First week CSA

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Wild and Wonderful Salad!

So exciting to have our first CSA deliveries for the season!   We are a little earlier than some of our Farmer’s Markets, so we will be meeting at Rose’s Parking lot in Cumberland, on Thursday from 11:00- 1:00, and City Place parking lot in Frostburg, on Friday from 11:00-1:00.   Our Bedford Market is starting on Wednesday from 9:00-1:00, and Wholesome Living Marketplace will be open until 5:00pm for those that need a later pick up time.   Our Tuesday pickup at the farm will be from 10:00 am and all day long, we have a refrigerator in the greenhouse to keep things cool and fresh.

Our CSA distributions will be light this week, as we are just getting started for the season.   This is only temporary, so don’t be discouraged, it’s normal.   As the season progresses, we will be packing much more variety and larger portions to fill your tummies.   I wouldn’t want to waste the early season picks anyway, so here’s the line up for the week-

1.   Wild and wonderful salad- blend of baby lettuces, mustard greens, arugula, pea tendrils, lamb’s quarters and sorrels.

2.   Radishes

3.   Eggs

4.   Feta

5.   Goat’s Milk Soap

6.   Cozy cup of tea herbs- blend of mints, chamomile, and balms

7.   First pick of the draw- We have many veggies ready for first pick (light)-   you will get at least one:)

8.   Lilacs to make you smile till next week.

Really exciting to get moving on the CSA’s thank you everyone for supporting local food in our community!

 

See you soon!

 

 

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Plants are growing even though it’s snowing.

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One for the onions, one for the carrots, or something like that. Really, though I’m a little anxious to get planting, this weather has been a really good things for our future fruit this year. Last year at this time, everything was blooming, and as a result we were left with out some of our favorite fruits including service berries, cherries and grapes. Other trees that took a hit last year were the walnuts. Mother nature knows what she is doing, and I feel it’s going to be a great year for some of the early bearing fruits….can’t wait!

Garlic in the Cold Frame

Garlic is growing in the cold frame along with some other tasty treats…. like cauliflower!

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Strawberries are blooming in the greenhouse.   It takes an average of 21 days from bloom to berry.

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Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli and Kohlrabi patiently wait for the ground to warm up so they can go outside.

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The Pepper plants will need to wait longer, but they are not ready to go yet.

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Elderberry buds!!!!

I really am looking forward to a great season full of yumminess!

Worm Compost

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We are using Silas’ worm castings to mix in our seed starting soil.   Silas has been raising composting worms for a year now, and he has quite the collection of red wigglers to show for it.

Last year, Levi and I did an experiment to see if worm castings improved the quality of the plants we were starting in the green house.   We experimented with sunflowers, because that is Levi’s favorite plant to grow.

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We used 4 different mixes and preparations to start the sunflowers, and were happiest with the soil mix that included worm castings.   From that point forward, we have been using worm castings to start our seeds.   The top left corner are seedlings with worm castings in the soil.   Clockwise we have plain peat moss mixed with vermiculite, down from that is uncooked compost (note the weed issue, among other things)   and at the bottom left is plain sterilized compost without worm castings added.

 

What a difference worms make when you are trying to grow healthy plants for food!

Subscribing To a Farm Share Of Goodness Grows

This is such a lovely time of year!

Tomato plants snugly tucked in the greenhouse warmth.
Tomato plants snugly tucked in the greenhouse warmth.

 

Totally filled with anticipation, I am truly excited to meet our newest shareholders this year.   People are beginning to introduce themselves to our farm, with interest in subscribing to our products during the growing season.   We have many medical professionals getting their entire offices involved this year, which really hits home to me that what I’m doing for my community is really beneficial on so many different levels.   The concern for a healthy nutrient dense lifestyle with freshly harvested food items has been a buzz in our community, and I’m one of the few you can find available.

Of course, I am also very glad to see our loyal return shareholders renewing our agreement, I have missed seeing you all on the weekly basis.   I am looking forward to working with you all again this year.   It gets quiet during the winter, and the preparations for the growing season bring to mind the weekly interactions of friends that can enjoy our products season long.

So things are picking up on the CSA front of our farm.   I have promised all those who wish to renew from last year that they have a spot for 2013.   We have also had some new people join us this winter.   That leaves 18 spots available for the 2013 growing season.   I wish I could provide more, but I feel that I need to make absolutely certain that I can provide top notch quality and variety for everyone, and this is the limit I have set for our farm.

The 18 spots will be filled on a first come first serve basis, and our deadline for signing up is March 15, 2013.

So if you are reading this with interest in signing up for our 2013 CSA share,   You may print the following forms, fill them out and mail or drop them off to us at the farm.

https://goodnessgrowspa.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/goodnessgrowssignupsheet.pdf

https://goodnessgrowspa.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/goodnessgrowssurvey.pdf

https://goodnessgrowspa.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/goodnessgrowscostpershare.pdf

https://goodnessgrowspa.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/goodnessgrowswhat-to-expect-1.pdf

 

Now it’s time for me to get back to it, sorting, starting and sprouting seeds for our yummy veggies this year!

 

Planning the Garden

Timely enough, we have seed catalogs pouring in through the mail box and lots of great old and new varieties are grabbing my attention.   From artichokes to Zucchini, I have a hard time deciding what to grow that’s new, and looking over my notes from last year, where to place my favorites, the best performers.

Site selection

Some are very limited on space, and may even be limited to what can grow in containers.   While others have yards that they can turn into gardens.   Some cities are developing community gardens, that for a small fee you can plant a small garden.   What ever the location, observe it.   How much sunlight does it get in a day?    Does water flow over it, or soak into the soil?   Is any vegetation growing now? I highly recommend taking soil samples and sending them for analysis.   You can find a lot of information about who does this through your local Cooperative Extension Office, and there are offices all over the country.

If your site is shady, don’t let this discourage you, many edible plants grow in the shade.   Some people will say that a site for a garden needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, but I have grown plants in as little as dappled, diffused light all day long.   You won’t get the prize pumpkin in this type of garden, but the sweetest strawberries grow in shade as well as many members of the mint family, alliums, ginger and ginseng too.

Plant what you like!

This seems obvious, but for the longest time, I was the only person in the house that liked tomatoes.   I only needed one tomato plant on my back porch garden when I was just growing for my family.   Planting 12 plants was sort of silly, and most of those tomatoes went to compost.   Think about what you buy at the store.   If you always purchase peas, plan on trying to grow your own instead.   Are you a salad eater? Onions and garlic are common kitchen staples, and are also very easy to grow in our climate.  Make a list of veggies that you always eat, and you will have a good start on what to plant this spring.

Know your plant families.

This is something that I teach all of our interns.   As we are going through the season, I always refer to sections of the garden by plant family, so at least they can walk away with this very necessary info for a successful garden.   Why is this important?   Well, plants that are related often require the same type of growing conditions such as; light, water, nutrient requirements, soil conditions as well as attract the same types of harmful insects and disease.   By knowing the plant families you can plan your garden for the most efficient use of water, insect and disease control.   Also you can easily avoid consecutive plantings in the same area, thus extending and aiding the life of the soil through crop rotation from year to year.

Here are just a few examples of plant family categories:

Allium- Onion, Leek, Garlic, Chive

Brassica- Cabbage, Broccoli, Kale, Turnip and Mustard

Cucurburitaceae- Squash, Melon, Gourd, Pumpkin, Cucumber

Legume-Peas, Beans, Alfalfa, Peanuts

Solanaceae-Potato, Tomato, Peppers, Eggplant, Tomatillo, and Okra

Obviously this is short list of some of the most planted veggies in our area.   There are so many more and there are volumes of books available for more detailed list of plant families, I’m only hoping to cover the basics here.

Map it out.

Once you have an idea of what you would like to grow and how much space you intend to use, make a map.   Research your favorite veggies to see what type of soil they prefer, and check with your soil test results to see if you need anything extra to help your garden do it’s best.   When you get your plan map, you can adjust the quantities to fill the space.   Most seed catalogs tell you how many plants will fit in a given space.   I like to use Johnny’s Selected Seeds because the information they provide in their catalog is very detailed as far as how many seeds I need to purchase.   Besides, I have also found their seeds to be top performers in our greenhouse in side by side comparisons.

Keeping plant families close is a sure way to help with garden maintenance.    It also helps with the very next step, companion plantings.   Companion planting is combining different plant varieties in close proximity to help aid in the desired crop’s growth.   Companion plants may assist in nutrient uptake, as well as pest management.

Here is a short list of companion plants-

Allium- Lettuce, Carrot, Strawberry

Brassica- Legumes, Aromatic herbs, Cucumber

Cucurberit- Legumes, Aromatic Herbs, Brassica

Legumes- Brassica, Corn, Cucurberit,

Solanaceae- Basil, Celery, Beans, Spinach, Radish

I simply fill much of the empty space with companion plants, to help with biodiversity, plant growth and insect resistance, and efficiently use my garden space.

Selecting Varieties

You can use seed websites and catalogs to explore new varieties.   The best seeds in my garden are always free, or at least collected from previous years, but I always love trying something new.   I recommend reading reviews from other gardeners about the plants you want to try.   Some don’t yield as much, and other top performers aren’t as tasty as I would like.   I have found that I can learn so much from reading the reviews of particular varieties before I invest my money and my back to it.

Cattails-Nature’s Buffet

Cattails

Cattails are truly a gift to have on our farm.   Year round nutrition can be found with these native plants in all forms from roots to shoots, pollen and pods too.   Comfort and function accompany cattail lore as the fluffy seeds insulated clothing and blankets, while the reeds and leaves were used for making baskets and containers.

Where cattails are found it is said that no man will go hungry.   Perhaps if we started with this time of year, and throughout winter, the roots can be dug and eaten in a variety of ways.   I recommend that young roots are used.    The larger they get, the more fibrous and woody they become.   I have stir fried cattail roots with dandelion roots and wild garlic for a satisfying and nutritious root skillet.

In the spring, the young green shoots are tender and tasty in all sorts of ways.   I eat them raw in salads, and cooked in everything I can add a little spring green to.   It goes well in rice, pasta, soups and stews.

As summer emerges, the young pods that will later become the notorious “cat tail” shape that we all know can be picked while still green.   They can be roasted or boiled and husked like an ear of corn and eaten much like an ear of corn.

Later on the brown cat tail blooms start to pollinate.   The yellow pollen can be gathered by simply shaking the yellow dust into a bag.   Golden cattail pancakes can be made with any amount of cattail pollen, add flour to the pollen to make 2 cups.   Add 5 teaspoons of baking powder, 2 cups of milk and 2 tablespoons of oil.    Mix well then drop 1/4 cup of batter at a time onto a hot skillet with butter or oil.   Turn the pancakes when they start popping bubbles on top.   Serve with your own syrup or apple butter.

After the pollination the fertile seeds will emerge from the spires with white tufts.   These fluffy seeds can be used for stuffing pillows, blankets, mittens and slippers.   This is also just about the right time to harvest the reeds and stems for making baskets with.

What a great plant!

Week 19 Patchy Frost Hits The Valley

I awoke this morning to a patchy frost, I am still waiting to see exactly how much was damaged.   We still have a good deal of produce to distribute, I’m not concerned for this week’s distribution.   Though, some varieties may have been taken out of production from the frost.   We were definitely prepared for the end of season as far as cold hardy veggies are concerned, and we have harvested and stored a few varieties for such an event.

What’s coming in our shares this week?

1.   Tomatoes

2. Salad blend of lots of leafy greens, radishes, and cherry tomatoes

3.   Beets

4.   Turnips

5.   Squash

6.   Apples

7.   Peppers

8.   Lima Beans

 

 

Looking Ahead

 

I have been checking our late season carrots, and they are just about ready.   You may even expect to see some next week!   Until then, take care and stay warm!

 

 

 

Week 18 New England Pie Pumpkins

I made a delicious spaghetti sauce last evening that included pumpkin in the sauce.   I slow roasted the pumkin, onion and peppers in the oven at 300 degrees.   On the stove top I had some tomatoes, garlic, basil and oregano simmering until the roasted veggies were done.   I pureed everything together and it turned out way better than I expected, and my family raved about it!   I actually had to boil more noodels for seconds, which I wasn’t expecting, but such is life in the experimental kitchen.

Pumpkin Spaghetti Sauce

2 peppers with seeds removed and sliced in half 1 onion 1/2 a pie pumpkin seeds removed, and saved for the next recipe 5 tomatoes peeled 1 tablespoon minced garlic 2 tablespoons of oregano leaves 1/4 cup of basil salt and pepper to taste In a roasting pan place onion, peppers and pumpkin face down, I add a little water to keep them from drying while roasting.   Roast these veggies until the pumkin is soft, about 1 hour.   In the mean time, place the remaining ingredients on the stove and simmer for the same amount of time.   When all ingredients are done, mix in small batches in the food processor and puree until all ingredients are combined.   Serve over spaghetti noodles or rice.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

We all snacked on the seeds while we waited for the spaghetti sauce to cook.   This is my usual recipe, but I have added garlic powder, cinnamon or cardamon for extra flavor. Pumpkin seeds Olive oil Sea Salt On a cookie sheet place the pumpkin seeds.   Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sea salt.   Roast at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes.

New England Pumpkin Pie

Here’s my relationship with pie- I love to eat it, but making it is a very different story.   My mom started making pies long after I was out of the house, as my younger siblings grew more independent.   The pie crust is intimidating to me, as far as time investment goes, so I usually cheat and buy store made pie crusts- that’s my confession.   I have no trouble throwing together nearly anything from scratch, but pie crust is a hurdle that I may cross one day, just not today!

I will give you a recipe that makes a wonderful pie filling, but the crust is entirely up to you.   If you have a favorite recipe, by all means use it.   Or you can opt for the easier softer way of purchasing your favorite brand of ready made crust like I do.

1 roasted pumpkin mashed (instructions for roasting are in the first recipe)

1 cup of sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 can evaporated milk

3 eggs

Blend ingredients together and pour into pie shells.   I believe you will get 2 9 inch pies from this recipe, depending on the size of the pumpkin.   You could also make lots of little serving pies with the filling if you like, but the baking time will be much shorter.

Bake at 425 for the first 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 and bake for an additional 45 minutes for a 9 inch pie, 20 minutes for a single serve pie.

What we are getting this week

1. Pumpkin

2. Apples

3. Tomatoes

4. Peppers

5. Turnips

6. Beets

7. Salad blend of lettuce, kale and baby chard

8. Radishes

9. Basil and Oregano Herbs for recipe

 

Have a great week!

Week 17 Butternut Squash, Okra and Lima Beans

So I’ve had an exceptionally exciting week, participating in an Arts Fest in Cumberland and starting a school on an ambitious recycling program.   Coming back to the farm is always a welcome break, and back to normal.

Here’s what we have for this week

1.   Tomatoes

2.   Apples

3.   Peppers

4.   Onions

5.   Okra

6.   Butternut Squash

7.   Lima Beans in the shell, they will need to be shelled

8.   Snap beans- if there are enough in good enough shape- last week if we get them at all.

9.   Citrus Basil for a fantastic salsa

Butternut Squash Bisque

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots
  • 4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • ground nutmeg to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • Heat the oil and melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion in the butter and oil under tender.Mix the carrots and squash into the pot. Pour in vegetable stock, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender.In a blender or food processor, puree the soup mixture until smooth. Return to the pot, and stir in the heavy cream. Heat through, but do not boil. Serve warm with a dash of nutmeg.

     

    Easy Citrus Salsa

     

    3 tomatoes diced

    1 onion

    1 clove of garlic minced

    3 peppers

    1/4 cup citrus basil finely chopped

    salt and pepper to taste

    In a skillet saute the onions, garlic and tomatoes until the onions are clear.   Add the basil and salt and pepper and sautee an additional 2-3 minutes.   Transfer salsa to a bowl and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

    Okra and Lima Bean Masala

    3-4  tender okra
    1 large onion, sliced into thin wedges
    1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
    1/2 tsp. mango powder
    1/4 – 1/2 tsp. red chilli powder
    1/2 tsp. coriander powder
    1/4 tsp. turmeric
    1-3 tsp. garam masala (I usually have a hard time sourcing garam masala, so I sometimes just skip this ingredient it is still yummy!)
    2 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped (about 3 cups)
    1 cup fresh baby lima beans
    1 1/2 cups water
    salt to taste

    Trim the tops of the okra and cut into 1 to 1-1/2 inch pieces. If the okra is small, you should just cut it in half.

    In a large non-stick pot, sauté the onion until it begins to brown. Add the cumin seeds and sauté one minute more.

    Add the mango powder, chilli powder, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala. Stir and cook 1 minute. Add the okra and cook for 2 more minutes.

    Add the tomatoes, lima beans, and water. Cover and simmer on low heat until limas are tender.  Fresh beans take up to an hour to cook.

    After the limas are tender, remove the cover, add salt if desired, and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Serve hot over rice or other grain.

     

     

    Mark Your Calendars!

    We are planning to have our annual farm to table dinner on October 14th for our share holders.   This is a wonderful time to get together and share the harvest, prepared for you right on the farm.   I am still planning the menu, and will follow up with details as we get near.   We will have our dinner in the green house at 5:00 pm.   We will have meat, vegetarian and vegan options for all to enjoy, and as always, everything but the salt and pepper will be grown here.   I look forward to this wonderful end of the season event, and the opportunity to say thank you for supporting us!

Week 15 Southwest Succotash

Southwest Succotash

This is just a suggestion, but the first day, I would make corn on the cob by using your favorite method, and make all of it.   I’m sure you may have left over corn, and that is exactly what I had in mind for with this recipe.   Also, I googled southwest succotash, and so many variations came up, some had squash, some had lima beans, and then there is my recipe, I’m not sure there is a right or wrong with this, I just thought the name was catchy.

 

3 ears of corn, cut from the cob

2 tomatoes diced

1 lb of black beans shelled

1 pimento pepper chopped

garlic, as much or as little as you like

butter or margarine

salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan cover black beans with water and bring to a boil.   Simmer 20 minutes then drain.   Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes or until heated through.   Season and serve.

 

I feel the need to “spill the beans” now and show you what you are getting.

Black Beans

So I’m not trying to push some old forgotten beans on you guys, so please don’t toss them thinking that! (It has happened, unfortunately!)   These are black beans “Turtle Soup” is the variety.   They need to be shelled like peas.   As they are fresh, they don’t take nearly as long to cook as dry black beans, and no need to soak them overnight.   Just shell them and cook them for about 20 minutes in boiling water.

Queso Blanco Stuffed Peppers

 

6-8 peppers seeded with the tops cut off

olive oil

3/4 lb queso blanco

Using your hands, a spoon or whatever works for you, fill peppers with cheese.   Place on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil, making sure to cover top and bottom.   Bake at 375 for 15-17 minutes and serve.

 

So this is what we are getting this week:

1. Tomatoes

2.   Peppers

3.   Sweet Corn

4.   Black Beans

5.   Burgundy Beans

6.   Squash

7.   Eggplant

8.   Radishes

9.   Seasoned Queso Blanco and tomatillos for our vegans

10.   Maybe some baby lettuce?   I hope!

And I’ll leave you with these photos of my favorite spot in the garden right now-

New England Pie Pumpkin
Butternut Squash