Seasonal Transition Stress

Mar and I relaxed last fall after the craziness of summer

This time of year on the farm really gets to be a blur where Maree and I head towards total exhaustion.  Harvesting produce has started, so we are harvesting Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, Thursday night, all day Friday, plus Saturday morning.  Between the harvesting times we both spend about 3 hours delivering boxes on Fridays and invest about 5 hours every Saturday in the Lakes Area Farmers Market in
Detroit Lakes.  As you can see simply harvesting and driving around produce takes a fair amount of time, but, over and above all this, we have this time-crunch where we still need to weed, trellis tomatoes, feed and tend animals, and also plant for the fall.  How do we keep track of all this, especially since I have a full-time job on top of all this?  I have no idea.  Thinking about it, I’m kind of surprised we make it though each year, although I don’t reflect when doing the work.

Speaking of planting…it’s hard to believe, but we did start planting seeds for fall this week.  I planted all our our fall brassicas like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.  At lot of times people only think of these crops as products of spring, but, in actuality, brassicas and other cool-season crops like spinach and lettuce do much better in the fall where the days get shorter and we have consistently cool temps.  Since it’s the summer, one trick we employ is laying burlap and row covers over the planted ground to get plants started in this hot and dry conditions.  I just checked under the burlap this morning, and those fall brassicas are popping up out of the ground like crazy.  It’s a long way to October it seems, but the plants are off to a great start.

In the box:
A bit more Broccoli
Green Cabbage
Kale: A majority received Lacinato (Dino) Kale which is dark green and bumpy in texture.  Others received Red Russian Kale which is kind of frilly but red-green in color with purple stems.  You use either type the same way (See recipe below).
Green Garlic: This is fresh garlic before it has been dried down or cured.  You can use the garlic fresh or simply leave in a dry location like your kitchen counter to dry and use later. Green garlic is a bit stronger in flavor than cured garlic and you’ll have to peel a bit more to find the clove.
Snap Peas: Snap peas are an edible-pod variety, so please don’t shell them…it would be quite a waste.  Just eat them.
A couple Zucchini
A Sprig of Basil
Romaine Lettuce: I know people are probably tired of lettuce…I promise to lay off as we move into summer crops.

I know kale chips seem to be all the rage lately, but Maree and I just got into them last fall and they really area great!

by Barbara Scott-Goodman & Liz Trovato

1 bunch kale, stemmed, rinsed and thoroughly dried
2 to 3 T. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
2. Tear the kale into 3 inch pieces and put them in a large bowl.  Toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, making sure the leaves are well coated with the oil.  Arrange the leaves in a single layer on 2 baking sheets.

3. Bake until crisp, tossing once or twice, for 30 to 35 minutes.  Serve at once.

Two Season Crops

We’ll the spring brassicas (cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli) are working their way past the finish line; I have the flail mower on the tractor and ready to mow them down.  This allows us to clean up the field as well as make room for a new crop.  But even while I eye the spring brassicas, I took an hour yesterday and planted the fall brassicas, including broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.  The nice think about fall brassicas is that they typically do better than their spring brethren since they have a long cool fall to mature.  I’ve given up trying to raise cauliflower in the spring which simply gets purple and ugly due to stress in the summer heat.

This two season cropping is also common with other veggies on the farm.  We also have a spring and fall crop of spinach, cool-season greens, and head lettuce makes a comeback as well.  So, if you’re a cool-season veggie-eater yourself, don’t despair; just wait a couple months.

In the box:
Green Cabbage
Red Ace Beets
Summer Squash – we mostly had zucchini but there are some yellow zucchini and yellow staightneck squash too.
Red Basil
Fresh or “green” garlic – this is uncured garlic which is a bit stronger tasting than cured.  You can simply leave on your kitchen counter for a week and I’ll dry down if you’d like to cure yourself.
Purple Kohlrabi – I know, you’re sick of kohlrabi, but at least this one’s a different color!
Dino Kale – the dark green which is all crinkly (see recipe below)
Frisee – the frilly green also called curly endive.  This is in the endive family, so has a nutty flavor.  It’s typically mixed in a lot of salad mixes you would buy.
Green onions

Note – check out our facebook page where we’ve been posting a picture of the box each week with each veggie labeled.

Ryan’s Never Fail Greens Recipe 
1 bunch greens (collards, kale, chard)
2-3 slices of bacon
1 small onion

Dice onions, bacon, and greens.  Fry bacon in skillet together with the onion or garlic.  When the onion gets translucent, throw in greens until wilted and season with some salt.  Done.  If you like heat, add red pepper flakes.

End of the CSA Season

Wow, quite a season!  After just coming  back from the last CSA delivery, I’m always reflective.  This season was probably the hottest since I’ve been farming in Otter Tail.  It was also one of the driest.

Kids on Way to Farmers Market

This made for great crops which love the heat like melons, tomatoes, and anything in the cucurbit family like cucumbers and summer and winter squash.  The way the season ran allowed these plants to get established well with heat and moisture and then ripen under dry conditions.  It’s a good recipe for good looking produce.  Some other things, however, didn’t like this weather.  For example I always plan for  a planting of brassicas like broccoli and kohlrabi in the fall as well as the spring, but the fall set didn’t go anywhere with little fall rain.   Any which way, each season is it’s own beast and I thank each of you sharing the ride with us.  

In the box: 
Komatsuna bunch: a green with a stalk kind of like boc choy.   This is an Asian green which is good in a stir fry.  You simply chop up and add at the end until wilted a bit.  Here’s a link to a Komatsuna recipe which looks simple and quick since it’s one of those odd “crazy” greens:
Spinach: the one with dark green and round leaves.  You could use for either a salad or cooked. 
Butternut squash: big tan squash 
Celeriac: The strange-looking bulb on the end of a small stalk of celery.  You can use it in replace of celery in recipes  It has the same flavor and also keeps well in the crisper in your fridge.    
Delicata squash: yellow and green-striped squash.  This one should be baked without a water bath because the outside shell is pretty thin. 
Buttercup squash: the dark green squash with the little button the bottom
Russet potatoes
Carrot bunch 
A couple onions 
A head of garlic
A few small turnips
“Better than Nothing” beets