Farm Newsletter June 22, 2021
The fields are looking good, which feels like a big accomplishment and gift every year, especially when we enter into moderate drought and see temps over 90 for so long and so early!!
Most crops really held on well though, with much thanks to the Jordan aquifer and a dependable well pump, which was running 24/7 til it got to rest with the half inch burst of rain last Thursday, and one-third inch on Sunday. We’ve dealt with 90s heat in early June before, so spaced out some plantings to make sure we could keep everything wet for a few days after it went in the ground. As you know, many new seedlings just don’t have the root systems to survive those 90 degree days, or grow well through them, so need to be watered every day to stay perky while they set roots in their new home. So glad we had enough water to get them off to a good start.
Heat waves are challenging for a lot of things but are awesome for killing weeds! So we cultivated, hoed and hand-weeded nearly everything, some of it twice, and it’s such a pleasure to look at the weeds a couple hours later and see them withering back into the soil. Overall the last few weeks have been filled with planting, watering and weeding, and the harvests for your shares. The next couple months are a steady round of plant, water, weed, harvest (and fix stuff) — but the planting now is at a much less furious pace, and the weeding is more spaced out as the crops mature and the weeds grow at different rates too, depending on when they were last weeded. We’ll seed greens and lettuce every week for 20 weeks, herbs and beans every other week, broccoli and cabbage every 1-2 weeks, summer squash and cucumbers every 2-3 weeks, and more. We have 3 plantings of tomatoes and 4 of peppers, to spread those harvests out as long as we can into the fall. Carrots and beets we seed every 2-3 weeks , with the winter storage carrots hopefully getting all planted this week, and the last beets in a few weeks.
We got a lil hail with Thursday’s rain – enough to make us cringe but fortunately there was essentially no damage to the crops. Whew. Nothing like hail to remind us of the fragility and mortality of …. everything!!
Some fun and happy highlights from this spring:
— Where else would you pile a truck bed with dandelions (from the strawberries) and have a group in an herbalism class jump out of their chairs and swarm the pile with excitement? There were handfuls of dandelions drying on top of car roofs for the rest of that day while they learned, foraged, and made a couple herbal remedies.
— Last Wednesday Ben mowed some old lettuce near the driveway. Coming home after the rain with minor hail on Thursday, Allia noticed and said “Ooooh, that lettuce looks really bad!!!” Ben smiled at her good eyes and farm kid understanding — we have seen lettuce mowed by hail and she knows if a storm’s that bad then life will be different for us for a bit — but then he let her know he had mowed that planting. Then later we wanted to go check the rain gauge while it was still tinkling hail so she put on her bike helmet to protect from hail stones!! Of course.
— 15 years ago we wanted a cultivator called a “perfecta.” We could definitely not afford one so Ben, with Brian Machacek’s mentorship, and family shop, learned to weld and made one. It was less than perfect so we named it the “imperfecta,” and it’s been a huge labor saver all these years. This year we were finally able to buy an actual Perfecta, and twice as wide, and it’s dreamily perfect.
Alexandra heard us reference the Perfecta occasionally. “We’ll Perfecta that field today.” In conversation she, understandably, deduced that Perfecta might be a variation on trifecta, and must reference the four awesome women (now 5!) we have on the crew this year. Definitely an accurate description! So – we now have two perfectas — One made out of steel and one of hardworking humans! And one old, still useful imperfecta.
— We took a half day off during the heat wave, but most days just pushed through. While everyone was hot and tired, it was fun and inspiring to see what the perfecta sometimes did before or after work in the intense heat :
Emily would hoe her corn and flower patch across the road. Alissa would cultivate her dry beans (aka “Darn Tootin’ Beans) in the back field. Everyone would load wood chips into Erika’s trunk and she would mulch her home garden, or jackhammer something for a day. Alexandra would go for a run before each day, bike to work, work in her own garden or volunteer with the Master Gardeners, help Emily hoe sometimes too, and happily bike home. These are hard core women! We also got pizza and went floating in the Cannon together.
Havin a good time around here!
While the heat being early had is challenges, we are very grateful that the crops maturing and growing right now have been holding on well. Once things start flowering and setting fruit — peppers, squashes, more tomatoes — hot temps for more than a couple days can really interfere with pollination and yields. Hoping for milder temps going forward!
This week it looks like we’ll add in some cabbage, and more summer squash and zucchini, and maybe even a few cucumbers and more broccoli. We still have Leaf and head lettuce, scallions, radishes, salad turnips, boc choi. The kale might actually have already made some more tender leaves — we stripped off what would have been the first harvests, and have been watering it twice as much as before. And we’ll probably pick some swiss chard too! Garlic scapes this week again, and probably next week too. If you haven’t, you should make some Garlic Scape Pesto! Click on that link for a couple recipes or see them below.
Carrots and beets look to be 2-3 weeks away. The first tomatoes should be in mid-July — they have fruit on them, fortunately it looks like they weren’t bruised by the hail!
Note about storing greens in your fridge:
We have had mixed results from folks storing greens in the new reusable greens bags. It worked for one person, but for a few other (including ourselves) it did not work so well and they wilted. Maybe it depends on your fridge? One wonderful way to store your greens that we have been doing for years is to dump them in a tupperware container with a lid — you can also add a damp paper towel or dishcloth on the bottom. They keep for up to 2 weeks in a container like this.
What’s for U-Pick?
Strawberries have tasted awesome had a great week last week! This week will already be gleaning, and unlimited. It will take a lot more patience to pick this time around. Seems like the heat pushed the ripening along faster than usual. You did an awesome job of picking through them all though! While the heat made them ripen fast, it was nice that the dryness kept fungus away, so they could hold on the plants a couple days once ripe. We’ll miss them! Good thing we have a great organic fruit farm next door! Little Hill Berry Farm often has summer strawberries, and blueberries start soon too.
Peas maybe next week! East of the barn. Pick them with two hands – hold the plant with one hand and pull off the pea with the other. These will also do much better with cooler temps, and be short-lived if 90s return. Peas often come in right after strawberries but the strawberries went fast, and the peas took awhile to gain momentum after the cold nights at the end of May.
Cilantro and Dill are cruising along. Basil and the other herbs are a couple weeks away.
Beans got less water than they wanted the last couple weeks, but we’re back on them and they should be ready in 2-3 weeks, maybe a week later than usual.
This spot in the newsletter will keep you informed, and 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
Northfield CAC Farm to Family Summer Market – A Chance to Support Local Produce at the Food Shelf
This year, CAC has partnered with us and Spring Wind Farm, and others, to buy produce from local farms all summer and fall! The produce will be available market style at Greenvale / NCEC at 700 Lincoln Parkway, July through October. Hours are Tuesdays 4:30-6:30 pm and Fridays 3-5 pm. The markets are open to families and individuals who currently access CAC’s Northfield food shelf services OR who are experiencing food insecurity. Please consider supporting this program! Donations can be made to CAC and please note “CAC Farm to Family Market” in fund allocation options via their website. Your support helps this program continue and fuel sustainable food access in our community.
From LuAnn in the Medicinal Herb Garden:
Join me this week on Tuesday or Thursday afternoons at 2:00, 4:00, or 6:00 to learn how to make your own herbal infused oil. We’ll be gathering our local lawn weed, plantain, which is useful for many ailments including the oh-so-irritating itchy mosquito bite! Bring a 4-ounce (or smaller) jar and lid for collecting your plantain or just watch the demo and gather your own at home. I’ll also wow you with lots of interesting facts about plantain – come and be amazed!
Push Pin Sign-In When you come to pick up your share, please “sign in” with the push pin by your name, inside the barn door. This helps us know how many people came each day, so we can be sure to pick/have more than enough for everybody.
For split shares — instead of leaving notes on the sign in sheet, you can email or text your share partner to communicate “Who gets what this time”.
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.
Where is the farm? 4151 320th Street West, Northfield.
Please Drive Carefully —Children are everywhere.
If You Send Someone Else to Pick Up Your Share — Please forward them the basic pickup videos that we sent you a few weeks ago. 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! Thank you for making it such a great place to be!
Erin and Ben, with Allia, Alexandra, Alissa, Amelia, Emily, Erika
Garlic Scape Pesto
1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes*
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
A few generous grinds of black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
*Or use half scapes and half herbs such as basil, dill and chervil
In a small, dry pan set over very low heat, lightly toast the pine nuts, stirring or tossing occasionally until just beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.
Combine the scapes, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse about 20 times, until fairly well combined. Pour in the olive oil slowly through the feed tube while the motor is running. When the oil is incorporated, transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the grated cheese. If you plan to freeze the pesto, wait to add the cheese until after you’ve defrosted it.
Garlic Scape Pesto
from Riverland Farm
This has a very strong flavor!
Garlicky spread great with pasta or just on bread or crackers.
6 garlic scapes
1 c olive oil
1 c parmesan or asiago cheese grated
Blend scapes and oil in processor, stir in cheese by hand.
Can be frozen!
Bok Choy Salad with Roasted Chicken
From Fair Share Coalition’s Farm-Fresh and Fast cookbook
- Dressing:¼ cup olive oil2 Tablespoons white vinegar2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons white sugar3 Tablespoons soy sauce½ teaspoon minced garlicFew dashes hot pepper sauce (or to taste)Salad:2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts¼ cup soy sauceSalt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and ground ginger (to taste)2 heads bok choy, chopped4-5 green onions (both white and green parts), sliced¼ cup slivered almonds (roasted or raw)3 ounces chow mein noodlesWhisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Let stand to meld the flavors, whisking occasionally to keep it from separating. The dressing can be made ahead of time and refrigerated; bring it to room temperature before assembling the salad.Drizzle the chicken with soy sauce and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and ginger. Broil it for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through, then let cool and slice into thin strips.Combine the bok choy, green onions, and almonds in a salad bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately topped with chicken slices and chow mein noodles. Serves 4.