Small Family Farm CSA

We Dig Vegetables

 

August Eleventh

kiracrew
Working in the ha-ha-ha Heat!

You've got to eat it to save it.  Maybe you've heard this saying that refers to saving endangered species of plants and animals.  It's true, if we want to preserve genetic diversity, we can actually help by cultivating these plants, raising these animals and spreading awareness about their existence through the marketing process.  The native and wild species of the plants and animals can be left to spread naturally if their native habitats still exist, but if it wasn't for niche marketers like us who have a strange interest in burpees golden beets, gnarly celeriac roots, and round lemon cucumbers, who would grow them?  Would them still exist?  Would anyone miss them?

I would!  I imagine that there are some of you whose horizon's are not being broadened by this CSA experience and when you open up the CSA box you are able to identify each item with nostalgic familiarity.  Some of you might see some item like shallots, Asian cucumbers and kohlrabi and they are like an old friend you're revisiting, but not a staple in your diet by any stretch of the imagination.  I'm also imagining that there is at least a small handful of you who open up the CSA box and you think to yourself, "Oh, man, what am I going to do with this?" or "I wonder which one of my friends or relative will take this?"

Week-11-2010-034
Helping hands picking peppers

I hope I'm wrong.  I really, really, REALLY hope that each and every one of you were planning recipes for your red kale before you even got it in your box.  This CSA experience was meant to help you broaden your horizons, it was meant to help you support a locally based food system and whether you were conscious of it or not, it was meant to help preserve genetic diversity.  By your farmers purchasing celeriac root seeds, swiss chard seeds, and fennel seeds, we're giving our money to those farmers who saved that seeds.  Together, it takes the seed savers, the farmers and the eaters to preserve a genetic strain of plants.  We need you to be the chef that takes the precious time to go out on a limb and use vegetables that you would not normally purchase from the grocery store.

The grocery stores stock vegetables that are bred to withstand long transportation, look visually appealing, and have a long shelf life.  Long ago vegetable varieties with the most flavor, varieties that are less visually appealing and that are highly perishable became endangered species.  If we embrace these veggies, learn to appreciate their flavors and cook with them in the kitchens we will in-directly be supporting the farmers who grow them.  Often times, if the vegetables is prepared in the right way, it is easy for us to fall in love with it.  Experimenting with new methods of cooking and trying new recipes will slowly take us outside of our comfort zones in the kitchen where we discover that new flavors in our lives can delight us in ways that we did not believe were possible.  Go on, get experimental!

Sooo, What's in the Box???

kirabeets
My cousin Kira helping harvest Beets!

Shallots-  These freshly harvested shallots are not even fully cured yet, but they can be enjoyed none the less.  Keep them in a dry and warm place for up to two weeks, but then transfer to a cool, dark and dry place.

Lemon, Asian and/or Slicing Cucumbers-  Lemon Cukes are the round, yellow/lime green prickly looking things.  The Asian cucumbers are the gnarly, long and skinny cukes and hopefully you know how to identify the regular slicing cukes by now.  The Cucumber harvests are beginning to wane.

Zucchini, Summer Squash and/or Patty Pan Squash-  Squash harvest is waning quickly now!  Another week or so, but then we'll be out of summer squash.  Enjoy it while it lasts!

Detroit Dark Red Beets-  The beets seem to be getting larger as the bed matures.  The greens were not as sightly this week.  We cut the greens off of most of the beet bunches.  Top the beets and they will store in a plastic bag in your fridge for over a month.

Green and/or Colored Peppers-  Peppers are starting to come on now.  The plants look so healthy and are really producing!

Hungarian Hot Wax and/or Jalapeno Peppers-  Hot peppers to help you sweat out your toxins.  Some like it hot, some not.  The Hungarian Hot wax are also called banana peppers and the Jalapenos are the green, tear-drop shaped peppers.

Dill Weed-  Dill to go so well with your cucumbers.  If you can't use all this dill, feel free to hang it upside down in your kitchen in a dry place.  Store in a mason jar with a tight lid when fully closed.

Swiss Chard- Chard leaves for cooking with.

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, Slicing Tomatoes, or Eggplant- We didn't have enough of some of these items to go around and we wanted to start giving them because no tomatoes should ever go to waste.  Sungold Cherry Tomatoes are ripe when they are bright orange.  Some of the large cherry tomatoes are red.  Slicing Tomatoes are mostly Heirlooms such as brandywine or cherokee Purple.  The Cherokee Purple Tomatoes are ripe when they are soft and they are actually purple.  Yum!

 

Recipes:

Swiss Chard and Tomato Frittata

Beet Borscht

 

kirachard
Chard Harvest

August Fourth

We made it half way! Week 10 and it seems like some of the summer favorites are just starting to roll in. I know that you’re wondering, where is the sweet corn? You’re seeing it on the roadsides, it’s at market, and you see all the field corn alongside the highways forming heads of corn, and it just feels like it’s time. Well, I have to be honest with you. We’re not very good at growing sweet corn.

I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the seed, maybe it’s the planter we use, or maybe it’s that we don’t get it in as early as some folks do. I know that we don’t rush to get it planted as early as a lot of people do because we’re so busy in the spring planting everything else. We don’t have a big huge corn planter that plants the seeds at the perfect spacing in perfectly straight rows either. Although, strangely enough, I have thought about buying a big, huge, old corn planter at an auction. If I stumble across one some day, I may just lay my money down for one. It’s funny how the longer I farm, the more machinery I start to want because I see how it can make life easier and our operation a little more efficient.

We do plant corn every year. We do harvest some corn every year, depending on the year. We also have a fairly serious raccoon population on the ridge and have tried various tactics for keeping the coons at bay. Some years we keep them away, some years they eat 75% of the crop. This year we plan to start setting live traps about a week before the corn is ready to start pecking away at the coon population that is lurking nearby, waiting for ripe sweet corn.

Our tomatoes are hanging on the vine, looking large and plump and juicy, but they’re still mostly green. With all of this heat and sunshine, I imagine that it won’t be long before we’re picking ripe tomatoes. I’m hoping that cucumber and squash harvest starts to wane before tomato harvest kicks into gear. Tomatoes need to be harvested every other day, consuming a large amount of time throughout the week. I even saw that our green beans are starting to flower. I’m not sure if we’ll have them for Week 11, but by Week 12, for sure they will be here by the bushel loads!

It’s hard to keep trudging through the heat and humidity, but I feel like a soldier at the end of the day. Persevering through these temperatures truly does make a person stronger.

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Green Cabbage-  Large Cabbages this week.  Coleslaw for your picnics!
Red Norland Potatoes- Beautiful, fresh red potatoes just dug a couple days ago!  They do not need refrigeration.  Store in a cool, dark and dry place.
Cucumbers-More cucumbers to keep you cool!
Carrots-  Everyone loves fresh, orange carrots!
Summer Squash, Zucchini and Patty Pans- More squash.  These summer squashes can be used inter-changeably.  Their flavors are all very similar with slightly different textures.
Garlic- Brought down from the rafters in the barn where they were drying a little early to put in the boxes this week.  They're not fully cured yet, but can be used right now.  Fresh garlic does not need refrigeration.  Store in a cool, dark and dry place.
Onion or Celery-  The last of the celery was cut this week, who didn't get celery, we gave onions in place.
Cilantro-  Cilantro is another cooling food.  Some of the leaves were a little bad.  We did our best to pick out the yellowing ones, but all that rain had an effect on the cilantro growth.  We did not was the cilantro this week because it will rot away quicker when it is wet.  Wash well just before you use it.

Recipes:

Grilled Vegetables with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce (this recipe calls for a patty pan squash)

July Twenty-Eighth

It's hard to imagine a growing season without the need for irrigation.  This may be the first one yet in the few young years that we have been farming.  We've been getting between 1 and 3 inches of rain a week for the last four weeks.  The rain has been incredible and I can hardly believe that it just keeps coming.  In a perfect season you will see one inch of rain a week...in a perfect season.  When I asked Adam what I should write about this week in the newsletter he replied, "bugs, diseases and too much rain".

It's been an intense season for too much rain.  With the soil being so wet and the continual supply of water on the leaves of the plants, we are seeing more blight and rot than we hoped.  The bottom side of our lettuce, and it is amazing that we still have lettuce, is looking like to much moisture was trapped at the base of the plants and they looked like they are starting to rust.  Adam happens to be main man in charge of spraying our OMRI approved organic Copper sprays on the tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and squash.  He has been working soooo hard at this.  Every time that it's done raining he mixes up a back-pack sprayer full of copper and goes out to prevent blight on the tomatoes.  We've never had tomatoes look this good before this year.  We almost always loose them to blight early on.  But we're finally seeing it start to win the battle.  We're even seeing some blight on our onions which we have never seen before, even though our soil health is noticeable improving.

I've been doing my best to refrain from sounding like I'm complaining about all the rain because all of you know that it's been raining a lot and we're all tired of being reminded of it, but it is interesting to learn about how all this rain is affecting the plants in the garden.  It can be challenging to keep your head up when you see three more inches of rain in the rain gauge and you see a growing mud puddle of your hard-earned topsoil at the base of the hill.  The rain brings life in the right quantities, but it also brings disease and destruction when it's too much.  At the end of the day, as we pack CSA boxes, I know that we are blessed and there is still so much food to give and the produce that we do have looks wonderful.  And at the middle of week 9 when I look at the forecast for next week, I see only some rain and temperatures in the low 80's which brightens my mood.

All this rain simply means we are going to have to move a bit quicker this year to get crops out of the ground sooner before they really do start to rot away.  This was what was happening to our celery.  You see we are giving celery so much earlier this year than we normally do, this is because over 60% of them were dieing.  We're going to have to get the onions out of the ground in the next week or so in between transplanting all of the fall successions of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce.  So many other aspects of this season are working out so well like an early garlic harvest, beautifully weeded tomatoes and a promising pepper harvest yet to come!  Chin Up!

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Cucumbers-  We are having a bumper crop of cucumbers this year!  Thanks to Adam for keeping the cucumber beetles at bay!  Cucumber salads anyone?  Make a large pot of cucumber water to use up one cucumber a day!  Keep a jar in your fridge at all times to stay cool!

Beets-  More dark, rich colored beets to sweeten up your life!  See our Beet Kvass recipe below to make a tonic beverage out of your beets.

Onion or Bunching Onions-  You may have receive a white onion or a bunch of green scallions or bunching onions.  The bunching onions are great raw on salads and you can use the greens also!  The white onions are always the first to come out of the ground for giving fresh!

Summer Squash, Zucchini and Patty Pans-  More soft summer squashes to enliven your summer.  The production of these plants is finally starting to wane.  I promise that they will eventually come to an end!  Maybe sooner rather than later if we keep getting all of this rain.  They do freeze quite well if you're in the mood for storing up.

Celery-  Succulent, salty spears of celery.  Fresh garden celery has a stronger flavor than store-bought celery from California.  You can also use the greens for making soup stock or chop them finely into your tuna or egg salad.

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers-  These are the first of the peppers.  Technically, they're considered to be a hot pepper, but they are the most mild of all hot peppers.  Once in a while you get one that is a little spicy, but sometimes they are sweet.  Their colors range from lime green to yellow to an orange color.

Lettuce-  This is our last giving of lettuce until our fall lettuce starts to come on.  Peak summer lettuce gets a little bitter from all the heat, but the bitter flavor is good for the liver.  The leaves are still quite tender, even though they are a little bitter from the heat.  Some members receive a red leaf lettuce, some receive green romaine and some received a green iceberg lettuce.

Green Curly Kale-  Large bunches of kale this week to give some green foods.  See one of my favorite kale pasta recipes below!

Parsley-  We tried to give everyone a curly green parsley this week, but we ran out of the curly variety and gave some of you the flat leaf parsley.  Parsley is such a versatile plant that can be used in almost any dish.

Next Week:  Our projections for next week are only a guess. The maturity of the crops depends entirely on the weather conditions. We do not promise that this is what your box next weeks box will look like, but these are a few item we think will be ready to give.

Carrots, Potoatoes, zucchini, summer squash, patty pans, cilantro, green cabbage, cucumbers, celery

Recipes:

Beet Kvass

Winter Kale Pasta with Sausage

Blue Moon Salad (celery idea)

Honey Lemon Refrigerator Pickles (cucumber idea)

Zucchini Brownies

July Twenty-First

july-2010-017Eat within the seasons. We’ve all heard this beautiful saying that sounds so idealistic. Whether you like it or not, you’re actually eating within the seasons this year. You’re eating what nature intended for you to eat when your natural environment is ready to provide it. What is so fascinating to me is how nature will also give us warming foods in the cold month, cooling foods in the hot months, cleansing foods in the spring to clean us out after a long winter of no fresh food and also provide us with dense foods that are meant to last us thru the winter in the fall harvest season. Once we become aware of how tightly woven this web is, it becomes so much fun to climb through it.

As you open up your CSA box the next few weeks, you will find cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash and a few other popular summer items. You might find another cabbage, which you may or may not be looking forward to. You will be seeing celery and some of these favorite crops that are in their peaks season. We just watched, or tasted rather, the spring flush of the broccoli season. We had broccoli for several deliveries, and now broccoli is over until the cooler weeks and months return again. As we are all anxiously awaiting the arrival of the tomatoes, and the very thought of a ripe, red, juicy tomato sounds like absolute bliss to me right now, when tomato season has come and gone, I’ll be sure to have no interest in looking at any more fresh tomatoes for a good long while.

What I am getting at here, is even though we all want tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and peas every other week for the entire season, it simply does not work that way. What we need to learn to do is savor and store the seasons while we have them. If the squash is too much for you now, cut them up and freeze them. If you don’t know how you would ever use a large bag of basil in one week like you received last week, it is because you were intended to dry it or make pesto with it. And when we are sending you 5 pound bags of tomatoes, it is because you are meant to freeze, can and dry them. july-2010-015

This farm girl knows just as good as you do how busy these summer months can be with the long days, event-filled weekends and hardly enough time at the end of a long day to make dinner, but we have to squeeze food storage into our lives. If you’re not keeping up with using all of the fresh produce while it’s fresh (and bless your heart if you are), remember to take some time to freeze, dry, ferment and can what you can while you have it. It’s so easy to google “drying basil”, “freezing zucchini”, “blanching broccoli”. I may not be providing you with all the how to’s of storage tips, but that’s not to stop you from storing them!

Maybe it’s time to invite your friends, family and neighbors over for dinner to show of all of your cooking skills with seasonal produce and get your house cleaned up. If you anything like us, housecleaning a little relaxed this time of year as keeping up with mowing the lawn, freezing broccoli and attending picnics takes precedence. High tide!

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Red Cabbage- Beautiful heads of purple cabbage to shave into your salads.  Cabbage will keep for over a month in your fridge, but you'll be getting more cabbage within a month, so use it up!

Garlic-  More fresh garlic!  Garlic can be hung to dry in your kitchen to "cure" and it can also be used fresh right away.  Notice how it is always a wee bit more mild when it is fresh and it gets a wee bit spicyer as it cures.

Carrots-  Beautiful, sweet, glowing orange carrots!  Need I say more?

Tango Celery-  Celery came on over 2 months earlier this year than what we normally grow.  We tried a new variety this year and wow, it came early.  We love how much more juicier and crisp this variety is compared with the Conquistador Celery we've grown in previous years.  The leaves can be used also in soups, stock or even dried down to season with.

Cucumbers-  Umm, I think we're having a good cucumber year!  WOW!  You may have receive a lemon cucumber also which is the yellowish looking round spikey thing rolling around in the bottom of the box.  They're an heirloom variety and my absolute favorite by way of flavor!  You may also have receive a long, asian type cucumber that is a "burpless" variety.  Don't judge this cucumber by it's skin.  They're also superior in flavor to the normal cuckes you're used to seeing in the store.  Lotts more cucumbers where these came from!!!

Zucchini- More zucchini!

Summer Squash- ....and more summer squash.

Heirloom Patty Pans- .......and more patty pans galore!

Lettuce- It's amazing that we still have lettuce in this heat, I know!  There's at least three more weeks of lettuce in the fields if it holds in time for us to give it.  We're keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn't bolt in the heat.

Broccoli- The last week of broccoli until fall.  A small giving this week as it's on it's way out.

Cauliflower-  Also the last week of Cauliflower givings until the fall.

Next Week:  Zucchini, summer squash, patty pans, cucumbers, beets, kale, lettuce, celery, banna peppers, garlic, onions(?), curly leaf parsley

Recipes:  july-2010-020

Cucumber Water

Cold Cucumber Salad

Oven-Fried Zucchini Spears

Herb Roasted Chicken

July Fourteenth

It’s already week 7 and the Garlic Harvest has begun! Garlic has always been one of our favorite crops to grow for many reasons. As we begin the garlic harvest the nostalgic smell of freshly dug garlic is a monumental moment in time for me. I am hopelessly in love with garlic because I have such a sincere respect for this plant. Perhaps it is one plant I feel more closely related to because it is one of the few plants we grow that we are able to save our seed for and re-plant every year without fault.

Six years ago, when I was working my final year as an “intern” at One Sun Farm and Bakery, I took $200 in garlic seed as payment for my months work on this farm. Two hundred dollars translated to twenty pounds of garlic. I have watched my twenty pounds grow into 1500 pounds as I plant and re-plant my same seed every year, growing out our seed stock and improving our strains. For every one pound of garlic that you plant, you can expect to see about five pounds of garlic in return in a good year as it multiplies itself out.

This plant is amazing to me because it is planted in the fall, just before the danger of winter begins to set in. The singled out cloves are left to fend for themselves in the -20 degree temperatures that Southwestern Wisconsin can bring. We mulch our lovely beds with a 6 inch covering of straw mulch to help them bear the brutal winter, prevent the weeds from coming up in the spring, and to help preserve moisture in the soil for then the plants start to grow as the soil temperatures begin to warm.

Garlic, actually an herb, is in the same family of plants as onions, leeks and shallots called Amaryllis or Allium. Garlic is also a medicinal plant that can boost the bodies immune system, reduce cholesterol, and is a natural antibiotic and has antifungal properties. Not to mention that this plant tastes delicious and goes with almost any savory dish. We are a little bit compulsive about our garlic use on the farm and we have actually ask each other when we’re making dinner if we should put one or two bulbs in the dinner, not one or two cloves, one or two bulbs.

Last season we decided to buy a new variety of garlic from a neighbor friend of ours. I took home 5 pounds of his Russian Giant garlic and this year I hope to harvest 25 lbs of this garlic. If turn around and re-plant all 25lbs of that garlic, next summer I can hope to harvest 125lbs of this illusive Russian Giant. Our CSA members won’t actually see the Russian Giant in their boxes for another few years or until we have enough that we feel we can start to actually eat it. It is important when you buy a new variety that you give it a few years to become acclimated to your soil. As I purchased that garlic from a friend of ours who lives in the valley, has a completely different mineral and ph balance in his soils that we do, we need for our new garlic variety to adjust its growing behaviors according to its new ridge-top lifestyle.

So when you are stirring your marinara sauces and slicing this garlic for your garlic beds, be thinking about how this garlic has been underground for the last 8 months, taking root and swelling to its mature size in the dark underworld. This garlic is awakening from a long winter slumber. Fresh garlic is very tender and can be easily bruised. Be gentle with these delicate beauties and be glad you are part of a local garlic revolution. Over 90% of the garlic grown in the United Sates is grown in California and when that runs out, we start ordering from China. Gotta love fresh, local, seasonal organic garlic! Yum!

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Fresh Garlic- Freshly dug after a long winter's slumber.  This garlic can be hung to dry in your kitchen to "cure" for a few weeks, or you can open it now to taste the difference of what fresh garlic is like compared to cured garlic.  The membrane around each clove which is normally a paper thin layer is actually still quite thick and alive in fresh garlic.  You will have to peel away a thick layer to get down to the cloves.
Summer Squash-  Yellow straightnecks.  These are delicious grated, grilled or cubed on kabobs.
Zucchini-  We do what we can to harvest them small, but once in awahile they get bigger than we expect them to.  They prefer 50 degrees to keep them from getting wrinkley.  Eat up promptly, these plants are only getting started!
Patty Pan or Cucumber-  The Patty Pans were the white-ish colored squash that is spherically shaped and ridged on the edges.  These are an heirloom variety of squash and they are like butter in your sautee pans.  The long cucumbers are the burpless kind that are actually an asian variety.  Rarely do these cucumbers look blemish-free, but their flavor is soooo smooth!
Broccoli-  More lovely broccoli.  Be sure to blanche and freeze the broccoli if you're getting more than you can use in one week.  Spring and Fall are Broccoli seasons.  We have to store it away for later while we have it to pull it out of the freezer when we have not.
Basil-  More yummy basil.  This time enough to actually make a batch of pesto!  Remember that Basil does not like refrigeration.  Refrigeration can turn the basil black!
Lettuce-  We're getting close to the end of our lettuce supply.  We have about one or two more weeks of it until it's done until fall.  Lettuce has a tendency to get a little more bitter in the heat of the summer.  The bitter flavor is good for the liver.
Swiss Chard- More yummy greens for sauteeing and steaming.  See the swiss chard lasagna recipe below!
Green Onions-  To be used in place of onions in any of your onion loving recipes.  The greens can be used also!
Next Week:  Broccoli, green onions, celery, zuchhini, summer squash, cucumbers, cabbage, beets

Recipes: