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.
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,
Week 4 box
Salad mix – this is the last of the salad for awhile..
“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:
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
1 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.
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!
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:
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?
Lettuce – Baby 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) –
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
Definitely Widget’s favorite vegetable and I’m inclined to agree. They are good fresh and sautéed.
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.
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.
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!
Freshly Stone-Ground Corn Meal
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,
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
The first box delivery is a month and a half away!(?(!))
With our short growing season, our main work throughout April was of course planting in the greenhouses – we start seedlings in small blocks of soil, which are later either transplanted directly into the ground, or into somewhat larger blocks of soil, which are later transplanted into the ground.
The sunlight keeps the greenhouse toasty during the daytime, and before the freezing nights, we fire up our rocket mass heater for 30 minutes to an hour. This charges up the huge clay bench that runs the length of the greenhouse with heat that is slowly and inexorably released over several hours, warming the trays of seedlings – from beneath, which keeps their forming roots especially happy.
We also planted green garlic, onions, our salad mix components, and snow & sugar snap peas in the field, wilted the rising army of early weeds with a propane torch, and set up the electric deer fence for the season – it’s not tall, but the 3-D structure is designed to confuse deer with their poor depth perception, making them hesitant to try to jump it.
We had a WWOOFer come help for a few days, but for the most part it’s just been us, settling into the land and the rhythms of Spring, which seem increasingly familiar now, on our 5th year living here. Productivity is of course lessened by our happily-mobile 1 year-old, but we’re figuring out how to best work and play with him full time – for many tasks, Kristin works solo, enjoying solitude and podcasts, as well as the freedom to think through projects without the pressure or complications of help, while I entertain Otis, keeping his voracious appetite for new experiences sated.
It’s a good life.
We were happy to live it ourselves, but it’s even better to share it with a shiny new consciousness. And we’re grateful that you’re here eating the bounty we create with our lives.
Here’s to a a bountiful & beautiful season for us all!