Saturday, November 2, 2013

Garlic Planting

Many people asked me, over the last few weeks, if everything was wrapped up for the season at the farm and were then surprised to hear that we were getting ready to plant garlic and shallots. Yes, in Minnesota we plant garlic and shallots in October, when the soils cool down, with enough time to start rooting, but not sprout.

To get ready for planting we started by "popping" the cloves. Taking the bulbs and separating all the cloves to plant individually.

Bags filled with garlic cloves.
This year we also planted 'Walking Onions' (aka Egyptian Onions) in the kitchen garden--I've been waiting to have those! After popping the garlic I prepared the garlic bed map and was ready to plant.

Cart with garlic, shallots, map and tools.
The dibbler helps us ensure good spacing, more efficiently.
John tilled the bed, which had been resting for about a month (they followed beans this year) and I raked it. We have heavy soils so we used a raised bed to allow for good drainage. Next I used the fancy-schmancy dibbler John made to mark out spacing--6"x6". This makes planting go a lot faster.

Marking spacing with the dibbler.
View a short video of me using the dibbler. After the spacing is marked I laid out the garlic and shallot cloves, then went back and started planting. Garlic is planted 4-6" deep and shallots are planted with the tops even, or just under, the surface of the soil. View a short video of me planting garlic.

Garlic laid out for planting.
Dutch Yellow Shallots ready to plant.
 All of our garlic is organic certified, as we are transitioning to organic. Red Russian garlic, Dutch Yellow shallots and French Gray shallots were planted again; we liked all of these. We also planted some new varieties to trial--German Red and German Extra Hardy, and Inchelium Red (soft neck garlic). In our region we grow hard-neck garlic--these produce those lovely scapes that we all cherish for a few weeks in spring (yum!)--but I wanted to grow a small amount of soft-neck, just to experiment (these are the braiding kind).  We purchase seed from The Maine Potato Lady (great source for garlic, onions and potatoes), and we also got some from Territorial Seeds this year too.

 The last step in the process is to cover with a thick layer of mulch. Mulch provides protection from the elements over winter, and helps to suppress weeds. The pigs helped us with the mulching! Using bales from their pen we are able to add a little fertilizer--perfect since it sits out, breaking down all winter and spring (the minimum requirement is 120 days, and it will be about 240). Also, in anticipation of garlic planting, we threw several bales in there over the last week for them to forage through and clean out the small-grain and weed seeds. We purchased some really seedy straw last spring, hopefully this will reduce the amount of barley growing in the garlic bed, plus we got to nurture the pigs foraging instincts!

 I am already looking forward to next year's garlic and shallot crop!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

CSA Week #18

Week #18, the final week of the season, has been delivered--members took home their full-to-the-brim and heavy last boxes yesterday. This was our second CSA season on the farm and it was a good one. A great big thank you to all of our members who supported the farm--we couldn't do it without you!

So here's a look at the last box...

Link to the Week #18 CSA Newsletter

CSA Box Wk #18 • Layer 1 • Oct. 22nd, 2013
 In the boxes: Butternut and acorn squash, beets, 1.25# leeks, 1.5# parsnips, Jonathon apples, 3# Katahdin potatoes, 1/2lb garlic...

CSA Box Wk #18 • Layer 2 • Oct. 22nd, 2013 bell peppers, 2# mixed onions, French gray shallots, rosemary, sage, dill seed and tarragon. Plus the EWG (Environmental Working Group) Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 shopping guide and the Seafood Watch guide.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

CSA Week #17

It was a cold and rainy delivery day. It makes for muddy harvesting--it's dirty work, but someones got to do it! The parsnips were all dug Monday, in anticipation of the rain. We ended up getting about 1.25". We are loving the rain, but also hoping for an opportunity to get in and till to prepare for garlic and shallot planting. Here's a look at the boxes from this week--regular full shares and the final boxes for our Week half shares.

Link to CSA News Week #17

CSA Week #17 • Oct. 15, 2013 • Full Share
Still holding summery goodness with the peppers and tomatoes!

In the Full Share Boxes: Cherry tomatoes, ground cherries, red and green bell peppers, garlic bulb, Valencia tomato, 1# leeks, butternut squash, 2# Katahdin potatoes, apple mix, 1.25# parsnips, red and yellow onions.

CSA Week #17 Half Shares Final Box • Oct. 15, 2013 
In the Half Shares final box: In addition to our weekly newsletter members also received a copy of the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 & Seafood Watch reference cards (for health eating off CSA season), parsnips, ground cherries, cherry tomatoes, 4# Katahdin potatoes, 2# red & yellow storage onions, red and green bell peppers, butternut squash, 1# leeks, 2# mixed apples, acorn squash, kale, French Gray shallots, 1/2# garlic, Superschmeltz kohlrabi, Valencia tomato and herb mix--dried tarragon, dried rosemary, dried sage and dill seed.

The apple mix this week included heirloom Northern Spy, Cortland and Regent.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

CSA Week #16

Week #16 boxes were tasty looking! We are loving the parsnips and brussel sprouts this time of year!

In the Boxes: Sweet green bell peppers, parsnips, apples, acorn squash, potatoes, pie pumpkin, decorative corn, shallot mix, 1/2 # brussel sprouts, red and yellow onion, kohlrabi, tomato mix.

Link to the Week #16 CSA Newsletter

Week #4 of our Apple Shares was also delivered this week!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

CSA Week #15

Week #15 CSA boxes have been delivered, along with the 3rd week of Apple Shares and other goodies to Farm Share members. It was a very fall box this week!

In the Boxes: Wealthy apples, red and yellow onions, butternut squash, green bell peppers, leeks, Red Russian kale, cherry tomatoes, brussel sprouts, parsnips, heirloom tomato mix, heirloom roma tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and (pictured below) Winter Luxury pie pumpkin and decorative flint corn.

Link to the Week #15 CSA Newsletter

All of the boxes received a bundle of decorative corn. We grew this to use for animal feed and corn meal. The colors are amazing!

I am looking forward to fresh pumpkin pie! And pumpkin bread! Have a great week :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CSA Week #14

Quite a nice variety in CSA boxes this week and the first parsnips of the season. Apples continue to come and the frost has held off so fresh tomatoes and peppers keep coming!

Apples this week include the one pictured: Haralson, Red Baron and Cortland. You can find more about apple varieties at the Orange Pippin website.

In the Boxes: Parsnips, apples, yellow onion, acorn squash, garlic, German Butterball potatoes, beets ground cherries... peppers, parsley, basil, heirloom tomatoes and broccoli.

Link to the Week #14 CSA Newsletter

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why Organic Apples?

This is a great article about organic apples. It's a quick read and share the reason why we grow only clean, chemical-free apples. A great read that came out the same week we started our 2013 Apple Shares!

Why I Only Eat Organic Apples, and Why You Should Too

"Apples are the single most pesticide-contaminated produce item available at the grocery store. If you had to choose just one item from your grocery list to buy organic, make it organic apples."

"As opposed to being full of poisons like Snow White’s apple, organic apple skins offer a boost of antioxidants—15 percent more than conventional."

CSA Week #13

The first winter squash made it to boxes this week. Peppers, tomatoes and ground cherries will slow down with this cool weather and stop all together after frost, so we'll enjoy them while we can!!

In the CSA Box: Acorn squash, fresh sage, heirloom tomatoes, ground cherries, muskmelon, basil, green and red bell peppers, red onions, garlic, apple mix and swiss chard.

Link to the Week 13 CSA Newsletter.

Apples in the boxes this week...McIntosh, Early Gold and Red Baron.

Tomatoes! Lots of sweet heirloom goodness.

Here's a sneak peek at the boxes getting packed for delivery. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Seasonal Cook :: Ground Cherries

Courtesy of © The Land Connection Foundation
GROUND CHERRIES: Tomato’s Sweet-Tart Cousin
What looks like a yellow cherry tomato hidden inside a little paper lantern, and tastes sweetly tropical with pineapple, mango, and vanilla notes? No, this isn’t a bad joke. It’s a delicious vegetable in the tomato family known as the ground cherry—presumably because they fall to the ground when ripe, and are about the size of a cherry.  Native to the Americas, ground cherries were an important food for Native Americans and the first European pioneers.  But they dropped out of sight with the rise of industrial food production because the fruits continually ripen, and need to be picked each week throughout the late summer and into the fall. This makes ground cherries great for gardeners and diversified farms, but not suitable for large-scale production since they can’t be mechanically harvested all at once. 

A Reemergence of a Tasty Treat
Today, ground cherries are enjoying a renaissance at farm stands and farmers markets. They are not a cherry, but are about the same size, and may be enjoyed raw, straight off the vine, sliced into salads or salsas, or cooked into pies, jams, chutneys and sauces. Thanks to their high pectin content, they are great in pies and jams, on their own or combined with other fruits.

Nature’s Bite-Sized Snack

Ground cherries have the same healthful properties as tomatoes; low in calories but high in nutrients including vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, especially those associated with the color orange. Its vitamin A, C and niacin content rank it among the most nutrient dense for fruit with these nutrients.
The simplest and perhaps best way to enjoy this delicacy is to gently hold it between your index finger and thumb, near the stem-end. Apply gentle pressure and the fruit will pop out of its papery husk--straight into your mouth if you’ve positioned it correctly!

Ground Cherry–Peach Salsa


½ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ear fresh corn, grilled or boiled, and the kernels sliced off
½ cup ground cherries, husked and cut in half
1 medium to large peach, diced
1 teaspoon jalapeno or other pepper, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon mint leaves, cut chiffonade
1 tablespoon cilantro, rough chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Juice of ½ lime
Salt to taste


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss well to combine flavors. Allow to sit at room temperature at least ½ hour, then re-season as needed. Serve at room temperature.

Seasonal Cook’s Notes: The many uses for this versatile fruit are limited only by your imagination. If left in their husk, they will keep for months in a well-ventilated spot in your cupboard.

The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local community farmer. To locate the farmers’ market or CSA nearest you, or visit
Farm Fresh Now! is a project of The Land Connection, an educational nonprofit that preserves farmland, trains new farmers, and connects people with great locally-grown foods. This series is made possible with generous support from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
(End of Article)
Farm Fresh Now! Secrets of the Seasonal Cook is copyright The Land Connection Foundation and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. All use of the articles and artwork in this series must be attributed to The Land Connection Foundation using the text provided above (all text and links before the End of Article line). 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Early September Photo Update

The field is still full and green, but there are many changes apparent. The cucumbers and beans have finished for the season. Beds where spring cabbage, lettuce and peas, as well as garlic and early potatoes were grown are now filled with a buckwheat cover crop.

The first fall frost is looming around the corner and that will bring more changes. The frost will bring a sweetness to root vegetables and kale, and help the remaining dry beans fully dry down.

Brussel sprouts are filling out, and will sweeten with frost.

The pack shed drying/curing area is full to the brim. There are red and yellow onions, and mid-season potatoes curing. Garlic, shallots, herbs and early season potatoes are cured and stored.

The winter squash is start to mature. September 10th we had our first harvest of acorn squash.

Our flint corn harvest has begun. (It may take a while, because with each ear we pick  we stop and say, "Oooo, ahhh....look at this one!"

The flint corn is grown for animal feed, and may also be used for hominy and corn meal.

CSA Week #12

Ooooo muskmelons! We sure like this variety, it's tasty. We are two thirds of the way through our delivery season and again you can feel the seasons shifting. The last cucumbers appeared in the boxes this week--we'll have to wait until next spring for those treats again! Late season potatoes are looking great and tasting delish. I can't wait to make a big batch of potato-leek soup!

Link to the Week #12 CSA Newsletter.

Filling the boxes...carrots, leeks, beets with greens, German Butterball potatoes,
Stuttgarter yellow onions, Hale's Best muskmelon...

...then add some sweet green and red bell peppers, hot jalapeno peppers, 
a yellow cucumber...

...and top it off with some delicious kale, parsley and tomatoes--
Valencia (yellow), Costoluto Genovese (red) and Black Krim.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Apple Shares Start Sept. 17th!

Check out our Apple Shares! Starting Sept. 17th you can receive 6 weeks of apple deliveries.

See the annoucement HERE.

CSA Week #11

Week #11 boxes are delivered!

In the Boxes: yellow cucumbers, tomatoes {Valencia/Costoluto Genovese}, German Butterball potatoes, green bell peppers, Dragon's Tongue wax beans, McIntosh apples, broccoli, yellow onions, garlic, rosemary and watermelons {some shares}. The watermelon pictured is Creme de Saskatchewan.

Link to the Week #11 CSA Newsletter.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Seasonal Cook :: Tomatoes

Courtesy of The Land Connection

Tomato Quartet

Tomato Medley"A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins," according to the writer Laurie Colwin. Of course she was talking about backyard garden and farmers' market tomatoes--all those luscious local tomatoes that provide a bright symphony of flavors. And now is the time to seek out every theme and variation on tomatoes: hybrids, heirlooms, cherry, pear, plum, even the diminutive currant tomatoes. The rainbow names of the heirlooms are enough to set your mouth watering: Sun Gold, Green Zebra, Pink Accordion, Prudens' Purple, Striped Roman, Purple Calabash, Orange Oxheart, Black Trifele, Great White, and the ever-popular Brandywines (pink, red, and yellow),to name just a few.

An Orchestra of Flavors

Tangy, bright, and explosively ripe, an in-season tomato is any cook's dream. You can do almost anything, or almost nothing, and either way, the result will be mind-blowingly delicious. To celebrate the season, we propose a tomato trio, starting with a garden-fresh bloody mary, moving on to a big herbed heirloom tomato salad, and ending with a pizza (or bread) topped with oven-roasted tomatoes.

The Melody of Summer Year Round

And after you slice 'em, dice 'em, sauce 'em, salad 'em, and slurp 'em down shamelessly, be sure and put some up for winter. Tomatoes are one of the few vegetables that you can simply wash, cut into chunks, and slip into a zip-lock freezer bag. Nothing could be easier, or more rewarding come winter.

Garden-Fresh Bloody Mary Mix

6 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons hot sauce, optional
2 teaspoons minced fresh horseradish
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Herbs for garnish (we love lovage), nasturtium and other
Blend the tomatoes, lemon and lime juices, Worcestershire, garlic, hot sauce, horseradish, salt, celery seed and pepper until smooth. Cover and chill until needed. This recipe makes 6 to 7 cups, depending on the size of the tomatoes; the mix will keep for 1 week.

Herbed Heirloom Tomato Salad

Tomatoes this good deserve your best extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, and even some highfalutin salt because each of this salad's few ingredients defines the final flavor. Of course, the most important element is ripe, beauteous tomatoes, so hunt some down at your local farmers market.
  1. Gather up 2 pounds of the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes you can find, choosing a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Cut them into wedges or thick slices. If you have cherry tomatoes, leave them whole. Arrange them on a chilled plate and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and your favorite vinegar. Top with a sprinkling of fresh, torn herbs like tarragon, basil, chives, and/or Italian parsley. Serve immediately.

Fresh-Roasted Tomato Pizza

Pre-roasting the tomatoes for an hour or more in a slow oven (about 275 evaporates the water and concentrates the flavor, making powerful little flavor packets.
makes 1 pizza or 3-4 pizza-breads
For roasted tomatoes
6 to 10 tomatoes (any size or color)
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh oregano, thyme, or parsley
For pizza
1 pizza dough (or 3-4 toasted slices of bread)
2 Tbs melted butter or olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan or other hard cheese
2 Tbs chopped fresh oregano, basil, or other herbs to garnish the pizza after it comes out of the oven

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Cut small tomatoes in half, and larger ones into wedges. Mix tomatoes in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and herbs. Place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and slow roast in the oven for an hour or more.
Stretch the pizza dough and put on a pizza stone or cookie sheet. Bake in a hot oven (400 degrees) 3-5 minutes until dough has started to crisp slightly. Remove crust and use a fork to pierce any air bubbles.

Use a brush to spread the melted butter or olive oil on the crust. Scatter the roasted tomato pieces on top, and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until crust is crisp. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Enjoy!

When tomato season is in full swing, fill your oven with baking sheets full of tomatoes, and use them on any pasta or toasted bread of your choice. You can freeze any extra for winter

The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local community farmer. To locate the farmers' market or CSA nearest you, visit
Farm Fresh Now! is a project of The Land Connection, an educational nonprofit that preserves farmland, trains new farmers, and connects people with great locally-grown foods. This series is made possible with generous support from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

CSA Week #10

Week #10 boxes. Link to the CSA Newsletter Week #1. A little sneak peak at packing the boxes...

 Layer one, packing up the boxes...broccoli, Beacon apples, heirloom snap bean mix, carrots, yellow and green cucumbers, beets, sweet green bell peppers...

CSA Box Week #10 ~ Layer 1 ~ Aug. 27, 2013
...then add basil, heirloom tomato mix, sweet corn, Red Russian kale, ground cherries, and (not pictured) watermelon. Members either received Moon & Stars (dark green rind, pink fleshed) or Creme de Saskatchewan (light & dark green striped rind, white flesh).

A view in the packing shed--boxes all over the place! Lots of tomatoes :)

Boxes are packed and cooling pre-delivery in the walk-in cooler with the watermelons.

Happy eating!