Hi all,

Please accept my apology for the tardiness of the newsletter. I got tied up in some other business yesterday and didn’t get it done.

Anyway, there are a lot of things going on out here, especially difficult is the start and stop weather we’ve been having. But, fortunately it hasn’t effected the established crops as bad as I’d worried it would.

To start things off, here’s the proposed availability list for next Tuesday’s (3-27) delivery –

Young mustard greens – there will be a variety, but as I’m starting to get short on trays, you’ll get some but probably not all of the varieties you’ve been enjoying. If you have a favorite please let me know which one it is and I’ll try to make sure you get some of it. The mustard greens will be by the half tray.

Larger cooking greens – I have radish cooking greens and mustard cooking greens. If you have a preference please let me know.

Pea Threads – I’m still waiting for the heavily seeded trays to get big enough for harvest but I have some left from this week’s harvest. If you liked the pea thread sample in this week’s delivery, let me know and I’ll try to include extra for you. Pea threads will be a regular on the availability list until November.

Radishes – I took a look at the radish beds yesterday and I’m pretty sure that I’ll have radishes for everyone. These are the little French Breakfast radishes and they’ll be coming with the tops on, so if you like the radish cooking greens, you’ll be in luck next week.

Green Garlic – I still have a lot, but I’ll be digging this particular bed for replanting in another location. This will free up the area for other crops to be planted in (more snow peas anyone? or perhaps more radishes and carrots). This may be the last week for the green garlic. I have other beds  that are close to being big enough for harvest, so we may have a 2 week break in the green garlic after Tuesday’s delivery.

Baby Kale – My kale plants are going crazy and before I transplant them, I need to top them so they aren’t so stressed when I disturb the roots. Last week you got Blue Curled kale. This week you will get Lacinato. I’ll be seeding more pots to both varieties over the weekend and during the week next week. If you have a preference, let me know and I’ll seed extra for you. All of these plants, except the ones you order for your own use, will eventually be transplanted into permanent beds for our harvests during the fall and next winter.

Herbs – No herbs this week.

The default share will be a little of everything in the list above. If you want more of one thing or less of another go ahead and let me know before Sunday noon, and if I have extra I’ll include it for you. There are some things that are getting big enough they really do need to be cut back.

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Up and coming crops

I may well be thinning the carrot beds and the radish beds either next week or the following week. Which ever week I do that, you’ll receive baby carrots. I have Dark Night, Atomic Red, a yellow variety who’s name escapes me at the momment, and Danvers Half Long. The beds are planted pretty thickly, and they’re starting to look over grown. If you’ve never used them, don’t throw the tops away (if you’re used to using carrot tops you’ll know what I’m talking about). You can use the tops raw in salads, in soups and other cooked dishes as a fresh herb, or, if ya got a taste for these things, you can just eat ’em by themselves. They’re very strong, so I wouldn’t recomend eating too much of them at any one time. But they’re delicious.

I have yet to transplant the Mache, and now that we’re due for some nice weather over the next few days (and we really do deserve it after Wednesday night don’t you think?) I’ll be transplanting it as well as the onion sets and the younger green garlic that you’ve been receiving.

Future crops

I have another tunnel that’s planted to mustard greens, cress, and a few other things. I’ll be seeding the equivalent of 400 trays to new crops – kale, pea threads, mustard greens, lettuce, Frisee endive, Kohlrabi (both purple and white), cilantro, arugula, spinach, chard, tatsoi, bok choi (green and purple),  beet greens.

Unless you let me know that there is something here that you don’t want, I’ll be doing a default seeding for everyone to each of these crops. The default for each is 1 tray.

On how to figure how much your default share is – the mustard greens you have been receiving have been by the half tray. Mostly what you’ve geen getting have been salad sized greens. As the greens mature, so will the volume produced by each tray. So a mature tray of, say, Southern Giant Curled will be around 4-6 times the volume of greens as the small, salad greens size. on the flip side, when these mustards get that big, they’re really better steamed than raw in a salad, unless you dress your salad with a vinegarette (takes the fire out of the greens) or you just like horseradish hot salads. When cooked, the greens greatly reduce in volume.

Same goes for the kale, arugula and beet greens until they get mature enough that they need to be cooked.

On things like lettuce, cilantro, chard, tatsoi, bok choi, they will be started in the plug trays and then transplanted. Each of you will have 1 tray (72 count) started for you. That means you will have 72 heads of lettuce, rosettes of choi and tatsoi, 72 pots of cilantro, etc.

For tender herbs like cilantro (now) and basil, etc. once the weather is dependably warm, I’ll be offering a plant swap. What you’ll do, if you want to do the plant swap, is you’ll let me know how many pots of something like cilantro you’d like. I’ll deliver it and you can take it home, use it as a fresh herb, and when you’ve used up the plant, you’ll swap it out for a fresh one. I’ll either pot the plant up to a bigger container, or I’ll plant in in a seed production bed. I’m planning on saving my own seed from a variety of crops this year. So I’ll need the plant back when you’re finished with it.

Otherwise, you can order by the bunch and I’ll cut it for you here on the farm.

I have a lot of daikon that’s volunteered here. I’ll be allowing the plants on the outside edges of the tunnels to mature. I’ll also be planting daikon in its own beds as well. These plants will be allowed to mature, flower and produce seed pods. In addition to providing us with large braising greens, they will also be providing us with edible pods. These pods have a peppery zing and taste somewhat like a radish. They’re large and juicy and can be eaten raw, cooked, and I do believe that they would be good pickled. We’ll probably have our first daikon pods in about 2 1/2 – 3 months if the weather stays moderately warm. If you’ve never had these and you like radishes, you’re in for a real treat.

I’m also planning on transplanting the 1 gallon chard plants that wintered over here. I have 50-60 pots of very mature and root bound chard plants of several different varieties. I’m going to cut them way back when I transplant them and I hope that they will be recovered in a couple of months. Poor things, they’ve really hung in there.

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Tunnel status and the new planting areas

I have 6 more fallow tunnels to prep over the weekend for tray placement. I’ll be planting our first sweet corn in these tunnels as well. I had planned on planting the tunnels to the first sweet corn before now, but the weather just hasn’t cooperated. So I’ll be striking while the iron (or weather) is ‘hot’.

I’ve turned the horses into the Arena Garden, where they’re grazing and knocking down the old weeds down. They should be done in there in about a month and, hopefully, the ground will have dried up enough for me to get in there with the mower so I can get the layout done for the new banks of tunnels. These tunels will have your tomato, pepper, eggplant and other warm weather crops such as summer and winter squash as well as cucumbers. They’ll also have more trays of greens for us. My goal is to have the layout for the new tunnels and the beds filled with rich material from the stallion’s day yard and round pen in order to have a nice, rich soil for these heavy feeders by the end of May. For an early crop of tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squash, I’ll be laying out small tunels in the upper barn garden (where the existing tunels are located) over the next couple of weeks.

That’s about it for the moment. As always, if you’re on Facebook, you can check for regular updates on the farm’s page there. All you have to do is “Like” the page to see the posts.

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This week’s recipe

My father’s family immegrated from northern Italy (the Friuli region) in the early 1900s. I grew up with a rich family life filled with the heritage of a relatively rural Italian family. My father grew his own grapes and made his own wine as had his mother and father before him. My grandmonther had a lot of what we now think of as homesteading skills. She did her own butchering, preserving, and even made her own vinegar from the wine she and her sons made.

I love food from all parts of the world and cultures, but I have an especially fond spot for Italian foods, and I could live on lasagna (for a while a couple of weeks anyway). One of my grandmother’s favorite meats to use in pasta sauce was chicken. She preferred it for the meat sauce served with ravioli and gnocchi. So here is my take on lasagna using many of the things you either are already getting or will be getting in your shares this year. The recipe uses Kefir cheese in place of ricotta, but you can use fresh cheese made with lemon juice as well. I’ll have the recipe for the lemon cheese and Kefir cheese in next week’s newsletter

 

Farmstead Lasagna

by Joanne Rigutto

 

Ingredients –

1 C chopped green garlic including leaves

1 C broad leaved red mustard greens

2 C Red Streaks mustard chopped

6 C Southern Giant Curled mustard greens chopped

2 large yellow onions chopped

1 one gallon bag frozen chopped roma tomatoes

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs chopped or ground

2 cups Kefir cheese, fresh lemon juice cheese or ricotta

Dry Italian herbs to taste

Granulated Garlic

Granulated/powdered onion

Ground cinnamon (optional)

Butter

1 box lasagna noodles, cooked aldente, rinsed and drained

1 lb Monterey Jack cheese shredded

1 large egg

Method –

Greens and onion filling

Melt 1/2 cube butter in a skillet at 300°, then add the onions and cook until lightly browned.

Add the green garlic, mustard and arugula and a couple tablespoons water, reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook until softened about 10 minutes. Do not stir.

Shut off heat and set aside keeping covered. Allow to cool completely.

When cooled to room temperature, remove the mustard greens to one bowl and the onions to another.


Cheese filling

In a bowl, combine the cheese, egg a bit of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Beat with a fork to blend well.


Meat sauce

In another large skillet melt 1/2 stick butter, then add the chicken and brown.

Add the frozen tomatoes and cook on medium high heat until thawed.

Add 2 T dry Italian herbs, 1 T granulated garlic, 1 T granulated/powdered onion, 1 t celery salt and simmer until the liquid is mostly gone and the sauce has thickened.

Add a small pinch of the cinnamon and stir to incorporate. The trick with the cinnamon is to add enough to blend the flavors, but not so much that you can taste it. I recomend 1/32 teaspoon. If you’re not sure about the cinamon, go ahead and leave it out.

Assembly –

Cover the bottom of a 9″ X 13″ baking pan with a layer of the meat sauce, then add a layer of lasagna noodles, cover with a thin layer of the cheese mix, then a layer of the mustard greens, a layer of onions and a layer of meat sauce. Sprinkle with the Italian herbs. Repeat with noodles, cheese mix, mustard greens and onions until you run out of ingredients.

Cover with foil and bake at 325° for 1/2 hour, then remove from oven, remove the foil, add one last layer of lasagna noodles and top with the Jack cheese. Return to oven and bake uncovered for an additional 1/2 hour. Then place under the broiler to brown the cheese.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

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