Tuesday, May 22, 2018

May 22nd and 25th

They're Ba-ack; Signs of Spring

So many things come and go in our seasonal climate and spring is a time to welcome many things back.  Hummingbirds, flowers, bright green grass, leaves...  Specifically on the farm, we also welcome back a multitude of things.  Many bring us great joy (fruit blossoms pictured above) and the not so joyous (black flies and other insects).  Here's a little spring farm tour:

Mushrooms!  These flavorful beauties are back!  I still have not gotten the timing down perfectly, so that I have them ready for pick up, but have no fear everyone will get a shot at trying these all summer long.  They pair perfectly with so many of the greens we grow, they are almost addictive. 

Pigs!  Every year, these guys bring me joy.  They are all pink this year and will be harder to tell apart, but their personalities shine and crack me up.  I've got a few this year who almost melt when I scratch them.  It's mutually beneficial; they get love and their itches scratched and I get a natural brillo pad buffing of my rough farm hands!  Come visit them, they love company : )

This is Jean and I doing surgical repair on remay.  It's a fabric that covers the plants to protect them from the cold and insects.  I'm not exactly sure who made this monstrous hole (eh-hem Simon? or maybe a deer) but we have found another use for duct tape.   Remay is typically just a spring and fall thing (thank goodness); hopefully the insects won't be so bad this year that we have to cover crops all year.

Another one of our patients--Proteknet.  Note we were covering holes about half the size of a baby aspirin, that's because the insect we are trying to keep out is about the size of a pin head.  A flea beetle.  It is a hard sided beetle that jumps like a flea.  They LOVE brassicas (kale, pac choi, broccoli, radish, turnip....).  We grow a LOT of brassicas.  That equals a LOT of covering.  And not just covering, we have to bury the edges of the fabric in soil these critters are so voracious.  The kale in the hoop house is NOT covered, since it is so big now.  You will notice this week's kale is not as perfect looking as last time...the flea beetles have fully woken up from their winter slumber....  welcome back : )

This Week's Bounty: storage carrot and onion/shallot, spring parsnips, fresh greens and herbs.  Asparagus for some (eventually all, but it will be on rotation)

The Farmer's Table (A sample of our meals prepared from the farm's bounty)
*asparagus and mushroom fritatta
*Afrikan Stew -- lrf stew meat, carrot, parsnip, spinach and lots of spices

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

May 8 and 11

Good Day Sunshine!

Finally some sun and warmth!  It has made a huge difference all over the farm, both inside and out; for both plants and farmers.  Jean and I enjoyed our Monday transplanting the first broccoli for the year and harvesting spinach for the first pick up of the year.  It feels good to working the soil again!

The last several weeks have been about gathering final materials for the season.  I made my annual trip to Fedco and Johnny's to pick up potatoes, soil, fertilizer, last minute seeds...and a few peach trees for ourselves.  We are so lucky to live in a country where these items are readily available and in a state that provides them.  Of course it takes gas and time for me to head north on this trip, but it still saves money skipping the shipping cost.  Plus it gives me the chance to ask questions directly.  Many of the employees at these places, especially Fedco, are farmers too and many of them grow the seed and plants that can be purchased.  Although Maine does not seem the typical ag state like those big mid west states, the Organic movement here is HUGE and it's awesome to be a part of it...and even more awesome that YOU want to support it!  So thank you.

The past weeks have also been about hoping, waiting, probing the soil to see if it's warm enough, dry enough to get on it to prep, and work it for seeding and transplanting.  Spring for me is always a "wring my hands" sort of season.  Many times I think I have the timing right for seeding (peas for example) but then the weather changes and cold wet sets in too long and all the peas rot and I have to seed them again.  It's frustrating, time consuming and expensive (I have to buy more seed), but I am committed to trying my hardest so that the CSA is diverse and bountiful, so I til and seed again.  Not everything goes as planned, but this challenge is partly what draws me to farming.  It reminds me of the precious strength of a seed and the mind boggling abundance one tiny seed can bring.  It's phenomenal really ... think of it when you bite into a 7" long carrot this week, that it grew from a seed about the size of this next period .  Amazing.

I have transplanted onions in the cold snow before, but never in 85 degree weather!  But we survived (onions included) and all 18,900 of them are standing at attention ready to grow.  Jean, Eileen and I transplanted out nearly 22,000 plants in 3 days, put hoops up and covered many of them in remay and then weighted it down with sand bags.  (Remay is a type of ag fabric keeps the plants warm and protects them from insects).  Kind of like boot camp for farmers.  We rocked it -- thanks for your hard work ladies!

Welcome to Little Ridge Farm!  We look forward to growing for you this year and hope you find wonder in all you eat!

This week's bounty: storage carrots, beets, celeriac, gold ball turnip and onions.  Fresh spinach, chard and kale!

The Farmer's Table (What we ate this week with our food)
*pork stir fry with beets, carrots and frozen peas  (I have 1/2 a pig left for sale, email if ur interested!)
*sausage soup with kale and the last of the sweet potatoes
*steamed kale and celeriac
*mashed turnip and celeriac

Celery Root & Turnip Mash
Yields: 4 servings
2 large celery root
2 medium to large turnips
3 scallions, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic
⅓ c. butter, ghee, lard, or tallow
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. black pepper
With a sharp knife, cut the rough outer layer off of the celery root.  Chop into small cubed pieces.  Peel the turnips and cut into similar sized cubes.  Add them to a medium pot of boiling water.  Add a generous pinch of sea salt to the water and bring to a boil.  Simmer until fully cooked, about 15-20 minutes.
While the vegetables are simmering, combine the scallions, garlic, butter, sea salt, and black pepper in the bowl of a large food processor and process until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.
Drain the cooked celery root and turnips and let the steam release for about 3-5 minutes.  Add them to the food processor and process until the mash is smooth and fluffy.