The Depot Farm

  (Corfu, New York)
Growing good food, Naturally!
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Currantly!

The busy season picking is upon us! With the usual mix of beans, kale, leeks, broccoli, greens and such, we have had a banner year for currants. We hand pick, so it is time-consuming, but we are pleased with the size and large quantity of berries. The bushes are so heavy with fruit they are bending over their wires and touching the ground. Add picking raspberries and I think my hands are permanently stained.

Tomatoes and peppers are still a couple of weeks out yet, but looking excellent so far. Cucumbers are just starting to produce. The zucchini and summer squash are producing as fast as we can pick! Winter squashes look good and we have started our plantings of fall crops. Beds not in use get a cover crop of rye grass and buckwheat. Straw mulch is being added wherever possible to help hold the moisture in. Garlic should be ready in about a week or so, then we will have to pull and cure the bulbs. We will again be offering garlic braids at the markets when the bulbs cure and we make them up. Potatoes are still green and bug free; but we did lift some plants to get some new potatoes for fresh sampling.

Overall, even with the extremely wet, cool spring, plants seem to have adapted and are producing well. I think that covers it for now; I'm back out to the fields to pick for the morning market tomorrow.

 
 

Green Beans and Leeks

  All you need for this recipe is 1 quart fresh green beans, 2 medium leeks, some fresh dill and some almonds. Wash and trim the leeks; cut length-wise into strips about the length of the green beans. place whole green beans and the leeks into a sauce pan; add enough water to saute them and prevent burning; cook on medium heat about 5 -7 minutes until leeks are tender. Drain and arrange on platter adding some almonds and dill ferns to the top. Garnish with fresh parsley and pansy flowers. Enjoy! 
 
 

On The Farm...

  All the crops are growing good despite the excess rain we've had. The CSA members are getting leaf lettuce, chard, beet greens, head lettuce (butterhead and crisphead), kale, radishes, kolarabi, snap peas, pac choi, asparagus and chinese cabbage. This week we will start to add zucchini, beets and peas. The other brassicas are doing well (pest free); as well as the cucumbers and squash. The corn was off to a bumpy start, but later plantings are holding their own. Keeping up to the weeds is always a challenge any year, but with the frequent rains we had, this year is especially challenging. So far we've been able to keep pace and control them. This week we plan to fertilize (compost) and lay down straw to help slow the weeds and conserve water for the plants to help get ready for the hot, dry days coming in July and August. Life is never dull and the work never finished.

  The new asparagus patch is planted and growing as well as are the beans for drying and shelling. we've added 2 new varieties to test and compare. Two new cucumber and onion varieties as well as 3 squashes round out our "new" trials to test this year. All are heirlooms and after the CSA members give their feedback on taste and appearance, we'll decide if we will add them to our regular offerings and plantings. Looks like the drizzle this morning has ended and I hear the weeds calling me; back to the grind!

 
 

Bean Wraps

  Today's recipe is easy to make. Cook some chopped onion and red pepper in a little vegetable broth until tender; add black beans and continue heating until beans are warmed through. Turn off heat and season with basil, oregano, chili pepper and parsley. Wash a butterhead lettuce under cold water and separate leaves. Set two(2) leaves together and place a spoonful of the bean mixture in the center; roll the leaves and beans into a burrito; folding sides as you roll. Arrange on a plate dressed with fresh strawberries and asparagus spears topped with almonds. Yum!

  If you want a cold salad without the lettuce, just mix in bowtie pasta in place of the butterhead lettuce and chill.

 
 

Food Prep 101 (continued)

  Today we will add pac choy, asian greens  and snap peas to our list of food uses.

  • snap peas - taste great lightly steamed or added to stir fries. Most people eat them raw in salads or as a snack.
  • asian greens - mixed varieties of mustard and brassica greens (mild or spicey mixes) used as a salad alone or mixed with lettuce. Larger greens can be steamed lightly ( whole plant is edible - stems, leaves and flowers) with the taste ranging from spicey mustard to light cabbage flavors.
  • pac choy - the tops and stalks can be used together or separately. Use the greens in salads or cooked. The stalks can be used much like celery. Strip the green tops, cut the stems or chop into pieces and add it to your favorite dishes. Use them as a healthy snack with dip or fillings.
  • kolarabi - great tasting raw or cooked. Peel outside skin like an apple, cut into thin slices and enjoy. Cut into slivers and add to salads or cook with veggies. Mild cabbage flavor.
 By adding fresh fruit and nuts to your salads, you can change the texture and flavor of the mixture. Pineapple, strawberries, pine nuts and almonds all liven up a salad. Being creative with your produce makes the difference between a boring meal and a standout dish. 
 
 

Food Prep 101

  Many things I eat I take for granted. Preparation and cooking them is second nature to me. Having a CSA, I find a lot of people don't know what to do with some of the produce they receive each week having never eaten or been exposed to some vegetables. I'll try to give you the basics in cooking and using the produce and you can find more elaborate recipes as your confidence and tastes grow. I'll add crops as they come into season and you find they in your produce box. 

  • asparagus - good raw, cut into pieces and added to a salad -  steamed about 5 minutes until tender - or coat with oil and roasted in oven
  • kale - baby kale (stems and all) raw in salads or alone - full size leaves steamed or sauteed lightly until soften and wilted. Strip or remove the center ribs and chop leaves before cooking
  • swiss chard and beet greens - same as kale, some people cook beet greens in a little bacon grease and add bits of bacon to it.
  • radishes - good raw or cut and added to stir fries - tops (greens) chopped and sauteed added to mixed cooked greens for a slightly peppery taste
  • fresh herbs - pinch leaves and cut up to add seasoning to any dish. Add to your dishes last and only cook a short time. Extra herbs can be dried or stored in a plastic bag in the fridge or in a vase of water on the windowsill out of direct sunlight. ( depending on type of herb, check online for best fresh storage method ) 
  • chives and bunching onions - chop into 1/4 in. pieces and add to scrambled eggs - sprinkle on top of prepared dishes to add a mild onion seasoning

  As with all foods, experiment with seasonings ( salt, pepper, herbs, dressings) added to create different flavors to your dishes. Do not overcook your veggies or they will become tasteless and mushy. Next week, we will add asian greens, pac choy and snap peas.

 
 

Smell The Roses!

  As the planting season is in full bore, many times we find ourselves so busy we don't know which way to turn. Tilling, plowing, weeding and planting are just some of our chores we try to fit in our busy days. Once in a while I like to take a break, walk over to the field edge by the woods and just sit and watch the world go by. It's amazing to see all the critters busy doing their own thing; while I'm working I didn't even notice them. Bluejays, cardinals and hummingbirds fly back and forth chasing the food for themselves and their young. Insects move up and down, doing their own thing. A woodchuck plays hide and seek in the hayfield not yet mowed. I see him stand on his hind legs, surveying the area, then duck back down  only to surface somewhere else in the field. Two deer are lazily feeding in the far corner of the field. They know I'm here but evidently I'm not a current threat to them so they pay me no heed. I've seen fox and coyotes many times when I'm taking a break like this.

  The quiet and peacefulness of this short break energizes me and gives me a better perspective on what is important in life and to learn to see and enjoy all the little things in our lives. I guess it could be called my life's daily attitude adjustment break. Refreshed, I'm back to work again!

 
 

Fruit And Veggie Salad

  This is a salad I like to make to have when I'm out in the field all day!

  • 1 can drained fruit cocktail
  • 1/4 cup each finely cut onion, celery, red pepper and mixed nuts ( I use pecans, pumpkin, sunflower seed)
  • 1/8 cup raisins
  Cook veggies in a pan with a little vegetable stock about 5 minutes until softened. Add nuts and raisins, allow to cool. Pour fruit cocktail into veggies and mix well. Put mixture into covered containers and place in fridge. Place a container in a cool pack along with your favorite cold drinks and your ready to go!
 
 

Planting Update

  Just to update everyone on progress in the fields. The first and second plantings of our spring crops are in and growing. The soil is still too cool to start beans or corn but we are making progress as areas dry up to where we can work the soil and add crops. The rain has been tough, an area dries out and then it rains all over again and it turns to muck.

  The plants in the greenhouse are looking fantastic; not leggy or spindly, nice and green and healthy looking. While the brassicas have already been transplanted outdoors, warm weather crops like tomatoes and peppers will stay indoors where they are protected until warmer weather arrives.

  The markets open on the 17th; we expect to be there with spring lettuce mix, spinach, radishes and kale. Asparagus and chives should round out our offering for the first week. A little light in selection but still a welcome fresh treat. Our CSA members are still on schedule for their first pickup on June 1st. 

  This week promises to be warmer and drier, so we have much to get done. The fence is strung and in place; row covers protect the early crops from possible frosts and have helped in shedding the excess rain so the plants haven't gotten soggy and stressed. While still having a lot of plantings to start in the greenhouse, the better part of this week will be spent in the fields. Flat seeding will get done in the early morning while it is cool then we move outdoors to continue planting. I guess that's about it for now, but we hope to see you in a couple of weeks at the market.

 
 

Asparaus and Sweet Potato Salad

  This recipe is great looking and great tasting. Serve it warm or chilled. Enjoy!

  • 3 or 4 kale leaves cooked and chopped; center spine removed.       
  • 1 sweet potato cooked, skinned and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 can chickpeas
  • 1/2 can artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 4 or 5 asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 in. pieces
  • 1/2 stalk celery, cut thin
  • 1 or 2 slices red  onion, cut in half
  • basil and oregano seasoning
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and toss lightly. Heat in microwave till slightly warm or serve cold.
 
 

Not So Early Start

  It seems spring is trying to get here, but 1 day of 50's then back to snow showers and rain in the 30's make it look like it is taking it's slow, sweet time getting here. Normally we would have already planted early lettuce, radish, spinach and the first peas of the season, but it looks to be a couple weeks late this year. The weekend forecast is for 60's, so we will try to plant some in the areas we prepared last fall; much of the ground is still too wet and cold to do anything with.

  Indoors, the seed starting is going full bore, we starting 2nd plantings of brassicas, late onions, head lettuce and some later peppers and eggplant. The first plantings are growing great, not too leggy, and I just gave them a boost of nitrogen by watering with diluted fish emulsion.

  While I am getting the itch to be growing and planting outdoors, I will patiently bide my time. I know that in a few short weeks I'll be complaining about the heat or rain! I can't wait!

 
 

Chickpeas and Spinach Salad

Enjoy this salad alone or as a side dish!

  • 1/2 can cooked spinach
  • 1/2 can chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 slice onion cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup cooked whole grain pasta
   Combine all ingredients except pasta in a pan and heat on medium until warmed through. Add pasta and mix well. Serve warm.
 
 

Simpler Ways

  Being an organic grower, I find it is more of a lifestyle choice than a production method. It reaches into every facet of my life; not only what I eat. I make a conscience effort to use only the minimum outside inputs to produce the expected results. Plastics aren't used for weed supression or for ground covers. I use straw, leaves, compost and clippings to reduce the weeds. Stakes, markers, cages are recycled wire or wood. We use no sprays. Pests and animals are "controlled" by a mixture of row covers, trap crops, selective fencing and plant timing of vulnerable crops. Potatoes, for example, planted 2 weeks later than normal for this area, are seldom subject to Colorado bug beetles that regularly plague the crop. The crop matures only about 1 week later than the normally planted potatoes without the damage of the bugs. Planting a open patch of soybeans attracts the Japanese beetles away from my cash crops.

  Trying to work with nature rather than against it increases the odds for a successful crop. Crop rotation, diversity and diligent attention to soil fertility pay dividends in the plus column because soil health is the most important building block in the agricultural ecosystem. While I'm always looking to make my work less labor intensive, I realize some things require manual labor. This I grudgingly accept. Sustainable, organic lifestyles do require some sacrifices. Happy gardening!

 
 

Optimistic Nature

  Gardeners and farmers are optimistic people in general. We're content to plant a seed; nurture and pamper it for 3-4 months in the hopes of getting a carrot or onion we can eat. Not all that efficient overall, but it does have it's rewards. We get to enjoy fresh air, wildlife (hopefully not eating our labors), and rewarded with a means of physical labor instead of vegging out on the sofa. What a life!

  In a world seemingly based on instant gratification, we are content to let nature take its course. I wonder sometimes if I gain more from the process than in the actual reward. While I might complain every now and then about the weather, the bugs, the hours; I still wouldn't change a thing. I will always love what I do! Enjoy the season everyone.

 
 

Chickpea and Spinach Soup

  A easy, great tasting soup!

  • 1/2 can spinach
  • 1/2 can chickpeas
  • small carrot, onion and celery chopped fine
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon each basil, oregano, tyme, rosemary, garlic
  • 11/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
Combine ingredients and simmer for 1/2 hour or until veggies are tender. Serve with fresh salad and Italian bread!
 
 
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