Small Family Farm CSA

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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.  


 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