Small Family Farm CSA

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September Twenty-Nineth

On the eighteenth week of our CSA season, I see that the energy of the field is focused downward. The plants are dying back down and they are dropping their seeds in one final flush to ensure their species’ survival for the future Spring to come. The leaves on the plants have faded from a vibrant, lush green to a dull brown and shades of yellow and grey. They are finally giving up on all hope of root expansion, water uptake and foliage growth. The cool nights are triggering our garden plants and weeds into a state of slowed maturity in final surge for life. Fall is taking over.

Esthetics is important to me. The way the garden looks and feels when you are in it is important. A garden should be beautiful, inviting and appealing. However, as all gardeners know, there comes a time when you must simply give in and recognize that the days of décor are over. Now, we must manage the garden in its elemental state. We shift our focus back to soil fertility rather than plant health. Now is our time to plant cover crops, spread minerals and spread manure. The look and feel of the soil becomes the farmers focus rather than the look of their crops.

I love to watch this cycle of plants dying back down to the earth. You might think it would be sad to watch the plants die, but it’s a bit like sending your children off to college or something. It’s a form of graduation. I feel like we are graduating now to a new class of farmer wisdom. Another season under our belts and we know more now than we knew at the beginning of this season. Each season-cycle of death and rebirth in the garden- we are renewed ourselves as people who have learned from plants, and the plants have taught these people about life; the same as a child will teach its parents about things like birth, patience and the fragility of life.

Not only does the garden’s energy go downwards and focus its energy on soil life, so does the farmer go inward. All season long our energy is focused outward on the surrounding farm buildings, animals and plants. All enthusiasm and fervor is poured into the various life forms we foster and maintain. In the winter, we go inwards intellectually to regain a sense of passion for our vocation. Winter is a time for reflection on the season, a time to ‘recharge our batteries’, and plan for an upcoming season of fruitful bounty.

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Youkon Gold Potatoes or Russet Potatoes-  We had a split bed with some gold potatoes and some russet potatoes.  The russets have the brown skin and the golds have more of a yellow skin.  The potatoes are a bit dirtier than usual this time because it was so muddy when we dug them.

Acorn Winter Squash- The large green thing that looks a little like an acorn-that's your winter squash!  The really ripe ones will have a nice bright orange spot on the side of them to show that they are fully ripe.  Squash does not need refrigeration.  Just leave it on your counter or in a cool, dry place.

Danvers Carrots- These carrots aren't my favorite variety.  We're experimenting with new varieties of carrots.  Their tops were strong which made them great for bunching.

Parsnips- A small giving of parsnips this week as we dip into the bed for the first time.  They smelled so sweet during harvest.  Probably the first truly successful year of parsnips that we've had.

Celeriac Root- Yes, another one of those weird, brainy looking things.  But guess what, they're delicious!  Peel and roast or boil like a potato.  These roots will store in your fridge in a plastic bag for months if you want to keep it that long.

Broccoli- Absolutely beaufiul broccoli this week.  It came a bit sooner than I expected it to.  You can eat the leaves and the stalks of broccoli if you want to squeese as much as possible out of them.

Onions- Some yellow onions to go with your everything!

Garlic- Some of our Asian Tempest Garlic.  Garlic will keep for monthes as well in a cool, dark and dry place.  This garlic is spicy, but we like it that way!

Peppers-  Either a colored bell pepper, a dark green ancho pepper or a green bell pepper.  We didn't quite have enough of the colored bells for everyone.  There are more peppers to come as we have our final couple weeks of peppers before the hard frosts start hitting.

Hot Peppers-  Everyone got a hungarian hot wax pepper (banana pepper) and a cayenne (long, red, skinney) pepper.  Rememver you can cut these up and freeze them if you don't need the heat now.  The cayennes are meant for drying.  They will dry down quite nicely in a dry, well ventilated area out of the sun.

Spinach-  More of this yummy, green, nourishing goodness for your salads and casseroles.

Cilantro-  We learned this summer that you are not supposed to harvest cilantro with wet leaves.  We do not wash cilantro anymore because we do not want to get it wet or else it will get slimy.  Wash well before you use it.

Recipes:

Celeriac Potato Hash Browns with Jalapeno and Cheddar

Mashed Potatoes, Parsnip and Garlic

Garlicky, Gingery, Lemony Carrot Salad

Parsnip Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting