|Water Challenges In Texas||August 2011|
We've always had enough water for abundant harvests here in Carrizo Springs, Texas -- until now. So far this year, we've received less than 20% of our average annual rainfall. Rivers that are normally available as an additional source of irrigation water are now completely dry. For the first time in 98 years, the aquifer (water table) has dropped so low that we had to install a new irrigation system to ensure sufficient water for our crops.
The drought this year comes with an extra challenge. This time, oil companies are pumping water out of the aquifer for oil well drilling in the Eagle Ford Shale. This oil boom is expected to last at least 10 years, so our little community of ranchers and farmers will have to adapt to these new circumstances.
Without water, there is no oil production. Without water, there is no agriculture. We've done our part here at Dixondale Farms with the purchase of our new irrigation equipment, which is more efficient in the delivery of our most precious resource. We've also built reservoirs on the farm to capture and recycle water. Unfortunately, we may need to raise our prices a little to compensate for these new improvements and the cost of additional pumping.
We'll continue to grow our onions and cantaloupes as we have done for almost a century. We just face more challenging circumstances with the oil companies competing for our water resources. Let's hope that these companies find alternative methods and resources for water use, and soon stop pumping fresh water out of the aquifer.
As always, we appreciate your loyalty and continued business.
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
Product of the Month
If you grow onions in quantity, like so many of our customers do, you'll need some good storage options -- especially if you're planning to sell your onions. Our storage bags are ideal.
These orange mesh bags not only provide the ventilation your onions need, they're light and strong as well. They're available in three sizes, all ideal for farmers markets and gift bags, with the 10 and 50 pound sizes recommended for larger producers:
You can purchase our storage bags individually or in bulk. Normally they're $2.50 each, but if you buy ten or more, they're $2.00 each.
|August 2011 Photo Contest Winner!|
Thanks to everyone who has already submitted pictures to our photo contest! For the month of August, our winner is Ken Bachman. Here's what Ken has to say about his excellent photo:
"Hi, I've sent you photos of two of my twenty-three grandchildren, Kynnadee and Mason, holding a couple of Candy onions. The largest weighs just under three pounds. The whole crop is of exceptional size, and they're just as sweet as their name. Thanks, from a very satisfied customer!"
Your Dixondale hat and T-shirt are on the way, Ken!
Our contest runs until September of this year. We've received some great photos so far, and look foward to receiving more. So get those cameras ready, and send in those onion photos ASAP!
Here's a quick rundown of the rules:
- You may submit one photo per month through September 2011.
- All onions displayed must be grown during the November 2010- August 2011 season.
- One winner will be chosen each month.
- Each month's winner will receive a Dixondale cap and a Dixondale camo T-shirt, and will be featured in the next month's newsletter as well as on our Facebook page and Web site.
- A Grand Prize winner will be chosen from the past monthly winners. We'll feature a bio in the November 2011 newsletter and on our Web site and Facebook page, and the photo will grace the cover of the 2012 Dixondale Farms Catalog.
- The Grand Prize judging will be held in-house, with Dixondale holding all rights to the pictures.
To send us your contest photos, just click here. We can't wait to see 'em!
| Around The Farm|In the News Again!
More news from Dixondale Farms in the middle of a bad drought! WOAI Channel 4 out of San Antonio recently reported on the drought and associated water situation in South Texas, speaking with Bruce about how we've been coping with the water challenges.
Now, you may know that we produce cantaloupes as well as onions, but did you know that Dixondale is the state's biggest producer of cantaloupes? Fortunately, we have very efficient water wells, so we've been able to increase our melon yields while using less water.
Ironically, it's not the hot days that make watering difficult, but the 102-degree nights! To read the full article, click here.
|Cooking With Onions|
- 1¼ pounds of sliced red onions
- 6 crushed garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons of chopped, mixed fresh herbs, such as thyme, parsley, basil
- 8-oz ready-made puff pasty
- 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of sun-dried tomato paste
- Black pepper to taste
- Thyme sprigs
Heat half of the oil in a frying pan, then add the garlic and onions. Cook them over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until they're soft but not browned. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Then stir in the herbs and mix thoroughly. Take the mixture off the heat and set it aside.
Preheat the oven to 425° F. Cut the pastry into four parts, then roll them out into 6-inch rounds. Use a fork to prick the surfaces all over, and crimp the edges with your fingers. Then space out the rounds on a baking sheet and put them into the fridge for about 10 minutes.
Mix one tablespoon of the remaining oil with the tomato paste, and brush the mixture over the center of each of the rounds, leaving a half-inch border. Next, divide the onion mixture into four equal parts and spread it over the pastry rounds. Sprinkle them with plenty of black pepper, and drizzle the remaining oil over the rounds.
Bake your onion pies for about 15 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden. Serve them hot, garnished with the thyme sprigs.
This dish comes to us from Tony & Raye Anne Vendely. Thanks, it sounds delicious!
Onions can enhance so many dishes, and can be consumed raw, fried, sautéed or baked. Please send us your favorite onion recipe, so we can share it in an upcoming newsletter. You can email it to us here. Digital photos of your dish are also welcome!
Q&A: Onion Skin Cracking
Q. What causes onion skins to crack after harvest?
A. After harvested onions are dried, they need to be cooled gradually; if they cool too quickly, the skins will crack. In other words, don't bring them into a much cooler storage area too quickly, especially after they've been sitting out in the sun.
|Fun Onion Facts|
We recently talked to customer R.T. Stanley, who grew 40 acres of Red Candy Apple onions in Vidalia, Georgia this year. R.T. tells us that his onions tested a low 1.5 on the Pyruvate Scale, which measures pungency in onions and garlic. The scale is named after pyruvic acid, the compound that makes your eyes tear up when you're cutting onions.
The lower the Pyruvate Scale rating, the sweeter the onion. Most onions rate about an eight, while any onion rating less than a five is considered sweet. Classic Vidalia onions are required to have a Pyruvate Scale rating of five or less, whereas most yellow onions tip the scale at 6-7. As you can see, R.T.'s onions are very sweet, even more so than Vidalias!
|We're on Facebook! |
Join the community of friends and growers on our Facebook page! You can connect with us and fellow growers to share stories, recipes, and even weather information and other tips. We encourage you to add your pictures and growing stories, and to leave something on our Wall.
One of our Facebook fans, Susan, recently had an interesting question: can you harvest individual leaves to eat as green onions? Check out Susan's post on our Wall from July 22 to see our advice on the subject!