Back-scratching

My grandfather loved to have his back scratched by friend, grandchild or gizmo. I think I have inherited his itch right between my “chicken wings” or shoulder blades as they are more commonly known.

Hoo Hoo! When I visit the hens, they sidle up and wait in line for their backs to be scratched! No, they are not pets and do not have names. Egg laying has begun to pick up so, goodness, I keep up my end of the bargain – feed, water, exercise equipment, back scratches and the extra fruit and vegetable tidbits.

Are we still harvesting? The answer is YES! It is most amazing, spinach and kale can survive -5°F and look just fine. They are in the hibernating mode but we hope to pick some kale so you don’t lose sight of the color green. It is tricky removing the two coverings off the 6 beds to water the plants or to provide fresh air.

The final fall market baskets should be filled with: a large blue winter squash perfect for a center piece and later for soup, salad, curry, bread, pancakes, muffins, empanadas, lasagna and you get the idea…large! Also, beets, carrots, leeks, onions, potatoes, radishes and a few kale leaves to emphasize the fact we can all survive the deep freeze.

We have the 2015 CSA registrations ready to go live and be posted. There are 4 more ‘Minnesota Cooks’ calendars for anyone who signs up for a season. Prices have remained the same but we have changed the time frames to fit the actual seasons of the year. I am dreaming happy thoughts about the new farm market we will have in 2015! Y’all come visit now.

 

 

And we begin again

The garage floor has been mopped and swept clean of winter debris; the metamorphosis into Jubilee Farm Market is nearly complete. Wooden market boxes have been oiled and are ready to be filled for the 2014 season that begins this Wednesday.

What to expect? Woodland greens include Solomon’s seal and nettles along with some dock – NOT burdock. Solomon’s seal is similar to asparagus in flavor. I like it best lightly sauteed in olive oil. It can also be added to a stir-fry dish at the very end of the cooking process. Nettles have gotten a prickly rap but the trick is not to roll around in them. They can be harvested with gloves and then tongs used to move them in the cooking process. Once slightly cooked or hot water poured over them, they lose their itch. Nettles can be used anywhere cooked spinach is called for, in a soup they keep their vibrant green color.

Dock, as in curly dock or one of its cousins, is in the same family as sorrel. This was noted in my June 10, 2013 snippet if you would like to read more. I like it cooked with beef and served with a grain.

I have been munching on all the spinach cast-offs and my-oh they are sweet! CSA market boxes will get a salad mix of Tyee and Space spinach with several kinds of lettuce. The first round of radishes will be ready to harvest. They are intercropped in the tomatoes and the pac choi and need to come out so their neighbors can continue to grow.

We started the celery a bit early – well, the spring went longer than usual, and celery doesn’t like weather below 55°F. Nathan had to upgrade all the medium soil blocks to the largest ones for the celery since their toes were sticking out! An upgrade means mixing up the special recipe and pushing out cookies the size of a half loaf of bread with a big hole chewed out of the middle. Into that hole goes the medium soil block with the celery plant. A LOT of work and the trays need plenty of space, which is in short supply. The plants without the upgrade will be harvested for market boxes. Fresh celery for chicken soup!

Searching for a model

Communication, that is what I have been researching over the past months: how to promote what we offer as well as encouraging a community discussion. Facebook feels raw to me, it is too public though I may head in that direction. Feedback on how we are designing our new farm market and greenhouse would be awesome but it is a bit awkward since we don’t have a true way for a roundtable discussion.

I would love to expand the theme of jams, jellies and pickles – I found a recipe for dandelion jelly! Imagine! Now there is a reason to harvest all the bright yellow blossoms instead of pulling out some nasty spray thinking to rid the planet of loveliness. There are oodles of other interesting discoveries that may be worthwhile acting upon…if they can be put into practice outside of the books I read.

An apron is a must for serious work in the kitchen or shop. I’ve been pondering who could model, other than using ourselves, to show off our selection of aprons and hey ho! I found her! Right outside my front door with her pitcher of nectar in hand. Haha. You should recognize Hebe. Check out “photos” on the menu bar, click on aprons, and you will get a short slide show. There are many more styles to capture, but the sun, clouds, wind and rain (snow?) need to be in their respective places.

Our spinach crop is the best ever and will be ready to harvest in about a week. Give me a call if you are interested in buying some. If I were to chronicle each “aha” or “oops” moment with every crop we plant, it would feel like a rough sea. Oh my goodness. We use soil blocks, some the size of dice, to germinate the longer maturing plants to give them a jump on the season. These are all carefully tucked in under lights beginning in January with the leeks. Fortunately, most crops germinate and mature well but its the ones that don’t, which are some of the profound mysteries to life.

We’ve been asked to provide produce for a September wedding! Whoopee for the lovely bride, the happy groom and the sweet carrots from 4 blocks away! Now that is a model that can be followed: a way to support regenerative localized agricultural.