Dreaming of sweet alyssum

I have been asked to take all my canned pickles and jams out of the market space. Instead…….the shelves are a ‘display’ of  my cottage food pickles and jams. I go elsewhere to get the items requested. The concern is that customers will be fooled into thinking that the pickles and jams are USDA certified – they aren’t. That requires two food lab tests of each product, a verified formulation and a letter from a process authority. I then fill out a 12 page USDA form to request certification for a small fee…. My plan is to try to make it to the next canning season and work towards federal appreciation for the little bit that is done in this corner of the world. My oh – if I could make sense of it all I would be smelling like sweet alyssum.

On the once pickle laden shelves there is now a non certified library of books for young and old as well as a few books for sale that are interesting just to peruse. A cottage library!

Sauerkraut has been started and is bubbling along well. It began the process in my house but decided to go dormant due to the ambient temperature being in the high 50’s! Once it moved back to Peacemeals it is in fine shape with the warm surroundings.

We have some mighty fine mustards that have been concocted with the expertise of my IT son. I hope to offer soft pretzels and an array of mustards at some point. Does not that sound fun and delish?

Salad mix is limited this week, there is some extra for sale. The amazing fact is that many of the greens survived a -10°F so be thankful. There will also be potatoes, Acorn squash or Brussels sprouts, carrots or beets, onions, frozen applesauce or raspberries, garlic and a quart of non certified organic, non certified USDA, certified delish pickles for the larger share members.

I’m still dreaming ……. and it’s more than just sweet alyssum.

Sorting refuse

I take quick jogs around town to clear out the spider webs and to quicken my heart rate for the day’s doings. It is amazing how much trash is thrown out along the roads in a 24 hour span. I gather up cigarette boxes, gruesome beverage containers, fast food bits and bobs and other refuse and head to the nearest recycling and garbage bins.

There are 3 kinds of refuse containers on our farm to consider: recycling, compostable and trash. Paper products are stockpiled for winter’s startup of central boiler fires to heat the market and greenhouse. Noxious weeds also have their special pile to molder in. Plastic drip tape and other agricultural plastics are jammed into a huge bag that is hauled to the landfill for recycling. I have a box to fill to give to Care and Share as I slowly downsize (?). Refuse, it overflows physical space and the mental wherewithal of what to do with it.

Puppets looking down from the top shelves in the market present the notion that we are all in this TOGETHER. Earth is home to more than just the “Harder” clan and I need to learn how to share more than just my toys. May the sound of all children’s laughter guide us.

Refuse is an action as well as a gathering of unwanted things. I refuse to float along with the raging current – can you tell? The torch held high for all refuse is not limited to the shoreline, I’m thinking it has to do with my heart and how important I think I am……. As I read the Good Book…..I’m to be last in line and that is scary.

Sustenance for the coming week’s adventures will include: Kossak kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, Hakurei turnips, beets, dancing carrots, salad mix, Butternut squash, quirky potatoes, sage, Daikon radishes, and a choice of fennel or Napa cabbage or spinach for the regular farm shares.


Why Hakurei?

‘Tis the season for perfectly white Hakurei turnips that are surprising sweet and creamy; also known as salad turnips, Japanese turnips or Tokyo turnips. I like them best raw in all manner of ways: straight out munched after a quick rinse, sliced with a carrot stick or two or grated in a salad. They can also be added to a stir-fry for a crunch at the last minute along with their greens. As a quick pickle along with slivers of carrot, they make a nice contrast on a sandwich.

Check out the nutrients and they are impressive for such a humble turnip. In truth, our goal is that everything we grow has a higher nutrient density than the norm. We appreciate our neighbors here and yon, and want the best for them….even though it sure takes a LOT of convincing – haha!

The hakurei turnips were kept under a row cover from the moment they were planted to keep off the flea beetles and the fly maggots. It worked – Yay! They seem to be perfect without any tunnels and their occupants…. A delish munch for lunch.

We moved one high tunnel last week between the downpours and the second one is on the schedule for Friday…..It’s the fun we have after ALL the schlupy, tedious, pruney fingers, mud-caked clothes and boots and long hours…… Ho On! (Oh no backwards)

Along with turnips, there are green onions, sweet peppers, storage onions, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and a bag of salad mix for the farm shares this week. For the larger shares add in: an acorn squash, Zestar apples and a kohlrabi.


Taking on giants

A beautiful garden was bulldozed and cleared for developing storage space this past week and I am greatly saddened. Farmers of the community garden were in tears, though they had been warned through translators that it was going to happen. It was a place of refuge for many older residents – mental anguish melted away when working with long beans, mints, cilantro, yellow hot peppers that pointed skyward, lemon grass and all sorts of other good eats. It was a source of joy, laughter and some mischief….  Each farmer had their plot divided by terraces that were the paths to trod. It was a thing of beauty for someone like me – but there is much more to the story for Steve and I tilled the ground about 10 years ago. Residents called their neighbors and soon there was a crowd with each person expressing their excitement in the possibility of having a spot of land to garden using the grant money I had acquired. Hmmmm

I recently heard of Art Cullen, the editor of the Storm Lake Times, and his award of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for his distinguished editorial writing. I should say so – he took on some giants and challenged corporate agricultural interests in Iowa. I hope to read his new book: Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper. Storm Lake is a town, much like Mountain Lake, in that the community is now part of a larger story with folks who have crossed borders and bodies of water to begin life again…in spite of the giants.

And so, there are greedy giants, ones that love to mush out life, dumb ones, overweight and deceitful – I know the old stories, it’s the current ones that are concerning.

It is the beginning of fall – let’s celebrate that with acorn squash, brusselini, green onions, kohlrabi, salad mix, onions, carrots, sweet and hot peppers, Brussels sprouts, parsley, celery, Napa cabbage, beets and potatoes. Hey Ho!

Save the flukes from plastic

In my lifetime, the oceans that once washed up beautiful shells on its beaches and gave life to the mammoth whales and the tiniest sea horses, are now landfills of the vilest sort. I have played a part…. to see the pile of garbage I have thrown out over 64 years brings me to my knees.

Plastic does not biodegrade like the rotten tomato on my kitchen counter that oozed into a book I was reading – Yikes! Plastic is made using a rather large ‘footprint’ and then its leaving creates the other ‘footprint’ affecting the environment negatively for generations to come.

Here comes the ,,,, Then what? We are switching over to more items in bulk, encouraging folks to bring their own containers that we fill. Bags are available for a small fee – a nickle – not sure what Thomas Jefferson thought about the environment but maybe he will help us to be more friendly in that regard. That money will be set aside and given to a group in Minnesota working on similar issues.

It’s a fluke that I’ve been saving canning bottles from friends and family, my basement shelves had all the blue glass and odd sizes that I did not use to can pickles. They now adorn our market shelves with good eats inside!

As for Just – Good – Eats….. farm share members will receive: salad mix (whoopie), green onions, Napa cabbage, cucumbers, summer squash, peppers, kohlrabi and cherriette radishes. Celery, carrots and onions added for the regular share folks. Basil is available for CSA members – let me know – take what you want.

Whale flukes are their propulsion engine for traveling ~ 12mph when moseying along. They can be 25 feet from one tip to the other! Flukes are whales’ signatures that can identify them from the rest of the pod. Each one a beautiful creature that travels the oceans for its livelihood. Let’s do our part …….