Farm Newsletter August 23, 2022
We hope you’ve been enjoying the sunny, mild weather! The blue skies, lushness and the colorful overlap of summer and fall flowers is really hard to beat.
Those passing storms last week did just that — they mostly passed us by, sliding east by a mile or two. We did get 0.4 inches Thursday night. We haven’t kept good records, but we think that means we’ve had, right here, just over 2 inches of rain since late June! This year most of the state has gotten more than that — some a little more, some a lot more. We don’t mind missing the pounding rains — 2-3 inches an hour isn’t real helpful and makes a mess — and we’re fortunate to be tapped into the generous Jordan aquifer. But the nice rains we’ve had the last couple weeks, combined with the lower temperatures, have taken the edge off the need to irrigate. If it was hotter some things would grow a little faster, but mostly it’s been good to have a break from morning and nighttime sprinkler checks –that’s 2-3 hours a day we have available to do other things!
We’re glad to be at least hitting 79/80 degrees at the beginning of this week — there’s still a lot of ripening and growing happening out there! From sizing up late peppers and melons to bulking up sweet potatoes and carrots underground, we walk around giving little pep talks and being grateful that they keep doing their thing. Conditions are nearly perfect — just a little cool, so it’s a relief to see the new growth, the sizing up, the changing of colors in the fruits. We’ve got it pretty good right now!
The crop that’s sizing up and ripening in secrecy — under the protection of big healthy vines — is all the winter squash. We get some peeks at the edges — the spaghetti squash and delicatas have a light yellow hue and should be pickable in a couple weeks. Hilariously many of the pumpkins are already orange!!! We plant them a little early than a for-real pumpkin grower would, since we just do a few and plant them in with the winter squashes. The vines are healthy and hopefully will keep them usable for October still! The other squashes will come in mid September it looks like.
For now we soak up the summer fruits!! Lots of tomatoes (in the share, and extra boxes for sale), peppers (a few red peppers this week, more next week), the last couple weeks of summer squash and cucumbers.
And melons are finally here!!! Let us know how you’re melons tasted, we’re always curious. We’ve been finding the early red watermelon varieties to be less consistent and flavorful compared to the orange and yellow ones, so we’ll probably grow less red and more of the others, unless we hear that the reds were awesome. Cantaloupes should be abundant this week and next , fingers crossed. We’ve never had good luck keeping them into September, so they’ll probably just all ripen together. There may be enough for 2 melons per share, a mixture of red, orange and yellow watermelons, and cantaloupes, we’ll see what the plants give us. Next week or the week after we’ll have the large, pink/red watermelons, for a couple weeks.
We’ll also have : Carrots, Beets, Broccoli and Cabbage (green and red), Eggplant, Fennel, Onions, Celery, Hot Peppers, Cucumbers, Summer Squash and Zucchini! Plus green and lettuce, kale and swiss chard.
Kale — we have switched to the fall planting, and it’s a totally different thing than what the summer kale was! If you’re a fair weather kale eater, or haven’t ever eaten it at all, this is a great time to grab some!
For onions, we’ve finished the sweet onions and are into the storage onions. The storage onions are what you usually think of as onions — dry skins, sharper flavor than the fresh ones, and can store well into winter in a dark, cool, dry place (not in your fridge). We have red and yellow, and will have a few shallots ready in a week or two. We don’t grow a lot of shallots cuz they yield lower for the same labor costs as onions ; which is why they cost more at stores too. But they’re so mild and sweet we like to have them for a couple weeks at least.
What’s for U-Pick?
Please BRING UPICK CONTAINERS!!! We are almost out.
Cherry tomatoes!! Please walk as far as you can into the planting! The front part is getting over-picked and the far end has tomatoes splitting and going by. They are ripening slowly in the cooler weather but at some point they’ll pick up.
Tomatillos are looking really good and will be continue to trickle until more reach full size.
Herbs: Cilantro, Basil (plus Thai and Lemon Basil), Dill, and MORE :
Sage, Parsley, Thyme, Oregano, Cutting Celery, Nasturtiums and Anise Hyssop!! can all be found in a bed next to the herbs, just look for the white signs and the wide variety of plants.
Beans!! Looking good! There are still many beds open this week.
And oh, 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
Allia’s Bake Sale!!! She’s Back!
This week during share pickups on Tuesday and Thursday, Allia will have chocolate chip cookies, coconut macaroons, and cheddar crackers. For sale outside the barn, cash or check only. A portion of the proceeds will be given to Heifer Project International, to help families gain independence and food security. Most of the ingredients are organic.
Bulk Produce for You
Check here each newsletter for what we have available for extra purchase.
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.
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.
This week’s selection is : Carrots, Red Beets, Cucumbers, Summer Squash, Zucchini for $1.25 / lb, Onions for $1 lb, Lettuce for $5/ lb. Peppers Green Bell $1.50 /lb.
TOMATO BOX PREORDERS are available for pickup starting this week. You can still order via the form in the tomato email you should have received — if you didn’t get that just email us and we’ll forward it to you. Sometimes we have extra boxes available during share pickups, we try to but it’s hit or miss.
Notes from Luann with the Medicinal Herb Garden:
In answer to several inquiries, yes I plan to host fire cider making classes at the garden again this year during share pick up times on Thursday, 9/1 and Tuesday, 9/6 as well as a Saturday option on 9/10 at 10:00 AM. The cost is $30 and includes all ingredients for making your own fire cider and tips for incorporating it in your diet to support your immune system, aid digestion, and boost energy. Bring a cutting board and knife and leave with a quart of fire cider made with the freshest and most potent ingredients, including herbs you gather from the medicinal herb garden. Registration (located at the bottom of my classes page) is appreciated so I can have enough jars and other ingredients readied.
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 and Timur
Easy Summer Pasta
- 1 3/4 cups (300 grams) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
- 2 teaspoons mixed dried herbs (I like herbes de Provence)
- 1 pinch kosher salt, plus more
- 2 3/4 ounces (75 grams) fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into medium strips
- 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) dried whole-wheat penne pasta (or 3 cups/300 grams cooked penne)
- 3 tablespoons crème fraîche or ricotta cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the tomatoes for garnishing. On a rimmed baking sheet, arrange the remaining tomatoes. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then cut into half-moons about 3/4 inch thick. Add to the baking sheet with the tomatoes, along with the eggplant, oil, herbs, and a big pinch of salt. Toss to combine and roast, tossing halfway through, for about 1 hour, until the vegetables are nicely caramelized. After 45 minutes, scatter the mozzarella over the top of the vegetables and return to the oven for the final 15 minutes so the cheese melts.
- Meanwhile, if you’re using dried pasta, place in a medium pan and cover with boiling water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente (this will generally be the shorter cooking time on the package directions). Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and return the pasta to the saucepan.
- To the saucepan with the pasta, add the vegetables and cheese along with the crème fraîche and a splash of reserved pasta water (or tap water if you’re using precooked pasta). Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Divide the pasta mixture between 2 plates. Scatter the reserved tomatoes over the pasta.