Farm Newsletter July 7, 2020
This spring the wind blew hard, and this past week brought a hard 5″ rain and some pretty sweaty heat. But we have been comforted that the veggies have turned out ok, and great, even when we’ve seen the wind blow harder (and beat up plants and bring bugs from southwards), and when we’ve had heavier, bigger rains (6″ in 2 hours in 2012, our memories think), and in 2010, 11 and 12 we remember heat waves with temperatures 5 or so degrees warmer than this heat wave so far.
So anything can happen, but the plants are hanging on and we’re hopeful they can still do all the growing and pollinating that they need to do for heavy yields throughout the summer and fall. Our biggest concern since the temps have been hovering around 90 has been pollination of fruiting crops — tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, cucumber and summer squash. When it’s too hot and humid pollination decreases, so not every flower turns into a fruit (or does but is partially pollinated and misshapen), or plants will make more male flowers and less female flowers. Without enough female flowers turning into fruit, yields can be significantly lower. We’ve seen it in most of the crops mentioned above, and green beans too. BUT — like we said above, in those summers the temps were hotter, ie highs of 95 plus humidity for a heat index between 95 and 100. So we’re hopeful that plenty of fruit will get set in the next few weeks, which sets the stage for the bounty of late summer and early fall. So far we’re seeing good amounts of tiny baby fruits out there, like the cantaloupe in the picture above!!
Of course we’ve also seen heat waves break with very intense storms including the four letter “h” word. We’re very glad to not have seen that for several years!!
A few peppers are about 3 weeks away from harvest, and those baby melons are 3-4 weeks from dripping down your chins. We’ve seen a few ping-pong ball sized melons too! Tomatoes look closer than that! Here’s to gentle rains when this heat wave does break, and great summer meals!
Oh, and thanks to those of you who have mentioned that you don’t envy our work in the hot fields these weeks — but we all love it!! We’re a mostly smiling bunch, spending our time together with plants, dirt and great food. It’s hard to stay cool as a cucumber, but having cukes to eat (and plenty of water to drink) does help as we sweat through the days, and a jump in the river now and then.
The summer squash, zucchini and cucumbers are picking up speed. The broccoli planting that’s scheduled to come in now was set back by the hard frost on Mother’s Day, so that might keep the share size about where it’s been. We have plenty leaf lettuce and other salad greens, salad turnips, swiss chard. Scallions will run out soon and we’ll switch to baby leeks –– use similarly (tops and bottoms too), and more freely, they have a milder flavor. Radishes are looking pretty funky (you probably noticed) and are probably done, and head lettuce barely made it to last week with the heat. Boc choi and kale we think are hanging on. Red cabbage might join the green. We’re hoping to also find enough beets to throw into the mix too, we’ll leave the green tops on for a couple weeks too, you can cook them like spinach or chard. The flavor is a little strong for some people, but some people count beet greens among their favorite veggies.
We’ve had just a couple red tomatoes, and there could be enough to go around in two weeks. The first peppers and eggplants are just about an inch long, so will be shortly after that. Hoping for those first small carrots, and sweet onions!, for next week too.
What’s for U-Pick?
Basil!!!!! Please pick by pinching above a “V” with growing tips below it, to allow for more future growth and harvest. Basil keeps on giving if picked right. Do not cut a whole plant — it will only regrow if you can see those growing tips at the leaf junctions you cut above. And please walk a little ways into the field to pick – the front / south has been picked out, and was picked well. You can study those plants to see how they should look after being picked.
Cilantro and Dill are doing well enough.
Peas like hot weather even less than you do. They came in fast, we had great response to our request for picking this past weekend, and we’re hoping they’ll hang on for modest picking throughout this week.
Green Beans , on the other leguminous hand, keep cranking all summer long. The more people use the flag system, the better the yields will be. Start at a red flag and head south, and move the flag when you’re done. If there’s a flag at the south end we’d love your help in bringing it back to the north end, where there should again be another round of beans waiting to be picked.
There are also yellow and purple beans, and soon purple-spotted too. Try ’em out! Our edamame seed rotted the 1st 2 times we planted it, even though it wasn’t that old, so we bought new seed and have pretty good sized planting that will come in later than usual, probably late August.
AND — Flowers this week! A small bouquet to start. Leave a scissors and containers in your car. You can use the water at the handwash sink.
Strawberries were wonderful! Thanks for heeding our u-pick email updates, it always feels good to see them get picked as much on time as possible. We’ll probably mow them this week, one planting is spent and will get disced back to the soil, and the younger planting will get trimmed a few times to have the right amount of growth for next year’s harvest. If they’re still there, feel free to look around for a diamond in the ruff.
Always check the U-pick board when you’re here to see what’s available and picking amounts.
When you’re picking if one or all of us are around, we might not be able to stop and talk, but you are always welcome here.
Nuts and Bolts
Prairie Fire Herbal products For sale in the barn again! Our farm, along with our friends at Spring Wind Farm and Keepsake Cidery have been partnering together to create Prairie Fire Herbal. Over the last few years 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—and to help mosquito bites stop itching — 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.
Garlic Harvest This Week or Next — If you love garlic, want to help us with a big project or just need to get you and your kids out of the house, come help us pull and clip garlic!! It’s a 1 -1.5 day harvest. We’ll send out an email a couple days in advance when the timing becomes clear. Bring sturdy pruners/clippers if you have them, maybe gloves, water, sun hat etc. We’ll all be west / down the barn hill past the old strawberries down there. If you help us pick we send you home with a few fresh heads of the yummy stuff, and you’ll smell better than ever before. It’ll be in the share when it cures in 3-4 weeks.
Pro-Tip for Shortening the Line — We’ve been pleased that when folks have had to wait it seems pretty brief. But we noticed a few people doing a little trick to speed up their time at the big table , the main bottleneck in the barn. While waiting in line after getting your kale and chard, or at the sign-in station — lean over (6′ distancing still!) and study the table and or the sign where you get to mix and match what you take. Plan your menu, ooh and ahh and do a little dance, think about what you’d like to trial — so when you get to that table you can take all those pieces quickly and reduce waiting times for anyone behind you. And we’ll try not to talk to you while you’re in the hot spot!!
Share Pickup Hours TUESDAY and THURSDAY 1:30-6:30 pm. Please note — the barn may 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! If you need to come during a different time slot on your same pickup day, that is ok, no need to email us or fill out the form.
Where is the farm? 4151 320th Street West, Northfield.
Please Drive Carefully —Children are everywhere.
Be aware that farm trucks and tractors may be going up and down the driveway, near your cars and/or near the barn. We all drive carefully but please pay attention to small children especially in those areas, and back up carefully.
If You Send Someone Else to Pick Up Your Share — Please forward them the basic pickup and Covid Videos that we sent you. Then just tell them to introduce themselves to us in the barn just so we know.
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, Alissa, Amelia, Emily, Erika, and Harper
Crustless Zucchini Pie! Can be found here.
Too many veggies and not enough time?…… Sauté it!
Basic sauté instructions adapted from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest Cookbook
Basic trick of Stir-frying—Group vegetables, after they are cut, according to their respective cooking times, so that none will over- or under- cook. You can accomplish this by adding slower-cooking vegetables to the wok/skillet earlier than the quicker-cooking ones.
Heat the wok/skillet alone first- for up to a minute. Then add a little oil (olive or peanut), and if you are using onions (1/2 cup per serving) and garlic (1 clove per serving), add them now, and sauté them alone first. If you are using tofu, add this next along with about 1 or 2 TSBP of tamari (you can add more while sautéing the vegetables, if you’d like). Then add whatever “group 1” vegetables you are using, and sauté until partially done. Next, add “group 2” items and cook until everything is almost done. Selections from “group 3” come in at the very end, just before you take it off the burner.
Group 1 –potatoes (sliced thinly), celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, winter squash, asparagus (if thick)
Group 2—Kale, collards, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, summer squash, asparagus (if thin)
Group 3—Most Asian greens, scallions, bean sprouts
You don’t have to use ALL of these vegetables. You can use just use some, or even just one.
Plan on about ¾-1 lb per serving.
The more thinly a vegetable is sliced, the quicker it cooks.
Basic Goal: To cook the vegetables quickly (over high heat, stirring almost constantly) so that each vegetable is done to its own individual perfection.
Have all vegetables cut up beforehand, so you can stir constantly and work quickly once the wok/skillet is hot.
Extras to add to your stir-fry—add any, all, or none of these in the last minutes of cooking
Chopped, toasted nuts
Sliced water chestnuts
Cooked noodles (rinsed and drizzled with sesame oil)
Toasted sesame seeds
Soaked, sliced black mushrooms
Seasonings—to be added towards the end of cooking (all amounts can vary according to taste)
Tamari—1 to 2 Tbsp
Grated ginger—1 Tbsp
Crushed red pepper—to taste
Toasted sesame oil—1 Tbsp
Coconut milk—1 can (if you use this, then you can add a curry powder or paste and it will become more of a Thai dish than a Chinese dish)
Experiment and Have Fun!!