Farm Newsletter July 25, 2022
We dodged the heavy storms on Saturday, and just got 1/4 inch of gentle rain. It was such a lovely sound and sight. We lounged and breathed it in.
Looking at the fields a couple hours later though you couldn’t even tell it had rained. We had just recently entered “moderate drought” status, which feels like an accurate description. But this spring we invested in better plumbing for our irrigation system – the underground 3 and 4″ pipes to carry more water with less leaks than our old aboveground blue hose system — and that is making all the difference in keeping up with the crops’ needs for good yields. We can run about 25% more sprinklers at a time, which, so far has meant we’ve kept up. It’s a ton of work but so worth it.
We have had a couple crops hurt by the drought so far, but nothing huge that we know of. For example we forgot to water the napa cabbage the hot windy day it was planted, and it burnt to a crisp. And the crows were searching for water – or ants, but we think water – and pulling up a few hundred pepper plants every time we watered them, which we would go back and replant when we got there in time. Fortunately they’ve moved on from that activity, and hopefully they find other water sources and/or games to play.
We have a lively family of red tail hawks nesting at the south end of the farm, across 320th St. They sure are noisy. We love hearing and seeing them. And we saw what we think was a Northern Harrier pick off a sparrow by the solar panels, and have seen it hunting some more. They are much more “reclusive” than red tails and disappear quickly when spotted by us, but we’ve loved seeing it / them — knowing we have the habitat for them, and seeing them thrive.
We harvested wheat a week or two ago. We harvest it for cover crop seed in years when we have time and the weeds aren’t too bad in it. This year it was hard to squeeze another project in — but we figured if there’s going to be a shortage of wheat in the world, we’ll put in the time to harvest our little patch as one little contribution to peace and full bellies around the world. When it works well, as it did, using that old machine is so pleasant — slowly humming along in a comfortable tractor seat, belts and pulleys and shakers and beaters spinning in all directions, doing what by hand takes so so much effort. It was only a half acre, on its own definitely not enough to justify the hours greasing, adjusting and cleaning out the combine, and only enough to supply half our wheat seed needs for the year. But we’ll get by with that, plant more of other cover crops, and let someone else have the wheat we were going to order.
We’re glad to have cooler temperatures back. The warm sticky nights probably thwarted some pollination in peppers and maybe other crops. But they’re still busy and going at it, and they’re gonna love this forecast.
And wow, its been nice to take another step into summer color and flavors lately!
We’ll have more eggplant and sweet onions this week. Use the sweet onions generously, more like their own veggie than the flavoring most of us usually use onions as. They add flavor to other things, but are milder than storage onions and biting into a cooked chunk or slice is just so good!
We’ll have : Carrots, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage maybe, Eggplant, Sweet Onions, Cucumbers, Summer Squash and Zucchini! Plus scallions and a few kohlrabi still; and Greens and Lettuce, kale and swiss chard.
Carrots should be a little bigger this week. Cabbage we might not have much, for now ; there’s lots coming, the next planting took a long time to outgrow the bad potting soil. Kale we’re very sorry for the kale lovers, it hasn’t recovered from the bad potting soil and it’s only producing 2/3 of its normal harvest so far. We hope it snaps out of it for August — but if not, the new September planting should be bigger and better.
And we should have a trickling of tomatoes this week!!! It’ll start with 1 or 2 per share and in a few weeks we’ll be over 10, aka tomato heaven. Fennel and green peppers in a couple weeks. And melons are a bit of a mystery – they’ll come late (slow start outgrowing the bad potting soil) but the plants look super. We can’t tell how many fruit are hiding in there — probably starting in 2-3 weeks, and we’ll find out yields then.
What’s for U-Pick?
Peas! They had a good run, and we hope you all had a couple good pickings. A lot of peas certainly left the farm each day! It’s too bad they don’t like our hot summers, they’re so luscious. We’ll take down the trellis and cover crop that area this week, and plant garlic there in October.
Cherry tomatoes!! The sungolds, better than candy, and a couple red cherry and grape varieties, are all trickling in. It’ll be a a slow start, and we’re not sure what the starting limit will be, but there are many more to come throughout August and into September. If you see a big rain coming it’s a good idea to come load up on the sungolds especially — it’s a super tasty variety that cracks easily when it drinks too much. Cracked sungolds are usually totally fine to eat — until you see white mold forming in the crack, which usually happens 2-3 days after cracking.
Cilantro and Dill and Basil are cruising along! There are also a few plants of thai basil and lemon basil that made it through a human irrigation error — look for the white signs at the barn end of one of the basil rows.
Beans!! Looking good for many weeks ahead, pick to your hearts’ content. There are many more beds open this week — a few weedy beds to the west surprised — so PLEASE PICK LOTS OF BEANS so they don’t go by. Sorry about the weeds in those beds, we’ll try to clean them out at some point.
And oh, the Flowers!! Now there’s no limit on picking, thru September and a few into October.
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.
Nuts and Bolts
Bulk Produce for You
Check here each newsletter for what we have available for extra purchase.
You might know that while a lot of the produce we grow goes to you, some of what we grow is sold to wholesale accounts. Once we get going later in August , we deliver 2-3 times a week to Just Food Co-op, St. Olaf College, Carleton College; plus Minneapolis Public Schools, and distributors who sell to schools, restaurants and stores, a soup maker and a kim chi maker. Mostly for peppers, fall kale and cabbage, carrots beets and other roots all winter. We don’t do it much in the summer — we’re plenty busy with harvesting your shares and tending summer and fall crops — but really get rocking with bigger harvests in mid-August.
We like to offer you the same produce beyond what you get in your share, at or just above our wholesale prices, to use for parties, special events, serving guests, or just filling your family’s bellies each week.
These two weeks our schedule is a little different so we won’t be taking pre-orders — just ask whoever’s working in the barn and they can get you anything from that list. It’ll take a couple minutes , you can pick beans etc while you wait. Or make someone smile and bring some flowers home.
Normally, and starting in the 2nd week of August: to place a bulk order, simply email us at least 2 days ahead of the day you’d like to pick it up. Orders can be picked up at the farm during our regular pickup hours, but it doesn’t have to be your share pickup day.
An email for TOMATO BOX PREORDER will come out in a couple weeks.
This week’s selection is : Carrots, Red Beets, Cucumbers, Summer Squash, Zucchini for $1.25 / lb, Sweet Onions for $1.50 / lb.
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 — 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!
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 last week. 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, Emily, Maddie
Easy Baked Zucchini
- ▢2 medium zucchini sliced into ½” rounds
- ▢1 tablespoon olive oil
- ▢½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ▢salt & pepper to taste
- ▢⅓ cup parmesan cheese shredded, divided
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Toss zucchini slices with olive oil, seasoning, salt & pepper and about 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese.
- Place on a baking sheet and top with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake 5 minutes.
- Turn oven to broil, place pan near the top and broil 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and zucchini is tender crisp.
Rolled Stuffed Salmon (swiss chard)
from Martha Stewart
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large leeks, white and pale-green parts only, chopped and washed well (3 1/4 cups) (you could use sweet onions too!)
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, tough stems trimmed, leaves chopped (6 cups)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 1/4 pounds salmon fillet, preferably wild, skin removed
- 1/4 cup packed dill sprigs, plus 6 more sprigs for tops
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Step 1Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet over high. Add leeks; cook, stirring, until just golden, about 4 minutes. Add chard; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Let cool.
- Step 2In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, mustards, garlic, and soy sauce.
- Step 3Butterfly salmon by cutting horizontally through middle along one long side, leaving other side intact. Open flat, like a book. Flip salmon, skinned-side up; season with salt and pepper. Spread top with 1/4 cup yogurt mixture. Top with dill sprigs, then chard mixture.
- Step 4With a long side facing you, roll up salmon into a tight log. Secure with 6 pieces of kitchen twine, starting about 1 1/4 inches from end and spacing evenly. Cut salmon into 6 equal pieces, slicing between twine. Tuck a dill sprig under twine on each roll.
- Step 5Place rolls in a baking dish and drizzle with oil, rubbing to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until salmon is opaque on outside but still pink inside, about 15 minutes. Serve, with remaining yogurt mixture alongside.