Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Apples :: Wealthy

Mid Season • Sweet

Ripens
Early September

Characteristics
Refreshing, sprightly, vinous flavor. Crisp, juicy flesh that makes a great pie. An excellent fresh eating, dessert or baking apple. Wonderful for single-variety pies.

History
Originating from Excelsior, Minnesota on Peter Gideon's farm, 1860. The random result from planting seed from a Cherry Crabapple. Named after his wife, Wealthy Gideon.

Offspring: Epicure, Haralson, Laxton's Fortune, Red Sauce, William's Pride.

Storage
6 weeks

Notes
Wealthy has a long blooming period, making it a great pollinator for other varieties.


Apples :: Prairie Spy

Late Season • Sweet


Prairie Spy apples at market.
Ripens
Late October

Characteristics
A sweet apple with excellent flavor, which only improves in storage. Good sized, firm and dense apples. Great for fresh eating, cooking and storage. An attractive fruit that is cherry red over green-yellow.

History
Introduced in 1940, by the University of Minnesota.

Parentage: Unknown.

Storage
Extra long keeping winter storage apple. Keeps 3- 5 months in storage. Stores very well until mid-January, then waning in quality into March.

Notes
We have several trees at our off-farm orchard.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Apples :: Northern Spy

Late Season • Sweet-tart • Heirloom

Northern Spy apples at market.
Ripens
Early October

Characteristics
Lively sweet-tart flavor. Fine-grained, firm and crisp. A wonderful all-purpose apple, great for fresh eating and cooking. Cider makers love it and it makes an exceptional pie, as it retains its texture. The skin color develops poorly in the shade, but in the sun develops pink and red striping. This is one of the most famous of all American apples and a well-renowned Maine favorite.

History
Originating from the farm of Oliver Chapin, Rochester, New York, circa 1840, brought into production many years later. Herman Chapin grew the first tree, circa 1800, which died before production, but not before Oliver took some root cuttings from it.

Offspring: Keepsake, Ontario, Prairie Spy, Sandow, Sweet Sixteen.

Parentage: Unknown. Perhaps a connection to Spitzenburg.

Storage
Exceptional keeper.

Notes
Northern Spy is very slow to bear, taking up to ten years to produce. It is unknown where the name came from, but it is speculated that it came from a dime-store novel called The Northern Spy, which was about a a "Northern Spy" who helped slaves escape on the underground railroad.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Carrots :: From Field to Table

There is a lot of work that brings carrots to the point of being harvested, but today we'll look at harvest and post-harvest handling or getting those big, crunchy sweet carrots from field to table.

Sometimes harvesting carrots is a muddy job! Using a broadfork, or digging fork, we loosen the carrots in the soil profile, then pull them out, removing large dirt clods at this time. Transporting by crates and wheelbarrow to the washing table.

Carrots, fresh out of the ground.
The dirty roots head into buckets of water for a little presoak to loosen the dirt.


After the presoak the tops get trimmed and roots laid out for spraying.


The roots are then sprayed to remove the rest of the dirt.


Then the roots are put into a tank of cool water. This is the hydrocooling part of the process, where we remove any remaining field heat and cool the carrots down to the core. This helps preserve the quality of the carrots, as well as preserve and extend storage life. We use an organic sanitizer in the water tank to sanitize the carrots as well.


Carrots come out and are weighed and bunched. Harvest weights are recorded to evaluate planting methods and carrot varieties. We remove tops, as the greens can take moisture from the roots, depleting their storage life.

Bunched carrots.
Now the carrots are ready for CSA boxes and market display!

Carrots at market.
Carrots are a very hands on crop, from seed, to harvest, but they are one of my favorite crops to grow.

Farmer Brooke and a bunch of carrots.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

CSA Week #14

This week's delivery brings  even more tastes of fall, with acorn squash adding to the heft of the box. The quote below struck me the other day, this is what we are trying to do--create change. Create an alternative to the current food system, ways of thinking, ways of living. You too are creating change as a consumer in this new way of thinking/eating/being.

"Change in ourselves and in the world in which we live may not take place in a hurry: it will take time. 
But if we don't make an effort nothing will happen at all. Change will not take place because of 
decisions taken by governments or the UN. Real change will take place when individuals 
transform themselves guided by the values that lie at the core of all human ethical systems, 
scientific findings, and common sense." 
-Dalai Lama

Week #14 CSA Box • Sept. 16, 2015
In the Box: Hale's Best muskmelon (full shares/some half shares), 1-3/4lbs beets, 2 red storage onions, 2 bulbs German Red garlic, herb: sage, Valencia tomatoes, leeks, 2 Regent apples, Thelma Sanders heirloom acorn squash, 1 bunch Swiss Chard (pictured) or kale, 6 jalapenos, 1 quart specialty tomatoes (Flamme (orange)/Wapsipinicon Peach (yellow)/Riesentraube (red), 2 Northern Spy heirloom apples, 2 green peppers, bunch celery, 1-2 Gilbertie roma tomato.

Week #14 CSA Newsletter ~ Featuring: farm updates; what members/farmers are making; recipes for acorn squash.

Northern Spy and Regent apples went into CSA boxes, Apple Boosters and Apple Shares.
Leading up to packing CSA boxes and custom Farm Share orders I harvest, sort out items to get delivered (packaging up tomatoes, counting out peppers and onions, weighing out items). Then I line up all of the produce items in the order they will get packed into boxes - my little assembly line.

It looks a little messy, but really, it's totally organized. ;)

CSA packing assembly line.
I also sort out my CSA boxes for the week and fold them so they are ready to go. As you can see we pretty much fully utilize the whole packing shed!

CSA boxes ready for packing.
 Here is this week's box fully packed and ready to go! Stick a newsletter in and we're done.



 Four more weeks to go!


Monday, September 14, 2015

Garlic :: Field to Table to Field

Read all the way down for information on the beneficial qualities of garlic and some prep tips.

Garlic has come full circle this season. The excitement of garlic begins in mid-late October, here in the North county. This is when our garlic is planted. With time enough to put down roots (to protect against frost heaving), but not sprout.

Garlic laid out for fall planting.
Around the end of July, to beginning of August, we harvest the entire garlic crop, then hang it to cure. This sets the skins and preserves the storage quality of the bulbs. It took a lot longer to cure this year, as it was so humid. We ended up adding a third fan in the packing shed to help with the drying and air circulation.

Garlic hung for curing in the packing shed.
From there the garlic needs sorting. Bulbs are sorted out for our seed stock, about 25-30% of the crop. By growing our own seed we can improve our product over time and the garlic becomes more and more adapted to our growing site. The remainder of the bulbs are cleaned for use in CSA boxes and sales at market.

It takes a little while to do this process, but its a easy job at the end of the day, or during rainy weather. When cleaning garlic, the stalks are trimmed down and the outer dirty wrapper taken off. Below sorted and trimmed garlic being cleaned.

Cleaning garlic.
Cleaned garlic.
When garlic is cured garlic is set aside to go into CSA boxes every week for the rest of the season. The remainder of the garlic is sold to Farm Share members and brought to the farmers' market (Saturdays, New Ulm). We also stick a basket of garlic in our pantry for the winter and use it frequently, in healthy quantities. Properly stored garlic lasts for months, alongside our onions, potatoes and winter squash.

In another month we will be preparing our seed garlic for planting and starting the process all over again. 

Seed garlic, ready for planting.


Include Garlic in Your Regular Diet

Make sure to use this healthful veggie in your regular cooking! Not only does it taste fabulous, but it protects your immune system through its anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Garlic lowers bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol; helps lower high blood pressure; prevents dangerous blood clots; as been shown to limit cancer growth.

Preparing Garlic


Chopping and crushing preparation techniques stimulate the enzymatic process that converts the phytonutrient alliin into allicin, a compound with many health benefits. In order to allow for maximal allicin production, wait 10 minutes before eating/cooking the garlic. Many of garlic's health benefits (including its anti-cancer properties) are preserved if the whole cloves are crushed and allowed to sit for 10 minutes prior to cooking. Observe this 10-minute wait before adding any high acid ingredients to the garlic (ex. lemon juice). Research has shown that microwaving or boiling garlic uncrushed or whole will deactivate its enzymes.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

CSA Week #13

Week #13, the last hurrah for cucumbers, tomatoes are winding down a little, as are the summer squash. With 1.88" of rain at the beginning of the week we are good on the rain and hope for sunshine and light wind to keep things dry and healthy. Time to dig potatoes!


In the Box: 2-3 lbs Summer squash and/or zucchini, leeks, 2lbs potatoes--Sangre (pictured) or Kennebec, cooking greens (Brussels sprout tops, use like collards), 3-4 bell peppers, 2 each yellow onions and red onions, basil, lovage, 2 bulbs garlic, pint ground cherries (half shares), 1-2 slicing tomatoes (Valencia or German Johnson), pint specialty tomatoes (Flamme, Wapsipinicon Peach, Riesentraube), one cucumber, 2 apples--Wealthy/Haralson, carrots...watermelon or muskmelon (some shared, not pictured).

Week #13 CSA Newsletter

Carrots are pre-soaked, tops trimmer, spary-washed, hydro-cooled/sanitized, then bunch for members..
 Washing up carrots and leeks, post-harvest, to bunch and pack into CSA boxes and Farm Share orders.

Leeks are spray-washed, beards trimmed, then bunch for members.



Thursday, September 3, 2015

CSA Week #12

Week #12 bring us two-thirds of the way through our season. Peppers are coming in more, tomatoes keep up their abundance and apple harvest continues. Summer squash and cucumbers begin to wane, as do the beans. Onions and garlic have finished curing. We will start to see a slow transition into fall fare.

CSA Newsletter Week #12 Featured Veggie: Beets; Recipes for: roasted beets, sautéed Brussels tops; tips for: cooking beets, melons on the grill, drinking water in the morning; along with the usual farm updates and farmer shenanigans.

2015 CSA Week #12
In the Box: 3lbs Kennebec potatoes, 1lb heirloom snap beans, Ronde de Nice summer squash (full shares, 2.5 lbs mixed heirloom tomatoes, a bunch of "Brussels tops" (the top of the Brussels sprout plant, cook like collards), cucumber, pint ground cherries (half shares), 2 bulbs garlic, 3 yellow onions, 1+lb bunch beets, 4 green peppers, apples--2 McIntosh (redder), 2 Wealthy, Blacktail Mountain watermelon (some shares, not pictured).

Apple Boosters received 2 lbs of McIntosh.
Herb Boosters received 1 bunch each: basil, tarragon, thyme, lovage.