It was a week of storms and transitions here on the farm. Just like last year around this time, we took shelter in our root cellar from a threat of tornadoes and straight line winds – and just like last time, the winds bypassed us, doing no harm here … but raising some hell just a little bit beyond us. (In fact, our own CSA shareholders and neighbors “The Goat People” had a big old oak blow down right on top of their helpers’ car!)
In other news, we did a lot of wild berry foraging again (raspberries are fading, blackberries are starting up), our dogs both made huge strides in recoveries from their maladies (a spinal injury and a severe grand mal seizure cluster), and Keegan & Charley (the lovely couple of WWOOFers we had staying with us for the last month and a half) moved out of the ice fishing shack to embark on a new adventure, battling an oil pipeline.
The season has shifted for us, it feels – from prepping & planting to maintenance & harvesting taking up most of our time. It’s a foundational pivot, and one impact is that even during heat waves, we sometimes find our thoughts turn toward winter. With the pandemic, the future is even murkier than usual. Magic 8-ball’s stuck on “Cannot predict now” and the soundtrack on “Que Sera, Sera.” But these are just early stirrings, without any concern. Because right now it’s peak, glorious summertime, and Life is in full, beautiful swing all around us.
Ain’t it grand?
Inside Box 7
It was a crazy raining downpour harvest this morning! The rain smashed our farmers market canopy, but Grandpa Jim came to the rescue and franken-fixed it with parts from one of our old dead ones. The boxes are really looking like summertime now, with rainbows of color from tomatoes and beets and zukes …
Tomatoes – the season’s first heirloom and cherry tomatoes! Most are ripe, some are just close to ripe … can be hard to tell since they come in so many colors (even green!) so gently squeeze to if they have a little bit of give to the skin. If so, they’re ripe!
This week the heatwave broke, and the foraging began. After many sweltering days and unforgiving muggy nights, we were quite relieved when a cold front finally pushed through, dropping a good deluge of rain as it also dropped the temperatures down to tolerable levels.
The repeated soakings made us hopeful for mushrooms, but our forays yielded only a couple small ‘chickens of the woods.’
However, getting out and beating the bushes led to the realization that the wild raspberries were blowing up! We’d been waiting for this for a couple of years – ever since the logging trucks stripped the trees from the county forest near us. But after last year’s berry harvest was a bust, I’d kind of forgotten the predicted berry bonanza … so this was a most welcome surprise.
We have spent many hours out picking this week, with yogurt cups strapped around our waists for two-handed dexterity, boots and pants for the poison ivy and ticks, hats for the deer flies, and an arsenal of choice swear words for the mosquitoes. Patches of wild red raspberries waved to us from the open savannas, and clusters of firm, deep purple “black cap” raspberries winked from the shady fringes around shrubs and small trees.
Enjoying the berries was something I had to remind myself to stop and do – in the goal-oriented framework of acquiring maximum berries for canning, it was easy to forget to stop and enjoy the fruits of our labors! Jam is mouthwateringly delicious, but still cannot compare to a handful of fresh-picked wild berries of various ripeness/tartness, eaten all at once, under the bright blue skies and radiant sunshine of Summertime.
Inside Box 6
We harvested in the rain all morning for maximum freshness! The ceaseless drizzle kept us and the veggies nice and cool; the humans could have probably done with a little less dampness, but the veggies loved it.
Carrots – Cut the greens off (leave a couple of inches of stem) before you store them in the fridge, or they will soon get rubbery and sad! Don’t just throw ’em away though – you can make pesto, or add them to sauces or salads! Later in the year, we will probably cut the greens off at the farm and send just the roots to you, so enjoy them now!
Beans – (Green, Yellow, and Purple) – Perhaps the most tedious crop to harvest! They hide all over within the low, leafy plants. and must be picked gently (so flowers aka future beans aren’t knocked off) and completely (so the plants continue to produce tender new beans.
Kale mix – (Tuscan, Curly Blue, Crimson, & Red Russian) – the kale plants are a favorite snack of various caterpillars – we tried to get you the nicest leaves available, but expect a few harmless holes – the hallmark of pesticide-free kale!
Onions – A lot of onions were planted this year in hopes of being able to provide them within every weekly box, because they are so darn versatile … and yummy.
Micro-Greens(radish, turnip, or kohlrabi) – this is our first year growing these, let us know if you’re liking them?
Thyme – it looks like Thyme.
Mexican Tarragon – often used in meat or egg dishes, this herb is also said to have various medicinal qualities. Not sure how you want to use yours, but it might be useful to know that the Aztecs used it in a powder which was blown into the faces of human sacrifices before they were killed! Or, maybe just make into a digestive calming tea or enjoy it on your breakfast scramble. Here are some tips.
Another week. another box bursting with fresh deliciousness! Hope you’re enjoying it all as much as we are.
As you likely noticed, it was incredibly hot all week long. Of course, since we spend a lot of time in the open field and don’t have air conditioning, we most definitely noticed. With highs around 90 every day and lows in the 70s, it feels like peak summer indeed. We’ve done lots of DIY evaporative cooling … which is a fancy way of saying “we got wet and let the heat dry us off again.”
We’ve had several solid little rainfalls, and the plants are super happy about the combination of moisture and heat and sunlight they’ve been blessed with. The corn has shot way up (can you find Kristin standing tall in the photo at the top?) – the horrendously stinky barrels of liquified carp we put in their portion of the field really seems to have been their jam.
Inside Box Five
Pickling & Slicing Cucumbers – we misplaced the slicing cukes until the boxes were all packed up … we didn’t have time to repack everything, and didn’t want to squish the other stuff – so the slicers are on top of the boxes!
Beets (mostly Detroit Dark Red variety) – the greens are edible too; treat exactly like their close relative, Swiss Chard.
Zucchini – the first of 2020!
Micro-Greens – each box gets either cilantro, radish, or basil micro-greens; note that if you receive the basil, do not refrigerate it! (basil leaves blacken when exposed to cold temps)
Sugar Snap Peas & Snow Peas
Savory – this herb is compatible with a wide array of dishes, just the way thyme in. (In fact, the two can be easily used interchangeably.) It’s one of the main ingredients in the herb blend “herbs de Provence,” and is commonly paired with beans, vegetables, pork, lamb, stuffing, and sauces.
All week I thought I was going to be writing a newsletter about the drought. I was ready with all kinds of facts and metaphors to frame the impact the lack of rain was having on us here. But finally, after an endless purgatory of teasing rainclouds, browning grasses, and dusty ground, the rain gods smiled upon us!
And not just any rain – I’d say it was a perfect one-two precipitation punch. On Sunday, just over an inch fell to deeply wet the parched soil. On Monday morning we sprang into action! We’d been waiting for weeks to cover the bare ground among the rows – but needed some real rain first, so there would be some moisture to conserve. So we tore apart the remaining bales of spoiled hay and laid down a thick barrier wherever the soil was bare – this not only helps avoid dry ground and erosion, but also smothers weeds and, when it eventually breaks down, adds precious organic matter to the soil for future years.
Overnight, we had a pleasant surprise deluge – a second round of soaking rain, over an inch again! It was done before we woke up to harvest, having done its magical work of soaking the new hay layer completely. (And it was just right – not too little, but also not too much; just southeast of us, our friends were being swamped and washed out by over 8 inches of rain during the same two storms!)
The delay waiting for the rain to come was nerve-wracking at times , but really, it turned out to be wonderful. The remarkably dry conditions stunted weed growth, while the plants – aided by weeding and drip irrigation – got well established. The field looked downright joyful this morning, and so did Farmer Kristin.
Inside Box 4
Micro-Greens – either red cabbage, cilantro, or curly blue kale – if you are able to return the boxes, we’d be happy to wash and reuse them!
This week we spent plenty of time watching red radar blobs on our phones and dark rainclouds in the skies, as they came tantalizingly close to the farm, but never quite arrived. Always provides more opportunities to practice our “what will be, will be”-ing, as well as ample gratitude-grounds; drought conditions make us grateful for the quiet new generator and fresh solar battery bank, which make irrigating the field much simpler!
Speaking of gratitude, Thank You!!! to Shareholders Al & Dan (The Goat People) for the giant wagon of hay mulch, and to Neighbors Marquardt for both the ice fishing shack we have turned into a laundry room, and the second chicken-security gate!
The week we have often enjoyed the routine tasks of the season; weeding, squishing potato beetles, staking pepper plants, pruning tomatoes, harvesting for market, cleaning the hen house, and joining forces with the chickens to transform food waste and buckets of spent brewery grains into rich soil.
It’s a good life.
Inside Box 3
Kohlrabi and Bok Choy with Fried Garlic – Maybe try a recipe like this that uses multiple items? It’s always fun to see what you can find by typing in a few ingredients you have on hand + “recipe” into Google, and seeing what comes up!
Super Salad Sack – Green lettuce, Pea tips, Red Lettuce, Arugula The Salad Days of Spring are starting to wind down, so you get a huge bag of mix this week!
Kohlrabi – this strange looking vegetable looks like a root vegetable (but isn’t) and tastes like broccoli stems (yum!). Maybe you could make it into a slaw with your Bok Choi!
Bok Choi – we’ve been loving ours as salads with Sesame Dressing lately. There are two main types grown, traditional and Shanghai – this is the latter. (Traditional bok choy has dark, crinkly leaves and crisp, white stems; Shanghai bok choy has spoon-shaped leaves and jade green stems.) Here’s a pretty decent overview of the many ways you might cut up and enjoy this versatile vegetable.
Note: there aren’t enough radish greens in this week’s box to do this recipe on their own, but don’t worry – any additional greens (bok choi, salad greens) will work great.
Tara says: “SO YUM. I modified the recipe above as follows: heated the ginger, onion, and garlic in coconut vinegar instead of sauteing, used spring onions instead of shallot (from the box of course) and used a can of full fat coconut milk. It’s a very liquid soup, so for a meal best served with something else too, but seriously SO YUM! Oh and I didn’t try buttering the radishes, but what isn’t good with butter on it?! “
Micro-Greens – Radish, Blue Curly Kale, Basil, or Cabbage – can you figure out which kind you got? Some are more obvious than others …
Garlic scapes – a local organic farm had extra garlic flower buds, so Kristin went over and harvested some for you yesterday.
It makes great pesto, but you might want to grill/roast them a bit first, to mellow out the sharp garlic bite (from experience … we all smell like garlic today still, from last night’s raw-scape pesto pasta).