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Week 12 CSA – 7th August 2017

Here we are, just over halfway through the CSA, and we’re having a great time. The garden is going full-steam and preparations are starting for the first of fall plantings, and for experiments to extend the growing season.

It’s the time of year to take the excess and put it up for the winter, canning and pickling and drying. Do you have a favorite way of preserving summer vegetables?

Sincerely,

Ezra, Michelle Stacy and Greg

(p.s. Please “like” and share our Facebook and Instagram pages with your friends and family, and remember to tag us in your posts @WindingStairFarm!)

Farm Perspectives

Michelle

In my brief experience, farming – summarized in one word – is humbling. It’s humbling when a lamb that you’ve desperately tried to keep alive for months, dies, through no fault of your own (your vet assures you). It’s humbling when the trellising you build with your inexperienced hands falls down. It’s humbling when your plants get a disease that you’d been actively trying to prevent. And it’s humbling when the plants grow, produce flowers and then fruit, without you.

This week, the cool, damp nights ushered in a fungus that rendered our preventive measures useless, and I fell into a dramatic state of despair (which seems to have become my thing). I told Ezra everything that I had “learned” we need to do IMMEDIATELY through my “research”, and then he told me not to worry. He’s been through this before, and it was okay. The plants would most likely pull through, and we’d keep working on it and looking for more solutions. And David, a guy with a lifetime of experience farming – who now works with us three days a week – told me that you can’t dwell on the crops that you lose. That he didn’t ever want to sum up the cost of the crops that he’s lost in a life time because there was no point. Nature is unpredictable. I felt reassured that we’re not alone. Of course we’re not alone. I knew that. But it sure did help to talk to someone.

Ezra

Every year has its own difficulties, and this year has been fungus. With all the moisture earlier, spore set and got ready for the warmth. Then the warmth, and it all exploded, even with a good cycle of natural fungicides being applied. Contrary to instinct, most fungus won’t dissipate with dry air and heat, it’ll just continue to spread. Then, scab, one of the most widespread, is resistant to natural fungicide when nights are cool, like they’ve been recently.

We could maybe have better success treating with harsh chemicals, but the rewards of growing naturally are clear and numerous. And, most importantly, all of our best solutions are when we help the plants, not when we baby them with protection. They want to survive, and work longer hours than we do, and stress improves flavor and nutrients. We want healthy, but we want it to be because the plants grew from healthy soil and overcame obstacles, not because they’ve been kept from any problems.

This Week’s Harvest

Some Summer Flowers
This is a mix of some of the wildflowers, cultivated flowers, and flowering herbs from around the farm. There’s some zinnias, fennel flowers, verbena, mountain mint, English daisies, Mexican hats, and others. The farm is alive with butterflies and pollinators, and planting flowers like these wherever we can is a big reason why.

Daikon Radishes (Raphanus sativus)
These large, white radishes are a staple of Japanese cuisine, and are great for pickling. The roots can also be used like other radishes, sliced thin and used raw, or diced to make a radish salsa. David’s favorite method of cooking the greens is to put them in a ziploc bag with some salt and refrigerate for a few days. Then, when you pull them out to saute them, they’ll be a little more tender and have a nice briny bit of flavor to them.

‘Tendercrisp’ Cutting Celery (Apium graveloens)
This little celery can be used just like the larger store-bought celery. It has much more flavor and a lot less water, so use it a little more sparingly, especially if a little bitterness goes a long way for you, and make sure to use the leaves, too. It’s particularly good in egg, chicken or tuna salad.

Basil mix (Ocimum basilicum)
‘Buena Mulata’, ‘Yatsufusa’, ‘Ring of Fire’, ‘Craig’s Grande Jalapeno’ Peppers (Capsicum spp.)
Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus)
‘Lunga Bianca’, ‘Caserta’, ‘Tondo de la Rossa’ Summer Squash (Cucurbita pepo)
‘Beurre de Rocquencourt’ and ‘Blue Lake Bush’ Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
‘Verde’ and ‘Amarylla’ Tomatillos (Physalis ixocarpa)

Recipes and testimonials

There’s a cucumber that you grow that I love, but can never remember the name of, so I call it the “elephant cucumber” when I talk to my friends. I now know that it’s the Japanese pickling cucumber, and it’s rapidly become my favorite.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

May 23 – October 9

Franklin Pick-Up: Saturday mornings at the Franklin Farmer’s Market
Highlands Pick-Up: Monday between 12pm and 1pm at Founder’s Park
Keep it out of the landfill
We strive to keep our footprint as small as possible, and we’d love your help:
  • Bring a bag with you each week
  • Save egg cartons and zip loc bags (we’ll even take egg cartons from your friends)
  • If you don’t compost then you can help us feed our chickens. Keep in your fridge until the next CSA pick up: kale/collard ribs, lettuce hearts, herb stems, egg shells (but please, no onions or garlic)
Sharing recipes
Did you use ingredients from your CSA to make a particularly delicious meal? Send us a photograph and the recipe, and we’ll share it with other CSA members.

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