Thinking of winter … why now?

(CSA Newsletter: Week 19)

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Beet greens OR Yukina — Your choice between a heaping bag of baby beet greens (great for a salad or for cooking) or the Asian green Yukina (also great for a salad or for cooking).
  • Arugula OR Salad mix — How do you want your salads this week: slightly nutty and spicy (arugula) or fresh and sweet (lettuce)? Your choice!
  • Collard greens — We eat collards all winter, but they’re awesome in the summer too! In fact, collards are one of the best warm weather cooking greens around (and yet they’re our hardiest winter green too!). Prepare as you would kale, but cook for a slightly longer time.
  • Kohlrabi OR Fava beans — Your choice between these two vegetables that people seem to either love or hate (or so we hear at the CSA pick-up — more voices in favor of love, but there are still a handful of haters out there … vegetables sure can elicit strong reactions at times!) Anyhow, we love them both and would have a hard time choosing. Either way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your selection!
  • Fresh sweet onions
  • Garlic scapes — Roasting a chicken? Half way through, throw whole garlic scapes into the pan with the chicken and let cook in the drippings. Serve whole, alongside chicken. Eat a bite of garlic scape with a bite of chicken — savory heaven.
  • Last week’s unexpected high water has since receded (yay!), however that extreme weather event has us thinking about the extreme weather events in the other side of the year.

    Yes, can you believe it? It’s just barely summer, and we’re already planning for winter. That’s the life of a farmer — always looking months ahead. (To that end, everyone commented on the good coincidence that Rusty was born in December — coincidence? Hardly! He was planned, just like how we plan our leeks and winter squash! But, anyhow …)

    As you’ll remember (since we’ve mentioned it a million times this year already), last December we experienced record low cold temperatures in our fields (6°!). And the December before that, we experienced what has since been dubbed the “Snow-pocalypse” (the two weeks of snow and ice storms that shut down the northwest). And the December before that, we were hit with the biggest wind and rainstorm since (and rivaling the strength of) the Columbus Day storm of 1962.

    Each year, these events have made harvesting for our last few CSA shares incredibly challenging and somewhat iffy. So far, we’ve managed to pull through by harvesting early and putting chains on our box truck to drive to town in ice.

    However, we’re starting to think that December is a month when we should expect extreme weather. Which maybe means that it’s not the ideal time to be harvesting for the CSA.

    So, we’re changing things. First of all, as part of our plan to someday remodel our house into two-stories of living space (instead of upstairs living and downstairs work), we needed to find a new home for winter squash, sweet potatoes, onion, and garlic storage. We also wanted to be able to store these items more effectively, since they have particular storage wants (winter squash and sweet potatoes prefer warm dry temperatures and onions and garlic prefer cold dry temperatures). Because our storage hasn’t always been ideal, we lose a good percentage of some of these crops each winter (especially the winter squash). Our hope is that by storing these things better, we won’t have to rely quite as heavily all the time on the fields for storage of other crops.

    This week Casey and crew worked diligently on two new 12×16’ storage rooms built inside our pole barn — one insulated and heated room for the warm stuff and another insulated and air conditioned room for the cool stuff. The spaces are almost done already, and will definitely be ready for the harvests later this summer. We are so excited to finally have proper storage, which will really ease our minds going into the winter.

    Before the extreme weather arrives, we’re also planning to dig and store more of our winter root crops in storage than before — some of them will go with the onions and garlic and others will go into our cooler. Again, having more carrots, beets, celery root and such stored will help us stay calm in the face of ice storms and potential floods. We can’t do anything to change the weather, so instead we’ll try to change our response to it and how well we’re prepared.

    In 2011, we’re also going to shift the CSA season somewhat too in order to better time our six-week break with the fiercest, coldest, darkest part of winter, which usually lasts from December through mid-January (which makes sense, since those are the closest weeks on either side of the December 21 winter solstice). So, next year our CSA will start earlier (mid-January) and end earlier (end of November). It will be the same number of weeks, just different timing.

    This year’s CSA will end the same time as usual: mid-December. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a mellow December this one last time that we’re actively harvesting for the CSA then. (And, don’t worry — we’ll remind you of all these changes again before 2011!)

    So, I hope I didn’t upset your summer mindset too much by bringing up winter. Especially when the weather has just finally turned sort-of warm and dry-ish. I know that the warm weather was wonderful here on the farm — we finally hilled the potatoes and re-planted our sweet potatoes (the first batch died because of all the cool wet weather!). It was a lovely weekend, even if we were sometimes thinking about winter (crazy farmers that we are).

    Enjoy the warmer weather and this week’s vegetables!

    Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

    ~ ~ ~

    Important dates – Coming up!

    Sometime soon ~ The CSA pick-up will move to the newly remodeled Market building in the Granary District! We’ll keep you posted for the date when we know it.

    June 27 ~ Open House at the farm! We’ll be hanging out at the farm from 2-4 pm and welcome you to come out and see your crops growing for yourself! We’ll give farm tours at 2 pm and at 3 pm. If you arrive in between those times, you’ll be welcome to take a self-guided walkabout.

    Directions to the farm: Take HWY-18 to Dayton. Take the Dayton exit and stay heading south on HWY-221/Wallac Rd. After about six or seven miles, look for signs to Heiser Pumpkin Patch. Turn LEFT onto Grand Island Rd. After you cross the bridge onto the island, take the first RIGHT onto SE Upper Island Rd. Our driveway is the first on your LEFT.

    July 1 ~ Third $240 payment due for folks on the quarterly payment plan!

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