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Week 9 Newsletter

August 9, 2016

In your box:

Basil

–Beans

–Broccoli or cabbage

–Cucumber

–Garlic, “Killarney Red”

–Head lettuce, “New Red Fire”

–Potatoes, “Yukon Gold”

–Sweet onion

–Summer squash or eggplant

–Tomatoes

This week we have our first bulbs of garlic available in your box, mostly to mark the approach of the Minnesota Garlic Festival this weekend. This is the 11th annual gathering of garlic-lovers out in Hutchinson (60 miles west of Minneapolis), complete with live music, cooking demonstrations, a makeshift parade, local beer and wine, incredible foods from local chefs, an ask-the-expert stage, events for kids, and tons of garlic. The event is held on Saturday, August 13th from 10am-6pm and all the info can be found at www.MNGarlicFest.com. And if it sounds like I’m giving it a plug, of course I am—this is my third year on the planning committee. But it’s a great event for all ages and the only place in the known world selling garlic ice cream. Hope to see you there!

Last year we had a great gathering to help pick our garlic from the field, but this year it snuck up on me before I could plan anything. I was walking into the field toward another task when I realized that the garlic had to be picked right away. The top leaves on garlic plants turn brown and quickly die off, resulting in a level of the white wrapper drying out and peeling back. If you wait too long to pull the plant and terminate the decay, there are no layers of peel left on the garlic and you just have loose cloves. Conversely, if you ever buy a head of garlic that has a lot of layers of peel on it, it was harvested too early before the top started to dry off.

So anyways, I had a whole field full of garlic ready for harvest and no time to organize a work crew. I changed my plans for the day and spent the whole morning pulling the garlic out and then setting it out to dry. Garlic takes about 2 weeks to cure, fully drying out and storing all the good taste and energy in the bulb itself. After that, they are easy to clean and even easier to eat. Garlic has a shelf life up to a full year in proper conditions, and is happiest at room temperature in dry conditions.

I had really hoped to do a work day for any interested CSA members & friends of the farm, so I’ll try to think of an activity on which to collaborate before school starts up again. I’m thinking it might involve picking raspberries or elderberries, so I’ll keep you posted if we settle on anything.

This week I’m most excited about the return of potatoes after a 4-year hiatus. We have a very heavy (high clay content) soil that tends to trap water. This is great for dry years (which we haven’t had here since 2009), because the soil holds on to moisture even after a few weeks of dry weather. But it’s lousy for growing potatoes, since they sit deep in the soil and rot easily if the soil stays too wet. After a few years of losing the whole crop or most of it to rot, I finally gave up on potatoes a few years ago. But after noting the highest & driest parts of our farm and amending our fields with plenty of compost every year to help with aeration, I was finally ready to be brave with growing potatoes once again this year. I’m glad I did, since we had a beautiful stand of potatoes with great growth of the tubers this season.

These potatoes are still “new”–the above-ground growth is still green, so the spuds themselves are still tender and have a thin skin that peels easily. We tried to not rub them too much while washing to preserve the skin, so you might have a little dirt still on them to wash off. There’s never a good reason to peel a potato, since the skin is tasty and healthy, but with new potatoes it’s just silly to peel them. The skins on these are super tender and healthy, so we recommend washing and eating as is. If you’re using a recipe by the pound, know that half shares received 1 ½ lb of spuds and full shares received 3 pounds.

Thanks to everyone for returning your boxes! We’ve had a great return rate this year and I haven’t been saying mean things about anyone behind your back. And don’t forget—canning tomatoes are still available for $25 for a 10 pound box from now through Labor Day. Please give me an e-mail if you are interested. Thanks!

Expected next week: Head lettuce, carrots, summer squash, cucumbers, beans, sweet onion, sweet pepper, and tomatoes. And maybe corn?

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