GRADUAL SEASON CHANGE

Attention CSA Members:  It is time to prepare for a gradual Season Change of veggies! Some of you will be sad to hear this; others of you will be thrilled. Whichever camp you fall into, we thank you for your support. We are not a retail grocery store with semi-trucks bringing in our supply of produce. Our vegetables are grown in the Fairview soil with our labor and the Grace of the Almighty!

As you know, we do NOT require our CSA Members to pay for the entire season in advance, but rather accept payment box by box. There are two reasons we have decided upon this manner of payment. First, we would not be able to sleep at night if we had all of your money and then Mother Nature gave us a year where we were unable to supply the promised veggies. In reality, this has never happened, but this is still the first reason. Sometimes all of the crops we plant do not grow as we planned, but we have always had vegetables to fill our CSA Boxes!

The second reason we are willing to accept payment in this manner is that over the last two decades, we have been told too many times that THIS is the only way some families are able to join a CSA. Some people get paid by the week and coming up with six months of grocery money all at once simply is not a viable option. So thank you to everyone who is a member of Cane Creek Asparagus & Company CSA. You are helping to support our small, family farm and you are helping to provide fresh, local seasonal veggies to others in the community! When we have excess, we donate to area shelters and food banks. And interestingly enough, Bell South, Duke Progress Energy, Verizon Wireless and the rest of the companies we must pay each month simply will not take vegetables for payment!

Robert standing the the best potatoes EVER!

After a look in the garden, it appears the tatsoi, Joi Choi, Ching Chang, and Black Summer chois are done for the season. The heat and insects have taken over those early crops. It is possible we will have some white, juicy Joi Choi stalks we can put into the boxes. (I will remove the leaves.) I use them just like celery. They can add crunch to your romaine and lettuce salads and are wonderful for dipping or filling with cream cheese, humus, or peanut butter! Children love “ants on a log.”

A juicy, crunchy joi choi stalk . . . add a few raisins and you have “ants on a log!”

Going forward you can expect to see broccoli heads. We grow several varieties—some have traditional crowns, some have long stalks with little heads on the end, some are in between. And later there will be “florets.”  They all taste like fresh broccoli (grown on a local farm)! At this time we are getting the first smattering of cauliflower heads. They will become more plentiful.  The collards and kale are coming into a second wave. We have red and green romaine and red, butter head lettuce. We trust you are figuring out how to enjoy the green and purple kohlrabi, because the “fleet has landed!” We still have endive and escarole. Spring onions round out the mix for now. Seasonal eating from a local farm!

Sadly, the rain and heat were hard on the peonies in my front yard this year, but the wildflowers are doing exceptional well. We enjoy our bits of beauty where we can!

SEASONAL EATING

How are you doing with seasonal eating? Thus far the gardens have produced Joi Choi, Ching Chang, Black Summer, tatsoi, red and green kale, escarole, endive, romaine, red lettuce, onions, and green and purple kohlrabi. Seasonal vegetables! We trust we have thrilled you with at least one unfamiliar vegetable thus far! Some of these veggies are leaving the mix soon, but others will be arriving. Broccoli and cauliflower will be next to appear. I am guessing our CSA Members will have no trouble identifying broccoli and cauliflower! The size of these heads will depend upon the weather and the variety. We do plant multiple varieties so if one fails to meet our expectations, perhaps another will perform better!

Purple kohlrabi growing in the garden.

I have told some member about kohlrabi growing in the garden. The veggie you receive in your veggie box actually sits on top of the soil in the garden. With a bit of imagination, one might think they have the appearance of little, alien space ships that just landed in a row!

Sliced raw kohlrabi, with dried cranberries and grapes in a salad.

I like kohlrabi raw. Robert prefers his slightly sauteed in coconut oil. There is a crunchy kohlrabi salad recipe on the website as well as some tips for storing and preparing this unique vegetable.

The tatsoi is all gone, but look for a combination of the above veggies in your next CSA Box/Bag. We are nearly half way through the month of June, but expect to have green salad makings until the end of this month. There is a Harvest Calendar on the website if you are interested in approximately what will appear when.

And farm shares are available for the remainder of the season.

A BIRD’S EYE VIEW

We have been busy! All of the tomato plants have been transplanted to the garden. A fat, male rabbit found them last week and ate about fifteen of them to the nub one day. Robert relocated Peter Rabbit via “Have-A-Heart” trap to another property because he was doing some SERIOUS damage! From whatever reason, Peter did not care to sample the bell peppers and eggplant starts which were located nearby. He simply ate his way down a row of tomatoes! And just like in the children’s fairy tale, Peter was NOT HAPPY about being caught in a trap. He created more of a ruckus than a groundhog four times his weight. FYI we used an apple for bait!

The greenhouse is empty and we have our driveway back again! The summer and winter squash have been planted. The okra seeds are up and the potatoes are looking beautiful. The last TWO years have been very bad for potato production, so we are particularly excited to see the potatoes looking as good as they do this season.

Potatoes! So far, so good!

My son took some drone footage last week to give you a bird’s eye view of our Fairview family farming enterprise!

Half of our CSA Members have received their second “box” of veggies. The content has changed. In addition to the Asian greens, we have added Romaine lettuce, onions, escarole, and last Friday, heads of red/purple lettuce! This coming week will also see kohlrabi in the box. As some veggies fade away, others will be added. This is seasonal eating!

Our Kohlrabi come in one purple and two green varieties.

Kohlrabi is one of those veggies many people are not familiar with yet; however, we trust you will explore its varied uses and become a fan. Check out the website for our suggestions on peeling this usual vegetable and how to enjoy it. Just scroll down the page until you see the photo of this unique veggie.

Spring and Early Summer Garden

We have CSA Farm Shares available and are happy to add members at this time.

The First Box for the Second Week!

In the box today you have two Joi Choi, two Ching Chang, two Black Summer, at least two Tatsoi, a romaine, a bag of red kale and green kale, a bag of baby collards, and endive! We like to harvest our collards small as you can see in this photo. These are tender, baby collards which you can eat raw in a salad or braise as you desire. Regardless, now is the time you might want to implement your chiffonade style of cutting.

Seasonal, gourmet baby collards

I try to sort out the really damaged items. By damaged, I mean anything with excessive bug bites! But we are organic farmers, so you should expect to see some insect damage. We always say, “If the insects will not eat, we probably should not eat it either!”

Strawberries from my “front lawn”

We do not have any grass on our “lawn.” We have perennial flowers and annual flowers and butterfly bushes and strawberry plants every where! The strawberries started out in a small six-foot circle, but soon took over the front. They are the ever-bearing berry variety. Our problem has been the wildlife. You might recall me saying that Robert was “ubering” the squirrels to another property far enough from here that they will not make their way back. His efforts this spring seem to have paid off because we are getting some berries in an amount to be impressive for the first time!

Raspberries and herbed fetta cheese!

We got a much needed, lovely rain this afternoon which will give the drip irrigation wells a break for at least one day. We have been in “drought” conditions. We are not looking forward to high 80 degree temps this week. The spring crops prefer it to be a bit cooler . . . but what can one do? Prepare to SALAD ON! Your veggie boxes next week will be very much like the one today. And remember to go back and read previous Blog entries, if you have not done so.

Second Week of First CSA Boxes

We are entering the second week of first CSA Boxes. By now every CSA Member should have received their RSVP Email. We attempt to be in different areas of the county on different days of the week in order to make veggie box pickup convenient for our members. We cannot be all things to all people–there are just the two of us; but we do try!

Strawberries, artichoke hearts and slivered almonds!

During the first four to six weeks of harvest (that’s 2 – 3 veggie boxes) we will be doing a “salad parade.” I will refer anyone reading this Blog back to the previous Blog for details. It is always a good idea to read back a couple of Blogs if you are not subscribed and receiving them on a regular basis. You can subscribe (and unsubscribe) on the Blog page!

There will always be additions and changes in the boxes from week to week. For example, this second week will see the addition of the Asian green Tatsoi. I will appear to be a spinach bouquet and may be treated as spinach. It can be eaten raw in salads. However, my favorite way is to put it into a quiche with feta cheese! I am a “this and that” type of cook who does not follow instructions well, but I did my best to re-create my ever changing recipe. My experience is that when one begins with fresh veggies, it is difficult to go wrong!

Tatsoi Fetta Pie/Quiche with mushrooms and side of sauteed tatsoi greens.

There may be other additions this week or next week . . . the baby collards are about ready and the spring onions! Most of the recipes for the Asian greens we grow will be on our website under either “C” for “Choi” or “G” for “Greens” or “T” for “Tatsoi.” I guess I am a “this and that” type of recipe organizer, too!

First CSA Veggies

We are starting the CSA! Remember it will take two weeks to get the entire CSA up and running. Each member will get an email from us indicating their first pickup day, so keep an eye on your Inbox! And if you have been waiting to join, now is the time!! We do have farm shares available.

Here is a preview of what will likely be in your first CSA Box. There may be other veggies, too, but this gives you an idea of what to expect. When you open the bag, use your senses. I want you to SMELL the freshness of these greens! Harvested in the morning, packed at noon, and delivered to you around 2:00 p.m.! This is about as fresh as one can get short of growing and harvesting them yourself. Welcome to our “Farm to Table” seasonal eating adventure!

Left: Ching Chang Middle: Joi Choi Right: Black Summer

The above greens are all in the Bok Choy/Choi family. We do not want you to be overwhelmed when you receive your first CSA Box of veggies. I recommend putting on your favorite music. Then, here are your prep steps: First cut off the bottoms of the chois. They are grown in soil, so the majority of the soil will be concentrated at the bottom. The bottoms of the stems are “spoon shaped” and will retain soil. I like to cut these off over one side of the sink while washing off the majority of the soil in this first sink. After this, immediately place the cut leaves into another sink filled with cold water. Doing this may cut down on the number of wash cycles you need. Gently soak and swish the leaves, replacing the water until you get the grit level down to your preference. Then place the washed leaves onto a clean tray.

Baby green kale and red kale so tender you will not need to “massage” it.

You do the same with the kale. Kale grows in a different manner, so it will require less washing. You can get creative and use the same wash water for both chois and kale before refilling the sink in an attempt to use less water. We do wash off the first layer of soil right after harvest. Soil is expensive in Fairview. We like to keep as much of it here on the farm as possible! The black fabric we use helps to keep some of the soil off the vegetables. However, if it has been raining, you can expect more washing to be required.

Washed, bagged spring greens ready for the refrigerator! Two dinner salads and one for lunch!

I wash everything at once and place the veggies into bags. This prep is what takes time. Once this is done, chopping for a salad or stir-fry goes much quicker which speeds up meal time preparation. We are big salad eaters in our house. If you need a reason to eat a daily salad, consider the 2017 study by Rush University Medical Center which shows that one serving of leafy greens a day is associated with slower cognitive decline! I am willing to bet these salad bowls hold more than one serving!

Spring greens with carrots and red raspberries!

Get creative with your salads! Blackberries, strawberries, chopped apples, oranges, and pears, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, pecans, carrots, spring onions, Craisins, grapes are just a start! Sometimes we add various cheeses. These greens are hearty and will stand up grilled chicken breasts or beef tips tossed in. So enjoy your salads! One day, believe or not, they will be gone. This is what seasonal eating is all about! And when this day comes, we trust we will have cabbages to fill your salad bowls! Check out Recipes F- L for dressings and more ideas for the first of your seasonal gourmet vegetables from our Fairview family farm!

Jumbo Bags

I want to suggest buying some jumbo bags for storing your veggies in the refrigerator. I usually go ahead and wash the greens before shaking off the excess water and placing them into the bags. This way when I am ready to prepare a meal, all I need do is remove the leaves and start chopping for salads or stir-fry. This particular brand is easy to open and close and is large enough to hold anything we send your way!

My favorite food storage bags!

Please remember it takes two weeks to get the CSA up and running because we operate on an every other week basis. Shortly, I will be sending out the first start up emails with an RSVP requested. This is to ensure I know that YOU know when your first box of veggies is being harvested. From your first day forward, just go down the calendar every other week until you get an email from us saying that the CSA is closing down for the season. And if you are going out of town, please let us know in advance. We will make arrangements for you to get that box on another day! We do expect you to purchase each box, and we are willing to work with you to make this possible.

These are Ching Chang and red kale in the foreground.

Robert and I believe the season is getting off to an excellent start! The Spring Garden looks beautiful. Get ready for those first nutritious, green salads! We are big salad eaters in this household and quite anxious for the season to begin. Of course, if you prefer, any of these first greens can also be sauteed or made into a quiche, etc. See the recipes on the website or internet for ideas!

Happy Mother’s Day

Today is windy! I half expect to look out the window and see Robert flying through the air on the end of a strip of black fabric which is supposed to be lying on the ground in the garden! The wind has its purpose of spreading the pollen far and wide and it helps to dry out the gardens. The planting is still going on at full speed. We can see the first potatoes starting to push up through the soil which is a good sign! The spring onions are growing. The carrots are planted, the snow peas are planted—these are direct seeded into the soil, of course. The poles for the deer fence are in the ground . . . small steps!

In time deer fencing will be attached to these seven-foot poles!

We had NO azalea blooms this year which is a good reminder that we don’t always get what we want from Nature! I miss the azaleas; therefore, I am going to attach a photo of our front yard from a GOOD azalea season! Happy Mother’s Day!!

Azaleas from another spring . . .

We have not decided a starting date for the CSA yet. We are waiting until the spring crops are a bit larger to begin. Do not worry! I will contact all CSA Members in due time! Farm shares are still available for the 2021 Harvest Season.

In The Garden TODAY

I want to write about the black fabric which we use in our gardens. This fabric helps retain moisture and keeps the soil warm. The fabric also helps keep down the weeds. We do not spray herbicides. We pull what weeds we can, but are unable to keep up with all of them which explains why our gardens look like such a “mess” come the end of July! I always say our gardens are the prettiest in June and start going downhill after that. The gardens still produce nutritious veggies, of course; but the gardens will not be winners of Home and Garden Awards. Weeds are not all bad since weeds can provide habitat for beneficial insects! Currently, however, we could still win some beautiful garden awards!

Spring Garden Phase I–A Sight To Behold!

Today we did not need to irrigate thanks to the Tuesday rainfall. When we do need to water our gardens, we use an underground, drip irrigation system to conserve the water obtained from our wells. Drip tapes carrying the water run along the side or under the black fabric. In turn, the moisture helps the decomposition of organic matter (weeds), which releases nutrients for plants to take in. The idea is to flow with Nature! Fighting Nature all of the time simply takes too much of our resources. Robert and I need our energy for operating our CSA Farming business.

Ditches r-u-n-n-i-n-g !

Across the ditch from Phase I is Phase II of the Spring Garden. The fabric has been laid in place, but that is all at the moment. Eventually a seven-foot deer fence will surround both Phase I and Phase II. You will see some fields along Cane Creek Road and elsewhere with mounded black plastic in them laid by specialized equipment which is how the commercial tomato farmers do it. Sigh . . . but not us. Once the gardens are tilled, all work is done by manual labor.

Fabric laid for Spring Garden Phase II

It might not look as if any plants have left this staging area, but trust me, more than half of the 15,000 plants started in our greenhouse have moved through this stage and been relocated to the garden soils!

We are pleased with our plants this year!

I am finishing up the last of the lettuces and eggplant in the greenhouse this week. There will still be some more planting to do in there since we start cucumbers and squash plants inside as well–think a ‘head start” for the Summer Gardens!

Nearing the end of this labor stage puts a smile on my face!

Robert and I are happy with how the season is progressing. We do have CSA Farm Shares available for the upcoming season which we trust will be a bountiful one starting in two or three more weeks! We attempt to balance the daily harvests for the sake of the gardens. We will continue to add shares throughout the season as the production allows.

Cane Creek Asparagus & Company CSA

After The Frost

I know people are wondering how we fared during the recent cold temperatures. It usually takes a while to see the end results. (Isn’t there patience required in most things?!) However, it appears we had only a slight amount of damage in our Spring Garden. Some of the outer leaves were “burned,” but all in all we will survive! For the most part, the center leaves are green and alive which means the plants will continue to grow. I wish the same could be said for our apple trees, blueberry bushes, and my white azaleas.

Saturday’s rain meant we were unable to do any planting outside, but there is still plenty of what needs to be accomplished on our small, family farm. We continue to work toward being to fill our CSA Boxes for our farm share members–sometime in May!

No photos today . . . please read my last post for recent farm photos!