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2013 Middle Way Farm CSA - Week 7
Middle Way Farm
farm in the evening

Volunteers at the Farm

I have the great fortune of having a lot of people helping me on the farm. In addition to the artists in residence and the two Grinnell College summer local food apprentices Elli and Eva, family and friends have been generous with their time helping plant, weed and mulch this season. This photo was taken last Tuesday by my friend Audrey Todd while she helped mulch potatoes with my partner Emily. It was a wonderful time of night to be working and I love the angle and light in this photograph, looking over the potatoes towards the greenhouse and barns. 
Dear CSA shareholders,

After the rain we got in April, May, and June, it was easy to dismiss the predictions that this was going to be another dry year. In the back of my mind, though, I was thinking that the season could still turn dry. I remember that 2011 had a monsoon June followed by a very dry and hot July and August. Its to early to tell if that will be the case this year, but the dry and hot weather lately has certainly made me think that its possible. The abundant moisture early this season resulting in some very nice crops and now that its has turned dry I'm seeing growth slow down and the spring crops beginning to suffer from the heat. I had hoped to have my second planting of broccoli ready this week but its just about to head out and won't be ready by Friday. I hope it will be ready for next week. The cauliflower didn't survive the heavy rains as well as the broccoli, so it looks like I will only have a few heads. The peas, which suffered from the herbicide drift and now are languishing in the heat and dry, also look like they will produce only a small amount of peas before petering out. In a "normal" year, these peas would have been a second planting, but because I couldn't get them planted until the end of April, they became my only planting. With the onset of summer heat, the garden is making a transition from spring to summer crops. I harvested my first two zucchinis tonight and will have a few available this week, more in future weeks. Cucumbers are flowering and will be available shortly. Peppers and tomatoes also have fruit set and could be available in as soon as two weeks. Beets, basil, carrots, and parsley have all reached harvestable size and are making their first appearance. 

I am turning my attention now to fall plantings and to garlic harvest. All the soft-neck garlic will be harvested this week and that's what you will receive in the share this week. It will be fresh, uncured garlic, so its skin will be moist and easy to peel. Because it is uncured (dried), it is not for long-term storage. I grow two types of garlic. Softneck garlic matures slightly earlier than hardneck (1-2 weeks) and as its name indicates, the stem of the plant is soft and pliable (thus it can used to make braided garlic), whereas hardneck or stiffneck garlic has a woody, inflexible stem. Softneck garlic has more, smaller cloves than hardneck garlic and has more skins around the cloves, which makes softneck garlic better for long term storage. For this reason, and because softneck garlic is more productive per acre (produces more pounds of garlic than hardneck), it is usually the only variety sold in grocery stores. Hardneck garlic can generally only be purchased from local growers or grown in your own garden. Hardneck garlic produces the scapes that you have been receiving in your share, while softneck garlic does not flower. Instead, the flowers remain inside the garlic clove (forming a tight cluster of tiny cloves in the middle of the bulb) or sometimes they go partway up the garlic stem and form a gall-like bulge in the stem. Hardenck is known as the more "primitive" strain of garlic, while softneck is apparently a more "refined" or cultivated strain (hence flowering being suppressed). For the next few weeks you'll be receiving uncured garlic while the harvested garlic hung to dry in the barn. By early August I will have cured garlic bulbs, which will be available as long as I have garlic to sell! 

Black raspberries are probably my favorite wild fruit. They are abundant, reliable, fairly easy to pick in quantity (if you can avoid the brambles), and have a great flavor. The first flush of berries has just started and I anticipate being able to offer them again next week. Berry Patch Farm in Nevada now has blueberries available and will have them for several weeks. I will try to offer them several times during the month or so they are available. Although Berry Patch is not organic, they do use integrated pest management, which means they only spray insecticide when crop damage has reached a certain threshold (versus spraying on a schedule to kill any pests). Their blueberries are "virtually" organic because they only pest they deal with are Japanese beetles, which they control with traps rather than chemicals. I have been picking their blueberries for several years and they are wonderful. Last year was a bust because of the drought and I'm looking forward to picking a lot of blueberries this year. 
 

Announcements 

Leaves: I want your leaves! This fall when the leaves drop, I wil pick up for free any leaves in your yard that have been bagged for transport or are piled by the curb. I will also rake and collect leaves, but will charge. Tell your friends and neighbors! My only requirements are that as precautions 1) your lawn is not chemically treated and 2) you do not have black walnut trees (since the leaves contain plant inhibiting compounds). The leaves will be used on the farm for composting and mulch to increase the organic matter of the soil. 

Pint containers: I will gladly take back the pint containers that berries come in. If they are in bad condition, just tear them up and throw them in your compost or give them to me and I'll compost them.  
 
Order
For delivery Friday, July 12. Please e-mail middlewayfarmer@gmail.com with your order (for items from all categories) by 11 pm on Tuesday night, July 9. If you would like 1 unit of each produce item listed under "Standard" below, simply put "standard share" in the subject line. If you are getting the standard share, extra items will need to be ordered separately.

Produce

Standard:
  • Basil - 2 oz. bag ($2.00) - this will be a pint ziplock bag loosely filled with basil leaves and tips
  • Black raspberries (wild foraged) - 1 pint ($4.00) 
  • Blueberries (locally sourced from Berry Patch Farm in Nevada) - up to 2 pints (price TBD)
  • Carrots - 1 bunch ($2.50) 
  • Beets - 1 bunch ($2.50) 
  • Fresh Garlic -  up to 2 bulbs ($1.00 each)
  • Green onions - up to 3 bunches ($2.00 each)
  • Kale - as many bunches as you want ($2.00 each) - choose from green curly leaf, red curly leaf, or green flat leaf (lacinato heirloom variety)
  • Kohlrabi (w/ greens) - up to 3 bulbs ($1/bulb) - the bulbs will be slightly smaller this week and will include greens 
  • New potatoes - 1 pound ($2.50)
  • Parsley - 1 bunch ($2.00)  
  • Salad mix - 1 6 oz. bag ($3.00) 
Extra
  • Arugula - 1 six oz. bag ($3.00)
  • Lamb's quarter - 1 six oz. bag ($3.50) 
  • Purslane  - 1 six oz. bag ($3.00) 
  • Swiss chard - 1 bunch ($2.00) 
  • Zucchini - a few ($1 each) - depending on availability of harvest
Storage Tips: For all of this week's produce, store in the crisper drawer of your fridge in separate, sealed plastic bags to keep them from dehydrating. Fresh garlic may be stored on the counter for a week or so. Purslane and black raspberries should be used within a few days, they do not store well! 

Baked Goods (Sarah's Simples)
  • Please see original e-mail with the Sarah Simples baked goods list attached. Let me know if I need to resend it to you.

Until next week!

Your farmer,

Jordan Scheibel
middlewayfarmer@gmail.com
(641) 821 0753
pole bean trellis

Beets

Beets are one of those vegetables that I think has developed an unfair reputation, largely because of how it was traditionally prepared (pickled and boiled). Roasted beets are wonderful - it brings out their sweetness and they don't turn to mush. Here's a quick guide to roasting beets. Another one of my favorite things to do with beets is to shred them and saute them with butter in a saucepan. Its an easy, quick way to prepare them and the result is delicious. Beet greens, including their stems, are quite edible (they are very much like swiss chard, which is a close cousin of beets). Try roasting the roots and serving them on a bed of steamed or sauted greens. 
young pepper

Young pepper

The peppers are just beginning to set fruit and have numerous blossoms on them. The heat is detrimental to blossoms setting fruit, so I'm looking forward to cooler temperatures later this week (and possibly some rain). 
black raspberry

Black raspberries 

Black raspberries grow and spread by arching wooden stems called ‘canes’. First year canes emerge from the perennial roots in the spring, growing straight and un-branched without producing flowers or fruits. The canes go dormant during the winter, flowering in the mid to late spring the following year, bearing fruit in the early summer and then dying at the end of their second year. The tips of the canes take root where they reach the ground, allowing the plant to spread very effectively. The canes do not have bark like trees or shrubs. Instead the are covered with many curved thorns and a living protective bloom that gives them a greenish-blue color.
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