Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box has salad and braising greens, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and sweet potatoes, pumpkin, turnips or daikon radish, onions, garlic, and parsley and cilantro

Field Notes.  Well, Sunday some folks came to move the mobile high tunnel to its winter location.  This will warm up the area inside the greenhouse to extend our greens season and speed up some root plantings like carrots.  It went smoothly and we had a tour and potluck after finishing the move.  Ken went down and finished anchoring the greenhouse in the new location; now we are good to go until next spring.

Ken has been digging roots, and  I have been sorting and this week I will be setting up my barrels and sand.  We have tried many ways to preserve roots.  The best for us is the old fashioned way of placing them in sand in a barrel with a damp cloth over top.

Ken has prepared the bed where he will be planting garlic and potato onions once the ground is not saturated.  

From the Kitchen  Whew, there is possible snow in the forecast, so I think of meals to prepare on the wood cook stove or in the oven.  We will be sorting through the blemished squash and pumpkins.  We cut the tops like a jack o lantern, scoop seeds, replace lid and bake.  We eat some when it comes out of the oven, but also scoop out the flesh and save for other meals.  I like to toast nuts in a skillet, set aside the nuts, add butter or nut oil to the skillet, place cooked squash or pumpkin in the warm butter, flip and add chopped toasted nuts just before serving.

Daikon is a versatile radish.  It can be chopped or grated to add to raw salads or slaw, cooked in vegetable medleys or added to soup or stews.  Turnips are delightful peeled, cubed steamed and served with butter.  I often peel, cube, blanch and freeze for some zip midwinter!

 Happy Halloween!
'Til Next Week, Judith

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Moving Day - Mobile High Tunnel

Twice each year we move the mobile high tunnel up or down the track to a new location.  We have usually gotten a crew to help so there is one person on each corner at least.  Last spring Ken and I moved it alone, but that was down hill!

Ken spends about a day getting ready and finishing up.  He has found that adequate preparation makes the process run more smoothly.  He takes down old plants and weeds along the tracks so the greenhouse rolls easily.

He unhitches some of the supports if the weather permits.  Then when everyone arrives they loosen the rest of the anchors and push the supports so the wheels roll down a track

Once the mobile high tunnel is in place, then some anchoring is necessary immediately.  

Thank you to this year's crew

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box has tomatoes, potatoes, daikon radish, onions, Cabbage or kohlrabi or Brussels sprouts, garlic, greens of many sorts, parsley and cilantro, and sweet potatoes.

Field Notes.  Ken returned from a weekend retreat refreshed.  I now appreciate him all the more after I did the necessary chores.  This time of year the pigs are hungry, and they eat a lot! There is the decision to open and close green houses and hoopettes; it all depends on the weather.  We had lows of 27 and 28 this weekend and now highs approaching 70.  No wonder the plants and animals and farmers are confused! 

This weekend we will move the mobile high tunnel over some of the fall greens to extend the season.  Ken will pick the last of the heat loving crops, and so we move on

From the Kitchen.  Sweet potatoes!  The yield depends on how much heat. This year's crop did well in spite of cool nights.  We do not cure them, so use them soon.  They are great baked, and boiled, and Ken made a mash that I am making croquettes and sauteing in oil.  Many people who cannot eat "white" potatoes due to blood sugar spikes do really well with  sweet potatoes. 

Now that we have garlic, I have been making a traditional French dressing or minced garlic, vinegar or lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper, a bit of honey or sugar and olive oil.  My ratio of the ingredients is heavy on garlic and light on the sweet for a zippy accompaniment to lively fall greens like mizuna and mustards with some lettuce.

'Til Next Week, Judith

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! this week's CSA box has tomatoes, potatoes, greens, salad turnips, cucumbers, peppers, onions, garlic, parsley, squash, and raspberries

Field Notes.  As I write this Monday evening, it looks like we will get our first frost.  This is later than usual.  Several of the heat loving crops are ending, and Ken has lined up a crew to help with moving the mobile high tunnel over the fall greens to extend the season.  He has been cleaning up what he can as he can in the current location so it can be as smooth a transition as possible.  He will put in a half day's work in preparation and another after it is moved - first clearing plants and track and second anchoring the greenhouse to track and ground.

Ken is also in the "big dig" phase of autumn.  Starting with onions and garlic in summer he moves on to potatoes and sweet potatoes, then all the roots I bury in sand in the root cellar: beets, carrots, black radishes and daikon, celery root, rutabagas and kohlrabi and then on top (not in sand) storage cabbage and possibly Brussels sprouts.

Ken has also been planting green manures as he pulls crops.  He can plant rye and winter wheat well into November.

From the Kitchen.  Potatoes!  When Ken digs potatoes they are so good.  Some get sliced in the process of digging, and they will not keep so we eat them first.  After scrubbing we boil briefly and then peel while warm.  Ken likes them "smashed" in the bottom of soups or stews.  I like them fried up American style with eggs for breakfast.  And yesterday I made a cream sauce and added them for a "stove top scalloped potatoes" that got Ken's approval.

This is the best part of the raspberry crop this year.  In the heat the Asian fruit flies were laying eggs in the berries, so I picked them for steam juicing.  Now that it has gotten cold the berries seem fine.  If you hit a problem, please let me know

Acorn squash is in its prime!  We like it baked.  cut a cap at an angle like you would for a jack o' lantern, scoop out the seeds and place in the oven on a plate or baking dish.

'Til Next Week, Judith

Monday, October 12, 2015

Autumn in Wisconsin

Each year in September or October we have a frost.  It marks the change from summer to the coming winter. The leaves change color and fall.  Some years the color is stunning.  Others it is more subtle

This year the first frost is later than most years.  With that and heavier than usual rainfall, the leaves have been more subtle. 

 A couple days ago when we had some cloudy weather I took the camera with me on the walk to the mailbox

The garden has also started to change.  The corn is no longer bright green.  The pumpkins are becoming bright, though.  

And the zinnias are nearing their end

Oscar kept glancing back.  He seems puzzled I keep stopping

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden.  This week's CSA box has fall greens - lettuce, spinach and braising greens, a pie pumpkin, onions or leeks, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, cabbage or kohlrabi, parsley, apples and raspberries.

]Field Notes.  The "big dig" has begun!  Each fall Ken starts digging roots for winter storage.  Last weekend he dug the potatoes.  I sorted and boxed them up for the root cellar.  All month we will be adding storage vegetables like celery root, carrots, beets, daikon and black radishes.

As he takes out crops, Ken plants green manures so the soil is covered over the winter and to add back what we have taken instead of mining the soil.  Plant matter also tempers soil temperature so microbes can survive.

Although we have not had a hard frost, most of the heat loving crops are slowing down.  

From the Kitchen. Well even though there has not been a hard frost, we have had some cool nights and lighting the oven feels good.  We have been baking potatoes, roasting vegetables with meats, and baking squash and pumpkins that had blemishes.  We eat the pumpkin when baked and use any leftover in soups and heat in butter for a second meal.  Pumpkins tend to be more moist than most squash and I have a couple recipes for pumpkin bread and cookies.

'Til Next Week, Judith


Ken asked me to order some chicks.  We usually get chicks in August or September when our hens have not hatched out replacement layers.  Although they grow more slowly in fall and winter, it seems to make sense to us to get them in late summer.  There are two reasons.  It takes six months from chick to a hen laying her first egg.  Hens lay fewer eggs when it is cold or dark.  So, getting spring chicks means they start to lay eggs and then quickly stop for the winter.  We feed them all winter for very few eggs!Early autumn chicks start to lay in early spring when the days get longer and it is warmer.

The chicks arrived Friday and we put them in a large cardboard box.  They grow quickly and soon looked too crowded.

So yesterday we moved them to a small stock tank that leaks.

Of course they all move to the other end when I tried to get a photo

They seem content in their new space

Thursday, October 1, 2015


Years ago I told Ken at some point pigs become hogs.  

He has honed this to "After Labor Day pigs become hogs." 

It is amazing how quickly cute little piglets in spring ...

...become pigs and then large hogs.

Ken has been training them to act like goats.  He has been moving some log piles we did not saw up and the pigs are moving them  and climbing up the piles to eat cornstalks.  It is amazing how agile these large animals are!

This year they have grown at very different rates; here is the largest and smallest for comparison

They seem quite content in their home in the woods

Ken's Mushrooms

This year Ken began doing something he has wanted to do for a long time - growing mushrooms.  We have several oak trees shading growing areas - garden, orchard, greenhouses.  And after he took down the first oak he started shiitake mushrooms on the oak that was the right size.

Then he started some mushrooms that required less than a year.  First there were oyster mushrooms - delicious.

Now he has wine caps.  They are juicy and have great flavor. 

With our uneven rainfall, the harvest has been somewhat unpredictable.  We have dried some for sale, too

Fall Tasks

Even though we have not yet had a hard frost, we have begun fall tasks.  Ken has been clearing greenhouses of crops that are done.  He has been mowing and planting green manures so the soil is not bare over winter.  He has begun harvesting winter squash

Soon he will start the big dig and we will be filling the root cellar

Rug Tales

We all see different things as we drive and ride down the road.  A few weeks ago I thought I saw a rag rug on the shoulder of the highway.  Each time I went by the spot I looked and the shape was now wet from rain and less bright, but still there.  After a couple of weeks curiosity got the best of me so I pulled over to look.  Sure enough it was a rug!  It was great fun to see what choices that weaver made.  It is a well made and visually pleasing rug.

I intended to learn to crochet rugs for quite some time.  I love my looms, but during the growing season I never am set up to weave.  I thought if I learned to crochet rugs, I could work on reducing my rag inventory when I was on the go.  Here is my first effort.  I just learned from a library book that I have been doing it all wrong.  A friend showed me, but when I went to do it, my memory was not quite right.  So instead of double crochet, this rug is single crochet.  Once I finish it I will learn and move on.  The next should be better!