Lida Farm Journal: Week 16

Well, this week we’ve come to the end of the line. I don’t know about you, but sometimes the produce season seems like it went by in a blur and other times it seems like a couple years. It was just like yesterday when I was weeding onions and planting potatoes. On the other hand, sometimes when I think about all the stuff which has happened between now and when I started seeds in March, the season seems pretty darn long. Sure, we have a number of chores to put the farm to rest for the winter, but right now I’m looking forward to sitting in a chair, just reading seed catalogs and dreaming of next season. That’s pretty much what growers do in the off season…dream about beautiful, weed-free fields of produce. Still, what I dream up in the off season and what actually happens typically doesn’t match up.

Lately I’ve been dreaming of a rustic little roadside stand at the end of our driveway just overflowing with produce…let’s see if it actually comes to fruition.

Lida Farm Journal: Week 15

I was talking to another vendor at the farmers market the other day about people stocking up on things in the fall. He sells beef at the market and was saying that he makes about ¾ of his sales in the last weeks of September and beginning of October, when people feel the winter coming on and choose to buy a quarter or half of beef. We agreed that’s it’s something like a squirrel complex we all feel, but, instead of burying nuts, we burying food in freezers. We certainly do this ourselves. After deliveries today, I’m going out to scour the tomato patch for the last of the tomatoes which survived the frost and do some extra canning.

So, if you’re feeling squirrly, consider buying a quarter or half of meat. Steve Worms is a full-time beef farmer from Mahnomen who raises Red Angus cattle under the name North Star Premium Beef. I have bought a quarter from him the last two years and I’ve been very happy with the meat. Good flavor and a good mix of stuff. Grant Langerud is a full-time hog farmer from Hawley who sells pork under the name of Grandpa’s Meats. I got a half hog from him last year and I was really impressed with the variety and quality. Both have the Ulen Locker do their processing and this guy does a good job, especially when it comes to smoking hams and bacon. It’s just so nice to go downstairs to do some shopping for dinner instead of going to town.

Both have websites you can check out or just give them a call if interested:

North Star Premium Beef (Steve Worms): www.northstarbeef.com or 218-935-2659
Grandpa’s Meats (Grant Langerud): www.grandpasmeats.com or 218-483-4195

Lida Farm Journal Week 14

Well, the big news over the last week has been the frost. Last Thursday we got a light patchy frost which only hit low-lying areas. But Friday night we got a pretty heavy frost which blanketed the whole garden. Since we knew a good frost was coming, we were able to stockpile as much as possible Friday night, throwing peppers and tomatoes into packing crates like mad. That’s why you will still see tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant in the box this week. Everything else is just a pile of mush out in the fields. It’s kind of sad to see, but everything needs to come to an end. You will also see the beginning of the winter squash in the box too. I always figure people are just not in the mood to prepare squash until those cool fall days come about…I know I never am.

The other big news over the last week was the harvest party at our place on Sunday. We weren’t a huge group, but I think folks enjoyed seeing the farm and meeting some of the other members. I took everybody on the grand tour through all the weeds to check out the plants, the barn, the greenhouse, some of the equipment, and even the compost pile. I’m sure this tour was as boring as tar to the one teenager on the tour, but I think members liked learning about all the parts of the growing process from start to finish.

Lida Farm Journal: Week 12

Summer is giving way to fall. This brings me quite a bit of relief, but a little sadness too. I just love bringing the season to an end, mowing down those plants which look like heck at this time of year. Most organic gardens look like an overgrown weedpatch this time of year—ours included—and it’s just stressful to look at. And I’m looking forward to having a little more time to just play with the kids and take some vacation time. I do worn out this time of year.

Still, it’s sad to see the season start to wind down too. I planted the last couple of crops just last night, trying to squeeze in a little salad mix and spinach into the boxes before the end of the season. I’m glad I finally got it done, but it’s tough when you know that you won’t be planting anything new again until next spring. All the abundance of summer won’t be seen again for some time, but for everything there’s a season.

We haven’t heard from anybody about the harvest party on September 16. We need to know if you’re coming, so give us a call or an e-mail. Just know this is nothing big, just an opportunity to visit the farm and mingle a bit with others. Come for afternoon or just stop by for a bit—it’s your call.

Harvest Party Details: The harvest party will be on Sunday, September 16 from 1-4pm at our farm. It’ll be a real informal pot-luck thing, which will be a good opportunity to see where all this food comes from and mingle with other members. We will supply pork and beef BBQ sandwiches and beverages. As a pot-luck, we would request you bring a salad, side, or dessert to pass. All members and your families are welcome to attend. Please RSVP at our home number (218-342-2619) or my e-mail (pesch@umn.edu) so we get some numbers of attendees. Our farm is about half-way between Vergas and Pelican Rapids right off County Highway 4 at 44593 275th Avenue.

P.S. I am still posting newsletters online at www.lidafarm.com. I also put a number of pictures there too, so you can “see” the farm.

IN THE BOX:

Tomatoes

A Couple Red Onions

Fresh Sage

A Couple Green Peppers

A Couple Italia Peppers

A few Sweet Colored Peppers

Another Baby Watermelon

A Baby Cateloupe

White Kennebec Potatoes

Cukes

Summer Squash

Leeks

Garlic

Beans

Eggplant

Edamame aka Edible Soybeans
Just boil the beans in the pod in salted water, shell, and eat. They are good with beer.

BREADED SLICED EGGPLANT

Printed from COOKS.COM


1 sm. eggplant
3/4 c. fine fresh bread crumbs
1/4 c. water
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour for dredging

Cut eggplant in 1/2 inch thick slices; set aside. Combine bread crumbs and cheese. Mix egg, water, salt, and pepper. Dip eggplant in flour; remove excess. Dip in egg mixture. Remove excess; dip in cheese-bread crumb mixture. Pat slices firmly so they are evenly coated. Fry in hot oil until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Lida Farm Journal: Week 11

Where are the melons? If you’ve been wondering this since early august, just know that I’ve been wondering the same thing. But, finally, they have started to mature. We grew them using a plastic mulch called IRT this year for the first time. This is pretty typical on produce farms and something we did on Foxtail Farm where I used to work. IRT stands for InfraRed Transmitting, so the mulch allows in light to warm the soil and also stops weeds. This is the perfect recipe for growing melons, which love warm soil temperatures. One problem, on the other hand, is that the melons rely on irrigation lines below the mulch for moisture instead of rain. So, when you’re in charge of supplying “rain” to plants, you walk a real tightrope, balancing size and flavor. For example, if you irrigate a lot, you get big melons, but also flavorless melons. Myself, I was on the conservative side, so we ended up with small melons, but I think they have good flavor. Anyway, I’m just happy they finally made it!

We were thankful for the rain last week. It really made a difference for us. Things were really dry and I just dreaded the idea of setting up and moving drip tape to cover the whole garden. With little rains here and there, we should be fine on moisture as we move into fall…it’s hard to believe, but fall is right around the corner.

Harvest Party Invitation: Please make the trip to attend our harvest party on Sunday, September 16 from 1-4pm at our farm. It’ll be a real informal pot-luck thing, which will be a good opportunity to see where all this food comes from and mingle with other members. Details: We will supply pork and beef BBQ sandwiches and beverages. As a pot-luck, we would request you bring a salad, side, or dessert to pass. All members and your families are welcome to attend. Please RSVP at our home number (218-342-2619) or my e-mail (pesch@umn.edu) so we get some numbers of attendees. Our farm is about half-way between Vergas and Pelican Rapids right off County Highway 4.

P.S. I am still posting newsletters online at www.lidafarm.com. I also put a number of pictures there too, so you can “see” the farm.

IN THE BOX:

Tomato Mix

The little green ones are an heirloom called Green Zebra. We’ve grown them for the first time this year. Smaller than I thought they’d be, but they have good flavor.

A Couple Yellow Onions

Parsley

Fresh Thyme

If you can’t get to using it soon, just let dry in your kitchen. We’re still using the stuff we dried last fall. If dry, you can put into a ziplock bag and knock around so all the leaves fell off the stems.

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes

Italian Beans

You’ll notice these beans are flat. They are a variety called Romano Bush and belong to a family of beans people call Italian beans, which are typical throughout the Mediterranean. When we sold at a farmers market in Northeast Minneapolis, there was always this old Lebanese lady who was crazy for these, saying she just could never find them in the US.

Green Stuffing Peppers

A Couple Colored Peppers

Hot Peppers

The red ones are called cherry bombs—really mild when you remove the seeds and membranes.

Watermelons

The light-colored one is a yellow variety called Sunshine and the other is a red variety called Sugar Baby.

Stuffed Peppers

4 green or red bell peppers
Salt
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 lb of lean ground beef
1 1/2 cup of cooked rice
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or parsley
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce


1
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut top off peppers 1 inch from the stem end, and remove seeds. Add several generous pinches of salt to boiling water, then add peppers and boil, using a spoon to keep peppers completely submerged, until brilliant green (or red if red peppers) and their flesh slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Drain, set aside to cool.

2 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 4 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, add meat, rice, tomatoes, and herb, and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well.

3 Drizzle remaining 1 tbsp. Oil inside peppers, arrange cut side up in a baking dish, then stuff peppers with filling. Combine ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl, then spoon over filling. Add 1/4 cup of water to the baking dish. Place in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the internal temperature of the stuffed pepper is 150-160°F.

Serves 4.

Lida Farm Journal: Week 10

Last week Maree was telling me that I shouldn’t go off on some tangent in my newsletter all the time. Just stick to the weather and how things are growing…that’s what people want to hear about. So, this week I’m going to do just that.

Basically every season is a mixed bag. There are always crops which do really well and others which do terribly for various reasons. This year is no different. I’ve laid out the three main reasons for problem crops:

Soil Compaction: As you may have noticed, the potatoes are coming in interesting shapes—a sure-fire sign of soil compaction, which is causing the plants to be stunted and the potatoes to be small, misshapen, and few and far between. The whole issue comes back to the wet spring….We have really heavy soil, and, when you plant in less than ideal conditions, you get cement, which we have. Compaction has also made carrots a bit short this year.

Heat Stress: Some plants have been hurt by our dry conditions with lots of heat. Leeks are just barely holding on and our red kale bit the dust because it couldn’t handle the stress. Last year, for example, we had our kale plants produce right through September. Also, remember how short that spring lettuce season was? We typically can spread out a lettuce over 3-4 weeks, but late June heat destroyed that plan.

Damn Bugs: Just like last year, my main enemy is the cucumber beetle. They are small black and yellow striped bugs which love anything in the cucumber family. They crew on things, but the biggest problem is that they spread a disease called bacterial wilt. This has brought the first crop of cucumbers to an end and has taken out 15 percent of the melons. Potato bugs do injure potatoes and eggplant, but not too bad this year.

Hey, don’t let me get pessimistic…like I said, it’s always a mixed bag. I do put a number of crops on this year’s excellent list: beans, corn, tomatoes, and arugula. I also predict a good winter squash crop too, but that’s not a sure thing yet. Tomatoes just loved this summer heat and can do fine without much water. Beans seem to be giving high yields because we have a bunch of bees hives in our pasture for the first time this year. Those bees are doing their job of pollinating every flower they find! Corn I transplanted this year, which really allowed it to get a jump on weeds and produce a good canopy; corn also liked the heat…anytime you can’t sleep because it’s too muggy and hot is good corn-growing weather. The arugula turned out great this spring because we just didn’t have many flea beetles out there—they typically crew a bunch of little holes in everything.

Otherwise, a lot of the other crops are doing alright. Nothing to write home about. We still could use some rain though.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We’re having a harvest party at our farm. Mark you calendars for the afternoon of Sunday, September 16. More details to come next week.

IN THE BOX:

Tomatoes

I put in a real slug. I was thinking of this a good time to make sauce.

Onions

I put in one sweet (light colored…tear-drop shape), one red, and two yellow storage onions.

A Bunch of Carrots

Garlic

Corn

This is supposed to be a yellow variety called Bodacious, but it sat a bit too close to the bi-color and turned a bit bi-color itself. I tested it…still tastes good.

Dino Kale

Green Beans

Green Peppers

Italia Peppers

This is considered a “frying pepper” although it’s got great sweet taste raw too.

Globe Eggplant

Traditional Italian style. They come in slow, so if you didn’t receive one, you’ll get one next week.

Kennebec Potatoes

An all-white variety. Seems like it’s good for frying, but I like for mashing.

*No flowers this week

Corn Chowder

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 strip of bacon
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 large carrot, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 celery stalk, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 bay leaf

3 1/2 cups milk
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed from the cobs (about 2 cups), cobs reserved

1 In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the bacon strip (skip this step for vegetarian option, just add more butter) and fry until the bacon renders its fat, but doesn’t begin to brown, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 4 or 5 more minutes.

2 Break the corn cobs in half and add them to the saucepan. Add the milk and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. Make sure the heat is as low as can be and still maintain a gentle simmer (on our stove we had to use the “warm” setting) to prevent scalding the milk on the bottom of the pan.

3 Discard the cobs, the bacon strip, and the bay leaf. Raise the heat, add the potatoes, red pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, fresh ground pepper to taste, bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost fork tender.

4 Raise the heat, add the corn kernels and the thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serves 4.