Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In the Share: Week 8

CRISP LETTUCE F/P  It took major "babying" of these summer crispheads under their shade cloth, but they managed to get to a respectable size despite the blazing heat.

ROMAINE LETTUCE F  Meanwhile these little romaines were out in full sun and somehow managed to make nice little romaine hearts.

SUMMER SQUASH F/P  Finally the squash has begun to produce, especially the yellow squash.  There are smaller amounts of zucchini so far.

NEW POTATOES F  I am eating maybe the best potato salad I've ever had thanks to farmer Tom. See his post for the recipe.

WALLA WALLA ONIONS F  These yummies are in the potato salad too.

CHARD OR GAILAN P  These plants have a thick layer of mulch around them and are happily giving us their green goodness into the heat of the summer.

KOHLRABI P  It's the partial shares turn to have fun with the alien vegetables.  Peel it well and eat it raw, it's so easy.

GARLIC F/P  More hardheck, drier this time but not completely cured.

HERB CHOICE F/P  Basil, summer savory or cutting celery.

TOMATOES AND CUCUMBERS ??  We have small amounts of both and we plan to share them with you however we can.  It'll be a suprise.

NEXT WEEK:  Squash, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, carrots, beets.

We have really lucked out on the weather this year.  It has been at times uncomfortably hot, but more importantly the rain and sunshine has been just right.  Today we were surprised by a mid-morning shower that dropped a nice 1.7 inches of rain.  After a week of dry weather, it was just perfect for keeping the crops happy.

The dry spells in between the rain showers are key to the farm staying on schedule.  During the last dry spell we planted another round of summer squash, cucumbers and beans.  These crops only produce for a while and need to be succession planted so that we can enjoy their tasty fruits all summer long.

On the left are the newly seeded rows, on the right the squash we are picking currently plus a row of mulched okra.  The row cover is protecting the pickling cucumbers from the dreaded cucumber beetles.

One of the big tasks right now is harvesting the garlic.  Once they start to die back in the fields, they need to be pulled while they still have plenty of green leaves.  The leaves extend to the heads where they form the layers that protect the cloves and allow the garlic to keep for months.

So far all of the hardneck is out of the ground and hanging in the old tobacco-drying barn to cure.  We are now working on the softneck varieties.  We love growing our garlic, which involves saving the best 20% of the heads for seed to plant later in the fall.  The hardneck variety, Musik, is a German Porcelain type that we brought with us from Peacework Organic Farm in Western New York, where Tom and I met.  I can't help feeling sentimental about our garlic that has weathered the ups and downs through the years with us.

What to Do With Your Share---Week 8

The last 3 weeks have been a scorcher and we are looking forward to the relief that started today. The exhaustion that vegetable farming brings this time of year is double-edged. You have to be careful not to strain yourself in the heat, while the end of the day weariness brings a deep sleep and rejuvenation. Along with the rest, the food we get to be surrounded by helps keep us sustained.

We will be doing a lot of digging over the next month to get the potatoes out of the ground. The season has started out good with a nice harvest of Purple Vikings. We have been eating them non-stop for the last week. Last night I steamed some to use in potato salad tonight.

Potato, onion and cutting celery ready for dressing

Simply steam 2 lb of potatoes (cut into chunks) until tender, let cool overnight and then mix with 1 medium sweet onion (cut into slivers), 2 tablespoons of chopped cutting celery, and a dressing of 2 tbsp brown mustard, 2 tbsp mayo, 2 tbsp garlic oil, salt and pepper. Summertime yum.

Summer savory and basil in the field
A new addition to the herb list this week is summer savory. This wonderfully aromatic fresh herb goes especially well with cooked potatoes or tomatoes. Similar in flavor to thyme, it is also a great dried herb, so you can hang it in your kitchen until it is crumbly enough to store in an airtight jar.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What to Do With Your Share---Week 7

I'm not sure that we have ever seen such an abrupt segue between spring and summer. With 11 days in the 90's leading up to the first day of summer, it is already mid-summer hot.

One crop for us that we can time well with the summer solstice is the Walla Walla sweet onions. They bulb up based on hours of daylight, so they are actually one of our more predicable harvests. Tonight when I cut one up I couldn't tell if my knife was extra sharp, or the onion was especially tender. If you like raw onions, these are prime.

We have harvested all the Chinese cabbage, getting it out of the heat and into our new cooler. We like it so many ways; cooked in a stir fry, chopped into a slaw, or fermented into kim chi. If you want to ferment the cabbage, or other items in your share, we suggest you go to our friends Tara Whitsitt's Fermentation on Wheels page.

Potatoes are earlier than ever this year, and we hope you can taste the freshness in these early diggings. While varieties may vary this first harvest, any will go well in a hash. We suggest the substituting them in the sweet potato cabbage hash recipe from the fall of 2012.

In the Share: Week 7

BASIL F/P  The heat has made for some nice basil bunches to celebrate the arrival of summer.

WALLA WALLA ONIONS F/P  The first week of many with these sweet onions.

NEW POTATOES F/P  The potatoes are surviving the heat only so well.  It is time to save the many nice ones before they cook in the ground!  New potatoes should be stored like other fresh roots in the refrigerator as their skins have not developed fully.

CARROTS F/P  The first of these are still young and very tender with tops.

BEETS OR TURNIPS F  Your choice of roots with no tops.

GAILAN OR CHARD F  Here's just tops.  Which reminds me of the children's story "Tops and Bottoms" where the crafty Hare tricks the lazy Bear due to his lack of knowledge about vegetable anatomy.

NAPA CABBAGE F/P  Check Tom's blog for some hints on making kimchi

NEXT WEEK:  garlic, squash, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, and perhaps tomatoes.

The soil was dry and cracked.  We were irrigating the fields, yet the plants were withering under the scorching heat and it wasn't even Summer yet.  Then, on the first day of Summer a beautiful thing happened: a thunderstorm came out of the north and soaked the fields.

By the next morning we had three inches of water in the rain gauge and the cracks were gone.  The rain couldn't have come at a better time.  We were already working on mulching the summer crops and now we can hold on to the moisture under a thick layer of hay.  The tomato patch is coming along and holds many green fruits.

Mulching is just so much fun when the temperatures reach 98 degrees and the humidity is similarly high.  Every dusty piece of dried plant matter sticks to your sweaty skin which the sweat bees are busily biting.  It is one of those dirty jobs on the farm that have an enormous benefit once you get through it.  And we are almost done, maybe one or two more sweaty afternoons.

When we have had our fill of mulching, we cool down in the shade and seed crops for the fall.  The shade structure is full of cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower so far.  The shade keeps the flats cool to provide a better temperature for the seeds to germinate.  Even seeds don't want to be out in this heat.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What to Do With Your Share---Week 6

Spring is ending early this year. The recent heat and forecast of 10 straight days in the 90's makes this year the earliest warm up we have seen. So we are glad we could get some nice cabbage out of the field and start getting you more storage type crops.

Keep the cabbage in a produce bag (preferably vented) in your crisper until you want to enjoy its crisp, sweet taste. They add a nice crunch to a salad when cut into thin strips.

The beets are another vegetable you don't have to get to right away (and stores the same as cabbage). With us though, the first picking usually deserves immediate gratification. And as we are lucky enough to have a stash of Wisconsin maple syrup, I thought they seemed like a good combo.

Chiogga and Detroit Dark Red beets

Beets with Butter and Maple Syrup

One bunch of beets
Maple syrup

  1. Cut the greens off the bunch, rinse, chop coarsely
  2. Trim any roots or scarred areas from the beet. Chop into half moons
  3. Put beets in saucepan with 1/2 inch of water, sprinkle with salt 
  4. Heat to boiling, turn down to simmer (covered) for 10 minutes
  5. Add beet greens, stir, simmer 2 minutes (add water if needed)
  6. Remove lid, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter, and 1/4 cup or more of maple syrup
  7. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes
  8. Serve hot or cold

In the Share: Week 6

FRESH GARLIC F/P  The outer skins that protect the cloves are not dried back, but the cloves are especially juicy.

ROMAINE LETTUCE F/P  The last week of Spring lettuces.  It will be a while (September) before we see them again.

RED LEAF LETTUCE F  The lettuces have handled the heat very well considering their delicate nature.  Healthy soil and good weather gave us a bounty of salad this Spring.

SUGARSNAP PEAS F/P  Ditto on the peas.  They have been great while they lasted but 100 degree temperatures are not conducive to a long pea harvest.

SNOW PEAS P  We eat these raw too, by the way.  They are much sweeter than "store-bought".

KOHLRABI F  The infamous CSA vegetable that everyone is half-fascinated by, half-intimidated with.  Peel it well, slice it and eat it raw is my recommendation.

CABBAGE F/P  The much-anticipated cabbage crop is coming in with lots of our favorite CSA-sized heads for coleslaw and kraut-making.

GAILAN OR CHARD F  Broccoli's cousin, gai lan, is holding up in the heat so far.

FRISEE ENDIVE F  A bag of fluffy leaves for your last days of salads.

HERB CHOICE F  Mint, cutting celery or fennel.

NEXT WEEK:  Carrots, summer squash, sweet onions and basil.

Summer doesn't officially start for another week, but the heat is on early and the Spring crops are making a quick exit.  This will be the last week of big lettuces, greens and peas.  Expect lighter shares next week as we make the transition to summer fruits and roots.

The farm crew has been scurrying around the fields in order to save the harvest from the heat and pack the coolers full.  Most of our remaining time has been spent walking out irrigation tape for each row of the summer crops.  With the rows all taped, it is almost literally just the flip of a switch to water the fields now.  The newly-planted sweet potatoes are starting to add leaves thanks to irrigation.

The irrigation pond is full of water and we are ready for a dry summer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

What to Do With Your Share---Week 5

Rebecca and I have been reflecting back on the state of the farm last year at this time, and current state. We decided we like this year much better. We feel good that areas which were swamped out and in such bad shape can turn around and produce the lettuce of this spring. Resiliency is one of the things that biological farming tries to build.

We have been cleaning out the fridge lately and the recipes have been written as we go. The last several nights our wok or large frying pan has been filled with vegetables and gobbled up.

As the season gets busier and busier we find a hearty meal helps refill the tank and like to mix our pasta with our veggies. One go-to meal is Mark Bittman's spaghetti with broccoli raab and galic. We don't grow raab any more, but there is broccoli in everyone's share this week. If you have any garlic greens or scapes left from past shares, this is a good dish to use them in.

Sping broccoli
Another suggestion is a nice sugar snap pea salad. Go to our June 5, 2012 blog for a couple variations on a pea salad with lime-mint vinegarette.

Fogbow over the high tunnel and cro

In the Share: Week 5

HAKUREI TURNIPS F/P  If you don't know what these are, prepared to be pleasantly suprised.  Eat them raw like an apple or slice and lightly salt for snacking.  The greens are nice too.

RED LEAF LETTUCE F/P  Depite the heat, the red leaf lettuce is going strong.

BUTTERHEAD OR ROMAINE LETTUCE F  Wednesday shares get a choice of butterheads and romaines.  By Saturday and Monday distributions, it will be all romaine.  So long, butterhead, until fall.

BROCCOLI F/P  Nice heads from the last plants to mature in the patch.  We'll bring the broccoli back in the fall too.

SUGARSNAP PEAS F/P  Oh boy, we hope some of you are coming to help us pick in the morning.  The pea fences are loaded with fruit.  To eat: pinch the top, pull off the string and pop it in your mouth!

SNOW PEAS F  More will be coming to the partials next week.  Good for raw eating or stir frying.

HERB CHOICE F/P  Cilantro, dill or parsley

BEETS W/GREENS F  The first harvest.  The greens are in nice shape too.

BOK CHOY OR CHARD P  The last of the Asian greens are coming in from the field this week.

TAT SOI OR KALE F  The chard and kale should continue in the shares through June.

NEXT WEEK:  Lettuce, greens, roots, peas, turnips and cabbage.

Wow!  What beautiful farming weather we have had this Spring!  Lots of sunshine, moderate temperatures and (dare I say it) rain just when we need it.  I feel like I am tempting fate, but those who lived through 2015 with the farm can't help but celebrate.  For those who weren't in the CSA last year (or for those who enjoy re-living miserable events!) go here to the blog from a year ago this week to get some perspective on the awesome-ness that is Spring 2016.

Mostly, the crops are enjoying the conditions as much as the farmers.  The greens have been especially nice.

turnip tops and chard looking radiant

The CSA harvesters have it good too.  We've had mostly blue sky and sunshine for the Wednesday and Saturday mornings during the farm shifts.

CSA harvesters picking chard on Saturday

One season down, another coming right behind it.  The summer crops are filling the far field and getting established in their new homes.  1200 sweet potatoes were planted yesterday.  We are starting to irrigate now with the normal (not 2015!) decrease in rain as summer approaches.  Here's hoping for as nice of a Summer as we have had a Spring!