Good Afternoon All!
I hope you are enjoying your CSAs so far! I know this past week was a really fun one for us because we always get so excited to send out *NEW* varieties for the season! Last week was the first of our sweet corn, broccoli, beets and green beans! It was such a fun week for veggies!
This week we've got another line-up for you with a handful of new varieties as well! One of our favorites, the long-awaited, potato! :P
**This picture is from a couple years ago but I wanted to show you what new potatoes look like. (And look how little our baby was!)
The skins are thinner and peel off very easily. The old saying is that if you can peel a potato with your fingernail, it's a new potato.
What's a "new potato"? You've seen it marketed in the store or online, at the market; it's a common term for potatoes that are freshly dug in the spring. The "freshly dug" part comes in because new potatoes are very firm and flavorful; they're fresh. The "in the spring" part is because potatoes skins are the thinnest when they're still growing. When we dig these potatoes the plant above ground is still GREEN! Most people wait until the plants above ground start to turn yellow or brown before they start digging because that'll produce the best yield. In the bigger potato farms (the ones who are just potatoes) they actually spray the greens so they die and put all their energy into the potatoes, increasing yield. If you live around Elk River or Big Lake/ Becker, mid-summer you'll be able to see when the big potato farms start spraying their fields because they all look dead (and the plants are!).
The skins on these potatoes are as thin as it gets, and as the season goes on you'll notice that the potatoes skins thicken and get tougher. That's a natural part of their growth! They want to be tough. We dig them when the yield is lower but they taste better! Because we're not worried about the yield as much, we are concerned with flavor! Of course yield is important but we just plant way more than we'd normally need.
IRRIGATION Speaking of irrigation, this morning Ben turned off the irrigation to one of the runs in the back patch. As he was leaving for the farm stand bright and early, he leaned in for a kiss and said "You've got water pressure if you want to run the dishwasher". You know how nice that is to hear!!!
We had our pump replaced just a couple weeks ago and while it does work really good, we are literally watering out of every spigot on the farm. The one attached to our house has hoses that run down to the pig pens. The one right by the barn is hooked up to the 1 inch waterline and the one back at the pack-shed is also hooked up to a 1 inch waterline so he can run his field irrigation. So if we want to take a shower, run the dishwasher, washing machine, etc, we have to be mindful of whatever else is watering or you'll be filling a pot of water in the sink for days because it runs so slowly, lol.
I'm struggling to share everything this week because I feel like I have so much to tell you.
Check out the first picture- this is the zucchini patch Wednesday afternoon when we were out picking. You can see there are a ton of little rotten ones (not getting pollinated because the male flowers dehydrated and died/fell off the plants), there are plenty of weird shapes which is another side effect of not getting enough water, and there are even zucchini that SPLIT in half because they were so dry. Check these out! This is NOT what we want to see when we go pick zucchini. The funny shapes are the least of our worries when the zucchini aren't getting pollinated and they're busting in half. You may be seeing some more funny shapes in your CSA in the next couple weeks because these plants need time to rebound. Regardless of running water from every spigot on our property around the clock, we still can't get enough water out there. Ben is now running sprinklers to the front field to supplement the irrigation system and t-tape we've got set up.
We got hail on Wednesday afternoon. **No one panic**
It was a short episode and wasn't very strong. It ripped up some plants and bent over some peppers but for the most part we made it out without any real damage from what we can see right now. The foliage was damaged on almost everything in the field but the "fruits" beneath weren't showing much damage.
The plants were so big and bushy that it basically protected the fruits. So the squash and peppers look fine, tomatoes are looking good still. Zucchini got dinged up by hail but the plants are dying anyways, and we have 2 more plantings coming up so if these plants die off it isn't the end of the world. We've got about 20 cases from today that have little dings but they're all superficial, not like holes into the zucchini. You may see some of those.
**LOOK AT THAT SPAGHETTI SQUASH SET! There are a lot and many of them are very big!! Ben said we're 2 weeks out from Spaghetti squash!
THIS WEEK IN YOUR CSA YOU CAN EXPECT:
Jumbo & Family Shares: Cauliflower, Broccoli, Zucchini, Slicers, Green Beans and Red Potatoes!
Single Shares: Broccoli, Zucchini, /Pickles, Green Beans and Red Potatoes!
We already talked about the potatoes- but want to touch quickly on storage. From the Farm to Table Storage Guide:
To store: Keep unwashed potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place, such as a loosely closed paper bag in a cupboard. They will keep for two weeks at room temperature. Moisture causes potatoes to spoil, light turns them green, and proximity to onions causes them to sprout. Don’t put them in the refrigerator, as low temperatures convert the starch to sugars. However, new potatoes, which are young and thin-skinned, may be refrigerated if you don’t plan to eat them within a few days.
We are sending broccoli again this week! Broccoli last week was cut very short because it wasn't going to fit unless we cut most of the stalk off. We don't usually do that and I don't want to do that ever again! The extra leaves around the broccoli or cauliflower help to protect it in travel.
Cauliflower is used, handled and stored in very similar fashion to the broccoli! They're also processed the same if you're freezing any. Ben and I blanch and freeze a ton in the fall and we mix the broccoli & cauliflower together so when we take a bag out of the freezer in the winter, it's ready to get added into my casserole!
Handling: soak your broccoli and cauliflower in a sink with mostly water and a splash of vinegar (or a hefty pinch of salt) to make sure there are no hitch hikers.
After cutting off the florets, don’t discard the stem. Sliced stems are juicy, crunchy, and perfectly edible. If the skin is thick, you can remove it with a knife or peeler before adding the stem to them to your dish. Try adding your thinly sliced broccoli stems to a veggie platter.
Zucchini are coming this week as I mentioned above! I wanted to share our system for pickles/slicers and zucchini because they're all varieties that need to be harvested every other day. Now compare that to a tomato, which we only harvest when they're ripe.
Zucchini, slicers and pickles are all grown to SIZE not RIPENESS. I wonder if you've ever thought about this before because in your own gardens there are comparables. Eggplant for example, are just picked when they're the right size. Whereas winter squash are only picked to ripeness...
What I'm getting at is that I realize this is a few weeks in a row of repeating these 3 varieties but that's how the garden works. Next week when we take time off from those varieties, we actually still harvest all of those (zucchini, pickles, slicers) because if we don't they will get really fat really quick! Subsequently, the plant puts more energy into the larger ones and stops producing flowers. So when we go out and pick the big ones we'll notice the following harvest there won't be nearly as many pickles/zucchini available.
What my day looks like-
This weekend was our son's tournament for baseball. While we love this sport SO much, we're ready to see some light at the end of the tunnel. The girls finish their softball tmr night. Our evenings have been dominated by sports, lol! Literally every day of the week all summer.
Tuesday- Baseball games
Wednesday- Softball games
Thursday- Baseball game/ practices
Friday is the farm stand so I wake up early at 6am to help harvest and get Ben on the road and then do all the pig chores. Then he's home about 7pm every night.
Every weekend day starts the same, 6am harvest and then pig stuff. Ben does the pig stuff during the week but he has to leave so early for the stand on the weekends, so I do it instead. You're probably wondering why the kids don't do it... but these feed bags we have to throw around are 80+ pounds and none of our kids can move them. They run hoses for us though!
I'm on my way out for the second day of Baseball tournaments today with our 3 kiddos, and so grateful that it's gone so well but we're pooped!! :P
**Don't feel bad for us. We chose this livelihood and knew how busy we'd be in the summertime. We wouldn't change a thing!!
Check out Kelsi after the rainstorm! I think you can hear this picture. She's shouting and running at the puddle in the front yard. William ran and got a lifejacket because he's a goofball. Karli went and got a winter sled and took a running jump on the "slip and slide" that quickly ended in tears. I think we've got ourselves a case of feral farm children here, haha.
If you're waiting for an email back from me, I am planning a couple hours of office time after the tournament this afternoon and also tmr afternoon when Anna leaves to deliver. So I should still be able to get back to you today or tmr at the latest. Sorry to keep you all hanging so long. This was a long way to say- we're doing our best and I hope to catch up with you all very soon! <3
Eat Good & Be Well
~The Farmer's Wife