FARM NEWSLETTER // WEEK 6
I want to start by telling you WE GOT RAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes all of those exclamation points are actually necessary. This is not a surprise as I'm sure you've seen it on every newscast for the last couple of weeks, but the drought is getting bad. Some folks are comparing it back to the drought in the late 80s- which is scary to see these kind of weather patterns come back around. I wonder if we'll be seeing a big snow storm in the next couple years. Remember the blizzard of '91?
Just a girl, her piggies & chickens, and her baby doll "Harmony".
You can see how dry it is over here- last year this road here will solid green lush grass. This season that grass is all dead and probably not coming back without some serious landscaping.
A little bit of housekeeping--
If you want extras of something you're getting in your CSA Share- we will always do our best to get you what you need! That being said, please message me by Saturday to let me know if you'd like extra of something. We can send an invoice via paypal or you can send a check. Some folks get extras almost every week so we've started a tally with them. We aren't worried about getting ripped off- we're "handshake deal" kind of people and think highly about everyone in our program. You guys are trustworthy people with morals- or I can guarantee you wouldn't be looking for a way to access produce directly from a farmer!
The second piece of housekeeping- please break down your boxes when you're done picking up your CSA. We've had some sites have a pile of boxes at the end of the night that the hosting members end up breaking down. As hosts, they're generously offering their home for us to deliver our produce and for you to pick up your produce- in my opinion this is very, very generous!! Please help to keep our hosting families happy and break down your box <3
Friendly reminder that we have more farm fresh goodies for sale--
We offer a couple of "add-ons" with our normal CSA Shares. We offer apple shares, fall shares and honey shares. I've got all of those items back up on our website now and you're able to purchase any of them (but they're only for CSA Members!!). The Apple Share ($50) is exactly that- an extra portion of honey crisp apples straight from the orchard we buy our HC from! You'll still get honey crisps in your CSA if you don't buy an apple share, the apple share is just a much larger portion. I suggest this share for those with youngsters especially because when the apples come into harvest, it is "lunch box season" haha! I know our kiddos enjoy them. Some people will eat them all as they are, some people will process them and make apple pie filling, apple juice, apple sauce (baby food!), or even apple wine!!
The Fall Share ($95) is a two part delivery, during week 15 and 16 of our normal CSA Season. It contains varieties that will store into winter easily. Winter Squash, potatoes (a couple kinds!), dried onions, beets, and carrots. If you buy a Fall Share BEFORE THE END OF JULY- we will also add a one pound container of Honey to your Fall Share! Fall Shares are still available to purchase until the deadline of September 10th, but the promotion of free honey won't be added to those purchased after July 31st. With the Fall Share you'll also get another storage guide from me- it's specifically about how to store these varieties into the winter and ideas for how to use them. This is also a fast track to being a squash connoisseur! ;P
The Honey Shares, as we call them, consist of a couple different honey products directly from our beekeepers. We host their hives here on our property and they are doing great! The honey packages include raw- all-natural honey, creamed honey and one of the options includes honey sticks as well.
If you're interested in checking out the Add-On Shares or purchasing online please follow this link-
THE FIELDS: Things are going much better than anticipated. We got a little bit of rain on Thursday and now quite a bit of rain last night too! This is dance-in-the-rain type of weather. Even our pigs were dancing in the rain! It improves everyone's mood dramatically. Especially knowing that working outside in the next few days won't be as muggy and humid as it's been.
Melons are doing great! We've got a great set on the melons. When I say "set" I am referring to the clusters of flowers that have turned into fruits. Not all flowers are female or meant to produce fruits. Some flowers are actually only on a plant for purposes of pollination. This is especially evident in zucchini where you can see the males are on long thin stalks and the female flowers are clustered more towards the base (where the zucchini actually grow).
Going back to the melons- we're looking at a solid melon harvest if everything continues as it is. The soil here is very rich and we do have them on irrigation. They'll set another time this season as well. This is a biological advantage for the plant, which is why melons don't produce all of their melons at one time. There is often a couple solid weeks of good melon harvest.
Peppers! The peppers are looking great. I have to tell you though, I absolutely despise picking peppers. The reasoning is because the plants are so delicate and the first peppers always grow right up the middle! No matter how many pecks of peppers I've picked in the past (haha!) I still break a plant here or there. It's not broken at the base of the plants, but usually a branch is cracked and will fall off. Those who garden know what I'm talking about. Those stinkers!! There are SO MANY PEPPERS out there right now though!! :D
Guys, I do have one thing that isn't super exciting. Our blueberry situation is looking pretty dire. We buy all of our blueberries from J&Q fruit farm in Princeton. They've been our supplier for over 5 years; the only farm we've ever bought blueberries from and they're certified organic. They've been in contact with us for a few weeks and we've been waiting patiently for good news. The problem is, they don't have workers to help them fill all of their orders. They told me that we're at the top of the list, so if they can get this quantity all at one time (over the period of a week- we pick up every day), that we'll be able to get them in our CSAs. They actually asked if we'd bring our crew over to their farm but it'd be impossible to pick all of the blueberries we'd need in addition to our normal harvesting schedule in the mornings.
I think this is an interesting tidbit to shine light on a lot of the farms in MN, and a lot of other industries actually. Have you been hearing about restaurants being short staffed? Or hotels that can't have more guests because they don't have housekeepers to clean the rooms? Now it's not just the BK closing early because of lack of staffing- IT IS A FARM. LITERALLY. A family with a perennial crop of fruits that aren't going to pick themselves. I hate to get down on ya'll because it isn't any fun to be serious... but I just wanted to take this moment to share that employees are literally what operate a farm. We can't do it all by ourselves. I know a lot of farmers, and the most common thing I hear is that they're short staffed. If you ask what could be improved right now on any farm, it wouldn't be the heat wave or drought because we can manipulate the conditions for our plants by watering or using shade cloth etc, it almost always comes down to staffing issues. We're lucky to have an amazing crew this season- all but 1 of the people working with us is coming back from previous seasons so they have experience too.
OK I PROMISE I'LL WRAP IT UP. Some of you know me via blogging and farm life and some of you know me in my personal life, and what I can tell you is that in any facet of my life, I talk a lot. I'm just easily excited and love sharing about our farm life with you all!!
LOOK AT THIS MEAL PREP! Guys- Kelly is one of our hosts and she sends me these awesome photos. I adore the organization that she has!! I wanted to touch quickly on a Pro-CSA tip. The best suggestion I have for you in terms of enjoying your CSA and getting the most out of it for the season <3 is making sure you prep your veggies. Whether that be the moment you get home or the next evening, please look and see what different storage suggestions the different varieties have. Some of them should be in the fridge but some should never go in the fridge, just as an example. I don't want it to sound so complicated because it really isn't! The way you store your produce will be directly linked with how long your veggies stay fresh for, and subsequently will point directly back to how much you're spending on the CSA and what you're getting out of it. Meal prepping also makes it easier to use your veggies because they're ready to go when you get back to them.
This week in your CSA: For the Jumbo and Family Shares- Broccoli, Zucchini, Red Potatoes, Green Beans, Radishes, Slicers/Pickles, and Bell Peppers!
For the Single Shares- Green Beans, Red Potatoes, Radishes, Slicers/Pickles, Lemon Basil and Bell Peppers.
As many of you know, we do offer larger quantities of certain varieties for processing. Whether that be pickles for canning or tomatoes for making salsa, we do usually deal in these larger quantities. This pickle patch isn't producing enough to get anything more than what we can provide in our CSAs right now. Last time at this year we were getting almost 4X the amount that this patch is producing. The number of plants we lost to the late frost makes a difference, but I'd guess the biggest factor here is the heat. We can't water them enough!! So please just know if you have your name on the pickle list that I'm still waiting to be able to sell them to you- I haven't forgotten I promise!
Green Beans! This is one of those super time intensive crops that we're growing because we know you like them ;) They're one of our favorites too! And with the right amount of water they're actually producing thank goodness!! This week we'll be sending everyone with beans!! If you don't eat the whole bag in one sitting, please keep them in the fridge. Keeping them in the plastic bag that they come in will keep them fresh for the longest, and they could keep in there for a couple weeks even (if they make it that long!).
Red Potatoes!!! This is a first time for the season. We love new red potatoes!! Let's talk taters for a minute... so every potato has it's purpose. Not to toot my own horn, but the section on potatoes in my Farm to Table Storage Guide is really, really good.
Red potatoes are a low starch potato meaning they're waxy and hold their shape well when you cook them. This makes them ideal boiling potatoes for salads, soups, and stews. Tip: if after slicing a raw potato, the knife comes out clean that means that there isn’t a lot of starch and chances are it is more suited to boiling than baking. (Russet potatoes for instance, are very starchy, and it's evident because of the residue left on the knife when cutting them).
The thin skins on the red potatoes make them fairly hard to dig at this time of year. We had planned on buying a potato digger but that's not in the cards for this season anymore. With some unexpected expenses (like any business!) we had to choose where to spend our money. I can tell you though- the potato digger is at the top of the list for next season :P When the potatoes get a little older, the skins are much thicker. Think of the ones in the grocery store- they'll never have skins that you can peel with your fingernail because they're not harvested as "new potatoes". New potatoes and their thin skins are very desirable for taste as well as texture!! You'll see!!
RADISHES!! are one of those varieties that people either really like, or they can’t stand them. If you’re not a fan of this spicy root vegetable, try peeling it to take away some of the zing. Use a veggie peeler if they’re larger, and for the smaller ones use a paring knife. If you still think they’re spicy, try grating them to better distribute the radish over your meal, instead of chopping or even mincing the radish. Grated radishes add the classic earthy flavor, without almost any of the heat.
To store: Remove radish leaves if they are still attached. Store the unwashed greens in a loosely wrapped plastic bag in the crisper bin of your refrigerator and use ASAP. Store radish roots dry and unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 1 week. Handling: Scrub radishes well to remove dirt. Trim off the stem and rootlets. Slice, chop or mince the roots or leave them whole. To use: Eat radishes raw with a sprinkle of salt, or with room-temperature butter. Grate radishes into slaws and salads. Try small young radish leaves in salads or scrambled eggs; they are perfectly edible and have a terrific earthy taste like watercress. Blanch whole radishes in boiling, salt water for 5-10 minutes, or steam them until just tender, 8-12 minutes. Top with butter, salt, and pepper or with a vinaigrette. They’re also great grilled!
This is a super fragrant herb that can be used for a lot of fun dishes, drinks, and baked treats. The reason the Single Shares are getting this now and that the rest of our CSA Shares aren't is because we're using this week to cut it back because it's growing so inconsistently. It's super uneven, even though it was all planted on the same date in the same field. So by harvesting the biggest plants this week, we hope to be able to give the lemon basil to everyone in a couple of weeks! I'll make sure to add a recipe to the blog this week that uses the lemon basil.
Bell Peppers!! I know some of you read the post from last week but I want to reiterate- if you see peppers lose in your box please know that those are sweet peppers. If there are any hot peppers we will always put them in a plastic bag. Of course we want to be mindful of our plastic and waste, but there really isn't any other option because the heat from the jalapenos for example, would rub off on whatever else is in your share box. Those little plastic grocery bags are recyclable at least.
This week we're just starting to harvest the bell peppers so you'll see a variety of different shapes and sizes. In a couple weeks we will be able to get you all of one kind or another, but this week is more of a "harvest whatever is big enough" kind of week. By harvesting the largest peppers off of these plants it will also trigger them to produce more flowers to make more peppers ;)
I hope you are all enjoying your weekly CSA Shares with us!! We certainly enjoy what we do are we're happy to grow for your precious families.
Have a fabulous weekend!! ~The Farmer's Wife