Tuesday, June 13, 2017

BGF News - June 13, 2017-Vol. XXXIII, No.2 

In this week’s box:

Amaranth Greens (bundled greens with bright green leaves)
Garlic Scapes
Lemon Balm (rough green leaves with a strong lemon scent)
Lettuce Bouquets (bundle of assorted lettuce varieties)
Purslane (bundle of succulent leaves on reddish stems)
Radishes: Rainbow Mix
Tapestry Salad Mix
* and possibly one of the following: 
(please see note below in "A little detail on your produce this week")
Snow Peas
Snap Peas
For those with the Egg option [full shares only]: 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
rainbow radishes
Featured Recipes:  ** indicates a BGF favorite 
Lemon Balm Pesto
Amaranth Greens Recipe
Sauteed Radishes with Greens and Garlic
**BGF Easy Black Beans and Rice Recipe (recipe at the bottom)

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00"
A week ago I commented that things on the farm were green and lush, but yet another week without rains coupled with high temps and blustery winds has really pulled every bit of moisture out of the ground. The grass is dry and looks more like August than early June. Even NOAA is reporting that this is the driest start to June on record for central Iowa. Thanks to irrigation lines in most of our beds, the crops are progressing, albeit more slowly due to the stressful conditions. Don't worry, this isn't a gloom and doom story, but we are not where we like to be moisture-wise, which translates to not where we'd like to be crop-wise or in your delivery boxes.  It will rain at some point, and we will continue to irrigate, but if anyone has mad rain dance skills, this would be the time to show them off! Like everything else, the garlic is stressed by this weather and seems to have thrown all its scapes up at once, so everyone gets to share in the great garlic scape bounty! Don't worry, they keep for months in a bag in your produce drawer, so you don't need to use them up immediately.

Besides irrigating and harvesting, much of the past week has been focused on cultivating (and hand weeding where necessary) to try and get ahead of the weeds while they are weakened by the lack of rain. Obviously, anywhere that we are irrigating, we are also watering the weeds, so we try to focus on those areas first. Our goal is to start with the largest tools first, usually the walking tractors, as they are the most efficient, then work our way down to the smallest tools (our fingers). Hand weeding is the slowest and least efficient method of weeding, but sometimes it is the only thing that will do the job. It does give the crew a chance to sit down a bit, which we don't do a lot of at this time of year.

We didn't plant many new crops last week as the conditions weren't very friendly to new plantings. We did transplant a bed of summer head lettuce that we are trialing with Practical Farmers of Iowa. We are hoping to identify a lettuce variety or two that will hold its quality over the summer when most lettuces get bitter. We will do three successive plantings for this trial and hopefully, this will result in beautiful heads of lettuce in your boxes in July and August! We did get another sowing of beans and a sowing of tetragonia (greens) in, in hopes that it will rain on them this week.

We are starting to see nice development on the summer squashes and broccoli, so we hope to be able to start sending those out in boxes in the next couple of weeks.

Baby 'Slik Pik' summer squash
Deer-grazed chard

The cucumbers, peppers and high tunnel tomatoes are just starting to bloom, with the first few fruits setting, which is always good to see. The melons and winter squash are putting on decent growth and will likely start blooming within a week or so. Cabbages and onions are looking pretty good, but are in the fields that don't have irrigation. We will be working to remedy that situation later this week. The field tomatoes, edamame and the chard are trying to recover from the deer invasion. If we can keep the deer out, we think they have a good chance.



A little detail on your produce this week:

Amaranth: A delicious leafy green (and grain) that is a dietary staple in many areas of the world. Young leaves can be added to salad mixes and sandwiches, while larger leaves and shoots are perfect for steaming, braising or sautéing. You can use amaranth in any recipe that calls for spinach.Store like other greens, 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.

Lemon Balm: a fragrant member of the mint family. Delicious in teas and pestos. Makes a wonderful "bed" for cooked seafood or poultry as the heat of the cooked meat will release the essential oils in the leaves. Store in a glass of water on the counter or in the fridge loosely covered with a plastic bag.
Purslane: This succulent plant is a valued green in many parts of the world, though here in the US, it is mostly known as an invasive weed. It is rich in vitamin E, vitamin C and beta carotene, and quite high in protein.  Most noteworthy of all, it is considered a better source of essential omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy plant.  Enjoy raw or cooked in any recipe calling for greens, it is also ideal for juicing and green smoothies. Makes a terrific replacement for lettuce on tacos. Store in a paper towel (or cloth)-lined plastic bag in your crisper drawer and use within a week.

Radishes: keep best if separated from their greens.  Greens are stored in a plastic bag and can be cooked like mustard or collard greens .  Trimmed roots can go into a lidded container or zip-close bag.Given the recent high temperatures, the radishes will tend to be fairly spicy. These are perfect for cooking/roasting.

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)

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