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It Never Fails

Inevitably, we end up planting our 1st, 2nd, and possibly 3rd rotation of lettuce transplants all at once. This not a big deal, it just tends to stack up a lot of lettuce at one time. Thankfully, lettuce mostly matures at the same time. “Mostly” being the operative word. 

All crops have a range of maturity, and with lettuce we will be harvesting the over achievers first and letting the laggards mature for a later harvest date. For now, I am happy to report that 2500 red leaf, green leaf, and romaine lettuce starts are in the ground. And it is a good thing, because plantings 4 and 5 are close behind!

This weekend we are also driving T-posts and stringing the peas. The same weather that tossed a wrench in our transplant schedule also impacted our ability to cultivate the peas with the tractor. In a perfect situation, we would have been able to “hill” them and smother the weeds in the row and kill a bunch of weeds outside the rows. This year there wasn’t a dry enough window to do that and so now we are going to be hand hoeing. 

It isn’t a big deal, maybe an extra 3 hours compared to 10 minutes with the tractor. On the bright side, the peas look great! They just grew beyond the point where I was comfortable tractor weeding. Those peas are off to a great start! Think mid to late June for a harvest date.

And since we are talking about peas, next week we are harvesting Pea Vines and Tendrils. I know, you are thinking “fancy.” Actually, I am thinking that the cover crop I planted last fall to protect and nurture the soil is lush and green and ready to harvest. We didn’t plan to harvest these for food, but I am now. They taste absolutely amazing. The tops of pea plants are very tender and taste surprisingly like peas. They will make a great addition to salads or stir fries. Joanna and I just graze them like Peter Rabbit or Bambi might, helping ourselves to a top here and another there as we mosey along. 

Now to be clear, while pea vines are very tasty, I am not willing to harvest Pea Vines that will become SUPER SUGAR SNAP PEAS in the near future! Nope, nada, never. So, I essentially have two different varieties of peas, Austrian Winter Peas and Sugar Snap Peas. Both produce tasty pea vines and tendrils, but the Sugar Snap Peas produce those big, plump, juicy, green peas and it would be a culinary shame to eat those vines. That being said, the Austrian Winter Peas are ready to harvest and provide a splash of local farm goodness!  

Cheers to your health!

-Tristan

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Beet Salad With Pea Shoots

Yield: 4-6 Servings | Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes | Source: www.myrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium red beets, unpeeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2-pound pea shoots, tough stems trimmed, and shoots snipped into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chives, chopped (about 3 tbsp.)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 firm-ripe avocados, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Scrub beets and put in a baking pan large enough to arrange them in a single layer. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Cover with foil and roast until tender when pierced with the tip of a small, sharp knife, about 1 hour.
  2. Cool beets until cool enough to handle. Peel and cut into 1/2-in.-thick wedges.
  3. Combine pea shoots, shallot, chives, oil, lemon juice, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Top with beets, avocados, and pepper, tossing just to coat.
  4. Make ahead: Roasted beets, up to 1 day (peel and slice just before making salad).
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Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Broccolini

Yield: 4 Servings | Source: www.myrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound thinly sliced peeled sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 ounces trimmed Broccolini

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Combine 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and sweet potatoes in a large bowl, tossing to coat sweet potatoes evenly. Place ­sweet potatoes on a jelly-roll pan and bake at 425° for 16 minutes. Combine 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, crushed red pepper, and Broccolini in a bowl, tossing to coat Broccolini evenly. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and stir. Arrange Broccolini on baking sheet with sweet potatoes; bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until Broccolini is crisp-tender and sweet potatoes are fork-tender
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Timely and Untimely Weather

Fitting in work here and there, we have been waiting. After such a great start to March, April showers have certainly put a damper on field work. It’s alright though, the fields were looking and feeling a little too dry for the start of the farm season. So, in many ways, I am grateful for the early start and the rainy April patch. 

And besides, if we hadn’t got the nice weather in March, I couldn’t have snuck in another unplanned planting of those tasty sugar snap peas! 

Now it is fruit blossom time. Our one cherry tree didn’t care that it was raining during blossom time, but I DID! On the brighter side, the Italian prunes have burst into full blossom, and the rain let up at the perfect time. We use Mason Bees for most of our pollination. Those little pollinators tend to work rain or shine, unlike Honey Bees. The Mason Bees do require a little more maintenance than do the other pollinators, like Bumble Bees. The Mason Bees need a water source nearby and a clayey mud puddle. With the rainy weather all of our tractor ruts serve as an excellent source of water and mud to make their nests. 

Another interesting fact about Mason Bees is that the males emerge first, and then the females a little later. And since each little nest has 5 eggs in it, it is really important that the female Mason Bee lays 2 female eggs in the back of the nest and 3 male eggs in the front. Nature is truly amazing. How does the female know that it is laying female eggs in the back and male eggs in the front? This is absolutely critical too, because the males emerge first, and if the female mason bee lays a male egg in the back of the nest it will wake up first and destroy the eggs in front of it. Now I am not an expert, but every year we see Mason Bees emerging and building nests, so something is working right. One thing for sure: no pollination, no fruit!  

Farming is a humbling and exhilarating adventure; you can do so many things right and then it can rain during pollination, and next thing you know you’re caring for trees for the whole year without a crop to harvest. Ouch. Thankfully that doesn’t happen very often, especially in our orchard. The reason that we usually have fruit to harvest is because, we haven’t “put all our eggs in one basket.” We have 3 varieties of Plums, 3 varieties of pears and 4 varieties of apples and they all bloom at slightly different times, essentially spreading out our risk over a few weeks. 

We have chosen to be small diversified fruit and vegetable farm. Focusing on a couple dozen crops that grow really well in our climate and on our farm and we grow them for you! 

-Tristan

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Baked Potatoes

Yield: 1 Serving | Prep Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes | Source: www.allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 Russet potato
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Scrub the potato and pierce the skin several times with a knife or fork. Rub the skin with olive oil, then with salt.
  2. Place the potato in the preheated oven, and bake for 90 minutes, or until slightly soft and golden brown. Slice the potato down the center and serve with toppings of your choice. Here are a few suggestions!
  • Chopped chives
  • Chopped fresh basil, oregano, or dill
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Chopped scallions or red onions
  • Steamed broccoli, green beans, or asparagus
  • Sautéed spinach
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes
  • Roasted or fresh bell peppers
  • Canned beans, or chili
  • Grilled or fresh onions
  • Salsa
  • Smoked salmon
  • Shredded chicken
  • Seasoned salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Butter
  • Sour cream, or light yogurt
  • Cheese
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Chive On

It is officially farm season. Normally our first crop of every season is chives. This year we had garlic greens and kale from our farm earlier than chives, but for me and my “biological farming” clock, harvesting chives is when I think farming has begun. This culinary delight has been gracing tables for 5000 years. Of course, even though I am north of 50 years old, I am not able to verify exactly how many years it has been cultivated. I am good with 5000 though. 

Now, mind you, we grow around 400 linear row feet that we harvest several times throughout the growing season. We also weed it several times throughout the season. This year I wasn’t sure that the chives were going to come out of the winter very well.  

About a month ago, I was quietly lamenting the loss of the chive crop. It just didn’t look normal, but really how many of us were starving for a little warmth this last winter too. But like the champion of Spring they are, they came roaring back! These chives have been cultivated from one 4″ pot that we planted in 2003 in our herb garden.

Chives love to multiply; no, they EXCELL at multiplying. Every few years, when the weeds begin to take over and compete with the chives, and the grasses move in, we dig up the healthiest clumps and break them apart and replant one lonely single chive every six inches. And within a few months one has become 6. Last week I spoke about the miracle of seeds. Plants that propagate by multiplying are equally amazing.  

All this to share that for some of you who have been customers for over 15 years, we have been harvesting and tending this crop of chives for your health. It is rewarding to think that with a little attention, and intention, such a healthy allium can feed thousands of families in its life.  

All the onions/alliums are incredibly healthy and are off the charts as a health food. Scallions, leeks, red, yellow, white, and sweet onions, and shallots all have incredible cancer fighting components. I know that the saying is an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and that is true, but adding an onion or garlic to your daily plan will definitely keep you healthier than not.  

Chives, unlike its other onion relatives, are best added at the end of the cooking process. For soups or potato dishes cut them in into 1/8” sections and add them on top. For scrambled eggs and souffle’s add them at the end as well. And for a salad, mix them in.  

To keep your chives fresh, treat them like flowers and keep them in a vase.  

But mostly, eat them! 

Tristan

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It Happened

I am always in awe. We planted Super Sugar snap pea seeds two weeks ago and last Saturday, they emerged. The miracle reminds of a children’s book that we read to our kids. The book was called “Look What God Made.” Every page was filled with a natural wonder and the toddler exclaimed, “look what God made!” That deep “WOW” moment when a little one discovers something new is so precious. 

That is how I feel every time I see seedlings emerge. One would think that after a lifetime of growing vegetables, I would know what is about to happen. But something happens every spring. Every time I plant a seed, the excitement grows. The anticipation increases every day, and then it happens! Germination! 

I check every day; I know that the first few days the seeds are gathering moisture to burst and push through their coats. It is all happening, but nothing appears to be happening. I dig a few seeds and the once dry shriveled seeds are now plump and soft. A few more days and a tiny sprout is breaking through, and then a few more days, I gently brush back the soil and now there is a green shoot ready to emerge.   

It happened! I know, I know it is going to happen, but every year, every crop, they are so special. It doesn’t matter if it is peas, or cucumbers, or apples, or raspberries. The amount of simplicity, and complexity, and diversity that working with nature manifests every season of every year is a miracle.  

And even though I know what will happen every time I plant a seed. Even though the seed packet tells me when to plant, how deep to plant, and how long it will take to germinate, I feel like that little one in the book that Joelle and I read to our little ones, and I find myself saying, “WOW! Look what God made.” 

There is a whole bunch more work between emergence and harvest, especially with Sugar snap peas, but when you bite into a Klesick Farm hand planted, hand trellised, hand weeded, and hand harvested Super Sugar snap pea it is as if the world stops for a moment.  A pause where something so special, so beautiful, so nutritious has culminated at that moment. And at that moment, your farm team relishes in a job well done as your taste buds relish in the simple, sweet, and juicy organic goodness of the Sugar snap pea. 

-Tristan

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Grilled Chicken Kabobs

Yield: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Source: www.dinneratthezoo.com

Ingredients:

  • 1-pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 small zucchinis cut into 1-inch slices
  • 1 red onion cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 0.5 Lb brussels sprouts Halved
  • A few asparagus stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pineapple cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 mango cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 0.5 Lb mushrooms halved

Instructions:

  1. Place the olive oil, soy sauce, honey, garlic and salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add the chicken, bell peppers, zucchini, brussels sprouts, asparagus, pineapple, mango, mushroom, and red onion to the bowl. Toss to coat in the marinade.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours.
  5. Soak wooden skewers in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high heat.
  6. Thread the chicken and vegetables onto the skewers.
  7. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked through.
  8. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.