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Middle Way Farm CSA - Week 2
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In The Thick of It 

It was a very busy week at the farm. First week of CSA, two farmers market, planting warm season transplants, weeding, and mulching. This time of year everything is happening at once - harvest, planting, and weeding. And mowing. The vegetables are also seeming to come in all at once too. I made two plantings of spinach almost a month apart, but because of the warm temperatures and good moisture, the second planting matured faster than the first, so both plantings are ready at the same time. That means lots and lots of spinach, more than I can even feasibly harvest, wash and pack. So I'm offering a special opportunity to CSA shareholders only - pick your own spinach. I'll give you a large plastic bag, a cutting tool, and a quick tutorial, and you can harvest as much spinach from the first planting as you want for freezing. Price per pound of spinach will be $2.50. This spinach will be on the older side, with larger leaves and long stems, so it will be best for cooking and freezing rather than salads. This weekend we made an excellent spinach dip as well as spinach soup and spinach quiche. I'm offering baby spinach from 2nd planting as part of the CSA which will be better for fresh eating. 

There will be two opportunities for pick your own spinach - Tuesday morning, 8:30 am - 11 am and Thursday evening after farmers market, 6:45 pm - 8:30 pm. RSVPs to middlewayfarmer@gmail.com are appreciated. If neither of these times work for you and you would really like to come cut spinach, please let me know. For those who do home delivery, the farm is located at 3633 Hwy 146, 2/3 mile north of Grinnell. Look for the big blue barn on the right side of the highway, second farmstead on the right as you leave Grinnell heading north. I hope to offer other pick your own opportunities throughout the season.

If you want a lot of spinach but aren't interested in pick your own, spinach is also available for bulk orders at $5 per pound. 

This is also a peak week for traditional head lettuce and a new type of lettuce I'm growing called Salanova. Salanova grows like head lettuce but when cut falls apart into small leaves like baby lettuce (see photos of Salanova heads). The lettuce mix this week will be Salanova, consisting of 6 different types of various colors and shapes. The lettuce has been absolutely beautiful this season, an outcome I've heard echoed by a number of other Iowa vegetable growers. While I know of no good way to preserve lettuce (unlike spinach), I hope you take advantage of this abundance, order lots of lettuce, and eat salads everyday! 

While we enjoy an excellent salad season, we can look forward to the coming of stir fry season. Snow & snap peas, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, and garlic scapes (garlic flower stalks, used like garlic) are all on the horizon for Week 3 of CSA. Beets and broccoli are also coming along nicely and should be ready within a few weeks.

Vegetables for Saturday night dinner. One of the perks of growing an acre of produce is to be able to harvest this at any time. 

Important Notices:

  • The asparagus last week was in 1/2 lb bunches instead of 1 lb bunches as promised due to a smaller delivery from Olson Garden Market than they anticipated. While everyone who ordered asparagus got a least a bunch, some who ordered multiple bunches may not have gotten all of them. I apologize for the smaller portion, I try my best to always deliver what is ordered without making last minute changes.  Your balances will be adjusted accordingly to reflect the smaller portions.
  • Please DO NOT throw away or recycle the wax boxes your CSA shares came in. These boxes are reuseable and also can be folded flat for easy storage. Here is a link to a video showing how to unfold them if you are unsure. If you unfold them incorrectly you can rip the tabs, which will cause the boxes to wear out prematurely. If you find it hard to unfold them, then you are probably doing it wrong! They should unfold easily. You can leave your boxes out for me to pick up at delivery time. For those picking up at the farm, please stack them on a table next to where your shares are. 
  • In future weeks I will be closing the order page at 6 am on Tuesdays. For now I'm leaving it open later as everyone gets used to the ordering schedule . Please be sure to place your order before 6 am on Tuesday so that I know what I need to harvest on Tuesday morning. Your timely orders help make this unique custom share CSA possible! If you find yourself unable to place orders on time, I am happy to change your preference to a standard share, which will be automatic each week
  • If you will be out of town and not ordering, please log into the order page at middlewayfarm.csasignup.com and click on the tab that says "Holds". Here you can enter the dates you will be gone and I will get an automatic notification to let me know that I shouldn't expect your order. 
Grin City artists Tony, Alex, Jordan (the puppeteer), and Sarah, during the last workday of the 6 week spring session. They were all so dirty from planting peppers, eggplants, squash, and melons that I couldn't pass up making them do a "hard at work" pose. 

Notes on This Week's Share

Here are instructions for freezing spinach. This recipe can also be used for other cooking greens (kale, swiss chard, arugula, collards): 

  • Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
  • Bring a large pot of water 2/3 full to boil
  • Fill the pot with washed and sorted greens as soon as water boils and blanch for 2 minutes. Start blanching time as soon as greens hit the water. You can reuse this water for several batches of greens. 
  • Remove greens with slotted spoon and put in ice water to cool. Replenish with ice from time to time if doing multiple batches. Cool greens for 2 minutes, same length as blanch time
  • Drain spinach thoroughly in colander, pressing to remove excess water. Put in labeled, sealable freezer bags and remove as much air as possible before freezing. Lay out flat in freezer and don't stack unfrozen bags. They will freeze faster if kept separate. 

The radishes this week are from the second planting. They are limited availability because many were damaged by an unidentified pest living in the soil and will have to be discarded. I have some suspicions as to what the pest is, but mainly I've learned not to plant radishes in an area that was previously grass, since they tend to harbor root pests. You might notice some cosmetic damage on the radishes you receive but otherwise they are of good eating quality. Bunches will include a mix of two varieties - a red cherry type and French Breakfast, a long red & white heirloom radish. 

The kale is beginning to hit its stride and is available as a limited extra this week. In future weeks it will be available consistently in larger quantities and by your choice of variety This week,the bunches will be an assortment of different varieties - green curly, red curly, Red Russian, and lacinato. I will be writing more about kale in future weeks. Its a staple crop for my farm and I hope to make kale fans out of many you. 

Lamb's quarter is a wild edible green that is a very common annual weed in the disturbed, rich soils of gardens and farm fields. It is a warm season plant that germinates late in the spring and grows throughout the warmer part of the year, going to seed as the weather turns cool in the fall. Each plant produces tens of thousands of small black seeds that can remain viable in the soil for decades. Alternative names include goosefoot and pigweed (which is also a name for amaranth). The plants are best picked small and tender but leaves remain edible throughout the growing season, unlike spinach which eventually bolts (goes to seed) and turns bitter. The leaves can be used similarly to spinach but in many ways its taste is superior, almost nutty, and it is also superior nutritionally to spinach, containing more iron and other vitamins. I love lamb's quarter quiche. Its also great as a side dish simply wilted in some oil in a sauce pan with garlic, onion, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar. The leaves have powdery appearance that can be mistaken for dust or pesticides but is actually a natural protective bloom present on the surface of the leaf. 

New plant starts this week include peppers and eggplants as well as sweet potato slips that just arrived by mail from North Carolina. Slips are cuttings of the sweet potato plant that can be planted directly in the soil. For more information about growing sweet potatoes, visit this link. I am also teaching a workshop this Tuesday at the farm from 5:30-7 pm about growing sweet potatoes. The registration link is here. Returning plant starts include tomatoes, parsley, swiss chard, kale, and basil. This week and next week will be the last weeks that most plant starts are available through CSA, so please order now if you're interested. 

The fruit share will include a second week of rhubarb as I wait for the strawberries at Keller Berry Farm to mature. I spoke with one of the owners, Esther, today and she said they are anticipating the third week of June, but the strawberries are still green, so they are dependent on some warmer weather to ripen the berries. Its a good lesson in seasonality and yearly variation. 

Head of Salanova lettuce. I'm very impressed by the look of these heads, particularly the smooth leaf varieties. Its also amazing just how much lettuce there is in each head.
CSA Availability For Delivery on Wed, June 11

Orders should be placed at middlewayfarm.csasignup.com by Tuesday at 6 am. Go to the website and click Member Log-in. If you have any trouble logging in, use the E-mail Verification tool to receive a link to access the store. You can change your password to whatever you want and use your e-mail and password to log in for future orders.

Please e-mail me at middlewayfarmer@gmail.com if you have any problems with access or ordering. It may take a few weeks to work out all the kinks with this new ordering system but ultimately it will be more convenient for everyone. 

Standard shares will receive one unit of everything listed under "Standard" automatically. No need to order. If you would like additional standard items (not all standard items will be available for extra ordering), extra items, or plant starts, you will need to order them separately. Whatever you order on the website will be delivered IN ADDITION to your standard share. 

Custom shares need to place an order each week in order to receive delivery ($10/week minimum, no upper threshold). If orders are not received by early Tuesday morning you may not Note the limits for individual items (for example, only 1 bunch of radishes per person, but as many heads of lettuce as you want). 

Fruit shares are pre-determined each week and are only available to those who signed up for the fruit share. They are not available for weekly ordering. 

Storage Tips: Everything in this week's share should be kept in sealed plastic bags in the refrigerator for best quality and storage life. Radish and turnip greens should be used quickly or discarded. They will not store as well as the roots. Beet greens are quite perishable; use within a few days. 

Standard
  1. Beet Greens - 1 bunch (no order limit) ($2/bunch or 3 for $5)
  2. Green Garlic - 1 bunch (up to 3 bunches) ($2/bunch)
  3. Green Onion - 1 bunch (up to 3 bunches) ($2/bunch)
  4. Lettuce, Head - 1 head (no order limit) ($2/head or 3 for $5)
  5. Lettuce, Mix - 6 oz. bag (no order limit) ($3.25/bag or 2 for $6)
  6. Radish (Cherry & French Breakfast) - 1 bunch only  ($2.00/bunch)
  7. Spinach, Baby -  6 oz. bag (no order limit) ($3.25/bag or 2 for $6)
  8. Turnips, Spring - bunch (no order limit) ($2 or 3 for $5)

Extra
  1. Arugula, Baby - 6 oz. bags (no order limit) ($3.25/bag or 2 for $6)
  2. Kale, Mix - 1 bunch only ($2/bunch)
  3. Lamb's Quarter (wild edible) - 1 bunch (no order limit) ($2.50/bunch)
  4. Spinach, Bulk - 1 lb bag (no order limit) ($5/pound)

Fruit Share
Rhubarb - 2 lb bunch
Plant Starts

All plant starts have been grown in soil blocks in my greenhouse and repotted into larger containers. They are hardy and ready to be planted outside. 

Basil - $2 per plant or $6 for 4 pack
Genovese - Seed Savers Italian type heirloom
Mozzarella/Aroma - Hybrid green Italian type
Dark Purple Opal - Seed Savers heirloom, beautiful purple leaf

Eggplant - $2.50 per plant or $7 for 4 pack
Black Beauty - Italian globe eggplant
Orient Express - dark-clored, long Asian eggplant

Kale - $2 per plant or $6 for 4-pack
Lacinato - Italian flat leaf heirloom
Redbor - red curly leaf hybrid, beautiful as ornamental as well
Red Russian - red serrated leaf heirloom 
Winterbor - green curly leaf hybrid

Hybrid Tomato - $2.50 per plant or $7 for 4 pack 
Celebrity - medium sized hybrid beefsteak 
Juliet - hybrid mini roma, very productive and reliable. 
Paisano - similar to San Marzano, more compact and more concentrated harvest 
San Marzano -
hybrid roma or paste tomato

Heirloom Tomato - $2.50 per plant or $7 for 4 pack 
Black Cherry - dark colored cherry, high yielding and flavorful
Cherokee Purple -  Cherokee Indian heirloom, deep dusky purple-pink color
Gold Medal - large yellow fruit that blush with red, low acid
Italian Heirloom - large productive beefsteak, good for slicing & canning
Matt's Wild - very small, very sweet, prolific cherry tomato closely related to wild tomato, released by Iowa State's Dr. Matt Liebman, a pioneering professor in sustainable agriculture

Parsley - $2 per plant or $6 for 4-pack
Flat leaf - Italian type
Curly leaf - garnish type

Peppers - $2.50 per plant or $7 for 4-pack
Gourmet - green to orange bell pepper
Snapper - green to red bell pepper, very reliable
Jalapeno - hot pepper
Martin's Carrot - heirloom hot pepper from Seed Saver's

Sweet Potatoes - $3 for 5 slips or $5 per 10 slips. 

Swiss Chard, Rainbow - $1.50 per plant or $5 for 4-pack
My housemate Kirsten's daughter Lydia and I at my farmers market stand this Saturday. 
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