Thursday, June 18, 2015

Garlic scapes, pawpaws, organic methods and weed control

Hello from your farm, 

It's a great year for lettuce, and we're pretty pleased about that.  How did you enjoy your first week of the harvest?  Fresh and seasonal eating is a great adventure, tastes so good, and you feel alive eating this food.  If this is your first season, we'd be glad for an email giving us some feedback on your experience so far.

This week, like the last several weeks, we've been dodging the rain and working around the muddy conditions as best we can.  The sweet potato transplants are taking hold, the onion patch was weeded and looks wonderful, and our rotoweeder cleaned up the beans, sunflowers and okra. The pick your field will be ready in a few weeks--the flowers and herbs look happy.
I spent a good bit of time fighting with hydraulic hoses and fittings this week, could not resolve the problem to my satisfaction, but was able get a good bit of thistle disked before the rains came again.  
These are "farming full speed ahead" months, and for us,  the days go by like minutes.  We're navigating all sorts of weather--farming is a funny predicament, as you simultaneously wish for rain for about half of your crops and no rain for most of the work that you want to do at any given time :-) 

Hold on to your hats, the harvest is coming through! 

How do you Farm Organically? 

Everyone wants to know how we farm organically and how we manage the weeds--it is a question which could receive a very lengthy answer. However, I'll try to keep it concise.   Organic farming is something old come around again--our grandparents generation and earlier were accustomed to growing without chemicals. Chemical farming had its rise when munitions and chemicals left from WWII were discovered to be fast and efficient weed and pest killers, and people were hooked with the ease of spraying acres of crops instead of doing manual labor.  After all, if it is fast and easy, it must be good, right?  The unintended consequences began to reveal themselves over subsequent years: cancers, birth defects, amphibian and bird decline and more.

Biological/sustainable/organic farming, whatever name you know it by, has its foundation in healthy soil. If the soil is well-mineralized and healthy then the plants will be healthy. If the plants are healthy, they will not succumb to diseases in most cases. Healthy soil even has fewer weeds, as weeds are usually trying to balance something that is out of whack in the soil. So we make the soil healthy by taking soil samples and adding minerals to balance the soil, we also apply compost and like a modern-day Squanto, we use fish emulsion and seaweed to feed our soil microbes and crops.
 Did you notice that our food keeps very well and tastes better than the vegetables in the store? It's because of the super soil we are growing in. Now weeds, they can be the real Achilles heel of organic growing because we don't use herbicides. To deal with weeds we use crop rotation, soil balancing, flame weeding, tractor-drawn cultivating and yes of course, hoeing, mowing and hand-pulling, which are sometimes the bane of our existence! All in all, we hope you'll agree that our food is worth our careful and sometimes Hurculean efforts. 

Don't let anyone's farm glamour photos fool you, everyone has a weed challenge somewhere on their farm!  (see if you can spot our carrots)  

Serving Suggestions for the harvest this week:
Lettuce heads: wow, these are beautiful this year. Enjoy as salad, sandwiches, wraps, or farm crew style, just plain munching on! 
Beets: mmm, I used to love to eat these after my mother had blanched them and slipped the skins off and they were cooling on the counter.  Super nutritious, they can be roasted, grated for salad, boiled or steamed, then eaten hot or cold, and of course, made into pickled beets or used for pickled beet eggs.  Makes me hungry writing about them.  
Kale/Collards: we like to fry these in a skillet with butter or coconut oil until crisp, add some onions and saute them as well--a superb topping for rice, fried eggs or stand alone too.
Garlic scapes:  these are the would-be flowering stems of garlic--soft, tender, easy to use for stir fries, diced for salad, really anywhere a mild garlic flavor is desired. We like to use it for pesto here at the farm. *see garlic scape pesto recipe below*
Green garlic: this is garlic harvested before the base swells and becomes a bulb. It has a milder flavor than bulb garlic and can be used anywhere garlic is called for. Keep refrigerated as you would green onions/scallions. 
Chard: this cousin to the beet is appreciated for its leaves instead of its roots.  Use for salads, or as a spinach or kale substitute in cooking.  
 Napa cabbage: this Asian cabbage is main ingredient in Kimchee, a spicy kraut or relish of sort.  

Pick Your Own Options: (included at no extra charge with a farm share) 

Snow peas: these flat-podded peas are eaten "hull and all" except for the stem and string. They are wonderful lightly steamed, boiled or in stir fry, even good raw.
Unlimited Picking Begins this week. 
Strawberries:  these are fading away quickly, picking is ONLY if you haven't picked yetSeason Limit is Half shares 1 quart Full shares 2 quarts 

Rhubarb: our young plants have given us a good harvest for this year, and we will let them rest until next year when they will be more established.

Parsnip: we won't see these again until maybe late fall

Check out our baby pawpaw fruits. North America's largest native fruit ripens in September and is sort of like vanilla-banana-avocado custard.  

Garlic Scape Pesto: 1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3 T. fresh lemon or lime juice
1/4lb fresh garlic scapes
1/2 c. olive oil
Salt to taste

Puree scapes and olive oil in blender until smooth. Stir in Parmesan and lemon or lime juice and season to taste. Serve on bread or crackers. --courtesy of Mary Jane's Farm

 We do have a few more shares available for this season. Email or call if you would like to hop on for the food and farm adventure this season. 

Enjoy the fresh harvest, 
Your farmers