Farm Newsletter July 9, 2018
We kept finding lightning bugs throughout June, so we started wondering, what do they eat? Turns out, like we’ve been learning about many bugs for years, the larvae are predatory and the adults are pollinators.! Huh. We always just thought they were so cool when they light up the fields at night!!
The larvae eat mostly snails and slugs, and maybe other insects, depending on which of the roughly 2,000 species we’re looking at. That’s the extent of what we know about them now, but we’re looking forward to learning more. Wondering — what a wonderful thing!
If ever there was a time to see the crops grow even faster than kids, this is it. Inches and feet have been added every time we walk by. The potential of the edible portions is becoming clearer, and, at the moment, the harvest continues to look good. We all smile and laugh and groan with delight when we see the first watermelon growing — first as a marble, then a racquet ball, and now as a softball. And it always makes us laugh and shake our heads to see the first biggest winter squash – of the 10 or so varieties we grow, it’s usually an Ambercup. They’re bright yellow and very ball-shaped right now; the biggest are softball-sized too. Melons make sense — we pick them in summer, so yes they should be sizing up — but winter squash, isn’t that really far away?!?! It always seems wild to see them sizing up now, and it reminds us how precious and short each growing season is. Really, of how precious and short each year, and each life is. We should treat each with as much tenderness and respect as the gardener treats their squash!
We’ve been building that cooler but this week the harvest will start taking more of our working hours, as we get into carrots, maybe beets, and plenty of cucumbers, broccoli and cabbage. We might even have a tomato for everyone!! It’s one of those crops, like the melons, and the blueberries next door, that are coming in early with the awesome weather we’ve had. We were joking that it snowed in mid-late April and it’s been above 80 degrees ever since. That’s an oversimplification, but the steady warmth and frequent gentle rains have gotten this year’s crops off to a great start. (By the way, what a complicated word “oversimplification” is!)
Melons, tomatoes, peppers and winter squash — some of our biggest harvests, the juicy fruits of summer and fall — are all flowering, setting fruit and sizing them up this month. Some have been flowering for a few weeks, as we’re harvesting or about to harvest some — but this is peak flower and pollination time. So we love the mild-warm temps — because the bugs and the plants do! We’re seeing lots of honeybees, bumble bees and other native bees and wasps making the rounds between the flowers. Hopefully the heat waves stay at bay so they can do their job! There are so MANY things that have to go right for any crop to make it to your plate, it’s often mind-boggling and humbling. In part because most of them we have next to nothing to do with.
We’ll continue to have greens and lettuce, kohlrabi, and kale, and we’ll be adding in chard. We’ve picked all the Head lettuce we plant; it’s just too unreliable in the summer to plant more. We’re also out of radishes, and the turnips still tasted good but are nearing the end of that life phase too. We might have a few more scallions, but mostly we have baby leeks, which are milder and flatter-leaved than scallions, and handle the heat better without continuous re-planting; like scallions you can use the whole plant.
What’s for U-Pick?
We Need U-Pick Containers!!!!
Remember to bring SCISSORS for flower picking — maybe leave a pair in your car.
We were amazed at the Flower bouquets walking by the barn last week, what a joy!
Peas – the snap peas arrived fast and might even be done in the next couple days. That’s one drawback of this variety, the harvest window being 1-2 weeks shorter than our old standby, which we can no longer get. If we saved our own seed maybe we could overcome that and have our own supply of better varieties– that’s another project though! The late planting due to the snow also made a short pea harvest more likely, as they came in a week or so further into summer.
Beans — Y’all did an excellent job picking that first fast flush of fruits, and using the flag system to make sure we got them thoroughly. That was great. There seems to be a steady supply in there and coming – yellow and purple are ready, and spotted should be coming soon too, see the white signs in the field which mark where the different colors/types are. Edamame maybe in a month.
Cilantro , Dill, Basil, PLUS Parsley, Oregano, Thyme, Sage, Anise Hyssop (great for use in tea).
HOW TO PICK BASIL : Pinch the stems above a “V” to encourage re-growth. Ask Erin for a demo if you’re unsure how to pick it.
Strawberries are done — thank you for picking through the rotten ones and the crowded plants. We’ll do our best to keep the plants smaller next year and keep the rains less frequent.
Sahara (and then Danny and Allia) found a few orange ripe cherry tomatoes when they were weeding last week! Another early harvest seems on the way in there too.
Nuts and Bolts
Bulk Produce for You — Check here each newsletter for what we have available for extra purchase.
You might know that while a lot of the produce we grow goes to you, some of what we grow is sold to wholesale accounts. Once we get going, we deliver 2-3 times a week to Just Food Co-op, St. Olaf College, Carleton College; a little to the Northfield Public Schools and a lot to 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. And a handful of other places that we’re developing relationships with, mostly for fall and winter roots, kale and cabbage. That includes a couple small distributors who work with other local school districts, institutions and restaurants.
We like to offer you the same produce beyond what you 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 : Carrots, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Summer Squash for $1 / lb. Lettuce Mix for $5 / lb.
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.
CSA Handbook for You — If you are new to the farm and didn’t get one please ask us for one. If you aren’t new to the farm but would like one, please ask. It contains info about logistics on the farm, and lots of tips for U-Picking, storing and preserving the farm’s bounty. It is also available online on our “Information for CSA Members” page (click here).
Share Pickup Hours TUESDAY and THURSDAY 1:30-6:30 pm.
You can U-Pick any time (when U-pick crops are in season.) Please note — the barn will probably be unstaffed from 6-6:30 so we can start dinner and evening time as a family — we’ll try to leave it well-stocked and all set up for easy self-service, but if there is a vegetable we’ve run out of or if you have any other question, please text Erin at the number posted in the barn and we’ll be happy to come down and help.
Change Pick-Up Day Form — Click here. Please fill out this form instead of emailing us. Thanks!
Please Drive Carefully —Children are everywhere.
On the note of children, please know where yours are at all times. ESPECIALLY All buildings (except the shareroom area of the barn) are off-limits to children. This includes the root cellar and back of the barn, the new construction near the barn (soon to be the walk-in fridge), and the new machine shed (hiding in the woods up the hill). There are sharp tools in many places, of all shapes and sizes.
We love having all of you come to the farm, it’s been so great to have you back enjoying the place! Thank you for making it such a great place to be!
Erin and Ben, with Allia, Alissa, Bisharo, Brian, Danny and Sahara
Grilled Zucchini and Leeks with Walnuts and Herbs
From Alison Roman, bonappetit.com, July 2014
1 garlic clove, finely grated
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise with some root attached
2 large zucchini (about 1 lb.), halved lengthwise
½ cup (lightly packed) fresh parsley leaves with tender stems
Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Toast walnuts in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Chop very coarsely. Toss warm walnuts with garlic, lemon juice, and 3 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Brush leeks and zucchini with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables, turning often, until tender and charred in spots, 5–8 minutes for leeks, 8–10 minutes for zucchini.
Transfer vegetables to a cutting board. Trim roots from leeks and cut leeks and zucchini into bite-size pieces. Add vegetables and parsley to bowl with walnuts and toss to combine; season vegetables with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Source: Smitten Kitchen, September 29, 2015
1 small onion, chopped small
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half
4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds broccoli or 4 cups broccoli florets and stems, chopped small
1 large carrot (about 6 ounces) or 2 slim ones, chopped tiny (1 cup)
8 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese, plus a pinch extra for garnish