Weekly Share

As strawberries wind down and the first official days of summer are here, we move with enthusiasm into summer crops- the season’s first cucumbers and zucchini are plentiful, and a welcome addition to our farm meals.

The field tomatoes seem to grow a few inches every day. At least weekly we add another string to the trellis to keep them upright. As you can see from the photo below, the cherry tomatoes are full of fruit, and just starting to blush.

We transplant multiple plantings of cantaloupes and watermelons. The first planting is loaded with baby lopes. It’s not quite summer until you eat a fresh melon straight from the field, the sweet sticky juice dripping down your chin! Soon enough!

The green beans are another summer crop you can expect at the farmers markets this weekend, and as a pick-you-own in the CSA share next week.

Even as we harvest the last of the spring crops, keep cultivating and harvesting and eating summer crops, we are looking forward to fall. It is the farmer’s job to always be thinking not only a few hours and days ahead, but also planning months in advance. There’s no cramming for the test in farming…! Fall spinach, broccoli and cabbage are being seeded in the propagation greenhouse, and the leeks were just transplanted into the fields. The winter squash field looks amazing and we are already seeing the first tiny fruits.

Last night we savored our dinner outside, watching the twinkling lightning bugs as the light faded, enjoying a delicious meal, our bodies and minds nourished and content. Does life get much better than that? Happy summer solstice! Enjoy the beautiful days and tastes of summer!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

This week we are transitioning from the harvest of green garlic to garlic scapes. The scapes are the flowering tops of the stiff-neck garlic plants. They make a delicious side dish on their own.  My favorite way to enjoy them is tossed in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled on low heat until carmelized. Snapping off the scapes promotes bulb growth of the garlic. With a half an acre planted, our crew will have quite the aroma of garlic about them after snapping all those scapes!

Blooming Glen’s lettuce of choice was featured in Bon Appetit magazine, Why the Foodist Loves Little Gem.”  We fell for its crisp crunchy texture and sweet flavor- a sort of combination butter head and romaine. It’s relatively easy to grow, and in demand by local chefs. The leaves are perfect- snap them off from the base, until you get to the lovely heart at the center. It’s great in sandwiches, salads, try it halved and grilled, or use the leaves as scoops for your favorite filling, as Chef Kristin did in last weeks demo. You can find this lettuce in your CSA share and on our farm market stands.

6/17/14, share #3

Out in the fields we’ve been dealing with a lot of insect pressure. Our greenhouse and field tomatoes have been covered in red aphids. We ordered a beneficial insect to help us out called aphidius colemani. Don’t worry, these parasitic wasps are about the size of a gnat and won’t sting humans. They will however sting and lay eggs in its aphid victim. We don’t mess around when it comes to our tomatoes! We’ve seen good results in the greenhouse tomatoes. Now we have 7,500 on their way to be released in the field.

The field potatoes are coming along beautifully. With all the rain over the past month we were lucky we didn’t suffer any major losses. We have heard of a few local CSAs who lost their entire crops from rot. We have an early planting that we did on beds of black mulch to capture more heat. We did lose probably 30% of those. However the field potatoes are on some of our better draining ground. Between the rains we were able to hill and cultivate, and with just the ends of the beds having washed out in the downpours, they seem fully recovered.

We hope to harvest one of Farmer Tom’s favorite crops, new potatoes, for you within the next 3 weeks!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

This week’s share sees the addition of beautiful pick-your-own sugar snap peas. The vines are loving all the steady rain and cool nights. The peas are prolific and sweet. This is the variety of pea where you eat both the pea and pod- no shelling required. I love them sauteed in a little butter with spring onions- just until tender and bright green.

6/10/14, share #2

Each year brings us new faces to the farm crew, and over the past 9 seasons we’ve had probably 50 or more employees pass through here in some capacity. There’s something special about this years group. The season is in full swing and we are hitting our stride. It truly feels like a team effort. Maybe we are becoming better managers, but this group also brings a level of enthusiasm, respect and commitment that really shines. Each and every one of them is doing amazing work on the farm, every day, for long hours. Hard, dirty, tiring, and rewarding work.

Tomatoes are being trellised, hundreds and thousands both in the greenhouse and in the field. The sweet potatoes, winter squash and second planting of watermelons and cantaloupes went into the ground over the past two weeks.

Trellising heirloom tomatoes in the greenhouse; planting sweet potato slips.

The weeds are officially growing, and fast, so we move en masse through sections of crops, weeding by hand around the vegetables, and using the cultivating tractor to weed the aisles. All the while we harvest, 5 out of 7 mornings a week, and fit in the field work in the afternoons. It’s a juggling act, but one we do out of a shared love for growing good food. And there is nothing more rewarding then seeing your smiling faces, your baskets loaded with fresh veggies headed for your kitchens and your stomachs.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

The first CSA share of the season was harvested today. Now it can finally feel like winter has passed! For the farm crew it is rewarding to see all the smiling strawberry-stained faces after the months of planting and preparation leading up to this point. The energy of the farm widens to embrace the CSA community.

Each Tuesday we will post a photo of the share here on the blog, labeled with crop names, just in case you get home and forget what you have.

6/3/14, share #1

Many of you may have had the chance to meet our new CSA greeter, Sandi Viscusi. Sandi will be keeping the pick-up room stocked and bountiful, and will be available to answer any of your questions during CSA pick-ups.  She’s happy to offer you cooking tips as well, should you need them, or point you in the direction of the pick-your-own crops.

We’re looking forward to a wonderful season here at the farm!

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

In this week’s share and on our market stands you’ll see a few different winter radishes: daikon, watermelon and one you might not be familiar with- the black radish. The black radish, or round black spanish type, is a variety hailing from eastern Mediterranean countries. It has a history as both a food and a medicine that goes back thousands of years in Egypt, Greece, Rome and China. Egyptian tomb illustrations from 2000 BC are thought to show black radishes and it was perhaps the food of the builders of the ancient pyramids. High in Vitamin C, they are known for their ability to fight off infection and promote healthy digestive function. In Russia, the black radish has long been used in the treatment of thyroid problems and imbalances.

The black radish has a black skin, ivory flesh and a crisp dry texture with a pungent earthy flavor. With its soaring heat (it can be very hot!), the black radish is recommended grated raw as a substitute for horseradish. It’s also delicious roasted. A popular German way to enjoy these long-storing radishes throughout the winter is sliced, sprinkled with salt then rinsed after about 10 min. to remove some of the bitterness, and eaten on rye bread with a dark beer!

CSA share, week 23, 10/29/13

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Week 16 of the CSA share, as well as the bounty at the farmer’s markets, sees the overlap of both summer and fall crops. With just 8 more weeks of CSA pick-ups to go, and the autumn equinox quickly approaching, the pace on the farm has become less of a frantic dash and more like a steady walk. After a brief reminder of the summer heat mid-week, the return to cooler weather and the diversity of new crops has me pulling out my cookbooks and dreaming of comfort foods like autumn soups and squash pies.

CSA share, 9/10/13, week 16.

The focus of the past week was digging potatoes. Thousands of pounds later, they are all out of the ground and stored in burlap sacks, ready to be enjoyed well into late winter. I guess you know you are truly a farmer, when even after gathering up hundreds and hundreds of potatoes, crawling around on your knees in the dirt, I still found delight in each and every one I unearthed, from the fat purple and pink streaked “Purple Vikings” to the deep red “Sangres” to the lumpy gold “Kennebecs”. It was a perpetual easter egg hunt to the very last spud. And the continual discovery of clay-colored toads made the task all the more delightful. Our old trusty red pick-up truck wasn’t so happy, however, as it suffered under the extreme potato weight.

Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

The avalanche of summer crops is finally upon us- the heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, eggplants and zucchini, the cantaloupes and cherry tomatoes, and gorgeous cutting flowers. Coming soon- watermelon, red field tomatoes and sweet peppers. Most of our garlic has been harvested and hung to dry- next up to be harvested and dried is the storage onions.

The heat spell passed and the cooler weather is a welcome relief to the farm crew. Finally!! To say it was difficult to stay mentally and physically sharp in the extreme heat last week- even with shorter days and frequent breaks- is an understatement. We were all feeling physically and emotionally exhausted by the end of the week. A huge thanks to our dedicated farm crew for enduring such challenging weather.

Surprisingly, despite the heat, the ground is still soggy from the continual rain storms.  We’ve been waiting for a chance to make beds for planting more fall crops: most importantly cauliflower, broccoli, fall radishes and roots. Hopefully Saturday is our day to plant!

This week’s share tipped the scales at a whopping 20 pounds! The heirloom tomatoes in the share included a rainbow of varieties: cherokee purple, cherokee green, brandywine, striped german, valencia, great white, and paul robeson. We harvest them ripe- so all the colors you see are ready to eat, even the green ones! It’s been very rewarding for the farm team to finally witness the fruits of seeds sown in February, and subsequently grafted, planted, trellised, pruned, irrigated, and generally spoiled over the past 5 months. Enjoy!!

Text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Photos by Tricia Borneman, Sam Malriat, Robin Hernandez and Bob Dixon.

11.2 inches of rain have fallen on the farm in the last 30 days- that’s a quarter of our annual rainfall. As farmers we pretty much are always checking the weather radar, but these past few weeks it seems like we are glued to our mobile devices, as storms constantly pop up and head our way. Luckily there has been enough drying time between downpours for us to get the last of the winter squash planted, along with the leeks and brussel sprouts. We were also able to cultivate the sweet potato aisles, stake and trellis the peppers and eggplants, and hand weed the corn, onions and sweet potatoes.

CSA share week 6, 7/2/13.

This week’s share sees the first of the potatoes- freshly dug with tender uncured skins, they are called new potatoes, and should be refrigerated. Our crew had the chance yesterday to get up close and personal with the colorado potato beetle- left to its own devices this colorful striped beetle will rapidly defoliate the potatoes (and eggplants), eventually killing the plants. Instead, we hand pick them off the crops, dropping them into buckets of soapy water.

Cantaloupes; sweet potato vines

Walking throught the cantaloupe field this weekend, there was a steady hum of honey bees. It won’t be long before we are enjoying these fragrant fruits. The sweet potato vines are rapidly spreading- they seem to be flourishing in the rain, as are the green beans. Despite lots of muddy feet, CSA members enjoyed the pick-your-own flower patch this week, which is in full bloom.

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

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.