Provider Farm

From our fields, for your family


June 19, 2016

This Week's Share

*This list is a general guideline of our best guess of  what the crops will do in the week. We usually get it right on the nose but nature can always surprise us. Local on farm shares are composed of a choice of the items listed. Terra Firma Farm shares are a selection of the best of the weeks harvest selected by the farmers.  Each crop listed is a hyperlink to our website that gives you information about storing the crop, cooking guidelines and recipes.

This past week I was away from the farm in a crash course in  preemie care at the hospital. And holy cow, have things changed on the farm! Its amazing how quickly things grow at this time of year. Now is the time when the harvest ramps up and exciting new things come into the share every week. 

The summer squash is just starting to produce. We grow a green tipped variety called Zephyr. Yum! We should have summer squash throughout the summer since we plant three successions of it.

Also new to the share is Chinese cabbage. Chinese cabbage is cabbage to much of the world. Last year, a Chinese cabbage shortage caused a national emergency since Koreans eat kim chi with every meal. You could try out making some kim chi with yours, or try it raw in salads and slaws and it is also wonderful stir fried.

There may be sugar snap peas, one of our best pea crops yet, but no promises. If not Terra Firma will receive an additional item.

Recipe of the Week: 

Karen's Yummy Chinese Cabbage and Olive Salad

  • One small Chinese cabbage washed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere or parmesan cheese
  • red wine vinegar to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped

Mix the ingredients and serve.

Karen Romanowski

Game of inches

One of our cultivators in action.
One of our cultivators in action.

Dear Friends,

How did the 4th week of the CSA get here already? It feels like just yesterday we were scraping ice off our truck windshields and staring longingly at our seed catalogs. Mid-June, the fields are full and the real fun starts. Our crop walks take a lot longer at this time of year but fortunately for us, there are plenty of snacks we can pick up along the way. While we can take a peak at the peppers and see how far along they are, the only way to know exactly how far along the carrots are is to pull a couple. Even though we don’t expect them to be fully mature, they are getting close. A couple inches long and bright orange. Hopefully they will be in the share either next week or the week after. After checking on a few carrots, we find ourselves with a small handful of baby carrots… you might as well eat them rather than let them go to waste. This little pattern of behavior repeats itself over and over again as we weave our way through the fields. By the time we finish with our crop walk we’re usually a bit more than full.

So much of our ability to manage the acreage that we do and grow the amount of food that we are able to is dependent on our ability to mechanically cultivate our crops. “Mechanically cultivate’ basically boils down to being able to kill weeds with our tractors. There are many different ways to accomplish this, but at it’s simplest and most basic, you just need a piece of steel attached to the tractor to go where the crop isn’t and disturb the soil and kill the weeds in between the rows. On our farm, this can be any thing from very simple shanks bolted to a very simple frame to a far more complicated (and more expensive) set of rolling wire baskets that are designed to kill small weeds without brining up any more new seed.

The simple truth is that we just don’t have enough hours in the day to kill all the weeds on our farm by hand. It is literally all we would do and we still wouldn’t be able to do it all. At this time of year everything grows so fast by the time we got done weeding a bed of carrots we would have to go back to the beginning and start weeding again. The cultivators allow us to take care of 90% of the weeds with a couple of passes with the tractor so we only have to handle 10% or so of the weeds by hand. Some crops are even competitive enough, that after taking out 90% of the weeds with the tractor they can just out compete the remaining weed population.

Like most other things on the farm, good mechanical cultivation is 90% operator. You can have the most expensive, cutting edge weed killing technology at your finger tips but if it’s not set up well, you’re not going to get anywhere with it. The closer I can get our different, knives, shanks, shovels and baskets to the crop(without damaging it too much) the less weeds we will have to go back and remove by hand. This leads to me often spending a significant portion of my time, lying in the dirt on my belly, tape measure in one hand, wrench in the other, trying to dial our cultivators in closer and closer. There is something I find particularly satisfying about getting all our tools set up just right so we don’t even need to go through and hand weed when we’re done cultivating. It doesn’t always work out that way, but when it does we love it.

The better the cultivators are set up, the less time we spend on our hands and knees and the more time we can focus on other farm tasks, which is a good thing in my book

On behalf of our farm crew,

Hannah, Holly, Chris, Marycia, Tory and Larry

Your Farmers,

Max and Kerry

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