Category Archives: CSA

Week Five Jive

Summertime summertime some some summertime …

This week saw more fall crops transplanted out into the field, more insect enemies of the people destroyed, more weedy weeds weeded. We got a couple rejoiceable rounds of rain, plenty of sunshine, and a bit more humidity than we’d really prefer. But hey! Summer!

the weekly field panorama

Probably the most noteworthy event this week is also pretty gross. So you might want to just skip down to the Box section.

You’re still here? OK then. Have you ever heard of fish emulsion? It’s an organic fertilizer made from the carcasses of dead fish. Plants LOVE it – which is why Native Americans would bury dead fish next to their corn crops. Well, we got a tip that someone in nearby Saint Croix Falls was giving away 55 gallon drums of organic fish emulsion – and for years, we’ve been hoping to start using liquid fertilizer to feed nutrient-hungry crops through our drip irrigation lines. But it’s not easy to find locally and expensive as hell to ship. So we pounced on the opportunity, and within a few hours I was on the road to pick it up with our friend Steffan (Kristin stayed back to go to the township meeting where the citizens planned to speak out against a proposed mega pig-farm that’s been menacing our area).

The good news was that we timed it to arrive at the same time as another farmer was picking up a massive vat of the stuff – he brought a skid steer loader, which he was willing to use to load up our little trailer with three of the ~500 lb barrels.

The bad news was that the plastic lids had degraded and broken in the sun over the three years they’d sat out – and they sloshed EVERYWHERE as we rocked them into position in the trailer. On our feet, our legs, our hands, all over the trailer – and at one point, a wave spewed up and out, forming a fist that punched Steffan in the mouth.

And I haven’t mentioned yet …. this stuff was the grossest smelling stank that we’d ever smelled – and we’re both veterans of exploring sewer tunnels, if that tells you anything. Don’t even try to imagine what three year old slurried carp carcass juice smell like. It’s amazingly pungently horrid, and the smell stains anything it touches.

Then once we finally got them loaded and hit the road, a spotted deer fawn darted out in the wet road ahead of us …I slammed on the brakes, squealed down to a crawl that just missed the baby deer – as thousands of pounds of fish goo barrels slid forward and sloshed a wave of stench at the van.

Widget scampers away from rolling in the dripping fish goo under the trailer
Widget scampers away from rolling in the dripping fish goo under the trailer

We stink, the van stinks, the air around the field stinks, and the trailer will never not stink again. It was epically gross and hilarious and a memory that will linger much as the smell of the fish emulsion does … now we just have to figure out how to get the barrels out of the trailer, and how to filter and inject the stuff into our irrigation lines. It should be … interesting.

These are the things we do to grow for you! :)

BOX FIVE:

Red Onions

Peas – Snow & Sugar Snap

Zucchini – three color varieties

Radishes – French Breakfast

Skye & Alissa washing radishes

Kohlrabi / or Cucumbers / or Okra – we didn’t have enough kohlrabi for everyone, due to a combination of an epic cutworm boom this spring, and that June frost we had. So some of you get the first of the cucumbers instead – and the Goat Farmers get okra. We have a second round of kohlrabi coming for the late season though!

Thai Basil

Kale –  Curly Blue, Red Russian, & Tuscan

Week Four

This will be a short one – not only is the laptop still dead (resurrection pending), but my phone is swelling up and threatening to explode. It keeps rebooting…

This week we used sorcery fire to repell a horrendous invasion of potato beetle larvae, planted kohlrabi, trellised tomatoes plants up, hay mulched, and hosted family.

Grandma and Grandpa Carlson drafted in the battle for the potatoes

The garden is looking lovely overall (if you skip the warzone potato rows), (and the weed row where the beets are supposed to be).

Kristin asks, “Why is it so cloudy all the time?” And also,

Kristin says:

Week 4 box

Salad mix – this is the last of the salad for awhile..

Purslane

Purty Purslane

“is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and has the highest Omega-3 content of any leafy green.” It’s also an abundant weed in the garden. It doesn’t seem threatening and isn’t useless like bindweed and quack grass so we let it grow. I like it raw. Here’s some inspiration:

http://www.thegardenofeating.org/2014/08/purslane.html?m=1

Basil – mostly mammoth leaf basil.

Make some pesto!

Onions – yup.

Garlic scapes – Sleepy Root Farm let us harvest these from their considerably larger garlic patch. Oh the things you could do! You can make garlic scape pesto by food processing the following 

  • cup garlic scapes, sliced crosswise (about 10 to 12 scapes)
  • ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup basil leaves
  • Juice of one lemon

You can cut them into short segments that could be stir fried. Mince them up for a creamy garlic dip or for a salad dressing. Use as a garlic bulb substitute in your recipes. Turn them into fridge pickles. 

Zucchini and summer squash – cute when they are young. Sautéed with garlic scapes? 

Peas – sugar snap and the flat podded snow peas that are preferred for stir frying.

There are a lot this week. A lot. You could bring them to a potluck with veggie dip or share them with a friend/neighbor/coworker/stranger.

THE END AND WE ALL LIVED HAPPILY AFTER

Week 3

“Now not enough water puts thirst in a man
And just enough water puts joy in his land
But too much water will overflow
And drown the man’s laptop, so there you go.”

This week’s tale is;

it didn’t rain, it didn’t rain some more, then
it finally rained and it was wonderful and
the crops rejoiced and
the farmers allowed themselves a small smile at this, and then
the next morning realized that
the wonderful rain had ran down the woodstove’s chimney pipe
into the screen porch and
dripped off the elbow and
onto and into and through our laptop
and now it’s dead dead dead:

QUE SERAAAAA SERRAAAAAAAA!

the field on CSA #3 harvest day
the field on CSA #3 harvest day

Oops! But let’s not miss the relevant and important thing here which s that we got over an inch of rain finally! A good long soaking for the field, just what we needed. And speaking of good news & rain, we are super happy about the turnips in this week’s box, and thankful to little creatures that look something like this:

microscopic beneficial nematodes to the rescue!


Over the last few years, most notably last year, our root crops really suffered from underground bugs called “cabbage root maggots.” Remember the rutabagas with the worm-chewed surfaces? The ones we sent out to you were ugly – and those were the best we got; the others were devoured and ruined. And the little shits were stunting the other crops as well, by gnawing on their roots. We don’t like to use chemical pesticides, not even organic-approved ones … so Kristin ordered us some sea monkeys.

OK not really sea monkeys, but the beneficial nematodes did come to us in a two little cooler packs of organic-looking slush. We waited for a rainstorm, and then these predatory flatworm slushies were dissolved into lots of water. I donned a heavy raincoat (this was during the chilly-wet early springtime) and a heavy 4-gallon backpack sprayer loaded with nematodes, and walked around the full area of the field, trying to spray it everywhere.

These beneficial nematodes work by being ruthless packs of predators, seeking and destroying the root maggots – like this:

It was hard to believe it would work – we couldn’t see anything of course. It wasn’t cheap, and it wasn’t easy to apply – and until today, we didn’t really know if it had done a thing. But!

Last year the turnips were totally destroyed and we didn’t even give any out to you. This year – salad turnips are beautiful! Thank you, little badasses!

Oh! I wanted to invite y’all to come out to our friend & neighbor’s weekly event – every Wednesday evening, Maaren fires up her woodfired pizza oven at her place, for “Peace by Piece” (nee “Pizza on Purpose,” which was a name someone possessive was using alas). She’s quite near the Farm, and there is a good mix of new and regular characters there, enjoying some donation-based pizza chowing, a bonfire, and good humans. We go pretty much every week! 

But that’s tomorrow – today, let’s talk veggies. Kristin?


Box Three

Kristin sez:

  • LettuceBaby Romaine & butter crunch & bekana for your fresh leafy green needs. It’s the time of year to enjoy them and eat lots of salad!
  • Kale (Red Russian / Curly Blue / Dino)
Red Russian & Dino Kale hanging out w/ a milkweed (we let them grow for the monarch butterflies)
  • We often enjoy a big pile of  kale sautéed with a little oil, salt and garlic or onions. You can add it to a creamy pasta dish, eggs, or rice. We are also a fan of kale chips and massaged kale salads.
  • Sugar Snap Peas
eating peas fresh from the vine
eating peas fresh from the vine
  • Definitely Widget’s favorite vegetable and I’m inclined to agree. They are good fresh and sautéed.
  • Onions
  • I use a lot of onions when I cook and assume others do too. You can use them raw and temper their flavor with something acidic, like lemon or lime juice or a vinegar depending on how you are using them. Otherwise mellow them out by cooking them in a dish. 
  • Garlic scapes – The soon-to-be-flowers of the garlic plant, snipped off so the plant puts its energy into bulb development. Chop them up finely and use ’em like garlic. Goes great in a recipe with:
  • Garlic chives – stir fry, pesto, salad dressing …
  • Radish/turnip – see above. NEMATODES FOR THE WIN
  • Broccoli – The broccoli has been set back repeatedly by cutworm assaults this spring, and so formed small, early heads. They’re tender and delicious – just small. We’ll keep the plants for sideshoots, and have already started a fall season crop – which generally seems to flourish better for us.

Week Two

This week I had to go to the hospital to have a beetle removed from my inner ear. It crawled in while I was asleep, although that didn’t last once it started trying to ake its way through my ear drum … tweezers were useless, flushing it just drove it in further, and our baby’s “Nose Frida” couldn’t suck it out. Fortunately, I was able to kill it with a shot of rubbing alcohol, leaving me to go back to sleep with the strange sensation of ear-fullness, until the doctor’s office opened up in the morning. Pro-tip: do not let a beetle crawl into your ear.

In more relevant news, the traditional ridiculous dry spell has mostly continued, as big fat rainy clouds approached on the radar over and over, only to dissolve or split in highly unlikely ways just before reaching the farm. We are trying to be used to this, but it still chafes, especially when everyone else around is upset about having too much rain. Fortunately, a bit finally snuck through on Sunday, and we got a much-needed 2/5 of an inch to keep things green.

Things are starting to really come up now – tomatoes look nice, squash are gaining steam, and we should have snap peas for the boxes next week.

The Field on harvest day – greening up!

We went to the farmer’s market for the first time this year – if you’re ever in the mood for a trip to see Franconia Sculpture Garden or Interstate Park some Saturday, come say hi! We’re there from 10-1:00 slinging veggies and canned goods.

Thanks to Dedrick for coming out to help with today’s harvest!

Box 2:

  • Freshly Stone-Ground Corn Meal
pre-shuck-n-grind corn
  • We grew this last year, and hung it to dry all winter in our shipping container. Yesterday we shucked the cobs, and then finely ground it all – making ideal cornmeal for cornbread (you don’t even need to add sugar if you use more flavorful fresh ground corn).
  • Salad Mix – green & red lettuces, mizuna, arugula, pea tips
  • Green Onions – Both the tops and bottoms are edible. Not to be confused with:
  • Green Garlic, which looks like this below. The bulbs can be used like you normally would garlic cloves.

  • Bekana – closer to full-grown size leaves this week, this Asian green would be tasty with orange sesame dressing. You can also sautee it – the leafy part will cook down a lot, but the crunchy stems will tastily endure,
Bekana leaves
Bekana leaves
  • Radishes – French Breakfast & Plum Purple varieties
  • cut the greens off so the roots stay fresh longer. If you don’t love lots of raw radish, they are wonderful and milder when sauteed or roasted!
stir-fried radishes
stir-fried radishes with green onions

Have a lovely week, and eat yer veggies!

Week One.

And here we go again – another season kicks off in earnest today! We will also start going to the farmer’s market now every Saturday morning in Saint Croix Falls – if you’re in the area, stop by and say hello.

I seem to have forgotten how to write these things. Words? Words. Words!

Well, let see. Since we last sent out a communiqué, we’ve been focused on preparing the field for the season. Transplanting, seeding, tomato trellising, weeding, war with quack grass, fencing.

Last year, with the new baby and the c-section recovery, the weeds got ahead of us and we spent the rest of the year struggling to not drown in their shadowy tendrils. We were damned determined not to let that happen again, and put all our efforts into a successful mission to cover all possible bare ground covered in some form of mulch.

The cool season crops – salad, broccoli, potatoes, radishes, turnips etc – are nestled into thick blankets of hay, which retains precious, tenuous soil moisture as well as prevents most weeds from sprouting.

hay hay hay

The hot weather crops that will be harvested later in the summer mostly went into black landscape fabric, which suppresses the incredible weed seed bank and warms the soil beneath, making heat-loving plant roots happy.

Otis & Grandma supervise the prepping the tomato row

This tactic turned out to be an unexpected lifesaver this year. We had a surprise frost in the middle of June, a month past the official USDA “Last Frost Date” for our region – the field got down to 32 degrees overnight, which would normally wreck havoc with crucial crops such as tomatoes, melons, zucchini, and peppers. And this frost was bad enough to damage and kill plenty of even cool weather crops like kohlrabi, potatoes, and cabbage.

However, the hot plants managed to survive, oftentimes undamaged. The preceding day had been nice and sunny – and in the light, the black fabric warmed up the soil around them – which then slowly flowed up and out through the planting holes over the course of the chilly night, preventing catastrophe.

Hay, that’s a happy ending, so I’ll stop there and turn it over to:

The Weekly Box:

Spring Salad Mix –  we hydrocooled and dried it, but recommend a final wash before serving to remove residual soil.

  • Lettuce (green and smidge of red – for some reason it refused to grow much this spring!) 
  • Bekana – an Asian green – if bok choi and Napa had a baby, this would be it.
  • Pea tips –  the usual type, plus a new fancy frilled variety
  • Arugula 
  • Mizuna

Lambs quarter 

wild spinach aka lambs quarter
wild spinach aka lambs quarter

Consider this wild harvested ;). This delicious weed is in the same family as spinach, quinoa, and beets and a nutritional super green. We snack on raw leaves, but if I’m using a lot in a meal I usually cook it – probably would be your best bet. It can substitute for spinach in recipes (curry, quiche, gratin etc.). Note: you may notice a sort of whiteish powder on the leaves – this is natural to the plant, and nothing to worry about (we did rinse and spin them dry)

French Breakfast & Lady Slipper Radishes & Greens

Lately we’ve been slicing plenty of radishes up onto our salads (leafy and egg), soups, and sandwiches. The greens aren’t good raw, but are delicious wilted/sauteed. And this is probably a good time to inject this:

The basic pesto guide:

A lot of herbs and greens (including radish greens, lambs quarter and scallions!) make great pesto:

  • 2 cups packed herbs/greens
  • 1/2 cup grated hard cheese
  • 1/3 cup toasted nuts/seeds
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup oil
  • Salt to taste

Green onions aka Scallions


The green tops and the purplish/white bottoms are both quite edible.

Chive blossoms 

Kristin recommends infusing vinegar, snipping them into salads, or tempura-ing them. Read other idears heres.

Apple Preserves (either Apple Pie in a Jar, Brandied Apples, or Cinnamon Fireball Apples)

Some sweet canned goodness from last Fall’s apple boom – harvested from friends all around the area. (This year, we will be getting a ton of local apples from a friend in exchange for gopher trapping services!) We’ll happily reuse the jar if you return it with your box

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