June Fourteenth

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In our second full week of June your farmers have been having a hard time thinking of much else other than the very, very concerning drought conditions we are experiencing.  We are in a moderate drought zone here in Southwest Wisconsin.  We did get a little teaser of 2/10 inch on Saturday night which didn’t even make it to the root zone of our shallow-rooted veggie plants.  The last rain we received was two weeks ago when we got 6/10 inch.  So less than an inch of rain in the last month which is our heaviest planting season of the year when the plants are young and trying to establish themselves as healthy transplants.

Our farm copes with drought using a product called “drip-tape” which is a single-use plastic tape or hose with 6 inch drip emitters.  The good news is we are equipped to lay drip tape anywhere on our 13 acres of vegetables and get water to any and all plants that have drip-tape on them.  The bad news is that the drip tape is expensive, is a single-use plastic product, and takes a lot of human time and labor to lay out and pick up.  More good news is that our farm has survived drought years in the past and they have historically been good growing seasons with less weed competition for the crops and we have always been able to fill the CSA boxes wonderfully full even in drought years.  And a tiny bit more of good news is that the drip tape is a highly efficient use of water which is also a precious resource in drought years.

Really big farms dig “High Capacity” wells which require special permission from the DNR to dig and cost tens of thousands of dollars.  They can pump up to 100 gallons of water from the ground per minute and can literally ‘make it rain’ on a farm with large rain guns.  Sounds dreamy to an over-worked farmer on a small-scale vegetable farm like ours who has been busy switching out header lines, managing the pump, pressure tanks and irrigation lines running in every direction on the farm.  Dreamy maybe, but we haven’t quite been able to justify the cost of such a massive undertaking and no plans to take such a leap-even in dream-land.  Currently on our farm we can pump 20 gallons a minute into at 1500 gallon tank and from that tank, we use another pump to move the water to our fields through 2” lay flat hose which feeds the drip tape.

But today I count my blessings.  My father called on Monday morning to see if we got frost.  He woke on Monday morning, June 12th to FROST which killed his 12 pepper and tomato plants in his little garden on a ridge in Platteville, WI, a whole zone and 2 hours driving SOUTH of us!  Yikes!  What if we had gotten frost?  Frost would have killed all of our pepper and tomato plants.  What would a farming season be like with no tomatoes or peppers?  In my 20 years of working on farms, I have never seen frost after June 1st.  Never.  May 29th, yes.  May 30th, yes.  But never after June 1st!  It’s worrying to think that I will have to adjust my farm scope to the windows of time that we will need to be concerned about frost potentials on our ridgetop farm. 

By the end of this week we will be back into temperatures in the upper 80’s deepening our drought conditions.  The ten-day forecast shows temps steadily rising for the foreseeable future into the 90’s.  Drought may be one thing we have to deal with, but prolonged heat stress on the plants is not something we’re quite as well equipped to handle.  The “spring” broccoli, peas, strawberries, lettuce, radish and turnips do not love the heat stress and their fruiting and production could suffer. 

Normally I’m a very cheery and optimistic person, and forgive me if I sound grumpy, but it helps to share with you the realities of our production struggles.  We’re in this together, right?  No matter what, we do have community and compassion and understanding!  We also have 13 acres of young, beautiful, healthy, well-tended-to organic vegetables planted with a lot more time for things to turn around.  Let’s pray for rain, moderate temps and summer evenings filled with friends gathered around tables full of delicious meals prepared in love! 

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What’s in the Box?

Pac Choi-  Also called Bok Choy or Pak Choi.  These are the greenhouse grown pac choi that we love to put in the first couple CSA boxes of the season.  They are a treasured gem of the Springtime boxes that we only offer in the Spring.  Wonderful in a raw salad, stir fry, Asian brothy soup or whatever you fancy!

Cherry Belle radish-  These were prime about a week ago, but we’re still loving their bright red color, spicy flavor and crunchy texture.  Wonderful shaved onto all of those spring salads you’ll be eating or eaten with a veggie dip or hummus!

Shallot-  About a half pound per member.  These are overwintered from last season and preserve beautifully in the cooler for the winter months.  They will want to sprout if left out on your countertop, so please keep them in your fridge until you’re ready to use them up.  They are perfect for sauces, dressings or marinades, but can also just be used like an onion anywhere you might like to cook with onions! 

Overwintered Potatoes-  2 pounds per member.  Most folks received the red norland potatoes, but you may have received the Yukon gold as we were running out of reds we moved into the golds.  These may also want to sprout if left on the counter as they were also overwintered.  Keep them in the fridge unti you get the chance to use them up! 

Cilantro-  One generous bunch per member this week.  We love cilantro with pad thai, tacos, or Asian or south-western dish you love!  We find cilantro to be a popular item!  Keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge! 

Herb Packs-  A little four-pack with basil, thyme, rosemary and oregano.  Plant these little fellas as close to your kitchen as possible so you can run out and take snips of fresh herbs while cooking this summer!  They will also thrive in a pot with plenty of fertile soil and sunlight if you don’t have any outside space for them. 

Romaine Lettuce x 2-  Wow!  What beauties!  Romain is wonderful in cesar salads, like a wrap in place of a tortilla or taco shell, or simply in salads of your choice!  Stores best in a plastic bag in the fridge. 

Spinach-  about half pound bags per member.  Another spring treat that we are happy to offer that we may not see again until the cooler months return in the fall.  Wonerful in salads, on pizza, lasagna, with eggs or however you can get your greens into yo body! 

Recipes

Pac Choi Stir Fry

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Cesar Salad

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Nicoise Salad

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Spinach Artichoke Pizza

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