Virtual Farm Tour (Spring CSA: Week 5, Summer CSA Intro)

Summer is coming.

I made the joke to the crew that we were experiencing perfect day #4 of 7 as we hand-weeded the fresh onions last Thursday morning. Of course, with this lovely weekend behind us, that makes today the last perfect day of the year (if we only get 7) so, I’m going to call BS on myself. Since this week looks like it will be fairly lovely too.

This weather has felt like a gift. Crops are thriving, and our spirits are higher than they have been in a long time. I made sure to take a bunch of pictures of the farm this week to update on how things are growing. I’m using this blog both to say thank you for a great spring share (this week, 6/4-6/7 is the last Spring Share pick up) and HELLO! to the Summer Share which starts next week (6/11-6/4). Check your email for confirmation of your share size and pick up day – email brittany@upswingfarm.com if you think you signed up for a share but have not received an email by tomorrow, 6/4).

These are the fresh onions we were weeding last Thursday. We will start to harvest these in early July, and they will be in the shares for about a month, before we do a major harvest of the bulb onions.

We have some amazing crops growing right now, in a variety of stages. I’m going to just do a virtual farm tour for this blog, so sit back and enjoy.

We plant many successions of our crops to make sure we have a continual supply for as long as possible. We are seeding the third planting of cucumbers and zucchini in the greenhouse right now (by we I mean Erin). The first planting is protected under row cover and will not be uncovered until the plants start to flower. This year is later than most for us, mostly because the rain and wet soils made it hard to get in and plant, so we expect our cucumber and zucchini to be about a week later than last year, but once they get going, we will have them until disease take down the last planting in September. This requires constant planting. Although cucumbers and zucchini can survive all season, we need heavy yields to make harvest profitable, and after about 3-4 weeks of harvesting every other day, the plants start to slow down, or to succumb to disease. That’s why we plant another succession that’s ready to go right when the first crop slows down.

We plant basil on a bi-weekly basis until we know the downy mildew will take down even the youngest plants, usually in September. Basil is another crop that can be grown cut and come again, and we frequently do make bunches from pinched stems and let the plants keep growing, but usually we only do this once, then clear cut and start cutting the next planting. A good reason for this is that young crops are typically healthier, which means they are easier/faster to pick and provide a higher quality product. Another reason we will clear cut the first basil planting in the tunnel is because we want to plant the last round of tomatoes in there, and they need to get out of the way.

We are planting 4 rounds of tomatoes this year (and I wish I took a picture of all the successions for this blog!!! The last round is just germinating in the greenhouse). Our first planting was planted the week of the first spring share. The second planting went in on Thursday last week (that’s the big planting with the cherry tomatoes, heirlooms and lots of red slicers). The third planting is disease resistant red slicers and cherry tomatoes to extend the field harvest and then the last planting is going into a tunnel (after the basil). We think the protection of the tunnel will keep the leaves and fruit healthier because they will be protected from the fall rains, and help us have tomatoes well into October.

We are planting the 3rd/4th rounds of kale, chard, beets, bok choy, lettuce, sunflowers, scallions, carrots, radish, dill, cilantro and arugula tomorrow! We planted the previous rounds the Friday before last. Because of the late spring our plantings have gotten a little compressed, but it’s ok, it’s better to get them into the field and then try to hold them there than to keep them in their trays.

Oh, and the peas have flowers! That’s really exciting! We planted 300 extra feet of peas this year in two plantings, and they are WAY healthier than last year. We are excited for a good pea harvest. We will see them in the second week of the summer share, hopefully for a month!

We’ve been “tractoring” a lot too. Kevin is out there now cultivating everything he can. Above is photos of our winter rye/hairy vetch cover crop, which was a little stunted by the saturated soils, but has really taken off these last two weeks. We had to turn in a little more than an acre last week to allow the plants to break down so we can plant winter squash, the second round of sweet corn and melons, more cucumber, zucchini and all the rest in a few weeks. We will turn in the last acre and a half in about a week to prepare for late plantings of summer crops and fall root crops.

This is the winter squash . . . it’s just seeds we planted last week. We transplant our winter squash in an effort to combat both weeds and the striped cucumber beetle, which feeds on the young leaves and can kill emerging seedlings in the field, or, if they don’t kill them they can transmit a disease called bacterial wilt which will kill the plants as soon as they start to set fruit. We don’t use chemical pesticides so we plant well hardened off plants covered in surround (a natural clay) which acts as a repellent/shield against striped cuke beetles.

Winter squash is one of the crops we plant just once. Here are some of the others (not pictured, the sweet potatoes which we plant as slips and we finished planting this afternoon):

Emerging potato seedling. The brown on the tips of the leaves was actually us. We use a flame weeder to kill weed seedlings that have sprouted right when we see that the potatoes are starting to emerge. The flame only slightly singes barely sprouted potato plant, but gives it a huge leg up on the weeds. We plant potatoes just once, in a big block and then harvest from mid-July until October.

This is Brittany cultivating the celery root, which is planted in April and not harvested until October. The leeks are in the next beds but hard to see, but also planted just once.
Garlic was planted last October, mulched in December and will be harvested between July 10th and July 15th. The garlic scapes should show up any day, and will probably be in the second and third weeks of the summer share. Scapes are the flower stalks of the garlic plants, which need to be removed to make the bulbs larger, but are edible and tasty, dare I even say trendy?

So, that’s the tour. I hope you enjoyed it!

Here’s the list for the last week of the spring share. If you are in the summer share you’ll get another email next week with information about what is in the first summer share. I blog every week about something or other and include a list of what’s in the share. You can always find the blog on our website.

What’s in the Spring Share, Week 5
2 heads lettuce
1 bag pea tendrils
1 bag salad greens
1 small bunch dill
1 small bunch cilantro
1 bunch kale
1 bunch chard
1 bunch dandelion/collards or radish (choice)
1 bunch salad turnip
1 green garlic (garlic stalk harvested young, can be used like garlic or scallion – you can eat the whole thing)

Jess’s Recipes

I have a wedding to go to this weekend and I love it when I can combine a couple of my CSA ingredients into one recipe so I thought I would feature a few recipes that “marry” up ingredients this week.

PEAS WITH LETTUCE AND GREEN GARLIC

If you’ve never tried cooking your lettuce here’s your chance! The lettuce is added just at the end so it still has all of its crunch. Paired with the green garlic, this dish will really highlight your spring share and it’s super quick which I like in a side dish.

CUCUMBER DILL SALAD WITH LEMON VINAIGRETTE

Lemon and dill are the perfect match in this light spring salad. If you have radishes left over from last week, toss them in! Pea tendrils and microgreens would also work in here.

ONE SKILLET POLENTA WITH GREENS AND BEANS

This recipe is SO fast and can be made all in one pan but it’s also filling AND the kids will eat it so it’s a major win around here. Marry up your greens or just use one variety. Top with microgreens when it comes out of the oven if you have some left over.

4 Tbsp olive oil
1 tube polenta, cut in 15 slices
1 can black beans
Few Tbsp Romano
1 lb. greens (kale, chard, broccoli raab, spinach, dandelion, mustard)
1 jar pasta sauce
8 oz sliced Havarti
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil

Drizzle olive oil in large skillet. Slice polenta in ½” rounds and lay in large cast iron skillet. Rinse beans and pour over polenta. Sprinkle with Romano. Rinse and shake greens. Chop coarsely and spread over beans. Top with sauce and cheese and sprinkle with dried herbs. Put lid on and simmer 5 min. Alternatively, use a 9×13 baking dish and bake, covered at 350 for 45 min. Uncover and cook 15 min. more.

BAKED ORZO WITH CHARD, FETA AND DILL

Swiss chard and dill pair up with feta in this quick weeknight pasta dish. This dish would also love to get hitched up with the Cucumber Dill Salad listed above.

PEA TENDRIL SALAD WITH RADISHES AND FETA

Here’s another chance to use up any leftover radishes! Salty feta, sweet honey, tart lime and crunchy pea tendrils and radishes.

TEX-MEX CHARRED CORN, BACON AND JALAPENO PIZZA

I’ve been seeing corn on the cob in the supermarket but if you can’t find any Trader Joe’s and WholeFoods both sell frozen roasted corn that would work great on this pizza. Use Naan bread, pre-baked pizza crust or make your own pizza dough. Finish it off with fresh cilantro and microgreens!

DANDELION GREENS WITH DILL AND A CRISPY EGG

We just got more 10 baby chicks last week and they have me thinking about all the luscious eggs we’ll be getting in a few months. Take advantage of the dandelion greens while they’re around this spring and sauté them up with some fresh dill. Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

SAUTEED SALAD TURNIPS WITH TURNIP GREENS

While it’s always a good idea to separate your turnips from the greens as soon as you get home, don’t toss the greens! They’re packed with antioxidants and nutrients and pair perfectly with the turnips in this super simple side.

ENJOY!!!!