us!
August 6, 2012
Hope you are enjoying the watermelons and cantaloupes! Truly the fruit of summer! If the outside of the watermelon seems sticky, that is the residue from an infestation of aphids. We try to wipe them down before we put them in your box but we may miss a few. It is nothing to be concerned about but it is a good breeding ground for fungus and mold.
The aphids are highly destructive to our plants as they are plant suckers, secreting juices that kill the area around their bite stunting the growth of the plant and spreading harmful viruses and diseases like a mosquito does to humans.
This year it seems as though the pest population is extremely high and causing not only production issues but also flavor problems. We try our best to cull damaged product out but as you can imagine, it is pretty hard to tell if the taste of the product has been compromised. We are trying!
August 1, 2012
Thank you everyone for all of your comments in regards to my last blog about the quantity and quality of produce in your CSA boxes. Thank you for your understanding of the struggles of the farm and the battles that we continually face. Also appreciated are your encouraging words! The result of good communication!
Strawberries! Even though the season is over and the plants have all been turned under we are thinking and planning for the next season which is is coming up soon. We are tilling the ground, adding compost, flushing out the salts and getting ready to make the furrows to plant those beautiful strawberries into! Come out on our watermelon tour to see how the farm has changed since the last time you visited.
Speaking of planning ahead, pumpkin season is only two months away. The pumpkins have been in the ground for a month and we are getting ready to plant the corn maze! The vegetable patch that we allow the children to pick from has been planted and we have to continue planting every week to have a continuous supply for the entire month of October. Scarecrows are being repaired for duty and signs are getting a touchup along with designs for a new layout at our checkout area.
Besides all of that we are always planting, cultivating, harvesting and planning for our CSA supporters! Wow! I am exhausted just thinking about it! Think I will go take a nap!
July 23, 2012
I must apologize for the quantity and the quality of the produce the last few weeks. The summer should usually bring a bountiful harvest of a great variety of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately our insect pressure and four legged varments have really taken their toll on all of our crops this year. We have not only lost entire plantings due to damage from these pests but the plants that do produce are weak and fragile and it shows.
We are trying to correct the problem by creating a better growing environment and adding more rich composting material to strengthen the soil to hopefully have healthier and stronger plants to ward off the attack of these pests.
Until then we will do our best to keep the quality up to what you have come to expect from Tanaka Farms. You must also remember that looks are deceiving. Even though your CSA box may not appear full, the contents may be smaller but more dense and the monetary value should still be the same as the winter box. For example: Winter has more leafy items that take up a lot of space celery, lettuces, cabbage, broccoli, swiss chard, spinach and the summer has smaller denser items like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, corn, bell peppers.
Thank you for your understanding and support!
July 11, 2012
The warm weather of SUMMER! We all appreciate these days we can wear shorts and nights we do not need sweaters! For the the farm, our crops are usually lush, green and grow like gangbusters. But pressure from insect damage is the highest when the weather is warm. I guess what is pleasureable for us is pleasureable for them little insects too!
Growing organically we do not have the weapons to combat high insect pressure. No matter how healthy the plant or how much repellent you apply there are just times when the insect population is too overwhelming to control with natural means.
A good case in point is our sweet white corn. You may have wondered why the tips are all trimmed off. Worms love sweet corn. Moths lay their eggs in the beautiful, newly emerging silk of the ear of the corn. The eggs hatch and the larvae (worm) feed on the silk and kernels of the corn.
Lettuce and other leafy green items are bound to have some aphids deep inside the heads that are hard to see when we harvest them in the field but when you peel them apart to wash they are easily exposed.
Other damage from insects that you won't see but affects our profit margin are problems from psyllids. They attack our tomato and pepper plants and leave them with tasteless fruit that we cannot harvest and distribute to you since they lack flavor. We may have a very short crop of these two items this year due to this infestation.
Pest pressure comes not only from insects but from two and four legged friends also! Right now crows come out to play in the field pulling newly planted seedlings out of the ground and the coyotes come in and help themselves to our delicious red and yellow watermelon! AAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
I LOVE being a farmer!
June 11, 2012
Nothing really unusual in this week's small box except maybe the fresh garlic. If you have never had this roasted, you have got to try it! Click here for a simple recipe.
The large box includes some purple cauliflower. Tastes like the white, just takes a little getting used to the color! Very pretty.
This weeks small and large box will have kale, the newly declared super food! Click here to check out this web site that talks about the health benefits of this leafy green.
Enjoy the blueberries as their season (at least for us) will soon be coming to an end. These delicious morsels are also on the list of superfoods. An article written a few years back states that if you were to make one change in your diet, that would be to add 4 oz (small cupful) of blueberries to it everyday!
The basic thing is to increase the amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables that we consume. Even for two people, the small box should be no problem to use up in one week. Even the large box is easily consumable by a couple. A family of three or four, there should absolutely be no waste of a large box after a week! Eating healthy is only as difficult as we make it!
June 4, 2012
Pictured above are the contents of the small box and on the right the large box for this week. The only thing out of the ordinary that you may not recognize is the kohlrabi. It is a little over grown but they are not pithy which is usually what happens when they get this large.
Hope you enjoy the sweet white corn! The ears are a little small but that is very normal for the first of the season crop. Enjoy these jewels while you can because because corn takes up so much space in the field, we do not have enough room to have a constant supply.
The strawberry plants are dying off which is actually good timing as we need some of that ground to plant our pumpkins. Yes, I said pumpkins. Can you believe it? School is almost out for the summer and first of July is when we plant pumpkins for the fall (next school year!!!).
If you pick up from a school site, make sure to check with your site co-ordinator in regards to what the plans are for the summer CSA schedule. If your site is discontinuing for the summer vacation, there are many locations available to pick up at. Click here to view a list of our pick up sites.
One last thing, if you want to take a walking tour (about a mile and a half) of the farm and sample some of the produce that we grow click here to sign up for "Walk the Farm 2012!" For $20 per person you can get an up close and personal view of the farm and at the same time you will be helping fellow farmers in Japan to rebuild after the devastating earthquake/tsunami from March 11, 2011. This is fundraising event and is 100% tax deductible. Help Tanaka Farms and OCO harvest hope for Japan!
May 15, 2012
Well, the hot day that I was anticipating never appeared! This is beautiful Southern California!! The crops are growing, the tours are in full swing, we have a wedding out on the farm this weekend and it is time to start getting ready for summer and plan for the pumpkin patch!
We have started our volunteer gleaning program again. They are on Monday and Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 pm. You must register online on our homepage as we are limited in the number of volunteers that can come out at one time.
Enjoy the week!
May 7, 2012
I really hate to complain, but........ one of the purposes of this blog is to let you into the world of the farm. Sooooooo.......... Our strawberry plants just begin to put out enough beautiful, plump, red juicy fruit for our children of the farm tours, our CSA subscribers and produce stand customers and now what? Last week we had all of those mornings with the wet drizzle and overcast days. That is not good for the variety of strawberry that we grow and as long as we leave them on the vine for optimum flavor, those damp days rot the strawberries. You may have noticed a few rotten ones in your CSA box also. We try to sort the bad ones out but when there are as many as there are and many times really hard to see when they are picked, a few do slip by us. We are throwing two thirds of them away in the fields!
Ahhh, beautiful weather this week??!! It is supposed to be 80 degrees Tuesday!!!!!!! That will blister half of the one third of the good berries that are left!!!!! Oh my! I think I have a stomach ache!
So what is the good news? The sweet Maui type onions are fabulous! The summer squash is just about ready to harvest, they look great! Green beans are about two weeks away and the sweet white corn is tassling and the silk is shooting out of the ears. Another month and we should have some corn to bbq!
Get ready for some great summer veggies!
May 3, 2012
I once again have to apologize for neglecting to keeping you all updated as to what is happening on the farm. My mantra has been "communication, communication, communication" and I have been failing at it with all of you. I can only apologize.
I will offer you my feeble attempt at an excuse. I have been very depressed about the poor decision that I made about planting this year's strawberry crop later than normal. Because of that and the cooler than normal spring, our plants are just now coming into full production. That meant that you did not get to enjoy the early season strawberry crop and I did not have much to sell at my produce stand. For you , you missed out on the best berries of the season (at least I like them the best) and for me I lost out on revenue that I won't make up! Not only that, for the strawberry tours for our school children, I had to buy strawberries from my neighbor to pass out. Not only did the children miss out on my sweet delicious strawberries, I had to buy them on top of that!
It is really hard to make a living at any small business and when the owner makes a costly mistake like I did, it is very, very hard to get over it (at least for me). Now that we are in full production, I feel better and I need to get over it and move forward!
So......... I hope that you all have been enjoying our fresh produce! There may be an occasion when you will get some produce that seems to be infested with insects! It will happen! With the occurrence of those warm days every now and then, the insect population explodes and it can be very difficult to keep things under control. We do our best to sort the infested vegetables out but it can be difficult sometimes especially with the leafy greens when they are buried deep inside.
Most of you had some great tasting organically grown blueberries! They are from our friend Ron down in San Diego. He also supplied us with theasian guavas about a month ago. ENJOY!!!
April 9, 2012
If you have been watching any television at all lately, it seems that healthy eating is the hot topic! Over half of your plate should be fresh fruits and vegetables! And all of you that are our loyal CSA subscribers have a great understanding of the benefits of eating FRESH fruits and vegetable direct from the farm! If you are following the recommendation of eating 50% of your plate filled with fruits and veggies, our small box should not last an entire week! Even the large box should not last the entire week! Even if you eat out a lot, just about everything in your CSA box can be precooked or prepared for easy snacking. Nothing wrong with snacking on a carrot, cold beets, snap peas or even snack on a light salad.
There is a great debate going on right now about how to consume your veggies. Raw foodies claim that cooking destroys vitamins and minerals in food. While the statement is true, cooking is shown to enhance the amount of lycopene in tomatoes. Cooking carrots, spinach, asparagus and many other vegetables also supply more antioxidants, such as caratenoids and ferulic acid, to the body than they do when raw. That is if they are boiled or steamed.
The answer to the question, "should I eat my vegetables only raw for the best health benefit?" The answer is "no." Eat them both cooked (lightly steamed is the best) and raw as consuming them both ways have their benefits.
For more information on this hot topic, google "vegetables raw or cooked" to see for yourself.
March 27, 2012
The good news is that we did not lose a lot of strawberries due to the rain like our neighbors did because there are not that many strawberries on the plants to lose. The bad news is that we will be slower to recover. Still waiting for that second push of bloom to come out of the crown.
The rain is great for the soil, again washing out the damaging salts allowing a good medium for the plants to grow and thrive in. The nights are still actually very chilly which is delaying the maturity of our spring crops.
Great reviews on our new "Vegetable Harvest Tour!" You all have to come out and try it! A guided walking tour around the farm and pick your own vegetables that you can take home and enjoy! Come out and bring the family!
March 19, 2012
Where has Farmer Tanaka been??? After my last blog, my wife and I left for a week's vacation! It was fantastic! I really did not want to come back just yet, but it was time. After returning home it was back to business and everything was piled hid high! What is the old adage? "You play, you pay!"
On top of the backlog of work, we had to wrestle with the idea of cancelling CSA Day (which we did) and some of our farm tours because of the lack of strawberries!!! What happened? If you have been following along, you know that we planted a little later than we usually do hoping that the plants would be stronger and healthier to fight off some of the lingering diseases that we have in the soil.
In doing so, the plants did not get the advantage of the warm October nights to get a good amount of growth in before the winter and with that our first crop came a little later and smaller and now the plants are in a huge gap waiting for that second flush of fruit to pop out of the crown! Right now the plants should be loaded with fruit in all stages of maturity plus it should be white with bloom! But they are not. We will also be short of strawberries for our biggest strawberry sales day of the year, Easter!
Please forgive my lack of communication as I have been a little depressed. Strawberries is our main crop (and my favorite!) and to be so short of fruit has really put a monkey wrench on our plans and cash flow! We not only do not have strawberries for our CSA subscribers but we also have thousands of school children that already have reservations to come to the farm to pick our famous red, ripe, deliciously, sweet strawberries! My stomach is just in knots thinking about it!
Please bear with me as we try to get through this season. Hopefully things will straighten out in four or five weeks!
February 28, 2012
Some of our CSA subscribers really do a nice job of communicating with their fellow members. Probably do a better job than I do! These communications when done properly create excitement and help others prep and use their fresh fruits and veggies when ideas start to run thin. This helps to maintain subscriber interest and keeps pick up site numbers higher.
The following is an email that was sent out to subscribers at Pegasus School in Costa Mesa (I hope Kathyrn doesn't mind me reprinting this for all of you to see!):
Today's Tanaka box had an amazing volume of greens! Let me share a cooking strategy I used tonight...
Roast the beets
Cover the the beets in foil and popped them in my toaster oven on a tray. 425, 1 hour.
Saute the turnips
Cut up the turnips into 1" pieces and put them in a saute pan with 1T oil. Let them brown, then add 1/3 C water, some salt and sugar. Cook covered until tender, then remove the top and cook until most liquid is gone. My 1st grader loves these...
Mushrooms and greens saute
Cook all the greens (turnip and beet tops). I had a package of mushrooms, so I sliced those up and began to saute. Once they were done, I seasoned them, then added all the pre-rinsed and chopped greens. Cover the pan and cook for 5-8 min. Yum.
(I remove the stringy red beet stalks. Just too earthy, even for me. However, one week I saved these stalks, diced them and added to my standard onion/celery/carrot soup base. They were good and colorful. Nobody noticed except me.)
Now, I've got room in my refrigerator for the rest of the produce! And how about those amazing Satsuma tangerines? Super sweet.
Lastly, I recently read about "massaging your kale." No kidding. If you like making (uncooked) kale salads, the current technique is to dress your kale, then massage the dressing into the leaves. This makes the leaves softer (and presumably, happier). Will try this week.
Try this combination: raw kale, chopped apples, grated carrot, chopped walnuts, raisins. Dress with a neutral oil, like grapeseed or canola. Massage (!).
Thank you all for participating in the Tanaka Farms program. I hope your family is enjoying the produce quality and that you are inspired to get in there and cook :)
Thank you Lisa for your delivery help today,
What will you cook tonight?
Some of you have some great blogs that I have seen and I will start to search them out and post the links here so that everyone can enjoy them and get some fresh new ideas!
There is nothing like good words from subscribers to promote our CSA!
Thank you all and keep on spreading the word!!!
February 20, 2012
Strawberry season is HERE!!! Actually, they haven't really gone anywhere!! You will see them in the grocery stores just about all year around. Southern California starts producing in December ends in May, Central California begins in April ends in August, Northern California begins in May and ends around November. Whatever gaps there are can be filled with fruit from Florida and Mexico!
But do not be fooled, February through June is LOCALLY GROWN STRAWBERRY SEASON and that is when you will get the best and freshest strawberries of the year (especially if you get them from Tanaka Farms, ME!!!!!!).
The strawberry, fragaria is a genus of flowering plants in the rose family. The delectably tasty and fragrant part of the plant that we love to eat is not actually the fruit of the plant but is a part of the fruit. It is the receptacle, the fleshy edible part of the flower.
If you are trying to lose weight, strawberries are great because they have a high nutrient density rating and have a high satiating effect (makes you feel full!).
If there is a downside to something that is considered to be such a healthy food is that a large portion of it's calories (49 calories per cup) come from sugars.
I was going to try and paraphrase the following but the information is too good. The following info is copied from the "health and nutrition" page from the California Strawberry Commission web site.
The Antioxidant Power of Strawberries
Fruits are one of the best sources of healthful antioxidants, and antioxidant activity is thought to explain, in part, why diets rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease and other conditions related to increased oxidative stress.
Antioxidants provide protection by neutralizing free radicals -- molecules produced by the body during metabolism -- that increase to unhealthy levels at times of oxidative stress (i.e., inflammation, smoking, exposure to pollutants and UV radiation).
Antioxidants in strawberries are thought to help defend the body against several diseases and conditions, including cancer, heart disease, neurological decline, and diabetes. Data suggests the high antioxidant activity of strawberries may help reduce levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Flavonoids in strawberries may also provide cardioprotection by inhibiting platelet aggregation and thromboxane synthesis. In addition, anthocyanins in strawberries may help protect the neuronal cells from inflammation that is linked to declines in cognitive function.
Strawberries and other berries provide unique antioxidants, anthocyanins, which give berries their red and blue hues but also act as potent antioxidants. Specific antioxidants present in strawberries include quercetin, kaempferol, chlorogenic acid, p-coumaric acid, ellagic acid and vitamin C. (1)
A recent report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (LINK TO STUDY) analyzed over 1,000 foods and beverages for antioxidant capacity, strawberries ranked third in total antioxidant capacity (AOX) per serving. (2) Only blackberries and walnuts were found to be higher in antioxidant capacity. For comparison, the researchers found that a serving of strawberries provides 3.6mmol antioxidants/serving while blueberries were 2.7 mmol AOX/serving, sour cherries were 2.2 mmol AOX/serving and oranges, 1.3 mmol/serving.
1. Olsson ME, Ekvall J, Gustavsson KE, et al. Antioxidants, low molecular weight carbohydrates, and total antioxidant capacity in strawberries: :Effects of cultivar, ripening, and storage. J Agric Food Chem. 2004;52:2490-98.
2. Halvorsen, BL, Carlsen MH, Phillips KM, et al. Content of redox-active compounds (ie, antioxidants) in foods consume din the United States. Am J Clin Nutr 2006:84:95-135.
Check out the California Strawberry Commission website for more great info about the fabulous strawberry!
February 13, 2012
It is starting to feel a little bit like winter! Better late than never.
We are busy at the farm! The strawberry plants need to be weeded and tended to. We have dropped seed and are getting ready to transplant into the field tomato and pepper plants. We are still continually dropping seed and planting in the field cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, lettuces and other winter/spring, cool weather crops. Still direct seeding in the field, carrots, onions, baby bok choy, beets and the like. We are also ready to direct seed into the field our spring/summer crops like green beans, squash and one of my favorites, our sweet white corn!
So please be patient, I know some of you may be getting a little tired of the cool season crops, but soon the season will be changing. The weather has cooled off to enjoy those soups and casseroles that you can make with the great winter veggies!
If you are enjoying your CSA boxes, please spread the word and encourage your friends to support their local farmer (me!), eat fresh and eat healthy! Many of you subscribe through your child's school and 10% of the sales goes back to your school! Win, win!
February 6, 2012
This will be brief as I have some things that I need to take care of right of way.
You will probably have some little green things in your boxes this week. They are Asian guavas. They can be eaten when they are hard or soft. The seeds, try not to bite down on them, just swallow them whole. A little salt and or lime and they are good to go. We got them from an organic grower from the Fallbrook area. I will post a bio about him when I get a little more time.
Hope to get you all some of sweet strawberries on a regular basis soon!
January 30, 2012
This could be California's driest year on record! Farmers are not the only businesses that are weather driven. Lake Tahoe, which relies on skiing for income, has no ski areas operating at full capacity. Some only have 30% of their lifts open according to a post by Bob Morris.
Thanks to the foresight of the MWD (Metropolitan Water District) for constructing a vast array of reservoirs we have enough water to get us through two or three years of drought. That does not mean that we should not continue to conserve and use our water wisely. On my farm here in Irvine we use a drip irrigation system on our crops that puts the water right in the root zone so as to use our precious water as efficiently as possible with no runoff. We also use reclaimed water supplied by the IRWD (Irvine Ranch Water District) who produces the cleanest and safest reclaimed water in the country.
Past history has shown that droughts and the lack of water have caused civilizations to collapse. It are the ones that have a reliable and robust infrastructure in place that have been able to survive such catastrophies.
I hope that you have been enjoying the apples. I apologize , last week they were listed as Fuji apples but they were and are this week again Pink Ladies. They are better for cooking if you would like to give that atry. The flavor is not as sweet or as sharp as the Fujis. I don't know what Howard Albano does to his apples but his Fuji apples are by far the best Fuji apple that I have ever had. I leave them in my office and in my pick up truck and eat them all day long! Enjoy them while you can as they will only be around for another month or so.
Finally!!! We received some much needed rain with more on the way! One half to one inch of rain once a week would be just perfect. Give the rain a chance to soak into the ground before the next one and allow us to get some work done. Will someone please order that up?!
As I mentioned before, you will be seeing Swiss chard and broccoli in your box just about every week for a while. My apologies but you try and get just the right amount and mix of vegetables at just the right time (I know, I am the professional). It's not easy!
Some of you will be getting a little taste of strawberries in your box this week! They are a little small but they do taste good! Sorry that there is not enough for everyone, please be patient!
I mentioned last week, follow us on facebook as I will be updating several times a week with photos of the farm and even some quizzes now and then!
January 16, 2012
It is already two weeks into the new year! Our nursery is full of starter plants, cauliflower, broccoli, romaine, red leaf, and more winter/spring crops. We have already dropped seed and have spouted tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, seedless watermelon and more of the summer crops!
In the field, I am able to pick a few red strawberries (just enough for me!) and all of our winter crops growing. Areas where we will be planting spring and summer crops are green with our cover crops that help enrich the soil with nitrogen and organic matter. Yes, we grow crops to help the soil. We have to pay for seed, planting, irrigating, tilling and rent and receive no money for the crop, but it is good for the soil. The key to producing a healthy crop.
It is a constant chess game planning on where to plant what crop and when. I need to plan around our three main crops, strawberries, watermelon and pumpkins. These crops have to be planted in certain areas and at specific times and all other crops need to be scheduled accordingly. When crops mature at different rates, from six weeks to twenty five weeks, things changing because of weather and change in plans, etc. Quite a puzzle!
Follow us on I will be posting more updates and including more photos of the farm!
January 10, 2012
Happy New Year!!! I hope that everyone had a wonderful time over the holidays visiting with family and friends. I know that I did! Now it is time to get back to work.
You may have seen some local strawberries in the supermarkets and as my neighbors have all been busy picking the first set of fruit off of their young plants. I planted about six weeks later than most of them so I don't even have any ripe fruit on my plants. In fact, most of my plants don't even have any bloom!
The reason that I plant so late is that since I do not wholesale anything that I grow I do not plant to try and be early which is when the prices are usually the best. I plant to try and have peak production in late spring when the weather is the best and we have the most visitors out on the farm. Also, by planting later, the transplants are more mature and stronger and hopefully will produce better quality fruit.
In the past, I seem to always be talking about the weather. But it is the weather that we really do not think about but has a huge impact on our lives. The beautiful mild sunshine that we have been having is terrific! But we do need rain! There is nothing like that natural rainfall that will wash away the salts in the soil and clean the air to let our plants flourish. Have you ever smelled the air after a nice rain! Have you noticed how the plants around the area seem to spring to life after a good shower! These things cannot be duplicated with sprinklers. We also need to replenish our above and below ground drinking water reservoirs!
You may be seeing a lot of Swiss Chard and broccoli in your boxes over the next month or so. Please bare with us as we have had to deal with a few production problems. A little short of ground and some germination, or I should say, non-germination issues in our nursery. So, get creative, get on the internet and find some good recipes!
December 12, 2011
When you get old, time flies! I was just getting used to writing the numerals 2011! I would like to remind everyone that this is the last week for our CSA deliveries. You do not have to do anything to your account, you will not be billed because you will not be getting any deliveries for three weeks. We will resume deliveries Tuesday, January 10, 2012. We will send you a reminder.
If you are looking for a Christmas gift idea, how about signing them up for a CSA box and put it on your credit card! Just a thought.
Please mention to your friends that we are introducing five new pick up sites! When we begin delivering again in 2012, you can pick up Thursdays at Plowboys Market in Fountain Valley (Warner and Magnolia), Wednesday at the Farmers Market in Tustin (El Camino Real & 3rd St), Thursday at the Farmers Market in Costa Mesa (Orange County Fairgrounds), Friday at the Farmers Market in Laguna Hills (Laguna Hills Mall parking lot) and Saturday at the Farmers Market in Irvine (at the Irvine Center across from UCI).
Plowboys are old friend from when they were in Hawaiian Gardens. They agreed to let us use their location as a pick up site as a favor to us. Be sure to pick up you any of your other produce and grocery needs while you are there.
The Farmers Markets is a natural fit for us. Our good friends from Orange County Produce has agreed to let use their stall as a pick up site for our CSA subscribers. Make sure to support them as they also have terrific organically grown produce from Orange County.
If you have not got your Christmas tree yet, this Sunday will be our last day so do not put it off any longer!
Stay warm and dry!
December 5, 2011
It was wonderful to see all of the new faces out at the farm for our CSA day! It was a little windy but we had watered the roads down the night before so it was not too dusty for our visitors or our newly planted strawberries.
Eileen and Shannon along with our friends Karen, Keith, Bobby, John, Donna, Trish, May, Diane, Patti, Roselle and Debbie put on a great spread of baked potatoes (with all of the fixin's), salad, beets, swiss chard and the baked goods along with the Christmas photo in front of the Christmas Tree! Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and the tour of the farm! Thank you all for coming out!
As I was explaining to everyone, we are really behind on our weeding! The older crops where the weeds are bigger, the weeds are mature enough to have flowered and are full of seeds ready to sprout when they are tilled back into the soil. More weeds for us to pull! The younger crops ,like the strawberries that we just planted, the weeds are competing for the water and soil nutrients that are essential to the growth of the plants. We need to hurry and get to the weeding before our intended crop is stunted and begin to affect the future fruit production.
Other than being way behind on the weeding, everything else is proceeding along nicely. Our winter crops are looking really good! In some cases, too good. Some of the cauliflower is just huge! We should probably cut them in half, but, maybe you can make some mashed cauliflower out of it if you happen to get a really big head in your box. It is supposed to taste just like mashed potatoes! Someone let me know how it tastes.
Would someone please turn off the wind!
November 18, 2011
The winter chill is in the air! We just finished planting all of our strawberries. They are tucked in and sprouting new roots. Things are looking good for now. Even though the pumpkin patch is over we are extremely busy trying to strip the fields of the plastic mulch, irrigation tape, trying to get crops planted for January and February harvest, plus we still have to sand bag the tail ditches and weed the crops! AND we are trying to get ready for our Christmas trees that will be arriving on Thanksgiving day!
A reminder, the farm will be closed down for three weeks during the winter holidays. There will be no CSA deliveries between December 19th and January 9th. You do not have to put yourself on vacation hold or do anything to your account. We will send you an email reminder before we close.
If you happen to be going on vacation other than those days that we will be closed, you may put yourself on vacation hold at anytime (no later than four days prior to your normal delivery day).
I have to apologize for the yellowish looking soybeans in your box this week. The cold weather really affects certain crops and the soybeans are one of them. They actually tasted fine but we are very a very appearance driven society and they did not appear appetizing. Again, my apologies. I will have a little extra something in your boxes the following week.
Thank you all for your continued support!
November 7, 2011
It is always busy and non stop on the farm. Pumpkin season is over but we have to clean the fields and get it ready to plant more strawberries. We also have to prep the front display area for Christmas trees, they will be coming in the day after Thanksgiving. All of our equipment has to be gone through , inspected and repaired. Planting and harvesting of crops for the produce stand and for your CSA boxes is continuous.
Even though we are busy, I took a couple of days off to celebrtate the marriage of my good friend Marvin Masuda and Donna Huderberg. Marvin is an old family/childhood friend that has never found the right partner to spend his life with. He recently was contacted by his highschool sweetheart, Donna, and it was love all over again! It was if he was meant to be there waiting for this opportunity for all of these years. All of his friends and family are so very happy for him! We all wish him and Donna the very best! Congratulations!
October 25, 2011
We just finished planting one acre of strawberries! Only six more to go! It is really tough to get everything done. We have school children that want to see our pumpkin patch on the weekdays and families that also want to enjoy the farm on the weekends and everyone on the farm is very busy keeping things neat, harvesting and packing vegetables for your CSA box, planting and weeding new vegetables for your CSA box that we will be harvesting in January, prepping the ground to plant more strawberries! Everyone on the farm is exhausted!
Even after the pumpkin patch closes, we have to pull the plastic mulch and irrigation lines to prep the pumpkin patch to plant strawberries and also we need to get things ready for our Christmas trees!
Summer crops that we are harvesting now, like tomatoes and bell peppers should be around until it gets really cold. Even now with the cool night time temperatures, the tomatoes are much slower to ripen. Wait until the day time temps stay in the low 70s or high 60s and it will take forever for that green tomato to change to red. In other words, enjoy the tomatoes now as they will not be around for much longer. The ones that will be available in the grocery stores will be from Mexico, Florida or hot house grown.
October 17, 2011
It was nice seeing everyone here at the farm last week for our CSA day! I wish that I could have talked to each of you but as you could see, it was a very busy day!
The weather has been changing dramatically each week!. Rain and humid, blazing heat! We would have had some beautiful bell peppers and anaheim chiles for you but most of them got sunburned! The tomatoes also suffered some blistering from the heat but the plants had a pretty good canopy protecting them.
The pumpkin patch is in full swing! This past weekend the weather was perfect and families had a great time riding the wagon, petting the animals, picking veggies and selecting that perfect pumpkin! October is sooooo much fun!
October 3, 2011
Fall is definitely here! The days may be warm but as soon as the sun goes down it gets cool very quickly! And our first chance of rain for this new season is coming Tuesday afternoon with a greater chance on Wednesday.
We have been very busy on the farm. Opening day of our U-Pick Pumpkin Patch went off without any problems. It is wonderful seeing all of the families coming out to search for that perfect pumpkin! Of course they also have to take the wagon ride around the farm, visit our farm animals, get lost in the corn maze and pick a few veggies. We also have a few farm games and some snacks to keep everyone happy!
Our CSA program has been going very well. We have over 1100 subscribers! That is fantastic! For all of you newbies, please make sure to check our policies page, it will answer many of the most common questions that you may have in regards to the program.
One of the most frequently asked questions is "I am going to be away next week, can I put a hold on my CSA box?" The answer is yes you can. Under our policies, look under Vacations and Temporary holds. If you log into your account, go to "Vacation" and put in the period that you will be away. Please note that you must do this no less than four days prior to your scheduled pick-up! This four day period is the time necessary for us to make harvesting plans to ensure that each subscriber receives the freshest product possible.
You will notice that there are some changes in the type of produce in your boxes. Some of you received some edamame (soybeans). We harvest the bean still attached to the plant. This is a great opportunity to get your children and family involved in prepping dinner. Have them pick the beans off of the plant, wash them and put them and put them in a pot of water. Boil them for about 15 minutes, a little sea salt and enjoy popping them out of their shell and into your mouth!
Just a heads up, start looking for some recipes for acorn squash, butternut squash and kabocha.
Don't forget to sign up up for CSA day! Instructions were included in an email sent out to yo last week and you should be receiving a reminder this afternoon Monday. Deadline to register is Wednesday, October 5th.
September 13, 2011
As fast as the pumpkin plants grew, the heat has taken its toll and the plants are dying off just as fast. It would not be so bad but the plants and the fruit that they are bearing are not mature. There will be a lot of soft pumpkins out there so please be careful when choosing a pumpkin early in the season. Make sure that the shell is hard and free of any bruises or soft spots as that is where the pumpkins will begin to rot first.
And the season begins to change again! The heat wave that we had makes way for the cooler and moister days of fall. With that we will miss the watermelon (oh that terrific yellow watermelon!), sweet white corn, Japanese eggplant, cantaloupe and peppers. We will continue on with tomatoes, squash and green beans hopefully into late fall, mid November.
What do we have to look forward to? A lot of tree fruits like Satsuma tangerines (seedless), Pomegranates, persimmons, apples, avocados and of course the leaf items like lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and the like.
Keep an eye out in your email inbox for an invite to our CSA day at the Farm! It is a great chance for our CSA subscribers to come out and enjoy a few hours on the farm to see where your produce is grown. You will also get to see our pumpkin patch where we actually grow the pumpkins for the children to see. Not a parking lot with pumpkins laid out on the asphalt!
See you at the farm!
August 29, 2011
The pumpkin plants have a lot of surface area where transpiration takes place and in this heat, the roots cannot absorb enough water to make up for for what is being lost. Seeing the plants in the middle of the day I get a little worried seeing all of the wilted looking plants. But when the afternoon breeze pops up and cools things down a bit, the plants start looking healthy and vibrant again.
The pumpkins are growing really fast now. Last week they were the size of tennis balls and now they are almost the size of a volleyball. Things happen quickly!
We are just about done with our white sweet corn and mini watermelon. Not because the season has changed but because we do not have any room to plant those items! Right now about 9 acres of the farm is dedicated to the pumpkin patch. Another three acres have to be taken out of production for the parking lot for the pumpkin patch. Seven more acres will son be out of production to get ready for strawberries! That only leaves about four acres for our CSA customers so we need to plant as much multiple harvest items as we can such as green beans, squash, swiss chard, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, basil, rosemary, thyme, etc.
School will be starting soon, please let your friends know about our CSA program, how it benefits the health of their families and how the funds benefit their school. Get them charged up about it so that they can get their PTO charged up and ready to commit as soon as school starts! Have them contact Eileen Sagara at Eileen@TanakaFarms.com or (949)283-0511.
August 22, 2011
The pumpkin plants are huge!!! The leaves are about 14 to 18 inches across and have a beautiful green color to them. The flowers are blooming and some pumpkins have begun to form, the bigger ones are about the size of a tennis ball. Some are green in color and some are yellow, but eventually they will both turn orange when they are mature.
Usually at this time of year we are really busy getting our ground ready to plant strawberries but there are still a lot of vegetables still growing in that ground plus some cover crops to help build the soil. Most commercial strawberry growers will be ready to plant by the end of September so that hopefully they are in full production by the end of January and strawberry prices are at their peak. We don't need to have such early production so we will wait to plant until the end of October. By waiting, our transplants are stronger and healthier because they are m
Come and visit the farm this weekend as it is the last for the watermelon tours. That also signals the end of summer and school is back in session! Spread the word about our CSA program! Healthy eating for families, supporting a local farmer and a great fundraiser for your school!
August 1, 2011
How did you like the little summer rain shower yesterday? Cool things off a little bit, but this hot humid weather really invites the mildew. You may notice a powdery white substance on some of the produce, especially any leafy items. It is not harmful but it does seem to affect the taste a little bit. Especially on the watermelon and cantaloupes. This is why growing these summer crops in the fall is so tough. That is when the nights get cool and damp and the mildew is at it's worst. Summer crops are meant to be grown in the summer and winter crops are meant to be grown in the winter!
The crows have not gone away but the pumpkin plants have grown large enough that they don't bother them anymore. Lisa, one of our CSA subscribers offered the services of her husband to come out and scare the crows with his remote controlled airplanes. Thank you, but by the time I got the message, the problem was over.
That is how it is, put out one fire and than another one starts. Put that fire out and than another one starts and so on and son on.
Make sure to tell your friends that we are now using FIVE Whole Foods Markets as pick up sites for our CSA boxes and we will be adding more sites soon. You can pick up at Tustin, Huntington Beach, Long Beach (the newest site), Redondo and El Segundo.
We also added another pick up day at the Farm's Produce Stand. Sundays, Tuesdays and now Fridays!
Thank you all for your tremendous support of this great program of eating healthy farm fresh produce and supporting your local farmer! We all benefit!
So spread the word!
July 25, 2011
Kale! Too much kale? If you are wondering why there is soooo much kale in your CSA boxes this summer, it is because we are using it as a "natural" packing material. The summer crops provide a lot of small loose items like tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, corn, etc., and the kale makes a nice cushion, divider to keep everything from rolling around too much and bruising each other. The plus side is that you can eat it and it is one of the super foods! Click here to read about kale's extrordinary health benefits!
It appears that everyone is having a good experience with our new flexible ordering system. Also, using Whole Foods markets as a pick up site seems to be a great new option! Make sure to spread the word to your friends.
We planted our pumpkin seeds last week and they are all pushing their way through the soil. Many of them have some nice little leaves on them and the crows just love it! They come out and pick the seedlings right out of the ground! Can you imagine looking out in our newly planted pumpkin patch and seeing about sixty crows playing around picking the plants out of the ground and cackling about it! There are only about 150 plants in one row so you can imagine the damage they can do in a short period of time! Got to go out and replant!
July 18, 2011
The farm is always in the constant state of change and it is a planning nightmare! One of our largest events is our U-Pick Pumpkin Patch. About one third of our acreage is devoted to planting pumpkins and they must be planted right now so that they are ready to be harvested during October. One or two weeks late will do me no good as who wants pumpkins in November?
The point that I am trying to get across is that all of the squash, beans, corn, carrots, etc. that we harvest for your CSA box has to be out of the area that we dedicate to pumpkins. Not only that, I have to be careful where we plant crops now because I need another third of our acreage available to plant strawberries in October.
When the 50 other crops that we grow all mature at different times and depend upon the weather, I am not sure if you can grasp the logistical problem that we face. Oh well, not your problem!
Hopefully we will get some of our little watermelon into your boxes soon. The only problem is, they are not as sweet as I would like them to be. I think that it is mainly due to the weather (it can't be me!).
Tomatoes are in full production, the first planting is peaking and the second is just about ready so you may be getting a little more than you can use. Get on that internet and start googling some uses for these vitamin, mineral packed fruits!
Make use of the variety of fruits and vegetables, raw in salads on these hot days can be very satisfying. Not just good for our waistline but great for our overall health!
P.S Japanese Eggplant Recipe (Easy)
If you don't know what to do with the Japanese Eggplant in your box just turn on your BBQ put the whole eggplant on the grill. Let the eggplant sit on the grill, turning periodically until the skin is bubbling. Take off the grill let sit until a little cool. Peel off the skin put some soy sauce aka "shoyu" in Japanese, on the eggplant cut into pieces and enjoy.
July 10, 2011
Wouldn't you know it. Right after talking about the cool weather that were having, we would encounter a heat wave! It is summer after all and it is supposed to be hot, even here in beautiful Southern California! The watermelons love it but the strawberries do not. And of course that is why you do not have any broccoli, cauliflower, tender lettuces and the like because it is out of season.
Because of the cool June, our watermelon is about two weeks late and the few that are ready just do not have the flavor that they normally do. Our peppers will be very, very late this year. Our first three plantings were ravaged by insects, birds and rabbits. We have the same problems that all of you backyard gardeners have.
I hope that everyone is finding our new online subscription service is working well! Please make sure to read our policies page as it will answer most of the questions that you may have inregards to our system.
Also, we have had several instances of subscribers not picking up their box of produce during their specified pick up time and some have asked for a refund. Please, your box has been packed for you and in most cases are not kept under refrigeration and the pick up site host is only available during the specified pick up time. It is your responsibility to pick your box up during that time or your produce will be disposed of according to the discretion of the site host. A refund cannot be given.
Enjoy the summer!
June 27, 2011
How do you like the weather! I love it! Unfortunately the watermelons do not. The cool weather has slowed the growth of the plants and the mature ones just do not seem to be as sweet as they should. Need more heat!
The sweet corn has been fantastic. Enjoy them while we have them! Only three or four more weeks because we just do not have enough ground to plant as much as I would like. They take a long time to grow and take up a lot of space which I do not have a lot of.
The corn is great to eat boiled or bbqed without any condiments! But I do like to change it up every now and then by taking the husk off and throw them on the bbq and baste them with butter and some garlic salt. Over medium heat, turn and baste for about 25 minutes. Fantastic!
Strawberries are just about done. They are small and tender, many plants are dead and it takes a long time to pick them, remember, labor is over half of my costs here on the farm and there comes a time when even though there is fruit available to harvest, it is not economical to do so. What shame.
Just one more reminder, we are no longer with farm2table connect for our online ordering system. For July deliveries, click here to sign up.
June 21, 2011
The longest day of the year! It is hard to believe, just a short while ago the sun did not shine until 6:45 and was dark at 5:30. Now look, sun is peeking out at 5:30 am and stays out until 8:00pm! On the farm, that just means more daylight to get things done!
The school year is over and many of our subscribers have elected to take a summer break from receiving our farm fresh produce. Why you would not want to keep feeding your family healthy produce I have no idea. Especially summer! Squash, cucumbers, sweet white corn, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers!
You can pick your CSA box up from several pick up sites through the summer months. Whole Foods stores in Redondo, El Segundo, Huntington Beach and Tustin. You may also pick up at the Farm in Irvine on Tuesday or Sunday plus there are several other pick up sites that are open to the public, check our list!
Another reminder, we will not be continuing our use of the farm2tableconnect online ordering system. Please visit our CSA Program page to check out our new online system and all of our new flexible ordering and pick up selections! Especially great for this summer when you are not going to be around to pick up your CSA box, put yourself on a vacation hold to stop your order. Simple, convenient and healthy.
Thank you all for your tremendous outpouring of support for our "Walk the Farm" fundraising event that we held this past Saturday! It was a beautiful day attended by 1700 supporters, over 300 volunteers and more than 160 sponsors!
Thank you, thank you !!
June 6, 2011
There has been a tremendous response for the upcoming fundraiser that we are having at the farm to help rebuild farms in Japan that were affected by the March earthquake/tsunami. Every where you turn, there is a fundraiser for something, but this one is unique! To walk the farm and sample different fruits and veggies, you must admit, it is different! Please click here for more info and to register for
"Walk the Farm" at Tanaka Farms on Saturday, June 18, 2011.
Just when we get the summer fruits and vegetables, the school year is coming to an end, but you can still keep receiving our farm fresh produce by getting together with other subscribers and starting a summer pick-up point or you can join any of the other groups that are going through the summer. Click here to see a list of pick-up sites to choose from.
For those of you that are signed up through Farm2Tableconnect, just a reminder, this will be the last month that we will be using that system. The Farmigo system that we are now using has been fantastic. Our subscribers love the flexibility that it offers as you can choose weekly, every other week pick-up and if you go on vacation you can skip those dates by accessing your account. There is also no prepayment. Your credit card or checking account is automatically debited after you receive your produce! How easy is that! Please read our CSA Policy page to see all of the ins and outs of this great new program!
It is grilling season so please be careful with that lighter fluid! But that effort of lighting a good fire is well worth the effort when you slice up some squash, a little oil and seasoning and there is nothing like it! Put some corn on the grill, husk and all and in about 15 to 20 minutes, piping hot sweet white corn. No need for butter or salt, eat as is!
All of you CSA subscribers should have gotten a notice to sign up for our CSA day. I look forward to seeing you all at the farm!
May 31, 2011
The end of the school year is coming but that does not mean that you have to stop receiving our fresh produce! Summer is when we have sweet white corn, red, ripe tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, romas, heirlooms, squash, green beans, watermelon! You don't want to miss out! Get together with your neighbors and start your own pick-up site. Contact Eileen at Eileen@TanakaFarms.com or call her at 949-653-2100 ext 201.
You may have heard that we will be parting ways with Farm2table (we thank them for the opportunity to work together and wish them well) and will be working with a new online system, Farmigo. You will sign up through our website and will have much more flexibility in managing your account. No more prepayment. Your credit card or bank account will be automatically billed after you pick up your produce. Easily choose weekly delivery or every other week (EOW) delivery and change back and forth as you please. If you are going to be away or just feel that you have too much produce on hand and want to skip a pick-up, you may easily do so by accessing your account and entering the dates that you will want to skip! Click here to read more about how to sign up!
Make sure to check your CSA box for information about how to sign up for our CSA days coming up June 11 and 12.
We have been receiving a fantastic response in regards to our CSA work days! Our subscribers are finding that it is a great family outing. Spending a few hours working together discovering how much work it is to actually bring food to the table. Make sure to start checking the website for more opportunities during the summer!
We are also providing volunteer opportunities usually on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. You must pre-register for these harvest days as we can only accommodate about 25 volunteers at one time. On these afternoons we harvest crops and donate them to two local food pantries, SCO (South County Outreach) and Families Forward of Irvine. Between the two they service about 350 needy families per week. Our fresh produce is a wonderful supplement to the staples that these organizations provide to these families to help them through some difficult times. Check back here for dates, times and how to register!
Have a great week!
May 23, 2011
I know I updated this blog last week. I know I did! But when you have multiple people working on the same program, well, that is just more chances for things to go wrong. Either that, my old age and my lack of computer savvy is just catching up with me.
I really hope that you have been enjoying the strawberries! They are at the very peak of flavor! They smell good, they have decent size, shaped really nice and did I mention that they taste FANTASTIC! But this all comes at a the expense of shelf life. Some of you may have come across one or two strawberries in your basket growing some "whiskers!" White mold is what that is. There is so much sugar and the skin is so tender that these wonderfully sweet morsels cannot be stored very long at all. We pick your strawberries 24 hours before you get them and some just cannot make it that long, so please be forewarned. You are not getting OLD strawberries, you are getting the best tasting strawberries that you ever had!
Kale, Swiss chard, fresh garlic, Maui type SWEET onions, basil. For many of you these items might be foreign to you. But that is the great thing about receiving these boxes of produce. It forces you out of your comfort zone and makes you do some research. The perfect opportunity to get the family involved! Especially the children. Get them on the Internet and research recipes and uses for these new items (and for the old staples as well). If they are involved, they are more than likely to try and enjoy the things that they helped to create. Spread the workload around and get the entire family involved in preparing the meals that they will enjoy!
I had some of our sweet white corn! Fantastic! But the ears are small. I think that the cool weather that we have had this spring really affected the way the plants grow. Corn is a warm weather crop, but in the cool weather, the plants grew slowly and never achieved a good size. Small plant, small fruit. On top of that a lot of worm damage. Even in the cool weather, the silk, the hairy part of the ear, grows about an inch every couple of days. This is where the moths lay their eggs and the larvae make their way into the tip of the ear and feed on the kernels. A corn growers biggest battle.
Enjoy the week!
May 1, 2011
I hope that you all enjoyed the extra strawberries in your CSA boxes this past week because the ones that you were going to get this week got all sunburned and damaged from the wind.
That is the bad news, the good news is that finally you will now begin to see the seasonal change begin. It started with our sweet "Maui Type" onions and this week you will be getting some fresh garlic! The variety that you will be in your box doesn't have that typical skin over the cloves and the green stems that kind of look like green onions is probably something that you haven't seen before. Use the green parts also, just like you would use a green onion.
There might also be some green beans this week. We are experimenting with some different varieties so please bear with me as we try to find the right one. We used to grow "Espada," nice color, not as straight as I would like to see them but they tasted really good. I don't know why, but they discontinued that particular variety so that is why I am experimenting with some new ones. One type looks really nice but is lacking flavor and the other does not have good color, has a tendency to have a lot of "fish hooks" and flavor is fair. I will keep looking.
The squashes are almost ready, maybe next week. The sweet white corn is maybe three weeks away! The silk, the hairy part of the corn that grows out of the top of the ear, will grow up to an inch per day. This is the part that catches the pollen as it drops from the tassel of the corn. This is also where the moths will lay there eggs and the larvae will travel down the silk and feed on the tips of the ears of corn. I suppose that is where they got the name "corn ear worm."
The seedless watermelon and the other melons for that matter are way behind. We had problems with getting the seedlings germinated and, well, we are way behind. Next to strawberries, I just love yellow seedless watermelon!
It is hard to believe but the school year is soon coming to an end. If you want to continue receiving our home grown produce through the summer, now is the time to get together with your coordinator and fellow subscribers to find an alternative pick up site!. Or hopefully by the end of May we will have some more Whole Foods Markets set up to be pick up sites. If you haven't already heard, we are currently using The Whole Foods Tustin and Redondo as pick up sites and will soon be adding more!
Saturday was another potentially devastating day with the possibility of some record high temperatures for this time of the year, so we tried really hard to pick off the tender, ripe strawberries. Most of you should be getting a little extra in your boxes this week so enjoy them!
The corn is about three feet tall and are starting to tassel. The tomato plants are all blooming and will soon have some delicious fruit hanging on the vine. The green bean plants have started to change color and the flowers are starting to pop open. All the signs that we are in the middle of spring getting ready to welcome summer!
But, the real indicator for us at Kanaka Farms that the season is changing is when we start harvesting our Maui Type Sweet Onion! Many of them are about the size of a tennis ball, a little bit early, but I cannot wait we will start picking these now! Onions are a great addition to our diets and our onions are "usually" mild enough to be eaten with everything!
Now is the time to come out and visit the farm! The weather is great, the strawberries taste wonderful, the farm is so pretty, there is no better place to get away for a few hours than out on the farm! Do the "Strawberry Tour" and if you have a little extra time, bring the family out and participate in the "Cookout Tour." Both of these are great outings for birthday parties, reunions, employee outings, church field trip, great for any kind of group get together!
See you at the Farm!
April 11, 2011
I don't want to brag, but I, we, us at the farm have been getting more than the usual amount of comments on how much better our strawberries are than others (I know that you haven't received many berries in your CSA boxes lately, but that is changing soon!!!). I have to attribute that to the new varieties that are now on the market. The berries look great, have good size and color but they just don't have that great flavor. I am growing some of the same varieties that most others are, even the Roadside Stand and Growers that participate in the Farmer's Markets, but I try to leave my strawberries on the vine that extra three or four days longer so that the fruit is at it's absolute peak of flavor! The problem is that they are very tender at that point and a little rain, a little heat or they are not handled gently enough, they will bruise and decay and we will have to throw them away.
Some of you that have strawberries in your box Monday and Tuesday are from Orange County Produce. Nice and red, but I am sorry to say, they do not taste like mine! From this Wednesday on, we should have enough of our sweet delicious strawberries available almost every week until the end of the season.
A little while ago I had mentioned that we will soon be using Whole Foods Market as a Friday pick up point for our CSA boxes. Well that time is here! Before the end of this week I will have instructions available on this website on how to sign up and begin picking up our CSA box at Whole Foods Market in Tustin on Friday afternoons. Tell your friends to check back here at the end of the week. If all things go well, we will also be able to use other Whole Foods Markets around the Southland as pick up points, so please, help us get of to a good start and tell your friends about this great new venture!
April 4, 2011
As you noticed, I took a couple week break from my blog. Did you miss me???!!!! And apparently nothing has really changed, my biggest thing to talk about is the weather! Cold, wet, hot, cold, hot and a chance of rain again at the end of the week! We just deal with it because is what happens and we have no control over it.
My red, beautiful strawberries is the crop that seems to not be taking the change in weather well. The rain beats down on the thin skinned fruit, softens it up and breaks it open spoiling a perfectly good strawberry. Now the sun comes out, 80 - 90 degree heat and just cooks whatever fruit that did not get taken out by the rain. Did I mention that you won't be getting any strawberries in your CSA box this week?
The good news is that the drought is officially over! But that does not mean that all is well. We need to be prepared for the next time when rainfall is short and the snow pack is low. It is not too soon to be prepared because it takes a lot of time to build waterways and reservoirs. Our tax dollars are stretched way beyond their limits but when it comes to improving our water supply, that should be a priority. Without water, we have no way of surviving here.
Spring is officially here, our summer crops are in the ground but the weather has actually been cooler than normal and the green beans and squash are little behind schedule. The sweet corn is about a foot tall as well as the tomatoes but those two crops are a long way off before harvest.
Have a great day!
March 14, 2011
I want to thank everyone that came out to the farm this weekend, especially those of you that participate in our CSA program. I am sorry that I did not get to talk to each of you as that is really the essence of the program, getting to know the person responsible for growing your food! Maybe next time.
I would also like to thank The Original Manassero Farms and Orange County Produce for bringing samples of their delicious Strawberries and providing info on their locations to serve you.
It was also great having representatives from Families Forward on hand to distribute information on the variety of services that they provide to the community. FYI, they have a food pantry that services about 100 families per week and we are proud that we provide those families with fresh produce from our farms whenever we can. I am not sure of the exact amount, but last year we delivered over 8,000 pounds of fresh produce for Families Forward to distribute to their clients.
I also cannot give enough thanks to AG Kawamura, former California State Secretary of Agriculture, for taking time out his busy schedule to be on hand to talk with all of you. If you did not get a chance to chat with him, you really missed out on a great opportunity to hear his thoughts and foresights on things to come!
We had such a great turnout for CSA Day that we are a little short of strawberries for our CSA boxes! I think next time I will have to weigh each of you before and after you enter the strawberry field and charge by the pound! The strawberries in the field are sooooo delicious right now that I know each of you did not just sample one or two strawberries! Anyway, I know that you all didn't get any strawberries last week so I went and got some from our neighbor, Orange County Produce. They are organically grown in Irvine, in fact they are grown on the grounds of the Great Park, next to the Orange Balloon. Enjoy!
Have a great week!
March 7, 2011
The rains have had perfect timing. It clouds up, rains and then the winds come in to dry things up all within 24 hours. Cannot ask for much better timing than that. The ripe strawberries will see a little damage and you will see a few fuzzy ones in your basket every now and then, but overall, it is still officially winter.
Sorry, there are no strawberries for your CSA boxes this week. It is very typical at this time of the season to see a lull or a gap in the production cycle. It seems that the varieties that I have been growing, San Andreas and Albion, usually have a gap in production after the first set of fruit is harvested. We also have to leave what little fruit is there on the vine so that you all will have something to pick and sample when you come out to the farm this coming Sunday for CSA Day.
I do hope that all of you that receive our CSA boxes each week saw the flier inviting you to come out to the farm Sunday March 13. Make sure that you RSVP to your coordinator so that we can get a head count and prepare for your day at the Farm! We have a special treat for you, the former State Secretary of Agriculture, AG Kawamura will be here to talk with you so come prepared to ask questions or to debate with him!
February 28, 2011
I was at Whole Foods Market the other day. What a place! A complete supermarket with a huge line of organic and locally grown produce, prepared foods to eat in or to go, butcher, deli, fish market and even a wine tasting area! And you know what else? The place was packed! I need to get out more. I suppose it all started many years ago with Vons Pavilion or maybe it was a small chain like Mother's Markets where the produce section was the center point of attention along with all of the trimmings of prepared foods also. However these super stores got started, Whole Foods is out to perfect it!
You may be asking yourself why all of the fuss over this market? Because I was approached by them to see if we can work out a deal to use them as a drop off center for our CSA boxes! What a great idea! That is how innovative they are. They truly want to help support the local grower and this is one way that they may be able to do it. I will be meeting with them soon and will keep you all informed!
The weather is cold but beautiful! From the highest point on the farm I can Saddleback Valley to the east and all of Orange County to the west! I just love here!
In preparation for the 1" of rain that we got on Saturday, we went through and picked all of the ripe strawberries for you. We did that Friday and those of you receiving boxes on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday will be receiving these. Please excuse us if you come across one or two that might have some "whiskers" on them. The "whiskers" that I am referring to is the white fuzzy mold that has grown due to the wet weather that we have been having. When the berries are harvested, they look fine but time passes the tiny microscopic mold spores soon rapidly multiply and explode into what you may see as a white, moldy, yucky strawberry! Just one of things that we have to deal with.
We have three plantings of our sweet white corn already in the ground. Before the frosty weather that was predicted for this past weekend, I had the crew cover the tender young plants with a floating row cover. Essentially a thin blanket to hopefully keep the tender seedlings from freezing and dying. Expensive, but just like our children, we would do anything to protect them from harm! Hopefully we will have some sweet white corn for you by the first of June, right before school lets out for the summer!
Thank you for your patience while we convert you over to our online ordering system with Farm 2 Table Connect . I know that there are some issues that we have to deal with in regards to our ordering flexibility and such, but in the long run, it will make everyone's life a lot simpler! Again, thank you so much for your patience and understanding.
February 14, 2011
Happy Valentine's Day! If you happen to be passing by my Produce Stand in Irvine, you have to pick up some of our fabulous, "Chocolate Dipped Strawberries" for those special people in your life! (Sorry, couldn't help but plug my establishment).
Just a reminder, it is still winter! By now, you must have heard that the weather is changing! My delima is, do I go through and pick off all of the strawberries or leave them on the vine and take a chance that it will not rain too much and the strawberries will be spared.
If I pick it all off now, those of you that have your CSA boxes delivered later in the week will receive Strawberries that are picked today. Is that so bad? No, it would be about the same as if you bought them at the store (one of the reasons that you participate in this program is because of the freshness of our produce). It might actually be worse for you because we harvest our fruit at the very peak of their flavor and they do not have a long shelf life when they are that ripe so you may find a few more spoiled ones in your basket than usual.
As for the other crops that we harvest at this time of the year, a normal rain does not affect the quality like they do strawberries. The wet weather just makes it miserable when my men are in the mud and cold to pick the crops for you.
So what is in your box this week? We have some Satsuma Tangerines from Polito Farms. The couple that I ate were a bit sour, but do enjoy them as these are probably the last of the season. No more until the end of the year.
There are some Hakurei, Japanese Turnips, that are great raw in your salads and sandwiches, sauted or stir fried with your other veggies.
If you notice, strawberries are still pretty expensive in the stores, that is if your local grocer even has them! And organically grown strawberries??!!! You may not even find any. So enjoy these while we have them.
February 7, 2011
Let me see, what's happening on the farm?................ Plenty, so much so that I just do not know where to start.
We are preparing the Produce Stand for our Grand Opening this Thursday! Cleaning, painting, rearranging and planning for a big weekend. Valentine's Day Weekend! What better gift to give a loved one, a pack of red, sweet, Tanaka Farms' Strawberries. And if they are really special, how about some of our "Chocolate Dipped Long Stem Strawberries!" The sweet is even sweeter when coated with our dark or white chocolate! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
With the great weather that we have been having we are able to get into the fields and prep our beds for our spring crops like green beans and squash. We are even getting ready to plant our summer crops like our sweet white corn, tomatoes and watermelon! Yes, it is still winter yet crops like watermelon that will take almost four months to grow and produce fruit need to be put into the ground (once the threat of frost has past) right away.
We are six weeks away from starting our Strawberry and Cookout tours but of course we are busy prepping for the season. We have to redress our scarecrows, touch up our signs, go over procedures, train our guides, get our wagons checked out, manicure the fields and on and on and on.........
And of course our crops need constant attention and care. They need to be fed, watered, weeded, checked for diseases, freed of harmful pests and of course they need to be harvested.
The tractors and tillage equipment need to be cleaned, repaired and lubricated.
The delivery trucks for our CSA boxes all need constant monitoring and maintenance.
We are planning our March CSA day (so make sure to keep in touch).
Wow, I am tired just thinking about everything that has to be done! I am going to take a nap now!
January 31, 2011
I hope that 1/4 inch of rain that we had yesterday does not cause too much damage to our strawberries! Speaking of those wonderful strawberries, I hope that you are enjoying them! Didn't I say that they are just terrific at this time of the year! They are not as soft and juicy as they are in May and June, but they hold up a long time in the refrigerator (but they should not be stored, they should be eaten!) and the flavor is just wonderful! For me, the best is to leave a couple of berries on the counter over night or during the day and when you walk into the kitchen........ the aroma!!!!! is just wonderful!
This week you will be getting a double dose of strawberries in your CSA box and probably next week also. But enjoy them now because our production should be dropping off soon. The first set of fruit is being picked off right now and I do not see a lot of small green ones or much bloom on the plants. What that means is that there will be a gap in the production cycle. Ideally, there should be fruit in all stages on the plant. Ripe ones, partially ripe, green, white, green, bloom and bloom coming out of the crown. When you don't see those at a certain stage, you can kind of predict when production will be down.
Have you seen the prices of produce, especially organic prices, in the grocery stores???!!! Remember that economics class that you took way back in high school? Supply and demand! Fresh produce is the classic and fastest reacting (besides the stock and commodities market) model of this basic economic principal. Too much supply and the prices go down. Not enough supply and the prices go up. And why is it so quick to react? Because of the perishabilty of fresh produce.
Strawberries are a great example. Strawberries once they are picked and cooled for transport need to be on the road within two or three days, otherwise they will begin to spoil and will have to be thrown away. The buyers know this fact, and when strawberries are in the peak of production and there are lots and lots of them in the cooler waiting to be sold, they will use it as leverage to get a cheaper price on the product. On the the other hand, when product is short (like many items are right now), the seller will definitely try to get a better price because everyone wants what there isn't.
There you go, Econ 101 in a nutshell! Class dismissed.
January 24, 2011
Just beautiful weather! I love it! Great for being outdoors and great for growing! But don't forget, we are still paying for that cold wet weather that we had six to eight weeks ago. The carrot and onion seeds that we planted in the fields were either washed away or the ground was compacted so hard that very few seedlings were able to crack their way through to sunlight and soon there will be nothing to harvest. The young, tender speedlings of cauliflower, broccoli and lettuces that froze in those cold mornings, we have little to harvest now. I know that I talked about this last week, but I just wanted to remind everyone. With this great weather, we wonder why there is a shortage.
The boxes this week contains some great stuff! Swiss Chard is a great alternative to spinach, not especially good raw, but steamed or boiled, the leaves are tender and tasty.
The beets are fantastic! It takes quite a while to boil them or bake them, but once cooked, I love them hot and even better cold, right out of the refrigerator.
The Purple Kohlrabi, I will have to admit that it is not a favorite of mine, but many of you have told me that you absolutely love them! Grated, raw or cooked.
My favorite of course, the STRAWBERRIES! Eat them at room temperature or cold, right out of the refrigerator and you get two different tastes.
Make sure to try the fruits and vegetables raw, cooked, cold, hot, prepared different ways. You will never know, you may find out that something that you did not like prepared hot, you do like when it is served cold. Or something that you do not like steamed, you like stir fried. Don't be afraid to experiment!
January 17, 2011
In your November CSA box was a small pot, soil and some strawberry plants. If you planted those plants, kept them watered and in a sunny, warm area, they should have some flowers on them now, some of you may have some little green berries on them. If you are really fortunate, you may have some ripe strawberries on them. I know, because out here on the farm, we will be picking some strawberries (those same plants that you have) for your boxes this week.
That's right, STRAWBERRIES! Red, ripe, SWEET and DELICIOUS STRAWBERRIES! These are the variety, San Andreas. I don't think that they have the sweetness or the aroma that the Albion does, but if they are full color, they are pretty darn good! So, enjoy them now while we have this great weather because who knows when the rain will be back and spoil these delectable fruit!
Speaking of rain, remember the end of October when we had that unexpected deluge? That set us back a little bit in our ground prep. crops that we intended to plant, we couldn't that is why some of the product that you are receiving in your boxes may not be the best looking or the biggest things that you have ever seen as we have to be not as choosey as to what we put in your boxes as we normally would. The items taste just as good but may not be as eye appealing. The item may not be as big as normal because they are mature but will not grow any larger. Produce are just like people, they come in all shapes and sizes.
The real heavy rains that we had in November and December caused a lot of damage to our newly seeded crops as the rain packed the surface and made it difficult for young seedlings to sprout through to the surface.
The frosty mornings that occurred during December stunted and killed many of the young seedlings that were transplanted into the fields.
All of those adverse weather conditions effects will soon be seen. Over the next four to five weeks our produce will not be as pristine as I would like as we cannot cull the product as well as I would like to. I have to go out to other organic growers to try and supplement with items that we may have lost due to the weather.
I am asking to please be patient and bear with me as we try the best that we can to deliver you with the best that we have over the next couple of months. This is part of the CSA experience. To feel the effects of conditions beyond our control and to accept what the consequences are.
Thank you for your understanding and enjoy the STRAWBERRIES!
One other thing, don't forget that if you are signing up on our new online ordering system that you need to get your February order in before January 27th! I really appreciate your patience as we transition over to this new system. In the long run it will definitely improve our process and eliminate a lot of problems and improve the communication between you and me.
January 10, 2011
Happy New Year!
Welcoming in the New Year has always been a big thing in my family (in fact in the Japanese culture, celebrating the New Year is very important) when my folks were alive. I can remember my mother spending almost the entire time after Christmas getting ready for January 1. Excessive cleaning of the home, shopping and preparing for "oshogatsu!" (The Japanese word for the New Year holiday)
It was the food that took most of her time and effort and it is the food that I remember the most! And of course all of the friends and family that would come over to help devourer all of her hard work!
In the old days, you wouldn't just call the local restaurant or market and call your dinner order in, you would have to do all of the cooking yourself. And even if my mom could do that, she would not. She took pride that it was her labor that went into the preparation of the food that was on the table.
Family, friends and food is the center of every culture's celebrations. FOOD! Appreciate the abundance that we have here in this country. The there are no seasonality as we can have any fruit and any vegetable we want anytime of the year. We have choices of not only what to eat, for example apples, but choices of what size, choices of the different varieties of apples and even a choice of how they are grown, organic, sustainable, no spray or conventional.
Getting back to preparing food. How about trying to cook a little more this year, experiment more with the items that come in your boxes each week. Challenge yourself to be creative and be adventurous and take pride in what you can prepare with what we have to offer!
And tell a friend. Get them excited about eating healthy and supporting a local farmer (ME!).
Have a great New Year!
December 12, 2010
End of the year! Last delivery for 2010! No more fresh produce from Tanaka Farms!Until January 11, 2011!
As I write this article I am watching the documentary "Supersize Me." Basically it is about a man who sets out to eat three meals a day at McDonalds for a month and if they ask if he wants to supersize, he has to order the supersize meal and eat all of it! And to top it off he must also limit his physical activity. I haven't seen this in it's entirety but the basics are, yes he gains a lot of weight and feels horrible at the end of the ordeal.
Don't get me wrong, I like a good burger now and then. Something that my wife has taught me is....moderation. I have to admit, I eat too much and don't exercise near enough but I am working on it. At least sometimes when I over eat now, I over eat on fruits and vegetables which is what I hope many of you are also doing.
I am not sure what I am rambling on about, I just know that I am rambling. I think that what I am trying to say is, enjoy the holiday season, "eat, drink and be merry," in moderation!
Thank you for all of your support, have a great holiday season and we look forward to working with you all next year!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at Tanaka Farms!