The Depot Farm

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

Timing is Everything

  Many times we face feast or famine when we plant crops. With proper planning you don't have to eat broccoli for 2 weeks straight because all your plants were ready all at once. With a CSA and retail sales at the farmers markets, we need to spread out each harvested crop over a long period of time in order to maintain a variety of selection. Planting or starting plants every 10 days works to ensure a continuous supply over a period of time. 

  We estimate our amount of each planting by taking the number of shares x 2 weeks harvest per planting. We then add 10% for seed/plant failure and then multiply by 25%. This covers any pest damage or crop failure while still giving enough production for surplus. By replanting every 10 days we have a new crop ready to pick when the last one is finishing up. If one planting is lost to weather or bugs, the subsequent planting are usually not. Conditions and weather are always changing and you increase the odds of success.

  On a smaller scale for the home gardener, you can still use this timing plan to extend your harvest of certain crops. For example: if you want to harvest 1 broccoli per week for 8 weeks, instead of planting 20 plants at the same time, start 3 plants every 10 days to spread their mature harvest over a longer period. Later plantings can be used to replace early lettuce, pac choi, or spinach in the garden saving space and re-using the area. This system works well with all but a few "day length" sensitive plants (like peas). It will help you gain a larger variety of fresh food to eat over a longer period without the waste or over supply!


Apple Ginger Snack

  Today's recipe is a spicy and naturally sweet pick-me-up for a healthy snack!  

  • 1 cored apple, sliced into 1/4" pieces (leave skin on)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  Mix ingredients together in a sauce pan; cook on medium heat until apples are soft. (Add enough water or apple juice to pan to keep from sticking and burning.) Transfer onto a plate and enjoy with raspberry or herbal tea!

Identifying GMO Produce

  Shopping in the supermarket requires constant checking of ingredients and country of origin. Most unmarked processed foods contain GMO ingredients. While the industry continues to stonewall labeling the use of GMO's in their processed foods, we do have a way to check our fresh fruits and veggies for how they were grown. Buying local certified organic is one way; but what if you want items not produced locally? I copy this photo onto my shopping list (you can also copy it to your cell phone) so I have a guide to check items not marked or identified organic. A quick glance at the numbers on the PLU sticker and I can tell if it's a GMO product, regularly grown with pesticides, or organic.

  Knowing your farmer is the best way to buying fresh, unadulterated food but a little knowledge can help make wise choices when it isn't possible.     Eat Fresh, Eat Smart! Eat Naturally!


Winter Blues

  Winter drags on with the cold seemingly relentless. Zero degree nights and days in the single digits. Outside work is keep to a minimum. I've learned to accept it. On the good side, I've managed to catch up and update all my paperwork, do the taxes, even get a head start on this years' files. My eyes hurt and my fingers are sore from writing. Who knew bookkeeping could be so strenuous.

  On the farm side, details for our CSA are completed, seeds and plant stock ordered are arriving almost daily; crop plans, rotations and planting calendars are completed. I was going to make a "to-do" list but decided to wait, (it was number one on the list!) because of the risk of carpal tunnel. I guess I'll have to be content with putting another log on the fire; having a cup of hot tea and thumb though my dog-eared catalogs one more time! Keep warm.



Asparagus Artichoke Sandwich

Today's recipe is for an open faced sandwich.

  • 1 bunch asparagus - cut into 2 inch pieces
  • artichoke hearts - drained and cut into quarters
  • red onion - sliced and separated into rings
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free Italian dressing

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well; let marinate 2 hours. Heat oven to 450 degrees; spread mixture on foil covered baking sheet and roast for 12 - 15 minutes until asparagus is cooked. Place cooked veggies back into the bowl and allow to cool. Serve cooled mixture over a slice of toasted whole wheat bread. Garnish with orange slices.


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