Tuesday, June 15, 2021

BGF NEWS - June 15, 2021 - VOL. XLVII, NO. 3

In this week’s box:


Arugula
Garlic Scapes, curly green bundle
Head Lettuce, assorted varieties
Lemon Thyme
Napa Cabbage
Spinruts (baby Hakurei turnips)

 and perhaps one of the following: (please see **NOTE  after "A Little Detail..." below)
Broccoli:(Gypsy) small, early heads
Snow Peas
Sugar Snap Peas

For those with the Herb option: Herb share will begin in a couple of weeks (waiting for basil)

Featured Recipes:  
Stir-fried Napa Cabbage Spicy Garlic Dressing 
(use scapes for garlic)

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00"

The theme for this week (again) was Hot and Dry! We were really hopeful that we would catch some of the rain in the state this past Friday, but all we got was wind and a bit of a temperature drop (which was appreciated). Our early season crops are really struggling to survive the conditions and we are starting to lose some of them. We thought about trying to market pre-cooked greens for this week's VegEmail sales but decided snarky farmer humor might be lost on some. The CSA boxes today are really greens-heavy. We would have liked to give the arugula and napa cabbage in this week's delivery another week or so to grow a bit more, but they were starting to protest the weather so it was a "now or never" harvest decision. We probably won't have these crops available again until fall, so now is the time to enjoy them!

The weather conditions have pushed us to do something we've never had to do before, we ran irrigation lines on our popcorn and winter squash, just to try and get the seeds to germinate. The squash is responding better than the popcorn at this point. Here's hoping it's successful. 
One positive thing about the dry conditions is that we have ample opportunity to cultivate and try to stay ahead of the weeds.

While most of the past week was focused on irrigation and cultivating, we did get some new crops in the ground because farmers, by nature, are optimists (we just hide it well)! We transplanted okra, basil and several varieties of flowers into the field and high tunnel, as well as replacing holes in some earlier crops, including the tomatoes that we lost a few weeks ago to some bold, furry pest. 

So what's looking good in the field? Lots of things! We are harvesting peas and garlic scapes several times a week. The early broccoli is heading up nicely and are seeing blooms on squashes, cucumbers and tomatoes and fruit set on peppers and zucchini. Heavier CSA boxes are on the way!

Finally, we always want to make it perfectly clear that it takes many hands to bring your produce to you every week. We are SO very lucky to have an incredible team of hardworking young women on the farm five days a week.
Today's lettuce harvest
They are fierce weed warriors, gentle care-takers of all things living and occasionally, clever practical jokers. I can't imagine the farm without them. I'd like to introduce you to them so we're starting a new section of the newsletter so you can get to know them a bit.

Crew Corner: Danielle, Crew Chief
To all of our veteran CSA members: thank you for joining us for yet another growing season. To those of you who have just started this journey, I bid you a warm WELCOME!
In the six years I have worked at BGF, there have been many improvements and updates in the tools we use and our harvest processes.   That is one of the things I love most about this job, Jill is always learning what is best for the land and the vegetables we grow and we are constantly trying new methods or tweaking our old ones.  In fact, each year before the growing season begins, we discuss what new efficiencies we can employ and what new varieties of plants we should grow for all of you. As this job is very demanding physically, it can be very disconcerting to see plants and produce lost to drought or little furry eaters after all of the effort we put forth to bring you vegetables that are nutritious and chemical-free. Last year was the beginning of our flower trials, which went quite well, and I am thrilled to say we have expanded this year!  One of my favorite things to do is harvest an array of flowers each week and use my creativity to build bouquets for our customers who place their orders through Veg-Email.

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.


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:
 Besides basil, most herbs keep best standing upright in a glass of water in your refrigerator with a loose plastic bag over the top. To use, simply pull a stem between your fingers and the leaves usually shear off. Chop with a sharp knife and add to your favorite recipes.

Napa Cabbage: Store Napa cabbage whole in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To prepare the entire head at once, cut it in half lengthwise, remove the core, and chop as desired. Or, separate and wash individual leaves as needed.  

Peas: 
We grow snow peas (flat pod with little bumps showing immature peas inside) and sugar snap peas (rounded pods with mature peas inside).  Both have edible pods and can be used interchangeably in recipes.  They are particularly good in stir-fries and salads, though we tend to eat them fresh as a snack.  Peas keep best in their plastic container in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.

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. Large leaf greens can benefit by being wrapped in a linen or cotton towel inside the bag if excess moisture is a concern.

** 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? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That's about it for now. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)

Indigo, Luci & Sky

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

BGF NEWS - June 8, 2021 - VOL. XLVII, NO. 2

In this week’s box:

Asparagus, last of the season!
Garlic Scapes, curly green bundle
Golden Oyster Mushrooms
Green & Leafy Mix (Amara & Vivid Choi), bunched leafy greens
Snow Peas
Strawberries!
Tapestry Salad Mix, zip-top bag

 and perhaps one of the following: (please see **NOTE  after "A Little Detail..." below)
Broccoli:(Gypsy) small, early heads

For those with the Herb option: Herb share will begin in a couple of weeks as herbs mature

Featured Recipes:  
Asparagus & Oyster Mushrooms
BGF Garlic Scape Pesto see recipe below

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past week: 0.00"

This isn't how I usually start a newsletter, but I have to tell you, I have been so tickled by the recent activity on the BGF Community Page on facebook. A number of folks have been posting photos or descriptions of recipes or whole meals made from last week's CSA delivery. These are things that make my little farmHer heart sing! The group is a great place to share your food triumphs and your questions. Our membership is a goldmine of veggie enthusiasm, knowledge and experience. If you haven't already, you can find the group here: Blue Gate Farm Community

Now back to our regular program...The theme of the past week (and the week to come) on the farm was/is IRRIGATION! We have a nearly unending cycle of irrigation lines installed and running on the crops, both to germinate new crops and to keep the established crops alive and growing. Trying to keep the farm crew "irrigated" is even more important in this weather. Keeping crops, livestock and crew healthy requires vigilance when we are this hot and dry so early in the season. The graphic below shows the departure from normal rain levels across the state for the past 2 months. 
We are more than 4" below where we should be right now. Lots of places are worse off than we are, but that doesn't make growing food any easier.
Our cool-weather/early season crops are particularly offended by the hot temperatures. It makes them think their time is done and they should flower and go to seed. This ends their use as food crops. We've already lost our spring choi crops to this fate and there are others That are likely to follow soon. It's pretty frustrating when it happens before the crop is ready to be harvested. The Amara in your leafy-greens bunches is doing just that, so we will harvest what we can from it today and then we'll pull it and make room for the next crop. Don't worry, there's still plenty of things to come...like strawberries!!!

The past week was a productive one. We harvested the last of the asparagus for the season and started harvesting strawberries and garlic scapes. 










We got lots of seeds sown including: winter squash, summer squash, melons, komatsuna, edamame, beets, carrots, sunflowers, clover and choi. We transplanted additional head lettuce, broccoli and collards and re-planted our entire popcorn patch, due to poor germination.  We've been cultivating, hand weeding and hilling potatoes as well as the aforementioned irrigation work. 
Now if it would just rain, in a timely and reasonable fashion, that would be great!

A little detail on your produce this week:


Asparagus: Keeps best stored upright in a glass with about 1" of water, in the refrigerator. Delicious raw or cooked. 

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.

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:
 Besides basil, most herbs keep best standing upright in a glass of water in your refrigerator with a loose plastic bag over the top. To use, simply pull a stem between your fingers and the leaves usually shear off. Chop with a sharp knife and add to your favorite recipes.

Oyster Mushrooms: 
To maximize the shelf life of raw mushrooms, refrigerate them in a paper bag; do not wrap in plastic or store in airtight container, as this will speed spoilage.  Properly stored, raw whole mushrooms will usually keep well for 4 to 7 days in the fridge. To use, trim off the stems as they are tough and either discard them or save to make a vegetable stock.

Peas: 
We grow snow peas (flat pod with little bumps showing immature peas inside) and sugar snap peas (rounded pods with mature peas inside).  Both have edible pods and can be used interchangeably in recipes.  They are particularly good in stir-fries and salads, though we tend to eat them fresh as a snack.  Peas keep best in their plastic container in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.

Strawberries keep best in your refrigerator in a vented container. Use within 3-4 days.

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? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That's about it for now. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)

Indigo, Luci & Sky

BGF Garlic Scape Pesto
1 bunch tender scapes, cut into pieces, and processed in a food processor until finely chopped
Add the following and process until well blended:
1/3 cup olive oil (add more if you like a thinner pesto)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
optional, toss in some basil for additional pesto flavor if you have it.

This can be served now or frozen for future use. I freeze it in small (1/2 c.) zip-top plastic bags, flattened. Then you can just break off whatever amount you need.