Farm Newsletter July 21, 2020
What a beautfiul summer! Every vegetable farmer we’ve talked to has beautiful looking crops, with low insect and disease pressure. Most of us have had 1 or 2 big rains, but most of us haven’t had h— or torn—- and would rather put in the extra hours on irrigation than get pummeled by hard rains every time there’s a 40% chance, causing stressed plants and bacterial and fungal diseases. That was the last 2-3 years. This year we’ve missed almost every 40% chance, and a few of the 100%s too. Very localized storms, mostly.
And so we thank the Earth for all the water stored underground, and electricity to pump it up here! Without irrigation many of the crops you’re eating now would be looking a lot sadder, and no where near thriving like they are now. It does seem like the hottest days and nights caused the eggplants and some of the tomatoes to make less fruit, but overall they still have decent or very good amounts on them.
The first major benefit of dry weather is a better chance at healthy plants — the other major benefit is that the weeds actually die when we uproot them with cultivators mounted on tractors, or hoes, or our hands. Wow, it’s been a buncha years since we’ve had such good weed control! In recent years with rain every 3-4 days it would dry out enough to get half our cultivating done and then it’d rain again — allowing many of those weeds to re-root. We are ready for some gentle soaking rains, but we do love some dry times!
Sweet onions, carrots and a few tomatoes!!!! That’s all you get, cuz that’s all you need!
Just kidding. They are super good though, and mark the beginning of the luscious summer bounty.
The summer squash, zucchini and cucumbers are fully here, it’s always funny how they go from barely producing enough to producing more than anyone wants. Such a balancing act to plant the right amount for the start/finish amounts and the heavy peak harvest! We send plenty to the food shelf, there are plenty of people happy to have it these days. We have plenty of leaf lettuce, and swiss chard, but might be a little light on kale and salad greens. (The heat really stressed out the salad greens, but we should have normal amounts back by next week. Thanks to the Berry/Vrtis family , who lovingly weeded, among other things, the greens recently. We appreciate you!) Baby leeks –– use similarly to scallions (tops and bottoms too), and more freely, they have a milder flavor. Broccoli is still dragging its heels…the plants that were youngest in the hard frost on Mother’s Day are taking extra long to make heads. This week is the last of the Boc choi and salad turnips, a few stragglers that look a little ragged but are still good eating. We are totally delighted to have found good disease resistant, small-head cabbages for you, both green and red cabbage. Fennel probably next week. Beets we’ll do another week or two with the tops, and there’s plenty of CARROTS! to go around. And hopefully we’ll be able to take the limit off the sweet onions, so you can just put them in everything you eat.
The Garlic Harvest was Amazing!!! Big and Beautiful heads. will start in the share next week (once we have a moment to clean some!), and go for five more weeks. After that there should be plenty available for sale in the barn. Next week’s heads will be mostly cured, but not fully — ie just eat them!! Don’t try to keep these early ones til february.
Asian Eggplant — don’t peel these thin, dark purple eggplants! Just chop and go! They are fantastic cooked with any sauce or oil and seasoning…. the skins are so tender you won’t notice them, and the flesh absorbs strong flavors and blends it with its own soft sweetness. Need we say more? Play with them if they’re new to you ; our website has recipes for grilling them in strips, chopping them for salsa or “Princess Eggplant” (super luscious sauce) roasting then sauteeing them with tomatoes garlic and basil. You can’t go wrong there! Even just cut in thin strips, marinate with oil and salt, and grill — they’re a great and easy grill addition. They should become more abundant in a couple weeks and last into September., and the big purple globe eggplants (Italian style) should be ready in a couple weeks.
Tomatoes — we should have a couple more this week, and when the main planting comes in we’ll jump to 10 and 14 for a few weeks — mm mm good!
What’s for U-Pick?
Basil, Cilantro and Dill — keep on picking, they’re there for you!
Other Herbs Opening This Week –Parsley (flat and curly), thyme, oregano, anise hyssop, and nasturtium flowers.
Green Beans — it’s nice to have a good green bean year, after a couple years of sick plants and low yields. This is the free-for-all picking that we aim for! Thanks for using the flags, it helps makes the harvest bigger. Reminder on flag direction — Pick your way away from the barn, and move the flags away from the barn as you go. 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.
Flowers ! Beautiful, and finally got a couple waterings in the last week. It’s pretty dry on that little ridge where they are, but they’re looking good.
Peas — did pretty well this year, especially given all the heat they went through. We’ll take down the trellis and disc them back into the soil; and plan to plant a few rows of kale for fall u-pick right there on top of them.
Cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen, and we might have a handful next week, literally just a handful, next. Then there should be gradually more ; despite being a little scrawny, they are loaded with flowers. It might be a lighter harvest this year, but we’re trying to give them extra water and a little extra fish fertilizer to help them make good fruits of all those flowers.
Always check the U-pick board when you’re here to see what’s available, and picking amounts.
Nuts and Bolts
Upick Time Slots are over — Come U-pick any time , daylight hours, 7 days a week! Please stick with your barn/ regular share pickup time slot — you can now U-pick during that time too, or come back another day, during your old U-pick slot or whenever. Thank you for sticking with your slot during the heavy picking season of strawberries and peas!
We’re gonna try going back to our old U-pick normal and see how it goes with crowding etc. Our main concern with U-pick crowding was strawberries and peas ; with those done, and seeing how well the barn pickup time slots have spaced you out, we think you won’t have trouble having 6 ft distancing outside in the U-pick fields. We may later opt to limit picking during Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, but for now let’s give it a shot. You have all proven yourself a respectful and cautious bunch, we really appreciate it, and so do your fellow pickers!
Local Oyster Mushrooms This Week! From our friend Danny Hill, also a former OHF employee, and long time mushroom enthusiast. Grown in an old barn where he lives in Greenvale Township, on organic straw or organic blocks made by Field and Forest. Medicinal and truly a culinary delight!
From LuAnn in the Medicinal Herbs Garden:
Have you noticed the bright, sunny calendula flowers in both the medicinal garden and in the you-pick-flowers area of the farm? Calendula offers much more than a splash of color in a floral arrangement. From the flowers you can make an herbal-infused oil — something often found as an ingredient in natural and organic skin care products. Here’s how! Tear the calendula flower heads in half and loosely fill a jar with the blooms. Dump them out onto wax paper to let partially dry for 24 to 48 hours, so that some moisture can evaporate from the thick flowers to avoid mold. Place the partially dried flowers back in the jar, top it off with any sort of skin-appropriate oil (I use organic and cold pressed olive oil). Screw the lid onto the jar tightly and let it sit for 2 to 6 weeks as the oil pulls medicinal constituents from the flowers. Then strain and add the oil to home crafted skin care products. I have a short video demonstration using dandelion blooms here, and another on making a salve from herbal-infused oil here. More information about the You-Pick Medicinal Herbs Garden can be found here.
Prairie Fire Herbal products For sale in the barn for the rest of the season! 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.
Pro-Tip for While Waiting in Line in the Barn — In addition to scoping out the big table while you wait, if you’re using the compostable bags you can grab a few near the door and work on opening them :)) Then they’ll be open and ready when you’re ready to fill them.
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! 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.
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
Pickled Sweet Onions
makes 2 half pints
- 4 cups thinly sliced sweet onions
- 1 tablespoon canning salt
- 3/4 cups white vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Place onions in a colander over a plate; sprinkle with canning salt and toss. Let stand 1 hour. Rinse and drain onions, squeezing to remove excess liquid.
- Combine vinegar, sugar and thyme; bring to a boil. Add onions and return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Put in jars and refrigerate or water bath can for 10 minutes.
Balsamic Roasted Beets
- 3 beets peeled & diced (about 3 cups)*
- 1 TBS olive oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
- 1 TBS honey (pure maple syrup for a vegan version)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease a large baking sheet or dish, set aside.
Peel and cut 3 beets into 1” cubes.
Toss beets with 1 TBS olive oil and ½ tsp sea salt.
Spread onto a greased baking dish in an even layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
After 15-20 minutes, stir and bake for 10 minutes more or until beets feel soft to the touch.
Mix together balsamic vinegar and honey.
After 30 minutes (or when beets are soft to the touch), remove beets from the oven and add the honey/vinegar mixture to the baking dish.
Stir until all the beets are evenly coated.
Return to the oven for 10 minutes, stirring once half way through.
Roast until the balsamic/honey mixture coats the beets (and isn’t runny).
Remove from the oven and serve warm or store and serve later over your favorite salads.