Closing Down the Farm, For Good

It’s been about a month since the official farm work was finished. The fields are tilled and seeded with their winter cover crop. The tools are clean and put away. Already this past growing season seems so far away. It feels like it’s been longer than a month and a half since the last farmers market and CSA box. Strange.

Many of you have already heard, but I wanted to make my announcement official for the internet. This will be (has been?) my last season farming Wild Goose Farm. This was not an easy nor a quick decision. Though I complained often, it has nothing to do with the crazy weather we had over the summer. I’ve decided that I want to get involved in education in sustainable agriculture. I am excited to teach others how to grow food and to do so in a way that improves our health and the health of the world around us. These years running my own farm have taught me so much. I am eager to share that with others.

So, it is time to say “Farewell” to Wild Goose Farm. It’s been a great adventure. One that has challenged me and taught me so much. I will miss the farmers markets and the CSA. I’ll miss writing a weekly blog post as well. I will miss the friendships I’ve forged through this experience. I couldn’t have run my farm without all of you! Thanks for the support and encouragement over the years. I’ve enjoyed sharing my farming adventure with you all.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Closing Up: Week #20

All of a sudden it’s that time of year when we’re working on the last harvests and on closing down the farm for the year. The irrigation hoses are all reeled up and ready for winter. Each day a little more row cover is rolled into balls and the sandbags that held the cover down are piled behind the shed. Today we focused on fastening the sides of the hoop house. During the summer we had raised the plastic sides so that it wouldn’t get too hot. Of course “too hot” was impossible to avoid this summer. But we tried. Now the sides are all snug and ready for the winter storms to blow.

We’re also working on cleaning up the tomato field. The tomato plants are all dead and leaning over. We’ve cut the twine that had been a part of the trellising and today we’ve started pulling out the metal stakes that held up the twine. It’s a long job and one I am eager to finish before it turns wickedly cold and wet.

I have to admit I am happy to do the fall cleaning. It means it’s almost time for some well earned rest. I’m exhausted. I will miss going to the farmers markets and seeing the friends I’ve made there. I will miss see you all at the various pick up sites. But I am also happy to get a break, especially from such a crazy year as this has been.

Thanks for all your support over the past months. I appreciate the interest and concern you all took in the farm, especially when things got tough. It has been wonderful to share the season and the harvest with you all. Thank you so much.

I wish you all a wonderful rest of the year. Enjoy the rest of the fall and the winter!

As always, enjoy the box!

What’s In the Box:

Carrots– Sweet fall carrots are some of my favorites! Enjoy these orange beauties.

Napa Cabbage– Use this cabbage in place of lettuce or the regular cabbage. It is sweeter and has a great crunch.

Leeks– I like to use these in place of onions. They have a wonderfully mild onion flavor.

Salad Mix– A beautiful mix of red and green lettuce leaves. Add a damp paper towel to keep hydrated in the fridge.

Broccoli-After the frosts we’ve had, this broccoli should be quite sweet!

Cauliflower– Another helping of this great veggie.

Kale– Check out the two ways of making kale chips below for a tasty, healthy snack.

Radish – These will add a pop of color to any dish!

Purple Top Turnip– This fall favorite is great in soups, stews, and roasted vegetable dishes.

Garlic– I think garlic makes everything better. (excepting desserts of course!)

Recipes:

Cauli Smash– from tastykitchen.com

Peanut, Carrot, and Cabbage Slaw– from thekitchn.com

Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup– from familyfreshcooking.com

Vegetable Cornish Pasties– from allrecipes.com

Kale Chips (slow)– from foodnetwork.com

Kale Chips (fast)– from allrecipes.com

Tomatoes Zapped: Week #19

It was a sad sight this week. The tomatoes did not survive the weekend. As I was walking up to the tomato field I thought I caught a glimpse of healthy and thriving plants near the center. It made sense. The tomato plants on the outer parts of the field would be the most exposed to the frost. Perhaps the collective warmth of the mass of tomato plants in the center would keep the middle plants warm enough to make it through the frosty mornings.

No such luck. The frosty nights were too much for my lovely tomato plants. Each plant was a shriveled, dead green. After taking a moment to remember all the wonderful tomatoes that came out of that field, we marched in and starting taking down the trellising. Perhaps that sounds a bit hasty to you, but there is no way I am going to be cleaning up the tomato field in the middle of November when it will most likely be cold and wet. I know from experience that cold, wet, dead tomato plants are no fun, no fun at all.

So we’ve begun the end of season clean up. Instead of weeding and planting (when we’re not harvesting), we are rolling up irrigation, cutting down tomato trellising, and generally putting things away. It’s a good feeling. This weekend I’m hoping to get on the tractor and mow down a few old crops and then get ready for planting cover crops. The cover crops will grow a little this fall and keep the soil from blowing away during the windy winter months. Then in the spring the cover crop will continue growing. When it’s time to plant in the spring, I’ll till in the cover crop, which will add organic matter to the soil. That will add to the nutrients in the soil so that I will have happy and healthy plants next year. ( Thank you for letting me indulge in my teacher moment.)

Enjoy the box this week! Next week will be our last week, so savor those farm fresh veggies!

Grayslake pick up people- remember the pick up is now at my place.

What’s in the Box

Arugula– This peppery and nutty green will add zest to salads and sandwiches. Add a damp paper towel to the bag to keep it hydrated.

Salad Mix– A great mix of lettuces just ready to be tossed in a bowl. Ditto on the damp paper towel idea above.

Watermelon Radish– These are the pale green roots in your box. Cut them open to reveal a fuchsia colored inside! A mild radish that is wonderful in salads. (By the way, I just learned how to spell fuchsia for the first time in my life.)

Hakurei Turnip– These lovely white turnips are great raw in salads or as a snack with hummus. Add them to a stir fry for a nice crunch.

Onions– These onions will be a great addition to any roasted vegetable or meat, or as a base for a soup.

Broccoli– Time for some frost-sweetened broccoli. I think fall broccoli is the best. And yes, I’m serious, a frost will make it sweeter.

Beets– Enjoy the beets. These may well be the last of the year. They’re great roasted alone or with other root vegetables.

Garlic– What dish doesn’t benefit from garlic? Ok, desserts. But other than that . .

Kohlrabi– These are the purple roots in your box. Peel the skin and slice. It adds a great crunch to salads. It’s also great eaten raw as a snack with a little salt.

Recipes

Kohlrabi Ideas– Check out the list of kohlrabi ideas from Mariquita Farm at mariquita.com

Steak and Watermelon Radish Sandwich– from myrecipes.com

The Best Easy Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry– from Chinesefood.com

Roasted Beet Salad– from oprah.com

Locally Grown Ginger?! Week #18

That’s right! There’s ginger in the CSA box this week and I grew it. Growing ginger has become a bit of a fad among CSA and fresh market farmers. I first heard about it two years ago at a farm conference. I was ready to sign up then, but unfortunately I had missed the planting time. Not so this year! During the bleak midwinter days I put in my order for organic ginger root at a farm in Hawaii. I thoroughly enjoyed the oddness of it all.

Ginger Roots on Heating Mats

Later on in March the ginger roots came. They looked pretty much like the ginger you get at the store (but not sprayed with an anti-sprouting agent). I tucked the roots in a tray, under a layer of potting soil and set the trays on a heating mat to trick the roots into thinking they were still in sunny Hawaii.

I eventually put them in large grow-bags (heavy duty plastic bags with drain holes) and kept them watered throughout the year. They sprouted and grew to the point that it looked like I was raising a little jungle! Now they’re ready for your table. Enjoy!

Ginger in a Grow bag

Baby Ginger!

By the way, did you know the “?!” has a name?! It’s called the interrobang. It’s my new favorite word. Try using it in a sentence. No, I don’t mean using the punctuation at the end of the sentence. I mean using the word “interrobang” in a sentence!

***FYI- for those of you who pick up in Grayslake, the pick up site is changing! I will email you the address. Thanks for your cooperation. ****

What’s in the Box:

Ginger – Yep, that’s right. That’s ginger in your box this week! The ginger has a pink hue because it is so young. It also does not have the hard skin like the store ginger. Therefore, no peeling necessary! Time to make an amazing stir fry!

Cauliflower/Broccoli– The cauliflower is just starting to size up so some boxes may have a combination of cauliflower and broccoli.

Spinach– Yay! The spinach is back (at least for this week). Enjoy in salads or saute lightly. I love it in an omelette.

Lettuce– Now that we’ve had cooler weather for a while we have lettuce again!

Radish– Speaking of cooler weather crops, radishes are making a comeback. You will get either a multicolor bunch of radishes or all red ones. Remember, these are the ones with a little heat!

Tomato– I’m not sure how much longer we’ll have these guys, but as long as they keep growing, I’ll keep putting them in the box. Hooray for tomatoes in October!

Purple Top Turnip- These are the big round bulbs with, you guessed it, the purple tops. They are the traditional fall turnip. Peel the outer skin first and roast with other root vegetables. They are also good in stews. Perfect for this weekend cold snap!

Leek-This mild member of the onion family is great in soups, stir fries, or any dish that calls for onions. Remember to use all the white and light green parts and to rinse well under the tap.

Celeriac- This is the knobby root in your box. It has a great celery flavor and is used in soups and roasted dishes. It pairs well with potatoes and the purple top turnips. Don’t forget to peel the outer skin first!

Recipes

Turnip and Potato Patties– from simplyrecipes.com

Roasted Turnips, Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Dried Cranberries– from myrecipes.com

Celeriac and Ginger Soup– from straightfromthefarm.net

Cauliflower and Celeriac “mashed potatoes”– from kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com,

Jack Frost Sighting: Week #17

We’ve had a few frosts on the farm already! Nothing too serious, just a few patches. So that’s it for basil and the okra. There’s some frost damage on some of the pepper and tomato plants, but I think we can still get another week out of them. It seems like the summer ended in a hurry. I have no idea what to expect for fall this year. Think of all the crazy weather we’ve had this year; a warm winter, March saw 80 degree days, I think we even broke the record for triple digit temperatures this summer. What will happen next?

Even though tomatoes, basil and peppers are no friends of frost, that doesn’t mean the farm is about to shut down. No sir! There are plenty of crops that don’ t mind the chilly temps and even turn a little sweeter once they’ve encountered a frost. For example, spinach and broccoli will turn a little sweeter after a frost. Sauerkraut makers love fall cabbage because of the frost induced sweetness. Even kale will turn a little sweeter. So be ready for some extra special vegetables coming you way this fall!

Thanks to all who came out for the picnic on Saturday! It was great to share the farm with you and enjoy the wonderful food!

What’s in the Box:

Carrots– After a long hiatus we have carrots again! Enjoy these sweet treats.

Jerusalem Artichokes– (aka Sunchokes)These are the knobby white things in your box. They are a vegetable that’s native to the midwest! Despite their name they are actually the roots of a kind of sunflower. You can use them like potatoes and they have a lovely nutty flavor.

Kohlrabi– These green bulbs in your box are in the broccoli family. They have a great crunch with a hint of broccoli taste. Peel the outer skin before you munch on them. I like to just slice them up raw and sprinkle some salt on them. They are also a great addition to salads and coleslaws

Salad Mix– Pre-washed salad mix ready for your dinner table!

Napa Cabbage– This is definitely my favorite cabbage, bar none. I also like to use it as a substitute for lettuce. It has a great crunch and a sweet flavor.

Tomato– The tomato plants are slowing down a little these days. But we still have a bunch of tasty red tomatoes this week. Time to get your fill of BLT’s!

Italian Sweet Peppers– The red peppers in the box are the sweet Italian type of pepper. They are great roasted or cut up raw in salads!

Garlic– If you’re feeling sick due to the changing seasons, try some garlic tea! I’m serious. It’s a remedy for a cold. Of course some people may argue that the cure is worse than the disease.

Yellow and Red Onions– Enjoy the colorful onions this week. This year we’ll be having dainty or petite onions. This is due to the drought this summer. These onions never got the chance to size up to normal onions because of the lack of water. Ah well, sometimes we just have to take what nature gives us.

Recipes:

Pan Fried Jerusalem Artichokes with Sage Butter– from epicurious.com, a great use for that sage leftover from last week!

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup– from simplyrecipes.com

Teriyaki Flank Steak Wrap with Napa Cabbage, Red Pepper, and Carrots– from cookincanuck.com

Kohlrabi Home Fries– from NYtimes.com

So Long Basil, It’s Been Fun: Week #16

I’m not sure who turned the dial to “Fall”, but oh my, the season sure has changed. Today we were busy gathering basil, peppers, and tomatoes in anticipation for the cold night we’re supposed to have. Basil was what I was most worried about. It freezes at 38 degrees F, which just so happens to be tonight’s low. It’s sad that it may indeed be over, but we sure had a great basil season. I don’t expect the tomatoes and peppers to be over quite yet. However, I think the plants will seriously slow down.

Though the summer crops are approaching the end of their season, we do have some up and coming stars for the fall. This week we’ve been busy working in the cauliflower. We’ve been tying up the leaves in order for the cauliflower heads will be a gorgeous bright white. Why do we need to tie them up? If we don’t the heads will still grow, they’ll just be an off white color. To get that dazzling white requires some extra effort. I actually enjoy the job. I love looking deep into the cauliflower leaves to see if the head has started or not. Hopefully in a few weeks you’ll see the cauliflower in your box!

Cauliflower all tied up

Don’t forget this Saturday is the Harvest Picnic! We’ll start the festivities at 12:00 pm with a potluck. Bring a dish to pass and we’ll provide the beverages (including homemade rootbeer!). We’ll also tour the farm and you can see where all your wonderful vegetables come from. See you there!

Mr. Toad hanging out in the beets

What’s in the Box:

Arugula– enjoy this peppery green as a salad or in your sandwiches. It goes well with the beets!

Watermelon Radish– The pale green roots in your box are a fall radish with a beautiful pink flesh. The radish can be eaten raw or cooked. It has a wonderful mild, nutty flavor. Peel the skin before you eat it.

Celeriac– Also known as celery root, this the gnarly white root in your box. Peel the outer skin before cooking. Celeriac is great roasted with other roots and in soups.

Red Beets– Another round of these sweet roots. They are fabulous roasted with other root vegetables. Perfect on cool fall evenings.

Kale– Enjoy this very nutritionally dense leafy green. Some of the best stuff you can eat is kale!

Red Onions– These red onions are quite potent in spite of their size. Use them as you would any onion. They are a great addition to roasted vegetables!

Tomatoes– Another healthy helping of these great tomatoes. Again there is a mix of heirlooms and red tomatoes. Pretty soon the tomato season will be ending so enjoy them while you can!

Peppers– A combination of sweet peppers; the long carmens and the boxy bell peppers.

Sage– This is a wonderful soup or roasting herb. It’s also great for seasoning meat.

Recipes:

Celery Root (Celeriac) and Beet Salad– from epicurious.com

French Onion Soup with Celeriac– from allrecipes.com

Sausage Stew with Celeriac and Kale– from redonline.co.uk, since this recipe comes from the UK be prepared for metric measurements!

Kale Salad with Quick Pickled Watermelon Radish– from thekitchn.com

Steak and Watermelon Radish Sandwich -from myrecipe.com

Sauteed Pork Chops with Tomato Sage Sauce– from myrecipes.com

How do I Love September: Week 15

Oh September, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . .
These last few days on the farm have been glorious. I love the crisp cool breeze. I love the warm sun on my skin. I’ve been walking among my broccoli and cauliflower plants, and though I am impatient for their heads to appear, I still love them for their large and graceful blue-green leaves. I love that in September the sun is not so quick to rise and that soon I won’t have to get up so early to start the day. I love the apples that have arrived at the farmers markets. They are by far my favorite fruit. I love the smell of bonfires. I love making soups and the warmth and comfort I feel when eating them. I love the root vegetables we’ll soon be having, the rutabagas, turnips, celeriac, leeks, and squashes. (Ok winter squashes aren’t a root vegetable, but they go so well with the other roots.) I love that the weeds will soon be growing slower (just not yet). I love that the crazy pace of the farm will soon slow down (just not yet).  Ah, I love September.

It’s hard to believe that this is the 15th week of the CSA. Only 5 more weeks after this one! Be ready for more greens to show up as the season continues. We’ll also be getting more fall crops too, like turnips, cauliflower, celeriac, broccoli, radishes, and leeks. I’m hoping for the tomatoes to continue to the end of the month, but we’ll just have to see what the weather does. Now that we’re getting a more steady schedule of rain things are looking great on the farm. The only thing is that the grass is getting a little long. I’ve just gotten out of the habit of mowing! Hopefully, I’ll get things cleaned up a bit by the time of the picnic. Don’t forget, the picnic is on Saturday, September 22nd, from 12-3. Bring a dish to pass for the meal and we’ll spend some time checking out the fields. I don’t need an official r.s.v.p. with exact numbers of who is attending, but i would appreciate it if you would email me if you are planning to come. Thanks a lot! Hope to see you all there!

Enjoy the box!

What’s in the Box:

Pea Shoots– These greens with the heart-shaped leaves add a great pea flavor to salads and sandwiches.

Leeks– This member of the onion family has a wonderfully mild taste. The best way to wash leeks is to cut in half lengthwise and run cold water over the open sides. This will remove the soil that gets trapped in the many layers of the leek. Use the white and light green portions of the stalk.

Bok Choi– This leafy green is great in stir fries. It adds a nice zing and a great crunch!

Broccoli– Slowly but surely the broccoli is coming in. This cool weather is definitely appreciated by this veggie.

Tomato– Enjoy the colorful bounty!

Pepper– All the peppers, no matter what shape, are sweet ones. Again, enjoy the colors!

Garlic– Hopefully, your kitchen could use another round of this awesome, flavorful garlic! Don’t forget to brush your teeth!

Mesclun Mix– This is a mix of baby lettuce, arugula, and some mustard greens, so be ready for a lively mix of flavors!

Cilantro– I love this herb in anything, salads, salsas, soups.  Mmmmh what other dishes start with the letter “s”? Sautes, stir-fries, steak, swordfish, sandwiches, s-desserts.

Recipes:

Steak, Shiitake, and Bok Choy Stir Fry– from myrecipes.com

Italian Broccoli with Pepeprs– from tasteofhome.com

Linguine with Spicy Leek and Tomato Sauce– from epicurious.com. This recipe calls for plum tomatoes, but you can substitute the tomatoes in the box. Just chop up the tomatoes and let them drain for a while.

Chicken Tortilla Soup– from foodnetwork.com, by far one of my all time favorite soups!