Tuesday, July 18, 2017

BGF News - July 18, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.6

In this week’s box:

Beans: Carson (yellow) with a few Provider (green) beans tossed in
Broccoli: Belstar (a bit small and off-color from the heat but still tasty)
Cucumbers: Diva/Marketmore (green Euro.), Suyo Long (long, green Asian), Lemon (round, yellow)
Fennel
Garlic: Northern White
Head Lettuce: Coastal Star or Muir
Kale:asst
New Potatoes: Red Gold
Summer Squash: 8 Ball( round, green), Slik Pik (long, light yellow), Patty Pan (dk green, lt. green or yellow "flying saucer-shaped") or Golden Glory (yellow zucchini)
...and perhaps one of the following:
Eggplant: Orient Express
Romano Beans: Marvel of Venice (flat, yellow beans)
           
For those with the Egg option [full shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Lemon basil, savory, chives
Coastal Star lettuce surrounded by Muir
 
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Roasted Green Beans with Fresh Garlic**
Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes
Pasta with Fennel and Salami
Fennel Frond Pesto

The BGF crew with this morning's fennel harvest

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week:  trace
 
I am going to start sounding like a broken record when commenting on the weather. We did get a few rumbles of thunder last night to accompany a scattering of raindrops, but not even enough to wash the dust off the leaves. With our increasing heat, I am thankful for our irrigation system and planning to run additional lines to our mid-season and late potato crops this week. We dug a 300' row of early potatoes yesterday and were very disappointed with the low yield. Hopefully we can improve on that for the future harvests. We continued our weeding and cultivating efforts this week though the crew has decided that one of our biggest challenges (besides the heat) in the coming weeks will be keeping the vigorous winter squash plants from taking over the farm. The fall transplants germinated nicely in the cabin basement and have now moved outside to the high tunnel to continue on their journey. Later this week we will start sowing additional fall crops that go directly into the field. One exciting development this week was the ripening of the first tomatoes. We've had a few cherry tomatoes fully ripen and are starting to see color on some of the large high tunnel tomatoes. I anticipate starting to send a few tomatoes out in boxes as early as next week.

We had an interesting visit on the farm last week by a production team from the IPTV program Iowa Ingredient. They had contacted us about doing a feature on cucumbers. While we always plant them, cukes are a particularly tough crop for us as there are a couple of very prolific insect pests for which there are no organic/chemical-free control. We shared this information with the producer and also shared that, though we had 300 row feet of cucumbers planted and they currently looked great, it was possible that by the time the crew came out to film, all those plants would be dead. We were about 50% correct. By last Thursday when the team arrived at the farm, the majority of the field cucumbers were dead. Luckily we also have about 100 row feet of assorted cucumbers in the high tunnel that were lush, vigorous and producing like crazy. So the camera rolled, the cukes were harvested and the program is scheduled for next spring. In the meantime, you should continue to get lovely cucumbers in your boxes but be aware, that eventually the same fate will befall the high tunnel plants and the virulent cucumber beetles will win.

Though things are a bit challenging on the farm right now, never fear, not all is gloom and doom. The beans are really coming into into their season, with the yellow Carson beans leading the charge. The long green Fortex pole beans are starting to put on a good show and will be combined with the Carsons for our mixed beans. Provider beans (also green) will be added to them as they try to recover from excessive attention from the rabbits. Our farm-favorite bean, the beautiful yellow Romano bean called "Marvel of Venice" is ripening nicely and we will be sending those out in a few boxes this week. These are a "ribbon-shaped" flat bean that can be used in any bean recipe, but we think they really shine when used in place of asparagus in recipes and cooking style. Also growing nicely are peppers (hot and sweet), melons, okra and winter squash and we anticipate those appearing in boxes in the coming weeks.

Immature Cream of Saskatchewan melon
Save the Date: CSA member Ice Cream Social- THIS Sunday, July 23rd from 2 – 5pm at the farm. Come on out for an afternoon filled with fresh country air, homemade ice cream and farm-fresh desserts. We will send out an e-invitation tomorrow, so keep your eyes open for it. We hope everyone can join us!

*Team Blue Gate-Market Opportunity*
Want to see another side of your farm? Join Team Blue Gate,  our group of volunteers who join Jill in the BGF tent during the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market season. We ask that interested individuals commit to at least 2 market dates over the course of the season and to be there for set-up, selling and tear down (basically 6am-12:30 or so). In appreciation for their time and efforts, volunteers earn a BGF T-shirt and a $30 credit at the booth that day. We have an awesome group and everyone seems to enjoy it, but we do have some open dates coming up. If you are interested in joining us this year, you can go to the online calendar (http://signup.com/go/XpWdQM)  and sign up for whenever works with your schedule.
 

A little detail on your produce this week:

Broccoli: Wrap broccoli loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for up to a week. Immediately before cooking, soak broccoli, head down, in cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt to a 8 cups of water) for 5 minutes. Any [organic] critters will float to the top where you can rescue them or allow them to suffer a salty death. (Note: If you soak broccoli in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and wilted to enjoy.) Slice the juicy, edible stems and use them wherever florets are called for. Peel particularly thick skin before using. 

Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild. Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort.

Fennel: Cut off the stalks where they emerge from the bulb. To use the feathery foliage as an herb, place the dry stalks upright in a glass filled with two inches of water, cover the glass loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to five days. The unwashed bulb will keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at
least a week. To use: Remove any damaged spots or layers. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and check the inner core. If it’s tough, remove it with a paring knife. Fennel should be washed carefully, because dirt can lodge between the layers of the bulb. Chop or mince the leaves.

Potatoes: Keep unwashed potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place, such as a loosely closed paper bag in a cupboard. They will keep for weeks at room temperature, longer if you can provide their ideal temperature of 40 to 50 degrees. Beware: the low temperature of your refrigerator will convert the starch to sugars. Moisture causes potatoes to spoil, light turns them green, and proximity to onions causes them to sprout. (You can still use a potato that has sprouted, however; simply cut off the “eyes” before use.)
Potatoes store best if they haven't been washed, so we send them out in their "dust jackets". Just before using, scrub potatoes well and cut off any sprouts or green skin. (Clean delicate new potatoes gently.) Peeling is a matter of preference.

Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week
and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel. These do not need to be peeled to use, just slice them up and go!

A few other details: All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  

* NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Blue, Luci & Indigo)
Labels:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


BGF News - July 11, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.5

In this week’s box:

Beans: Carson (yellow) with a few Provider (green) beans tossed in
Cabbage: Golden Acre (round) or Wakefield (cone-shaped)
Cucumber: Diva/Marketmore (green Euro.), Suyo Long (long, green Asian), Lemon (round, yellow)
Head Lettuce Bouquets
Summer Squash
Sweet Onions: Ailsa Craig
Turnips: Hakurei (a little rough on the outside, but sweet and delicious)
...and perhaps one of the following:
Broccoli: Belstar (a bit small and off-color from the heat but still tasty)
Eggplant: Orient Express
            
For those with the Egg option [full & half shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Sweet basil, fennel, par-cel
A bounty of nearly-ripe beans

Beautiful, sweet Ailsa Craig onions
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Grilled Cabbage Steaks 
Roasted Parmesan Summer Squash
Turnip & Onion Gratin
BGF Tangy Cucumbers and Sweet Onions** (recipe below)

 

What’s up on the farm?


Precipitation in the past week:  trace (time to get out your rain dancing shoes)
 
I was about to write "it has been a hot dry week here on the farm," and it has, but I nearly forgot it has been two weeks since our last delivery and the weather was downright delightful for part of that earlier week. However, the dry part holds true. Time and time again we have watched storms form all around us, then part and pass us by. It happened again this morning, I woke up around 3AM to a severe weather notification on my phone. Ran out in my pajamas to close up the high tunnels and the barn and then just a sprinkle. Sigh. Ah well, at least it isn't flooding. NOAA recently classified our area as being in a moderate drought. For us, this translates to working on and running the irrigation system nearly non-stop. While the irrigation isn't a rain replacement, it does keep things from dying due to the lack of rain. Besides irrigating, the crew has spent a lot of time recently pruning and trellising tomatoes in the high tunnels and in the field. We are growing around 800 tomato plants and each one must be pruned and trellised. That makes for a lot of post pounding, twine weaving and leaf trimming. Despite the field tomatoes tough early start with the deer, they seem to be pushing through and starting to set fruit. The high tunnel tomatoes are doing quite nicely and some are already more than six feet tall and the fruits are just starting to show a bit of color. We've also been transplanting more head lettuce, sowing additional beans and edamame and doing lots of cultivating and weeding.

While it's hard to imagine, this is the time of year we start thinking about fall crops. Just this past Sunday we filled the sunroom with dozens and dozens of flats destined to become the future cool weather crops. Included on the seeding list were: broccoli, cauliflower, European cabbage, Napa cabbage, chard, kale and head lettuce. I just noticed that I forgot to start fennel. Will have to do that later this week. The real challenge to these crops is that it is too warm for them to germinate in this weather, so after sowing in flats they spend one night in the warm sunroom then are transported across the farm to the cabin where they will stay in the nice cool basement until they start to grow. This will take anywhere from 2 days to a week. Then they move back out to the high tunnel to grow until they are big enough to be transplanted into the fields.

 We were pleased to harvest some nice cabbages this week. They have started sizing up and even though there is some cosmetic insect damage on the outer leaves, the heads themselves are really lovely. Cabbage is one of those great flexible vegetables that goes effortlessly from the salad plate to the skillet, grill or roasting pan. Jill's all time favorite cabbage recipe goes back to her days working at an area summer camp where "walking salad" was often a snack option. Individual cabbage leaves are spread with peanut butter and rolled up like a burrito. End of recipe. They are quick, healthy and delicious and this farmer thinks it tastes far superior to the celery version. We hope you'll give it a try!

Box return reminder: This is your friendly reminder to please make an effort to remember to return your empty box each week. I know it can be a challenge and nearly everyone forgets at least once. That said, it saves us a great deal of time when packing boxes if we don't have to make up temporary boxes for a number of members. If you would like to eliminate the worry of "the empty box" you are welcome to take a cue from some of our other members. Simply bring along a bag (or a small cooler) into which you unload your items and we will take your empty box back to the farm with us, then you don't have to worry about returning it the following week. We are hoping that we can get through the whole season this year without every having to deploy "The Box of Shame!" (This terrifying specter makes an appearance whenever a member is at risk of becoming a serial box forgetter. Please save us all the horror and remember to return your box.

*Team Blue Gate-Market Opportunity*
Want to see another side of your farm? Join Team Blue Gate,  our group of volunteers who join Jill in the BGF tent during the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market season. We ask that interested individuals commit to at least 2 market dates over the course of the season and to be there for set-up, selling and tear down (basically 6am-12:30 or so). In appreciation for their time and efforts, volunteers earn a BGF T-shirt and a $30 credit at the booth that day. We have an awesome group and everyone seems to enjoy it, but we do have some open dates coming up. If you are interested in joining us this year, you can go to the online calendar (http://signup.com/go/XpWdQM)  and sign up for whenever works with your schedule.

Save the Date: CSA member Ice Cream Social- Sunday, July 23rd from 2 – 5pm at the farm. Come on out for an afternoon filled with fresh country air, homemade ice cream and farm-fresh desserts. We will send out an e-invitation next week, so keep your eyes open for it. We hope everyone can join us!

A little detail on your produce this week: 

Broccoli: Wrap broccoli loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for up to a week. Immediately before cooking, soak broccoli, head down, in cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt to a 8 cups of water) for 5 minutes. Any [organic] critters will float to the top where you can rescue them or allow them to suffer a salty death. (Note: If you soak broccoli in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and wilted to enjoy.) Slice the juicy, edible stems and use them wherever florets are called for. Peel particularly thick skin before using.


Cabbage: Store dry, unwashed cabbage in the refrigerator, preferably in the vegetable bin. The outer leaves may eventually get floppy or yellowish, but you can remove and discard them to reveal fresh inner leaves. Cabbage can keep for more than a month. Once it’s cut, seal it in a plastic bag and continue to refrigerate for several weeks. Rinse the cabbage under cold running water just before use. Peel away a few of the outer leaves, then cut the cabbage according to your needs with a big, sharp knife, and then chop, sliver, or grate.

 Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild. Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort.

Green top onions: not the pencil-thin scallions, but nearly grown (though not-yet-cured) onions are an early summer treat. Keep sweet mild onions in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a week or two, but beware the fatal moisture accumulation that causes them to spoil. To prolong their storage, wrap in a paper or cloth towel before storing in plastic.

Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week

and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel.

Turnips: keep best if separated from their greens.  Greens are stored in a plastic bag and can be cooked like mustard or collard greens (you can add them in with your Braising Greens Mix).  Trimmed roots can go into a lidded container or zip-close bag. These aren't your grandma's turnips. These are a sweet, Japanese salad variety that is particularly tasty for fresh eating. They will still work great in cooked dishes, but we love to eat them raw, often right out of hand, like an apple. One of the farm crew's favorite mid-field snacks.

A few other details: All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  

* NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.
That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,

Jill & Sean (and Blue, Luci & Indigo)
Labels:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

BGF News - June 27, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.4

In this week’s box:

Baby Carrots: Rainbow Mix
Green Garlic
Head Lettuce: Bronze Arrowhead and/or Green Towers
Napa Cabbage
Purslane
Scallions
Summer Squash: 8 Ball( round, green), Slik Pik (long, light yellow), Patty Pan (dk green, lt. green or yellow "flying saucer-shaped") or Golden Glory (yellow zucchini)
* and possibly one of the following: 
Broccoli

  
A rainbow of carrots
          
For those with the Egg option [full shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: basil tips, peppermint, lovage
 
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Francis Lam’s Ginger Scallion Sauce**
Purslane Salad with Garlic Yoghurt
Veggie Mac & Cheese (no "mac") ** see recipe at bottom
Lime Cabbage Salad** see recipe at bottom


What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 1.75"
 
This week features a much happier farmer working much-relieved crops. We worked hard last week to get some major cultivating done around the farm but especially in the east plots with extra time dedicated to the popcorn. Then the rain started...ah sweet, sweet rain! Then we got a break, did some more cultivating and hilled the potatoes again and low and behold, it rained again! Perfect! Then we used some of that time when the soil was too wet to work, to get caught up on our high tunnel chores. The spent lettuces were sent to the livestock and compost pile, beds cleaned up and trellises installed. We even did a little mini planting of some of our left-over field trial lettuce to see how it does in the heat of a summer high tunnel. Besides that small planting, the only new crops in the ground this past week were okra and the final planting of summer squashes, and they really appreciated nature's timely irrigation.
While the rain was much needed, the accompanying cooler weather is curious. The crew, livestock and early season crops love it. The mid-season, heat-loving plants, however are not so pleased. Minimum temperatures for full production of cucumbers is 50° and for tomatoes it is 55°. When I did morning chores today (wearing a lined sweatshirt) it was 49.3°. These temps wont kill any of the crops, but at the very least is slows their growth considerably and can decrease their overall production. I expected that we would be slammed with  summer squash harvesting this week following the rain but while the plants are loaded with immature fruits they are just sort of wandering towards the "ready to harvest" mark. Nothing bad there, just unexpected. On the other hand, the head lettuces are loving the cooler weather and even the high tunnel peas are putting out a new flush of growth so we might be able to get a few more of those out in boxes in the coming weeks.
 A beautiful harvest of head lettuce

Upcoming Events:

A reminder that we will not be delivering boxes next week on the 4th of July. We hope you enjoy your holiday with friends and family. And don't worry, we aren't shorting you a week, we've added it to the end of the schedule. See you on July 11th!

Save the Date!: CSA member Ice Cream Social- Sunday, July 23rd from 2 – 5pm at the farm. Come on out for an afternoon filled with fresh country air, homemade ice cream and farm-fresh desserts. We will send out an e-invitation soon, so keep your eyes open for it. We hope everyone can join us!

A little detail on your produce this week:

Due to the heavy rains we experienced in the past week, some of your produce will have soil lodged in the interior layers from splashing. While we do wash the produce, it isn't possible for us to get all the dirt out without tearing apart the layers or leaves of vegetables like Napa cabbage, lettuce and scallions. So all this to say, be sure to wash your produce before you use it.


Carrots: Remove the leafy green tops, leaving about an inch of stems. Refrigerate dry, unwashed carrots in a plastic bag for two weeks or longer. To use scrub carrots well (no need to peel) with a stiff brush just before using. Trim off any green spots, which can taste bitter. When slicing or chopping carrots for cooking, be sure to make all the pieces relatively the same size; this will ensure an evenly cooked dish.


Green Garlic: This is freshly harvested garlic that hasn't had time to cure yet. You will notice that the wrappers are soft and the garlic itself is very juicy. You can use it in any recipe calling for garlic. Store loosely wrapped in the refrigerator for best keeping quality.



Napa Cabbage: Store Napa cabbage whole in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. These Napa are fairly immature and wont have a large formed head but are still tasty and can be used in any cabbage recipe.

Scallions (green onions)- are best kept upright in a glass with about 1" of water in it, more like flowers than vegetables. Loosely cover the tops with plastic and you will be amazed at how long they will keep. We like to throw a handful of chopped scallions into nearly any savory dish, right near the end of the cooking time.

Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week
and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel. These do not need to be peeled to use, just slice them up and go!


All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. If they are particularly wet, wrap in a cotton or linen dish towel before placing in the bag.


* NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.
That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Blue, Luci & Indigo)



Lime Cabbage Salad


1/2 cabbage, finely shredded
2 limes, freshly squeezed
large pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp cumin seed
1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil

Toss together & serve as a side salad or top with a saucy or spicy meat, like left over BBQ beef.


Recipe Source: Blue Gate Farm friend, Dana Foster
 

 
Veggie Mac & Cheese (no “mac”)
2 tbs olive oil
2-3 cups sliced summer squash (1/4” slices)
2 tbs green onions or garlic, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3-4 tbs chevre cheese (we especially like chive or pesto flavored)

Pour oil in sauté pan. Add garlic and summer squash. Saute 1-2 minutes and add green onion. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes until squash are cooked through, but still firm. Remove from heat and immediately stir cheese into squash. Serve hot.

Recipe source: Blue Gate Farm

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

BGF News - June 20, 2017  Vol. XXXIII, No.3 

In this week’s box:

Basil (Genovese and/or Italian Large Leaf, "just a little off the top")
Braising Greens Mix or Choi
Garlic Scapes
Head Lettuce Bouquets
Kale Bouquets
Oregano
Salad Turnips: Hakurei
* and possibly one of the following: 
(please see note below:"A little detail on your produce this week")
Broccoli
Snow Peas
Summer Squash: 8 Ball( round, green), Slik Pik (long, light yellow) or Patty Pan (dk green, lt. green or yellow "flying saucer-shaped")
           
For those with the Egg option [full & half shares]: one dozen free-range eggs (assorted colors)
For those with the Herb option: Herb share will begin in a couple of weeks as herbs mature

Summer Squash Assortment
  Featured Recipes:  (** indicates a BGF favorite )
White Bean and Kale Ragout with Turnips and Sausage
Chickpeas with Spicy Wilted Greens
Flawless Kale Chips  **
Summer Squash with Oregano
  

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 1.15"
 
We finally got a bit of rain this past week, it was a huge relief in more than one way. We were pretty desperate for the rain, but Thursday's storm also brought baseball-sized hail to our neighbors just a mile away. We feel terrible for their crop losses and damage, but were so very thankful to have missed that disaster on our farm. We did have dime-sized hail that night, so are seeing a bit of cosmetic damage on some of the crops, but nothing serious. The rain was so critical when it came and it made a real difference for the crops, especially those that hadn't yet germinated, but we are already ready for more and are back to running the irrigation systems in rotation. That 1" did make a huge difference though, we saw a nice growth spurt in the summer squashes, which are making a limited appearance in the boxes this week, with many, many more to come. The beans and cucumbers also put on a growth spurt and we spent several hours getting the trellises installed for those vining crops.The broccoli put on a "heading spurt" if not a growth spurt, so we are sending out the first bit of broccoli this week as well. The heads are quite small, but if you just think of them as really big florets, then they are much more impressive. The high tunnel basil needed pinching back to promote future growth, so we are sending out just a little taste of summer in the boxes this week. Be sure to take a look at the storage recommendations for basil (unless you plan to use it tonight!) Never fear, there is more broccoli and basil to come.The oregano is growing like crazy and needed to be cut back, so everyone gets to enjoy a little extra herby-ness with their share this week. Because of the heavy wind and rain last week, it might be a little gritty, so be sure to wash it, just before using. It will lose flavor if you wash it before storing it.

We are seeing germination on new sowings of beans, beets, popcorn and edamame. The melon and winter squash plantings are blooming and the pollinators are keeping up good traffic between them. Did you know that it can take up to 15 visits from a pollinator to adequately pollinate one squash blossom? That is just one example of why we need to do everything we can to help promote healthy pollinator populations. We are finally seeing some germination on one of our trial beds that is sown to a blend of pollinator-attractor plants. We are trialing this seed mix as part of a field study with Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Xerces Society.

Not surprisingly, the crops weren't the only growing things that appreciated the recent rains. The grass has started to green up again and so have the weeds, though they never really seemed to slow down. So our weed war continues on a daily basis. In this battle, we were fortunate this weekend to host the farmer families from the Gang of 5 Farms. Over the summer months we get together with our friends from Genuine Faux Farm, Grinnell Heritage Farm, Scattergood Friends School and Wabi Sabi Farm each month at one of the farms to do a work day, eat and enjoy each other's company. This month was our turn to host and the project of the day was weeding onions, leeks, winter squash and melons in our East Plots. This crew can slay a lot of weeds in short order. Huge thanks to all of them for their valiant efforts!

The Gang of Five, Weed Warriors!
So, all in all it was a pretty good week on the farm, though it wasn't all great news. It appears that we did lose the chard this week to the battle of the bunnies. We started with 300 row feet of chard and were never able to slow the tide of hungry eaters that found it irresistible. So the sad news is that the bunnies won, the chard is mostly gone and now we have to start over. We expect to lose a small percentage of chard every season, but we have never seen whole crop destruction like we have experienced this year. We do anticipate chard making it into the boxes this season, it will just take longer than planned. The edamame and bush beans seem to be recovering from the earlier bunny onslaught. Rabbit stew is sounding better and better all the time!

Keep up those rain dances, and if your personal rain dance includes a hail and damaging wind exclusion, all the better!

A little detail on your produce this week:



Basil hates the cold and will turn black with exposure. Keep long stemmed basil in a glass/vase of water on your counter top (out of direct sunlight). Stems that are too short (trimmings/tops) should be placed in a plastic bag, with a dry paper towel. Then put inside of a paper bag (for insulation) and put in the warmest part of your refrigerator (usually the door) or on the top shelf towards the front.

Braising Greens: A combination of greens that are used mostly in cooked dishes.  Store like other greens, in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  

Broccoli: Wrap broccoli loosely in a plastic bag and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for up to a week. Immediately before cooking, soak broccoli, head down, in cold, salted water (1 teaspoon salt to a 8 cups of water) for 5 minutes. Any [organic] critters will float to the top where you can rescue them or allow them to suffer a salty death. (Note: If you soak broccoli in salt water before storing, it will become too rubbery and wilted to enjoy.) Slice the juicy, edible stems and use them wherever florets are called for. Peel particularly thick skin before using.
 
Choi (a.k.a. - pac choi, bok choy or pok choy) is the large, structural-looking vegetable.  It is a member of the cabbage family and is a traditional Asian stir-fry vegetable.  Both the stems and leaves of choi can be used and are especially tasty in cooked recipes.  If cooking them, separate the leaves and stems, and begin cooking stems first to avoid overcooking the more tender greens. You can also use the leaves like any green-leafy vegetable and the stems like celery.  We tend to use choi leaves as a sandwich wrap, or just roughly chop the whole thing and sauté with garlic and/or onion.  Cook until stems are tender and dress with a little seasoned rice vinegar. Store choi loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your produce drawer.

Garlic Scapes: One of our favorite crops of the year. These curly green things are the emerging flower stalk from a hardneck garlic plant. We remove them to redirect more of the plant's energy into the bulb, but it also provides us with a delightful fresh garlic treat. These keep very well in a plastic bag in your produce drawer and can be used in any recipe calling for garlic. They would be perfect in last week's garlic salt recipe, make a great pesto and can be minced and added to room-temperature butter, which is then stored in log shape, in the freezer for a last minute dollop of goodness for vegetables, breads or meat.

Herbs (other than basil): Most herbs keep best in a glass of water in the refrigerator, loosely covered with a plastic bag. You can keep them in a glass or base on your kitchen counter for a couple of days if you change the water daily.

Summer Squash/Zucchini: Refrigerate unwashed zucchini and summer squash for up to a week
and a half in a perforated plastic bag or in a sealed plastic container lined with a kitchen towel. These do not need to be peeled to use, just slice them up and go!


Turnips: keep best if separated from their greens.  Greens are stored in a plastic bag and can be cooked like mustard or collard greens (you can add them in with your Braising Greens Mix).  Trimmed roots can go into a lidded container or zip-close bag. These aren't your grandma's turnips. These are a sweet, Japanese salad variety that is particularly tasty for fresh eating. They will still work great in cooked dishes, but we love to eat them raw, often right out of hand, like an apple. One of the farm crew's favorite mid-field snacks.

A few other details: All of your GREENS will keep best if stored in a plastic bag, with the top folded over and placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.  
* NOTE: You will notice over the course of the season that some box contents listed above say "Perhaps one of the following..."  These are items that we can’t harvest in sufficient quantities for the whole CSA to receive at one time.  We do track who gets what and we will do our best to ensure that everyone eventually receives each item.  On some items this may take several weeks, so please be patient.

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That’s about it this week, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Blue, Luci & Indigo)
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