All posts by QueSehraFarm

the Week 10 News

I might have to rely on pictures to tell about this week – Otis is quite unhappy to be stuck in his car seat, and he wants to make sure we are very, very aware of it. This makes it hard to think, let alone communicate in coherent written sentences. As usual, of course, que sera, sera …

In short – this week, it was very dry. We are having to run the irrigation, but the rascally rodents have really made Swiss cheese out of many of the drip lines, and our efforts are severely handicapped by the myriad leaks this leaves, even after we’ve attempted to repair them with electrical tape (did you know that standard electrical tape sticks to itself even when wet – or under water? very handy stuff.)

Kristin, Mercedes, & Tristan seeding the fall crops
Kristin, Mercedes, & Tristan seeding the fall crops

 

Not only has it been hot and dry, but there is no rain at all in our forecast, which is going to make the fall seeds that we just planted slow to take off – we’ll nurture them with irrigation and hose sprayers as much as we can, but there isn’t much that can work the magic of mother nature’s rainfall.

UPDATE: We got home from our trip into the city to discover that we got an inch and a half of rain that was not in the forecast! Happy dance!

chanterelle mushroom sautee
chanterelle mushroom sautee

We did some foraging – hauling home a good bounty of coral mushrooms, chanterelles, and lobster mushrooms (a strange symbiosis between a not-very-tasty mushroom and a mold which transforms its host into something with a far superior flavor and texture).

sorting and cleaning the lobster mushrooms
sorting and cleaning the lobster mushrooms

We also created several batches of refreshing sumac-ade, and picking the small yellow apples from a tree Kristin’s grandpa planted decades ago, and making them into jelly with hints of minty anise flavor by combining them with our favorite local native plant, Anise Hyssop.

Anise Hyssop Apple Jelly glowing in the evening sun
Anise Hyssop Apple Jelly glowing in the evening sun
Sumac flowers on their way to beverage form
Sumac flowers on their way to beverage form

 

All in all, once again, it was a good week. Hope you all agree!

 

the Week 10 Box

  • Sweet Corn – hopefully

For some reason, some of our dent corn (grown to make into corn meal) tasselled at the same time as our sweet corn – even though it shouldn’t have been possible. So some of it cross pollinated, resulting in sweet corn that isnt’ sweet at all … but most of it seems ok. But see the pictures below so you’ll be warned if you have a bad one:

Dent corn - if your sweet corn looks like this, you've been struck by the cross-pollination gremlins SAD FACE
Dent corn – if your sweet corn looks like this, you’ve been struck by the cross-pollination gremlins. SAD FACE

 

This is how your sweet corn should look if it's unmolested by the cross-pollination gremlins.
This is how your sweet corn should look if it’s unmolested by the cross-pollination gremlins.

 

  • Tomatoes – a nice mix of salad tomatoes and slicers! Enjoy the softer ripe ones first, while the firmer ones finish ripening up on your counter.
we get to eat the ' ugly' & damaged tomatoes
we get to eat the ‘ ugly’ & damaged tomatoes
  • Carrots – An assortment of this year’s varieties … although for some reason we didn’t see any of the yellow ones today. Hmmm …
  • Purple Basil –  it’s like regular basil, but purple!
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Okra or Broccoli –  If you got a broccoli box, you’re probably in safe and comfortable territory – but if you got okra, you might be a bit scared. Don’t be. It’s delicious and much more versatile than we Northerners usually realize! It’s simple just to sautee the whole pods and enjoy the tasty, crunchy (and not slimy!) pods in a creative dish …
  • Cucumbers
a massive sneaky cuke hanging out with the amaranth
a massive sneaky cuke hanging out with the amaranth
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Beans –  we thought they were almost done … nope! SO MANY BEANS TO PICK TODAY
Neighbor Marcia showed up in matching Otis garb
Neighbor Marcia showed up in matching Otis garb

gargoyle chicken
gargoyle chicken

Ace ripped out the center of his frisbee and now runs around with it like this
Ace ripped out the center of his frisbee and now runs around with it like this

Week 9 News – Season’s Tipping Point

Well here we are – halfway through the CSA season! It was, as expected, a challenging start to the season as new parents, but I think it went better than we feared it might, so that’s pretty sweet. The garden is definitely wilder and weedier and less productive than last year, but there haven’t been any outright disasters, and really it’s been kind of fun learning to work around our new limitations and challenges.

This week saw a changing of the guard among our helpers – Jeff and Madeline moved on (yet may still return, it seems!), and three new gals joined us – Michigan Emily, Lacrosse Mercedes, and Maine Tristan.

They have been enjoying foraging for the wild berries that we make into preserves to sell at market, helping clean out the chicken coop, shoveling compost piles from place to place, and of course killing potato beetles and picking produce.

In rodent news, we discovered that the feared rat infestation beneath the chicken yard was just moles after all, which was great news. The bear hunters are rolling past with their truckloads of baying hounds. We did a whole bunch of foraging, and sold the fruits of our labors at the St Croix Falls Farmer’s Market pretty successfully, in spite of the steady Saturday rain. We actually got two inches of much-needed rain on Wednesday in an epic night of lightning and hail and wind and general weather awesomeness.

It was a good week. Life is interesting, fulfilling, and fun …. here’s hoping we all appreciate our many lucky blessings in these days to come!

the Week 9 Box

  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli & Baby Broccoli 
  • Beans
  • New Potatoes (Yukon Gold, Norland Red, & All Blue) –  thin skins on these babies, so eat em up soon!

  • Tomatoes –  untold variety of varieties!
  • Peppers (green pepper & jalapeño)
  • Basil
  • Shallots –  much smaller than last year although we grew the sam variety – the power of having the weeds under tight control last year was impressive!
okra reaching for the sky
okra reaching for the sky

forager boys return from the woods
forager boys return from the woods

 

doing the compost shuffle - preparing for next spring's needs
doing the compost shuffle – preparing for next spring’s needs

 

freaky trident okra
freaky trident okra

 

wild blackberry jammin'
wild blackberry jammin’

wild chokecherries after having their juices pressed out
wild chokecherries after having their juices pressed out

the Week 8 CSA News, in which we get stuck in the Barrens

The wild chokecherries are putting out tons of fruit in the Barrens around the farm, so we’ve been busy foraging them by the bucketload, to make into chokecherry jelly, jam, and syrup – great for us to enjoy, and something we can sell well at the farmer’s market, to make some money even though our vegetable production is still rather impaired by the slow and complicated start of our growing season this year.

Seems like almost everyone who sees it has fond memories of picking as a kid, or the tart, delicious jelly that grandma loved to make. (If you want to buy a jar or three, let us know – we could deliver with your box!)

The foraging of these wild cherries has us delving deep into the logging roads and fire lanes through the scrubby, sandy wilds. Usually, this involves our All Wheel Drive Subaru – but on Saturday night, we ended up accidentally foraging in the minivan. Down the two track dirt roads, into the wild curves, dropping into the valley away from any GPS or phone service,

Kristin, WWOOFers Jeff and Madeline, Otis, Ace, and Widget all aboard as we got confused about what might lie ahead, and concerned we might be headed into a dead-end difficult to turn out of.

So we turned around and started back the way we’d come. It had been a wild ride, but doable. Of course, we’d had gravity on our side. And now, it was working against us – or perhaps, in favor of us having a memorable adventure. In short order, we were well and truly stuck, the van having excavated a pit around the front passenger tire, the van resting on a deep, soft bed of sand.

The sun was setting, we were miles from anything, with two dogs and a baby. Fortunately, when I hiked up the hill, I was able to get phone service – and even more fortunately, was able to get in touch with our amazing neighbor (and CSA Member!) Marcia, who came and rescued us, as we walked down the road in our mosquito netting, as Otis laughed and cooed and thought this novel experience was the most fun he’d had in days.

The next morning, Neighbor Dave – the other half of the Marquardt Search & Rescue Operation – came out with his truck and helped pull the van out of the sand pit it languished in – freeing it up for us to go out the next day and bring home another few gallons of wild cherries – this time, avoiding the treacherous hill.

Back home, the summer is coming on fully, The tomatoes are ripening, the weeds are much more subdued, the fall salad greens are happy in their trays, looking forward to being transplanted out into the garden.

tomato plants taller than us and still growing
tomato plants taller than us and still growing

The mosquitoes are still pretty active, although less than they were a few weeks back. Rodents continue to pillage the crops, although their depredations are less noticeable in this period of larger and more abundant production.  Sounded like a couple of coyotes battled to the death in the woods next to us the other night, or maybe they were just making out, it’s hard to say.

No hay mulching was performed this week. And Otis is continuing to love life as a first-generation farm kid.

Week 8 Box – Stuffed with Summer

  • Mild Peppers (Bell & a variety I cant recall the name of just now)
  • an Eggplant
  • Tomatoes (Taxi,  Damsel, Sun Gold, Black Cherry, and Cherry Bomb are the first varieties to ripen)

  • Parsley – chop it up into your vegetable sauté? We had it in lentil patties (kind of like flattened falafels) …
  • Broccoli or Okra – fate decreed you received the one you did. Unless you’ve told us you prefer one maybe.
  • Kale – A few leaves of 4 different varieties! (The holes munched here and there are how you know we don’t spray pesticides. :))
  • Cucumbers – Babies like to teethe on these, as shareholder’s spawn Aster demonstrates here:

  • Zucchinis – you know what to do.
Otis watches Grandpa Ger repairing the defective outlet on our inverter
Otis watches Grandpa Ger repairing the defective outlet on our inverter
figured out why we were hardly getting any eggs ...
figured out why we were hardly getting any eggs …

and discovered a secret nest in the weeds atop the root cellar ... meet the new mama of 4 new lil chicks
and discovered a secret nest in the weeds atop the root cellar … meet the new mama of 4 new lil chicks

Hey it’s Week 7 of the CSA

This week the garden started to look a bit more like a farm field, and less like a jungle. Don’t get me wrong – there are still towering weeds, masses of bindweed vines, and endless shelter for our several species of herbivorous rodents to sit in the shade and comfortably munch on the fruits of our labor.

But there are several broad swathes of deeply piled hay mulch, and rows of neatly weeded crops growing in the open air and full sunshine, and I find myself making excuses to walk past the ends of the rows just to appreciate them.

Kristin & Madeline mowing down swatches of weeds by hand in the onion row
Kristin & Madeline mowing down swatches of weeds by hand in the onion row

It’s odd for us to enjoy such a thing – we’re both more about nature unbounded,organic swoops and curves, coexistence and wu wei and wabi sabi. Well, we still have plenty of that to appreciate – in contrast to the little bits where we’ve brought human order to the land.

Friends Marcio & Julia drowning in weeds, i mean, helping harvest onions
Friends Marcio & Julia drowning in weeds, i mean, helping harvest onions

We even have the “Western Front” of the garden (in our war on quack grass) tilled deeply … after whacking down the thick weeds that came up seemingly overnight with the “motorized machete” (push mower), I began the struggle of tilling through the remaining roots and weed stalks with our little walk-behind … when I heard “STOP! STOP!” through my hearing protection.

And lo and behold – like an angel there appeared Neighbor Marcia, bearing glad tidings – Neighbor Dave had the tiller attachment hooked up to their tractor, and he could come and make short work of the area I was in if we could take down the fence a bit for access. And now the thick growth has been transformed into a nice fluffy uniform soil, ready to have salad mix, beet, cilantro, and dill seeds sown directly into for the late season’s harvests.

the Week 7 Box

  • Cabbage – the last of cabbage until the fall crop comes in. Early Jersey Wakefield is a great coleslaw and sauerkraut cabbage –  but if you ate your last one raw, you may want to try sautéing in butter. If you use a big skillet and give it plenty of space, parts of it will brown and be delicious.
  • Cucumbers

  • Zucchinis
  • Green Beans & Wax Beans
  • Beets – With their greens on. Cut them off for storing in the fridge. Greens are good cooked or smoothied. If you don’t like beets, you could always hide them in chocolate cake.

  • Purslane – we have a really great crop of self-seeding purslane. After our initial years of only having inedible weeds we are not bothered by this edible and nutritious one. I’ve heard of adding it to pesto and cutting back on the oil for a lighter result.
  • Basil – isn’t basil awesome???
  • Garlic – The clove wrapping is thicker and not papery because it was just harvested and has not cured yet.

hay mulching: it's an itchy, sneezy, dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it
hay mulching: it’s an itchy, sneezy, dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it

 

made a little garden for the used laundry water to drain into
made a little garden for the used laundry water to drain into

Kristin's shoes after hay mulching
Kristin’s shoes after hay mulching

the Week 6 News

It was a lovely summer week.

The heat and humidity took it down a notch, and the mosquitoes faded to far more reasonable levels – just in time for our friends Nik and Michelle’s wedding on the Farm. It was good to have a reason to get things cleaned up and put away a bit, and wonderful to look around with new vision, seeing just how uniquely beautiful our surroundings truly are.

We also did some serious weed remediation, using the motorized machete, aka my old lawn push mower, tilted back to wheelie blades-first into the forests of weeds coming up in the aisles around the tomato and melon plants. Fall broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbages were transplanted out into the field. We weeded the onions, leeks, crushed potato beetle larvae and pruned-n-trellised up the constantly-growing tomato plants.

The earliest tomatoes are starting to ripen, the eggplants are sizing up, the okra is popping.

post-wedding river float on the Saint Croix
post-wedding 5-hour river float on the Saint Croix

 

Summer is summering, and it sure is fine.

 

Week 6 Box

A beautiful harvest day!? No rain, moderate humidity, minimal mosquitoes, no gale force winds … just sunshine, a light breeze, and gentle bees on the farm-field flower arrangements.

Flowers of the Field – Good for the soul. This article discusses the many ways you can eat sunflowers, but honestly I’m skeptical of anyone that suggests eating the prickly, tough leaves (zucchini, borage, sunflowers) of a plant in a salad.

 

Beans – A much lighter harvest than last week’s. Probably best to not overthink them. Just sauté them up with some tasty seasonings and enjoy.

Red Cabbage – According to Wikipedia, “In acidic soils, the leaves grow more reddish, in neutral soils they will grow more purple, while an alkaline soil will produce rather greenish-yellow coloured cabbages. This explains the fact that the same plant is known by different colours in various regions.”

Onions – Go with everything.

Broccoli – Florets are of course delicious but so is the stalk part if you peel it.

Zucchini – Ranging from tiny adorable ones to a few that I had to harvest Monday so they would fit in the box.

Cucumbers – Most likely the pickling type. They are just more versatile.

Dill – flowers are a flavorful and pretty compliment to cucumbers.

 

Whippoorwill egg in the potato plant mulch
Whippoorwill egg in the potato plant mulch