FARM NEWSLETTER / / WEEK 3
As you all know, we’ve had a heck of a spring thus far. We’ve had a lot of flooding, lost a lot of crops and saved a few others. We plan ahead, make arrangements for when things don’t go the greatest, and then things like this week happen. We got about 2 inches of rain and a substantial amount of hail in about a half hour.
When assessing hail damage, it’s not just looking to see what leaves are broken, or what fruit has been knocked off the plants, it takes a farmer to see what to expect. I.e. it’s not just right in front of your eyes, which Ben has been teaching me about this week. As many of you know, I don’t come from a farming background but I have thoroughly embraced it since he took the lead and started our farm 8 years ago. This is completely new for me, so we will learn together.
Looking at the actual physical damage is a good indicator yes, but the snowball effects are what we’re really worried about. It means the damage could continue… in the form of diseases and sickly plants with lesser yields. As of now, we do see a substantial amount of physical damage, but nothing is completely dead yet- and we're early enough in the season that I have faith those varieties should recover.
We have been hoeing this week, but if you hoe right before a rain storm those plants will just re-root themselves. They’re strong little buggers! Rain has been in the forecast every day for the past week almost, and we’ve gotten little showers throughout (and of course the big storm Monday).
Weeding is a necessary task, and it needs to be done. Now. As we’re hoeing the plants we are dragging the weeds to the center of the rows so that if they do re-root themselves we can just use the tractor and run through with the cultivator, hopefully saving ourselves some time. It’s really a gamble hoeing during a week like this week, but like I mentioned in previous posts the plants need to be taller than the weeds or they will just stop growing all together.
Broccoli has quite a bit of damage. We knew that it was going to be about 3 weeks behind schedule anyways because we couldn’t get into the field in Zimmerman due to standing water. Remember that video I posted of the culvert filling with water and creating a spiral, kind of like what you would expect while draining a bath tub?? That’s the same field that now holds our broccoli and cauliflower. There are some small heads just starting to develop, but as this week has continued the plants that didn’t appear to have damage are now being exposed because they’re turning yellow and those small cracks in the stem have overtaken the stems and the plants have broken off completely n some cases.
This week in your CSA Share you can expect to receive: Blueberries, Purple Potatoes, Zucchini, Pickles, Cucumbers, Basil and possibly summer squash.
Blueberries!! We purchase these from J & Q orchard in Princeton, a certified organic berry farm. As many of you know, we rent property to farm so we haven’t invested in perennial berries. We purchase these for our CSA because we know blueberries are a welcomed MN Grown treat in the middle of the summer!! Blueberries can be used in so many ways; of course pancakes & smoothies, but also blueberry cheesecakes, fruit tart, or even on top of a big bowl of vanilla ice cream!
Basil! Of course I am already thinking of caprese salad with fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinegar with tomatoes, but others like to make pesto, spinach basil lasagna & chicken provolone. Another idea is garlic basil butter that can be used with so many dishes, or even just smeared on a piece of toasted baguette. The most important take home note I can tell you about basil is: do not refrigerate it or it will change flavor and turn black! Most people have the instinct to put it in the fridge like every other herb, resist the temptation! Place it on the counter in a cup with a little bit of water at the bottom to keep it hydrated.
Cucumbers and pickles are not the same thing. They each have their own purpose. Pickles have thinner skins and are usually thinner in diameter so they have a smaller seed cavity and will not get floppy if they’re used in refrigerator pickles for example. I would not use a slicing cucumber to make pickles because they have a higher water content, and they have larger seeds which are undesirable for refrigerator pickles.
I would use slicing cucumbers to make things like creamy cucumber salad. Just make sure to salt them and let them sit on the counter for about 20 minutes (and then drain the water). If you don’t salt them and let them get rid of excess water, your creamy cucumber salad gets kind of watery (if you eat that salad you know exactly what I mean!!). If you’ve never made a creamy cucumber salad, try bringing to your next potluck event this summer- it is always a big hit!
Purple Potatoes! Are a fun twist on a classic. These potatoes grow smaller than normal reds or yellows in most instances. We pulled a few test plants this morning and they’re loaded with potatoes- but they’re all little!! We made purple mashed potatoes with lunch today. As they cook, their color fades to almost a blue-ish hue. We will be bagging these this week so that they don't go through the bottom of your CSA box. They almost look black on the outside, very dark. Just use your fingernail to peel a little bit away and you'll see they're very bright purple on the inside! The pic above has one potato peeled in the middle to show color.
The variety of the week is Zucchini!! I know you’re thinking wow, we got a lot last week! Well, this week’s harvest looks like it will be smaller than last week’s because the hail knocked off a lot of the flowers. Every zucchini comes from a HUGE flower that looks kind of like a day lily. If you don’t see flowers on your zucchini plant, you’ll never get any zucchini. The hail knocked a lot of the little flowers off and actually caused a lot of the pollen and nectar to get bounced out of the existing flowers which resulted in a harvest about 25% of the yield as last week’s pick on Monday (early in the morning before the hail).
When we’re planning on eating zucchini at our house, I just try to find something the kids will actually eat without complaining haha (we have 3 kids under 6y). We’ve done plenty of stir frys, which is basically finding whatever veggies are in your fridge and sautéing them in a specific order. If you’re starting with potatoes, onions and peppers, I would wait until the last minute to add the zucchini or they’ll get soggy. I.e. they don't take as long to cook as a potato etc.
The kids absolutely loooove zucchini fritters. Sounds foreign right? Well, it’s basically shredded zucchini with bread crumbs and herbs if you choose, formed into a ‘cake’ and then either baked or fried. These really resemble shredded hash browns so if you have picky eaters this would be a good one to try- because everyone likes ‘potatoes’ right?!
One thing that doesn’t require a recipe (those are my favorite meals), is breaded zucchini. Whisk an egg in a bowl (without adding milk). Slice the zucchini into about ¼ inch slices, and prepare a bowl of bread crumbs. It could be actual bread crumbs or I’ve even used crushed croutons when I’m out of bread crumbs! You could also use something like fried onions for a twist. Dip the slices of zucchini in the egg, and then the bread crumbs and then put them on a baking sheet and cook them for about 7-8 minutes on each side. I like to make sure to cook them longer than most others I think because I like them to be crispy. The key here is making sure the slices of zucchini aren’t too thick. If you have ½ inch or inch wide slices they won’t crisp up because there is a lot of water content in zucchini.
I hope you all have a wonderful week!! ~The Farmer's Wife