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July Fifth

The dog days of summer have arrived.  They have brought with them the worst drought that we have ever experienced on our farm in the seven years that we have been running our CSA program.  Our brows are sweating and we're a little nervous about the long term affects the heat and dry weather are going to have on the crops this summer.  We have survived the first 6 years without any kind of a sophisticated irrigation system, and this week we decided that we were done hoping and waiting for rain.  We went to town and bought a pump, some pipe, some hose and some gas and went to work setting up sprinklers.  

In many ways I feel like I am the face of the farm.  I answer your e-mails, your phone calls and write the Weekly Dig Newsletter.  I also manage the daily workers and the worker share members who come to help on the farm.  It can sometimes be easy to forget to mention my husband, Adam, who keeps the unseen projects humming along quietly and smoothly.  He does all of the spraying of the organic sprays that we use on the cabbage loopers, flea beetles, thrips, squash bugs, cucumber beetles and potato bugs.  He keeps the greenhouse fires going strong in the spring when our work is focused in the greenhouse and he does all of the mechanical cultivating between the crops.  This week, he now has the full time job of managing an irrigation system.  KathyKathy, a Monday morning worker share, harvesting curly green kale!

Lucky for all of us, Adam takes an interest in projects like these that I seem to have very little interest in managing.  We make a very nice team in this way.  While I'm wrapping my head around the harvesting and packing schedule for the week and thinking about the hand-weeding projects that line up, Adam is thinking about keeping the cucumber plants from being devoured by cucumber beetles and filling the irrigation tanks.   This time of year we show affection for one another by doing chores for each other. Our dinner table talk is about the blossoms on the pepper plants, the trellising of of the tomatoes and the cultivation of the last lettuce plantings.  If you overheard our conversations with one another, you might find us quite the boring pair.  But somehow our love is strengthened in this work we do together.  

This heat, this drought and the challenges of this summer are stressful on not only us, but the plants a well.  Broccoli does not love 95 degress. Beets do not love a bone dry soil.  It is even possilbe that our lettuce plantings that are scheduled for the Week 7 and 8 boxes may not tolerate these temperatures any longer before bolting.  We have received just slightly more than an inch and a half of rain in the last six weeks.  But while the work is now hard and the days are now long, we will prevail through this season the way a marriage prevails through the years.  

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Kohlrabi-  More ground apples!  Kohlrabi is wonderful raw, while you can also enjoy it in stir fry.  It's texture is similar to a water chestnut.  Peel off the outer layer, chop it up and eat it like chips with a veggie dip.  Remember that Kohlrabi leaves are edible like kale and great for using in cooking!  It is likely that we still have another couple kohlrabi givings out there for this summer.  Will keep best in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Green Onions-  The green onions are so much fun in the kitchen.  You can eat them raw with a veggie dip or cook with them like they are onions.  The entire thing is edible from the roots all the way to the tops of the greens.  

Beets-  Most members received a yellow beet stuck in with their red beets.  The golden beets are just as delicious as the red beets, with a very similar flavor.  The yellow beets are nice because you can put them in a dish and they won't turn the whole thing pink!  The beet greens are edible the same as Swiss Chard.  Beets are in the same family as spinach and chard.  The greens on these beets are especially beautiful this year.  We experimented with planting our beets a little farther apart this year for better airflow around the plants and it turned out to be a good thing!

Dill-  This dill succession was in the flowering stage.  You can put the dill flowers in a soup for flavor, but I'm not sure they'll be so wonderful for eating themselves.  Use the dill ferns in a sour-cream veggie dip, a Borcht soup or a potato salad.  

Garlic Scapes-  Still a few more garlic scapes to share with the small family.  Use scapes in your cooking the way you would cook with garlic.  The stems are edible up to the lime green nodule.  

Peas-  Peas are a mixture of snow and snap peas.  These are the edible pod varieties, so you will cook with the entire pod.  A slightly larger pea harvest this week than last week, but still a fairly modest pea share this year.  We enjoyed peas in a fried rice dish, in stir fry and for snacking raw while harvesting;)

Summer Squash or Zucchini-  The soft summer squashes are here!  The plants look so beatiful, young and healthy and are covered in blossoms.  It's looking like it's going to be a good squash year!  Adam was out watering every squash plant (and we have a lot of them), to ensure that you are thoroughally squashed by the end of the summer!  Squash prefers storage at about 50 degrees.  Possibly your counter space is better for storing than your refrigerator because refrigerators are a bit too cool for squash.  

Broccoli or Cauliflower-  I am sooooo, sooooo, sooooooo sorry to say that broccoli and cauliflower despise 90 degree weather.  Broccoli loves to grow big and green and strong when it's about 55 degrees outside with an inch of rain a week.  Our broccoli has not seen rain in two weeks and is bolting while still very small.  I love to grow broccoli and it breaks my heart to see such small, funky looking heads coming out of the fields.  We'll still be sending broccoli the next few weeks, but we can really look forward to some nice broccoli this fall (if it's isn't 80 degrees in September).  Broccoli loves to be kept very cold for storage.  Lorass_WallLoras, a Madison CSA member and long time friend of the family came to the farm this week and built a retaining wall for us. Very nice work, Loras! And Thank You!

Curly Green Kale-  Mongo bunches of curly green kale this week.  More greens for coloring up your lives!  Kale is wonderful in that if it starts to loose some of it's vigor and crispness, you can trim the stems and soak the bunch in cool water and it will perk back up.  Remove the large stems from the leaves and cook up in a liberal amount of coconut oil, and little toasted sesame oil, a little soy sauce and a few sesame seeds.  You'll learn to LOVE kale!  This variety of Kale is also great for making kale chips!  The Kale Chips are a great way to get kids to love kale!

Lettuce X2-  More lettuce!  I hope you're having salads at every meal this week!  Lettuce keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  We wash our lettuce leaf by leaf to get all of the dirt off of it.  Once it's all washed up, it's easy to throw together a quick salad for every meal.  The lettuce is becoming a little thicker now with the heat.  Let's hope our later successions of lettuce hold out for us!

Basil-  Basil does not like refrigeration!  A 40 degree refrigerator will turn basil leaves black and leave them undesirable for eating.  You can stand the stems of the basil up in a glass of water like cut flowers and it will keep longer this way.  As a general rule though, basil does not keep well under any conditions.  It is a highly perishable plant.  You could pluck the leaves from the stems and dry them for later use, make pesto or smother a pizza with them.  We were able to give generous amounts of basil this week!


Beet Borscht

Braised and Blended Kale and Beet Greens

Kale Chips

Chef T's Basil Pesto