I’m not sure if this is week 6 or not, time has slipped away in the past few weeks. They’ve been a haze of vacations, hot weather, bugs and running around. I’m sure most of you can appreciate that!
This week we will have the absolute last of the lettuce until later this fall. This goofy weather is wreaking havoc on our broccoli (the heat causes it to go to seed almost overnight) but we expect to have a very small head for each of you. We also are expecting a bunch of potatoes (they’ll be harvested tomorrow morning with the help of the St James kids, not withstanding the duck that has taken up residence in the plants to hatch her eggs) as well as beets, carrots and kohlrabi. We may have a mix of zucchini and cucumbers for you to choose from. Kale should be ready but I’m not sure about the onions. They were really beaten up by the wind last night and most of their stems were snapped off. The stem is what captures the sun to make the bulb grow so they may be stunted at their current size. We’ll have to see.
Believe it or not, we’re already planning for the fall crops. Even as we harvest what we planted this spring we start replanting the same crops to harvest again later this fall. Broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi have been seeded. More will be planted this week as we pull up the potatoes and replant, as well as planting carrots as space develops. Looking forward into next month we’ll start with more beets and greens next month. The goal with this planting is to enjoy another fall crop of our cool weather friends as fall develops. Let’s just hope that we don’t get any early cold spells.
The most important crop, tomatoes, are coming along great. We have a lot of fruit set, we just have to wait for them to ripen. If you haven’t had a fresh tomato before you are in for a treat. I’m also expecting a fairly large crop of cucumbers, zucchini and peppers, so you may want to think about ways to preserve a few of them. You may not be able to eat them all when they start really growing. Below I have included two different recipes for refrigerator pickles. They require no canning but have to be kept in the fridge and eaten in a few weeks. Keep this recipe for a few weeks down the road.
Some of the old time farmers are telling me that we’ll have a hot summer because we had a mild winter. I guess the mildness of the winter is relative to your perspective, but if that adage holds true we will be swimming in these hot weather crops as I planted them based on what was necessary the past few years (which were cooler) to get a decent crop.
We’ll see you all on Wednesday again. We’ll be in the tool library.
I’m a little tardy this week sending out your weekly e-mail. I’m sorry about that. Things are still a little light coming out of the farm space. This week I expect you’ll have some lettuce, radishes and potatoes. The potatoes will be very fresh and will surprise you if you haven’t had a garden fresh potato before. My favorite fresh potato recipe is below. If you are conscious of your heart you might want to take a pass. But if you like butter read on:
Gently boil the potatoes until they are cooked but still firm. Place them into a large bowl with a good helping of butter and salt. Add some dried parsley (fresh would be OK too) and swirl the potatoes around until they are completely coated. Serve while still warm.
With farm fresh produce simple preparation is the key so you can enjoy the fresh taste.
Starting tomorrow we will be having a lot of youth involved at the farm space helping us weed, plant and tend plants, as well as do some building. We are planning to add some nice outdoor spaces to the farm location. Perhaps later this summer we can have a get together there and enjoy it! In early July we will also have kids from the Matthew 25 summer meals program begin work, as well as summer daycare kids from St James United Methodist Church. This is all part of the mission that you support with your involvement. Not only do you get produce but you help us train the next generation of farmers and gardeners, as well as teaching them how they can provide for their own families.
My constant worry right now is the amount of produce that we’re producing. Right now we are quite low (lower than I expected even) but I’m confident that later this summer we’ll make up for it. My counting this week shows better than 15 cucumber plants. (If you know cukes you know how much even one can produce) We have in excess of 40 summer squash plants, over 20 pepper plants and rows and rows of green beans, not to mention the 70 or so broccoli plants that are in the ground and the 200+ onions. I know the produce is coming, but it’s all later season items. We’ll keep on top of them and keep all the spaces full and planted and I can make a promise to you that we will keep cranking out the produce until October comes.
We have some garden and food related events planned in July. On July 9th the Tool Library is hosting a worm composting class so you can learn how to compost at home using worms, and you can even see our worm composter in action! On July 30th the ISU extension office will host a preservation 101 class at Groundswell. This class will cover basics and focus more on freezing items than canning. Stay tuned for more information about them and let us know if you have any questions. We would be happy to answer them.
I thought it would be interesting to post my weekly CSA e-mails each week. The farm is on week 2 so you missed week #1, but no big deal.
I’ve been accused lately of becoming a “real” farmer. Apparently I’m complaining about the weather and I’m not happy if it’s too hot or too cold. Looking back at my e-mails, that appears to be true. I guess I’m a bit like Goldilocks in that regard. I like the weather just right!
On to this week’s produce. I’m confident that we’ll have lettuce, radishes and more herbs for you this week. Make sure not to get any lettuce at the store (or any of our fine farmer’s markets) because you’ll probably get a few heads, and they are larger than last week. On top of that we should have cilantro, oregano and chives again. It appears that we will also have garlic scapes and lovage. We’ll have a write up in the newsletter about lovage, but it’s a bushy herb that gives your food a celery like flavor and best of all, it doesn’t require any attention after you plant it. It grows year after year after year! (News story about lovage from Mother Earth News
There is an outside chance that there will be some small onions and beets ready. While we wait patiently for our crops to come in I try to remember how difficult it must have been 100 years ago to make it through this period. You’ve made it through a rough cold winter and planted your seeds. Now you have to wait while they grow while you eat whatever you still have from the previous year. If my little house on the prairie reading is to be believed, at this time of the year you are only eating flour and what your father hunts or traps. In Native American culture they called this the starving time because your stores have run low but nothing is growing yet.. In many ways it can be the most difficult time of the year as the world all around you turns green, yet there may not necessarily be anything to eat. At least in this time of plenty we can go to the store or live off food we stored from the previous summer’s bounty, not something that they could do in the past. Right now is the time I think to the late summer when all the tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cucumbers and squash we’ve planted will pay off. In a world like ours, where everything is available to us instantly, Mother Nature still does her thing at her own pace. Those of us who have a hard time with it, just need to accept that (myself included), though I’ll complain about it plenty along the way.
We’ll see you on Wednesday. We’ll be set up in the tool library again.