Week Five CSA
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A view from the hill

Watching a storm come, looking down on the veggies

Typing 'week five' makes me wonder where the time has gone! Even with these long summer days, there is never enough daylight to get done what we'd like to. Don't get me wrong, things are growing just swell on the farm, things are looking better that I would have imagined. But I wish we had just a few more hours before the sun set.

The picture above is one we took after moving the pigs one evening. I don't frequently walk up this hill for this view, even though it is one of my favorite views of the farm. This year my neighbors, dairy farmers Pam and Dean, and growing perennial grasses on it, with oats as a nurse crop. Not growing up on a farm myself (if you would have asked me if I'd like to work on a farm as a kid, I'd ask you if you were out of your mind!), it's fun to interact with the older generation farmers whose families have been farming for generations. I'm thankful to have such great neighbors.

In this newsletter, I wanted to include a few more pictures with a bit less text, let me know how you like the format!

The pigs got some fresh pasture this week. This picture is from right before we moved them. Notice the rainbow in the background! The pigs are now feasting on fresh clover, sorghum, corn, oats, peas, and rye grass. They are so so so happy!
Our peppers in their living mulch of clover are doing great. This is the first year we've tried the living mulch, and I am impressed by how it locks in the soil moisture, keeps mud from splashing up on the fruit during rainstorms, chokes out the weeds, and prevents erosion. Down beneath the soil I know that its' roots are acting as a host to millions of bacteria and fungi that are symbiotically synthesizing all the nutrients our peppers need! This picture makes me smile.
This week we've really been focusing on compost tea. What this involves is getting good quality compost (I've been working with the Living Soil Lab in Farefield, Iowa), and throwing it in a big vat of water. The tub of water is hooked up to a powerful pump which pumps air through the vat, making the 300 gallons look like a rolling boil. Just like you'd make tea at home, we put our compost in a large tea bag and suspend in the water. The aggressive bubbling action physically knocks the microbes (bacteria, fungi, nematodes, ciliates, etc) off the surface of the compost and suspends them in water. We feed them food and water, we give the microbes food (fish hydroloslate and steel cut oats) and supply plenty of oxygen to keep it an aerobic environment. We let this simmer for 24 hours and then check it out! We pull off a sample and then bring it back to the house to look at it under the microscope. We're still learning what to look for, but we've been attending workshops and doing a lot of research. We've also been working with specialists in Colorado, Iowa, and Oregon that are kind enough to identify microbes we can't if we send them a picture of it. This brew seemed to be teeming with bacteria and fungi, and a weird jester hat looking microbe that is soon to be identified. Passing the text, we moved on to spraying it on the fields. We did this a few ways-with a huge sprayer, and injected into our drip tape irrigation system.

Why do this? Seems like a lot of work…We do this to innoculate our soil. For the same reasons we eat fermented foods and probiotics, like sauerkraut, yogurt, keffir, kimchi, etc, we want to innoculate our guts and soil with the good guys. I don't want to bore you with too many details, but as you can tell, I'm excited about this and love to talk about it! Don't hesitate to ask questions if you have any.
The ladybugs seem to love the thistle! This is good. Bok choi in all it's glory!

Other happenings on the farm include preparring the land for fall transplants, cultivating, cultivating, and more cultivating (same as weeding), moving the pigs, visiting farms, picking potato beetles, fixing tractors, harvesting, transplanting broccoli, caggabe, and cauliflower, and enjoying life on the farm
In your box this week you will find:
  • Bok choi
  • Fennel
  • Kohlrabi-try grating it and throwing it into a slaw of some sort!
  • Beans for some
  • Nappa cabbage (make some kimchi!)
  • Salad of many sorts, I'd love your feedback!
    • I have lettuce head (green frilly leaf, tropicana variety), a salad mix (five varieties of young, tender leaf, green and red) and salanova mix (a newly bred mix where you grow it like a head, but after harvest you cut out the core and each leaf is bred to be bite size, like a salad mix. The advantage is you have a developed, mature taste because the head has been growing for 50 days as opposed to 20-30 days)
  • Summer squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Kale, chard, or collards-new varieties came into season this week!
  • Herb bundle-sage, parseley, cilantro, basil, or dill
  • Beets for some

Upcoming-eggplants are just on the verge. They'll be huge by next week! Broccolis are starting to make heads, but may be another two weeks.
A plea to help us eat our peas!

You won't find peas in your CSA box this week, but that doesn't mean there aren't peas out there. There are plenty, but now that the beans are in, we've shifted our harvest focus. It takes our crew a lot of time to pick through them, especially because there are also a lot of over ripe ones in the field. But there are tons of good ones as well. I'd love if you'd like to come harvest all the peas you want! Please give me a call before you come. Unfortunately, with the full work days, we'll only be able to show you where the pea field is and set you loose on your own to harvest to your hearts content. 

Next week we are going to turn the pigs on the peas, so whatever isn't harvested will turn into pork.
Recipe of the week:

I made this zucchini chocolate cake with walnut crumble last night while watching Anne of Green Gables and the world was good. As you can see from the picture, most of it is already gone. I hope you enjoy this recipe.

1/3 cup butter
1/3 oil (yes, two fats, that's why it's good)
1 3/4 sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk, or milk
2 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I use a gluten free flour mix and it turns out swell, my favorite is Tom Sawyer)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinammon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup shredded zucchini

Topping: 1/4 cup chocolate chips, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream fats, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk. Blend in shredded zucchini. Pour into 9/13 pan. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over batter before baking. Bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

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