Farm Newsletter August 7, 2018
Summer is rolling! It has been green and lush for a couple months and hopefully now your tables are lush with red and orange and white and yellow things too!!
Knocking on a thousand walnut trees, the weather in this corner of the world continues to be about as good as we can ask for growing veggies. Our latitude and longitude has been dodging even the mild strong storms of this summer, and most of them haven’t done much damage where they have landed. We heard of one very isolated storm west and maybe south of town that hailed and blew and flattened corn fields. That stronger, isolated type of storm is what we’re told to expect with the changing weather. This year, though, they’ve been fewer and farther spaced than the 12 years we’ve been rooted here. The flooding rains of southwest MN, which seemed to just keep sliding up the MN River Valley this spring and early summer, have been the other MN weather difficulty we’ve heard of. We do hope that more farmers and landowners can focus on soaking that water into their fields and forests instead of fast-tracking so much of it into streams and rivers. We’ll need that water in the future, so while we’re not hydrologists it sure seems important that we do everything we can to recharge our aquifers. The floods there, and the fires, droughts and heat waves around the world make us wary of the weather stability we’ve been having the last few years; for all of us, who knows what the future holds. But like anyone anywhere, we’ll take what we get, and work with it in the most responsible way we can, and we’re glad to have you here enjoying the place and sharing in the beauty of a summer harvest with us.
Thanks to the folks who came and helped picked garlic with us! We had got a small start the day before, and got the rest done in a day — dug, sorted, clipped and the racks stacked safely in the shed. It smells so strong and so good in that shed!! Last week we then got all the onions into the greenhouse too, safe from any “rain.” Now we’re moving into heavier 3 times-a-week harvests of melons and tomatoes, keeping us strong and sweaty and making our meals even lovelier than they were before! It’s a good time. We hope you get to dig in, cook, eat and be merry this sunny summer!
Cantaloupes and Watermelons are loving this dry weather. They size up just fine with some water from their deep roots, and flavor is best when not watered down by weekly (or daily!) downpours. There are just a few cantaloupes this week as they’re just getting started, and also orange and yellow watermelons – we don’t grow a lot of those because they’re more fussy in a less perfect growing year, but there should be enough for folks who want to choose them. They are darn good. Especially eaten cold.
We’ll continue to have carrots, beets, green peppers, sweet onions, cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash, leeks, fennel and cabbage. We should have plenty of broccoli. We might not have any eggplant — it had plenty of flowers but they didn’t pollinate in the hottest humid weeks a few weeks ago. There was a round of early fruits and then a couple weeks’ worth of fruit is just not there; we might have a handful here and there, and maybe in a couple weeks we’ll have enough to go around again. We’re so glad the other fruits — tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucumbers, squash — were able to pollinate well!
The peppers haven’t really started turning red yet — that happens later in the month. Tomatoes are gradually starting to ramp up — we might still be at 4 this week but by next week it should be more. In a week or two we should have boxes of seconds for sale for canning, salsa etc.
We’ll continue to have greens and lettuce, and kale and chard. We should have more lettuce this week. The kale is getting eaten by flea beetles (which we could spray for but since we choose to use no pesticides, we just have tougher kale for 2-3 weeks in August.) It can be a little too bitter, so for now it is best cooked ; even though it’s not perfect we’ll keep picking it until it crosses a line of just too bitter. By September sometime the fall kale will be ready, and that’s much more tender and mild, since it didn’t go through the heat and bug stress of summer.
What’s for U-Pick?
Remember to bring SCISSORS for flower picking — maybe leave a pair in your car.
Cherry tomatoes are starting to pick up and should be more each week now.
Beans oh the Beans! They are grand this year! Edamame will be ready in a week or two.
Cilantro , Dill, Basil, PLUS Parsley, Oregano, Thyme, Sage, Anise Hyssop (great for use in tea).
The next few weeks are PESTO TIME!
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.
Nuts and Bolts
Bulk Produce for You — Check here each newsletter for what we have available for extra purchase.
This week’s selection is : Carrots, Beets, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Summer Squash for $1 / lb. Lettuce Mix for $5 / lb. Watermelons for 60 cents/lb and cantelopes (next week) for 85 cents/lb. Tomato Boxes coming in a week or two, we’ll send a separate email when it’s time.
Remember your reusable bags and also to sign in when you pick up your share.
Share Pickup Hours TUESDAY and THURSDAY 1:30-6:30 pm.
Change Pick-Up Day Form — Click here. Please fill out this form instead of emailing us. Thanks!
Please Drive Carefully —Children are everywhere.
Erin and Ben, with Allia, Alissa, Bisharo, Brian, Danny and Sahara
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
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
Summer Vegetable Lasagna With Zucchini, Squash, Eggplant, and Tomato
3/4 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), ends trimmed, thinly sliced crosswise between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick
3/4 pound summer squash (about 2 medium), ends trimmed, thinly sliced crosswise between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick
3/4 pound Japanese eggplant (about 2), ends trimmed, thinly sliced crosswise between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick
15 no-boil lasagna noodles (1 box)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk
2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 quart homemade or store-bought crushed tomatoes
3/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into rough chunks
Handful of basil leavesDirections
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat until shimmering. Working in batches and being sure not to crowd the pan, add zucchini, season with salt, and cook, turning, until just tender and browned in spots, about 4 minutes per batch. Add more oil as needed to prevent pan from drying out, and adjust heat as needed throughout to maintain a very hot, but not heavily smoking, pan. Transfer each batch to a baking sheet and spread in an even layer to cool, then transfer cooled slices to a second baking sheet or plate. Repeat with remaining zucchini, squash, and eggplant until all vegetables are lightly browned.
Place lasagna noodles in a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish and cover with hot water. Let noodles soak while you prepare the white sauce, agitating them every few minutes to prevent sticking, about 20 minutes total.
Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add flour and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring butter and flour with a whisk until pale golden blond, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in milk. Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and add Parmigiano-Reggiano. Whisk until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.
Season crushed tomatoes to taste with salt.
Preheat oven to 375°F and adjust rack to center position. Transfer noodles to a clean kitchen towel or layer with paper towels to dry them. Dry the casserole dish carefully and brush with olive oil. Spread a thin layer of crushed tomatoes on the bottom of the baking dish. Layer with 3 lasagna noodles. Top with 1/4 of eggplant, zucchini, and squash, 1/5 of crushed tomatoes, and 1/5 of white sauce. Repeat layers three more times. Place the final lasagna noodles on top and spread with remaining crushed tomatoes and white sauce. Scatter mozzarella evenly over surface and add basil leaves. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover, and continue baking until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes, slice, and serve.