Monday, July 21, 2014

Birch Point CSA Week 6 News: Garlic Out! Fall Brassicas In (hopefully)!

Greetings farm friends! Welcome aboard, Heart of Summer members.  Please see Field Notes below for  this week's farm news.

In Your Share This Week:

Lettuce- Either romaine, butterhead, or green or red leaf.  Despite the last few days of heat, lettuce is still loving life and looking great in the field. We'll continue to have lettuce all summer provided we get some much-needed rain to re-soak the soils, to help keep lettuce happy (not a dry- or heat-loving plant).

Kohlrabi- I know we've sent you home with a lot of kohlrabi lately-- it just happened to thrive this spring/early summer, so we hope you love it as much as we do.  If you get a backlog, remember kohlrabi stores really well in the fridge if you remove the leaves and keep it in an airtight container (e.g. a sealed plastic bag or tupperware). And the leaves can be used just like kale- saute, steam, in soup, in omelets, etc.

Herbs- cilantro, parsley, OR basil (just the very beginning of basil; much more is on the horizon!). Top any dish with fresh minced herbs for more flavor and style.

Garlic- more early small bulbs-- store in fridge to maintain juiciness, or cut stems off and allow to dry at room temp to cure for later use. Come to the farm TUESDAY during CSA pickup to help pull garlic! See Announcements below for details.

Baby Salad Mix- it's back!  We took a little break when the big lettuces were threatening to overwhelm the CSA, but we should be back to an every-week or every-other-week baby salad rotation.  Luckily baby salad mix is planted in one of the gardens that is easy to keep watered, so it's doing great. We'll keep you posted.

And the fun part: We can't tell you what else exactly will be in your share, because every day (Sat-Mon-Tues-Wed) will be a little different! Due to the drought (see Field Notes, below) and late spring, summer crops are maturing later and less consistently than we'd like.  That means we're getting our very first harvests of beans, cherry tomatoes, summer squash/zucchini, peppers, cabbage, etc, but in sporadic quantities every day/week.  So you'll get a nice mix of some combo of those things this week and next! Thanks for your patience while we wait for the rain to help size up and mature all those crops in the field that are just hanging out, being small for now.  I think it's the quiet before the storm, so don't worry, there will be food and in greater quantities; if it'll just RAIN already!


1. Garlic Harvest has been moved UP to this Tuesday, July 22.  Due to the drought, garlic is ready to be out of the field and into the barn.  Sorry for the short notice, but if you'd like to join us, come to the back field during CSA pickup (4-7 pm-- we'll likely be done well before 7, so arrive by 6 at the latest if you want to get in on the garlic harvest). Wear clothes that can get dirty, gloves, and a hat.  There is a chance of rain (fingers crossed!), so bring rain gear to stay dry. There will NOT be a potluck following this garlic harvest, contrary to earlier announcement, but we will have a mid-summer celebration, independent of garlic, just as soon as we get some serious rain (something worth celebrating!!!).

2. Asparagus to Zucchini cookbooks have not yet arrived- it may be next week instead of this.  There are still books available (we ordered a case of 20 but only had orders for 12, so there is still time to get in on that). Books are $15 each.

Field Notes

      The good news: Hoophouse-grown cherry tomatoes and field-grown green BEANS are just starting to mature; either this or next week, members can expect the first tender, snappy green (and/or purple) beans and a small taste of cherry tomatoes in your shares. (Check out the current issue of Edible Grande Traverse for a nice article about green beans, written by our friend Nic Theisen, in which he admonishes the reader to dress nicely and stand tall when preparing green beans! ) The bad news: still no rain :(  This is one of the most extreme, if short-term, droughts we've experienced on the farm. Over the past month or more, every rain event that has hit our neighbors 20 or 30 (not to mention 300) miles from here has skipped us.  Last week's much-anticipated storm appeared as a bare sprinkle.  Tomorrow night's likelihood of precipitation has dropped from 92% to 62% and still dropping. The garden beds that have been harvested already and mowed down (e.g. spring broccoli, early lettuce, turnips, radishes) are too dry for the tiller to dig in.  We need to be able to till to re-prep beds to replant, whether to another crop or to cover crop.  Drip irrigation isn't cutting it, since some of the beds have dried out so completely and require a good soaking rain to rehydrate enough to be workable.  So the trays of transplants that are ready to go in the ground are waiting. Patient, but needing to get in the ground!
      Spirits are sagging a little bit at the dusty soils and slowed plant growth. We're running irrigation almost 24 hours a day, but since we're still using a domestic (house) well to supply the farm, we're limited in the volume of water we can use at one time.  The current big project is, of course, a new well (if cleaning/flushing/checking the pump for problems doesn't help).  That's been on the horizon for a while now, but this year's reduced flow (even less than past years, indicating a clogged filter, faulty pump, or -worst case scenario- depleted aquifer) combined with the drought has pushed the well to the head of the list. We'll keep you posted on developments (results of cleaning filter and checking pump, as well as a timeline and cost estimate from the well drillers).  Meanwhile, thanks for all the feedback and enthusiasm about the first third of the season, and thanks for joining us for what's turned out (so far)  to be this dry, dry season.
     More good news: a giant load of compost was delivered last week! We buy the majority of our compost from Morgan Composting (an aged compost made from dairy cow manure and bedding, known as "Dairy Doo").  I'd called them to arrange a later-summer delivery, and Diane at Morgan happened to mention that Four Seasons Nursery (a few miles from here) was getting a load delivered the very next day, and that if we had our load delivered tomorrow, we could split the delivery fee with the nursery-- good timing!  So we have an even bigger load of compost ready for the fields, which will increase the moisture-holding capacity, the cation exchange capacity (ability to make nutrients available to plants), the overall fertility (nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and micronutrients), and friability (texture) of soil. Like any soil amendment, compost and all its living components (fungi, bacteria, micro- and macro-invertebrates) will really be effective and literally "come to life" when we get rain, and the critters can go to work. Yet another reason to do any rain dance of your choice when you get a minute!
      And last but not least, we've been the lucky hosts of two different amazing groups of people: one is the MSU Student Organic Farm Organic Farmer Training Program students, who are currently base camped at the farm while they tour several area farms as part of their program-- a yearly tradition we started six or seven years ago.  It's always fun to host this year's crop of students, hear what they're learning, catch up with old friends (staff and faculty who accompany them). The other group is Brenin's old college friends!  Genevieve, Holly, and Kelsey all arrived last week, pitched tents and immediately pitched in on weeding, harvesting, and making us lunch.  Holly and Kelsey are on a coast-to-coast road trip, visiting friends and farms, talking to folks about farmland, farm financing, farm business management, you name it. Genevieve took off to visit more friends and family before making her way back home to Chiapas, Mexico.  Holly and Kelsey are still here for a few more days and still helping out greatly-- if you see them at CSA pickup or at garlic harvest, be sure to say hello.

Holly and Kelsey, superstar volunteers:


Kohlrabi Slaw- serves 2, approx.

2 med kohlrabi, peeled and grated OR cut into matchsticks (slightly nicer texture but slightly more involved)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 generous handful cilantro OR parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp mayo OR dijon mustard (or both-- your choice)
Juice of one small lime (optimal) OR 1-2 Tbsp verjus or cider vinegar (also good but there's really nothing quite like lime juice. Sad that there's a world lime shortage)
dash salt and pepper
optional: handful chopped olives and/or brined capers, dash red pepper flakes if you like a little spice

Mix everything together well, let marinate 15-20 min or longer in fridge. Serve chilled.  This is especially delicious on tacos and grilled things!

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