August Twenty-Sixth

Sweet corn is just one of the many crops we grow on the farm, but it is undoubtedly a fan favorite.  Sweet corn grown in season, picked at peak ripeness and coming directly from your CSA farm certainly is a welcome treat.  This tricky crop is a little harder to grow that you might think.  We have been growing it every year since the start of our little CSA, but we are still learning how to grow sweet corn with all of the many dynamic needs this tall grass needs to make large, juicy, sweet cobs that we get to pick before the raccoons beat us to it. IMG_1016The Hardy Monday Morning crew happily picking pecks of peppers in the perfect pepper patch.

This year we out-fooled the raccoons for the first time ever!  This is a huge defeat!  We went to our local True Value and bought an electric fencer that hooks up to a deep-cycle marine battery.  We strung two electric wires, 6 and 12 inches above the ground, all the way around the ½ acre patch.  Farmer Adam did a little trimming to make sure the fence didn’t get grounded out by weeds and tall grass around the perimeter of the patch and put a little peanut butter on the fence to make sure the coons knew we meant business.  Even still, we saw a nominal amount of rabbit damage chewing on a few cobs that were close to the ground.  Those tricky rabbits!  But at least we didn’t loose 50+ percent of the ears as we have in some previous years to the raccoons!

We also figured out spacing.  Believe it or not, we transplant our sweet corn at 6 inch spacing!  Transplanting sweet corn, as our full time guys, Joe and Todd, will tell you is tedious.  This involves the tractor moving at it’s slowest speed and Joe and Todd working as quickly as their experienced hands can move, plunking sticky blades of grass into a wetted, pre-poked hole in the soil.  Corn doesn’t like to be crowded with too many other corn plants too close to it competing for air flow, water, nutrients and sunlight.  In contrast, they can’t be planted too far apart where weed pressure will also encroach competing for the same elements. 

Now that we’ve out-smarted the coons and got the spacing down perfect, we also need to make sure we choose varieties that taste good and that have the right amount of day-length so that they will mature when we want them to.  We planted our sweet corn in 5 successions, hoping we would have 5 weeks of sweet corn givings for our CSA, but two of the successions matured at the same time (hence a larger giving this week) tweaking our plan a little.  We transplanted a 68 day variety in late June hoping for a fifth giving of sweet corn, but we learned that short-day varieties of sweet corn (varieties maturing under 72 days) do not like to be transplanted.  Also, we suspect that sweet corn should not be transplanted any later than mid June.  There really is something to the old adage “knee high by the fourth of July”. 

Sweet corn also has teriffically high fertility needs.  Growing sweet corn requires high nitrogen and zinc in the soil.  And since we have yet to irrigate our sweet corn, timely rains after transplant and up until tasseling are essential to good production.  Mother nature always has a hand in the game as well.  As much as we may carefully map out our production plan, high winds, rain, hail or even temperatures that won’t cooperate have stakes in the game too.  It is always a true blessing to harvest this bounty of food.  These vegetables are so much more than a little love and a good idea.  Lotts of hard work and helping hands went into your little box of goodies too!

Sooo...What's in the Box????

It was a very tight fit to fit all of the produce into the boxes this week.  We couldn't fit some of the produce we had harvested into the boxes this week.  We appologize if your produce seemed a little jammed in the boxes this week, we had a very difficult time getting the boxes closed this week!  FullSizeRenderThere is Jay with with a tooth-less tomato. Or does it look like a grumpy tomato? Or a teenage mutant ninja turtle tomato?

Watermelon or Canary Melon-  Most member received a large watermelon.  Or, you may have received a yellow canary melon and a small watermelon or you may have received two canary Melons.  The canary melons are yellow with a firm, green, sweet flesh.  It's melon time!  

Tomato Mixer Bag-  A large 8lb+ bag of a mixed variety of tomatoes.  One of the fun parts of being a CSA member is receiving a mixed variety of slicing tomatoes.  You have have received some romas, standard hybrid red slicing toamtoes or a few different looking varieties of tomatoes that could be red or pink or yellow when fully ripe.  You'll know when they're ripe by the richness of their color.  We recommend keeping your tomatoes on the counter until they are fully ripe.  Use them up as they ripen.  You can put them in the fridge when they are fully ripe, but refrigerators do seem to suck a little flavor out of a tomato.  Try to avoid the fridge/tomato combo if you can.  

Sweet Corn-  Ten ears per member this week!  Sweet corn loses it's sweetness every hour that it is off the plant.  We recommend eating up your sweet corn as soon as possible to enjoy it at it's maximum sweetness.  Sweet corn prefers to be stored very cold if you must wait.  Don't let it sit out on your counter.  

White Onion-  Cuz you gotta have that onion!

Garlic-  We shared the very best garlic variety with you this week.  The German White variety has 3-6 cloves per bulb that are nice and large cloves!  Garlic stores best in a cool, dark and dry place.  Referigerators work fine, or it will store well on your countertop if you'll use it in the next 6 weeks or so.  

Mini Sweet Peppers-  These are the really cute little red, yellow and orange peppers at the bottom of your box that are a new, fun variety that we tried this year.  Mini-sweets were all the rage at the Dane County Farmer's Market last summer, and we had to try growing them to see what the fun was all about.  Don't let these be confused with your hot peppers.  These ones are sweet!  

Cucumber, Zucchini, Summer Squash or Patty Pan Squash-  Ths summer squashes and cucumbers are going out of season fast!  Each member received just one cucumber or one squash.  

Eggplant-  One eggplant per member this week.  The eggplants varried in size quite a bit.  Some were the large standard eggplants and some were the smaller Japanese eggplants.  Eggplant production also seems to be waning in the shortening days.  

Green Beans-  A .92lb bag of beans for everyone this week.  We also planted some dragon tongue beans that are a flat, yellow bean with purple streaks on the beans.  If you received some of these dragon tongues, consider yoursleves lucky, there weren't as many of these.  One more week of green beans coming up next week.  

Beets-  About a pound of topped beets for everyone this week.  Beets store best in a plastic bag in the fridge.  IMG_1021Mini-Sweet Peppers all mixed together in a bin. Yummy!

Sweet Bell Peppers-  Two to four sweet peppers per member this week.  We determined how many you received based on how much space was left in the boxes this week. We tried to fit as many in each box as we could.  This was one of the last items to go in the boxes this week and we were running out of room to fit them in.  Some peppers are yellow, red or orange.  A beautiful color addition to the boxes this week!  

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper-  This is the longer, lime-green colored hot pepper that sometimes turns an orange-ish color when *ripe*.  These peppers are funny because they are usually picked lime green, but a small 10% of them will turn orange and get a touch sweeter as they "ripen".  Hungarian Hot Wax are also called "bananna peppers".  Despite it's big name, these are among the most mild of all hot peppers.  Technically they are considered a hot pepper, but they are not usually hot.  Although sometimes they are!  

Jalapeno Hot Pepper-  This is the small, green pepper that packs a little more punch.  A couple members have told me they don't think they're very hot, but I guess I'm a little wimpy when it comes to heat, because they're hot to me!  

Red Curly Kale-  A modest bunch of red curly kale this week for everyone to ensure you're eating your greens!

Thyme-  Really nice bunches of tyme this week that add such a nice aroma to the boxes.  If you don't have a use for all of this tyme right away, you could lay the bunch out to dry in a warm, dry place or put it into your dehydrator to dry the herb, strip the leaves from the stems and store the dried herb in a mason jar with a tight lid to preserve the flavor.  

NEW!  Adam's Best Guess for Next Week!  

Disclaimer:  This is only our best guess from what we see up and coming from field walks.  Next week's actual box may look slightly different from this projection.  

Potatoes, Carrots, Red Cabbage, Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Hot peppers, lettuce, green beans, garlic, onion, basil, maybe an eggplant and/or cherry tomato


Best Ever Texas Caviar with Sweet Peppers, Hot Peppers, Onion and Garlic-  From Linda Hale, a local CSA Member.

Roasted Parmesan Pattypan Squash- from Linda Hale, a local CSA Member!

Pickled Baby Pattypan Squash-  From Linda Hale, a local CSA Member


Cheddar-Jalapeno Cornbread

Tequila Braised Corn Salsa