This Week

We have some beautiful heads of broccoli going out. However, if you can imagine, each and every stalk of broccoli you find in your CSA Box had the potential to be as large as the “big ones.” Weather conditions prevented this from happening. Perhaps this is a good thing! Just imagine how much broccoli we would have if all of them had fully matured!

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In the box this week you will find Joi Choi, Ching Chang (two varieties), kohlrabi, turnips (both red and white), lettuces, red & green romaine, escarole, endive, kale, broccoli and perhaps tatsoi, depending on the day.

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Organic Produce

Just a word about our (not certified) organic produce–the holes in the leaves that you see mean that veggie has been given ‘insect test certification.’ Or as Robert says, if the insects won’t eat it, why would you want to eat it! And, the early broccoli has some worms. If you miss them when you are washing the head, they will show up in the bottom of  your streamer. They are camouflaged, so look carefully! We have an organic input we will try to apply before the next cycle gets started. They always take us by surprise in the first wave–just too many other things demanding our attention. The situation does make one wonder how much spray has been applied to those heads you find in the grocery store!

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These are turnips!  Not radishes! You can eat them raw, or boil them, or steam them, or roast them. The same cooking methods as pply to the kohlrabi. Actually, kohlrabi translates into “cabbage turnip.”

Here are some turnips ready to roast. Sweet and yummy any way they are fixed. And pretty, too!

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If you are looking for the list of what veggies are in the CSA Box this week, go back one post on this Blog.

 

In The Box

In the box this week you will find Joi Choi, Ching Chang (two varieties), kohlrabi, turnips (both red and white), tatsoi, lettuce, red romaine, escarole, endive, purple mustards, Toyko Bekana–the Chinese Mustard, kale and broccoli.

This is turning out to be a great year for broccoli.  We grow several varieties; so if you think some heads look different from others, this is why!

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I will do my best to pack the boxes carefully so as not to damage the veggies.  Unpacking will be YOUR challenge!

It is dry again.  We could use some rain.  Meanwhile, we will irrigate!

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Circumstances Change Quickly

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Last week I said the crops looked good despite the ample amounts of rain. This week I am sorry to say things are not looking as good. The first three inches we received caused things to start growing, but the next four inches were too much. This stressor coupled with a week of 85 degree temps has caused some plants to bolt and some to yellow and generally look unhealthy. The rains packed down the soils into hard bricks. It is disheartening. There may be a few more of the spring veggies here and there, but for the most part they are done for the season. Then again we can always be surprised—I like surprises!

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We will be moving into the Chinese mustard called Tokyo Bekana (pictured above), lettuce, red romaine, escarole, endive, the first broccoli, and kohlrabi this coming week. There will be some joi choi for spice, red or green kale, and perhaps tatsoi, if they look nice enough to put into the boxes. Use the Vegetable Identification pages on the website if you need more help identifying any of these vegetables! Everything all mixed together still makes for a fantastic, fresh salad.

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The kohrabi may be new for some CSA Members. As you can see above the kohlrabi sits on top of the soil. We grow both green and purple varieties. Kohlrabi is a delightful vegetable which looks in the garden like a fleet of ships just arrived from outer space! It can be peeled like an apple, sliced, and eaten raw–or added to a salad or sauteed and served–you will need to sauté these leaves a bit longer than some veggies.

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To store kohlrabi, cut off the edible leaves about one inch ABOVE the top because when stored in the refrigerator the leafy greens will draw the moisture from the root greatly reducing the flavor and, eventually, causing the veggie to which they are attached to become rubbery.  Of course, it is much better to eat than to store your CSA veggies! Read more about the unique kohlrabi in the Recipes.  You will need to scroll down past the beets to find it.

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Robert planted sweet potatoes this weekend. The starts look very healthy. And the regular potatoes (far right above) are looking good on top–too bad all of the potatoes will have to grow in compacted soil. We are drip irrigating this weekend. I know this sounds crazy after I just told you we had gotten too much rain; but that was a week ago!

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Sweet potato starts arrive by UPS. And check out the mud on the tailpipe of the truck!

CSA Up & Running

We have gone through the first two weeks of the CSA. This means that every member has now received their first veggie box from our farm. We trust you are enjoying your first green salads of the season! Our crops look good despite the ample amounts of rain we have been receiving. The really good news is that WNC is officially out of the drought which has plagued the region for the last fourteen months!

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We have decided to not harvest any more asparagus. The spears are quite small as many of the plants are in only their third year of growth and the past drought was hard on them. We trust a long, cool drink of water will make them more productive next season.

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The potatoes have shown a growth spurt since the rains arrived. It is easy to see if you compare this picture to the one I posted on May 21. The sweet potatoes will go on the far side of the red, white and russet potatoes. The sweet starts have not yet arrived, but there is plenty of time to get them planted.

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You can see the irrigation drip tape in the first row. Apparently, the rains began before anything was planted in this row! Still, as of this moment, we are extremely pleased–all things considered. If it can go right, it will.

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Today was dry enough to plant summer squash! In the foreground, the bean fence is waiting to be pulled into place. The white poll in the distance is one of many required for the seven foot deer fence which will surround many of the gardens.

In your box this week look for joi choi, ching chang, bok choi, and a bundle of mixed greens containing turnip, collard, and mustard. There will also be a purple mustard green and purple choi. We have a light green, bitter member of the Chinese cabbage family, and red or green baby kale, and tatsoi.  All can be eaten raw in a salad or sauteed, if you choose. Wash, chop, eat–then repeat.

Please remember to bring back your box!

Oh, The Critters!

 

We have a time with the critters around here. I have all but given up on my newly planted strawberry patches. I tried pie plates and streamers. I tried netting with bricks placed all along the bottom edges. I tried a fake black snake. The ornery chipmunks managed to get every one of the strawberries.  Those turning red were the first to go. Finally, they even ate the green ones! Today I ripped up the netting and am trying to make a new use of it.

I am not netting the blueberries. We have a good number blueberries and I have given in to sharing blueberries with the wildlife. However, I do not like to see squirrels climbing up and breaking the branches.

I have a pair of very territorial Cardinals. They call to each other all day long making their presence known so no other birds will come into the area. These dominate Cardinals even fight their reflection in the windows—on all sides of the house. I have tried placing cling stickers on windows to keep them from pecking at the windows. This system works for the Tom Turkeys in the early spring when they, too, are defending their territory from THEMSELVES. The turkeys are bad to mess up my front porch stoop with piles of pooh and will bloody the full-glass storm door if I don’t keep cling stickers in place. It does not matter if the stickers celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or Easter—as long as something is on the window.

I thought the stickers would work to keep the Cardinals from pecking at the windows with their strong, little yellow beaks. But no! I decided to “let it go” and “let the Cardinals be” until a couple of mornings ago when they discovered my bedroom window at 6 a.m.! From this moment the war was ON. The stickers did not seem to work for the Cardinals, so today I have taken the next step. I moved the net, in which the ground hog tore a big hole, from the strawberries to the bedroom window. It is currently flapping in the breeze and will hopefully discourage the 6 a.m. “nature sound” wake-up call.

Leaning out the second story window, I was carefully positioning the netting when a wasp flew into the house! The wasps and I have gone around and around for years. It is my opinion they (and the spiders) can have all of the trees, bushes and flowers in the surrounding woods as long as they stay away from the eves of the house. This seems like a fair deal to me! But still, they seem to love to build nests near my doors and windows. I don’t like the smell of and the chemicals in those cans of Raid, but I do like the fact they shoot 35 feet into the air. This season I am trying a new approach. I did a test section of eve by wiping a cloth saturated with lavender oil. It seems to be discouraging them from building in the area. However, in many locations I need to reach 35 feet. I recently purchased a super-soaker water gun which claims to reach 35 feet. I plan on filing it with a water and lavender oil mixture and soaking everywhere I do not want the insects building. More on how this works out in a future Blog.

Don’t get me started on the pack of crows that ate every cherry on the tree before I even realized the cherries were ripening! I was busy in the greenhouse transplanting and one day those blossoms became red cherries without my even noticing. The crows know I did not want them in the tree. When I go out in that direction, they caw-caw at me as if to say, “Go away from our tasty treats.” Crows are smart. They love to eat sweet corn seeds,  in particular. They even distinguish between run-of-the-mill seeds and the organic, specialty seeds. They sit in the trees and watch until when they see Robert and I leave the garden, then they swoop down and eat the seed of their choice. The minute we come back, they fly up into the trees again.

The best crop we ever had of growing sweet corn was devoured in one evening by the raccoons—just hours before we were prepared to harvest it. There must be an app for that called “Sweet Corn Ripe At Cane Creek Asparagus.” After years of trying, this is one fight we KNOW we cannot win. Needless to say, we are no longer growing sweet corn.

Years ago when we started our first orchard, we planted the trees along the creek berm. They were getting a good start assisted by our watering them. One day we discovered the trees missing and gnawed, pointy stakes in their place. If you know anything about beavers, you know why our apple trees disappeared. Robert had to get a boat and go into the creek to tear down the Beaver Lodge. Revenge is sweet! The beavers smartly decided to move on down the creek to a more hospitable location.

Currently, I see a ground hog in my miniature peach tree. It makes a good lookout for him apparently. I would not dare to shoot the critter as there are too many glass windows and rocks which could cause a dangerous ricochet.

Robert has figured out how to install a seven-foot deer fence around the Spring Gardens. It seems the deer are only interested in lettuces and peas and such. Of course, this fence will not keep out the rabbits and squirrels.

Last week we found a snake skin in the front yard about five feet in length. I am pinning my hopes on him. I trust he is hungry and will eat a lot of small varmints this summer on his way to six feet.

CSA Up And Running

We got the CSA started last Tuesday–not too late considering the weather card we have been dealt this season. By now all CSA Members have received their email about when to get their first veggie box! Thank you for being patient. It takes us two full weeks to get the CSA up and running with every-other-week deliveries. After nearly twenty years of CSA planning, planting and harvesting, we have found this system to work well for both our family farm and our members.

The important things to remember now are to bring back your CSA Boxes when you come for your next veggie box and to communicate with us! I will try to give  you some idea of what to expect on this Blog each week. There can always be a last minute change, of course. If you have any questions, please call or email us.

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These first CSA Boxes will contain Ching Chang, Tatsoi, and two varieties of Choi. Also a bundle of greens including baby collards, turnip and mustard–up until now they have all been green. By next week there should be red and purple added to the mix! The baby kale will be either green or red, depending on the harvest availability that day. The asparagus will always be a green/purple mix.

Don’t forget to check the recipes on the web site. I have sprinkled hints and tips both there and in the Vegetable ID pages.

If you are unhappy with your CSA experience with Cane Creek Asparagus & Company, we want you to tell us. If you are happy, please tell us, too; but then tell everyone else!

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