Surprises Within

Every evening and on the weekend mornings, we are excited to get out to the garden to see what garden surprises we will find. It sometimes feels like Christmas, and the boys have even equated it to an Easter egg hunt. It is simply a lot of fun. But these are surprises I anticipate that I am hoping we will find, and I would say that I even expect to find.

In life, I think the surprises that we don’t anticipate but rather you allow yourself to be surprised by are the ones that are the most wonderful. This week, I believe we were blessed to experience one of these surprises. I was in the Fargo-Moorhead region for a few days for work. Prior to my departure, we had discussed what was going on during the week and what needed to be accomplished for the CSA.

Well, it was Tuesday night and Steve was not feeling the best. Pretty soon, Steve awoke to the loud scream from Sam in the entryway saying he needed help. Steve hurried out to the entryway fearing what he might find. To his pleasant surprise, there stood two boys who had been out harvesting cucumbers and their arms were overflowing. Why? Because they new it had to be done, and Dad wasn’t feeling well.

What a wonderful surprise from within. The boys had listened and remembered the conversation from Sunday night. They knew what to do and what sizes of cucumbers to pick. They knew the importance of it, and they did this without being reminded or asked. What a wonderful surprise from within.

Look around you this week to see what surprises from within you can find that will brighten your day. Often times they are right in front of us, and they can be the smallest treasure.

This weekend was a cold one. The morning temperatures were in the mid to high 40s when the average is the mid-60s.

This weekend was a cold one. The morning temperatures were in the mid to high 40s when the average is the mid-60s. Although, it was a gorgeous morning in the garden. It wasn’t the ideal temperatures for the produce. At least we did not have the frost warning that some areas of northern Minnesota had.

Sam loved pulling these beets. He thought they were huge!

Sam loved pulling these beets. He thought they were huge!

Garden Experiments

I thought you may find our variety of trellis systems interesting. We wanted to see how to best maximize our space so we decided to try a variety of systems.

First is our cucumber trellis which are gates at an angle so that as the cucumbers grow that they will hang down through the slats. The gates are a contribution from my parents to the CSA. They are the old fences we used to use when we were raising hogs on the farm.

First is our cucumber trellis which are gates at an angle so that as the cucumbers grow that they will hang down through the slats. The gates are a contribution from my parents to the CSA. They are the old fences we used to use when we were raising hogs on the farm.

Keith and Steve installed irrigation lines for the tomatoes, peppers and vines. The water is collected off of the roof of the shop into a large water tank and pressured through a gravity flow system.

This is a picture of the upright trellis’ behind Keith and Steve.

This is the picture about a month later. The treillis' we are using are old wooden pallets that the lumber yard was giving away and old hog fence gates from my parents. These are upright, but only about 3-4 feet high.

This is the picture about a month later. The trellis’ we are using are old wooden pallets that the lumber yard was giving away and old hog fence gates from my parents. These are upright, but only about 3-4 feet high.

Next we have the hog panels which were 16 foot gates cut in half, pushed and staked into the ground and tied at the top. I am anxious to see how these work out and whether or not we need to make "hammocks" for the pumpkins and squash.

Next, we have the hog panels which were 16 foot gates cut in half, pushed and staked into the ground and tied at the top. I am anxious to see how these work out and whether or not we need to make “hammocks” for the pumpkins and squash.

Keith and I installed this trellis this weekend. We found an old dog gate for free on a garage sale and we had some lathe leftover from a construction project. We installed this on one side of the peas for them to grow up on. Also behind Keith and to the left you will see a smaller teepee system that we made several years ago for the kids to play in.

Keith and I installed these trellis’ this weekend. We found an old dog gate for free on a garage sale, and we had some lathe leftover from a construction project. We installed this on one side of the peas for them to grow up on. Also behind Keith and to the left, you will see a smaller teepee system that we made several years ago for the kids to play in. These tepees have cucumbers and gourds growing on them.

The jury is still out on which system we like. We are anxious to see how the remainder of the growing season goes with the different types of trellis’.

Boxes of Produce

Please remember to return any cups or plastic containers in your box each week. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your before eating.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – One of my favorite garden crops. These crops have taken a hit with the lack of rain.Prizehead – is the spear like green leaf. Broccoli – A new addition to your boxes this year. Let us know what you think of this variety of broccoli. Enjoy it fresh or cooked on the grill. Learn more about broccoli here. Onions – A few fresh onions to put in a recipe here or there.

The boys were all picking peas this weekend for my parents who are also CSA members. Since they live a few hours away, we get the produce to them when we can and when someone is heading that way. Thank you Tracy Modory for helping us on that delivery!

The boys were all picking peas this weekend for my parents who are also CSA members. Since they live a few hours away, we get the produce to them when we can and when someone is heading that way. Thank you Tracy Modory for helping us on that delivery!

Sugar Snap Peas – This is a favorite. Wash, eat the whole pod. Learn more about this healthy vegetable.

Digging potatoes can be like digging for gold. But they are second behind the M&Ms jar that I have had stashed in the wheelbarrows this summer for helping in the garden.

Digging potatoes can be like digging for gold. But they are second behind the M&Ms jar that I have had stashed in the wheelbarrows this summer for helping in the garden.

Potatoes – a few fresh Norland red potatoes for you. We were so excited to dig up the first plants last night. We scrubbed them with a scrub brush, leaving the skins on, boiled for about 20 minutes and made some beautiful mashed potatoes.

Cucumbers – The harvest is beginning. Enjoy!

Boy are the summer squash and zuchinni growing like crazy!

Boy are the summer squash and zucchini growing like crazy!

Summer Squash Medley and Zucchini – If your kids want to measure a zucchini/summer squash and watch it grow for a week, let me know. It really is amazing how fast they grow.

Herbs – Golden Oregano, Red Rubin Basil, dill and cilantro (bags are labeled with the first initial). Some good information on dill from the University of Minnesota and Wikipedia.

Fresh cut arrangement – A variety went out in your boxes as I had enough variety but not enough of one type for each of you. So the varieties included: Sunflowers or Zinnias with Hosta leaves.

Recipe of the Week

While trying a few new summer squash and zucchini recipes out this past week, the discussion turned to, “I bet they would taste better with chocolate.” My response was, “Let’s try zucchini brownies.” To which I heard some exuberant cheers. So while I would have liked to have baked them this past weekend. My baking was focused on birthday cake. We will try them this week. Here is the recipe from Taste of Home that we will try.

Zucchini Brownies

 
Ingredients
•2 cups all-purpose flour
•1/3 cup baking cocoa
•1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
•1 teaspoon salt
•2 cups shredded zucchini
•1-1/2 cups sugar
•3/4 cup vegetable oil (I will substitute with applesauce.)
•1/2 cup chopped walnuts
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
 
Frosting
•1/4 cup butter, cubed
•1 cup sugar
•1/4 cup milk
•1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
•1/2 cup miniature marshmallows
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional 
 
•In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, combine the zucchini, sugar and oil; stir into dry ingredients until blended. Stir in walnuts and vanilla.•Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° F. for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
 
•In a large saucepan, melt butter; stir in sugar and milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook and stir 1 minute or until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in chips and marshmallows until melted and smooth; add vanilla. Spread over brownies. Sprinkle with walnuts if desired. Yield: 2 dozen.

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