Tuesday, June 30, 2015

In the Share - Week 8

GARLIC F/P  The first of the garlic bulbs, fresh from the field.

BEETS OR TURNIPS F/P  The share is root-heavy while we wait for our fruits to come on.

GREENS CHOICE P  Swiss chard, kale or cabbage

LETTUCE OR TOMATOES F  We will be making this horrible choice for you and will try our best to get everyone tomatoes just as fast as we can.

NEW POTATOES F/P  A mixture of types we dug from the lower part of the field where they were in danger from the soggy soil.

CARROTS F  The non-stop rain has taken many carrots to rot.  Expect less than usual until the second planting comes in August.

SUMMER SQUASH OR CUCUMBERS F  Our first planting of these crops is very soggy and we don't think we'll have much of either until the second planting kicks in maybe 2-3 weeks from now.

HERBS F/P  Genovese basil, lemon basil or summer savory

NEXT WEEK:  More squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage and onions. 

A break from the rain is a chance to harvest what survives (garlic, carrots, potatoes), tend to the growing plants (tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and cucumbers) and prepare for the plantings to come.  Luckily, today it dried out enough that Tom and I spent the afternoon on the tractors while the rest of the crew pulled weeds and dug roots.

That's me cultivating the squash and cucumber plants with the electric AC G tractor.  Tom was on "Grandpa", our International 504, pulling the spader, which is the implement we use to prepare the soil for planting.  This is the first time since early May that we have been able to spade the soil and we hope to have at least one more chance before the broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and fennel plants  growing in the greenhouse will need to be transplanted, not to mention the fall carrot, beet and turnip seeds that need to go in by the end of the month.  We do what we can and hope to keep on the sunny side...

What to Do With Your Share---Week 8

Heading into July, and it looks like early June out there in the fields. It has been a one step forward and two steps back type of year, and has become quite draining. But, living in the free world leaves us with nothing to really complain about. As the song says:

The clouds and storm will in time pass away
The sun again will shine bright and clear
So it is time to eat, and we are continuing with what we have the best of right now---potatoes. Once again this week I refer to our CSA Facebook group page for suggestions. Merri Dillinger recommends Green Beans, New Potatoes With Bacon from Food.com. Or check out his old blog post for roasted potatoes.
Our newsletters from 2003-2007 also have some nice recipes for the items in the shares and perhaps your fridge. Mashed Hakurei Turnips and Potatoes is a familiar dish with a little twist. Glazed Carrots, Onions and Beets also takes advantage of recent shares.
You may notice that these links are from our old website's newsletter archive. If you would like to use the archive, or our old Recipe page, just go to www.fairsharefarm.com/archive and you will have access to all of our old information.
Summertime is on the way

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What to Do With Your Share---Week 7

Things change quickly around here. Summer is official and the vegetable shift begins. The beginnings of the potato crop hits the shares, as do the carrots and summer squash.

The potatoes especially are looking good and tasting great right now. To get a feel for the quality of this year's crop we cooked them by themselves, with only olive oil, salt and pepper. They proved to be quite satisfying in taste and texture.

To assure crispiness and an even texture potatoes are often pre-cooked before frying/browning. To minimize cleanup I like to do both steps in the same pan.

Use a steamer and steam your potato pieces for 10 minutes. Using the lid, drain the pan and then pull out the steamer. Pour oil or fat in and cook the potatoes over medium heat until browned.

Another place to look for recipes is our closed group Facebook page. Andrea Newman has suggestions for kohlrabi, carrots, potatoes, peas and scapes.

Lastly, a hearty combination of the share's two main items, cabbage and potatoes, is colcannon. We have a recipe in our newsletter archive that was submitted by a member way back in 2005. The sidebar discusses the weather and climate ten years ago.

In the Share - Week 7

NEW POTATOES F/P  They are tender and young and should be consumed promptly.  Refrigerate to keep them longer.

SUMMER SQUASH F  Just one for each share, mostly zucchini with some Lebanese (light green) and a very few yellow squash.

LETTUCE F/P  May be it for lettuce for awhile.  It has some hail damage yet again.

GREEN RED ONIONS  F/P  They are beginning to make bulbs but still have their green tops.

CHARD OR KALE F  Our hardy greens are growing some nice leaves.
CARROTS F/P  The first carrots, small and tender with tops.  To keep them longer, remove the tops.

CABBAGE F  They got knocked around by the hailstorm, but they are still tasty.  See below for more on the Spring 2015 cabbage crop.
NEXT WEEK:  Carrots, beets, squash and garlic. 

A beautiful two days of sunshine and heat made us hope that the dreary weather was in retreat.  The rain thought differently and on Sunday we got another 3.6 inches and some more hail.

rainfall totals with the farm the star.

This dramatically wet season is taking it's toll.  A good example would be our Spring cabbage patch.  This winter we decided to grow more cabbage for our fledgling business in kraut and kimchi-making:  a thousand in addition to the several hundred that we grow every Spring for the CSA.  In April and early May they couldn't have looked better, but the last month of their life was very soggy.  Here's a psychedelic view of our "supposed to be green" cabbages.

None of these were harvestable, but on the higher ground the plants were green and we got about half of what we planted.  Lucky for us, in a way, we planted way more cabbages than we could have possibly dealt with and so despite the loss, the farm is still flush with cabbage.  I know you all are longing for the sexy vegetables of Summer, but until we get some sunshine and drier weather, cabbage it is.

 Most of our crops do not look like those scary pink cabbages, but they face serious challenges of anaerobic soil - no air equals suffocation of the plants' roots, lack of sunlight, and competition from weeds.  When it is too wet to use the tractor or even hoes to control weeds, we are left with pulling them by hand.  With all the other work to do on the farm, there just plain isn't time to get them all. 

sweet potato hills on the highest ground on the farm.

While I could grouse about the weather all day long, I must also mention that we have been cheered by the words of support and encouragement we have received from many of you. 

CSA members removing the pea fences.

Thank you for joining us on this rollercoaster of local eating.  We hope to come out the other end of the season with new strategies for adapting to extreme weather and to the changing climate.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

In the Share: Week 6

 CABBAGE F/P  Some are pock-marked from the hailstorm but otherwise perfectly edible. 

LETTUCE F/P  Lettuce season may last one week more - enjoy them while they last

FRISEE F/P  Small frisee hearts for your salads. 



BEETS OR TURNIPS F  The turnips were harvested in bulk on Saturday with the CSAs help.  No tops, just bottoms.  The beets will have both.

HERB CHOICE F  Parsley, chives or mint.

NEXT WEEK:  Green onions, lettuce, carrots, squash (hopefully!), kale or chard and potatoes.

Another week, another round of the "dodge-the-rain" game.  If anyone is keeping score out there, add another 2 inches of rain to the tally.  Thankfully farm apprentices, Semra and Megan, were willing to relinquish one of their day's off on Thursday, the one day that was just dry enough to plant.  We seeded cucumbers, summer squashes and beans and transplanted more tomatoes, herbs, melons and flowers.  At 4 pm the much anticipated box of sweet potato slips arrived via UPS and we immediately hopped on the transplanter to put them in the ground too. 

The work went slowly due to the imperfect nature of the ground that has stayed too wet to prepare properly, but we managed to get all 1200 feet of the sweets in the ground by the end of the day.  By the way, if anyone wants some slips for their garden let us know, we have some extra.

On a rare sunny day we put another coat of "Surround" on the squash plants.  They have been in the ground since early May and are slowly growing and just starting to fruit. 

The spray consists of a fine white clay that coats the leaves and is unappetizing to the dreaded cucumber beetles and squash bugs.  At this point, our problem is not that we haven't been able to plant, but that the plants that are in the field, like these squashes, are growing very slowly due to the boggy conditions and lack of sunlight.  If the rains could just taper off and we could get some sunshine, we think that the plants would wake up and start growing again.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 6

Another day, another couple inches of rain. But it is warming up finally and the nights are getting up near 70 degrees. In the field, however, the harvest looks like April---lettuce, Asian greens, hakurei turnips, endive. As they say though, it’s all good.

So this week its time to take a look back at some recipes from very early in the season. It’s always nice to hear from the members when they come out for their farm shifts, that they like a certain dish that was posted on the blog.
One such item is spinach balls, or in this week’s case either chard or kale balls. You can substitute those greens, as well as your beet tops. The recipe even calls for some frisee.

Not sure what to do with those extra hakurei turnips? I here from the members that the curried turnip recipe is a go-to dish. The trick with hakureis is to not cook them too long, as they will render a lot of liquid and get a little mushy. Cook them al dente.

If you still have that Chinese cabbage from last week try a stir-fry salad. A welcome addition to any meal.
I don't usually quote Sylvester Stallone, but last year Jody from our farm crew brought up the quote in the photo below after we lost 300 tomato plants to a May 16 freeze and immediately started replanting. He made this plaque for us over the winter and it hangs in our new barn. Once again Rocky's words ring true. Lucky for us no season is forever, and we have the CSA behind us.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

In the Share - Week 5

hail-pummeled peas

PEAS F/P  Beaten by hail and flooded, the pea harvest is pretty dismal. 

NAPA CABBAGE F/P  aka Chinese cabbage.  Let the fermenting begin!

BROCCOLI F/P  Another week of these tasty guys.

KOHLRABI F  The rain has made them especially juicy.

BEETS OR TURNIPS F/P  We will have more of both next week. 



NEXT WEEK:  Lettuce, beets or turnips, kohlrabi, and cabbage.

Last Thursday morning I decided to visit my brother Shawn and his family who live in Kearney.  It was raining so it seemed like a good time to get off of the farm and run some errands.  While I was gone we had a doozie of a hailstorm and a massive amount of rain.  For ten minutes Tom watched as the farm was pelted with balls of ice of varying sizes. 

So much rain fell in so short a period of time that I had to re-route around two impassable roadways to reach the farm.  When it finally stopped raining Friday morning 10.85 inches of rain had fallen in 48 hours.  Add that to the rain that has been non-stop for the last month and we have had 23 inches of rain in the last 30 days. 

water streaming through the barnyard

Needless to say, the plants on the farm have been affected by the soggy conditions and by the hailstorm.  The strawberry patch that was ready to fill pints for the shares this week is done for the season.  The berries looked like they had been beaten up by a small-fisted fairy.  This week's lettuces were shredded.  The kale and chard leaves were full of holes, so on Saturday the CSA workers and the farm crew stripped the plants down to the younger good leaves.  The young tomato plants lost limbs, flowers and fruit to the hail.  The peppers and eggplant were almost washed away.  We spent part of the last two afternoons covering them in a thick layer of compost and hay mulch with the hopes that they will recover. 

Please expect lighter shares for the next few weeks at least.  The spring crops are coming to an abrupt end and the summer crops are not nearly ready for harvest.  We appreciate everyone's understanding of our situation and feel so fortunate to have a community supporting us through the good and the bad weather.  There is still time to plant more summer crops which we have been doing any chance we get.  There is also the fall season still to go.  We are optimistic that we can provide a bounty of crops to you, our dear supporters.  Just let the sun shine! 

What to Do With Your Share---Week 5

As the sole witness to the storm on Thursday (Rebecca was out following detours), I can say that it is the minutes of hail that sticks with me. It was hard to watch, but onward we go.

Bruised, even through the plant's leaf cover
Fermentation on Wheels moved onward too, at least from the farm. In this modern age Tara's expertise is at your fingertips. Go to www.fermentationonwheels.com and check out her website.

With this week's share including a Chinese cabbage for all, I recommend looking over her kimchi recipe. You can substitute most any of the vegetables in your share. Don't have a carrot, use kohlrabi. The paste is a key ingredient and can be adjusted to your taste.

Some of the Chinese cabbage harvest

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What to Do With Your Share---Week 4

The end of May into June can be one of the greenest times of year, and this season it did not disappoint. Now that the water is not running across the ground anymore, and the temperatures have risen, we expect even more greenery. Or purpley as the case may be.

One such example is our Kolibri kohlrabi. This purple jacketed vegetable is more tender than any planting that I can remember. We hope you enjoy it. We also hope that as CSA members you have become experts in peeling and preparing this relative newcomer to the culinary world (it first appeared in Europe in the 1500's.)

The photos below hopefully give you a good idea of the simplest way to prep it. Cut off the top and bottom, creating a flat surface for it to rest on. Use a knife to peel the skin off from top to bottom. Once you are done trim off any spots you may have missed.

You now have a 100% edible piece of kohlrabi. Slice it up and eat it. Go here for all of our blogs where we talk about kohlrabi.

Another newbie to the shares this week are garlic scapes. They are as good as ever, and ready for chopping into a salad, a dressing, or a pesto.

In the Share - Week 4

BROCCOLI F/P  A favorite crop of mine.  It can be challenging to grow and so it is extra nice when it does as well as it is now.

LETTUCES F/P  Everyone is getting two lettuces this week:  butterheads, red leaf and romaine types.

STRAWBERRIES F/P  Even after a swarm of u-pickers descended on the patch last weekend, there are still plenty of berries.  Everyone will get a quart this week.  By next week there will be less.

KOHLRABI F  See Tom's post for some helpful hints on preparing broccoli's space-age cousin.

GARLIC SCAPES F/P  The young flower stalk of the garlic plant.  See Tom's post on this one also.

RADISHES F/P  Pink radishes from the second planting.  It may be the last of the radishes until fall.

PEAS F  The first picking of sugarsnap and snow peas, with hopefully enough for all by next week. 

BOK CHOY F  The last of the Asian greens until fall.

NEXT WEEK:  Lettuces, kale and chard, peas, kohlrabi, turnips, and strawberries. 

One benefit to living on the farm is the steady stream of fun and interesting people who visit us.  Mostly these folks are CSA members along with their children, parents, grandchildren, friends, co-workers, etc. in tow out to complete their work shifts.  With the u-pick strawberry option this past weekend we had quite the crowd. 

This past Thursday we had a visitor of a different sort, Tara with Fermentation on Wheels.  She is driving a 40 ft. bus across the country to spread knowledge about fermented foods.

The bus serves as her home and classroom with a long two-tier countertop of krauts, misos, kefirs, kombuchas, beers and meads.  Fermentation on Wheels came to the Bad Seed last weekend and was a success until her bus had mechanical problems.  Lucky for us Tara needed a place to park while some parts were replaced.

During her stay she enthusiastically joined us in our daily work and has generously shared her knowledge and precious ferments.  Tom and I have enjoyed her visit and wish her well on the rest of her journey.  Next stop:  Des Moines, Iowa.