Farm Newsletter October 17, 2016
Farm News Crop Forecast
U-Pick Recipes Nuts and Bolts
Sign up here for your 2017 share of the harvest! Sign up by this Friday to save your spot.
Sign up in the barn for the November Storage Share — tell your friends too, we have plenty of space.
Final share pickups of 2016 are this week — October 17, 19 and 21.
You will get a double share this week, and Lettuce, Spinach and Kale are open for U-pick.
Please see the U-pick notes for specific and important details about picking those crops.
Change! Leaves are bright and lively, and brown and dead, and it’s still been warm and sunny so many days. We’re soaking it in while it’s here, as all it can do is change.
With the weeks going by and bringing us closer to the alternating harshness and coziness of winter, the farm has gotten flatter, more two-dimensional. It gets three-dimensional (with taller and ever-growing plants) by June and is jaw-dropping by July, and by September they start dropping and October all that’s left is a few short crops such as carrots, beets and spinach. We’ve said goodbye to the inspiring height of sunflowers, tomatoes and even the waist-high peppers, zinnias and most of the broccoli and cauliflower. The fall flattening of the fields is sad, calming, and reassuring, and exciting all at once — sad to see such yummy crops melt back into the earth with frost and/or age or disease from a challenging growing year, calming and reassuring as it reminds us we did everything we could to work with those fields to give the most and best food we could to everyone who eats from this farm. And exciting to see the cover crops sprout and grow thick, to feed the worms, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and everything else that will grow crops to feed us all again next year.
It’s funny to be so warm most days lately, and be eating veggies that are so associated with cold weather and hunkering down — sweet potatoes and winter squash especially, for us. It could be snowing now — the picture below is from 2008, before the barn was here and when we had share pickups under our market tent and in the shade of our old 1984 Ford truck and its homemade wooden box.
The warmth has made it much easier to keep the share tables stocked with variety, as it has dragged along harvests from the sick and tired plants — tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, lettuce and spinach. The dryness has helped underground crops hold off most of the decaying organisms, and hopefully we’ll be able to get the final big root harvest tucked into the root cellar in the next two weeks. We’ll empty and scrub down the cellar, wash empty bins and then start digging; and plant garlic too. We grew the garlic a great cover crop of buckwheat, oats and clover this summer, and Ben finally got compost spread and the beds plowed this weekend. Planting garlic barefoot is one of Erin’s favorite gifts of a warm fall, and it looks like she might get it.
Here’s to great bounty from the earth!
We’ve switched to a double share this week for a few reasons — but primarily because we like for the share to go until the end of October, and the last week is such an exact repeat of the week before that it makes more sense for us to get it all done at once. The most common feedback we received when we tried this last year was that people still wanted to have leafy greens longer, so to help with that we again have Lettuce , Spinach and Kale open for U-pick. We will harvest some of all all three for this week’s share, but with all the schmutzy leaves we can’t justify how long it takes to pick lots of lettuce and spinach. Please stay in designated U-pick areas for these crops — a lot of these crops are grown and still reserved for our wholesale customers, so we need them, and for food safety concerns they request that we restrict access to those areas.
We’ve decided this is the year of “it’s hard to tell what’s on the inside”. Mostly winter squash has been hard or impossible to detect rotten centers, but it’s also true for celeriac , where almost all are rotten but it’s impossible to detect the few that are not. Also some sweet potatoes have a soft spot but on every one we’ve cut open the rot is only skin-deep and easy to remove. Picking lettuce has been that way too — it can look stunningly perfect from above, even one foot away, but the rotten leaves are hiding in there and our normal clear-cutting method brings them all in. Fortunately we grow many more crops and this list doesn’t include every single one of them!
Brussels sprouts seem to have managed to survive black rot and make some ok-sized sprouts. We haven’t made it out trial some yet, but they’ve been looking decent and the frost should have transformed the flavor. Hopefully for us they’ll be on the stalk this year, we know the stalk is bulky and just going to the compost pile, but it saves us a ton of labor compared to picking them off individually. And it’s a great magic wand, sparring stick or firehose. If there’s rot in the stalk or in the sprouts we’ll probably pick them off for you; we’ll see what happens Monday.
All the sweet potatoes we’ve eaten lately have cured to full flavor, we hope you’ve been enjoying them. As usual this last week we will have both clean ones and dirty ones available for you to take. The clean ones won’t store as long, maybe 2-3 weeks on the counter, while the dirty ones can easily last twice that in a spot that’s around 60 degrees and not too dry or wet. (Do not put sweet potatoes in the fridge.) We don’t usually try to store them too long, as over the years we’ve had a hard time getting them cured just right. Just eat ’em.
Winter Squash we’re going to try to give 4 per share this week. We think we have that much of good squash, though if we don’t and you see some strange-looking ones in the bin they should be good inside, just eat them sooner (such as butternuts with orange-red swirls or one lil brown spot near the stem). We’re happy to replace any squash that you discover to be rotten inside.
Parsnips got sweeter with the harder frost last weekend. They will keep many weeks in your fridge. The skin may turn a reddish-brown but that’s no problem, it’s very superficial and doesn’t affect flavor or color when cooked. We have been having a little trouble with gray, soft bruises on the parsnips, they keep fine just cut them off when you’re chopping them up.
Leeks, Carrots, Beets and the Daikon and Watermelon Radishes continue to be amazing!
What’s for U-Pick?
Lettuce, Spinach and Kale are open this week — Please stay in designated U-pick areas. There will be strings marking off areas reserved for wholesale customers. Yields have been very very low on lettuce and spinach and we’re hoping for some re-growth. The kale is for the Mpls Schools and their farm-to-school program has food safety protocols that we follow –one is to keep people out of areas that will be harvested for them. Thank you for helping us with this!
Lettuce — is east of the driveway, in the southern half of that field. South of where the beans were. Get there by using the farm road halfway up the driveway, or the farm road at the south end of the field. Pluck and choose leaves without brown spots; Scissors may be useful. Lettuce may not be open next week, depending on weather and growth. If it’s not yielding it may just be best to get a cover crop planted in there.
Spinach — is west of the driveway, in the southern half. Get there the same as lettuce, but west of the driveway. Pluck and choose leaves without yellow spots; Scissors may be useful. Spinach may not be open next week, depending on weather and growth. If it’s not yielding it may just be best to get a cover crop planted in there.
Kale — there are 3 plantings of kale but the U- pick kale is on the ridge east of the driveway. Please do not pick the roped-off kale that’s near the raspberries or the spinach. Get to the U-pick planting by using the farm road east of the barn, or from halfway up the driveway (near the lettuce). Snap whole leaves off by the stem. This variety can be picked while it’s frozen and we should have it open until a few days before the snow flies. (What are snow flies?) We apologize it is a weedy mess but we’ll try to get in there this week.
Flowers — normally we still have at least calendula which can tolerate some freezing weather, but it got sick early on and never produced much this year. Oh well. It’s hard to say goodbye to all that color.
Plus cilantro, lemon balm, mint, parsley, oregano and thyme.
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 or one of the crew and we can loan them.
Nuts and Bolts
Sign up online for 2017 and
in the barn for the November Storage Share
As with any new technology roll out, we expect there to be confusion and possible glitches, so please don’t hesitate to ask us questions if you need anything.
Thursday, November 17, 2016 10am – 6 pm
You can sign up with one of us in the barn.
A deposit of $10, or the full amount, by Oct 21st will hold your spot.
For a price, we believe $90 is fair for all of us. See this newsletter for more details.
We still have plenty of space available, so eat well and tell your friends too!
Bulk Produce for You –This week’s selection is : Sweet potatoes for $2 / lb, Butternut Seconds for 50 cents / lb, Carrots and Beets for $1 / lb. Plus Garlic for $1 / head — available in the barn, no need to pre-order garlic.
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.
We hope you enjoy the harvest,
Erin and Ben, with Allia, Aaron Ray, Ali, Annie, Anna, Jesse, and Paul
Sweet-and-Sour Butternut Squash with Ginger and Chilies
From Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness
A 2- to 2 ¼-pound butternut squash
3 tablespoons canola oil
A 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 fresh hot green chile, chopped
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
1 ½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
Juice of ½ lemon or lime, or 2 teaspoons dried mango powder
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Peel it with a vegetable peeler or a paring knife and scrape out the seeds. Cut the two halves lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Then cut the strips crosswise into 1 ½-inch pieces.
Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the fresh chile, fenugreek, if using, cayenne, and asafetida, if using, and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
Add the squash and stir to coat with the oil. Stir in the salt and sugar. Turn the heat down to medium. Cover and cook until the squash is tender, about 25 minutes. Uncover and stir the squash every 5 minutes and check on the cooking; if the spices begin to burn, turn the heat down. If the squash doesn’t brown at all, turn the heat up slightly.
Stir in the lemon or lime juice, or dried mango powder. Mash the squash with a spoon to break up some of the pieces. Taste for salt and serve hot.
From Fire & Spice: The Cuisine of Sri Lanka by H. Balasuriya and K. Winegar
1 pound (2 cups) fresh raw beets, approximately
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 curry leaves
3 green chilies, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups coconut milk, regular milk, or light cream
Peel and wash the beets; cut them into very thin strips. Heat oil in a pan and add the curry leaves, green chilies, onion, sugar, chili powder, coriander, and vinegar. Fry for about 5 minutes or until the onions are light brown. Add the beets and salt. Stir constantly for a few minutes over low heat. Add the milk and simmer until the beets are tender. This is a grea
t side dish. Radishes, baby carrots, and regular carrots may also be cooked this way.