FARM NEWSLETTER / / WEEK 4
Things are finally turning around. We are seeing a lot of growth over the last week or so, especially in the crops that were really behind like the peppers and tomatoes. Those varieties really like the heat, and outside of a handful of days this season we haven’t had really hot days so we’re really glad to see progress on those little guys!
The muskmelon patch looks great. They’re growing to be pretty big! All fruits and almost all veggies, come from a flower. The muskmelon flowers are small delicate flowers. They produce almost all of their flowers at one time, meaning that almost all of the melons will ripen at the same time. There are usually second ‘sets’ as we call them, which will almost all ripen at the same time as well, several weeks later (but that harvest is about 10% of the first harvest in size).
Right now, they’re looking sooo good!! They are almost full size and some have even started developing the netting on the outside that we’re all so familiar with- which is that texture on the outside of the muskmelon. Right now, they’re large, bright green and mostly smooth. In a week they’ll all have the netting and then they’ll start to ripen and turn banana yellow. We expect to include muskmelons in the CSA Shares in 2 weeks or so!
The zucchini have powdery mildew on the plants which is exactly what we were worried was going to happen after the hail. It’s basically a fungus from having extreme cold and wet growing conditions, which basically fit this year to a T. Powdery mildew happens without hail but with the hail and broken leaves/ exposed plants, it is very successful this year. Hail just makes it easier for these diseases to fester because it is easier to transfer from plant to plant if they’re already using their energy to heal their foliage- they don’t have enough energy to fight powdery mildew too.
We use something called Neem Oil, which is an oil extract that is from a tree. The oil smells strongly like cedar but it also is a natural way to stop the spread and even reverse the effects of the powdery mildew- so we will keep you posted on how that works for us. Ben just said he noticed the mildew in the pickles too, so we will use it there as well. Mildew is a disease on the plant specifically, which decreases the health and overall production of the plants. It is not harmful to us, nor is the zucchini that grows from the plants with it. It’s really more a nuisance than anything- and reduces harvest by attacking the plant itself, not us or the produce.
We will be tying the tomatoes again this upcoming week. We were going to do it this morning but it was sprinkling this morning and you can’t touch tomato plants if they’re wet with rain or evening the morning dew because it spreads disease like wildfire. The plants are getting so big so fast now (especially over the last week) that we’ll have to get them tied as soon as we can this upcoming week to prevent them from tipping over.
This week in your CSA Share you can expect the following produce varieties:
Sweet Corn!!, Pickles/ Cucumbers, Green Onions, Lemon Basil, and Zucchini/ Summer Squash.
Sweet Corn!! We have all been waiting for this moment. During the summer time corn is one of our staples because everyone in the house really enjoys it! After a while of eating corn on the cob, I will start to cook it, cut it off the cob, and then use it to make a side dish for supper. There are a lot of really good Mexican corn recipes that include peppers, I will be posting one to the blog this week too!
Corn is composed of a lot of sugars when it is first harvested, and then after the days progress those sugars start to convert to starches, which causes it to lose that super sweet flavor. Have you ever eaten corn the same day it’s being harvested? Well, you’re in for a treat!! There is nothing like having day-old corn, because the sugar content is at its peak flavor and the kernels themselves have that desirable pop!
If you can’t eat all your corn right away make sure to keep the husk on it until you can enjoy it, because that’s a natural barrier to protect the integrity of the corn. If you want to grill it, soak it in water for 10 minutes or so, tear off the tassel, and place it directly on the grill for about 5-8 minutes on each side. You’ll notice the husk darkening or even showing the grill lines. It’s really important to remove the tassel to prevent a fire from starting in the grill. Once the tassel is dried out, it will burn very easily. I just grab onto the tassel without husking the corn at all and pull off the loose ends- which doesn’t take much time at all.
Lemon Basil is another variety of basil that we grow in addition to the variety you received in this past week's CSA Shares. Lemon Basil is considered a specialty herb; something you won’t likely find at any-ol’ grocery store and it literally smells and tastes JUST like lemons! But in herb form!! There are a lot of baking recipes that will use Lemon Basil. If you want to use it in your own favorite recipe, I would suggest folding it into the softened butter before use.
The summer squash is just now starting to produce, so it’s not yet at full capacity hence the reason we’ll be splitting this week with either zucchini or yellow crookneck summer squash. They are stored in the same way, they can be used in the same way, and they both take on flavors of other ingredients really well when they’re being cooked. Crookneck summer squash is more tender, so it can be used in salads or easily enjoyed raw. Zucchini can as well, but the skins of the crookneck squash are very thin and their flesh is just a little more tender. We expect to have a full week of summer squash next week.
We will also be providing pickles or cucumbers (but hopefully both! depends on their production and how fast that Neem oil starts to kick in and prevent powdery mildew). Pickles and Cucumbers can be used mostly interchangeably. I know we talked about this last week too, but in summary they are both cucumbers. One is a pickling cucumber, which we call ‘pickles’ and the other is the slicing cucumbers which we call ‘slicers’ for short. Ben planted the second patch of pickles a week or so ago over in the Zimmerman field, and once those get large enough to produce we will have a ton of pickles! We also grow multiple patches of slicers because the plants we have now won’t produce all season long. They have about a month of peak production.
The variety of the week is Green Onions!
Green Onions are fun to include because they’re one variety that has people looking up recipes. They’re not as commonly used as the traditional onions, but we’re still waiting for those to make a comeback. The green onions look really good! We will cut the tips off of the greens because they are almost always brown (I’m not sure why they wilt in the field- I think it has something to do with heat), but they will come with the outer layer of skin and the roots to keep it fresh and protect the small bulb of the green onions.
These are also called bulbless onions, they can range from sweet to spicy, but generally their flavor is milder than a full-grown onion. Their round, hollow tops are almost always sweet.
To store: They should be stored unwashed and wrapped loosely in a plastic bag. Put them in the refrigerator where they will keep for a week.
To keep the greens longer, chop off about three-quarters of the tender green tips and stand them up in an inch of water in a tall container covered loosely with a ziplock bag, refreshing the water every 3 days.
To eat: You can eat the entire plant. Rinse scallions in cold water and snip off the roots & anything that’s floppy. Use chopped green onions as a garnish; they are less pungent. The minced greens are a good substitute for chives. Use scallions in almost any recipe calling for onions, raw or cooked. They are excellent in soups and stew. Try brushing scallions with sesame oil, salt, and pepper and put them on the grill.
To freeze: Chop into desired size and place on cookie sheet and freeze. Then pop into a Ziplock baggie and store in the freezer.
Have a wonderful week!! ~The Farmer's Wife