FARM NEWSLETTER // WEEK 10
Happy Fri-yay!! We have been extra busy around the farm here lately, because now we’re harvesting just about every kind of produce we have growing in the fields. Here is a picture of all of the muskmelons we harvested on Tuesday last week, eeek!
Ben and I were just talking about the harvest schedule and I wanted to share this tidbit with you in an effort to explain a little about the varieties and frequency of varieties in your CSA.
There are a lot of different produce varieties we harvest for your CSA Shares. We try to take into consideration what you want and how much of it that you want and when. If certain varieties coordinate well together we try and make sure to get those into the shares on the same week.
There are two kinds of harvest schedules I want to mention. The first is the types of produce that you only harvest when they’re ripe, or they get to size. Bell peppers for instance, tomatoes, melons, winter squash, beans even. The majority of produce is harvested at ideal sizes or stages of ripeness.
The second type of harvesting is the very intensive harvesting for things like zucchini, summer squash, pickles and cucumbers. We are harvesting these every other day, from the beginning of their production through the fall. We literally end up with a thousand pounds of these goodies every week.
With cucumbers & summer squash, when they produce, we harvest. Either that or the plants will start to produce less flowers and overall produce less. It makes me want to relate this to our own bodies- you know how they say the more that you exercise the more energy you will have overall? This is very similar. The more you’re harvesting, the more the plants are triggered to produce more flowers and hence more ‘fruits’. We have to pick the whole patch every time we go out there, not just a handful of them. When we take a week off of adding them into our CSAs we end up with a TON to donate to the food shelf, which is not a bad thing. We try to gauge our plants so that we grow enough but not a ridiculous amount. This year was a bit different because of the soil here, producing a LOT more than what we are used to in the sand.
A good comparison between the two types of harvesting is peppers vs zucchini. If you miss a day picking your peppers you don’t end up with 50 peppers the next day the size of a semi truck. With Zucchini, you do. Lol!
This past week we were supposed to get all summer squash in your CSA shares but we did have to sub out some zucchini in place of the summer squash for a couple of the days. The reasoning for that is because we had such huge storms the week prior. Ben thinks there wasn’t as much of the pollen in the flowers as there usually is as a result of the heavy rainfall; resulting in lower production.
We will have beans for week 11 (not this coming Monday). They are SO close!! Here is a picture of the overhead of the patch. The closest, brightest green plants are all beans. We have about 8 200 foot long rows. I can also guarantee watermelons for week 11, because as we are surveying the field we are finding a lot more ripening melons. They do hold longer than the muskmelon. Watermelons will not over ripen if they’re left on the vine for a week or so. Muskmelon would turn to mush if we let them be on the plant that much longer after they were ripe.
This is the time of year when we start considering putting up food. What does that mean? Processing, canning, preserving, really anything you can store for the off season is a great idea any year, especially this year. I believe that food security, or the lack of, has become a lot more prominent lately. I contribute that to part of the reason that our CSAs sold out almost 2 months in advance. I also know this to be true through talking with professionals at the food shelves we work with, they’ve told us their need is up as much as 35% compared to last year at this time.
We will be selling extra produce for canning, processing, freezing etc. The fall shares are still available, though they are reserved for only CSA Members. If we end up with a ton of extra produce in the fall we might consider opening this up to anyone but for the foreseeable future we will only allow CSA members to sign up for that share. The fall share has a lot of squash, potatoes (a couple different kinds), onions, beets, and carrots. Those are all varieties that can be stored for a long period of time if kept in the right conditions, without ever having to process them. These will be delivered alongside your last 2 weeks of CSA Shares (it comes in two boxes, one each of the last two weeks). If you want to sign up for one, you can visit our website anytime between now and the middle of September.
If you look in the farm to table storage handbook PDF you’ll see that almost every variety has a method of freezing or canning. For those who are familiar with canning you know that some require the basic hot water bath and others require the pressure canner. There are a lot of different methods of putting up foods for the winter.
To start the season of storing produce, we will start with offering bulk tomatoes for those of you who want to can them or freeze them. I personally freeze a lot of tomatoes because during the farm season I don’t have a ton of time to do my canning. After the season I thaw everything out and start making my salsas and sauces. If I have time, I do like to use them fresh though!
The tomatoes would be delivered alongside your CSA Share over this next couple of weeks. We will have a handful of ripe canners but we have a lot of ripe romas. I use romas for all of my sauces because they’re thicker (so they don’t need to be cooked down as long, saving us time). To each their own, if you want tomatoes just let me know your preference.
The tomatoes are $25 for a half bushel basket, which will come to you packed into a 5/9th box (which is more than a half bushel). For traditional larger canning tomatoes it’s about 25#, and romas you get about 28# in a box. They vary in weight slightly because the romas are a bit smaller, there is less space between the tomatoes and more can fit into the box. We would also have the other supplies for any salsa/ sauce just ask. We are giving you guys almost 20% off of the tomatoes compared to selling them to the public. We will apply the same discount to corn if you wanted to blanch and freeze some of that the sack are $22 and there is 4 bakers dozens in the burlap sacks. If you’re interested in any of these just shoot me an email and we can make arrangements for this week or next.
I saw the funniest post the other day in one of my farmer facebook groups. It was about how people always say “You must eat so healthy during the farm season” and the responses from fellow farmers was “well we don’t ever actually have time to eat meals at mealtime so we certainly don’t cook” & “A lot of snacking”. There was another one on there that said she went into McDonalds because she was in such a rush and thought she might have to wear a disguise just in case anyone saw her. The responses were so funny! Although we do enjoy cooking when we can, this is really the season of preparation for us so that we can eat a lot of healthy foods all winter long :)
This week in the Family & Jumbo Shares you can expect: Spaghetti Squash, Muskmelon, Cabbage/ Cauliflower, Zucchini/ Summer Squash, Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers, & Roma Tomatoes.
This week in the Single Shares you can expect: Spaghetti Squash, Muskmelon, Cabbage/Cauliflower, Zucchini/ Summer Squash, Jalapenos & Slicing Tomatoes.
Last week we were supposed to get the Spaghetti Squash in your shares. I usually do a pretty good job at planning out the CSAs but this last week we ran into an unforeseen issue… we literally couldn’t fit them. There were so many other bigger items in the CSAs last week that we didn’t have room for the spaghetti squash. What a problem to have! Especially compared to last season- whew!! That said, they are a priority for this week!! They will be the first thing going in :)
There is an item listed here Cauliflower/Cabbage that I would like to explain. So instead of doing all cauliflower this week and all cabbage next week, we will be cutting the biggest of all the heads and putting those in your boxes. That way, we avoid cutting the super tiny heads of cauliflower or cabbage. If we harvest it like this, you’re getting a better value with a bigger head of cabbage or cauliflower. We make sure to mark down who received what- so you will get the opposite next week. Over the next two weeks you will receive one of each.
I asked Ben about the muskmelon and how long we would have it, and he laughed- because we have another patch coming in too! So this week is the last week of this patch but down the ways a bit we will have them again. Please remember that we are harvesting them when they’re ripe so please don’t let it sit on your counter for a few days before cutting it. The best advice I can give is to cut it up and put it in the fridge; but if you can’t cut it right away, still put it in your fridge whole. Having it in the fridge will slow the ripening process.
The hot peppers included this week (for all of the share sizes) are HOT! These are the hottest types of peppers we grow. Some people don’t like hot peppers, but there are ways to take away from the heat. Like the jalapeno popper recipe for example, that has the cream cheese in the middle. If you aren’t sure what you want to do with them right now, a good idea would be to freeze them. Peppers are among the easiest produce varieties to process because it’s literally just cutting them up into the sizes you want them, and popping them in the freezer. There isn’t any processing involved- no blanching or otherwise cooking. Just cut them and put them in a bag with the date on it. I know I use some of our diced hot peppers in my enchiladas during the winter months and they’re not nearly as spicy when they’re coming out of the freezer as when they go into the freezer.
Tomatoes! Look at this little goofy guy we have here, it looks like it's looking at us she said! We have intentions of giving everyone the types of tomatoes specified above. The Romas for the Jumbo & Family Shares and the Slicers for the Single Shares. If for some reason we don’t have enough ripe tomatoes of one kind we will substitute it and make sure to get you the opposite the following week. We aren’t quite to the end of tomato season yet but we can see the end. We did get some blight in the tomato patch and it spreads so rapidly that in the beginning only one variety of our tomatoes had it and now it’s throughout the whole patch. (Yes we wash our hands and sanitize clothing before transitioning through the varieties in the patch to prevent the spread of blight). So it’s not the end of ‘maters but they’re ripening very quickly now.
I hope you guys have some awesome plans for this weekend! I know that is hard to do in “coronavirus season” but remember there are so many great state and regional parks in MN to be explored. Did you know we actually have a lot of waterfalls in MN?? I’m not saying go on a 10 mile hike but I think we can all agree in weather like this we should find a way to enjoy it outside, even if that’s just reading a good book on the porch.
Stay well friends,
~The Farmer’s Wife