Farm Newsletter July 20, 2015

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Farm Newsletter July 20, 2015

Farm News      Crop Forecast

U-Pick    Recipes    Nuts and Bolts

Greetings Friends!

What a beautiful and lush time of year!

Seeing kids enjoy the farm’s food so much, like our niece above, is one of the most satisfying and heart-warming parts of what we do.  One of our goals is to encourage healthy eating habits for everybody to help them live better lives, and carrot snacks –plus peas and strawberries and cherry tomatoes and the like — are one of the most fun ways that happens.

This week add blueberries to that healthy eating list! It is prime picking season and Little Hill Berry Farm (next door) has more berries than we’ve ever seen before.  The berries are big and the plants are loaded.  See their picking news below, and to sign up for their up-to-the minute picking updates.

The rains have been just right this year, especially with the last couple being more moderate — .25″ – 1″ total instead of that much in twenty minutes.  The wind on Friday night kept us up, but only flattened a few young carrot tops, which perked right back up.  All the other plants, even the lofty sunflowers, looked like they’d been dancing all night but managed to stay on their feet.  A tornado touched down in Watertown, and other cities and suburbs also seem to have had stronger gusts than blew through our neighborhood.

The warmth has also been super for the crops.  The fungal diseases that were starting to do some damage in lettuce, beans and basil all seem to be backing off.  Allia and her cousin Emily have been making magic wands, maybe we should request a “Back Off” wand for fungi and other pests.  The woodchucks would be next on the list.

This 80s/60s forecast with no severe weather is a veggie farmer’s dream.  Warm enough for rapid growth and fruit development, but not too hot or humid to prevent pollination.  We’re crawling out of our skin with curiosity at this point to see what the late summer/ fall harvest will look like, and the crops and weeds are growing so crazy fast, the days and weeks fly by like minutes.  But still it’s hard to remember that it was only a day or two since we last checked in on those little fruits and flowers, and to keep a sense of perspective on how fast or slow they’re growing, or how many fruits there are.  In the tomatoes and melons, the plants are the healthiest and bushiest we’ve had in many years, so it’s hard to see how many fruits are hiding in there.  Mostly it looks like a lot, meaning we should wash plenty of buckets and tell the crew to stretch their backs and shoulders.  The peppers are thriving too — we’re trying them out in a shady spot, which some research says can increase yields.  They are loaded and lovely too.  The winter squash has covered the fields with a tall green blanket of vines, and is about to burst into bloom.

We keep forgetting to tell you about yet another project on the farm — pollinator habitat is being planted in 5 places on our little farm this year.  Pollinator habitat is important for biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem for all animals to live in — but for us, pollinators are a key form of pest control and, you guessed it, pollination.  We have thousands of honeybees from Homestead Apiary on the farm (they make best honey we’ve ever had) — Corey Beulke and his team of hard-working people tend to the 24 or so hives on our place, plus many more in the area.  They do a great job and their hives thrive.  But we also need native bees, wasps and flies in the mix — for pollinating in cool weather, in times when bee health is down — and having dozens of species on our team is a huge benefit to our crops.  Also, many native pollinators are predators of insect pests on vegetables.  Every day, everywhere, bugs are eating bugs in all kinds of gruesome ways, and we need them for a balanced world.  Just like coyotes and fox keep the rabbit population down, braconid wasps and paper wasps keep the cabbage worm population down, and hoverflies and lacewings keep the aphids at bay.

These great insects need flowers all season though — lots of them, scattered throughout the landscape.  We’ve done lots of things over the years to keep flowers blooming all over the farm, but we can always do better.  Your tax dollars now support planting of pollinator habitat through the USDA-NRCS, and we are really happy to be a part of this growing practice.  As part of the program we get expert technical help from the Xerces Society — they’ve developed a plan of the best locations and flower and grass species for our farm, and are helping us get the planting done succesfully this spring and fall.  There is currently a half acre planted, west of the driveway, on the ridge between the two oak trees.  There are 4 strips of wildflowers and grasses that should get planted this fall, and two strips of flowering hedgerow shrubs next spring.

The strips of clear plastic on the farm are solarizing the soil — killing weeds and weed seeds in the top 2-3″ so when planted this fall, the native flowers and grasses have less competition, and we have less weeding to do!  The solarization strips are along the driveway, in a couple strips through the fields, down by the bees, and in the NW corner of the farm (which you’ll only see if you go blueberry picking).  Most of the plastic is used greenhouse plastic, from us and our friends at Gardens of Eagan.

So the farm and the neighborhood is only getting more beautiful.   Our friends and neighbors at Spring Wind Farm and Little Hill Berry Farm are also adding acres of native habitat.  As the number of organic farmers on 320th Street grows, so does the number of pretty flowers and great insects!

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Crop Forecast

Riding the waves of good summer food, the variety of veggies makes it easier to decide what to cook.  Staring in the fridge is more fruitful when it’s full of …. roots and fruits.

Carrots, beets, cucumbers, broccoli, squash and zucchini, napa cabbage, sweet onions, baby leeks, kale and swiss chard.

It is sweet onion time, so dig in!  These add a special sweetnees and spice to any dish, and take summer cooking to another level.  They should be kept in the fridge, and we’ll have them for 2-3 more weeks.  After that we’ll move into the more pungent storage onions.

Most other things are maturing well, but the broccoli and cucumbers we’ve been a little short on due to some setbacks in the field.  Back in May we wrecked the first planting of cucumbers by planting them out — as fragile leggy transplants from the greenhouse — unfortunately a day and a half before the temperature plummeted with 40 mph wind and 32 degree windchill!  As one friend joked, “they don’t grow too well when they’re dead.”  We got some plants from friends and replanted, and seeded some new ones too.  So really they’re growing fine, they’re just a week or two behind what they would have been had we not taken that chance with them.

Broccoli and cabbage love this weather, but we need to get rid of a couple varieties that used to produce well for us but now keep being late and making small heads.  We might be really short on them this week, but in a week or two the broccoli supply should be more than enough.  It’s frustrating for us, since they are such great additions to meals in this early summer period.

The lettuce seems to be staying healthy, avoiding lettuce downy mildew with the warm temperatures and some reactive measures on our part — discing in the older plantings with spores just starting a couple weeks ago, keeping that equipment away from new plantings, and spraying with a probiotic mix to boost the beneficial microbial community on the plants.

The other salad greens have been struggling though, so we haven’t always had enough.  Not every day, but some days we’ve been short on arugula or totsoi — the weeds got past us in these plantings, and the flea beetles chewed holes and wrecked some too.  We’ll have an okay supply, but may come up short some days the rest of the month.

If you’re slowing down on kale, try just simply steaming it in a half inch of water in a saucepan, and pour 1-2 tbsp of soy sauce or tamari over it when it’s almost done cooking.  This is common finger food at our table, and is a good way to replenish salt and kale’s hearty nutrients on hot days.

Tomato update:  tomatoes are probably three weeks from ready, and peppers and melons about a month, or a little more. There are thousands of little baby ones out there though, growing every day.

Hot off the grill — Asian eggplants will start trickling in this week!

Thank you for sharing in the mysteries and ups and downs of growing food with us!

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What’s for U-Pick?

There will be a few Sunflowers to compliment all the colors and shapes already gracing your houses.

Basil — The new plantings are looking great!  The ones we seed directly in the field seem to be much more resilient to the downy mildew than the ones started in the greenhouse. Anything can happen, but it’s looking good out there.

That said, here’s the basil warning from the last newsletter :           If you can, we recommend finding or starting a basil plant to keep at home this year. It’s not too late to start it from seed, and it can grow well in containers or in the ground. We’ve been planting plenty, but sadly a lot of it is succumbing to a new (to the U.S.), now wide-spread fungus called “basil downy mildew.” It seems to be very difficult to prevent without toxic chemicals, so our supply may be limited. It is also the same fungus that wiped out a lot of our basil last year. We are trying every trick we can, and hope we can offer you at least a modest harvest. But pesto lovers — you should have a backup crop at home.

Green Beans, plus Yellow, Purple and Purple Spotted. These are also looking healthier now, and it’s great to see you taking so many home.

Cilantro, dill, lemon balm, mint are still there to add some spice.

Sugar Snap Peas and Shelling Peas are done, they really didn’t like the heat last week.  They’re known for giving a short and sweet season, as it was.

Cherry tomatoes should be open for picking in about two weeks.  They usually start slow — maybe a handful or half pint per share for the first week — but once they get going they usually produce just a little more than you can eat.

Please always check the U-pick board when you’re here to confirm what’s available and picking amounts. Please bring your own scissors for U-pick. If you don’t have them with you, ask Erin or Ben as we have a few pairs we can loan out.

U-Pick Help: If at any point in the season you are not physically able to U-pick due to an injury or any other reason, please let us know. We have a list of generous folks that are interested in volunteering to pick your U-pick crops for you.

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Nuts and Bolts


Blueberries!

Certified organic blueberries are abundant for picking next door at Little Hill Berry Farm.  We have loaded our fridge and freezer, and we highly recommend you do too!  To freeze them just pour into a freezer bag and toss them in the freezer.  Easy as pie.  They’re awesome coming out of the freezer all year long with oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, in smoothies, baking and more. We find that local organic fruit is good food and good medicine, we hope you do too.

Click here to go to their website for more picking info and/or to sign up for picking updates (on the right sidebar).  Picking days this July are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8am- 12 noon or until picked out.  Please always check their website, Facebook page or call 507-301-7183 before you come to make sure they are open.  There should be some picking in August too.  Go blue!

Bulk Produce for You — Check here each newsletter for what we have available for extra purchase.

You might know that while most of the produce we grow goes to you, about one-third of what we grow is sold to wholesale accounts.  We deliver 2-3 times a week to Just Food Co-op, St. Olaf College, Carleton College; and during the school year, to the Northfield Public Schools and the Minneapolis Public Schools.  And to The Food Group (formerly The Emergency Foodshelf Network) in New Hope, MN — a warehouse serving food shelves around the state, and using donations to purchase fresh produce from local organic farmers to distribute to people in need.

We like to offer you the same produce beyond what you can get in your share, at or very near our wholesale prices, to use for parties, special events, serving guests, or just filling your family’s bellies each week.

To place a bulk order, simply call or email us at least 2 days ahead of the day you’d like to pick it up.  Orders can be picked up at the farm during our regular pickup hours, but it doesn’t have to be your share pickup day.

This week’s selection is : Lettuce Mix for $5 / lb, Carrots, Beets, Zucchini, Summer Squash for $1 / lb, Kale and Swiss Chard for 3.50 / lb.

Lost and Found — There are a number of items left here at the party. Serving spoons, water bottles, forks and spoons, a camp chair, and more. Check out the Lost and Found behind the sign-in table if you think you left something here.

Remember your reusable bags and also to sign in when you pick up your share. We have plastic bags for you to use and as usual will also have reusable bags for sale in the shareroom. The bags we sell are the same size as the plastic ones we supply for figuring amounts of veggies in your share. Feel free to ask one of us for details.

Sign-In Sheet When you come to pick up your share, please sign the sign-in sheet on the table inside the barn door. This helps us know how many people came each day, so we can be sure to pick more than enough for everybody.

If you split a share, please sign in on the same line as your share partner. Also there is a “share partner notes” sheet. Feel free to use this to communicate with your share partner regarding splitting details.

Share Pickup Hours Monday, Wednesday Friday 2:00-6:00pm. You can U-Pick any time (when U-pick crops are in season.)

Parking Please park on the right (east) side of the driveway. Try to pull in perpendicular to the driveway so you can turn around as you back out. Or back in, perpendicular to the driveway, so you can pull straight out.

Please Drive Carefully —Children are everywhere. On the note of children, please know where yours are at all times. ESPECIALLY Please make sure they don’t go near the wood piles near the house. They could topple and be very dangerous. AND All buildings, except the shareroom area of the barn, are off-limits to children. This includes the new building / root cellar, and the tractor “greenhouse” (though it looks like fun in there!)

We love having all of you come to the farm and hope it can be safe and fun for all! Thank you for making it such a great place to be! Thank you so much for your support!!

Your farmers,

Erin and Ben, with Allia, Karl, Kelly, Malia and Ray

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RECIPES

Korean Kimchi

from Beyond Kimchi

    • 1 head (1.5 lb or 1.5 kg) Korean Napa cabbage, sliced into 1.5-2″ (smaller at stem part)
    • 8 cups water
    • 1 1/4 cup Korean coarse sea salt
    • 1 Asian leek or onion, thinly sliced1 bunch green onion, sliced into 2″ long
Ford the quick seafood stock:
    • 5-6 dried anchovies
    • 3-4 whole shelled small shrimps
    • 2 cups water
For the Kimchi filling:
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1″ small piece of ginger, diced
  • 1/2 sweet apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup cooked white rice
  • 2/3 cup Korean chili flakes
  • 3 tablespoon Korean anchovy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon salted shrimp
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
Directions
    1. Dissolve the coarse sea salt with the water in a very large shallow mixing bowl or in the sink. Add the cabbage slices and toss to mix. Press top so the solution will sip through the cabbage.
    2. Soak the cabbage for 1 hour in the solution, toss so the top side will go down to the bottom and let it soak for another 45-60 minutes until the cabbages are well wilted.
    3. Meanwhile, make the seafood stock. Combine anchovies and shrimp in the water, bring to boil first, then simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Let it cool and strain the stock. Reserve 1 cup.
    4. Rinse the cabbage 3 times and drain very well. You might need to press the cabbages firmly to remove the extra moisture.
    5. To make filling, place onion, garlic, ginger, apple, and rice in a blender. Add the reserved stock and puree until smooth. Transfer the puree into a medium size mixing bowl and add the rest of the filling ingredients, mix well. Let it sit for 10 minutes so the chili flakes will absorb the moisture.
    6. In a large mixing bowl, combine drained cabbages, leek(or onion), and green onion. Add 2/3 of kimchi filling first and toss everything very well. You might need to add the rest of the filling if your kimchi doesn’t seem to be red enough.
    7. Taste your kimchi and adjust seasoing by adding more anchovy sauce or slat. It should taste a little saltier that you would hope for. Transfer your kimchi into the storage container.
    8. Pour 1/2 cup of water to the mixing bowl that you made kimchi in, swirl around to wash the filling and pour over to your kimchi.
    9. Serve this kimchi on the same day you made to enjoy the fresh taste or let it sit on the room temperature for 1 day to ferment, then store in the fridge and consume within the next 1-2 month.
Note:
  1. Store your kimchi in an air tight container and place 1-2 boxes of baking soda in the fridge to absorb the odor.

Cheesy Stuffed Summer Squash

from food.com

    • 6 squash
    • 1/2 lb bacon
    • 1/4 cup chopped onion
    • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
    • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • paprika
    • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Boil the squash 10 minutes until softened.
  2. When cooled enough to handle, remove the stems and cut in half lengthwise.
  3. Remove the pulp.
  4. Cook the bacon until crisp.
  5. Saute the onion in 2T bacon drippings.
  6. Add crumbled bacon, breadcrumbs and squash pulp.
  7. Fill the squash shells.
  8. Top each shell with cheese.
  9. Broil until melted.
  10. Sprinkle with paprika.
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