CSA 2016 Week 6: A tribute to the Vikings.  

Sorry to disappoint the fans of Leif Erickson and Thor, but it only seams fitting to acknowledge the Minnesota Vikings with our assortment of gold and purple in this week’s box.  
The beans are in full force with a first string lineup- yellow variety called Solei and the ever tasty purple Velour making the final cut.  This past weekend we celebrated by Dad’s 75th birthday and Mom made a big batch of this homemade green bean casserole and it was great!  The favorable spring and summer weather has worked well for the onions; there is a bunch of purple ones in the box.  Red beets  and a head of garlic are a gain playing in this week’s box as are the zucchini.  New to the team are the fancy, all-purpose Purple Viking Potatoes.  There is a head of beautiful, mild tasting iceberg lettuce which would be great on a summertime sandwich and a mini head of cabbage.  Finally, this is the retirement of the MVP of the last 3 weeks, the Napa Cabbage. You could try out this stir fried version if you have run out of ideas.   They have had a great run and I hope you enjoyed them.  There are a few planted for fall, so they may come out of retirement and make a return for the fall season, but we will have to wait and see. 

The garlic harvest has begun and by the looks of the 3 varieties lifted, it will go down as my best year of garlic of all time!  Get ready to start warding off the Packers.. errr….vampires because it will becoming your way. 

Also underway is the kraut making process.  First up is dill pickle, red and we are trying out a Jalapeno Red this year as well.  The 6 to 8 weeks wait time to try it out is just another lesson in patience.  
Enjoy the box and enjoy another beautiful week of summer in Minnesota because like most good things, they don’t last forever.

CSA Week 5: The beginning of the beans… and the end of my social life.

977.423.8

977.423.8

String beans.  They are always a much anticipated crop. Fresh beans beat any canned, frozen or store bought variety in a taste tests, hands down.  Beans grow great on the farm, sell easily at the market and I do enjoy eating them myself.  BUT, picking beans is a tedious and time consuming task.  They can’t just hang out on the vine like a zucchini or underground like an onion.  Big beans are no good and if the weather is nice with moisture in the ground, beans grow and require constant picking.  So this week the beans have started with two great varieties.  The slender, tender, purple ones are Velour.  By far, they are the best purple beans I have grown.  Slender, tender, evenly colored, and  productive.  The other variety is Maxibel Hariot Vert.  This is a beautiful long slender French Filet bean that taste soooo good. Don’t overcook either of these delicate beans, just a quick steam or short boil is all they need.  Later on when the Romano beans come in, you can use those for a soup or or baked dish.

There is also an other Napa Cabbage for you to play around with, with may or may not be the final one of the season.  A small head of cabbage, some more beets, garlic, onions, sugar snap peas, and Kale.  You may have had your fill of kale but don’t give up on it yet until you try this Date and Kale salad.  Everyone who tries it wants the recipe.  I even eat it for breakfast, its’s that good.  Big basket gets some extra beets, carrots and raspberries.

975.432.0

975.432.0

The latest storm that blew through dropped a bunch of much needed rain, but just a brief wind and a couple tiny hail so a big sigh or relief can be had.

Enjoy!

 

Larry

CSA 2016 Week 4: We’re Seeing Red… and gold.

IMG_20160629_151607326_HDR (1)We are moving away from the greens and onto some color, in particular, RED!  The first of the beets are really coming in now and they are oh so good!  Boiled, baked, grilled, steamed, which ever way you cook them, these small early beets are full of sweetness and so tender. Some might even score some of the beloved Golden Beets or a few of the Badger Torch Beets. Badger Torch are a new variety developed by the University of Wisconsin.  The shape is more cylindrical and they have a darker gold than the Touchstone Gold with some red striping.  There are not many planted this year as it is more of a trial run, but they are looking and tasting very nice.

IMG_20160628_195745669_HDRIMG_20160628_195726548The dry weather as of late has actually been, overall, pretty handy.  It has allowed for some great weed control, crops do well at sinking down some roots a bit deeper in the soil and that heat allows those warm season crops like tomatoes, peppers and egg plants to really put on some growth.  The tomatoes are fully caged and mulched and full of flowers, so with any luck I can begin to watch them begin to really set fruit.  The garlic scapes will be done as I removed all that were remaining and you can have as many as you would like today.  There is also some fresh garlic, as there will be until it is fully cured in August.  Fresh garlic should be put in the refrigerator until used to keep it at its finest.

 

IMG_20160628_200037918_HDRAlso included is a little head of early cabbage called Premier, some beautiful Napa Cabbage.  Napa can be sauteed or eaten in a slaw but is mighty tasty in this Ramen Noodle Cabbage Salad.  There is the last of the lettuce for a while, some more chard or Kale, some tasty minty and tarragon and  sugar snap peas.  The larger share also has a bundle of early carrots.

A little added bonus is a sampling of my brother Dave’s popcorn!  Last year was the trial run for the popcorn and it was a huge success.  He had a great yield of some of the best popcorn many have ever tasted.  Popped in a little coconut oil with dash of salt or in the air popper, it always pops beautifully and has a great melt-away texture. If you are ever interested in purchasing some let me know and I can hook you up!

Hopefully the week is a great one and your Fourth of July weekend is enjoyable.

Larry

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CSA2016 Week 3: Something(s) Sweet

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Week three top of box

Week three and the weather is gorgeous!  These longest days of the year allow for much to get done, and that’s a good thing because there is no shortage of things to do.  The heat does require a little watering here and there, but considering how much things have been growing, it’s no surprise.  Beans are blooming, cabbage is heading and I see the very beginnings of some broccoli.  Amazing eating season is upon us.

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This week’s CSA share contains: lettuce, kale, onions, fresh garlic, garlic scapes, cylindrical beets, sugar snap peas, and rhubarb only because there is also a quart of strawberries as well.  The large share also has an extra bundle of golden beets, purple Pak choy and a small head of cabbage.  If you really don’t want to use the rhubarb, simply chop, throw in a freezer bag, and freeze till the craving comes back.  There is also an herb bundle with a sprig of the tarragon (excellent with chicken) and a few sprigs of mint for mojitos or tea. 

Enjoy these long days of summer while they last!

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Week three bottom of box

CSA2016 Week II: Chlorophyll is Good for You!

This time of the year, all the early plants race to put out as much green growth as possible; leafyness abounds.  All those greens are packed with plenty of vitamins which is just what we all need after a winter of fat and starch.  This week is, again, a box primarily of greens but there are a few delicate treasures starting to creep their way in.  In the bottom of the box you will find a bundle of pok choy, some sticks of rhubarb, some tiny beets (and I had to scrounge to find them!) and a bunch of onions.  These onions have been in the family for decades.  Sometimes they go by the name of Multiplier onions, or Egyptian Walking Onions, or Top Setting Onions or Winter Onions, but these beauties came from my grandparents farm where they were pretty much growing wild under the apple trees.  They are a perennial, coming back year after year and the multiply in a unique way.  Late spring, the onion sets forth a flower, but it’s not really a flower, it is more of an aerial bunch of baby onions, technically called bulbils.  Once the weight gets too great or the onion starts to die back, the cluster falls to the ground where they then root in and grow into new onions, hence they walk about and multiply.  Like most onions, they overwinter quite well and provide one with a fresh crop of onions with little work early in the season.  They are a bit more firm than normal onions, but once cooked up or chopped finely, work out great.  Sometimes they are a bit on the strong side, but that is a good thing! In Eating on the Wild Side, author JO Robinson brings up that the older varieties of more pungent onions have more antioxidants and other cancer fighting compounds than the large sweet varieties that populate the grocery shelves, so eat up!

IMG_20160614_163856632IMG_20160614_163929335IMG_20160614_164000682_HDRIn the second layer of the box, you can find some spinach, mixed lettuce, a bag of Bright Lights Chard and a bag of dill weed and pea shoots.  Pea Shoots? Yep, pea shoots or pea tendrils. These gems taste like peas or pea pods, just in the form of foliage.  They can be chopped finely and added to a salad or steamed.  At an old place of employment, we grew peas by the acre for pea trials and many of my Asian coworkers cut off pea shoots by the bag full.  They then steamed or sauteed them and ate them with rice
daily for weeks.   I think they would pair nicely with the garlic scapes like this Pea Tendrils with Garlic Scapes Recipe, also in the box.  Garlic Scapes have a very short season and now is the time!  They are the immature flowers of a hardneck garlic.  Removing the scape also helps the bulbs grow larger so it is a win-win to cut off the scapes.  As for the Swiss Chard… its not a favorite of mine.  Steamed, its ok, creamed, were getting better, but I do love it in this Pasta with Swiss Chard Recipe!  The little hot pepper, garlic and Parmesan cheese make some great flavors.  I don’t think the capers are totally needed if you don’t have them.

Other doings on the farm include the birth of the last goats of the year, the completed butchering of the broiler chickens, and weed pulling in between rain showers.  The weather has been great so things are looking ripe for a great growing season.  Even some of my grafted apples are looking like they want to fruit, like this Cox Orange Pippin!IMG_20160614_164105625

Coming up next week, probably more of the same, but more beets, napa cabbage,  and possibly something for your sweet tooth.

 

 

Green Things are a poppin’… including the weeds.

Spinach

Spinach

Somehow, amid the rain showers, we have managed to get most of the crops in the ground in a timely fashion.  Germination has been great, and everything is growing like weeds with the ample moisture and just right temps for the cool season crops.  A couple spots picked up a little too much rain but overall things are wonderful.  The garlic is just about sending out the scapes, radishes are plump, and the greens are, well, green!

Lettuce

The tomatoes and peppers have made it into the ground and we are exited about some new varieties as well as some tried and true kinds.  New this year are Pink Boar from the Wild Boar Tomato Farm and Chocolate Chestnut from Baker Creek.  But there should be plenty of red Amish Paste and Wisconsin 55 to provide a staple of red.

2010 108The first round of the CSA are set to go out June 8th from the farm.  Also coming up will be the processing of our pasture raised broiler chickens.  They came a bit early this year and will be about 6 pounds I am guessing by when we can get to them the week of June 13.  If you’re interested in some of the best fresh chicken around, there are still some available so drop us a note and we can put you down.

In other doings, all the hatching is done and there are plenty of up and coming egg layers to build production by mid summer, geese and turkeys will be available this fall and winter for holiday dinners and the goats are almost done kidding for the year.

The orchard of heirloom apples, grafted over the past 5 years are finally looking like they will provide some unique apples for us.  There will hopefully be enough to provide a nice mix later in the season.

Time for a New Year of CSA’ing!

This beautiful warm weather has everybody thinking of spring and of all the wonderful things it brings.  But long before the snow began to melt and the yard became muddy the plans for the 2016 CSA were forming.  Many new and exciting varieties are in the works like Badger Torch Beets, Orange Sherbet Mellon,  Lucid Tomatoes, and Long Pie Pumpkins.  We are in the process of taking in CSA subscriptions for the 2016 season, if you want in or have questions, feel free to drop a note.  

CSA2015 Week 12: Time for Tomatoes

IMG_20150826_141405046If there is one crop that is the queen of the garden, it is the tomato. These are the fruits you wait so long for, care for, pamper, boast about or get anxious about.  How you are as a gardener often is reflected on your tomatoes.  Gardeners strive to have the biggest, prettiest, sweetest, and most productive tomatoes.  All this enthusiasm is well justified.  These versatile red globes find their way into family secret sauce, flaming salsa and mouth watering BLTs.  So when it becomes tomato time, there are usually quire a few happy people.

I love the varieties of tomatoes that available today.  Hybrids, Heirlooms, open pollinated, determinate, indeterminate, cheery, pear, beefsteak, heart shaped, red, pink, yellow, orange, white, ribbed smooth, paste and the list goes on an on.  It can be daunting picking out varieties to try each year.

This weeks share has tomatoes.  Both small snacking cherry and some larger beefsteak plus extras if you desire.  The cherries are a mix of brown berry, bumble bee, and Juliet.  In addition there are a couple garden peach and Japanese Trifle Black in the bag.  For the larger ones, there is a mix.  The beautiful orange ones are Kellogg’s Breakfast.  There might be a pink Soldacki, brownish Chocolate Striped, an Aunt Ruby’s Green or some purple ones named Carbon.  While some varieties tent to be more flavorful than others, I really think each year a different tomato comes out on top.   Years ago my Yellow Mortgage lifter were the best tasting tomato ever, last year, not so much.  Usually Kellogg’s breakfast is good and this year is no exception.  The Japanese Black  are excellent this year but two years ago they never developed any flavor.  I guess that is why I plant so many.  You never know what is going to be better on any particular year so I always try to have a variety.

Also included into the box is a bundle of kale, flat leaf parsley, beets, carrots, garlic, onions, a bell pepper, fennel bulbs, watermelon radishes, potatoes, cucumbers (Marketmore 76 and Russian Sikkim).

The next few days will filled with the start of the State Fair the start of the Fair.  While it is a busy time it is a fun time and I always enjoy the change of pace and the the opportunity to tour around the Horticulture building.

CSA2015 Week 11: Rain Makes Grain… and Weeds.

CSA2015 week 11Ample rain and two weeks away bring on quite the changes.  Tomatoes overgrow their cages, beans grow feet, carrots thicken, potatoes dry off, corn goes from 0 to 60 and the weeds, well, they have been running amok.  It is not all bad, yes they can put down some crazy number of seeds for the next years but I suppose if mowed and mulched they should add some good organic matter for the following years.

The tomatoes have begun to roll in.  Always a welcomed sight.  However the rain has been a little hard on the quality but as things dry out they should get better.  Eggplants and peppers are also getting into the groove of things.

Also included are some red gold potatoes,  – good for pretty much everything, a mix of carrots, some beets, a few slicer cucumbers, purple beans, and some garlic.

New this week is a bundle of parsnips, celery, a rutabaga, few little pears, corn and zucchini if you so desire, and eggplant. You might find the onions a little soft in the neck.  I should have pulled them before I left but I thought they would make it. However the wet conditions were not anticipated.  Only the yellow Alisa Craig bulbs were affected and the other varieties should dry off well for storage.

In the coming week it is off with the heads of cabbage as another frenzy of kraut making takes place.   Hopefully some potatoes will be unearthed and some clean up of the spend plants and weeds will take place.

Hope the week of eating is great!

CSA2015 Week 7: Time for Cukes and Zukes!

975.729.0

975.729.0

One of the great things about eating seasonally, once you start to get sick of something, it often goes away and something new comes into play.  Gone are the days of greens an peas (although those are hard to get sick of) and now we are in the season of cucumbers and zucchini.  While the first planting of zucchini mysteriously didn’t germinate well at all, the replant sure did and caught up amazingly fast to the first planting.  When I head to the zucchini patch, I feel like I am entering the amazon as the plants are pretty much chest high.  We will see how long they look this amazing until the squash bugs attack.  They are so big I doubt I will be able to effectively pick them off.  You received a mix of zucchini.. a few small ones great for the grill and a couple of bigger ones that could be used in this amazing Zucchini Quiche or Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

The first cucumbers are also beginning to come in.  A few small slicers and a basket of small Edmundson Whites. While they are a pickling cucumber, I have them, they are fine to use as in a salad, or in dilled cucumber dip and so you get them!  Next week you probably can expect a large amount of slicers as there are loads coming in.

Rounding out the box is another beautiful head of broccoli, some purple beans, Viking potatoes, a bunch of kale, some dill, basil, a few onions, a mix of pretty carrots, cylindrica beets, and some Italian Soft Neck Garlic.

Speaking of garlic, the next few days I’ll be thick in it as it is garlic harvest time!  Digging, cleaning, sorting, and curing will all be taking place.  This year we have 13 different varieties growing  – mostly hardneck and a few softneck which I will talk about more next week, although I must admit, I rarely keep track of what I am eating, only growing so knowing differences about their looks and growth, but not so much taste.  Maybe a garlic tasting party is in order?

973.431.5

973.431.5

Other doings…  been working on some goat fencing which allows kids more access to some pasture.  They love it although it takes little time to eat all down.  The last of the broilers have been cleaned.  This is always a relief as it eliminates the daily chore of feeding and moving them.  There are peppers coming, tomatoes forming and I spied the first few Blacktail Mountain Watermelons in the patch.  It also looks as though I will need to start makin’ kraut next week as the cabbages are getting pretty darn big. AND the county fair is next week.  Busy but fun times are ahead!