Farm Newsletter September 28, 2015
Hopefully you’ve been able to soak up some of this September’s warmth and sunshine. The veggies sure have! They are growing well, and have been staying mostly healthy despite the rains. This sunny stretch is exciting — it’s time, a little past the time we’re used to, to get the sweet potatoes out of the ground, and the winter squash into the greenhouse. A few sunny days in a row will help us make a big dent in those projects.
It looks like we may skirt through September without a threat of fr-st. There is a chance Tuesday night — current forecast if for 37 degrees, which in our slightly low location we need to be ready for the temperature to dip down to freezing. This is our 3rd warm September in a row — wish we could count on it every year! Yields are so much higher, crops go longer, the share of what we have to offer you is more diverse and yummy — these are the types of years when you reap the bounty of sharing with us in the risks of farming. The cool summer was far better for the crops than the heat waves which stress out the plants. Though so many of the veggies won’t be affected, we’re so curious what October will bring.
It’s a few weeks away, but a few people have been asking when the last share pickups are — this year we’re trying something new: the last share pickups are the week of October 19th, and we’ll be distributing a “double share,” ie two weeks in one. You’ll get the same amount of produce, but we’ll give you the last week’s share a week early. This will save us a lot of time in redundant work — the last week, nothing has grown from the week before, and we basically do the same exact thing as the week before. Combining the two will should be more efficient for us and consolidate those repeated tasks. Our goal has always been to have the share go to the end of October — this way you get the same amount of food, and we free some time up for other farm tasks.
We have seen a few CSAs doing this in recent years, and thought this was a good year to try it out. As we add more fall crops into our fields, we’ve been getting busier in late October and early November — that is the time for us to fill up the root cellar, and harvest and wash for the November storage share. We know it will take more storage space in your fridge and kitchen counter — please let us know how it works out for you. We’ll miss seeing you that last week, but we’re hopeful that it will work well for all of us.
For now, let’s eat fall!
Even though it feels like summer still, the plants and fields are telling us it is time to start eating like it’s fall. The heavier, denser vegetables are coming –this week we’ll dive into more winter squash, and start harvesting more root veggies like celeriac, watermelon radishes and sweet potatoes (though these will need to cure 1st). Leeks too, to add their mild accent to soups, quiches and anything else.
In a couple weeks we’ll have parsnips and brussels sprouts — but these don’t taste nearly as good until we get weather in the high 20s, which seems so far off right now! Spinach, kale and carrots also cross a line into awesome sweetness in those temperatures. The warm fall is great, but one downside is that we get less of those deep cold sweet flavors! Ah, we can wait.
Winter squash is here! This week we’ll have more types that are ready to eat. Usually they are ready in mid-September, but since they’re slow in ripening this fall we had less of a choice last week that we like to give this late in September. Spaghetti squash and pie pumpkins are our personal least favorite squashes, so we’re excited to move on to more flavorful varieties. As for why they’re late — we think it has been the cool summer, but we also checked our records and found that way back at the end of May we got delayed by rain and planted them 5 days later than usual. Those 5 days are about how late they are in ripening this fall!
This week we’ll pick out the ripest and sweetest acorn and carnival squashes to mix in with the pie pumpkins, and hopefully you’ll have a choice of two per share. We’re pretty much out of spaghetti squash. Outside the barn you’ll also get to choose a pumpkin — a big carving one, or a smaller pie pumpkin. We have a good amount of delicata, too (the small striped one, a little bigger than a big cucumber) — that will probably be on the big mix-and-match table with peppers, carrots etc.
In our kitchen we roast squashes of all types, and eat them on the side of almost any main meal, or add them to pasta dishes, quesadillas (with red peppers and spinach!) — you name it and you may well find a winner by adding squash. It’s also not uncommon for one of us (usually Ben) to eat half a squash, warm out of the oven, while standing at the counter. When we need to use up any squash that’s been sitting in the fridge, we’ll often warm it in a pan on the stovetop, with a little butter and chopped sage, and if it still needs help, a lil maple syrup.
This week, and for each week in October, you’ll get to take home at least one or two squashes in your share. If it’s too much squash, remember to eat the smaller ones first and save the bigger ones, since the bigger varieties generally keep better. Squash freeze well too, once cooked— roasting gives the most flavor, but boiling cubed squash works too. If it’s still too much squash, give them away! This is a bounty of the season that you get to reap, having taken the risks of the farming season with us.
If you ever get a squash that is rotten let us know and we’ll replace it. If you get one that’s sub-par in flavor, we like to know so we keep making good sorting choices — if we can we’ll replace that too.
Sweet potatoes — We try to have some ready by now but with our tight schedule this fall and the frequent rains, we haven’t gotten any dug yet. After digging, they almost always need to cure for 1-2 weeks before they’re ready to eat. We’ll dig some or all of them this week, eat a few to see how they’re doing, and we’ll get them into the share as soon as they’re good. They are such an important part of fall to us, in our meals and to help round out the share (even though they yield so poorly up north here!) that we’re sorry to have them coming in late.
Tomatoes — The quality has gone down, as the plants are barely alive, but we should have one per share until fr-st. We know that having one per share of anything is difficult for split shares, thank you for working with that.
Peppers — If we’re lucky we get to keep picking them all October.
Remember — TO FULLY RIPEN YOUR COLORED PEPPERS — just leave them out on the counter for 1 or 2 days. Easy as that. They get a little sweeter. But touch them each day to catch them before they get soft — then eat them or put in the fridge.
We’ve never had this many cucumbers and summer squash this late in the fall before. Cukes are done, and we’ll have even less summer squash this week; and probably none next week. It will be October after all.
Broccoli harvest may continue to go up and down. The sun is helping, but we have a variety that is not doing well. Always learning, and time to try a different kind in fall.
Cauliflower is coming in now and should be good until a hard fr-st.
And all else looks good — spinach, kale, carrots, beets, eggplant, onions,cabbage, swiss chard, and lettuce and greens.
What’s for U-Pick?
Raspberry picking has been great, one of the longer, larger harvests thanks to the warm September. We’re down to the last berries on the plants, it will be slimmer pickings the next couple weeks.
Cherry tomatoes are done for this year. Tomatillos and ground cherries we’ll try to cover them both to get them through the cold nights.
Basil — Along with many other growers nationwide, we’ll be planting downy mildew resistant varieties next year, and see what happens.
Beans and flowers will keep going until frost. The rest of the herbs are pretty cold-hardy and should be around for a while.
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.
Nuts and Bolts
Remember to sign up for the November Storage Share! For details see one of the last two newsletters.
We’re handing out renewal letters again this week. If we don’t get it to you in person this week we’ll send it in the mail. Please remember to bring your deposit in by October 23rd. Thank you!
Last share Pickups are “Double Pickups” the week of October 19th. See “Farm News” above for more details. It’s a new approach this year, please let us know how well this does or doesn’t work for you. We’ll have one more newsletter before then, we’ll remind you. If you have any thoughts, questions, etc about it please let us know anytime, we want to make it work for you.
Sogn Valley Craft Fair this Saturday/Sunday October 3rd and 4th –Come be part of the beauty! It’s a great way to connect with artists and their art, on a lovely farm in Cannon Falls, including a granary-turned-ceramics studio to tour. We’ll be there on Saturday selling veggies. See http://www.sognvalleyartfair.com/ for directions and more details.
Bulk Produce for You — Check here each newsletter for what we have available for extra purchase.
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 : Green Bell Peppers for $2 / lb, Spinach for $4 / lb, Lettuce Mix for $5 / lb, Carrots, Beets and Celeriac for $1 / lb, Kale and Swiss Chard for $3.50 / lb, Garlic for $1 / head (no advance notice needed for garlic.)
Remember your reusable bags and also to sign in when you pick up your share.
Share Pickup Hours Monday, Wednesday Friday 2:00-6:00pm. You can U-Pick any time (when U-pick crops are in season.)
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!!
Erin and Ben, with Allia, Anna, Karl, Kelly, and Aaron Ray
Acorn Squash with Kale and Sausage
by Laraine Perri
- 2 medium acorn squash, halved down the middle, seeds removed
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 8 ounces hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, halved and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4 cups tightly packed torn kale
- 1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
Heat oven to 375°. Cut a thin slice off round side of each squash half to create a stable base. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; coat with cooking spray. Place squash flesh side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil; bake until golden and tender, 30 minutes. Remove from oven; flip squash and set aside. Heat broiler. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 teaspoon oil. Add sausage; cook, breaking into coarse pieces, until brown, 6 minutes; transfer to a bowl. To same skillet, add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and leek; cook until leek is soft, 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook,
30 seconds. Add kale and toss; add broth. Cover and cook until kale is tender, 5 minutes; stir in sausage. Divide kale-sausage filling among squash. In a bowl, combine walnuts, Parmesan and panko; sprinkle evenly over squash bowls and coat with cooking spray. Broil until panko is golden, 2 minutes.
Pear and Spinach Salad with Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese
by Jaymi Heimbuch
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cups baby spinach leaves
- 1-2 pears, cored and thinly sliced (Bartlett and Bosc are both great options)
- 1 oz blue cheese, crumbled
- A pinch salt and pepper to taste
- In a skillet heat the olive oil until it just begins to shimmer. Add onions and cook over a low heat stirring often until onions take on a deep golden colour and begin to caramelize, which could take 20 minutes or so. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Once you have washed the spinach, just leave the water on it and add it to the skillet. Cook until just wilted which only takes a couple of minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and a bit more olive oil if it seems too dry.
- Plate the spinach and top with sliced pears, onions and cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.