Rain, Rain, Go Away. Come Again Another Day!
This late summer has been a challenge. While I do try very hard to refrain from complaining about the weather, the work load, the stress or the condition of the crops, farmer Adam assures me that when I portray the message to you via these sweet little newsletters, I am not complaining, I am explaining. I still haven’t been able to get Adam to write a single CSA Newsletter in 11 years, so I have to channel him on occasion for newsletters such as these. We are feeling very tried.
I’m going to bore you quickly with a few statistics. The average precipitation for Vernon County, WI in one year is 34.22 inches. So far this year (and we’re only ¾ the way through the year) Vernon County has received about 28.9 inches of rain. Last month alone we received over 6 inches of rain. Just today, in a brief, quickie little storm that passed through, we received another refreshing ½ inch. I’m really not sure how this translates in a non-farmer brain, but I do feel the information is very clear and understandable to most people. This is A LOT of rain. As I write this newsletter on Monday night and I peek at the forecast for the rest of the week, there are 60-80% chances of rain for the remaining days of the week with severe weather and flood warnings on the NOAA website for our county. A gloomy outlook for a typically chipper girl.
How is all of this rain affecting the crops? Well, firstly some things are a little more dirty than what we would normally like to ship. We do not wash some crops such as peppers, edamame, green beans, potatoes and more. Some crops we believe should not be washed, some crops can not be washed because there is no way to dry them and the moisture would make them rot (such as green beans, edamame or cilantro), and some crops we simply don’t have the mechanical means or the time to wash (such as peppers and tomatoes). We are trying very hard to clean some crops such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi, winter squash, garlic and onions.
Another result of so much moisture is rot. The carrots are rotting the field like we have never seen before in the history of our farm. We have been having to dig the carrots the old fashioned way with a pitch fork rather than using a bed lifter (a simple machine attached to the back of the tractor). This takes up gobs more time than what a carrot harvest should take. The carrots are covered in muck and so is our clothing and boots when we leave the field. We are feeling quite nervous about the potato harvest this year. How will we get them dug if it never stops raining? Will we dig them with a pitch fork? Will a percentage of them be rotten? Even our broccoli harvest this week shows signs of rot. The gorgeous fall broccoli heads that are so large and usually perfect looking are ridden with black and yellow spots from rot. We are having to tolerate some of this and ship it to you, but it will affect the storage life of your broccoli and cauliflower. Use it up quick!
I promise that it is not my nature to complain. Adam assures me that I am just explaining. I want more than anything to talk about the beautiful parts of our life and this farm, but sometimes things don’t always go our way. For the first-time CSA member with our farm, we ask for your patience and forgiveness this season. It truly has been a challenging growing season, especially this last month with crazy rain every few days keeping the soil and the leaf surface on the plants moist almost all of the time, creating ideal conditions for mold and disease to grow rampant. Fingers crossed that the rain lets up for a while. We sure could use a week or so of dry weather to give things a chance to dry out. Thank you for your support through this difficult time! We’re doing everything we can to keep the CSA boxes looking full, colorful, flavorful and diversified! Cheers!
Sooo…What’s in the Box???
Acorn Squash- These are the large, blue-green squash at the bottom of your box. Cut them in half lengthwise, scoop the seeds out and lay the squash cut-side down in a 9x13 pan with about a half inch of water at the bottom of the pan. Bake them for about an hour at 350. After one hour, you will be able to scoop out all of the yellow/orange flesh.
Yellow Onions- Yellow Onions! They’re all cured down by now and we’ll continue to shell them out until then end of the season!
Jalapeno Pepper- Two of these little guys per box. Jalapenos turn red as they ‘ripen’ near the end of the growing season. You may have received a red Jalapeno. Jalapenos pack a little more heat than the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers. We recommend wearing gloves if you go to cut these up!
Sweet Bell Peppers- Three sweet peppers per member this week. You may have received red, orange and/or yellow peppers this week. A wonderful addition to your salsas, stir frys and salads! Some of the sweet peppers this week were a Carmen variety that are large, bulky peppers like a sweet bell, but come to a point at the tips.
Lunchbox Sweet Peppers- Everyone received about four little, small sweet peppers that could be mistaken for a hot pepper, but they are not hot. They usually come in red, yellow and orange colors. We grew these little guys last year for the first time and totally fell in love with them! Eat these for a snack raw, or cook with them like you would any other sweet bell pepper.
Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes- We only harvested enough for about half of the members. Some of the pints were mixed with a small, red grape tomato that ripens the color red, unlike the sungold cherry tomtoes that ripen orange.
Savoy Cabbage- Another fun cabbage for the late summer boxes. Savoy means ‘crinkled’ or ‘wavy’ leafed. These cabbages don’t keep as long as a dense, green storage cabbage. They are more tender and have more air in the heads and are nice eaten raw because they are so tender and crunchy!
Eggplant- One eggplant per member. Either a Japanese eggplant or a standard eggplant. Some of these were very small, but we did more of a clear-cut harvest on these as we figured that this was probably our final Eggplant harvest and we were able to just barely get enough to give everyone one eggplant, no matter the size.
Kohlrabi- Either a White or a purple kohlrabi this week. These are so tender and crunchy! Don’t forget that you can cook with the Kohlrabi greens like you would kale or any other cooking green!
Tomatoes- Tomatoes are on the decline. We packed about a 2 lb bag of tomatoes for everyone this week. We did our very best to keep strict quality standards this week as to not let any tomatoes with blight spots in the bags. We pick any tomato with a ‘blush’ or any shade of red, yellow or orange. We grow many different kinds of tomatoes and some are romas, some are heirlooms and some are standard slicing tomatoes. We grow many different colored tomatoes as well. Don’t wait for your tomatoes to all turn a bright red color, some of them ripen pink or yellow or orange. You will know when they are ripe if you give them a very gentle squeeze and they are soft and not firm anymore. Do not put your tomatoes in the fridge as their flavor with diminish. We recommend leaving your tomatoes on your countertop to ripen if they are slightly under ripe. Only if they are very ripe and you are in danger of loosing them should you put them in the fridge if you can’t eat them up promptly
Carrots- 1 lb of carrots per member this week. We had to dig all of these guys with a pitch fork again this week in the mud.
Red Curly Kale or Lacinato Kale- We tried to get enough red curly kale for everyone but we ran out so we harvested lacinato kale for the remainder of the shares. So beautiful and delicious!
Basil- This will be the final giving of basil for the season. The basil plants were really looking rough here at the end of the season! We gave small bunches of just a few sprigs. Hopefully this will be enough to top a couple pizzas or make one last batch of brushetta.
Broccoli or Cauliflower- Either one head of broccoli or one head of cauliflower per member this week. We had to cut and toss a fair amount of broccoli this week due to the heads rotting in the field from all of the rain. We’re still hopeful it will stop raining and things will dry out soon!
Garlic- Armenian variety. This garlic is special. We have been saving our own garlic seed for over 12 years and have had this garlic variety in the family for as long as our farm has existed. We love this variety because the cloves are so large. You only need to peel one large clove rather than peeling several tiny cloves like what you experience when you buy china garlic in the grocery store. This is a hardy, northern hardneck variety that is also quite attractive to look at. It should keep on your counter for months. If you still have it after January, stick it in the fridge for the longest shelf life.
Spinach- .33 lbs per member on spinach this week. We were excited to offer a fairly early offering of spinach this late Summer/early Fall season. We
are looking forward to having spinach again next week for everyone!
Next Weeks Best Guess:
Sweet Peppers, tomatoes, onion, kohlrabi, beets, winter squash, jalapeno pepper, lunchbox mini sweet peppers, spinach, thyme, broccoli/cauliflower, potato