Week Five Newsletter
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Cover Crops
We build our soil fertility with cover crops.

What does that mean? What does it look like? Basically, instead of having an open field, we plant a crop to cover and protect our soil while it grows. The type of crop depends on our objectives. If we want to smother weeds, we plant sorghum. If we want to increase microbial life immediately, we plant buckwheat. If we want to add nitrogen to the soil, we plant vetch, or clover. A lot of times we plant a combination of these. If we want to encourage beneficial insects, or feed our bees, we plant a flowering crop. There is a time and place for every different cover crop.

The main advantage of the cover crop is to keep a living root in the soil at all times. This is because plants have a symbiotic relationship with soil microorganisms. Whenever a plant photosynthesizes, it pumps out sugars (called exudates) through pores in the roots. This directly feeds the soil microorganisms, mainly bacteria and fungi. 

Why do we want to feed bacteria and fungi? Because these little boogers go out into the world (aka the soil) and scavenge nutrients that the plant needs. A soil can be full of nitrogen, but unless it is in a form that is available to be absorbed or taken by the plant, it's worthless. Bacteria and fungi do just this: they modify the nutrient so it can be taken up. 

When we have microbial rich soil, we have healthy plants. A vegetable is only as healthy as the soil in which it grows, just as a human is only as healthy as the food in which it eats.

This photograph is of hollyhocks blooming outside of Werners Seeds, a small, local, independently owned and third generation seed company. We buy all our cover crop seeds from here. I always enjoy having an excuse to visit Gene and Paul Werner! Stepping into their store in their barn is like taking a step back in time. No computer, no website, no fancy gizmos or gadgets. Only two smart men who know what seed to plant when, who had success with it, and who didn't.

We went to the field today to pick baby potatoes. I look forward to these every year, as baby potatoes are merely potatoes that are harvested early when the skin is thin and tender. We were surprised to see how big the potatoes are! They are not new potatoes, they are POTATOES!
In your share this week you may find: Celery, kale, head lettuce, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, herb, beets, summer squash. I hope you enjoy the bounty!
Zucchini Spice Muffins

These are hands down THE BEST zucchini muffins.  They are moist, tender & tasty.  They are vegan, but please try them anyway and you will NEVER make another zucchini bread or muffin recipe.

2 cups whole wheat flour               1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 cups all purpose flour                  3/4 cup applesauce
2 cups sweet sourgum flour           3 tbsp ground flax seed
4 tsp ground ginger                        1 cup water, +1 tbsp
4 tsp ground cinnamon                   2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp freshly ground nutmeg         2 cups turbinado sugar
2 tsp ground all spice                      2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking soda                            4 c grated zucchini
2 tsp baking powder

TIP: Turbinado is a course sugar that hasn't been completely refined.  Use 1 cup sugar if you are going to use refined white sugar, the muffins will be too sweet if you use 2 cups.

1. Preheat oven to 325˙F. Line muffin pan with cupcake papers.
2. I
n a medium bowl whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, salt & nuts if using.
Combine applesauce, flax seed, sugar, water, vanilla, baking soda & baking powder mix well using a hand or stand mixer.
4. Add the zucchini. Slowly add the flour mixture to the applesauce mixture.  Add water if needed to get a batter that is slightly thicker than cake batter.
5. Put ¼ cup into each muffin paper. Bake about 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Recipe of the week #2:
Tangy Shredded Beet Salad
3 cups shredded cooked beets
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh lemon zest
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. honey or bee free honey for vegans
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 tsp salt
Wash and cook beets either by roasting at 350 degrees or boiling until fork tender.  Shred beets when cool.
Combine lemon juice, zest, vinegar, honey & salt, bring to a simmer, then pour over beets and chill.
Serve cold on a bed of fresh lettuce or spring greens.  Top with very thinly sliced onions & crumbled feta cheese.
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