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Week 5 Newsletter

July 17, 2014

In your box:
–Basil
–Beans
–Celery
–Cucumber, summer squash, or eggplant
–Head Lettuce: “Grandpa Admire”
–Sweet onion

In late July, I almost prefer to be uncomfortable. As much as I enjoy working in 60 and 70 degree weather with no humidity, the fruiting crops and most of the greens really need heat to boost their production this time of year. Thankfully, I’ve made the most of this comfortable week to get caught up on weeding. Now, bring on the heat! Tomatoes haven’t ripened at all this week, while our harvest of cucumbers and summer squash is way down as the plants try to figure out why it just became October all of the sudden. With warmer weather in the forecast for next week, it looks like the corn will be hopping, watermelon vines grasping for everything in sight, and cucumbers growing as fast as we can pick them.
This week brings our annual deluge of Beans. As in the past, we grow green, yellow wax, purple, and the purple/white “Dragon’s Tongue” variety. Our plants look great, and it looks like we’re set for a great bean season to make up for their pathetic output last year. To use them, cook in boiling water for 3-6 minutes, depending on your taste. As with most veggies, don’t overcook! I recommend finding your pickiest eater and feeding them a bean after each minute of cooking until they finally declare that the beans are ready.
Usually I try to wait for the first Basil harvest until we have tomatoes for the perfect summer pairing. However, this year the basil is growing like crazy while the tomatoes sit shivering in their cages. It will likely be a couple more weeks before the tomatoes finally decide to ripen up, and the basil will regrow by then for a couple more harvests.
Basil is delicious in soups and Italian dishes, while it also makes a great pizza topping. If you don’t have a use for it now, you can put it in a dehydrator or simply hang it upside down in the dark to dry out. Once the moisture is out, shake off the dust and crumble the leaves into a container for a great seasoning throughout the year.
I’m not entirely sure why the Celery is ready for harvest a full two months before we usually start cutting it, but I’m not complaining! It’s likely benefiting from the new mulch system in which it is growing, a little extra organic fertilizer I gave it this spring, and that fact that wild celery is a swamp vegetable whose cultivated cousin appreciates all the rain we’ve had this year.
We’re trying a new variety this year: “Tall Utah Celery.” The varieties I’ve grown in the past have had lots of thin ribs, while this cultivar has the wide ribs more like what you’ll find in the grocery store. We haven’t tried this yet, but it will be the favored variety as long as it doesn’t taste like the wet paste that is grocery store celery….
Mark your calendars: this year we’re planning our first ever summer open house on the farm. You’re always welcome to pay a visit, of course, but on Saturday, August 16th we’ll take the afternoon off to open up the farm. We’ve always had a year-end fall festival in September or October, but the weather is always shaky that time of year and most of the crops are dead. While we’re still planning on that event, we wanted to show you around the farm in the height of its summer bounty. We’ll have farm tours, yard games, and U-pick raspberries. Stop by any time between 10am-3pm. Bring a picnic lunch or snack, shoes or boots for exploring, sun screen and mosquito repellent. Our address is: 17250 County Road 122 / New Germany, MN 55367. Hope to see you here!
Thanks so much to Scott, Simon, and Soren Prescott for the help picking raspberries and for bringing the energy level of the farm to a higher stage!

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