Angels in the Garden

Angels in the Garden

As we returned home from our travels around the 4th of July and over the weekend, the weeds had found a new foothold and had once again felt like they were “taking over.” This is quite frustrating when you try to manage the pests appropriately so the crops can thrive.

But while I was weeding, the story of the “The Parable of the Weeds” from Mathew 13:24-43 came to mind. The story basically boils down to my comparative…the weeds are from the devil, and the crops are angels sent to earth to do good will – nourishing others. I recognize that this is an interpretation into a larger lesson. But what I can tell you, it is like seeing angels when you see the crop with no weeds in it.

The good news…we are seeing new vegetables on the verge of harvest such as green tomatoes, a variety of peppers, green beans, cucumbers and summer squash. So here’s hoping to seeing more angels in the garden.

Garden Science

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Did you know that one-third of our food production requires pollinators. A loss of beneficial insects means losing important agricultural services such as crop pollination and pest control. Look closely and see the pollinators at work in the garden. Yes, Sam spotted this and captured the photo.

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.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – A taste this week of the new crop. 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.

Red Salad Bowl Lettuce – Adds beautiful color to your salad.

Spinach – A new crop will be available next week.

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Red Russian Kale

Red Russian Kale – Mix it in your salads for a variety of texture and color. Learn about the nutritional value of Kale here and check out some ways to use kale.

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Grand Duke Kohlrabi

Grand Duke Kohlrabi – We are excited to start harvesting kohlrabi. It has taken a while for this crop to become popular in our house and now we love it peeled like an apple and eaten raw and even dipped in peanut butter. Here are some more ideas on how to use it.

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Purple Kohlrabi

Purple Kohlrabi – This crop is just coming in. Enjoy in your salad or cut them up like an apple and dip into peanut butter.

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Sugar Snap Pea flower that will grow into a pea pod.

Sugar Snap Peas – This crop has been a bit stubborn this year. Glad that we have a taste for you this week. Good thing we love the taste of this crop, so we are persistent with having positive results.

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Dark Red Detroit Beets

Detroit Dark Red Beets – The beets are starting to grow well. Learn how to cook these vegetables in the microwave.

Banana Pepper –  Look for more pepper varieties soon. Cut these up and Try these in your salad or in scrambled eggs.

Onion – The onions are looking great. Enjoy! Check out how onions are grown and harvested for the grocery store.

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Swiss Chard

 

Swiss Chard – A new vegetable that we grew for you this year. Give it a try and let us know your thoughts. Here is some more information on swiss chard.

Cilantro – Fresh cilantro has such a wonderful aroma. Try a cilantro dressing on your salad this week.

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Zinnias

Fresh cut arrangement – Lilly’s, Sweat Peas, Zinnias and Coreopsis

Recipe of the Week

Swiss Chard is a new adventure for our family. Below is the recipe we tried this week. Please feel free to share your favorite recipes. We’d love to share them with others.

1 large bunch of fresh Swiss chard

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, sliced

Pinch of dried crushed red pepper

1/4 teaspoon of whole coriander seeds (optional)

-Prep the chard stalks and leaves: Rinse out the Swiss chard leaves thoroughly. Either tear or cut away the thick stalks from the leaves.

-Cut the stalk pieces into 1-inch pieces. Chop the leaves into inch-wide strips. Keep the stalks and leaves separate.

-Sauté garlic and crushed red pepper flakes: Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan on medium high heat. Add garlic slices, crushed red pepper, and coriander seeds (if using), and cook for about 30 seconds, or until the garlic is fragrant.

3 Add Swiss chard stalks: Add the chopped Swiss chard stalks. Lower the heat to low, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

swiss chard cooked

Swiss Chard cooked

 

 

 

Surprises Within

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.