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It’s a good thing there are only 24 hours in a day

Hustle, hustle, hustle! When the weather turns and the sun comes out, it is all hands on deck. I have to keep reminding myself that it is only April and that I will be planting crops until August. I used to think that vegetable farming was a marathon race, but now I am more inclined to think of it as a track meet.

Yes, the season is long, but it really feels like a series of sprinting events, and the starter gun has definitely gone off. We are getting the peas, spinach, beets, chard and lettuce planted. We are also getting the ground worked up for potatoes, corn and winter squash. So in the spring we are mostly preparing the ground for planting and then planting it.

As the season marches on we are still working the ground for summer crops, like tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, but we add in weeding – lots of it (ugh!). We also add harvesting of those early planted crops of lettuce, spinach, etc.

About June we move into a weeding, watering and harvesting cycle. Life also begins to mellow and the days become more manageable (ahh! deep breath). Life feels normal. We are not quite there yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

We have lots to do between now and November. This week we are planting strawberries and potatoes!

 

Sprinter (Farmer) Tristan

 

 

 

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Order your grass-fed beef before prices increase!

Prices for our local, grass-fed beef will go up $0.10 per pound after April 30th, so place your order today!

June beef is sold out, but we still have shares available for August and October.

 

Mashed Cauliflower with Cheese and Chives

Ingredients:

1 medium head cauliflower

2 tablespoons cream cheese

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 clove crushed garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Trim the stem from the cauliflower and cut it into small florets.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and simmer just until tender, about 8 minutes.

3. Drain the cauliflower florets and transfer them to a food processor. Add the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese to the food processor and pulse until creamy. Add the garlic and pulse for about 30 seconds.

4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the chives, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with additional chopped chives.

Adapted from Kelly Senyei’s recipe from justataste.com

Know Your Produce: Beets

If you’re not a fan of beets’ famously bright hues, then cover your work surfaces before you start peeling, slicing, and grating. To store beets, cut the greens from the roots, leaving an inch of stem attached, and place the different parts in separate plastic bags and refrigerate. Beet roots will last at least a month, but you should use the greens within three or four days.

Roasted Beet and Fresh Greens Salad

2 1/2 lbs. small beets, trimmed and scrubbed

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt

4 cups leafy greens, with any thick stems removed

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beets on foil lined with parchment. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil; season with coarse salt. Wrap foil into a sealed pouch. Roast beets on a rimmed baking sheet until easily pierced with a skewer, about 45 minutes. Carefully open pouch; when beets are cool enough to handle, rub off skins with paper towels. Halve beets (or quarter if desired).

2. Arrange beets and greens in a serving dish. In a skillet, bring remaining 3 tablespoons oil and cumin seeds to a simmer; toss with beets and greens. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Recipe adapted from marthastewart.com

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To 2017 and Beyond!

Week of April 17, 2016

Yes, I am looking ahead. On the farm I always have the past, present, and future on my mind. I am referring back to previous years, concentrating on the weather windows to do things on the farm the current year, and preparing for future years. So this year, with an eye towards the future, we are planting more plums, pears, raspberries, and strawberries again. Here is a little update on what we are growing for the future.

Plums.  The Yellow Egg plum, is a European plum that produces an abundance of large, oval, freestone, golden yellow fruit with a golden interior that tastes like honey. The Yellow Egg has juicy flesh and is very sweet and is grown for the outstanding quality of the fruit which is excellent for dessert, cooking, and canning. This addition to the Italian plums and Green Gages will round out our plum plantings. We will have Italian and Green Gages in September, but look for the Yellow Eggs in 2018.

Pears. This year we relocated our Stark Crimson pears and added some Orcas pears and a few Asian pears for pollination. The Orcas pear was discovered by horticulturalist Joe Long. He discovered this tree growing on his property on Orcas Island, Washington and it has become a regional favorite. The fruit is large, flavorful, scab resistant, and loaded each year with yellow fruit with a carmine blush. The pears are great for canning, drying, or eating fresh. Look for them in 2018. We will have Bosc and Conference pears this fall.

Raspberries. Tulameen is the “go to” choice for fresh market farmers. These fresh market berries are large, have good sugar content, and are bred for hand picking. We pick them every two days during the season. Our new plantings will produce in 2017, but really come on in 2018. For this season we will have Tulameen from our plantings in 2014.

Strawberries. Albion is an ever-bearing type with long, conical, symmetrical, and firm fruit bursting with sweetness. This strawberry produces from June to October. We love this berry because it is sweet, but also does well in August (when there is less rain!). Look for these in August 2016, with them really producing in 2017.

I have selected these fruit varieties for three reasons: 1) they grow well in Stanwood, 2) they work with my organic approach to farming, 3) I personally like the flavor and am excited to eat them!

Lastly Tomatoes. There’s nothing like a tomato fresh from the garden. We are planting hundreds of them, but for you home gardeners we will be offering plants very soon! These plants are grown by our friends at the Rents Due Ranch. We will start selling tomatoes (slicers, pears and cherries) and pepper plants in early May. The May window to plant tomatoes will be perfect this year, given the colder and wetter spring we have had. Stay tuned for more information!

Back to the farm, I am sure I can find something to do. 🙂

Tristan Klesick

 

Recipe for this week’s box menu.

Sautéed Parsnips and Carrots with Honey and Rosemary

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound carrots (about 4 large), peeled, cut into slices 3 inches long by ¼ inch thick

1 pound parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored (if large), cut into same size as carrots

Coarse kosher salt

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 1/2 tablespoons honey (such as heather, chestnut, or wildflower)

Preparation:

  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  1. Add carrots and parsnips.
  1. Sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper.
  1. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to brown at edges, about 12 minutes.
  1. Add butter, rosemary, and honey to vegetables.
  1. Toss over medium heat until heated through and vegetables are glazed, about 5 minutes.
  1. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired.

 

Know Your Produce 

Radishes

Benefits: Radishes are a good source of vitamins C and B6, folate, riboflavin, and potassium, as well as many other trace nutrients. Due to their dietary fiber and diuretic properties, radishes promote healthy digestion and purify the kidney and urinary systems.

Storing: Remove the green leaves and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Preparation: Wash radishes and trim the roots just before using. You do not need to peel radishes. Soak red radishes in ice water for one hour to crisp before serving. You can grate or slice them for salads, or add as a garnish.

Search online to find new ways that you can add this power vegetable into your diet.

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A Time To Plant

I was talking to a group of second graders the other day about farming. I found that they ask some amazingly insightful questions; an insight, I think, that comes from their simplicity. A few were already well on their way to a life of healthy eating.

But as we talked back and forth, I wanted to impress upon them that eating good food starts with the soil and ends with a choice. Choosing an apple or carrot (the most popular vegetable) will help them grow up smart, healthier and strong. I explained to them that healthy plants don’t get sick, and the healthier we are, the less sick we get. It was a delightful 30 minutes with young ones eager to learn.

I too have a choice. I choose to farm without chemicals and work with nature to raise food in a watershed, in a local community, on a family run farm.

Thank you for the choice you also are making. You have chosen to support a farm that raises food without chemicals, in your watershed, in your local community, run by a family on a farm. That choice will make all the difference in the world for your health, your family’s health and your community’s health.

That is why planting the first crops of spring are so special for me, because I get to raise food for local folks – who get it!

Last week we took advantage of the nice weather and got a goodly amount of healthy lettuce and peas planted! It feels so good to get some crops in the ground.

Hang on, the local season starts with planting and ends with good food on your plate!

Tristan

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We're headed to a home & garden show near you!

Come show your support for the community and share your passion for healthy homegrown food with your fellow Green-Thumbs. We’ll be there too, so be sure to find us and say “Hi!” We’ll be hosting a raffle each day to give away organic produce at the show (including for current customers) – you won’t want to miss it! Here’s the details so you can put it on your calendar.

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Everett Home and Garden Show

March 11, 12 & 13

xfinity arena at Everett Broadway & Hewitt Everett, WA 98201

Show Hours: Fri: Noon – 7 PM Sat:10 AM – 6 PM Sun: 10 AM – 5 PM (Click image for tickets and more info.)

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Skagit Island Home and Garden Show

March 18, 19 & 20

Skagit County Fairgrounds, 1410 Virginia Street, Mount Vernon, WA

Show hours: Fri, 11AM-6PM Sat,10AM – 6PM Sun, 11AM- 4PM (Click image for tickets and more info.)

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Port Susan Home and Garden Show

March 19

Camano Center – Camano Island WA

Show Hours: 10 AM – 4 PM

FREE ADMISSION (click image for more info)

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Farm Musings

farm musingsFinally, a good stretch of planting weather! This is an awesome time of year. Things just start ramping up when the weather breaks. Every farm in the valley is going “hog wild” right now. But after the last few years, every one of us is pushing our equipment to get as much done as possible before…well, we just don’t know what the future holds and the weather is good now.

This last week, we were able to plant the potatoes. We are upping our planting by 500 lbs. this year. When it comes to potatoes, we are “plain Jane” around here. I like to plant one red variety called Red Lasoda. I like its flavor and it consistently performs well on our farm. The yellow variety is called Satina and it has to be one of the most flavorful creamy tasting “taters” for the fresh market. The plants are luscious and really respond to our valley soils. It feels good to have these planted and checked off the list.

June strawberries—I should have some, but that patch is weedy; oh man, is that patch ever weedy. I haven’t decided to weed or not. Sadly, it is a matter of economics. The cost to weed the patch would be more than the crop is worth. As you can infer, I am leaning towards just picking it. The strawberries for August are looking good and less weedy, at this time.

Our sugar snap peas are up and going. They will probably be ready to start harvesting mid-June. We just planted our second crop of them. I love those peas—plump, sweet, juicy peas—can’t wait!

We planted our first round of green beans. This planting may be a tad early—time will tell.

We have also started the first batch of winter squash in the greenhouse and will probably direct-seed a second batch as well. There are so many kinds of winter squash. We have settled on one acorn variety, three different varieties of Delicata and, of course, we planted a splash of Cinderella pumpkins.

But my favorite crop this year has been all the birds. With the addition of an orchard and a few hundred new trees planted around the farm, we have seen an explosion of wildlife. When we moved here there were the usual suspects like robins, swallows, a few Steller’s Jays and crows. Of course, there are lots of bald eagles and hawks, too. But this year we have a huge resident flock of finches and sparrows. 

I am really excited about a new addition to the mix of birds this spring—a nesting pair of Mourning Doves. Those doves are so beautiful and make great farm help. They have upwards of ten offspring a season and their favorite meal is weed seeds. And as far as I am concerned, they can have the whole crop of weed seeds. ☺ 

 

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This Year, Chestnuts

Joelle’s family has had stately old chestnut trees as a part of their landscape for years. When we moved to our current farm in 2003, we planted a few offshoots from these trees. Our farm also has three magnificent old walnut trees. Trees like these are planted for the next generations. Based on photos of our farm, our walnut trees were planted in the 1940s. It must have been a trend because many of the farms near us have similar-sized English walnuts trees.
 
When Joelle and I attended the Great Lakes Ag Expo last December, we happened upon an MSU chestnut bulletin expounding the benefits for farmers to plant chestnuts. And since we already had the chestnut connect  ion with Joelle’s family, we decided to add chestnuts. Now, next to our apples, plums, and pears, there are 16 Basalta #3 and 3 Marival chestnut trees. Hopefully, we will see our first chestnuts in 2015, with strong production in 2017. But unlike the chestnut trees of old, these will be maintained to a height of 20 feet, instead of 60 or 70 feet. 
 
Planting trees is exciting. The very act of planting an orchard is a statement of optimism for today and the future. While I was planting the trees with Nathan (Nathan helps out on our farm and other farms, and is the son of Mike who works in our office), we started talking about how the farm has changed over the last 10 years. I commented, “Maybe this will be my last major change or addition for a few years.” Nathan, with a Cheshire cat grin, wilily retorted, “I haven’t seen it yet.”
 
Alas, I must concede he is right. I am such a dreamer and I love to grow food. You see, the winter time is a dangerous time for farmers because now we have time to dream, and the dreaming turns to planning, and planning becomes chestnuts or greenhouse tomatoes or late summer strawberries.
 
Regardless of my dreaming, there is a real need for healthy farm-fresh food choices and that need is greater than ever today.