The Weekly News
What a rainy week! Thanks to our sandy soil we never flood, so the deluge has been nice for the crops … but it’s also been a joy for the weeds, which can seemingly quadruple in size overnight. So, it’s no surprise that we did a whole lot of hand weeding this week, as well as mulching like crazy to prevent future weedsplosions.
We also scored two free massive rolls of paper from Craigslist (each weighs 450 pounds!), and rigged up a hanging spool system beneath the semi trailer “barn” on the edge of the field.
This will allow us to easily pull out 200 feet at a time, to serve as weed barrier beneath the mulch, in the walkways between rows.
You might think that moving to the sticks from South Minneapolis would result in some comparatively silent nights; nope. The nocturnal sounds here have been off the hook and fascinating, especially recently with the bright moon and the increase in animal activity this brings. We live on the upper edge of the Saint Croix River valley, pretty much surrounded by wooded state land. The nights here are busier than Chicago-Lake Liquors. There are foxes that scream like possessed babies, coyotes that yelp and howl, black bears that are silent until you startle them and they go crashing through the forest like drunken sasquatches, whip-poor-wills that loudly call their own name all throughout the night (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTATW8H8zpQ
), several types of owl, choruses of crickets & tree frogs, and some downright mysterious sounds.
For example, there was the mystery of the all-night drumming we heard coming from the direction of the river, on multiple nights. We would’ve thought it was hippies camping out and having a drum circle, if it had not been so continuous – going on steadily all through the night, and if it had any discernable rhythm. But the more we listened to the constant drumming sound, the more convinced we were that it was not likely actual drums being played, and that itwas coming from more than one direction along the river. If it weren’t for a lucky result when I tried Googling “drumming sound Saint Croix River, we would likely have never figured it out …
So, sheepshead fish live in the river, and they spawn in June, preferring exactly the type of environment found directly across from us. Sheepshead are the only freshwater member of the Drum Fish family – so named for the loud drumming sound the males make when spawning (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish/freshwaterdrum.html). This is little-known phenomenon is almost certainly what we’ve been hearing, drumming up from the river bottoms.
The weather was also quite the noisemaker the last few night – the wind was insane Monday night; we woke up Tuesday morning to find that the mosquito fortress my sister gave us as a wedding present had been utterly demolished, as if by a truck. Fortunately, the mosquito population has really been decimated by the swarms of dragonflies, and we won’t need the shelter just to avoid death by insectile anemia.
And last night, we were bombarded by hail – which is plenty loud on our metal roof, as well as on the shipping container and our collection of 55 gallon drums …
Hmmm, in other news we saw a dung beetle on the side of the field and Gabe was amazed, not knowing they existed around here. There was a giant spider that caught and killed a cricket. A carrion beetle with orange symbiotic mites A pair of pileated woodpeckers, Fresh black bear tracks. Sandhill cranes, dinosaur-bird style. We painted a banner for the Saint Croix Falls Farmer’s Market.
Our first WWOOFers moved on after helping out tons, headed for the gorgeous Michigan Upper Peninsula.
Widget hunted rabbits. We got the well pump to run off the solar power system instead of the generator (thanks to a friend of the farm that donated both a second battery and a powerful inverter!). The broccoli pulled a sneaky trick and went to flower under the row cover when we had our backs turned – the few days of heat kicked it into warp drive – we’ll still get smaller side shoots from it, but we plan to plant a second wave of fall broccoli to come up after the heat of summer has passed by.
The Weekly Box
It’s salad season – enjoy your fresh local greens while they are here, because soon the summer heat will come and end many of these … the bag of spring salad mix this week contains oak leaf lettuce, beet greens, sunflower greens, pea tendrils, baby swiss chard, baby curly & red Russian kale, wild spinach, mizuna (the frilly, spicy stuff), and a little bit of amaranth leaf.
Some stuff you had last week is back this week, including:
- Radishes (Hailstone, Easter Egg, & Champion varieties) – spicytastic if eaten fresh, mellow & mild if roasted – kind of like small, slightly radishy potatoes.
- Radish greens – these make great pesto – you could combine them with the arugula for an absolutely delicious pesto. (You can also use pea(nuts or sunflower seeds instead of spendy pine nuts!) Try to use them in the next couple of days, and don’t try to eat them fresh – they need to be cooked to be enjoyed.
New stuff this week:
- Broccoli – the sneaky stuff started flowering on us while hiding beneath the row cover, but don’t fear – the yellow flowers are not only pretty, but pretty tasty … every part of the broccoli plant is edible, including the entire stalk. You don’t see the flowers in grocery stores because they are fragile and don’t keep forever or ship across the country. Enjoy eating the flowers; they are a hallmark of fresh and local broccoli! You can oil up the entire broccoli bouquets and grill them whole, or cut them up – the thicker parts of the stalks can be chopped up and stir-fried, or add them to soup.
- Baby bok choi – steam or stir fry! Would be good with the radishes and broccoli for sure.
- Ruby Red Lettuce – it’s red, it’s lettuce, it’s delicious. Nuff said.
- Ruby Streaks Lettuce – you could use these to make lettuce wraps/boats filled with tuna or egg salad!
- Arugula – Add to the salad mix, or to radish leaf pesto, or eat it straight, or on sandwiches!
- Spring Onion(s) – just a li’l teaser, more coming next week!