Missing the Sweet Corn Craze

There’s probably no other occasion in the Midwest produce season quite like the beginning of the sweet corn crop.  So you can understand my frustration, when, everywhere I turn, I see some guy (or usually kid) at the side of the road selling sweet corn, and I find my own to be a few days short of ripe.  People have been asking me about sweet corn easily for the last 4 weeks even though it would take some kind of magic corn to be ripe at the beginning of July.  I keep thinking these “fake roadside stands” that simply truck in corn from Iowa and Nebraska really early are messing with people’s sense of season and sense of what we can actually grow in Minnesota, especially when they put sweet corn next to some peaches next to cherries in mid-July.  Still, when actual local growers are at the side of the road, I have no excuse.

Sweet Corn on Lida Farm

Raising produce commercially is often a huge juggle where each year one crop or another under or over-performs.  I’m always out in the fields telling myself “That should have gotten in the ground 10 days earlier” or “Man, I should have weeded that patch earlier.”  Throw in some interesting weather-a little hail here and there-and I really should be amazed that any crops come at all.  The trick in what we do is to keep as many of those balls in the air as possible and keep all of them moving forward and growing.  I commonly work through 5-7 different tasks a day in June and July (maybe starting with cultivating on the tractor, hand weeding a few crops, then moving to wheel hoe a couple other beds, etc). If I get stuck too long on any one crop or job, I can easily miss the window to take care of another crop, and, yes, sometimes a crop just gets written off.  So, in the context of all this juggling of 60+ different crops, sweet corn appearing a bit late shouldn’t be the end of the world, but I still feel a bit like a professional musician who missed hitting a C chord on stage.

In the box:
Norland Red Potatoes
Bunch of Carrots
Cucumbers
Green Beans
Fresh Oregano: Tiny fragrant bunch of greens with a red band
Fennel: The frawns (greens) has a pretty strong anise flavor, but the bulb itself is more mild (see recipe below)
Cilantro
Peppers: One Islander (purple) and a couple green

Fennel goes especially well with chicken and fish.  Here’s a simple recipe using chicken: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/31/dining/313lrex.html

A few CSA shares available for 2012 season

Our first CSA delivery of fresh in-season produce will be coming up in a few weeks.  We’re a small operation which is totally family run.  Maree and I both the owner/operators and the entire workforce of Lida Farm (plus three kids under the age of 7, but they are not great contributors yet).  Last year I harvested for and assembled about 30 shares each Friday.  We currently stand at about 27 shares, so it’s not too late to sign up.

Our season runs for 16 weeks (Mid-June through Mid-October) and we also do every-other-week shares for couples or families which just want to try out a CSA.  The cost is $450 for a full share delivered directly to your home or $250 for every other week.  We also give a $50 discount if you pick up at the farm yourself (at $400/season, this is $25/week).  Besides the produce we will also be hosting a few events on-farm for the 2012 season for our members.  Check out details under “Join our CSA” on this website or get a hold of us at lidafarmer@gmail.com or 218-342-2619.

early season CSA veggies, lida farm CSA, pelican rapids CSA
CSA box from June, 2011

Lurching into High Season

This is always a gear-changing time of the produce season.  We’re really done with the early season stuff, but the high season crops like tomatoes, melons, and sweet corn haven’t come in yet.  That’s why this week’s produce box is a bit tough to fill.  I found myself scrounging around for the last of the broccoli and when I went out to pull in the Japanese eggplant, I only found 10 on the plants…bummer.

Still, it’s also an good housecleaning moment on the farm.  I’m going to take out the flail mower this weekend and mow all those areas where the early crops grew.  The stawberry patch looks like a small jungle and the spinach area is a solid mass of pigweed…things are ugly and need to go.  They also allow us the room to squeeze in some fall crops like fall cabbage and broccoli.  Also another set of greens and spinach and a big area for fall carrots (I’ve been talking about planting this for the last 2 weeks, but, like raising the debt ceiling, I NEED to get it done) 🙂

In the box:
Sweet Onions
Grenoble Green beans
Fresh basil
Red Potatoes
Cucumbers
Zucchini
Red Kale or Swiss Chard
Broccoli
Cilantro