Farm Newsletter ** Week 3
Greetings All! I hope you guys all have something fun planned for the weekend. Happy Independence Day!
We are celebrating by sneaking away tomorrow for some canoeing with Mom & Dad. They live down in Apple Valley so we're meeting at the St. Croix and hope to enjoy our day on the water! We have lots to do in the morning before we can go, and we have to time it right so we're home for the pig's supper time ;) I'm just so happy we get to bring our kids out on the river. My Dad always used to take my sister and I as kids, and it's one of those memories that is still vivid to this day. Can't wait to share this with our kiddos too!!
Life is good on the farm. We have had plenty of rain lately, so Farmer Ben is doing a lot better too. Things get a little stressful when we have one of the driest springs on record. Things are looking really great now. Check out the watermelon crop!
These watermelons were just "trained" to be in their rows. When we plant them they naturally reach out as far as they can because they're a vining crop. The melons send shoots out in every direction. We spent some time yesterday literally picking up the vines and putting them on the plastic. That way, Ben could cultivate over the top of the vines without ripping them all out of the ground. We were able to cultivate them one last time this season before we're totally overtaken by vines!
Now that the melon patch is officially weed free for a bit, these melons are going to go nuts. They grow a TON when it's nice and hot outside; they love the heat. So do the peppers and tomatoes, most notably. The melon crop is looking fabulous!
Squash is also a vining crop, so he spent some time cultivating those as well. After this week they'll be too big to go over the top of them with the tractor, so it was a great time to knock the weeds down one last time! (Cultivated after this picture was taken- you can see weeds in the middle of the rows now).
The squash isn't uniform in size in this patch because we had such a slow germination due to the drought. They tried their best! They germinated at different times instead of all at once, because of the stress. We planted another whole squash patch to make sure we have enough for our CSAs and Fall Shares because we were worried with the inconsistency in the patch.
Sweet corn is doing well! We've got our sweet corn around the corner at our neighbor's house, and they even let us run irrigation from their own house so we could water the corn!! Before the rain we got last week, a lot of the corn looked very sad. Now this weekend it's nice and perky and it's color has really come back! We expect to be harvesting corn in the next few weeks!!
As you know, everyone still gets their CSA for this week! We reschedule all of the CSAs that would have been delivered on Tuesday July 4th, to Wednesday the 5th and Thursday the 6th. Please see the schedule below, it's also listed in your Member Handbook (the one that's specific for your CSA site).
Please give us a little extra time this coming week to get your CSAs delivered. Monday we won't need extra time, but Wednesday and Thursday we'll have quite a bit of extra harvesting, washing and delivering so please give us some extra time (we suggest coming about an hour after your normally scheduled CSA pick up time).
Since this is a holiday week and many of you are out of town, I want to give you some options in case you're not able to pick up. You're welcome to offer your CSA to a friend or family member! The second option is that you can donate it to the food shelf.
Please give your friends/family as much instruction as possible. Fair warning, if anyone takes someone else's CSA we consider it theft and you will be charged $50 to replace the other person's share which includes hand delivery. This happens every year, and it's always when someone else is picking up for our regular members. This is one of the only ways to incur an extra cost while in our CSA, I can't stress it enough, please communicate with your guests and make sure they know what to expect when they arrive to your CSA pick up site! We appreciate your help!
If you'd like to donate, please fill out the form here:
Thank you to everyone who has already submitted this form, it's helped streamline the donations this week which is important because there are more donations this week than any other week all season! It helps us out a lot to have it organized like this!
This past week we had a problem with our CSAs because we couldn't fit everything we planned on sending home with you! It happens every once in a while. We think something will be ready and it's not, or you're surprised by something in your CSA box that was ready and we weren't expecting it yet!
Look at this box below and the sides where you can see the creases, where the flaps should fold. It was a tetris puzzle trying to get it all in there. Even down to angling the lettuces the right way to get them into the boxes.
We do our best to plan the CSA boxes every week and it really doesn't happen often where we have to substitute out veggies or make changes. This hot, hot spring has caused some of our lettuces to grow very big... so I guess that's one problem to have ;) depending on how you look at it haha! So this week we gave all of the Jumbo & Family Shares the Romaine lettuce and the Single Shares got the Buttercrunch lettuce. This week- we're flip flopping that so that everyone still gets everything!
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT IN YOUR CSA THIS WEEK:
Jumbo & Family Shares:
Kohlrabi, Green Buttercrunch, Red Buttercrunch, Pickles, Zucchini, & Kale!
Kohlrabi, Green Romaine, Kale, Red Buttercrunch & Zucchini.
*If the green romaine is as big as I think, we'll be harvesting all of the smallest heads in the patch so that we can still give you everything else on the list. We'll do everything we can to fit it all in!! The Green Buttercrunch isn't as large- so I think we'll be fine packing the Jumbo & Family Shares with the varieties listed above on their list.
Pickles and Zucchini are just starting out! I have to tell you- the first pickles of the season are absolutely precious. Ben and William went out on a scouting mission yesterday to check the pickles and found that the plants have a few larger ones, but they're loaded with smaller ones- see below! You can also see the bees working hard pollinating the flowers and also the black waterline that runs the length of the rows.
They walked hundreds of plants and got about a dozen pickles. That doesn't seem like much but with how many flowers there are and small pickles, I'm expecting to have plenty next week for the CSAs. The first of anything is always goofy looking. The first zucchini are often misshaped, and the first pickles are often really short and fat. It's like the plants need a trial run before they get it right :P
I'm not sure why it is, but it's like this every year! The first of the cukes/ zucchini is odd shaped, and as the plants naturally die, they start producing weird shapes too. We plant hundreds of cukes in every patch and have usually 3 patches per summer so we're in maximum harvest all season long! So if you see any odd-shapes next week that don't look like what you're used to- know it's our plants getting ramped up for the season!
Help with Recipes
We have more greens coming to you this week! I'll make sure that one of my recipes will focus on the greens like kale & kohlrabi leaves. I realize that's one that most people have a hard time using because they're not used to cooking with them. I really, really love the kale, spinach & artichoke dip recipe personally! If you're ever wondering where the recipes went from the previous week, just click on the "blog" button in the main header above and you can use the search tool there for "radish", "Pepper", "Squash" etc, and it'll list all of the recipes for that variety! You could also scroll down through the blog, because every single recipe I give you in my newsletter will be posted to the blog first- so they're all there waiting for you to reference!
Lettuce is a variety that I don't offer many recipes for because most folks have ideas on how to put it to work ;) It can basically be used for any meal... 4th of July burgers? Tacos? Lettuce wraps? A side for your potluck this weekend with a nice dressing? BLTs for a hearty lunch before you get on the water this weekend? I feel like lettuce is something that might not need as much encouragement when it comes to offering our recipes.
Look at how big the romaine was last week!! This is Anna, Ben's sister. She's worked with us for years and we absolutely adore her. You might even see her out delivering CSAs this season!! Ben is the oldest of 6 and Anna is the baby of the family. She's modeling with some of the romaine lettuce from last week! Her head really isn't small, it just looks like it next to this lettuce, haha.
Pickles and slicing cucumbers are different. Slicing cucumbers are longer and darker green with a thicker skin and a wider seed cavity. Pickles are a lighter green color, with a smaller seed cavity and thinner skins so we don't peel pickles before we eat them. Slicing Cucumbers won't be ready this week so you'll see pickles, but we should be able to harvest our slicing cucumbers for the following week! There are a lot of flowers out there so we know there will be a solid yield in the first pick, but they're a bit behind the pickles like normal.
Pickles are not actually pickled, they're just a type of cucumber! Seems obvious for most but there is someone out there scratching their chin. A big part of our CSA is learning about the food we're enjoying, while also getting a box of freshly harvested goodies every week!!
(Picture below is from last season)
We often call the pickles "chubs" because we don't pick them when they're 3 inches long and super skinny, we wait for them to get 4-5 inches long and a little... well... chubbier, haha. That way you get more pickle for your money. If we harvested them when they were 2-3 inches, it would take a lot of energy out of the plants and it takes a while for them to rebound because harvesting the small ones takes basically all of the flowers at once and almost every flower turns into a pickle (there are male flowers too, which don't turn into pickles).
Happy Independence Day Weekend!!
I'm really impressed by how many of you have reached out and told me about something you read on the blog here, or know what I'm talking about when I reference things I've mentioned in the blog here. Not everyone reads this- so it's really lovely to see that SO MANY of our CSA Farmily is following along!!
I want to leave on a quote I saw the other day that really stuck with me-
"If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours".
Eat Good & Be Well
~The Farmer's Wife