Small Family Farm CSA

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July Twenty-Nineth

Many important harvests began on the farm this week! We started harvesting our garlic and onions this week. Some of these larger harvests need to happen in one big swoop in order to get the crop out of the ground and curing before they sit in the field too long and potentially begin to rot. As you can tell from your CSA box, we are also harvesting sweet corn and melons!

Garlic harvest is one of my favorite harvests to talk about because the story of garlic harvest goes back to when Adam and I both first met at his brother’s farm about 5 miles away from where we are now. His brother was growing garlic for seed sales and paid me in garlic for labor on his farm. I planted my first crop of garlic that fall from the same seed stock that we have today. Many of the same varieites such as the Armenian porcelain variety in this week’s box go back to the fall of 2005. But really, it goes back even farther than that if we account for Adam’s brother and all of the garlic farmers before him saving and sharing seed. There is something very empowering about saving your own seed to a crop. We do not ever need to buy garlic seed and this is one of the very few crops we can say this about.

A garlic bulb can be broken apart into cloves. Each clove is a seed. When planted in late Fall, before the ground is frozen with the blunt end down and the pointed tip up, and mulched well to protect from the harsh winter, a new garlic plant will emerge in the spring forming a whole garlic bulb to harvest the following summer. A garlic farmer saves back about 1/5 of their own harvest as seed to replant that fall.

The porcelain varieties of garlic in this week’s box are a personal favorite of mine. I love the huge cloves! Each bulb only has three to four cloves, but that means that I have to spend less time peeling garlic in the kitchen and I end up using more of it in my cooking which makes me healthy and happy! We grow 8 different different varieties of garlic. We even have a small patch of elephant garlic that we grow mostly for kicks. Some of the garlic varieties have white skin, some have purple or ‘red’ skins. They are all hardneck northern-hardy varieties.

Interestingly, after 15 years of growing garlic, we still feel like we’re learning. It performs a little differently each year. The quality of the harvest has a lot to do with the tilth of the field it was planted in, soil health, when it was planted, how harsh the winter was, when it ‘popped’ through the mulch in the spring and even when it was scaped and how much rain we got. A lot of variables go into how a harvest for a crop turns out. This year our yields are down, we think because we had a very wet period last fall when it was time to plant and we planted into very mucky, wet, cold soil. We are also questioning the type of mulch we’re using for garlic and fertility inputs.

We spent a lot of hours with the crew last week pulling garlic and getting it into our curing room which has de-humidifiers and fans running in it to get the garlic to dry down quickly and cure fast! In between pulling garlic we also harvested over half of our onions this week which are laying out to cure in the greenhouse. All of the harvesting this week pulled us away from keeping up with our weeding projects. The weeds will just have to wait until next week when we will hopefully be able to get to them!

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

Celery-  Admittedly, it's hard to compete with the celery we are all used to from the supermarkets out of California.  Cali celery is succulent and juicy.  It's crisp and white and doesn't have all of those greens on it.  Local celery is hard to grow!  We don't pump it as full of water because we are growing so many different crops that it's hard to manage irrigating the celery with everything else we have going on.  Local celery has a deeper green color with a stronger celery flavor.  We left the greens on for you to enjoy in soups, salads or however you wish to use them.  It's not quite as juicy as Cali celery and maybe not Ants-on-a-log Grade A, but it's what we could do!  It's great in soups, stir fries or diced finely into your egg salads, tuna salads or however you like to cook celery!  

Sweet Corn-  We have successfully been keeping the racoons out of the sweet corn patch.  We've lost a few ears to racoons, but it has been a small number thanks to the electric fense we have set up around the field.  This is a small first giving of corn with just 4 ears per member, but next week should be a larger harvest!  

Broccoli or Cauliflower-  Either a broccoli or a cauliflower for each member this week.  Amazingly, we're still harvesting Broccoli and Cauliflower, so we should have more for you next week as well!  Broccoli and cauliflower love to be stored very cold.  It is best eaten very fresh like this!  

Zucchini or Summer Squash-  Production in the squash patch is down a little.  I think the plants are getting a little tired out from cranking out so many hundreds of pounds of squash so far this summer!  But we still were able to give each member a couple this week!  

Red Curly Kale-  Red curly kale is very similar to the green curly only it has the purple coloring.  

Eggplant-  You may have received a Standard Eggplant or a Japanese Eggplant.  

Romaine Lettuce-  The lettuce heads are a little on the small side this week.  It is difficult to grow lettuce this time of year.  Lettuce likes to bolt in the summer heat so the fact that there is even lettuce in the box, is a real blessing!  It is natural for summer lettuce grown in the heat to have thicker leaves and even have more bitterness.  There isn't much to do about it.  We have been eating this lettuce for dinner almost every day and we haven't noticed any bitterness, so I think we got lucky on this crop!  

Cucumbers-  Around 6 cucumbers per member.  We are certainly in the peak of cucumber harvest for the season.  Production should go down after this week as the big flush from both plantings seems to be waning.  Get your favorite cucumber recipes in now!  

Onion-  One standard white onion per member!  

Garlic-  Fresh garlic!  You'll notice when you got to cut up your garlic that the membrane around each clove of garlic that is usually papery is now a thicker, fresher membrane that has not quite cured yet, so it will look different than what you're used to.  This is the Armenian variety with just three to four large cloves per bulb.  You'll love using this kind of garlic in your cooking because you'll spend a lot less time peeling tiny cloves!  It has a much crispier and juicier feel to it as well.  

Carrots-  One pound bags of extremely fresh carrots for everyone this week.  They're so fresh you won't need to peel them.  They make great snacks as well! 

Watermelon-  Yellow Doll watermelons.  We really like this variety because they are very consistent in size and have been good yielders for us.  They do have seeds and the flesh on the inside is yellow.  They are ripe, so you do not need to wait for them to ripen on the countertop or anything.  The preferred storage temperature for a watermelon is 55 drgrees.  The counter will be a little too warm and the fridge will be a little too cool, but my guess is that these won't last long at your house!  

Recipes

Baba Ganoush (Eggplant Dip) with Pomegranet Molasses (or honey if you don't have Pomegranet Molasses)

Asian Spicy Sesame Cucumber Salad

Chickpea Salad with Cumin and Celery

Cream of Celery Soup 

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