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Author: bloomingglenfarm

With the Summer Solstice right around the corner, we hope these intermittent rain storms that continue to plague the farm are the last hurrah of Spring. Despite the rain showers, the warm sun and winds have lessened the puddles and mud, and the process of drying out has begun.  The weeds on the farm have enjoyed the wet weather, so now our job is on hands and knees, moving down the beds, pulling weeds. We started in the pick-your-own flower patch, and moved on to the fields of celeriac.

The farm share this week saw the first carrots, basil and garlic scapes, as well as pick-your-own green beans.  For Father’s Day I made a basil pesto and tossed it with steamed green beans- it was the hit of the barbecue. Diced garlic scapes can be subbed in for garlic cloves in your favorite pesto recipe, but I prefer to highlight their unique flavor in a wonderful side dish all on their own.  Garlic scapes, the flowering tendril of stiff-neck garlic, taste almost like a garlicky green bean. My favorite way to enjoy them is grilled- just toss them in a bowl with oil and salt and pepper, and grill until tender and carmelized. Delicious! For more ideas, check out these recipes from a previous blog post, Slaw Variations and Garlic Scapes. To preserve that wonderful garlic flavor into the winter months, I’ve also made pickled garlic scapes. Here’s a recipe from Food in Jars blogger, Marisa McClellan.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Plants want on average an inch of water a week. We received over 8 inches of rain in just a few days. With an average annual rainfall of 40 inches, we’ve had our fair share. The ground reached its saturation point during Monday’s downpours. It started as a warm misty rain, falling gently as we picked summer squash, then it came down in sideways sheets. Rivers were cascading through the fields, and down the aisles, and the low ends of all our beds were close to being submerged. Luckily the farm made it through the night without any more accumulation, and enough drainage occured for us to be able to harvest the next morning.

CSA share week 3, 6/11/13

We will certainly see the affects of the storm in a shorter strawberry season, as well as short term damage in crops like spinach, a tender green that hates wet feet and quickly starts to turn yellow from water stress. The soggy soil will delay our planting schedules and keep us out of the fields until some serious drying happens. Just another reminder that despite our best efforts, farming is ultimately out of our control. This lesson is always a hard one to swallow, no matter how many times we are reminded.

Harvesting summer squash in the rain.

A major portion of our harvesting this week was done with a conveyor belt to ease the amount of foot traffic in the fields. In anticipation of Thursday’s thunderstorms (and tornado warnings- yikes!), we harvested for the Thursday CSA pick-up on Wednesday evening until dark.

Late day harvest of napa cabbage.

This was after a full day weeding and trellising our tomatillos and field tomatoes.

Posts going in for tomatillos; Trellising field tomatoes

Through it all our crew kept smiling! What a week!

Lexi with a bundle of spring onions.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

If you’re like a lot of our market customers and CSA members, you might find yourself puzzled as to what to do with that oddly shaped vegetable you picked up this week. On first glance it can be daunting to figure out how to even begin to use it. But kohlrabi, which comes from Eastern Europe and is the German name for ‘cabbage turnip’, is really just a strange looking sister to the cabbage family and can be used in many similar ways. You can eat the bulbs raw or cooked. Shred them into a salad with some lemon juice or substitute them for cabbage in your favorite coleslaw recipe. They are equally delicious cooked into a stir-fry or vegetable sauté.

I’m new to kohlrabi myself. But, I’ve already found my favorite way to use it… in fritters! Mostly composed of ingredients you’ll already have in your cupboard or refrigerator, they are really simple to whip up and take very little time. You can use them as a side dish or for a lighter meal, pair them with a spring salad mix. However you use them, one thing is for sure, you’ll definitely remember them the next time kohlrabi season comes around!

Start by combining the following ingredients for yogurt dip and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving: 1/3 cup yogurt, 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and salt to taste. *For a different sauce, you can replace the dill with cilantro and the lemon with lime juice, and add a bit of honey. Or try mint!

Meanwhile, peel and shred the 4 kohlrabi bulbs into a colander and sqeeze out excess moisture. In a separate bowl combine 2 beaten eggs, 3 Tablespoons dried bread crumbs, 1/4 cup chopped spring onion (you can add in some green garlic too if you have it), 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper and black pepper to taste. Add kohlrabi by the spoonful and mix until egg is coating the entire mixture. Heat 4 Tablespoons of olive oil in skillet until small bubbles appear. Form fritter mixture into two-inch balls and drop into skillet. Press gently with spatula to flatten. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Serves 4-6

Recipe adapted from: From Asparagus to Zucchini, A Guide to Cooking Farm Fresh Produce (3rd ed.). Photos and text by Blooming Glen Farm apprentice Rebecca Metcalf.

Green garlic stalkWoo hoo, another season has begun at Blooming Glen Farm! I’m sure you were as excited as I was about the first share of the year. Fresh strawberries, lots of greens (including gorgeous spinach), turnips, and green onions and garlic have been making their way into our meals all week.

Green garlic is probably a crop that most of us aren’t too familiar with, but can do a lot for meals and nutrition. Green garlic is “baby” garlic, also known as spring garlic. Although it’s smell is as pungent as the mature bulb, the flavor is much more mild and can be enjoyed raw in salads, or cooked, where it sweetens up a bit. The greens can also be used, similar to how one would use chives. As far as nutrition, green garlic contains the same great benefits as garlic:

  • Allicin, a natural antibiotic that helps boost your immune system by blocking infections.
  • Iron, which keeps iron levels high in your blood stream, and ferroportin, a protein that transports iron from the inside of a cell to the outside of it.
  • Vitamin C, a super vitamin that can help with everything from weight management to cancer prevention.
  • Vitamin B6, which has been shown to help prevent heart disease.
  • Selenium, which support our cancer-fighting antioxidant system.
  • Manganese, another mineral that supports antioxidant efforts, as well as our “good” cholesterol (HDL).

Luck for us, there are lots of ways to utilize green garlic in the kitchen. Here are a few yummy recipes to add to your recipe box:

I’ve been using the creamy (and bright!) green garlic dressing below with grain and pasta salads, green salads, and in stirfries this week.  I’ve played with a couple different oils and vinegars and they all turned out tasty. If you don’t have the called-for ingredients, feel free to play around with what you do have on hand!

Green garlic dressingGreen Garlic Dressing
Ingredients
2 stems of green garlic, trim bulbs, include greens
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup water
1 tbs agave honey, plus more to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Simply add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, adding a bit of water if needed. Adjust agave, salt and pepper to taste.

Post sources and recommended links:
What’s New and Beneficial About Garlic, from WHFoods.
Ferroportin on Wikipedia.
Spring Vegetable to Try: Green Garlic, from PopSugar.
Green Garlic: All The Flavor & Nutrients 5 Calories Can Handle from Your Organic Gardening Guide.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

The spring bounty was evident at the farm this week. As we enter year eight here at Blooming Glen Farm, we are pleased to see that our steady soil building practices seem to be yielding more vibrant, health-nurturing vegetables each season. The crops are exploding with the heat and steady irrigation, though it looks like we’ve returned to more reasonable weather and cooler nights. Despite seeing the first of the lightning bugs, we still have a few weeks until the Solstice, the official start of summer!

CSA share week 2, 6/4/13.

Last week was a tough week on the crops, but also on our crew. With a steady flow of popsicles, cold beverages and lots of sunscreen on hand, we made it through the worst of it. There were some bigger weeds to contend with- a lot of hand pulling in our onion crop- but we spent the hottest part of the days thinning carrots. Slow and low to the ground, this task required a bit less exertion than being in the greenhouse saunas trellising tomatoes.

Thinning and weeding carrots.

The only crop that got planted last week was the eggplants- it was just too hot to shock tender transplants when it’s in the upper 90 degrees. The heat went on just long enough to cause some problems for our cooler weather loving crops: the tatsoi bolted (put up flowers), some newly emerged radishes withered under the row covers, and we are seeing more heat-loving pests like aphids and flea beetles. To help combat the aphids on our greenhouse heirloom tomatoes, we released parasitic wasps. These tiny wasps look more like gnats than the wasps we are familiar with, but they will take care of the aphids over time.

A rainbow of cabbages.

Our spring cabbages are a rainbow of color, and will be harvested in a few weeks. Interested in learning to make sauerkraut or other simple tabletop pickles? I’m thrilled that we have local fermentation enthusiast and author of the fermentation site Phickle.com, Amanda Feifer, coming to the farm in a few weeks. Her fermentation class is 12-2pm on Sunday June 23, you can click here for more info and to register. After reading Michael Pollan’s wonderful article in the Sunday NY Times Magazine on May 15, Some of My Best Friends Are Germs, I am ready to add more fermented foods to my diet and boost the beneficial bacteria in my gut! Hope to see you there!

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

In the Discovery garden at the CSA you’ll find the wonderful edible flowers, chive blossoms. Neighboring farmer friends of ours have been selling chive blossoms for years to chefs, where I imagine the blossoms are sprinkled on soups, garnished on salads and mixed with goat cheese. I was delighted to discover on Marisa McClellan’s Blog, Food in Jars, a very simple home recipe for what to do with these beautiful springtime treats.

Chive Blossom Infused-Vinegar

First harvest or purchase one bunch of the purple chive blossoms. Next, remove the blossoms from the stem, soak in a bowl of cold water to remove any bugs or dirt, and then drain well. You can use a salad spinner to dry them, or leave in strainer for a few hours to air dry.

Then pack a mason jar 2/3 full of the blossoms and cover with raw apple cider vinegar or white vinegar (raw apple cider vinegar has more health benefits than the white vinegar, however you won’t get the same colorful results as shown in the photos below)- you can use a pint or quart size jar depending on how many blossoms you have. Leave the vinegar in your pantry in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks for a chive flavored vinegar.

Within just a few days the vinegar has turned a gorgeous bright pink and has a wonderful onion aroma. The longer you leave it to infuse, the stronger the chive flavor will be. Strain out the blossoms when ready to use. This vinegar can then be used as a base for salad dressings or marinades. I love to use it in my potato salad, in place of raw onions which Farmer Tom doesn’t love, the chive blossom vinegar gives it a more subtle onion flavor. You can also read a recipe posted on the blog last spring for Escarole Salad with Fennel and Orange that uses chive vinegar.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

The CSA is off and running, with the first pick-up on Tuesday, May 28th. Despite the rain CSA members were smiling in delight at the fresh vegetables. Those with umbrellas and rain ponchos bravely headed out to the strawberry patch and were rewarded for their efforts with a quart of juicy sweet berries.

CSA share week 1, 5/28/13.

The smell of garlic wafted through the pick-up room.  Green garlic, or spring garlic, looks like a small leek, but is actually a young garlic, before it plumps up to the bulbous form we are all familiar with. You can chop the white part just like you would a leek, and use it in place of a clove of garlic. Its unique sweet flavor is wonderful sauteed with any of the greens in the share. A staple in our house this time of year is sauteed spring onions, green garlic and kale.

If you are unfamiliar with how to cook all these spring greens, or would like some new ideas, I suggest you check out the Glorious Greens cooking class we are having at the farm next week, Wednesday, June 5 at 7pm. Plant-based nutrition counselor Patti Lombardi will be demonstrating a handful of techniques and recipes for enjoying fresh nutritious greens from the farm. Click here for more details and to register.

A soggy harvest crew Tuesday morning with spring onions for the CSA.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

The farm has seen a flurry of activity this week. Like an intricately choreographed dance, the crew has been moving from activity to activity, but the main focus has been planting. Spring has been kind to us this year, with just the right amount of time between rainstorms, allowing the ground to dry out for cultivating, plowing, making beds and planting, so the “indoor labor” like trellising the heirloom tomatoes has been put on the back burner (until yesterday’s stormy day, that is).

The crops seem to be loving the combination of heat and rain, with everything growing by leaps and bounds overnight. It’s hard to believe this is the same field of potatoes planted on April 10, a little over a month ago.

Potato Field: Before and After.

What have we planted these past two weeks? Watermelons and cantaloupes, field tomatoes, cutting flowers, basil, dill, sweet potatoes, tomatillos, hot and sweet peppers, celeriac, the second round of cucumbers and summer squash, sweet corn, the third rotation of green beans (these go in every 10 days for a steady supply, planting 8-10 rotations total), edamame beans, and more! Our last two big plantings- eggplant and winter squash- will happen next week, then it’s just sucession plantings of crops we want a steady supply of, like lettuce and cooking greens. Our summer will be spent cultivating, harvesting, trellising and tending with lots of loving care all that we’ve planted.

Our CSA on-farm pick-ups start next week, May 28 and 30! There’s still space available for both half and full shares. (Our abbreviated 16 week boxed delivery share to Doylestown doesn’t start until June 28th. There’s still space for that as well.) Check out the CSA Rough Guide for the ins and outs of pick-up before you come to the farm next week. This covers important details like BYOB (bring your own bags or box), pick-up times (1-8pm), and what to do first (sign in!).

Ledamete Grass Farm will be delivering their first chicken shares to the farm on the 28th, and also setting up a market table of products for purchase from 1-5pm- no pre-ordering necessary (Well, they’ll be here unless farmer April goes into labor. She and Rob are expecting their second child any day now!). Ledamete Grass Farm will be doing their market booth here at Blooming Glen once a month. Go to their website to get on their mailing list for future dates and to pre-order.

We are looking forward to seeing new and familiar faces at the farm in the next few weeks! What can you expect in the first CSA share? Strawberries, hakurei turnips, arugula, bok choy, spinach, spring onions and more! See you soon!

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Rebecca Metcalf, our second featured apprentice, joined the farm at the beginning of April with her partner Bob. Her steady, willing presence, laid-back attitude, and the unique life perspective she brings, is all such a wonderful addition to Blooming Glen. When she’s not here working hard at the farm, you’ll also see Rebecca’s smiling face at our booth at the Saturday Easton Farmer’s market.

Some of my earliest memories are of going to my grandmothers’ houses and learning to string green beans in the kitchen or to find the strawberries that were ripe enough to pick in the field. The hardest part was not eating them all before I got them back to the house. I was born into a family of tobacco farmers and vegetable gardeners in Lexington, Kentucky. So, farming is something that feels familiar to me. Yet, by age six my parents moved away from farming and into a more suburban life. I still visited my grandparents’ farms as I grew up, but lost the close connection to growing food that I had started to develop as a young child.

Until recently, I hadn’t thought too much about becoming a farmer. I’ve dabbled in other areas, such as hairstyling for a few years and then moving on to work in the social service arena. During these years I was a supporter of local agriculture in and around Louisville, Kentucky, where I lived. I bought CSA shares and frequented farmer’s markets and I even tried my hand at backyard gardening. But, I never dreamed I would find myself as a full time farmer at this point in my life.

Rebecca and her bike in Ecuador in 2012.

Life drastically changed course, though, when my partner Bob (who is farming at Blooming Glen with me) and I decided to save up money and take a year off to travel the Americas. We both love experiencing new places and cultures and wanted to embark on an adventure together. So we sold most of the things we had accumulated in our twenties and hit the road in January of 2012. We headed out on our motorcycle loaded down with all the belongings we would have for the next year. Needless to say, it was quite an adventure.

Rebecca at eco-reserve Miraflor in Nicaragua.

The things that really struck us during our travels were how little we really needed to live on and how far away from our food sources we had been while living in the U.S. I still miss being able to run down the street, in almost any city we visited, to grab a few fresh vegetables from the corner store. They were like micro-farmer’s markets where you could get whatever you needed to cook a healthy meal without having to leave the block. We also knew where the food was coming from because we could see it being transported straight into town from the outlying farms. The huge box grocery store was virtually non-existent during our travels. And, we came to appreciate that change in a profound way.

When we returned to the U.S. we knew that we didn’t want to fall back into a lifestyle that was absent of this connection to food. We also wanted to find a way to acclimate back into U.S. culture without being bombarded by the parts we weren’t so fond of upon returning. So, we decided that working hard, getting our hands dirty and connecting to a movement that we already believed in would be a kind of therapy for our new found state of culture shock in our own home country.

Rebecca planting tomatoes this spring at Blooming Glen Farm.

That’s how we landed at Blooming Glen Farm. As a first year farmer there are quite a lot of exciting discoveries that come along with learning a new skill. Major sources of inspiration for me so far include: seeing a flat of seeds that I’ve sown begin to sprout its first seedlings, the realization of just how many people we are going to feed with our vegetables when the weekly market harvest is accumulated, and seeing the excitement in our customers’ faces at being able to buy fresh, nourishing vegetables from our stand. Working the outdoor market has been one of the best ways to reconnect to our travels for me so far, as it was more of the norm for food buying in the countries we visited.

I’m still awaiting the harvest of those nostalgic vegetables from childhood, though I expect to display a bit more self-control in the strawberry patch than I did at age five. I can already feel my connection to food growing and I look forward to all the opportunities for learning that lay ahead. As this new adventure unfolds, I can’t wait to see (and taste!) all that the season has in store.

Text by Rebecca Metcalf, photos provided by Rebecca.

What would spring be without talking about reemay– the giant white fabric row covers that blanket our crops. This multipurpose tool, that we farmers love and hate in equal parts, doubles as both a bug deterrent and a frost barrier to our early spring crops.  It keeps the first plantings of cucumbers and green beans warm, protects our strawberry flowers from frost damage, maintains enough soil moisture over the mutiple weeks that is takes tiny carrot seeds to germinate, and prevents the minuscule flea beetles from turning the leaves of our radishes and bok choy into swiss cheese.

A view of the cucumbers snug under the row cover.

We woke up this Monday after Mother’s Day to a crunchy silver coating covering the grass and fields. This was the latest we’ve seen frost here at the farm in the past eight years. We knew it was coming, so we delayed planting our field tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Why not use the row cover? Why the love hate relationship? One word: shoveling. And more shoveling. On our blustery hill top it is a struggle to keep those long twisty aerodynamic sheets anchored down. It requires lots and lots and lots of shoveling- a scoop of dirt on the edges every 5 feet or so, or heavy sand bags to weigh down the edges. With acres of 200 foot beds covered with remay, well, that’s a lot of shoveling, especially for our softened winter bodies that haven’t quite strengthened to the arduous work of spring. After a few weeks of planting and covering and shoveling, if we didn’t have them already, we’ve gained some ripped biceps, and a new appreciation for the diversity of tasks that make up being a farmer.

Trellised sugar snap peas; harvesting french breakfast radishes

With the start of the farmers markets, and the first on-farm CSA pick-up beginning May 28th, we begin to make the switch from intensive planting to juggling both planting and harvesting. All the while we still need to find the time for tasks like thinning turnips, weeding carrots, hilling potatoes, trellising peas, mowing grass, fixing tractors, building and repairing greenhouses, and seeding every week so we can keep a steady supply of produce, and jobs, going all season long.

Thinning hakurei turnips; spring onions ready for harvest

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.