SO WHAT’S HAPPENING ON THE FARM THIS WEEK?
VOLUME X, JOURNAL 2&3
Week 3: Report from the Field from Adam…the good, the bad, and the exciting
Many of you have been asking how things are going with the weather being so …wet, wet, wet, with more rain in the forecast. So, I thought would give you a bit of an update on how the farm is doing and what we are up to. There is some good and some bad, and some changes overall with how we are doing things this year and years to come.
As you have seen from your csa shares in the past weeks, the cool, wet weather has been quite favorable to growing some delicious tender greens. Some of the plantings are going by, but the next wave of lettuce is coming along just as beautifully as the first, and the kale, collards, chard, broccoli, and cabbage are also thriving. Our peas have also come on strong, so we hope you’ll enjoy those, too. Though it seems like ancient history, we spent most of last month running around with sprinklers to keep these plants alive and well during one of the hottest, driest May’s on record!
Another thriving crop is our wide selection of tomatoes. We only grow them in the cozy comfort of the hoophouses, and they have been going bonkers. We may even have them earlier than usual this year. At last count, we had something like 40 varieties planted, including 12 or 13 cherry tomato varieties. So, this is a bright spot on the farm your tastebuds will appreciate.
Other crops that are doing well include the cucumbers, squash and zucchini, peppers, eggplants, and garlic. The exception here is that the rain slowed down everything about these crops. Because June has been so wet, our plantings of these (except garlic) have been later than desired. This, combined with wind damage (remember that crazy wind?) has meant that zucchini and summer squash, along with cukes, peppers, etc., will be later than we would have hoped. We’ll still have all these crops, and you will still receive them all in full measure as the season goes by, but later than usual.
In addition to these soggy setbacks, the rain has made it virtually impossible to prepare new beds and to seed directly into the soil using our seeding equipment. We need drier soil to do this or we’ll damage the soil. The seeder just doesn’t work at all on wet soil. So, this means we’ll have to wait on planting things such as lettuce mix, arugula, and the like. While we do have some nice carrots growing, we still have to wait to plant more. The same is true for beans and potatoes and herbs such as cilantro. So, we’ll just hope and pray for a stretch of dry weather long enough to dry things out and get these things done.
Yet another impact of the rain is that some crops are looking a bit piqued. When the soil has too much water in it, the biological processes that make nutrients available to plants just don’t happen as much. This means plants are having a hard time taking up the nutrients they need, even though the nutrients are in the soil…but in limbo.. This is unfortunately what’s going on with our beans and early potato planting. Again, a little dry weather will go a long way. They are planted in raised beds, so they should dry quickly when the sun stays out for more than 2 days at a time.
And, one more rain-related issue (I promise it’s the last I’ll mention) is weed growth. Along with the greens, the weeds have taken advantage of the weather. It’s been almost impossible to cultivate using tools (the most effective method) because of the wet soil. So, we literally have a long row to hoe when the sun comes out. We can’t thank our Monday volunteer weeding crew enough for their past and future help with the weeds.
Change is in the air…
We decided this year to invest in more under-cover growing space by purchasing “caterpillar tunnels”-3 season tunnels that look like caterpillars. They took some time to construct (actually only one is up at this point). We got them to help out our cucumbers, melons, eggplant, and peppers . We have kinks to work out yet. We know the crops will benefit from the extra heat and rain protection. We can’t finish the 2nd one until it stops raining.
We also invested in a “walk-behind tractor” and several implements. Its all Italian made, and it looks like a rototiller on steroids. It really is actually a tractor, just with 2 wheels instead of 4. We were able to purchase this equipment with the help of the Vermont Farmer Fund, which lends money to farmers when disaster strikes, or when new equipment can improve a farms’ productivity and profitability. We bought the equipment so we could switch to a permanent raised bed system, which helps us to improve our soil health and whether extremes a little better than soil that is dependent on heavy tillage year after year. That’s right-no more plowing, disc harrowing, rototilling, and the endless cycle of tillage, and thus killing off the worms and microbes that make soil a living thing. Using the equipment has been a learning curve, and many of our best laid plans had to be altered, amended, and at times, chucked out the window. Ask us about this equipment and our plans, and we’ll be happy to go over it with you ☺
So, as you can see, we do have a lot of good going on here, despite the soggy situation we are in. We have a lot of faith in the season and we look forward to a bountiful harvest…just not on the schedule we wanted. We are thankful to you-the csa members-for being a part of our farm and for weathering the trying weather with us. We know you signed up for this-not just to enjoy the fruits of the farm, but to be supporters of what we do, as well, especially when things don’t go as planned.
A special thanks goes out to Frank and Julia, the apprentices at Blue Heron Farm. Without their hard work and fierce spirits, who knows where we would be. Have a great week.
We look forward to farming with you this season.
Peace, your farmers, Christine, Adam, Sadie, Frank and Julia
What’s in the share this week:
This list is what is in a full share this week. Things may change between Monday and Thursday and Individual and Salad share will get differing amounts and may not get everything on the list. Lettuce heads, lettuce mix, baby red russian kale, bok choy, green onions, hakerei salad turnips, sugar snap peas, garlic scapes
Farm Fresh Raw milk for Sale
We are very lucky to have two milking cows – Annie and Maggie – both give us plenty of milk each and every day and we would like to share that with you and anyone else would like to have raw milk. We sell it $5 a half gal. We also can do a sliding scale if needed for the milk. You can buy milk at CSA pickup or anytime out of our barn fridge next to our house at 34 quaker.
EGGS FOR SALE We have the pretty girls’ eggs for sale – these are free-range, certified organic chicken eggs that are brown eggs– with the brightest yellow/orange yolks you ever seen. The eggs are $5.75 a dozen. $3.00 half dozen
***FRESH CERTIFIED ORGANIC WHOLE CHICKEN AVAILABLE AT THE FARM TODAY**☺
Garlic scapes are the “flower stalks” of hardneck garlic plants, although they do not produce flowers. These stalks start to appear a month or so after the first leaves. They are usually cut off of the plant, since leaving them on only diverts the plants strength away from forming a plump bulb. If left on, they eventually form small bulbils that can be planted to grow more garlic, but it takes 2–3 years for them to form large bulbs. Along the same lines, young garlic plants that are pulled to thin a row are referred to as “green garlic”. Used in the same manner as green onions, these too make excellent eating. All garlic varieties produce a stem, but it’s the hardneck Rocombole garlics that send out the curling scapes that gave them the nickname ‛serpent garlic’. There are many types of Rocombole and the flavor of the scapes can vary considerably from variety to variety, just as with garlic bulbs. But if you have a favorite variety of garlic that grows well in your garden, you will probably enjoy its scapes. Some of the more popularly grown varieties of Rocombole garlic include: ‘Carpathian’, ‘German Red’ and ‘Spanish Roja’. http://gardening.about.com/od/herbsatoz/a/What-Are-Garlic-Scapes.htm
Top 7 things you can do with Scapes
1. Scape Pesto
Far and away my favorite use for garlic scapes is pesto, either straight-up or mixed with herbs like basil and dill. Pesto showcases raw scapes in all their glory. Scape pesto can be very pungent, but it mellows substantially after a few months in the freezer. I like it best in the middle of winter, but I think that’s one part mellowing and two parts deprivation.
2. Grilled Scapes
Another great, and very different, way to showcase scapes is to grill them, tossed with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, over direct heat for about two minutes. Flip them once, halfway through, and finish with an extra sprinkle of flaky salt and maybe a bit of lemon juice and zest. They’ll be charred in spots and just soft enough, and their flavor will have sweetened and mellowed dramatically. Grilled scapes are surprisingly reminiscent of asparagus, and surprisingly different from raw scapes.
3. Scape Hummus
For the same reason they work well in pesto, scapes are a brilliant swap-in for garlic in your favorite homemade hummus. I think they work especially well in a lemony, tahini-free hummus, which really gives them a chance to shine. Edamame “hummus” with scapes works nicely too, and color coordination is tough to argue with.
4. Scape Compound Butter
Scapes would make a lovely compound butter with a little lemon and maybe some fresh thyme. You could use the butter to make a tarted-up garlic bread, and I can’t think of much (except maybe fruit—I do have some boundaries) that could be tossed on the grill but not finished with a nice slice of this melting goodness.
5. Scapes as aromatic
To take a more utilitarian approach, you can slice scapes to whatever length you like and use them as you would garlic, as an aromatic in a wide variety of recipes. Scapes lose a lot of their bite when sautéed, more so than garlic cloves, so use at least three or four times as much scape-age as you would clove-age.
6. Scapes as vegetable
Scapes also work well as a vegetable, cut into lengths and added to stir-fries or blanched and added to salads, much as you might use green beans. They’re chameleons among vegetables, I tell you, though not karma chameleons. Karma-wise, they’re all good.
7. Scape Soup
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you toward Melissa Clark’s recipe for double-garlic soup, which uses both scapes and green garlic. If you’re not finding green garlic in the market anymore, you could improvise with a few garlic cloves and a handful of a pungent spring green like arugula or watercress.
SO WHAT’S HAPPENING ON THE FARM THIS WEEK?