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173 130th Street • Deer Park, WI 54007
507.923.6251 • sweettopfarm@gmail.com  
www.sweettopfarm.com
CSA Newsletter: Week Thirteen
07 September 2016
scroll down to read what is in your CSA box, storage tips, recipes, and see photos of the farm this week
SAVE THE DATE
Annual CSA Member Harvest Party and Pumpkin Pick
Saturday SEPTEMBER 24th 4-6pm
friends and family welcomed (no dogs please)
details to follow
All About Alliums

In preparation for the week, Adam and I look at the weather on Saturday night and make a harvest plan for the days ahead. No farmer wants to see the prediction for several inches of rain over a couple of days, and we were less than enthusiastic about it after a pretty darn wet August. Instead of taking some time off over the weekend, we instead decided to harvest for CSA shares on Sunday and Monday instead of our typical Tuesday as well as take care of the last direct seeding of spinach, arugula, turnips, and kale. Many items--lettuce mix and cabbage especially--would not fair well with torrential rains and harvesting potatoes and carrots in mud takes four times as long and a lot more water to clean. So it goes, and we're glad we did. Although it didn't rain much on Tuesday, we did get almost 2.5 inches of rain during the storms early Monday morning and Tuesday morning. As for the direct seeded crops, well, time will determine if the rain washed away or silted in the seed. It's too wet to seed more right now, but we might still be able to squeeze in a reseeding next week if things didn't germinate well and the ground dries out.

Other than harvesting, maintaining a few of the fall crops, and seeding the last of the cover crops, work in the fields is slowing down. Now we turn to cleaning garlic and onions and taking inventory on what we have available for the remaining shares as well as the Fall Shares (more information coming soon regarding registration for fall shares). Our allium crops (onions, garlic, leeks) this year started off looking fantastic, and we felt that we were giving them great care--regular weedings, mulching the garlic at just the right time, hilling the leeks when they were supposed to be hilled. The leeks and the onions, however, had to endure straight-line winds at a young age, damaging and bruising the leaves, followed by lots of dewy mornings and humid weather. These conditions contributed to the plants getting Alternaria porri, or purple blotch, which spreads by spores in the wind or splashing rain. This disease does overwinter, so crop rotation is critical and destroying volunteers the following year is necessary.

As for the onions that we have curing, we are
meticulously sorting them and hope that you receive a good onion each week. This disease is the reason that you only receive one a week, and the fall shares will receive fewer than usual.  Purple blotch shows up as water soaked spots on the onion that eventually causes rot. Stem infections eat into the center of the onion. Many people expressed their condolences about the loss of our tomatoes, but for me, losing a large percentage of the onions is more upsetting. Onion seed is the first to be planted in the greenhouse in early March. We plant them by hand and much of the weeding happens by hand as well and many times until mid August when harvest occurs. It always blows my mind when I see the price of onions so low because a lot of work goes into that crop.


As for the leeks, the purple blotch is easier to see as it eats through the layers of the leeks. We discard the bad ones as we harvest and will plan to harvest a majority of the leeks that are still good in the coming weeks for your share. If you receive more leeks than you can use, just put them in a plastic bag and keep them in your fridge until you need them. Or, make potato leek soup and freeze it for a cold winter's night. You learn how to chop, clean, and freeze them for use later by clicking on this link. 

We were suspect of the garlic early on when we harvested scapes that seemed unusually soft. The plants looked great--better than ever before--but something didn't seem right. During harvest and as we are cleaning, we're finding that many bulbs are split and cloves seem to be separating from the center neck. While they are just fine for using right now, storage will be compromised (last year we had garlic until May; this year, we are hoping it will last until January). So, we're planning to start fresh this fall by planting all new seed garlic. 


All of these issues just challenge us to be better problem solvers. We are already planning for next season and have several new acres that we will plant next year that have been in pasture the past two years while we give some of the land we've been using the past two years a rest. We'll spend time next year fallowing the potato, tomato, and allium fields from this season while keeping a watchful eye for volunteers that might be carrying the diseases of 2016. We're already talking about row and plant spacing and how much we will plant of these crops to have better air flow and decrease drying time on dewy mornings--both things that can decrease the chance for outbreaks of these diseases. The wheels are turning so that we can be better farmers on our land and for you, our farm members.

Alright, this was a little long-winded, but we felt it was also important information and education about your crops. Details about individual vegetables are below. Since we harvested your salad mix on Monday, please plan to eat it soon as its storage life is much shorter than that of large leaf lettuce. Enjoy this week’s harvest during the upcoming cool nights. 

Your Farmers,
Megan, Adam, and Edith

What's in your box and
where does it go?

 
  Fridge? Bag?
acorn squash no countertop
cabbage yes plastic
carrots yes plastic
cucumber yes plastic
garlic no countertop
leeks yes plastic
onion no countertop
peppers yes plastic
potatoes no paper
salad mix yes plastic
Recipes
 
Leek, Mushroom, and Lemon Risotto
 
1 cup leeks, white and light green parts
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 -3 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 3/4 cups arborio rice
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 lemon, juice and zest
2/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
salt
fresh ground black pepper
lemon wedge

Slice and wash the leeks well. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the leeks and mushrooms, cooking over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the pan and saute the onion over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. Stir in the arborio rice and cook for 1 minute. Add one cupful of stock to the pan and cook gently, stirring occasionally; until all liquid is absorbed. Continue stirring in one cupful of stock at a time, until each cupful is absorbed. This should take about 25 minutes. The risotto should by the end turn thick and creamy; the rice tender but not sticky.

Just before serving, stir in the leeks and mushrooms, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, lemon juice and zest, half of the cheese, and the fresh herbs. Adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, garnish with herb sprigs and lemon wedges. Serve warm.

Adapted from Food.com

Acorn Squash Bisque
 
1-2 acorn squashes (3 pounds total)
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1/2 cup half ­and­ half


Preheat oven to 450°. Halve squash lengthwise; scoop out and discard seeds. Place squash, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast until almost tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 25 minutes. When cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh, discard skin.

In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium. Add onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add squash, thyme, broth, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to medium, and cook until squash is very tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Working in batches, puree mixture in a blender until very smooth, about 1 minute. Return to pan; add half and half, and season generously with salt and pepper. Thin bisque, if needed, by adding more water. Serve garnished with thyme.

Adapted from Marthastewart.com
 
Click these recipes for additional ideas:
Details about today's
CSA box

Acorn Squash
Two green winter squash that are shaped like acorns. No need to worry if you don't eat them this week, if stored in a cool dry place (a basement, an entryway, a garage--until it gets too cold) these squash will keep for several months.

Cabbage
A tender green cabbage that is wonderful raw or sauteed lightly in butter along with your leeks. It will also keep for a while in your fridge; just peel off the outer limp layer.

Carrots
Loose carrots this week that are perfect for lunchboxes.

Cucumbers
This is likely the last cucumber of the season. The plants have been quite generous this year, but it's time to say good bye.

Garlic
This variety is called Porcelain and is slightly spicy raw but mellows nicely with cooked.


Leeks
One large or two medium leeks. More mild than an onion, these are often used in soups or risottos bringing a lovely flavor that just can't be provided by an onion.


Onion
A yellow onion this week. Our onions were hit with purple blotch. Read the newsletter for more detail.


Peppers
These are all sweet peppers--bell and pointed Italian. 


Potatoes
A variety called Dakota Pearl that is similar to a Yukon Gold but with whiter flesh. Slightly sweet and great roasted, mashed, or how about Potato Leek Soup.

Salad Mix
Time for a nice big salad! We cut this lettuce on Monday so it didn't get destroyed by the rain storms. We encourage you to eat this mix soon because baby lettuces do not keep as long as head lettuce.
Clockwise: Sassy got herself tangled up in some flower netting while sniffing out a critter; I took a picture of a tree frog in the flowers only to notice another one later--can you find it?; Edith getting some tractor work done before the rains came.
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173 130th Street
Deer Park, WI 54007






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