Small Family Farm CSA

We Dig Vegetables

 

September Fifteenth

We're on the home stretch now with only four more weeks of CSA delivereis.  Could you have guessed that there were this many different varieties of produce that can be grown in the Midwest and that can be provided over this length of time?  It is truly amazing all of the colorful, delicious and nutritious vegetables that can be grown right here in our back yard that do not need to be shipped in from another part of the country.

But, local has it's down fall.  We have seasons condusive to growing, and we have seasons where most forms of life go into hibernation, fly south or die back into the earth.  There are a growing number of small scale farmers who are looking at taking up the niche market of providing off-seaon greens grown in their green houses, storage roots and tubers sold during the winter and folks who are exploring other creative ways of storing or growing food that can be sold in the off season.  (Yours truly is perfectly happy growing in the summer monthes and taking the winters to re-charge her batteries, the off season growing will be for the niche marketer).

During the winter monthes, we like to vend at either the Viroqua indoor Winter Farmer's Market or at the Dubuque Indoor Winter Farmer's Market where we can sell some of our storage potatoes, garlic, onions and squash.  The indoor markets also provide a way in which we can advertize for the upcoming season's CSA program.  And truthfully, I love going to Farmer's Markets because it gives me a chance to talk to the customers, hear their recipe ideas and create a friendly opportunity for socializing within the community.

Local food is delicious, it's fresh and it gives a new depth to our meals to know who and where our food comes from.  I love eating the walnuts cracked by the hands of the man at the market, the bread and scones from the woman behind the table made yesterday evening, and the meat from the guy with the 'pastured and grass-fed sign'.  I also love knowing that my dollars go directly from my pocket into theirs and our local economy is stronger for it.

In the winter monthes, when most of the fresh produce is gone, don't forget about the Farmer's Market.  This CSA expereience is delicious, but underneath the bags of tomatoes and potatoes is wholesome community that is empowered with the dollars spent locally.  When we re-invest in our communities, we are the richer for it.

Sooo, What's in the Box????

Youkon Gold Potatoes- Beautiful gold, creamy gold potatoes.  The youkon golds are prone to turning green if they get any sun exposure at all.  Just cut away any green, we couldn't afford to cull all of the ones with any green.  This is a down fall associated with these dreamy, creamy potatoes, but they're worth it!

Carrots-  More beautiful, orange carrots. It's been an interesting year for carrots.  We have some issues with carrot leaf blight this year (a really weird leaf disease that we didn't know existed that comes from extended periods of moisture on the leaf surface).  These carrots that you're getting this week came from a bed that did not have any leaf blight, but the next couple beds that we have coming up have some issues that we're trying to clear up on their leaves.

Spaghetti Squash- These squash are not 100% cured just yet for storage.  If you are not ready to eat it now, just allow it to sit at room temperature on your counter and it will 'cure', the stem will dry out completely and the flesh may become sweeter.  Spaghetti squash has a stringy flesh like spaghetti noodles.

Tomatoes-  Rememer that your tomatoes that are not fully ripe yet will ripen if you allow them to sit on the coutner at room temperature.  They will ripen quicker if they are left in a bag where the ethelene gas that they release is trapped in the bag to ripen them. This is the last big week of tomateos.  Next week  you might get a couple, but they're almost over!

Onions-  A yellow onion!  Onions store best in a cool, dark and dry place.

Celeriac Root (or celery root)-  Okay, don't judge a book by it's cover.  These funky looking roots will grow on you quickly if you learn to open your heart to them.  Once you peel them, they are white and dense on the inside like a potato and can be boiled and mashed with potatoes to get a celeriac or celery flavored mashed potatoes.  They are also great it chicken noodle soup or shaved raw into a coleslaw or a tuna salad.

Peppers- We tried to give a colored bell pepper to everyone, but when we ran out of them, we started picking the dark green ancho or poblano peppers.  The anchos are used traditionally for making chili rellenos in Mexican cooking.

Hot Peppers- We gave some of the small, green Jalapenos, some of the long, skinney red chilis and some of the lime green Hungarian hot wax.  These peppers are listed from having the most heat to the least heat.  These can be chopped up and frozen for storage if you don't have a need for a hot pepper each week right now.

Basil- Probably one of the last weeks of basil for this year.  The first frost of the season may not be too far off (although I don't want to jinx it), in which basil is the first to go.  Basil and tomatoes go together like a horse and carriage.

Lettuce- A head of fresh greens!  You may have gotten a romaine, a buttercrunch or a red leaf lettuce.

Recipes-

Mashed Potatoes with Celeriac Root

Spaghetti Squash Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

September Eigth

Balance is the theme of the week for me. As the change of the seasons is felt in more of a drastic way, I am reminded of the balance in my life that seemed to escape me for the annual 2-month pilgrimage that it goes away on during the months of July and August. I sense that all balance is not lost as the leaves fall from the trees, the nights dip down into the 40’s and 50’s and I am again wearing sweaters and hats in the fields.

The good nights sleep is what I missed the most during the summer. I have too much of my father in me to actually come in from the fields so long as I can still see out there. I am a hard worker to a fault. It is a characteristic about me that some praise and other’s see in me as my most foolish trait. I’m really not sure whose advice to take some days, but I guess that I am who I am at the end of the day. Being out so late into the evenings when the days are so long- it was cutting into the hours that I spend sleeping. So, the young and foolish part of me simply endures July and August when the sun favors the higher part of the sky.

jillianpickpeppers
Jillian picking peppers on a breezy, cool harvest day.

 

I seem to have taken a renewed sense of pleasure for the work that I do as the temperatures drop as well. I love feeling the cool breeze on my warm cheeks while working with long sleeves and a stocking cap on. My spirits are lifted to know that the summer heat that turns even my water bottles the temperature of warm tea will keep my refreshing water cool. I sense that even the plants are relieved to have the bugs that chew on them sleep in a little later until the day’s air warms.

I see so little of the garden now that actually looks filled with life and bursting with a lush glow. Now, as I drive into the fields on a harvest day, I see so many beds from this spring that are done for the year, filled with grass and need to be worked so they can be cover cropped. All of our old beds of spring lettuce, spinach, radish, and summer garlic, onion, sweet corn. Our old beds of broccoli, cabbage, carrots and cauliflower are gone. All that is remaining is a partial garden with only patches of true colors that resemble fresh life. The rest are winter squash plants that are dyeing back, tomatoes with hardly any leaves left on them, potato plants that are completely died back and empty strips of black plastic where our celery and cucumbers used to live. The greater part of the beautiful, scenic garden is returning to the earth.

The balance that a farmer feels is not a daily balance, I am learning. We have a seasonal balance. We have a surge of long hours, heavy work load and more to do than can be done during the peak season. Then, we have the wane into the “off season” when the days are so short, there is barely time to get anything done during the day and our focus and concerns are marketing and keeping the wood stove burning hot. It has taken me a long time to realize this, believe it or not. While the rest of the world around me was protesting and lobbying for a daily balance, routine and equal distribution of work, play and sleep hours every day of the year. I had to re-learn a new kind of balance that is truly seasonal. For obvious reasons, I love this seasonal balance the most when it favors sleep and play.

Sooo, What's in the Box????

Beets-  These beets came from a new bed of beets and the greens still look delicious and young.  Be sure to use these beet greens!  Check out our recipe below!  Some of the bunches also have either a golden beet or a chioggia beet included in the bunch.  The golden and chioggio beets are fun because you can incorporate them into a dish without staining everything pink!

 

chioggia
The inside of a Chioggia (pink) beet, a heritage variety.
Garlic-  A bulb of german white garlic.  Garlic stores best in a cool, dark and dry area.  But I don't think you'll need storage tips, it probably won't last long in your kitchen.

 

Red Onions-  To shave into your fresh leaf salads again!

Tomatoes- Tomato production was still strong this week.  We definatly noticed that production is waning now.  Next week expect a much smaller bag of tomatoes.  Have you had your fill of tomatoes just yet?  We still have another week or two of smaller givings.  It's getting chilly fast!!!

Romaine, Red Leaf and Buttercrunch Lettuce-  The return of the lettuce.  A lot of it has come on sooner than we expected.  That seems to be the theme this year.  But the good news is, no woodchucks are muching on these beds (knock on wood)!

Green Curly or Red Curly Kale- More fall greens.  Check out our great braised kale and beet greens recipe below!

Peppers- More bell peppers.  Not as great of a pepper year this year than the last couple years.  It's a surprise too with all the warm weather.

Eggplant or Cherry Tomatoes- Not as many eggplants this year either than in previous years.  Cherry tomatoes are on their way out!!!

Green Beans-  A mix of green, yellow and purple beans.  The beans are a little dirty this week because of all the rain.  We cannot wash the beans either because they will deteriorate so quickly when they are wet.  We figured you could wash them before you eat them.  My mother always told me that little dirt wouldn't hurt me, and boy was she right!

Next Week:  lettuce, tomatoes, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, kohlrabi, acorn winter squash, bell and hot peppers

Recipes

Toasted Garlic Green Beans

Braised and Blended Kale and Beet Greens

September First

And the leaves on the trees here at the farm are showing the first signs of changing colors. I watch for this with hopeful anticipation each year. I love the decompression that the farm starts to feel as the seasons slowly turn. The heavy demands of weeding, harvesting and planting all at once give way mostly harvesting, a small amount of weeding and the planting is all done for the season, save for our garlic which won’t get planted until Early November.

AdrianneTomatoes
Adrianne, one of our worker shares, harvesting tomatoes

 

A larger tomato harvest than we expected this week! And we spent many hours picking green beans on our bums and knees. A variety of helpers came and we had several different people pitching in with the green bean harvesting this week because, as you may know, green beans are a very time consuming harvest! It leaves time for plenty of chatting about off-the-wall subjects like other life forms, re-incarnation and memories from our childhoods. You would be amazed what kinds of things we start talking about when we’re out there from hour-to-hour doing the same thing. We get to know our worker shares quit e well and have developed close friendships with many of them.

The cooler weather that is expected will offer a pleasant relief from the 90 degree temperatures that have been testing our endurance. The dry weather has also offered some relief. I sense that the plants are also thankful for the monsoon season to be ending. Although, by the time the rains arrived on Tuesday night, we were actually in need of some moisture. Our fall plantings of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi and radish were in need of a drink of water. We have some lettuce plants out there that also looked like some rain would do them good.

This week we had some baby chickens hatch out after some ‘broody’ hens sat on a couple piles of eggs for a 21-day marathon of not moving from their eggs except to consume a small amount of food and water. Adam is in charge of the laying hens and these 10 baby chicks that just hatched out are an exciting new arrival for the farm. We’ll need to raise them for at least 2 months before we know if they are male or female chicks. The females will be new egg layers on the farm and the males will become gifts to anyone looking for a rooster…or dinner, one or the other.

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Red Norland or Youkon Gold Poatoes-  Just un-earthed a couple days ago.  We do not wash our potatoes because they store better with the dirt on them, they're difficult to clean, and it can damage the tubers handling them so much.

Scarlet Nantes Carrots-  Beautiful, firm orange carrots.  These carrots looks so much better than the last bed we dug.

Green Cabbage-  The last of the cabbage until our fall successions begin to come on.

 

Green, Yellow and Purple Beans- A labor of Love.  Beans are quite perishable, eat them up soon!  The purple beans turn green when you cook them!

MommaJaneCherryTomatoes
Momma Jane harvesting cherry tomatoes

 

Tomatoes-  Your classic pink Brandywine, Purple and Green Cherokee Purples and the new Yellow Brandywines.  We also gave some more of the common red tomatoes and the oblong paste, roma tomatoes.  If they are not quite as ripe as you like them, leave them sit on your counter for a couple days and they will be ripe in no time.

Bell Peppers-  Green, Red and Purple Peppers.

Hot Peppers- Hungarian Hot Wax are the long, lime-green peppers.  The long, skinney and red ones are the cayennes and watch out for the short orange peppers that are the Habaneros.  The Habaneros are among the hottest of all the hot peppers.

Parsley- The parsley can be dehydrated if you don't think you can use the whole thing.  Or else, it's a nice addition to almost any meal in small doses.

Swiss Chard-  The Swiss Chard leaves this week looked absolutely stunning.  Some cooking greens to hold you over until our lettuce is ready!

Cherry Tomatoes-  The Sun-Gold Cherry tomatoes are the small, orange ones.  There may have been some of the larger, red cherry tomatoes in there as well.

Recipes

 

August Twenty-Fifth

 

julieintomatoes
Julie harvesting Tomatoes in the warm, sunny afternoon towards the end of our summer days!

 

heirloomtoms

 

jillonionsgrhouse
Jillian cleaning onions in the greenhouse for this week's CSA deliveries.

 

 

 

 

truckfullatomatoes

A "truck load" of beautiful, colorful heirloom tomatoes!

 

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Melons!-  Most of our members received a ripe muskmelon this week.  But we also delivered some red watermelons this week too.  Eat up your melons soon, they're ripe!

Detroit Dark Red Beets-  We're cutting the tops off these beets now because the greens aren't the best of shape.  We have another bed of young beets coming on with nicer tops for next time.  Beets will store for months in a plastic bag in your fridge with the tops cut off.

Red Onions- A red onion for your salsa!

Sweet Corn-  Like I said, we don't specialize in growing sweet corn or anything, but it's still good corn!  We didn't have a big problem with the corn worms this year, so we're doing good!  Most the ears are on the smaller side, but the corn is very sweet.  Eat this corn as soon as your are able.  Corn does not store well and it looses its sweetness every hour that goes by after it being picked as the sugars turn to starch.

Cucumbers-This may have been the last week to receive cucumbers.  They're almost completely gone now.  Enjoy them while they last!

Cherry Tomatoes- Orange Sun-gold cherry tomatoes, Red Cherry Tomatoes or an eggplant this week.  We're trying to mix it up, those who get the eggplants and those who get the cherry tomatoes.  It can be hard to do the mixing up, but we're trying.

Bell Peppers-  There are plenty of peppers now!  Some folks receive a red pepper for as long as we had them and then we started giving green peppers.

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers and a Cayenne Peppers- Hot peppers for your salsa!  The long and skinney red one is the cayenne, the Hungarian Hot wax is also called a 'bananna pepper' or a lime-green long pepper.  The Jalapenos are the short and squat dark green peppers.  All three of these peppers have the potential to be very hot, however the Hungarian Hot Wax are not a very hot pepper.

Green Beans- More green beans this week than last week.  We're expecting at least one more strong week of beans, maybe two!  There were also some yellow and maybe some purple beans mixed in as well.

Garlic-  A medium garlic for your salsa.  To be stored in a dry, dark and cooled place.

Tomatoes-  We pick our tomatoes "with a blush", or anything that's even starting to turn pink in any way.  They ripen rapidly after this.  Tomatoes produce a gas called ethelene which makes them ripen.  If you have a couple tomatoes that are slightly under-ripe, leave them on your counter top until they have turned completely ripe, I promise it won't take long.

Cilantro-  For making salsa!

A very simple Fresh Salsa Recipe

 

onionsdrying
Onions drying on the tables in our greenhouse and some onions that have been cleaned in the bin below.

 

August Eighteenth

It’s mid August and the tomatoes are here in full force, right on schedule! I have so missed their juicy, ripe flavor. There are few vegetables that I long for in the off season as much as I long for tomatoes. I have a love for them that I cannot compare to many other vegetables. Their highly perishable nature only adds to the esteem.

Heirloom tomatoes, in particular, deserve an introduction. Heirloom plants are usually open-pollinated plants. Heirlooms are cultivars that were commonly grown during earlier periods in human history. By open pollinated, I mean plants that were allowed to be freely pollinated by bees, birds or wind and their seeds were saved from the female parent plant that may have had slightly different characteristics from the plant we are eating from now because the male parent plant is usually unknown. Conversely, a hybrid plant comes from controlled pollination where the female and male parent plans are known and are deliberately bred so that the seeds they produce contain desirable characteristics from each parent plant, such as the right shape from one plant and the right color from the other, for example.

(Yawn) – Us nerdy farmers get into this sort of thing.

Open pollinated or heirloom cultivars preserve genetic diversity (this is what is cool about them). Since they are open pollinated, from year to year they are naturally bred to ‘evolve’ so to say, with the times, the farm’s soil conditions, and other fancy things like the ability to resist blights. Who knows what kinds of things these mysterious plants are adapting to from year to year. Heirloom plants are usually continuously bred by seed savers because of their hardy nature and the superior flavor, color, shape and textures that the fruits themselves possess.

Oh, and one other thing about heirlooms, they usually look really funky. I’m a funky sort of a gal, so I dig funky vegetables. They are usually in-consistent in their shapes and their colors sometimes vary, you can see how this would annoy your average grocery store produce buyer who wants all the tomatoes on their shelves to look the exact same. Heirloom vegetables have a superior flavor as they are bred primarily for flavor and their genetic adaptability. Enjoy your Heirloom Cherokee Purple and Brandywine tomatoes. We are also sending you some heirloom San Marzano Romas (paste tomatoes for sauce). Salsa anyone?

Sooo, What's in the box???

Red Norland Potatoes-  You woudn't believe this, be we actually dug all of the potatoes this week with a pitch fork!!!  The ground was too wet for us to pull our digger through and the machine kept getting clogged and the tractor tires were spinning.  Arrgh!  But we know that potatoes are a must-send item, so alas, potatoes in the bag with dirt and all!  We don't actually wash our potatoes because it's too much extra work and the potatoes actually keep their firmness and will store better with the dirt on. 

Purple or Green Cabbage-  We tried to give everyone a purple cabbage, but when we came up short we supplemented with some green cabbages.

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!

Carrots-  These carrots were dieing back really fast from all that moisture.  They weren't quite as mature as we had hoped, but it was an urgent harvest.  I'm willing to bet they won't last long in your fridge.  

Basil Leaf-  For everyone that didn't make it to the pesto party, we're sending the pesto to you!  Remember that basil does not like to be put in the refrigerator or it will turn black.  These Basil stems can be trimmed and stood upright in a glass of water.  Basil will keep best like fresh cut flowers.

Lacinato Kale or Redbore Kale- Dark green lacinato kale leaves are a little holy this week from all the heavy insect pressure during the heat.  The insect pressure usually goes way down when the nights get cooler and they all slow down on their munching.  Just hold onto the stem and strip the leaves off when you're ready to cook with them.

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes or Eggplant- We tried to give those who got an eggplant last week cherry tomatoes this week and vise versa.  The eggplants are taking a bit longer to flower this year.  We're expecting more fruits in a couple weeks.  We'll continue giving eggplants as long as we have them.  I trust that it won't be long before everyone has had plenty of eggplant;)  Sungold Cherry Tomatoes are ripe when they are bright orange.  Some of the large cherry tomatoes are red.

Heirloom Tomatoes, Roma Paste Tomatoes, Regular Slicing Tomatoes- 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!  Some of the San Marzano paste tomatoes look like hot peppers.  Note the difference between a paste tomato (for making salsa and sauce and they contain less juice) and slicing tomatoes (juicy tomatoes for sandwiches, eating raw and whatever else you want them for (I'm putting them on everything I eat).

Recipes:

Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil

Sesame Kale Salad

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Hummus