Week eight
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August is here, and so is fall planting

We've been busy getting ready for the fall!

We've been direct seeding arugula, radish, turnips, basil, lettuce, spinach, beans, carrots, and beets in preparation for the shorter day lengths and cooler weather. With this little dry spell, we've been having to irrigate them to get the seeds to germinate. 
These are pictures of winter squash, specifically acorn and butternut varieties. They were planted way at the beginning of the season, and in Minnesota, it takes all season for them to ripen up. They still have a ways to go, but they're starting to look like they're supposed to!
I admit that I am quite picky and filter the photos I include in the newsletter. I wait to weed a field to take a picture before I show you, I take photos of only the prettiest produce, and share stories of success. But not every crop can win! By diversifying the crops we grow, we make sure we have enough successes to pull of an entire season with abundant produce. 

Amidst plenty of successes, one crop that isn't doing so hot is the tomato crop. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of tomatoes this year, but not as much as we had anticipated. Our tomatoes are coming in strong now, but the plants have stopped producing flowers and look as they do at the end of September. And it's the beginning of August. No flowers means no fruit! This could be for a number of reasons. Tomatoes don't like to have moisture on their leaves (usually we irrigate them by slowly dripping water right on top of the soil so it doesn't splash up on the bottom leaves), and we have had a very moist spring. Tomatoes also love heat, and we've had one of the cooler (but favorable work weather!) summers in recent history. Tomatoes also have very specific and demanding nutrient needs, and balancing the soil to suit their tastes sometimes feels like a guessing game. Despite giving the most TLC to this one specific crop, they're whimping out early on us. So enjoy the tomatoes while you can! We have a whole host of wonderful varieties: Brandywine, valencia, roma, Big Beefsteak, Purple Krim, PIneapple, and more!
Animal update!
The picture on the left is of a wild turkey. I saw her in a staring match with our turkeys. She did not move as I approached her and seemed very interested in our domesticated breeds. Our turkeys, much younger than this one, fluffed out their arms and feathers, trying to show off I imagine. Unfortunately, a few days ago we found a large owl in our turkey coop and a number of fatalities. So it goes.

The pigs and chickens both got new pasture. The pigs are especially growing fast! It brings me so much joy to see the animals so happy. They're getting plenty of vegetable leftovers at this point. That, with plenty of sunshine, green forage, mud, and grubs, makes for a very happy animal!

Our chickens are back to laying more eggs, but still not quite enough after the owl/skunk/weasel trifecta. I've chosen to coordinate with my wonderful neighbor, Kathy Zeman, to fulfill our egg shares. She and I raise our chickens very similarly, with organic feed, fresh pasture, sun, fresh air, and plenty of insects. She lives just four miles from our farm, and I am sure you will be equally satisfied with her delicious eggs should you get a dozen of hers (if you have an egg share). Please contact me if you missed an egg share these last two weeks and I'd be happy to bring you another dozen, or refund you.
I've been waiting for the tomatoes to come so I could make this favorite dish of mine. It seems so simple, but it's so unique in flavor, a must try for sure. The Aisla Craig onions make this dish a winner, they're a sweeter onion that gives the dish a bold and sweet flavor

Zucchini and tomato cassarole:

3-5 zucchini or summer squash, sliced in thin coins
3-5 tomatoes, sliced in thin coins
3 cups cheddar cheese (or mozerella, colby, or whatever your heart desires)
1 large onions, cut in rings

Prepare all these goodies and layer them like a lasangna.

Then pour over a mixture of:
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup flour (gluten free flour can be substituted)
1 tsp cayanne pepper
1/2 tsp ground mustard
Salt and pepper

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until the egg mixture is done. Let it sit for 10 minutes for it to 'gel' together. Sprinkle with a fresh herb, like parsley, basil, or thyme!
Please do me a huge favor and make this! I promise you will never look at cabbage the same way again. You could practically eat this for dessert it is that good. The secret is in the variety of cabbage. The cabbage you'll find in your box this week is called Tendersweet, because it is so tender, and sweet (of course!).

Take your cabbage head and slice it into wedges. Make sure to keep the core attached so it the wedge stays together. Melt half a stick of butter in the bottom of  a pan and place the wedges down in the liquid butter. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and set the stove top on medium for 20 minutes. After this magical time, the butter will have carmelized the bottom (this photo shows the wedge flipped up so you can see the carmelization) and the liquid from the butter and cabbage will have steamed the rest. Oh so good!
Likely in your box this week:

Dragon Tongue String Beans
Tendersweet Cabbage-my favorite! Not your typical storage cabbage
Aisla Craig Sweet Onion-this fresh onion will blow your socks off!
Cooking Celery
Kale or Swiss Chard
Summer squash
Red Potatoes-we couldn't help but harvest them young and tender for you
Broccoli or eggplant or green pepper


Mark your calendars for the CSA Member Potluck August 21!

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