Weather Watching

The weather the last few days has been tumultuous. During these types of moments, I find myself frequently checking weather, checking social media and watching the clouds. You might find this odd. I find it normal. Because it is what I grew up with – checking and watching weather.

I remember many moments where we would watch the clouds roll over with varying results. The ones I remember the most are the clouds that were green and eerie which would burst open to the ground full of rain, wind and hail. After the storm, we would go to the fields to check the crops. More often than not, we would find the crops shredded by the hail and laying flat because of the rain, wind and hail.  To say this was disheartening is an understatement – money and time gone. All of that hard work was gone: dad planting, mom doing field work, my brothers and I picking rock (walking back and forth in the fields to throw rocks larger than a baseball into a loader bucket or hay rack – this is done so the rocks will not break a very expensive part of the equipment) and walking beans (hoeing and/or spraying weeds that would choke out the plants resulting in a poor yield – the sole purpose was to kill the weeds). Most years my parents had crop insurance on the crops, and we replanted the crops. This post by a friend of mine may help explain. But what people don’t understand about farming is a farmer is at the mercy of the weather, and Mother Nature never takes a day off.

What does all of this weather mean for our CSA? Well if we were to get damaging wind, rain and hail – there would be no crop to harvest. We would have to replant and wait for it to regrow. We have no crop insurance for our crops. That is why we were out during “breaks” in last night’s storm – harvesting. I was watching the weather and fearing wind and hail were going to damage the crop last night. We were fortunate that this time we did not receive the damaging storms. We instead received about 2 inches of rain this weekend and a 1/2 inch of rain yesterday. A far cry from the 8 inches – 12 inches of rain some received in southwestern Minnesota.

So how do farmers handle not being able to control Mother Nature. Well, most of the farmers I know have a very strong faith in God because they understand that God will provide in his own way. With that said, many of the farmers I know are also avid weather watchers. While it may be out of our control, Mother Nature is still simply amazing to watch.

What’s Growing On

At 6 a.m. before the rainstorms, Steve was out hilling the potatoes and tilling some weeds. We hill the potatoes plants to provide a better growing medium and area for the plant to grow potatoes. Potatoes grow under the soil.

At 6 a.m. before the rainstorms this weekend, Steve was out hilling the potatoes and tilling some weeds. We hill the potatoes plants to provide a better growing medium and area for the plant to grow potatoes. Potatoes grow under the soil.

 

This blade is attached to the back of the tiller and pushes the soil to the sides thus "hilling" the potato rows.

This blade is attached to the back of the tiller and pushes the soil to the sides thus “hilling” the soil around the potato plants in their rows and providing more area for the potatoes to grow.

Steve and the boys installed the cucumber trellis this weekend. This will allow the cucumber plants to grow on the fence the cucumbers will grow and drop between the slats in this old fence. Thus keeping the cucumber cleaner since it is off of the ground.

Steve and the boys installed the cucumber trellis this weekend. This will allow the cucumber plants to grow on the fence. The cucumbers will grow and drop between the slats in this old fence. Thus keeping the cucumber cleaner since they are off of the ground. The fences are upcycled from my mom and dad’s farm.

Sam was busy inspecting the crops this weekend. We had a lot of questions regarding the mulch and why we have mulch on some of the crops. We mulch the vines and tomatoes to help with weed and plant disease issues as well as regulate moisture to the plants so that they grow better. In addition, especially with the tomatoes, the mulch helps to keep those vegetables from getting as much soil on them.

Sam was busy inspecting the crops this weekend. We had a lot of questions regarding the mulch and why we have mulch on some of the crops. We mulch the vines and tomatoes to help with weed and plant disease control as well as regulate moisture to the plants so that they grow more consistently. For example, inconsistent moisture can cause splitting and blossom end rot issues with potatoes. In addition, especially with the tomatoes, the mulch helps to keep those vegetables from getting as much soil on them – thus keeping them cleaner.

An interesting comparison, Sam's hand compared to the cotyledons of a pumpkin plant. Cotyledons are the first leaves of the plant to emerge,

An interesting comparison, Sam’s hand compared to the cotyledons of a pumpkin plant. Cotyledons are the first leaves of the plant to emerge from the ground.

Garden Science

Keith and Sam burying egg shells

Keith and Sam burying egg shells buy some of the Big Moon pumpkins. They have decided to bury eggs shells by these two pumpkins all summer and see if this will make a difference in the size of the pumpkins at harvest time.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list.

Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Rhubarb – one pound equals about 3 cups. Wash, cut the ends off, cut off any bad parts damaged by wind or hail, chop into 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces. No need to peel You can freeze it in a Ziploc bag (no blanching) and use for months to come. Our family loves it in muffins, breads, jam, pie, crisp, sauce and torte. Check out our recipe ideas at Taste of Home.

Asparagus – Fresh cut asparagus from the Chute’s Farm Fresh Gardens in Aitkin, Minnesota. These farmers are friends of ours from northern Minnesota. They had some extra they wanted to share with us, and the delivery time worked out well. Enjoy! We love to eat it cooked and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Here is some fun information about asparagus.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – One of my favorite garden crops.  Some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off of them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So remember to wash your vegetables before eating. See how lettuce is grown throughout the year so it is available in our grocery stores even on our cold Minnesota days.

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – I love this beautiful red lettuce leaf. It adds such a wonderful color to your salads.

Spinach – remember to wash before eating. A combination of these vegetables will make such a wonderful meal! Check out some of

Beet Leaves – Many times I have seen in high-end restaurants beet leaves in my salads. Well here is your opportunity. These are young plants that we are thinning out of th rows – eat the whole plant. It will add color and nutrition to your salads. Learn more here.

Radishes – wash, cut off the tops and also the bottoms, slice and enjoy in salads. Some enjoy dipping in salt.

Fresh cut arrangement – Hosta leaves…these last forever in a vase of water. After a week, give them a fresh-cut, and they will last longer. The greenery in the house is a day brightener.

Recipe of the Week

Thank you to one of our shareholders Amy Sillanpa for sharing one of her mom’s favorite rhubarb recipes!

Rhubarb Crunch

1 cup flour

3/4 cup uncooked oatmeal

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

4 cups diced rhubarb

1 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix first four ingredients until crumbly. Press half in 9 inch square greased pan. Cover with 4 cups rhubarb. Combine last four ingredients and cook until thick and clear. Add 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring. Pour over rhubarb. Top with the rest of crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Serve war or cool with whipped topping.

 

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