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  • Writer's pictureThe Farmer's Wife

CSA Weekly Update for August 27th-31st!

On Friday we finally got rain, after several weeks without. As many of you know, we do not irrigate the field in Zimmerman at all because it is peat ground and holds moisture very well. We have many herbs that were just a week or two away from harvest, and we likely lost all those herbs. They’ve got burnt leaves, but if they bounce back we will of course include them in our shares.

Did you see my Facebook post last week? The onions were literally rooted in the ground and drying at the same time. That’s pretty much unheard of. That’s how dry it got before we got rain on Friday, Thank God! The other produce varieties had leaves wilting but nothing appeared to be damaged to the point of the plant not producing. Herbs are the most delicate thing that we grow.

It’s inevitable folks, even though none of us want to talk about it; the end of the season will be here sooner than we would all like. We still have 5 more weeks to look forward to though! Let’s get a little more in depth about the season…

The singular factor that restricts our farming season more than anything else is the overnight temperatures. When the overnight lows get into the 40’s we start getting worried about frost. Since elevation also affects the temperatures, the low spots in the field always freeze first. For example, the entire field in Big Lake will freeze before anything freezes in Zimmerman, even if they say they’ll have the same overnight temperature-just because of elevation. If the overnight low says even 38, it will likely freeze in the low spots in the fields.

In the beginning of the season I know I talk a lot about field maintenance, keeping the weeds down to allow for the seedlings and plants to get proper sunlight & nourishment. At this time of the year, we don’t pull any weeds, not because we are tired of weeding, but because they actually serve a purpose. They serve as insulators and protect the plants from frost, they can extend our season by a couple weeks.

Have you ever heard of the harvest moon? Well, my understanding is that it is the last moon before it freezes. For some astronomical reason, the first frost of the season always comes with the full moon. It’s a full moon right now!! But the full moon that we pay attention to is the one in September. If it’s supposed to land mid-September we get really nervous because it could mean that our season will be cut short. If it’s late Sept/ early October we are celebrating because the moon has provided us with another couple weeks of harvest. We’ve seen both phenomenon in our experience. Let’s hope for the first frost to land at the end of September like they’re predicting!!

This week in your CSA Share you can expect: WATERMELON, Acorn Squash, Red Potatoes, Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers, Roma Tomatoes, Slicing Tomatoes & Garlic!

Watermelon are finally coming in the CSA Shares this week! Comparatively from last year, we’re about 2 weeks behind which makes sense given that this past spring was more like winter, and this summer hasn’t provided ideal growing conditions with regular rain. The longest we went without rain this year was 5 WEEKS. FIVE WEEKS GUYS. Kind of a goofy weather year that’s for sure, but that won’t hold us back! We’ve got several weeks of consecutive watermelons, on their way! This week we will have crimson sweet, the classic red seeded melon. We will also have red seedless melons and yellow seedless melons in the coming weeks!

Refrigerate watermelon right away. They do not ripen off the vine or emanate a ripe smell (like the muskmelons did). Cut melon should be covered in plastic wrap, and chunks or slices should be kept in an air-tight container. Eat melons within a week. If you’re interested in freezing watermelons, I have heard of people making a sugar syrup which insulates the watermelon when it goes in the freezer.

Acorn Squash is exciting to see in our CSA Shares this week! Do yourself a favor and don’t hesitate to try squash if you haven’t before. All you have to do is cut them in half, take out the seeds and bake them at 350 until you can stick a fork in it (like a potato). Obviously that’s oversimplifying, but I really want everyone to enjoy these. If you have a hard time cuttig the squash in half, microwave it for a couple minutes and it will be easier to cut. This is the very beginning of squash, so don’t worry we will have plenty more this season!

Winter squash is called winter squash because it can be stored over winter for up to 3-4 months post-harvest in best conditions. Store in a cool, dry, dark place; ideally 50 degrees but make sure they don’t freeze. Acorn squash is a mildly sweet squash with orange flesh and green-black skin. It has heavy ribbing and is acorn- shaped. Any winter squash (besides spaghetti squash) can be used in any recipe that calls for pumpkin! It’s almost pumpkin spice season!

Potatoes at this time of year always look a little different than right away in the spring. Their skins will thicken, which is a natural part of their growing process. Thicker skins allow the potato a biological advantage because it provides better surfaces for the eyes to develop, which is what creates more potato plants for next year. The “seed potatoes” are just potatoes that have developed eyes and are cut into ~2inch square pieces. If we wanted to, we could even eat the seed potatoes that we get in the spring. The potatoes you receive this week actually could be seed potatoes for next fall if you could conserve them correctly making sure they don’t rot.

Keep potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place. Moisture causes potatoes to spoil, light turns them green, and proximity to onions causes them to sprout. Don’t put them in the refrigerator, as low temperatures convert the starch to sugars.

TOMATOES! Holy cow, did you notice that last week you got a lot of tomatoes? 3 varieties of tomatoes came in last week’s shares. It’s because tomatoes were also late this year (comparatively to prior seasons), so we want to fit them into the CSA Share boxes as many times as we can. This week we plan on having slicing tomatoes and Romas again. Ben said to make sure to buy some bacon, it’s BLT season! If you’re not into BLT’s, maybe you can enjoy some fresh caprese salad, or fresh salsa. This time of the year is what we talk about all winter long.

We will also be offering Garlic this week!! Our Garlic didn’t do well this spring, it was significantly smaller than it has been in the past and didn’t produce cloves in the bulbs like it should have. Good thing Father’s Acres (garlic specialty farm), has a great crop of garlic. We purchased enough garlic to offer all of our members garlic in this week’s CSA Shares. Also enough to plant for next season, because our garlic didn’t produce the cloves which is what we use to plant next year’s crop.

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers are very hot this season. Each year their heat varies depending on seasonal factors like rainfall for example. We aren’t including a lot of these peppers because we know that they aren’t something you want in large quantities. We try to keep in mind the serving sizes of different produce varieties, and with hot peppers a small amount goes a long way! With the Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers, they can be used for stuffing but aren’t the ideal shape like jalapenos are. If you want to freeze some, simply wash the peppers well and cut into rings, place in a freezer bag and squish out the air. Having a food saver vacuum sealer isn’t required.

Be careful when preparing hot peppers of any kind. For greatest safety wear rubber gloves while chopping and handling them. I didn’t listen to Ben and put on my gloves when I made jalapeno poppers last week and after washing my hands and taking a shower my hands still had so much heat that I couldn’t even take out my contacts! We are probably just like every other married couple out there… Ben enjoyed reminding me that “he told me so” haha!

Do not touch your eyes, nose, mouth or other places. Wash hands thoroughly when finished. Slice off the top of the hot pepper, including the stem. Since the heat in peppers is concentrated in the seeds and membranes, you can use the whole pepper for a spicy dish, or cut out the heat-filled seeds and membranes and use just the flesh of the hot pepper for cooking (chile flavor without the bite).

Have a wonderful week,

~The Farmer’s Wife

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Noreen Fontana

I have really enjoyed my first year as a CSA member. What has made this so much more enjoyable for me is making use of the information in the Blog. I have learned so much about food storage and prep that I have been able to keep items much longer than I otherwise would have. Additionally, learning about how things grow has been an eye opener for this old city girl. We have grown tomatoes for years, a few beets and onions, but really not much more than that. Fascinating education for me. Thanks. Looking forward to a few more weeks of fresh food!

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