Farm Newsletter July 9, 2019

Planting BroccoliFarm Newsletter July 9, 2019

Farm News        Crop Forecast

 U-Pick       Recipes       Nuts and Bolts


It’s been dry the last few days, which has been wonderful, but by last Tuesday morning we had gotten 5.3 inches of rain in the previous day and a half.  And most of that came within only 2-3 hours actual raining — aka it rained too hard!!  We are grateful that this spring several showers missed us, and we do keep getting 2-4 days dry weather at a time, enough to squeeze in 95-100% of what needs to get done.  But after that soaking we couldn’t help but come up with this list —-

You know its’ been a wet season when

— The leftover or culled plants thrown on the compost pile are so watered in they are thriving as well as the ones in the field, even though their roots were never covered.

–A friend calls and says he’s looking for brackets to mount a cultivator on his canoe!! We tell Andrew next door and without missing a stroke he suggests a paddle boat.  We “place the order” and assure them the parts will arrive in a few days.

—- A half inch gentle rain makes the soil as muddy as would most years take 1-1.5″.

— We put the tractors away and windows up when we go in for lunch, even on a bright sunny day, cuz who knows if or when we’ll get today’s “scattered” or “isolated” storms.

Despite the rain, we have been joking this is “the year of fires and flowers” — we accidentally burned the 1/2 acre prairie with the propane weed burner, and next door a straw bale caught itself on fire, and smoldered for almost two weeks.  The prairie burn was good to get done, though surprising and a little nerve-wracking to do it without preparations.  In the veggie fields, many flowers have been popping up in old places, having seeded previous years and taken hold with this year’s abundant moisture – sunflowers in lettuce and strawberry beds, kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate in the spinach, cosmos and yarrow too.  We’re hoping the bumper crop of flowers carries over to the flowering crops, and that that’s the end of the fires!!!!

It was so cool and cloudy too, until the last couple weeks , most summer crops are still 1-2 weeks behind what we usually see.  Some are right on “schedule”.  Some are catching up, growing intensely quickly.   Melons are the most obvious “behinder” — we usually start picking on August 1 but it might be the 10th or 15th before they’re ready, depending how warm it is between now and then.  The good news is they finally put out flowers, plenty so far; the vines are growing inches per day; and the first baby melons are marble- to almond-sized.

And today it’s warm, sunny and dry — just right.

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Crop Forecast

Summer squash and zucchini , and now cucumbers, are coming in a little more— we might have to limit them again as the first round of flowers seems to be smaller than usual.   The cukes are so good, hopefully there’s at least one for everyone; but once they start really producing we’ll have more than you want.

We’ll continue to have greens and lettuce, kale, and head lettuce, radishes and turnips.  The boc choi is all picked, and kohlrabi will be done soon too.  Broccoli we might be in between plantings this week and/or next, with the first two having about run its course and the next one trailing behind a little.   We should have plenty of cabbage — gee that flew out the door! — and will probably start picking fennel too.

Carrots and beets are almost, almost ready to pick.  So close.  Could be this week or next.

To try to have a good supply and variety all season long, we do ten plantings of broccoli each year, 8 of cabbage, 22 of lettuce and greens (still planting til mid August), 4 of summer squash and cucumbers, and 5-6 of carrots and beets, and repeat plantings of many other crops too.  Sometimes one dovetails perfectly into the next, sometimes it doesn’t quite work out.  But with so many crops and plantings there’s nearly always enough volume of enough crops for everyone to eat well.

We might go down to 1/2 a white bag if broccoli gaps,  but will go back up when carrots, beets and broccoli come back.  Upick crops are really where the CSA is shining right now!

We have a break in garlic flavors for a couple weeks , while we wait for the heads to size up in the field, and then harvest them later this month. We might ask for help again when that time comes, it’s been great to have a few extra hands that day the last couple years.

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What’s for U-Pick?


We Need U-Pick Containers!!! We’re very close to running out.  Wash out those strawberry quarts and bring them back for peas and beans!

Peas —  Are the main U-pick crop this week.  Heavy picking this week and weekend, and next week probably too, though that’s hard to predict.  Shelling peas are starting to plump up too, they’ll be open this week and peak next week or so.

Beans — Will start picking on Tuesday – we’re not sure what the limit will be yet.  Hopefully this panting produces generously — the second planting didn’t germinate at all, and the 4th planting was a little thin.

Wow what a strawberry season!!!

Short but stupendous.  Thank you to everyone who was able to come and pick heavily on that weekend and week after — they came and went so fast, many would have gone by without that picking.  Hopefully everyone got plenty, for eating and maybe freezing or canning too.  There are some out there this week, but the SWD fruit fly has wrecked many of them before they were even ripe enough to harvest.  This week they are open for final gleaning, which requires patience, and we will mow them at the end of the week.

SWD is a sneaky fruit fly that lays its eggs in fruit just as it ripens so it causes the fruit to rot very quickly, and the tiny wiggling larvae can be seen in there enjoying their meal.  They are widespread but are not established in some neighborhoods — To keep them from spreading in your neighborhood, don’t compost rotting fruit , please put in a sealed bag and throw it away.

Thanks for understanding the tricky communications about limits and picking urgency.  Our goal is to try to get everyone equal amounts of strawberries throughout the berry season and to let as few berries go by out in the field as we can.  We think it worked out well this year, but if not just holler at us. 

Cilantro and dill will continue to be unlimited, and all other herbs will follow suit soon.  Check the board for limits for basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, and anise hyssop.

Mint and lemon balm.   The mint and lemon balm are absurdly weedy; we planted more in a new location this year, and they’ll be ready to pick next year.  For this year, you’ll just have to dig through the weeds to find them.  Sorry!

Flowers! — Will have a limit of 1 bouquet or 2 small bouquets.  It is beautiful out there!

Please always check the U-pick board when you’re here to see what’s available and picking amounts.

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.  If you’re interested in being on the volunteer list to pick for other people, please let us know too!

Please bring your own scissors for herbs and flowers.  Many shareholders just leave a pair in their car so they always have them.  If you happen to forget, we have a few “kid” scissors that we are happy to lend out.   

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Nuts and Bolts

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 on the 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 1:30 – 6:30pm. You can U-Pick any time (when U-pick crops are in season.)

We are now offering herbal products! For sale in the barn.  Our farm, along with our friends at Spring Wind Farm and Keepsake Cidery have partnered together to create Prairie Fire Herbal. Over the last year we have sourced medicinal herbs from the three of our farms (all grown organically) and made a few tinctures and salves to sell. Our tinctures are: echinacea tincture for helping stimulate your immune system, echinacea and elder flower tincture for that double flower power immune strengthening, and nettle tincture for helping with allergies. All of our tinctures use herbs from our 3 farms and organic vodka locally made at Loon Liquors. We also have made 2 kinds of salves from herbs from our farms, with organic olive oil, coconut oil & beeswax. Healing Herbal Balm for many many skin issues, from dry skin to healing wounds and rashes—one of our friend calls it “magic salve” because of all the skin issues it has taken care of for her and her children. Also Muscle Soothing Balm that helps your aching muscles and is a great way to end the day. All products are $10 each–cash only please. If you have any questions, please ask Erin in the barn.

Change Pick-Up Day Form — Click here.

Please Drive Carefully —Children are everywhere.

On the note of children, please know where yours are at all times.

Thank you for making this such a great place to be! Thank you so much for your support!!

Your farmers,

Erin and Ben, with Allia, Alissa, Danny, Ed and Emily


Cilantro Dipping Sauce 

From Kelly and Anne, friends of Open Hands Farm

  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 serrano chili pepper
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 tbsp. lime juice
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp. water

Combine cilantro, parsley, almonds (chopped), chili pepper (without seeds), black pepper and salt in a food processor.  Chop so the mixture still has some texture but all ingredients are well mixed and are uniform in size.  Add lime juice and olive oil and mix.  Scrape the sides of the mixer and mix again.  Remove sauce from mixer and add a little water to thin if you want to be able to dip into the sauce.  You can also leave the water out and use it as a paste.

Tangerine and Fennel Salad with Mixed Greens

From Asparagus to Zucchini Cookbook

  • 6-7 small tangerines
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup dry sherry or flat champagne
  • ½ cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 2 Tbsp minced fennel “leaves”
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-5 cups mixed salad greens

Cut 1 of the tangerines in half and squeeze the juice into a medium bowl.  Mix in olive oil, sherry, both kinds of fennel, salt, and pepper.  Peel remaining tangerines; divide into segments.  Pierce each segment with a sharp fork a couple of times (to absorb dressing).  Add tangerines to dressing; toss well.  Chill thoroughly.  Divide greens onto 4 salad plates.  Arrange tangerine mixture over greens, drizzling some directly onto greens.  Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper.
Makes 4 servings.

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