Tag Archives: Mustard Greens

Spring Means Ducklings!

One of the delights of spring is the sour surprise of Sorrel!

One of the delights of spring is the sour surprise of Sorrel!

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• Rapini
• Kale Broccolini
• Green Garlic
• Miners’ Lettuce (use fresh, in place of lettuce)
Sorrel
• Fresh Eggs

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Salad Greens, Japanese Turnips, Pea Shoots, Baby Leeks, Parsely, Chervil, and much more!

IMG_4482We are really excited about the upcoming week! Check out the weather forecast–sun, sun, and more dry weather. Perfect for planting out the hundreds of thousands of onion, kale, chard, broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce transplants. It’s going to be great, and exhausting, but it will mean lots to eat for lots of folks!

This week we are introducing Sorrel to our spring repertoire. It’s tangy and juicy, and sure to add some spunk to your dining pleasure this week. Check out the Sorrel page for hints.

Delicious Green Garlic and Rapini to put on my pizza!

Delicious Green Garlic and Rapini to put on my pizza!

We’re also serving up more Green Garlic and Rapini, and there are lots of recipes on their respective pages if you need them. We’re also picking the Broccolini from our overwintered Kale plants. These are like rapini, but they are sweet, with no bitterness. Our kids really prefer them to traditional rapini. Last week, we had pizza night, so I threw together a bunch of chopped green garlic, chopped Rapini and sprinkled them on top of a pizza crust doused with the good bottle of olive oil. I found a jar of Porcini salt, and sprinkled some of that on top and then added enough shredded mozzarella to hold it all together. It was delicious–salty, bitter, sweet, and garlicky. I highly recommend it, but the kids couldn’t stand it.

We picked up a little handful of ducklings at the feed store. I’ve been mulling over the idea of getting a slug patrol for the asparagus patch since last year, since the only real pest problem we’ve had with the asparagus are the tiny little slugs that like to nibble on the spears as they emerge from the winter soil. Slugs don’t go for much in the way of plants, but they LOVE slugs and snails.

We have hired a Special Patrol, to hunt slugs in our asparagus/rhubarb patch. That fuzzy cuteness belies the voracious hunter that he/she will become.

We have hired a Special Patrol, to hunt slugs in our asparagus/rhubarb patch. That fuzzy cuteness belies the voracious hunter that he/she will become.

As we got them settled, I was filled with memories of my youth. (Fade in dream sequence here) I had some amazing pet experiences, but by far, my favorite was the day that a friend of my parents brought me a duckling. I was 11 or 12, and all of the other nest-mates had been killed by a dog or something, and this one was alone and needed a home. It was a Khaki Campbell, a good egg breed of duck, that looks somewhat like a Mallard when full-grown. I didn’t care–it was adorable, and it was MINE!

That little duck was pampered, and I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I slept with it. If you’ve been around birds much, you know they have no control of their…um…facilities. So, I slept with towels laid all over everything, and little ducky slept in my hair, on my pillow. This spoiled little duck bonded with me to the extent that she (I don’t actually know if it was a he or she, but I felt it was a she) followed me everywhere. She followed me to the dinner table and sat by me while I ate, but that was sad, so it didn’t take long for her to be in my lap while I ate. That required a towel as well, as she grabbed food off of my plate and plastered it all over my lap. Ducks are very messy eaters.

She followed me around outside, inside. I stopped to pick her up for stairs, of course. And boy, did she learn to come running when the bathtub faucet ran. I did draw the line at baths, because what is the first thing that ducks do when they get in water? Not something I wanted to bathe in. But she LOVED the bathtub, happy quacking, laughing, flapping ducky.

It was a remarkable Summer of Duck. I loved that little bird, but when I had to go to school in the fall, I couldn’t let her roam around the house all day, so she had to live with the chickens. One of the great betrayals of my youth was the look on her face when I put her in the chicken run and walked to the bus stop. I feel the daggers still, and that is when I learned the lesson of never having just one of anything that belonged in a group.

This time, we have four lovely little ducklings. They still bond with their primary caregiver, whether it be human, dog, or duck. It’s adorable and they are very fun, in their container on the front porch, where they are sure to get plenty of attention.

Finally Spring!

This was one of our dinners last week—rapini sautéed with garlic and scrambled eggs. Both in great abundance in March.

This was one of our dinners last week—rapini sautéed with garlic and scrambled eggs. Both in great abundance in March.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• Rapini
• Spring Onions
Green Garlic
• Miners’ Lettuce (use fresh, in place of lettuce)
• Fresh Eggs

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Kale, Pea Shoots, Green Garlic, Baby Leeks, Parsely, Chervil, and much more!

It may be April Fools’ Day, but our Spring Season starts this week! It’s supposed to have been the wettest March in history, and yet we’ve still been able to get several plantings done outside. I’ve been pushier than in the past—call it old age, or call it spring fever. But we’ve got our first planting of peas and favas in the ground at least a month earlier than last year, as well as a decent planting of greens. The greenhouses are all planted: carrots, turnips, salad mix, beet greens, spinach, and herbs. And we’ve got our transplant greenhouse full o’ flats. It’s a good feeling.

The first week of Spring is often a tricky one, because we have an abundance of a couple things and many other things are not quite ready. So we balance the need to harvest those first few crops with the justification to have everyone come all the way to the farm to pick up their allotment. The rapini needs to be harvested, the eggs need to be used because we are over-run with them at the moment. (12 dozen a day and no market have a way of making them pile up!) Sadly, other things that we had hoped would be ready are not quite yet—but they will be soon, and by the time the outdoor crops have finished, the indoor greens and roots will be ready. Fear not! You will be full of greens soon enough!

Just because we’ve been able to work up a bit of ground and plant doesn’t mean it’s not muddy around here. We may be tired of slogging around in rubber boots, but the animals are sick of being ankle deep in mud, but our pasture areas are still too short to let them out without destroying them, so it’s better to keep them in the “sacrifice” area. They will be so pleased to be free when the time comes! The chickens are the only critters we are able to move around, because it’s easier to put up a temporary fence, and they aren’t as hard on the ground—we can put them where old crops used to be for a quick fertility boost. This is even handier with mobile henhouses.

What do you do with a leaky trailer? You turn it into a hen house! Fixtures removed, cupboards converted to nest boxes, and plenty of roost space. Room for 160 hens, and it's easy to move around the farm.

What do you do with a leaky trailer? You turn it into a hen house! Fixtures removed, cupboards converted to nest boxes, and plenty of roost space. Room for 160 hens, and it’s easy to move around the farm.

 

Winter Break 2014

I was so excited to see that the Tatsoi survived the freezing weather, but disappointed that they are all bolting already. They know spring is on the way and they want to be FIRST to bloom. See the little flower bud in the center?

I was so excited to see that the Tatsoi survived the freezing weather, but disappointed that they are all bolting already. They know spring is on the way and they want to be FIRST to bloom. See the little flower bud in the center?

Winter has returned. It’s been below freezing for two days now, and we’re hauling water to the critters again. We’ve taken down bean poles from last year, the garlic is growing, and my winter food stores are waning. We’ve been ordering seeds, making plans, and getting things done when we can.

Because Spring will be inching closer more rapidly after this cold snap, this is a good time to toss out a reminder for our early payment deadline. February 15 is just 10 days from now, so if you want to save a bit, get your application form in ASAP. Paying in February helps us immensely because we are figuring out how to pay for everything that we will need for the next few months—labor, fertilizer, tractor parts, irrigation parts, row cover material, seed, and a new tomato greenhouse. Help us by signing up for our CSA in February!

Garlic loves freezing weather, but these little shoots are excited that spring is coming!

Garlic loves freezing weather, but these little shoots are excited that spring is coming!

The first seed orders arrived, and I delivered the special things that need an extra-early start to our friend, Gina, at Auburn Mountainview High School. She runs the horticulture program there, and she utilizes their heated greenhouse to teach the kids in her classes vital skills in seed starting, plant growing, and marketing. And, her kids start a few things for us. Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Artichokes, early Basil, Thyme, Parsley, and Snapdragons for the u-pick garden. See, we don’t have a heated greenhouse, and having Gina’s kids do these crops for us gives us a leg up of 4-6 weeks. And they come to the farm much healthier in April than they would be if we started them under grow lights.

Last year's beans, ravaged by winter.

Last year’s beans, ravaged by winter.

I was ready to start our early, hardier crops—kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, onions, cabbage, etc.—and I’m glad I didn’t yet, or we would have likely lost them this week in the deep chill this week. So, I’m glad the seeds are still sitting safely on the dining room table, and I will gladly start them next week. We will also be starting early carrots, turnips, and spinach for the Spring CSA—and we’re shooting for harvest in late April/early May.

Penny, Pete, and Cosmo.

Penny, Pete, and Cosmo.

This morning when I woke up, I looked out at the wintry white landscape, and thought to myself how glad I was that we have no baby animals right now. No fuzzy little chicks, huddling in a brooder and freezing, no baby pigs trying to keep warm and getting squished under their mom, and no cows calving in the middle of a frozen field. We do have a couple of new additions, however. Pete and Penny. They are just for companionship and entertainment, and they are very friendly, so be sure and say hi to them. They’re very sweet.

The hens are gearing up for spring, and we’re eating a dozen eggs a day and wondering how to keep up. If you want eggs, now is the time to load up. If you’ve got an egg punch card from last year, stop at the farm stand and pick some up from the fridge. If you don’t have a punch card, you can leave payment in the tin—Limited Time Winter Egg Special is $6 per dozen, or 2 dozen for $10.

Breaking ground in early spring (or winter) is a happy sight. The bright green overwintered weeds and cover crop lying next to dark brown, rich earth.

Breaking ground in early spring (or winter) is a happy sight. The bright green overwintered weeds and cover crop lying next to dark brown, rich earth.

Winter Week 8 and 9—Done for the Year

We had hoped that the sprouts would get a little bigger on the stalks, but we were late planting by a few weeks. Still, better than none at all.

We had hoped that the sprouts would get a little bigger on the stalks, but we were late planting by a few weeks. Still, better than none at all.

THIS WEEK’S and NEXT WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• Potatoes—several choices, but they’re all tasty
• Lots of Candy Carrots
• “Purple Dragon” Carrots
• Rainbow Beets
• Winter Squash
• “Melissa” Savoy Cabbage
Brussels Sprouts
• Collard Greens
• Fresh Thyme

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

We’re finished for this winter. You’ll get a voucher for the last winter week good towards a 2014 CSA share, or for purchasing our produce at farmers markets.

We made lanterns out of ice, lit with a candle, to celebrate our new farming year. Happy New Year!

We made lanterns out of ice, lit with a candle, to celebrate our new farming year. Happy New Year!

We celebrated the Winter Solstice by playing with a globe and making ice lanterns. Then we had cocoa and lit the lanterns in the darkest part of night on December 21st. Farming New Year’s Eve. I woke up on the morning of the 22nd ready to start the new season, Mike decorated our booth at both farmers’ markets and we won the Solstice Decorating Contest on Sunday. What a great way to begin the new year!

We’ve decided to call the year finished now, with a double load of everything we have left in the field still worth picking. We have plenty of carrots, mostly, but the greens and beets were hit hard by freezing. Although there are lots of crops left alive in the field, most are not worth picking, aside from cabbage and Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. The potatoes and squashes are still saved from earlier harvest but are running out, so we’re distributing what are left of those as well. We believe we can serve you all better with a credit for the remaining one week, so that will come in an email next week.

You can eat the fluffy tops of the Brussels sprout stalk, too. Tasty and sweet, just like kale or collards.

You can eat the fluffy tops of the Brussels sprout stalk, too. Tasty and sweet, just like kale or collards.

As we usually do at the crux of a new season, we are full of ideas. New things to try, things to improve, hopes for the new year. At the top of my list this year is another big greenhouse, with doors for all the greenhouses instead of flapping plastic sheets. I know I want to improve the u-pick area for CSA members, and somehow we need to improve our pick-up area so it doesn’t get so crowded. I’m working on the new CSA flyers, so look for those in your mail and email, as well as your credit voucher for the missing winter week.

Now that the holidays are past, we are trying to find our homeschool rhythm again. It’s so hard to find that tempo after almost a month of going with the flow. It will come again, and so will the rhythm of farming. Refining the planting schedule, repairing machines that broke, trying new varieties. And then, the beginning of actual planting—only a few weeks away.

We hope you have a peaceful winter, and we hope to see you again in the spring and summer for another bountiful harvest. Thank you for being there with us through the last amazing year.

IMG_3736

Winter Week 6 and 7—Pre-Solstice Thaw

Greenhouses at six degrees. Brrrr. Below freezing for 10 days and this was the lowest point.

Greenhouses at six degrees. Brrrr. Below freezing for 10 days and this was the lowest point.

THIS WEEK’S and NEXT WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• “Red Maria” and “Norkotah Russet” Potatoes
• Lots of Candy Carrots
• “Purple Dragon” Carrots
Rainbow Beets
• “Sweet Dumpling” and “Buttercup/Ambercup” Winter Squash
• Shallots
• “San Michele” Italian Savoy Cabbage
• Brussels Sprout tops (use like kale)
• Fresh Thyme

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Brussels Sprouts, lots of Carrots, Beets, and Potatoes

Ironically, all of the greens survived the deep freeze, but all of the large outer leaves that we were harvesting are cooked. Cells ruptured by microscopic ice crystals, limp and soggy. Eventually, the growing point in the center of the plant will produce new, healthy leaves, but sadly, that will be weeks or even months from now.

Ironically, all of the greens survived the deep freeze, but all of the large outer leaves that we were harvesting are cooked. Cells ruptured by microscopic ice crystals, limp and soggy. Eventually, the growing point in the center of the plant will produce new, healthy leaves, but sadly, that will be weeks or even months from now.

We are so relieved that the temperature has warmed up and the ground is finally thawed. We are also relieved to find that the carrots and beets have survived, thanks to their natural anti-freeze—sugar! The greens actually all survived, but the large, outer leaves are damaged and not harvestable. They will recover, in time, but probably not until closer to spring. The cabbages and Brussels sprouts are all fine, and so we are going through them this week. We are still hopeful about putting together some kind of stir-fry mix in two weeks when we return after the holidays, but time will tell.

Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts are cousins, and they look almost the same from the top view (aside from the difference in color). Cabbage head on the left, Brussels Sprout top on the right.

Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts are cousins, and they look almost the same from the top view (aside from the difference in color). Cabbage head on the left, Brussels Sprout top on the right.

They look different on the bottom-side—Brussels Sprouts on the left, with tiny sprouts in the leave junctures (where they meet the stem) and Cabbage on the right, working on getting a head in life.

They look different on the bottom-side—Brussels Sprouts on the left, with tiny sprouts in the leave junctures (where they meet the stem) and Cabbage on the right, working on getting a head in life.

The brassica family is an interesting one, and a large one full of mutants-turned-new varieties. Brussels sprouts are basically just cabbages that stretched out in height and instead of growing a single, large head, started producing tiny heads in its leaf joints. No genetic modification, only selective breeding and natural mutation in the field. We hope to be harvesting ours for you after the holidays.

Because we are lacking leafy things, we have loaded you up with root crops—lots of carrots, (beets), and potatoes. And a few squashes. We’ve been saving the last of the shallots for this week, and we threw in some Thyme to go with all the spuds.

This is the last harvest before the new year, and we want to wish you the happiest of holidays and good health. Thank you for your ongoing support of our farm and our family. We wouldn’t be here without you.

And now, a little insight into what I consider to be the true New Year:

The New Year is upon us at last. I’m not talking about January 1, the modern new year. I mean the original new year—the new year of ancient times and farmers. The Winter Solstice. This day of the solar year with the longest night, and the shortest daylength has historically been very significant with all cultures in the northern hemisphere, especially farming cultures. All living things (aside from modern man with artificial light) base their life processes on the amount of natural light in each given day. For example: Chickens have a 21-hour egg-laying cycle. They create a new egg every 21 hours, and as long as the egg is completed during daylight hours, the hen will expel the egg. If the egg is formed in hours of darkness, she keeps it safe inside her until daylight returns. (During the summer when our days are about 19 hours long, a hen will lay an egg nearly every day, but in the winter when our days are only 8 hours long, that same hen will lay an egg only every three or four days. Commercial hens are kept with lights on 24 hours a day, to maximize production. Daylength also triggers the heat cycles of mammals, especially grazers like goats & cows. Their biological clocks time things just right, so that babies are born when mom’s food is abundant.

As far as plants are concerned, temperature is less of an issue than daylength. Plants are only able to perform photosynthesis with light. Since photosynthesis is what gives plants energy for growth, most plants stop growing when the daylength gets down to about 10 or so hours. Active plant growth doesn’t start up again until thelengthening days of spring arrive. Then, the plants wake from their winter dormancy and sprout new leaves to soak up all that sunlight and the chickens start pumping out eggs like crazy. In farming terms, the solstice is a much more meaningful day than January 1, Julius Caesar’s new year. But he wasn’t a farmer, he was a politician. The day after the solstice, we can look forward to more eggs, more greens, and it means that soon we won’t have to do our chores in the dark. It’s time to order seeds for next year, and in a few weeks it will be time to start transplants. Spring is just around the corner! If you haven’t seen them yet, be sure and drive by the Carpinito fields on West Valley Highway. There are Trumpeter Swans. Quite a few big, white goose-looking birds and a few greyish juveniles. There have also been some in his field at 277th St. and Central Ave. It pains me to think of all the chemicals they’re ingesting when they clean up the old corn and pumpkin patches, but hopefully it’s not doing them too much harm as they won’t be here very long before they move on.

The day after the solstice, we can look forward to more eggs, more greens, and it means that soon we won’t have to do our chores in the dark. It’s time to order seeds for next year, and in a few weeks it will be time to start transplants.

Spring is just around the corner!

Winter Week 5—Freezing and Flooding

Tender little savoy cabbages are sweet and delicious shredded and eaten raw, or steamed or lightly sautéed in butter. We'll plant a few weeks earlier next year so they get bigger. Oops.

Tender little savoy cabbages are sweet and delicious shredded and eaten raw, or steamed or lightly sautéed in butter. We’ll plant a few weeks earlier next year so they get bigger. Oops.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• “Peter Wilcox” Potatoes
• Candy Carrots
• Beets
• “Acorn” Winter Squash
• “Treviso” Radicchio
• Baby Turnips with Greens (use raw, or steam or sauté lightly, and use the greens in salad)
• Baby Bok Choy

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Hard to say, it will depend on the weather.

I’m starting this post on Saturday night, as we worry ourselves about what the weather will bring this week. The forecast is for snow, lots of rain, and freezing temperatures. At this point, it’s supposed to drop into the 20’s and not come back above freezing until next weekend. Our farmer friends up north in the Snoqualmie valley are also preparing for flooding—a surprise to everyone. Luckily we don’t have to fret about that, as long as the dam holds. Ever since the broken dam scare a few years back, I always hesitate to make that statement. I don’t want to jinx ourselves.

Brrr. Mud puddles can be pretty.

Brrr. Mud puddles can be pretty.

Most of our winter crops can handle freezing into the 20’s just fine. All the root crops are designed just for that. They store carbohydrates (sugars) in their roots so that when spring’s warmth returns, they are ready to burst into bloom and make seed. Their survival mechanism means deliciousness to animals that eat them. Most of our green can take freezing as well, and will also get sweeter over time. The only year we lost our hardy winter greens was a year in which the temperatures dropped into the teens for nearly two weeks, with no precipitation. Everything freeze-dried and there was nothing we could do.

Cosmo helped me dig up the rest of the potatoes before the deep freeze arrives. Potatoes won't keep in the ground if it's below 26 or 27 degrees. We put around 1800 pounds in the cooler this weekend. He's a hard-working, cheerful helper.

Cosmo helped me dig up the rest of the potatoes before the deep freeze arrives. Potatoes won’t keep in the ground if it’s below 26 or 27 degrees. We put around 1800 pounds in the cooler this weekend. He’s a hard-working, cheerful helper.

Potatoes, however, are tubers, and do not handle freezing well. Potato plants generally make a nest of potatoes up to 12″ deep, with some at all depths, including just under the surface of the soil. If the temperature is below 30° for more than a day or so, the tubers will freeze, and once they thaw, they will disintegrate. Thus, if we know that the weather is going to be exceptionally cold, we have to dig them up and store them in the walk-in cooler. Most years we can get away with storing them where they grew, because most years it doesn’t get very cold until February. But apparently, not this week. Now it’s Monday, and we have dug almost a ton of potatoes. Enough to get us through our winter CSA season. There are more left in the ground, but we have what we were able to recover, and it should be enough. Cosmo was a huge help with this job.

My guess is that if we get rain now, or even snow, and then it freezes hard, everything will be fine. In fact, if it is going to freeze, I would prefer that it snow first. The snow insulates the plants and keeps them moist. Then it’s just a waiting game, because we can’t harvest when things are frozen, even if they may be just fine once they thaw. They need to recover attached to their bodies.

Last check-up of the bee hives before real winter. The goal is to squeeze them into the smallest space possible so they can keep themselves warm, while leaving them plenty of reserves to take care of brood in the early spring. Looks like we have three strong colonies now, but anything can happen through the long winter.

Last check-up of the bee hives before real winter. The goal is to squeeze them into the smallest space possible so they can keep themselves warm, while leaving them plenty of reserves to take care of brood in the early spring. Looks like we have three strong colonies now, but anything can happen through the long winter.

This past weekend, we spent a fair amount of time strategizing. We went to markets last weekend because, in all likelihood, we will not be able to harvest anything after Monday. We are harvesting all of the produce we will need to complete the CSA for this week, through the weekend. That means the baby bok choi, and the last of the Japanese turnips and Treviso radicchio. These things won’t recover after heavy freezing.

We’ve filled the chicken and cow pantry, so we don’t have to venture out if it does snow. And once all of the picking is taken care of, we will know that we have done all we can to prepare, and I will be spending the week knitting and holidaying with the kids.

Winter Week 3 and 4—Things to Be Thankful For

First hard frost of the season. This makes me really excited, because at long last the kale that people have thought tasted so good is now going to taste amazing! Frost converts the starches in the leaves to sugars—nature's antifreeze.

First hard frost of the season. This makes me really excited, because at long last the kale that people have thought tasted so good is now going to taste amazing! Frost converts the starches in the leaves to sugars—nature’s antifreeze.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• “Keuka Gold” Potatoes
• Candy Carrots
• Variety Beets
• “Winter Luxury” Pie Pumpkin
• “Italian Late” Garlic
• Celery
• Fresh Thyme
• Salad of Baby Lettuces

NEXT WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• “Keuka Gold” Potatoes
• Candy Carrots
• Parsnips
• Mixed Squashes or Fennel
• Green Onions
• Savoy Cabbage
• Fresh Parsley
• “D’Anjou” Pears from Cliffside Orchards

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Baby Bok Choy, Kale, Shallots

Celery, like Radicchio, is actually somewhat frost-tolerant. It looks sad for a bit, because the cold sucks water out of the stems, but soon they will return to normal. They just can't handle prolonged freezing.

Celery, like Radicchio, is actually somewhat frost-tolerant. It looks sad for a bit, because the cold sucks water out of the stems, but soon they will return to normal. They just can’t handle prolonged freezing.

This is a confusing week for CSA subscribers. Because Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, which is the first picking day for our weekend markets and weekend CSA pickup. We don’t want to harvest on Thanksgiving, and we don’t want Teo to do that either. Thanksgiving is a day to be with friends and family, not slogging through cold mud, bent-over picking vegetables.

Therefore, we pick two weeks worth of produce for the weekend before. Weekend subscribers will pick up two weeks worth this weekend, and there will be NO PICKUP after Thanksgiving, November 29 and 30. Tuesday and Wednesday subscribers will get the standard allotment both weeks. If that does not make sense, please let me know right away.

That said, we hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend, full of friends and family. We have much to be thankful for, especially a community of 150-ish families who support our farming efforts and allow us the privilege of feeding them. Nothing brings us all together like production and consumption of healthful food.

Matilda is 3 months old, and she is only just starting to eat plants. Here she nestles in the hay while her mom, Beauty eats breakfast.

Matilda is 3 months old, and she is only just starting to eat plants. Here she nestles in the hay while her mom, Beauty eats breakfast.

In our new world of homeschool (no pun intended), the kids and I have been studying Colonial times, in an effort to better grasp a sense of the history of Thanksgiving and our past. I think that it really helps to understand “thankfulness”, especially children, to learn about just how difficult it was to start a new life in a new world. Landing on a foreign place at the most difficult time of year (November) after being on a tiny boat with 100 other people for a miserable journey lasting many months, and then needing to live on that boat through the winter until housing could be built and land cultivated in the spring. Meagre food stores and no fresh food available, damp and cold surroundings, and new germs making everyone sick, and then losing half of your population in the process. There really is no other word to describe it except MISERY.

And yet, those people had to persevere. They had to forge the new landscape, start from scratch, and not only survive, but get ahead so they would have food for the NEXT winter as well. Surviving in the face of a culture who found them foreign, stupid, helpless, and not wanted, was truly something to be thankful for.

Personally, we have farmed through loss of family, through illness, and through bad weather. But we are living in modern times and we at least have the luxury of shelter, heat, and grocery stores, and backup jobs in case it’s a bad year. I can’t imagine persevering with a lack of medicine when your children are sick and dying. Or rats eating all of your stored grain in the middle of winter and facing three more months of winter without any food. How did people find the strength to keep going? What about the next wave of people, who had been fed lies about how successful those first colonies were, only to arrive at the doorstep of desolation? I can’t imagine.

We are extremely lucky.

And that is something to teach our children, and to remember every day.

Winter Week 2—Treviso and Tender Turnips

Japanese Turnips, also called "Tokyo Market" or "Hakurei", are tender, sweet, and delicious. They're even better when the weather turns chilly!

Japanese Turnips, also called “Tokyo Market” or “Hakurei”, are tender, sweet, and delicious. They’re even better when the weather turns chilly!

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• “Purple Viking” Potatoes
• Candy Carrots
• Red Beets
• “Delicata” Winter Squash
“Treviso” Radicchio
• Baby Turnips with Greens (use raw, or steam or sauté lightly, and use the greens in salad)
• Arugula

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Pie Pumpkins, Baby Bok Choy, Celery, Parsnips

I think it’s very difficult to be happy about everything in a growing season. There are always mistakes made, and variables that cause mishaps. But this year I am very happy about a few things:

Our only carrot pest, the Carrot Rust Fly, lays eggs in the soil when the carrot plants are young, and the larvae dig into the ground and tunnel into the sweet, tasty carrots. This is what they look like. It's a shame to throw away all the carrots with tunnels, so we just cut around them. They don't affect the carrots' flavor, but they are unsightly. We make our bunches just a bit bigger to make up for the damage.

Our only carrot pest, the Carrot Rust Fly, lays eggs in the soil when the carrot plants are young, and the larvae dig into the ground and tunnel into the sweet, tasty carrots. This is what they look like. It’s a shame to throw away all the carrots with tunnels, so we just cut around them. They don’t affect the carrots’ flavor, but they are unsightly. We make our bunches just a bit bigger to make up for the damage.

1. We have a beautiful, big patch of carrots. In fact, we have so many carrots that we believe we can include them in the CSA shares every week this winter! We know how good they are, and how much everyone loves them. Therefore, we hope all of YOU will be happy as well!

2. We finally timed our radicchio planting so that we have beautiful firm heads in time for winter. It’s been trial and error for several years, but we’ve done it this time. Check out the chicory page for information on how to use this bitter green.

"Purple Viking" are a delicious heirloom potato. The skin is swirled in purple and pink, and the flesh is snow white. I find they're great for anything except mashing, and I love turning them into a bubbly gratin.

“Purple Viking” are a delicious heirloom potato. The skin is swirled in purple and pink, and the flesh is snow white. I find they’re great for anything except mashing, and I love turning them into a bubbly gratin.

3. “Purple Vikings”. My favorite potato, not only for its beauty, but for it’s flavor.

Tasty, golden "Delicata" Squash, also known as "Sweet Potato" or "Peanut" Squash. Mmmm.

Tasty, golden “Delicata” Squash, also known as “Sweet Potato” or “Peanut” Squash. Mmmm.

We have abundant squashes, beets (more recipes coming all the time!), and the tender greens are just about ready to harvest.

Thanksgiving week is coming, and there is always confusion about the “double pick-up option”. Here’s how it works: If you have weekday pickup (Tuesday or Wednesday) you will pick up each week, just as usual. If you pick up on Saturday or Sunday, at the farm or at a market, you will only pick up the weekend before Thanksgiving.

This accommodates people who either aren’t cooking because they’re out of town, as well as people who are cooking for a crowd. It also allows for all of US to enjoy our holiday without having to be out in the field harvesting on Thursday for the weekend.

If you want to switch your pick up day, one way or another, PLEASE let us know ahead of time so we have the right amount of everything on each day.

Oh, one more:

4. I’m really happy we decided to start homeschooling both kids this year. It’s an adventure I look forward to writing about more in the coming weeks.

Winter Week 1—Season of Roots and Leaves

Three of the big boys, being machos.

Three of the big boys, being machos.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• “Sangre” Potatoes
• Candy Carrots
“Three-Root Grex” Beets
“Buttercup” Winter Squash
Kohlrabi
Collard Greens
• Italian Parsley

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Arugula, Pie Pumpkins, Baby Turnips

Kohlrabi are the alien spaceships of the vegetable world.

Kohlrabi are the alien spaceships of the vegetable world.

Summer is clearly past. We’ve had our first, albeit very late, frost. Day after day of thick fog that burns off just in time for darkness to fall. And lots of roots and leaves to eat. It’s been a mild fall so far, and I was surprised to see the bees busy and about as October came to an end—not even 50° outside and they are still hard at work.

These bees are amazing. Late October, and the girls are all out bringing in groceries from somewhere. Is anything even blooming?

These bees are amazing. Late October, and the girls are all out bringing in groceries from somewhere. Is anything even blooming?

Welcome to the first harvest of our Winter season. Really, we should call it the Fall season, and we’re working on that for next year. But this year we’re still calling it winter. Things are a bit hearty this week, but there are tender greens and baby turnips on the quickening horizon.

You should be able to find clues to all the vegetables you don’t usually eat by following the links in the menu list above. Kohlrabi is a strange one for most people, but beets, collard greens, and squash are easy enough to use with a little hint or two. If you have any suggestions please post them in the comments or email me and I’ll include them on their respective pages. “Buttercup” squash is one of my favorites—they’re terrific for soups, pies, pancakes, and they make a tasty purée. Sweet, but not sugary sweet, and richly-flavored and dense. They can also be peeled with a vegetable peeler and cut into cubes, then roasted with garlic and olive oil.

I apologize for the late notice regarding Wednesday farm pickup. We just realized this weekend that we have an very large delivery roster. It became clear that we couldn’t possibly do all the harvest for the delivery and farm pick up in one day, especially if we have a frosty or very rainy Monday.

Most of the vegetables are outside, where they are the most delicious, and frost makes them even more so. However, if it’s frozen, we can’t pick anything until everything thaws out. Heavy rainfall makes for a lot of mud, which makes picking very slow, which takes more time. We don’t want to be perpetually behind our pickup and delivery deadlines, so we split it into two days. Farm pickup is on Wednesday for the winter, and delivery on Tuesday.

Countdown to Thanksgiving.

Countdown to Thanksgiving.

Summer Week 19—Voting, and a Poll

Lea is so happy about her pumpkin!

Bella is so happy about her pumpkin!

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU: • “Red Giant” or “Green Wave” Mustard Greens • Pea Shoots • Arugula • “Sangre” Potatoes • Carrots •  Beets • “Ambercup” Squash

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Parsley, Pac Choi, Mizuna

This is the last week that the U-pick pumpkin patch will be open for our CSA families. Please come on our usual pickup times on Tuesday afternoon and Saturday afternoon. If you need to make arrangements, please let us know ahead of time. Limit of 2 pumpkins per family, or 1 per child.

Our winter squash patch next door was hit by frost, but it didn't make it to our side of the fence.

Our winter squash patch next door was hit by frost, but it didn’t make it to our side of the fence.

It seems strange to be titling this post “Summer”, when clearly it is no longer summer. fall is in full swing, and the weather has been good for our winter crops. Not much sun, but mild temperatures, no rain, and still no frost!

In my old age, I have become passionate about certain political issues. This year I feel very strongly about I-522, Washington’s GMO food labeling initiative. It is not perfect, but it is a good start on mandatory labeling, and hopefully will create more awareness off the prevalence of GMO ingredients in our food system. at this time, if you eat anything containing soy, corn, sugar, or canola, and you didn’t buy organic or specifically labeled GMO-free, you can assume that contains genetically modified versions of those crops. There are also GMO rice, wheat, zucchini, bananas, papaya, and many more, but how are we know if we are eating them? I encourage you to vote yes on 522. You have noticed by now that Winter, or Hard Squashes are now in season. This week’s selection is “Ambercup”. It is a dense, rich, sweet squash that is great for baking, roasting, soup, or making into pie, muffins, etc.

Come and get your pumpkins! One of the perks included in our CSA program.

Come and get your pumpkins! One of the perks included in our CSA program.

This is the last week to pick up pumpkins in the pumpkin patch. After all, Halloween is next week. Al so, next week marks the end of our “summer” season. I will be sending out confirmation emails to everyone who is signed up for Winter already, but if you want to join us and haven’t yet signed up let us know ASAP.

Della is starting a CSA of her baked goods. She does a delicious job, and if you act now, she'll add on a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving!

Della is starting a CSA of her baked goods. She does a delicious job, and if you act now, she’ll add on a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving!

Della is working on a baking venture, in the spirit of a CSA model. She’s an excellent baker, and if you join her as a flagship member, she will add on a delicious pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, made from our own Winter Luxury Pie pumpkins!

A delicious way to enjoy our abundance of roots this year! Roasted!

A delicious way to enjoy our abundance of roots this year! Roasted!

It’s hard to believe, but our Winter Season starts in just 2 weeks! I’ve got the application form updated, and you can find it here: Winter CSA 2013