Small Family Farm CSA

We Dig Vegetables

 

July Thirty-First

The harvesting is getting real now.  The items that we are harvesting are heavy and solid and long awaited.  

Last week we began our garlic harvest.  The life of garlic is a surprisingly difficult one.  Kind of like a penguin- minus the migration part.  Garlic is planted in the fall just before the ground is frozen and before the long winter sets in.  We mulch the garlic beds with a thick layer of corn fodder mulch to protect the garlic cloves from the harsh winter ahead, to prevent weeds from growing in the Spring, and to hold moisture in the ground for the young plants. 

After the garlic seeds have successfully survived the winter and have grown to a stunning adolescent height, we begin to watch for garlic scapes.  When the plants send out their attempt at making seed for reproduction, we snap the scapes off and bunch them and send them to you to eat while we wait for garlic to fully bulb out and mature.  This tells the garlic plant to put more of its energy into making a larger garlic bulb, rather than sending its energy up to the scape. 

When the bottom three leaves of the garlic plant have died back we know it’s time for harvest.  Usually we like to have our garlic all harvested by the end of July, but with a little later Spring this year, we’re about a week behind.  We are able to just pull out some of the garlic plants by hand, but we also dig some of the garlic with a digging fork.  This year over half of the garlic was dug with a fork.  The harvest has a thick and nostalgic smell to me.  The musty roots still clinging tightly to the soil even once they've been pulled.  The garlic smells of a pungent, raw, fresh garlic smell combined with an earthy, underground smell.  Maybe if you smell the bottoms of the bulbs you receive this week you'll know what I mean.  

We are trying a new method of curing our garlic this year.  In the past we have always bunched and hung the garlic in the rafters of the shed, but this year are harvesting the garlic into black bins that we are stacking in the shaded greenhouse in one large block.  We have fans blowing on the garlic to ensure good air-flow around the curing and drying bulbs.  This is a new method we are trying, so we’ll see how it works for us. 

We’re having fun now with the garlic harvest.  We’ve been putting the weeding on the back burner while we prioritize harvesting.  On the very day that garlic harvest ends, the green bean harvest begins.  Green beans are another time-consuming hand harvest.  We grow green beans for you, our beloved and faithful CSA members because we know you love to eat green beans. 

Still many more hours ahead cleaning and sorting garlic.  Many more hours to be spent pulling weeds and snapping beans and cutting cabbages.  It is no wonder that all of us who work on the farm have become such good friends.  We have spent many hours sinking our hands into the ground together.  There is something very bonding about harvesting all of this food together.  

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Red Cabbage-  I know we just gave green cabbages last week, but we had these cute little red cabbages that couldn't wait any longer to be picked.  So we decided to go for it.  Hope you like cabbage...  One of our members says he likes to boil a whole head of cabbage until it's tender but not overcooked.  Then he likes to just eat it with butter and salt.  I had never heard of that before, but it sounded like a neat idea!

Carrots-  We began bunching carrots with their green tops on them, but found that the tops were snapping off too easily and our bunches were falling apart.  So we decided to give bulk carrots.  

Cucumbers and Lemon Cucumbers-  In case you were wondering what those smaller, yellow balls were that are rolling around at the bottom of your box, those are the lemon cucumbers.  They're really picking up in production now, so you'll be seeing more of them.  Cucumber and squash production in general slowed down a bit this last week with the cooler weather.  4-5 cucumbers per member.  

Zucchini, Yellow Summer Squash and Patty Pans-  Our heat-loving squash plants are slowed down on production a little more this week because of the cooler weather.  We were still able to give about 5 squash per member varying in variety.  Remember that squash and cukes love a 50-degree storage temp rather than a cold-cold refrigerator.  

Cauliflower or Broccoli- Most folks received a cauliflower.  They varied in size a bit this week-some were huge and some were a bit smaller.  We decide to pick them based on weather or not they look like they're going to bolt or if they are showing early signs of insect damage (this is why we sometimes pick them when they're smaller).  We supplemented with broccoli florets when we ran out of cauliflower.  Broccoli and cauliflower prefer very cold storage.  

Celery- Local celery has a stronger celery flavor and a bit of a tougher texture.  It just isn't quite as succulent.  It helps to know that local celery is very difficult to grow.  We are having a bit of an issue with some of the centers of some of the celery wanting to go bad-even on very large and nice heads of celery.  We're learning that this is a result of a mineral imbalance for what this particular plant needs from the soil.  We made a pasta salad this week with ours and it was excellent.  Remember to use the celery leaves for drying or for cooking to add flavor and greens.  One member told me she likes to dry it and use it as a salt substitute.  onionSnazzy looking Sweet Spanish White onions

Fresh White Onion- One very nice looking white onion for everyone.  We gave them with their tops on for the esthetics.  

Fresh or "Green" Garlic- When garlic is fully cured, the membrane around each clove is a dry and papery encasing, but when garlic is still very fresh and uncured, the membrane around each clove is still a thicker membrane that requires a bit more effort to see.  If you're not ready to use your garlic, you could hang it in a shaded but dry and cool place to 'cure'.  Garlic is fully cured in about 3 weeks.  It does not need to be refrigerated until it is fully cured, but will also keep at room temperature for a few more months.  

Jalapeno Pepper- There is one small, green hot pepper floating around at the bottom of the box.  Watch out everyone, they're spicy!  

Eggplant- we harvested three different kinds of eggplants this week.  Some are a light purple color, some are the standard "Black Beauty" variety that is round and large, and some are the long and skinny Japanese eggplants.  

Swiss Chard- Since we didn't have any lettuce to give this week, we had to give more greens for cooking.  Swiss chard is our summertime spinach substitute.  Chard holds up quite well in the heat.  Use the stems for cooking as well.  Keep your greens in a plastic bag in the fridge to preserve moisture.  

Recipes-

 I forgot to add this recipe last week when we were still giving Kohlrabi.  One worker-member contributed the following two recipes.

Spicy Kohlrabi Salad

Zucchini Relish

Another member who was at the Pot-luck just e-mailed this recipe to us for making kale chip nachos.  Something to look forward to next time we give kale (maybe next week!)

Nacho Kale Chips

Blue Moon Celery Salad 


 

 

August Twenty-First

The waning summer days have a way of sounding a bit like a ticking clock.  Almost all wild and domestic plants are in fruiting and seeding stages.  Nature knows that her time is limited.  She knows that the warm days we are enjoying now are fleeting and her chances for reproduction are now.  There is a sense of hurry or rush in the air.  We’re over the halfway point in the season and the ball rolls down hill from here. 

Now is the time of year where we scurry like the mouse.  We run around the farm gathering bushels of tomatoes, filling up bins of cabbages, bringing the onions into the greenhouse for curing, waiting for the peppers to turn red so we can fill up bins of them resembling crates of apples in the fall.  The land is full and fruitful and heavy with food. cukesCukes

If a person was not careful, she might forget to be thankful.  She might forget to pause in the field or at 5 o-clock or before her food.  In a hurry to get the kids fed, the laundry done, the lawn mowed and the e-mails responded to-we could forget.  We could forget about the farm and the food and the purpose and the community behind it all. 

There is a short distance between the farm and your home, but we’re really not that far away from one another.  We’re like your big backyard garden.  We’re your personal farmers who infuse love and purpose and strength and nutrition into your food.  We strive to grow food for people who want to know that their food is coming from a clean and peaceful and beautiful place.  And amidst the alarm clocks, the barking dogs, the street cleaners and the sirens, we search for a place of calm.

Just before your meal at night, while you are preparing this food from this place you think of as “the farm”, you’re chopping and dicing and listening to the radio.  We want you to imagine people in the fields working together and telling stories.  We work while you’re working.  Imagine us laughing and talking politics and religion all the while filling up bins of green beans or shallots.  Imagine us thinking about who is going to get the carrots that are twisted together. 

At the end of your busy day and with your tired brow lowered over your dinner table while you’re holding hands with your family, we ask you to pause and think about this amazing food that you’re eating.  We ask for a moment of grace and thanksgiving and tribute for what we have created together.  We are a community of growers and eaters who have come together under one very cool program.  I think that in the midst of the high summer tide, we deserve to sit back and give one another cheers.   

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

Green Cabbage-  Green cabbage for making your home-made sauerkraut.  See recipe Below.

Melons-  We mostly shipped the Ananis melons this week.  These are the white fleshed melons with a sweet, juicy flavor.  We like that these melons are not only flavorful, but they don't get over-ripe too quickly.  Their rinds stay a bit on the firm side even when they're fully ripe.  

Sweet Corn-  A whopping 13 ears per member this week!  This tops the most sweet corn we've ever given in one week.  The only drawback is that even though we planted our sweet corn in succesions to mature over a three week time span, they all came to maturity this year in a two week time span.  We are giving two week's worth of corn in one week here.  Remember that it is the nature of organic sweet corn to have worms in the tips of the ears.  You'll just have to cut that off.  We love organic, right?!?!

Cucumbers-  Another impressive cucumber week although we did have to hold some back because we couldn't fit them all in the box.  We're going to try to hold some in the cooler and keep them until next week.  The boxes were so full this week we literally could not fit everything in.

Summer Squash, Zucchini and Patty Pans-  Right now it feels like the summer squash and zucchini will go on forever, but I promise that they do come to an end.  Production is waning now fairly significantly.  week_12This week's bounty!

Curly Green Kale-  Pretty huge bunches of kale this week.  There was a real concern that we might not be able to fit these huge bunches in the box this week.

Jalapeno Pepper-  Small, but they pack a punch!  

Sweet Red Pepper-  We were able to pick a red pepper for everyone this week.  Some of them were turning slightly with a bit of green, but the peppers have been taking their sweet time turning colors this year.  

Tomatoes-  Finally a bit more tomatoes this week.  There were about 1.8lbs of tomatoes per member this week.  Some folks received a half pint of Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes.  Remember that we pick all tomatoes with a blush.  They will ripen on your counter at room temperature.  Do not put your unripe tomatoes in the fridge for they will not ripen in a cold environment!

Lettuce-  You may have received a red or a green head of leaf lettuce.  Lettuce is a bit difficult to come by these days in the heat, but we grew some heat tolearant and bolt-resistant varieties that are standing up alright in the heat.  New Red Firea and Tropicana.  

Dill-  Half way to the flowering stage, but dill is good in all stages.  Some members like to dehydrate dill and save what they can't use now for in the winter monthes.  

Celery-  Another nice head of celery this week.  You could also use your celery for dehydrating as well.  

Recipes

Home-made Sauerkraut

Nacho Kale Chips

Tequila Braised Corn Salsa

August Seventh

We canned peaches this week.  We bought a couple cases of organic peaches and attempted to preserve the summertime flavor of the sunny North Carolina.  Every summer when we see the locals selling peaches and cherries and blueberries along the side of the road, there is a deep, child-like desire for a sweet, fuzzy, tangy, orange peachy peach.  When we’re working so hard and it’s so hot outside, it just seems so…. Hydrating or something. 

I always feel a bit of guilt when buying non-local fruit, like I’m betraying my family.  Like I’m not satisfied with the fruits and flavors of Southwest Wiscsonsin.  Like I’m selling out by passing up our seasonal blackcaps for the big juicy peach.  But I can’t pretend to be too much of a pure locavore when I certainly love my coffee, chocolate, lemons and avocados.  But my heart lies here at home on a breezy ridgetop in Southwest Wisconsin.  I promise you, Wisconsin, I won’t sell out.

It’s time to start thinking about preserving.  There is a new home for our dehydrator now on the countertop in the kitchen.  I dusted it off and brought it up from the basement from its winter’s rest.  I promptly filled it this weekend with oregano from a small herb patch in our yard and have plans to store a year’s worth of parsley, basil, dill, mint, nettles and more.  We will can tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes when the tomato glut is here.  We will freeze peppers, spinach, broccoli, sweet corn and beans.  The possibilities are endless for preserving and we have a lot of work to do before the winter sets in. 

I’m one of those people who loves living in the north.  I love a long, harsh winter with lots of storms, snow, wind and sub-zero temperatures.  I think I love it because we work so hard in the summer time that it offers the best excuse for staying indoors and cozying up with your family and slowing down the pace.  I’m the sort of person who needs to be forced to slow down, or it just won’t happen.  Preserving food for the winter is exciting for me.  I feel like a little squirrel stuffing my nuts into Ball jars and Ziploc bags.  It makes me feel resourceful, thrifty and even like I’m preserving a heritage craft or art of some kind. 

This experience you’re getting, especially if it is your first year as a CSA member or seasonal eater, is a rich one.  It’s a lesson in what the Midwest soil will give and when (there will be a quiz at the end of the season).  It feels like a long wait for tomatoes when you’re used to being able to buy a red-ripe tomato at the store every day of the week, all year round.  But here in Wisconsin, they ripen in August.  August turns our sweet corn sweet, our peppers red/yellow/orange, and our melons ripe.  August is when you start to realize that we really do know how to grow vegetables, it’s just that most of the ones that you were waiting for didn’t come into season until now. 

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

Green Cabbage-  We had so many of these, we had to send them off to you.  I hope you're getting creative with cabbage these days!

Watermelon or Cantelope-  The watermelons are ripe when they have a nice yellow ground spot on them and won't do much ripening off the vine.  The cantelopes will ripen off the vine.  If yours needs a little more ripening, just leave it on your countertop until it your mouth is watering for it.  

Red Beets-  Some really nice sized red beets this week.  Remember that you can cook with these beautiful beet greens and use the greens like you would use swiss chard.  Large beets like these take a long time to boil, maybe 30 or 40 minutes for boiling.  You'll know they're done when you can easily slide a knife into them in the water.  

Cucumbers-  More of these wonderful cucumbers.  Keep your eyes peeled for a few of the small, yellow cukes rollling around at the bottom of your box.

Summer Squash, Zucchini and Patty Pans-  There isn't really any end in sight for these guys.  If it helps at all, the plants don't look quite as young and lush as they once did.  

Celery or Cauliflower-  A strong local, flavored celery or a cauliflower for when we ran out of celery.

Jalapeno-  Watch out for the spicy jalapeno rolling around at the bottom of the box.  

Green or Greenish-red pepper-  The pepper plants are looking really loaded up with peppers these days so we decided to start picking the peppers off of them even though they're not all turning colors just yet.  

Eggplant-  A plump eggplant for your eggplant parmesan.  Eggplants prefer 50 degree storage space, so remember that your refrigerator might cause them to get a little wilty.  Maybe your counter is the best storage space of all for a few days.  

Lacinato Kale-  Everyone's favorite variety of kale.  These leaves look fantastic this year.  Very minimal insect damage this year.  Enjoy the Zupa de Tuscano recipe below!

Lettuce-  One head of red or green leaf lettuce for all.  Lettuce keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Recipes-

Italian Kale Soup-Zuppa di Tuscano

Eggplant Parmesan

Sweet and sour cabbage with bacon

August Fourteenth

Sweet corn, melons and tomatoes oh my!  The box this week is pretty “sweet” as we like to say.  Our sweet and crunchy carrots, amazing melons and a surprising sweet corn harvest make the box interesting this week.  Many thanks to our good ol farm dog, Mugzie, for protecting the sweet corn from the raccoons each night.  We tie our favorite farm dog out by the sweet corn each night with a bowl of water, a bag of treats and little hut to keep the coons at bay.  We’ve all worked too hard to grow this sweet corn to loose it all in one night’s sleep. wk11Week 11 Bounty

Farmer Adam’s hard work is really paying off this year in the yields we’ve been seeing on crops like the melons.  It was Adam’s idea to cover our melons this Spring with row cover (like a big blanket) to keep the plants protected from the wind, hold in soil moisture and to create a ‘greenhouse’ effect over the plants to give them the added warmth they needed to get off to a good start.  Combined with regular watering the melon harvest turned out to be our best year ever.  We predict that there will be melons in the week 12 boxes as well-becoming the most times that we have ever given melons in one season. 

You may also notice the ‘humongous’ onions that we grew this year.  Farmer Adam also took a special interest in growing the biggest onions ever;)  If onions are kept weeded and watered at the crucial times they will bulb out to become very nice sized onions.  We’re making sure to get them harvested before the rain to get them into the greenhouse and cured down nicely so that they stay dry and don’t begin to rot.  Plenty more of Adam’s famous onions where these came from!

They say that a watched kettle never boils.  We’ve been watching these tomatoes like children watch TV, and it feels like the tomatoes are never going to ripen.  Okay, they will ripen, but it’s not happening fast enough for me!  We suspect that because of the cool nights (Tuesday night’s low was 46!) and the cool days that the tomatoes just aren’t getting the heat they need to turn.  The same story goes for the peppers.  We need time and warmth for these tomatoes to finally turn.  It’s going to be a great harvest once they begin! 

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Melons-  There were a medly of different kinds of melons that we shipped this week.  We picked what was ripe and needed to get out of the field.  One of the melons is an Ananas variety of melon which has a slightly more firm texture with an ivory colored flesh.  We also shipped some classic muskmelons with orange flesh and we shipped some medium to small watermelons with red flesh.  No matter which one you got, they're all pretty tasty!

Carrots-  We think that we're up for the 'Sweetest Carrot' award.  Definately tasty!

Sweet Corn-  Thanks to Mugzie, we have sweet corn this week!  About 8 ears per member this week with another large harvest coming up for next week's box.  Sweet corn loses it's sweetness every moment that it is off the corn stalk.  Use it up quickly to taste the sweetest it can be.  Also, a very unfortunate fact about growing organic sweet corn is that it is usually quite buggy.  There are very few pest control methods for keeping the worms out of the tips of the corn.  You'll just have to snap or cut off the tips of each ear where the worms are.  The only effective organic pest control method to control these worms is to walk down the sweet corn rows when the corn silks are still very young and tender and inject a little corn oil into each ear so the bug that lays it's eggs in the silks can't get into the ears.  Very simply put, we do not have time for this control method.

Green Beans-  A whopping 1.85lbs per member this week!  Holy cow!  Many hands made light work.  We've been eating green beans like they're going out of style.  

Cilantro-  The fresh flavor of cilantro is back.  We tried to time it so that it would come on right about tomato time, but the timing was a bit off.  We're hoping to have cilantro again next week, so keep your fingers crossed for a bigger tomato harvest next week!mugzieMugzie-the one who protects our sweet corn at night! Thanks Muggs!

Collards-  More cooking greens to add to your soups.  

Lettuce-  A tender head of green or red leaf lettuce.  Taco salads?  Lettuce keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Eggplant-  It rained eggplant on our farm this week.  We don't quite know what we're going to do with it all.  You may have recieved one or two eggplants this week!  Eggplant keeps best outside of the fridge at about 50 degrees or on your counter.

Celery-  Yes, the celery keeps on coming!  This celery is wonderful in soups.  Some of the hardy folks around these parts are blanching and freezing it or chopping it up and dehydrating it.  The greens are great in soups as well.  

Jalapeno Pepper-  Careful of the heat!  There were some red cayenne peppers in the box that are a long and skinney red pepper.  

Garlic-  Garlic keeps best in a cool, dark and dry area.  

White Onions-  One nice onion for your everyday cooking.  Onion will also keep just fine in dry storage on your counter or in the pantry for about a month.

Bell Pepper, Tomato, or Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes-  Yes, there were some tomatoes this week.  Some of the tomatoes will ripen yellow, some will ripen red or orange.  The un-ripe tomatoes will ripen outside referigeration.  Keep your unripe tomatoes on your counter-top and they will ripen within a few days.  They will not ripen in the referigerator.  The Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes ripen the color orange.  We pick tomatoes with any kind of "blush".  As long as a tomato begins blushing or ripening even just a little bit, they will ripen off the vine with a very nice flavor.  If we waited until they were fully ripe, they would be too soft to ship to you and would split open in the box.  You may have also received a green or red bell pepper.  

Recipes-

Fresh Green Beans Recipe 

Chilled Smoky Eggplant with Yogurt and Cilantro

Ratatouille