CSA News from Windflower Farm – Week 5

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #5, Week of July 2, 2018

Happy July fourth!

Your fifth share of the season will contain peas or bunched pea shoots. This year, we have grown snap peas and snow peas, both of which are eaten as whole pods either fresh or steamed. If you get your peas in bunched form, keep in mind that the tendrils and leaves and blossoms are good in salads and that the stems are woody and should be discarded. You’ll also get bunched yellow onions, purple kohlrabi, potted Genovese basil, garlic scapes and a variety of greens, including two heads of lettuce, Swiss chard, a mustard mix and collards. And you’ll get cucumbers and green zucchinis or yellow ‘Zephyr’ squashes. Your fruit share will consist of Pete’s small but delicious sweet cherries.

We have begun practicing the siesta here at the farm. We were indoors watching the World Cup after lunch yesterday, when temperatures were in the 90s, and then out planting beans in the relatively cooler evening hours. Irrigating happened all day long, but that was largely a matter of my turning valves and operating pumps. It is early Sunday morning as I write this, the Medinas are harvesting collards and Swiss chard and Jan is harvesting some of the longer lived cut flower varieties. They will cool their harvests, dunking them into tubs of cold well water, in the case of the greens, or into buckets of fresh water in the case of the cut flowers, and have them in their respective coolers before the day heats up (we will harvest your salad greens tomorrow). We will then turn our attention to onions, cucumbers, kohlrabi and squashes – vegetables that are less immediately sensitive to the heat. Processing the onions and kohlrabi – removing stems, roots and bad leaves and bunching – is something we will do in the shade, the Medina’s Mariachi music in the background, something cold to drink at hand.

You are invited to our open house at Windflower Farm on the weekend of August 25 – 26. There will be farm tours, a potluck supper, live music, a bonfire, camping (or staying at a nearby B&B or motel), breakfast prepared by the farm crew, a county fair, swimming in the Battenkill River and the camaraderie of your fellow CSA members from throughout New York. More details to come, including information regarding transportation.

I hope you can join us. And I hope you have a happy fourth of July.

Best wishes, Ted

CSA News from Windflower Farm – Week 4

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #4, Week of June 25, 2018

This week’s share contents. Your fourth share of the season will contain some of the usual suspects – lettuces, a mustard mix, Swiss chard, scallions, garlic scapes, kohlrabi and your choice of radishes or turnips. An easy way to use kohlrabi, turnips and radishes is to grate them onto your salad. We have a salad every day, and making it is made easier by grating all three of these root crops and placing them into containers to be used throughout the week.

The dry weather here has delayed the development of our “early” broccoli, cabbage, beets and onions, but they will be coming along soon. Peppers and tomatoes are also sizing up and will be in shares by mid-July. In the meantime, zucchini got started last week and should be in everyone’s share this week. Cucumbers, which are just beginning, will be in some shares this week and nearly all next week. It’s my hope to include one or both of these last items in your shares for much of the remainder of the season.

You’ll also get collard greens this week. If you are from the South, you’ll know what to do with collards. Traditional recipes are available online. A less traditional way to make use of them is as a gluten-free substitute wrap or tortilla. We steam the collards and then wrap any number of things inside: rice and beans, vegetable omelets, curried chicken. Cooking varieties of greens can be preserved by blanching and freezing. Wash the greens, remove any woody stems and blanch in water. Blanch collards for three minutes and most other greens for two minutes. Drain, let cool, place in a freezer bag and freeze.

Your fruit will be Yonder Farm’s strawberries (our varieties have stopped bearing for the season). Pete’s cherries are coming soon, followed by our blueberries.

What’s new on the farm? We received our first real rainfall in over a month! And we are all greatly relieved. I had made initial inquiries about having another irrigation well dug, and the estimate came in well outside our equipment budget for the year. Still, this weekend’s rain will barely get us through the week. Even our bigger pond is now perilously low. So, I think we’ll use the week to rework the budget.

Encounters with wildlife are a regular feature of life here on the farm. Just the other day, standing waist deep in our larger pond as I moved the irrigation inlet to deeper water, I was stared down by three large bullfrogs concerned with what I was doing to their pond, which is now several feet below normal.

Perhaps the more interesting encounters have to do with moose, bears and coyotes, but smaller animals also get my attention. I have a small motorcycle – a Kawasaki Sherpa – that I use to scout crops and tend irrigation pumps and valves. I don’t have a license so I’m mostly limited to farm roads. Late Friday night, I was heading down the narrow ravine road a little faster than I should have when I spotted a skunk in the road. I was heading to the pond to shut down the irrigation pump. The skunk was going the same direction I was headed but well below me. The road was steep and gravelly, and I was not going to be able to stop in time. I did not want to be sprayed, nor did I want to hurt the skunk. A small pond was to my right, and a swamp to my left, so turning off the road wasn’t an option. There was nothing to do but hit the throttle. As I approached, I could see its tail stand straight up. Although I passed within inches, it somehow missed me. I made the mistake of telling Jan about when I failed to make a jump over the large irrigation pipe and took a header last week and she has threatened to hide the keys to the Sherpa, so I haven’t told her about this latest episode.

The fun never ends here at Windflower Farm.

Have a great week, Ted

CSA News from Windflower Farm – Week 3

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #3, Week of June 18, 2018

This week’s share contents.

The third share of the season will be coming your way this week. You’ll get more salad items, including lettuces, sweet Japanese turnips or red and white ‘Fakir’ radishes, arugula, young mustard greens, scallions and kohlrabi. You’ll also have the cooking greens, koji, choy, kale and Swiss chard, to choose from, along with garlic scapes and zucchini. Your fruit will be strawberries (primarily from Yonder Farm this week) and rhubarb. Cucumbers appear to be just around the corner.

What’s new on the farm.

It may be hard to believe, but we have not had a meaningful rain for a month. The farm is parched, and temperatures are ramping up. You’d think it was August the way the lawn is already burning out. Although we expect droughty stretches in summer, spring usually provides the farm with adequate rainfall. So, it seems odd to us that we have been irrigating around the clock. Like most vegetable soils, ours are coarse textured, which means they drain very well. That’s a benefit early in the season, because a well-drained soil warms sooner, and warm soils provide crop nutrients and good growth sooner than cool soils. But our coarse soils are working against us now – some crops are wilting, others are slowing down.

There is little cause for concern at the moment. So far, we are keeping up with our irrigation schedule. Although our back pond is already running low, our middle pond has deep reserves, and our well also appears to have ample water. We have two irrigation reels and miles of trickle irrigation lines to do the job, and most of it is fully functional (although a reel broke down last week, the parts needed to fix it arrived on Friday, and it should be working in the sweet corn by Monday morning). Moreover, the forecast for Monday is calling for afternoon showers. So, there’s room for optimism.

Working with water provided a cool respite from today’s heat. The middle pond is a world away from our manicured vegetable fields. Nestled at the base of a ravine and surrounded by dense woods, the pond is a cool, wild place. As I refueled the pump, I was in the company of tadpoles the size of marshmallows, snapping turtles and Great Blue Herons.

It will be a huge relief when rainfall comes, but with some effort we can fill these gaps between rains. Here’s a look at today’s irrigation activities. Back pond: we irrigated a field of leeks, a field of cabbages and collards and a block of small greenhouses containing peppers, tomatoes, ginger and basil. Middle pond: we irrigated a field of melons, cucumbers, eggplants and cutting flowers. Front well: we irrigated two blocks of cutting flowers, a broccoli field and a bank of small greenhouses containing flowers, more peppers and more tomatoes. If we water every day at this pace, we can irrigate the whole farm once a week.

Here’s hoping for rain. Cheers, Ted

p.s. It is now Tuesday. Monday’s rain never materialized, although heavy rains fell to the north and south of us. We have managed to repair our broken irrigation reel and have used it in the corn and in a newly seeded block. Rain is expected on the weekend. Cross your fingers!

CSA News from Windflower Farm – Week 2

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #2, Week of June 11, 2018

This week’s share contents.

Your second share of the season will be arriving tomorrow. You’ll get arugula and a salad mix, along with baby spinach and lettuce. This might be greens enough for salads all week long! You’ll also get kohlrabi, radishes, scallions and cooking greens or Happy Rich. And you’ll get your choice of potted purple and Genovese basil or Thai basil and cilantro. Our own organic strawberries will fill out your fruit share. Flowers started for everyone last week and it’s Jan’s hope that she can deliver flowers every week for the next nine weeks. Next week, you can expect more salad crops. Sweet Japanese turnips, cucumbers and zucchinis are getting started and, depending on the weather, one or more should be in next week’s share.

What’s new on the farm.

It’s Sunday. Nate is painting a piece of farm equipment he has built, Jan is working in her flower garden and the Medinas are harvesting strawberries.

I’ve just come in from planting green beans with the John Deere and Multiflex seeder I purchased last year. It’s become dry and my tractor kicked up a cloud of dust as it pulled the seeder along. I sprinkled black bacterial spores on the white bean seeds. Once the spores awaken from their slumber, they’ll colonize the bean roots and provide them with nitrogen they have “fixed” from the air. I’ll irrigate these tomorrow as part of a block that includes a new carrot seeding. Three 350’ beds of beans, each bed with two rows, or just over 2000 row-feet. I will repeat this every ten days or so through early August. It is part of a regular seeding I’ll do that includes radishes and greens.

On my way back to the barn, I peeked under the row cover where arugula, a salad mix and radishes have been growing for the past 30 days or so. All three of these will be in your shares this week. We’ll pull them root and all and then bunch and wash them. Bunched, we’ll be able to send them without a plastic bag. For your part, all you’ll have to do is cut them midway up the stem, rinse, dry, and serve.

The locusts finished blooming here a week ago. They grow in groves and produce a powerfully sweet fragrance. The wood is famous for long lived fences, but they are also valuable to farmers as an indicator plant: old timers will tell you that it’s safe to plant your garden once the locusts have bloomed. Last week, believing the threat of frost to be behind us, we planted sweet potato slips, the last of our field peppers, chiles and eggplants and uncovered our cucumbers and squashes.

Have a great week, Ted

CSA News from Windflower Farm – Week 1

CSA News from Windflower Farm

Delivery #1, Week of June 4, 2018

June greetings from all of us at Windflower Farm! Thank you for joining our CSA – we know that you have a number of alternatives to choose from, and we are very happy that you decided to be with us! Your first share of the season will be arriving tomorrow.

This week’s share contents.

Your first share will consist of your choice of potted purple or Genovese basil, which you can keep on a windowsill, plant in a garden, or use in a dish in the next week or two. There will be more potted herbs during the next few weeks. You’ll get Red Russian kale and Swiss chard. You’ll also get a bunch of scallions, heads of lime green oakleaf lettuce and bok choy, a bunch of radishes and a small bag of baby arugula. Fruit shares will start at many sites this week, with our own organically grown strawberries. It’s early days in the berry harvest, and we won’t know our quantities until they are harvested later today. Flower shares, too, will start at many sites this week. And egg shares get underway at all sites with fresh brown eggs from the Davis’s pasture-fed hens. We hope you enjoy your first share of the season. Next week, we’ll be sending more salad vegetables and radishes, along with kohlrabi.

If you are new to CSA, know that the first half dozen shares in our 22-week season generally consist of cool-season salad crops and that the shares are lighter than they will be later on. Cucumbers, squashes and sweet turnips will begin to fill out your shares two to three weeks from now, and broccoli will be soon to follow. And by mid-July, sweet peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, cabbages, carrots and sweet corn should make regular appearances in your weekly share. With warmer temperatures, good things are coming!

In the weeks ahead, I’ll use this space to introduce you to our excellent farm team, and I’ll tell you a good deal about the crops we grow and how we grow them. Every week, we’ll post an image or two from the farm on Instagram (windflowercsa. Don’t hesitate to tell us what you are thinking.

Have a great week.

Best wishes, Ted and Jan

2018 Kick-off Party this Sunday!

Calling all CBCSA members and future members! Come and meet Farmer Ted Blomgren of Windflower Farm and hang out with your fellow CSA members. Stop by for beer and for some delicious snacks provided by Lewis Waite.
When: Sunday, April 22nd, 3:00-6:00pm
Where: King Tai, 1095 Bergen St. Brooklyn, NY 11216
We hope to see you there!

Are you ready for the 2018 season?

Kick-off Party at King Tai

Calling all CBCSA members and future members! Come and meet Farmer Ted Blomgren of Windflower Farm and hang out with your fellow CSA members. Stop by for a beer and for some delicious snacks provided by Lewis Waite.

When: Sunday, April 22, 3:00-6:00pm

Where: King Tai, 1095 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216

We hope to see you there!