What’s in the Box and Some Farm Improvements

This weeks box:

Radishes, salad turnips, beets, salad mix, head lettuce, sweet potatoes, spinach, chard, kale, garlic greens, and parsley!

Radish & Salad Turnip Recipe

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Ingredients

2 servings


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  1. 1 bunch salad turnips or japanese turnips with greens
  2. 1/2 tsp salt
  3. 4 small radishes
  4. 1 spring onion(substitute with green garlic, if desired) 
  5. — Dressing —
  6. 3 Tbsp olive oil
  7. 1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
  8. 1/2 tsp salt, more or less to taste
  9. 1 pinch pepper
  10. 1/2 tsp honey (optional)

    Our New Packing Shed

We are very excited to be using our new packing shed with more room and a good flow! Making post harvest easy breezy to get produce out the heat and into the cool bot while performing Good Agricultural Practices.

What’s in the box, week of April 20

Hi, all, Josh Calhoun here from the Sustainable Ag program, and here’s what’s in the CSA box this week:

LOTS OF YUMMY LEAFY GREENS!

  • Salad Mix
  • Radishes
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Green onions
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Baby Spinach
  • Radiccio

The green onions bring to mind a bit of bad luck on my farm this year with my first attempt to try growing bulb onions:

So, my story begins during a random trip to Country Farm and Home in downtown Pittsboro, mid-October of last year.  Walking in through the lofty front area where feed, rolls of ag cover, and the nice hand tools are hung, I spy baskets full of sweet bulb onion sets at a good price.  Being the adventurous gardener type, I figure, why not?  I purchased enough to plant a 40-square-foot plot, took them home, and planted them spaced further apart but similar to garlic, mulch and all.   I was imagining all the sauteed sweet onions for different dishes and slices for burgers I could eat when they were ready in the spring!

Little did we all know what would happen…

I watered them and gave them all the care they needed, watching with delight when they broke through the mulch.  They grew taller, and the hollow onion leaves grew bigger, wider, longer.  Suddenly, around mid-March, a couple of them seemed to be growing an oddly-shaped leaf from the center of the plant… A FLOWER HEAD!  Then more and more of them were sprouting heads.  Over half in total.  20170410_173820

Cool, I thought, they’re just like garlic scapes.  I can pop them off and the bulbs will grow bigger!  Wrong.  Upon further research, that is not the case.  Breaking off the scape will allow water into the core of the plant, causing rot.  Onions are biennial plants, meaning it takes two years to flower and set seed.  Onion sets are already one year old, and if they’re ready to flower, they most certainly will.  One cause is extreme differences in temperature shocking them into flowering.  If you don’t get what happened before, you probably do now.  The warm winter we had allowed my onions to get nice and big, but then the brief snaps of frost shocked them into flowering. If bulb onions flower, they will not store well beyond a week or two, and only in the refrigerator.  Your only choice is to pull them, enjoy the 30″ scapes in a vase or pitcher (they’re an interesting visual, but you need room), trim the roots and leaves, and use the giant green onions (mine were over an inch in diameter) in soups, stir-fry, or fresh in salads, much like leeks.

Stand over a sink when you first cut the scapes: they hold an incredible amount of water. Don’t worry, you won’t get an eye-full, but quite a bit of onion-y juice will pour out.

For future reference, if you want to try to grow bulb onions, short-day or intermediate-day varieties are best for the NC Piedmont.  I will still be able to enjoy a few good sweet bulbs by the end of spring that didn’t flower, and you, the reader, may have better luck than me.  Enjoy your CSA box this week!

13 April 2017–What’s in the box…

As spring approaches we still have plenty of leafy greens to harvest.  Let’s take a look at what’s in box this week;

Chard

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Beet Greens
  • Pac Choi
  • Green Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard

Let’s take a look at one of our box items:

Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, vitamin E and iron. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, choline, vitamin B2, calcium, vitamin B6, phosphorus and protein. Additionally, Swiss chard is a good source of pantothenic acid, zinc, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, folate and selenium.  WOW! If that doesn’t pack a punch, I don’t know what does.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

  • Toss penne pasta with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and cooked Swiss chard.
  • Add zest to omelets and frittatas by adding some boiled Swiss chard.
  • Use chard in place of or in addition to spinach when preparing vegetarian lasagna.

How about some fun facts about Chard:

Swiss chard isn’t native to Switzerland. Its actual homeland of chard lies further south, in the Mediterranean region; in fact, the Greek philosopher, Aristotle wrote about chard in the fourth century B.C. This is not surprising given the fact that the ancient Greeks, and later the Romans, honored chard for its medicinal properties. Chard got its common name from another Mediterranean vegetable, cardoon, a celery-like plant with thick stalks that resemble those of chard. The French got the two confused and called them both “carde.”

Enjoy your box of leafy greens and try something new and inspiring.

 

Estela Walker

 

 

4/5 What’s in the Box? The Colors of change!

April bolsters crops with rain and shine.

The start of Spring has appropriately been brought in with healthy amounts of rain and plenty of sun, giving our crops and weeds the boost they need to get out of the Winter crawl. But we are not out of the fridge yet; weekend weather predicts lows in the mid-thirties. That gives us good cause to take extra precautions like keeping transplants warm or breaking out row cover to prevent any set-backs.

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A Colorful arrangement from this week’s CSA box.

 

 

This Week’s CSA box.

  • Carrots
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Salad Mix
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale
  • Collard Greens

It’s been warm, but not THAT warm (yet), so we are still packing on the greens naturally, but we are starting to see some pop in our boxes. Last week we had beautiful, marble white turnips. This week we have a healthy mix of color, from red-veined spinach to orange carrots with lush green stalks. You can find plenty of information on why keeping variety and color in your diet is beneficial, but it also plays a role in how we perceive our food before we even eat it. There is a reason color and presentation are graded for culinary exams. How our food looks is part of what makes it appetizing to us. Our experience with food is the sum of all our senses. How something looks or smells, how it is arranged, even how you are feeling that particular moment can effect how your food tastes.

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The Aesthetic of weeds

As Dandelions bloom and trees start to bud, we are getting signs all over that things are changing underground. Aside from being a good early food source for pollinators, your thickest (or thinnest) patches of weeds can be an indicator of soil quality, temperature or pH. According to everything popping up at the farm, we are ready and set to roll into Spring production!

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Plants like Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) put on a bright show early and thrive in the cooler parts of the season.

 

 

Kevin Walsh

 

To Serve and Protect, the Tender Side of a Farmer.

Farmers can be sensitive creatures, looking upon their crops with parental pride “My goodness, they’re so tall and healthy, how beautiful they look”!! This past winter has been on the most part one of the warmest on record, confusing us, but more importantly, confusing to the plants. We celebrated in the warmth, our crops did too, joyously sprouting and growing just little too early for their own good.

Then came the “Big Freeze” a mere week ago(Mar.13-17)-lows in the 20’s, on our farm 18 degrees if not lower…and ohh, that wind from the north! The news painted grim prospects by some local NC farmers. “Yeah, at 25 degrees our strawberry crop is a gonner”. Many farmers were worried about their tender strawberry crops. From footage seen, there were no row covers on those fields. I had to wonder why they didn’t employ such a simple protective measure…maybe it was provided, but wasn’t at the time being shown…??

Though row covers are not a cure all in the cold or extreme heat, it certainly can help…alot. Providing a “mere” 4-6 degrees  can mean the difference between having a crop or it turning to compost. This applies to summer crops as well. Row cover can keep pests&birds at bay- ever on the search for tender new seedlings, and can help plants from overheating. It is a(rather inexpensive),lightweight, semi-transparent polyfabric that may be well worth your time and money.

All that being said, the proof was when the row cover was lifted off our Chandler strawberries: Perfectly healthy, beautiful strawberry plants with blooms indicating the fruit to come(as indicated by the photo). No doubt our CSA strawberry needs shall be met after all. Here’s to all the strawberry farmers who will find their crop children healthy and safe with just a little protection!     – Kirsten W.

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Winter strikes back!

It was a cold week on the farm folks!  With spring only a few days away it seems that winter has decided to pay us one more visit.  We had several nights well below freezing this past week including Wednesday nights where many farms in our area experienced lows in the low twenties and even the upper teens.  So what you ask?

Well this is a particularly sensitive part of the spring season for many farmers in our area.  Right now many farmers are planting tender transplants in the field.  These plants are carefully time to take advantage of the first soil temperatures of the season warm enough to accommodate growth at something approaching a normal rate.  So, as you can imagine a sudden cold snap can slow things down quite a bit.  More than that, a farmer that’s caught unaware of an upcoming cold snap can lose a significant portion of his spring crop.

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Young, direct seeded brassicas

Now, I suspect that the more astute among you may be saying to yourselves, ‘hey, anything planted this early in the season has to be cold hardy right?’  That’s true enough, but as with many farmers in the area we grow our transplants in a greenhouse that’s nice and cozy.  We also, like other farmers, gradually acclimate our transplants to outside conditions through a process called hardening off.  This involves exposing our transplants to more and more outdoor conditions in a mini greenhouse-like structure called a cold frame over a period of several days or a week.  Once our tender little plants have toughened up a little bit we’ll put them out into the field.  No problem right?  Not so fast.

In a situation like we had this past week our tender little transplants were hardened off and planted in fairly mild conditions.  They aren’t used .  Then we had a streak of nights below freezing before our transplants had really established them
selves in the field.  They’re sitting ducks, and it’s too late to bring them back into our greenhouse to keep them safe!  So what do we do?  We do the same thing for our plants that you do for yourself on a cold night.  We tuck them in under a blanket!  This blanket is called a frost cloth, row cover, or by a trade name ‘reemay.’

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Row cover on our spring crops

This cloth is not all that impressive compared to what keeps us warm at night, but it serves the same purpose just as effectively.  However, unlike our blankets, which trap the warmth generated by our bodies to keep us warm, row cover is designed to trap the heat absorbed by the soil during day as it is released overnight.  This little amount of heat is enough to keep plants from freezing on a cold night.

So, if you come out to the student farm, or drive past another farm and see fiel
ds covered in huge sheets of white cloth just know that these proactive farmers are protecting their plants from the cold.  Soon enough these wise and well prepared farmers will be bringing a delicious bounty of early spring greens and vegetables to market for you to enjoy.  Hopefully, like our row covers, the thought of good food and spring weather coming soon will keep you warm through these cold nights!

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Coming soon to a table near you!

March Reflections

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As we reach mid-semester in our Advanced Crop Production class it is nice to break from bed building to take in the beauty surrounding us to reflect. Especially, on a windy duty filled day like the last. The clouds move swiftly across the sky covering the sun momentarily before giving it chance to shine upon us. The newly planted Brassica transplants sway back and forth, joyful to be in a place where they will grow big and strong with plenty of nutrients by their feet to enjoy. The chickens spend the gusty day inside their new abode painted in a color Ol’ Rick† would have approved. The newly built wall serves its purpose as a place of rest and keeping the mushroom spores in place. Our farm is constantly changing and it is certainly something to write home about. Or at least in our journals.