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
Salad Turnips: Hakurei
* and possibly one of the following: 
(please see note below:"A little detail on your produce this week")
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.

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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