Small Family Farm CSA

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July First

I find it fascinating to watch plants and their life cycles. With their sensitivity to daylength, light, temperatures, fertility and moisture, it is so interesting to watch plant behavior. Plants seem to have a knowing of when the days are getting shorter and when it’s time to get busy bulbing or flowering. They know when how to look for water and nutrients when they’re in short supply. They know when to open their leaves and soak up the sun and when to go to sleep and drop their leaves.

With no teachers or parents to guide them or show them, plants simply do. They seem to pass their wisdom through their own seeds onto the next generation of plants. With a little help from a farmer and the bees they thrive or survive and use incredibly crafty methods for spreading their seeds and roots. I think it would be increasingly more interesting to be a perennial tree or plant farmer who gets to watch their plants grow and change over generations. Many of the annual cultivated vegetable varieties we grow on our farm are hybrids where people hand selected the two parent plants for propagation. Some of the varieites we grow are heirloom varieties that simply perform well under many different kinds of growing conditions and rely on the wind and the bees to help them share their legacy.

Right now on the farm the garlic and the onions are beginning to make their round bulbs and they’re doing this with signals from the length of daylight hours. No matter what time of year we had gotten our onions in (early or late), they would begin making their bulbs now. The earlier we get onions in the ground the more time they have to establish a strong root system and send out as many solar panels as they can make (leaves) with the time that they have. After the solstice, no matter how big or small the plants are, they’re engrained to begin bulbing and all future energy use goes there.

Plants and animals alike are all affected by the circadian rhythms-the engrained clock inside of us that regulates our sleep-wake cycle around the 24 hour clock. I recently learned more about Photoperiodism which is the physiological reaction to a plant or animals to the length of night. They are classified under three groups according to the photoperiods: short-day plants, long-day plants, and day-neutral plants. Onions would be a long day plant that is highly sensitive to the photoperiod. Long day plants know to flower when the length of day falls below their critical period. Short day plants will only flower or be forced into maturity when night length has increased like in late summer. They are otherwise unaffected by when they are planted (early spring or early summer). Day neutral plants like cucumbers and tomatoes only initiate flowering after a certain developmental stage, and not from the length of day (or more importantly the length of night).  

Plants and animals alike are affected by so many external and internal rhythms. There are daily rhythms, seasonal rhythms, lunar rhythms and annual rhythms. Thank goodness for these rhythms and that something bigger than me is helping to steer the ship. While I sometimes wish we had a little more control, the submission of it is what makes farming so endlessly interesting, for better or worse! I’m just excited for onions. Is there a term for that rhythm?

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Soooo....What's in the Box????

Strawberries-  More berries!  We were able to have at least a quart for everyone this week.  These berries were not picked wet, so hopefully they should keep a bit longer.  We know they won't last long reguardless in anyone's home because fresh, local, seasonal strawberries are irrsistable!

Broccoli-  The broccoli has finally started!  Broccoli loves to be kept cold and won't keep long in this heat if left out on the countertop for too long.  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  Remember that your broccoli leaves are edible!  The leaves have more nutrition and vitamin C than the actual flower!

Zucchini-  We will never love zucchini more than we love it now as it is a new and fresh item in the boxes.  The zucchini harvest should stay strong for several weeks now, so break out all of your favorite zucchini recipes and get ready!  Zucchini and summer squash keep best at 50 degrees.  The fridge is a little too cold for them to keep well and the countertop is usually a little too warm, so it's up to you where you want to keep them!  They're great added to stir fries, kebobs, spiralized into noodles or even zucchini brownies if you feel like baking!  

Kohlrabi-  More kohlrabi!  You may have received either a green or a purple kohlrabi.  The purple and green kohlrabi have the same flavor and texture on the insides.  You do need to peel kohlrabi anyways, so it really does't matter which color you received.  Kohlrabi are alse called ground apples.  Their textrue is very similar to that of an apple, but they have the flavor of a broccoli stalk resembling a little of cabbage or even turnips or radishes wihtout the spice.  The greens on kohlrabi can also be eaten like kale, don't toss those out!  

Sugar Snap Peas-  While we tried very hard to grow snap peas this spring, we had a team of chipmunks working against us at seeding time.  They were eating the seeds right out of the ground.  We did re-seed a couple times, but the chipunks set us back a bit.  Who knew chipmunks could do so much damage?  Peas are very time-consuming harvest as well, so do know that a lot of love and time went into picking these little guys.  Another favorite snack that everyone loves!  

Collards-  A classic southern cooking green.  Collards can be used in cooking much like kale.  Remove the stems, boil in broth, strain and serve with bacon.  You'll fall in love with Collards if you havn't already discovered their lovliness!  Collard leaves are also great to be used as wraps to make cabbage-rolls.  Steam the leaves until their pliable and roll up your favorite fillings.  

Green Onions-  Because life is so much better with onions and we're still waiting for onion bulbs to size up! 

Garlic Scapes-  These are actually the garlic plant's efforts at making a seed nodule.  The plant sends out these scapes in mid June and it is the garlic farmer's responsibility to snap these off so that the garlic plants invest more of thier energy into making larger bulbs under the ground rather than sending its energy up to make a big seed head.  Lucky for us all, these scapes are delicious to eat and a satisfactory supplement to garlic while we wait for garlic harvest in about a month.  They're a very rare seasonal treat.  While you can eat the entire scape, the part of the scape that is most commonly eaten is from the blunt end where it was snapped off of the plant all the way up to the little nodule.  Above the nodule the texture changes a little and it's a bit more chewy.  Garlic scapes will keep for a while, but we recommend using them up in your cooking anywhere that you woudl normally use garlic.  They have a much more mild flavor without all of the heat and intensity of actual garlic.  Enjoy!

Lettuce-  2 heads per member this week.  You may have received 1 red leaf lettuce and one romaine lettuce or two red leaf lettuce heads.  The lettuce this Spring really has been wonderful.  We had a little issue with the bottom leaves on the heads rotting out (maybe from rain, maybe the field they were in), so we had to peel them back more than we would have liked, but still really nice heads to share!  

Dill-  Hefty bunches of dill!  Dill is lovely in egg salad, with salmon, home made dill salad dressings, veggie dips, soups and so much more!  If you can't use all of this dill this week, you can un-bunch your dill and lay it out on a dehydrator tray and dry the dill.  It coudl also be dried on a sheet pan in your oven if you don't have a dehydrator.  One dried, store in a mason jar with a tight lid!  

Next Week's Best Guess:  Lettuce, kohlrabi, snap peas, strawberries?, green onions, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, garlic scapes, kale, dill

Recipes:

Southern Style Collard Greens

Fried Egg, Potato and Collard Green Hash

Vegan Collard Greens with Chickpeas, Lemon and Tomato 

Lemon Dill Salad Dressing

Zucchini Pizza Crust

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