Small Family Farm CSA

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August Twelfth

Vegetables farmers do love dry weather. But when it doesn’t rain for over three weeks in the middle of summer, a vegetable farmer in Wisconsin hoping to pull off Fall crops has to get busy! We love dry weather because vegetable plants do not love to have wet leaves for very long. Wet leaves to a plant is like wet feet and hands to us. Bacteria and disease flourish in warm, wet conditions on the surface of leaves.

Vegetable plants do need moisture though, but mainly at their root zone. A small farm like ours has a couple methods for irrigating that have worked well for us with the system we have available. We are able to lay drip-line irrigation over any crops that need water and use a Honda gas engine pump to pump water to the areas of the farm with crops that need moisture. We also have a low-tech sprinkler system that will water 5-6 bed at a time that are 250 foot long. It’s a bit of a hassle to set up and move around the farm watering 5 beds a time. A typical well will pump around 10 gallons per minute. We upgraded our well a few years ago so that we can pump 20 gallons per minute into 1700 gallon storage tanks and then irrigate out of these tanks. We have had days where the well is pumping water nearly all day long as we irrigate and drain the tanks continuously moving sprinklers and drip line to the crops that need water the most. The Kale, the potatoes, the Fall Carrots, the tomatoes, the peppers and so on. One crop at a time.

While irrigating crops is a ton of work for a small farm like ours, we usually have better crops in drier years. It’s a little easier to monitor how much water a crop gets when you’re the one dumping the water and not the sky! We can also make sure that certain crops do not get too much water, we have less soil erosion and much less disease on plant leaves. I’m not saying that we love to irrigate! If one inch of rain fell from the sky every Saturday night, we would be pleased and thankful. But we simply have no control!

The girls and I are reading On the Banks of Plumb Creek out of the Little House series right now. We just finished the part of the book where a plague of grasshoppers destroyed their wheat crop followed by a long drought period. Pa then had to walk 300 miles in worn out shoes to find work to earn money so the family could survive. We were reading these chapters while also experiencing in our own lives the reality of very hot, dry weather. Laura says in the book that when it was so terribly hot that she wishes she was an Indian so she didn’t have to wear clothes. I can even relate with this. Thankfully, a plague of grasshoppers and locusts have not come and eaten everything that is green in sight including the leaves off of the trees. Our children also have shoes that fit their feet and their Pa gets to work from home.

Even when times are hard, we can put life into perspective and know that actually, we are very fortunate and blessed and privileged in many ways. So long as we have access to fossil fuels, we will continue to enjoy the life that makes almost everything easier in a way that the Wilder family could only have dreamed of.  For better or worse, we don't live a life in fear of starvation, wolves, and panthers.  We have instead traded these primal fears for mortgages, pandemics and cancer.  No matter the fears and strife we must live with we can pick up our fiddle, as Pa did, and make the best of it.  We get along and love one another as wholely as we are able.  Rain or no rain.  

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

Sweet Corn-  4-5 ears per member.  We should have 2 more weeks of sweet corn givings ahead of us averaging about 4-5 ears per box.  While we have all seen sweet corn being sold on the roadside, sweet corn really does prefer to be kept cold.  From the moment it is picked, the sugars begin turning into starches.  For best flavor of your corn and the highest sugar content, we recommend eating it up as soon as possible.  Corn does need to be kept cold for any amount of storage to slow the process of the sugars turning to starches.  

Melons-  You may have received either 2 cantelopes or 1 cantelope and 1 watermelon.  Cantelope will ripen off the vine, but we believe many of these cantelopes to be ready to cut into!  If you want to give it a little more time on the counter it will ripen a little.  Cantelope usually smell like a melon when they're ready to eat!  Watermelons do not ripen off of the vine, so cut into your watermelon whenever you're ready.  Once a melon is ripe, it should be kept cold until you're ready to eat it!  

Summer Squash or Zucchini-  Squash harvest is waning very quickly now.  We may have one more week of zucchini and summer squash before we are done picking for the season.  The plants are almost tuckered out!  

Celery-  Small bunches of celery this week.  Almost every celery head was cut open this week to remove any bad centers.  We were having a little issue with the centers of the plants rotting out.  We cut the plants apart and bunched the stalks to salvage what we could from the patch.  We may have one more giving of celery before celery seson is over.  

Onion-  One white onion per member.  

Peppers-  3 per box.  So this is a little early to be picking peppers.  Some of the Ace variety is ripening to red. Some of you may have received a red pepper.  We are seeing some kind of a disease on some of our pepper plant leaves that is causing the leaves of the plants to drop.  Because the leaves of the pepper plants are dropping, many of the young, green peppers are exposed to the sun.  The sun will scald the exposed fruits.  This week we made the difficult decision to pick any of the green peppers that were exposed to the sun and in danger of being sun-scaled.  Our goal is to only give sweet, red, yellow and orange peppers all summer/fall, but in this scenario we are forced to pick some of them green before they ripen to colors.  Our hope is that you can find a use for a few green peppers this week.  Adam is working hard to try and stop the spread of this disease we have on the pepper plants with the boilogical fungicide that we can use (copper) that is approved for certified organic growers.  More on the pepper production next week!  

Jalapeno-  1 green Jalapeno per box.  In case you haven't heard, these guys are hot!  They're the small little green pepper in your box shaped like a hot pepper!  We do recommend wearing gloves when removing the seeds and membrane.  

Tomatoes-  Just over 1 lb per member.  We pick tomatoes with a 'blush'.  This means that we pick any tomato that is showing any signs of color since tomatoes ripen so quickly off of the vine.  If your tomatoes need more ripening, we recommend letting them sit out on your counterop or windowsil.  Only put tomatoes in the refrigerator if they are fully ripe and you need to buy yourself some time before you get to using it up.  Refrigerators suck flavor out of tomatoes.  The more you can leave them to ripen on the counter, the better their flavor will be.  We grow all kinds of tomatoes in all different shapes and colors.  Some of them are heirloom tomatoes (but the herilooms ripen a little later still mostly), the oval shaped romas that are more of a paste tomato and less juicy like a slicer.  We also grow all kinds of slicers that range from yellow to red to purplish-black to orange.  You'll know if your tomato is ripe if it feels slightly soft to the touch.  Even though your tomatoes were bagged in a plastic bag, they much prefer to not be in their little plastic bags.  Remove them from their plastic bag and allow them to 'breathe' on the countertop.  

Green Bean-  .84 lbs per member.  Nothing says summer like fresh, local, green beans!  Beans are such a fun treat!  This is one harvest where we can all be thankful to our fabulous crew!  Beans are a very time-consuming harvest.  Eat them up and know that they were picked with love by a fabulous crew of people sitting in a field together sharing stories, laughing and building community.  

Green Curly Kale-  A modest bunch of green curly kale for everyone.  The kale got a little thirsty.  We did end up watering the kale just a couple days before these bunches were picked.  We're hoping that the leaves from our next harvest are a bit more tender.  I could tell that these leaves were a tiny bit tougher picked from plants in dry soil.  Kale is such a generous, hardy plant.  We gave them a little organic nutrient boost in the irrigation water to keep them producing and growing strong!  

Broccoli-  1-2 heads per member.  A few luckly people may have received 1 cauliflower instead of a broccoli.  We are having such an awesome summer for broccoli and cauliflower successions thanks to careful planning in the winter months.  

Eggplant-  1 per member, Asian or Standard.  The eggplant plants seem to be taking a little break in production.  Eggplant plants are never high yielding.  While eggplant isn't the star of the show, those who love it are loyal and faithful.  Eggplant is lovely when prepared right!  If you havn't found the time to make Eggplant Parmesan yet, I recommend you give it a go and fall in love all over again!

Beets-  3 beets per member.  We didn't have a lot of beets this summer, but we're hoping to have a few more givings this Fall.  Enjoy your beets however you fancy!  They keep best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  

Next Week's Best Guess:  Melon, Sweet Corn, red cabbage, maybe celery, carrots, green beans, broccoli, onion, tomato, peppers, jalapenos, chard or kale, flat leaf parsley, maybe squash

Recipes

Watermelon Salsa

Cantelope Melon Sorbet

Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Beet and Kale Salad (with Tahini dressing and sunflower seeds) 

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Thank you Drew Shonka for a fun photo shoot and for contributing these photos!