The Broadsheet is free to CSA sharers of Broadacre Farm. This seventh issue is free for anyone to explore ideas in local food, Midwestern terroir, and the launch of Broadacre's first ever CSA, with shares delivered July 31, 2014. Eleven-plus future issues! Published June-October.
what's in your share / what's in season
root Walla Walla sweet onions
herb wild oregano mint+
herb cinnamon basil
herb 'Purple Ruffles' basil
herb yellow dock leaves
spice bee balm petals+
Black Krim, Principe Borghese, Hawaiian Pineapple, or Sub-Arctic Plenty
vegetable pea and bean mix: Sugar Anne snap peas, Rembrandt snow peas, Tendergreen beans, Burgundy bush beans
vegetable early jalapeno
vegetable 'Boothby Blonde' cucumber or 'Mountain Pickling' cucumber
vegetable 'Yellow Crookneck' summer squash or 'Dark Green Prolific' zucchini
vegetable 'Red Belgian' sweet pepper
mushroom dryad's saddle*
+ Wild foraged
@ Random rotation due to first appearances
* Mushrooms to Wisconsin only due to MN law
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Use first Tomato, dock leaves, basil, parsley
Best keepers Onions, hot peppers, sweet peppers
Dry it Thyme, wild oregano mint, bee balm petals
Pho Peas and beans, jalapeno, yellow dock leaves, purple basil + rice noodles, beef broth, pho spice
Pesto Basil, yellow dock leaves, thyme, parsley + olive oil, garlic, salt
Infused gin Wild oregano mint, bee balm + gin
Dried spice mix Wild oregano mint, bee balm petals, parsley, 'Purple Ruffles' basil + salt
Fruit salad Cinnamon basil + peaches, pineapple
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Special question to you How have you been enjoying your Salad of the Seasons Mix? After last weeks' trick-or-treat with the daylily blossoms – they go bad immediately and must be discontinued indefinitely – we spent time this week refocusing on how this labor-intensive constant item is going to develop in future shares. Besides my constant interest in how fresh you find your veggies, I also want to know: Is salad mix every week too much, just right, or do you wish there were more? Likewise, how did the new BioBags perform compared to the old plastic bags? Your feedback helps us plan several weeks out, and apart from all other crops, the balance of time devoted to salad mix always must be spent wisely.
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Walla Walla sweet onions Here seems to be a good place to mention that I've never been the best onion grower. They hate my nemesis, grass. It shades their strappy leaves and the roots compete in the soil. That soil needs sulphur, which is confusing to source organically. Mulching to keep the weeds down promotes rot. Then, during the growth phase, the soil needs to be disturbed so that they bulb up. Also, they're insane to start from seeds with a one-year shelf-life – tiny blades-of-grass-like sprouts that get stuck in the seed coat and stop growing, or grow so slowly you wonder how any farmer does it, especially with stuff like scallions that don't amount to much, where several must be bunched to make a unit. This year, I resorted to 'sets', or onions grown (by a professional onion house) partly last year and kept in storage for me to plant in spring. The yield was disappointing, but I hope they make up for their pearly dimensions with sweet flavor. Apart from these onions, there aren't too many of their cousins coming along. The garlic chives have been lost in the wild east garden, Egyptian onions will provide a couple more servings, but after that, that's it. There will be no big red, yellow, or white onions on the way, and that really needs to be remedied in 2015.
Parsley In lieu of salad greens, or even lettuce, we have humble parsley. How parsley, that thing sitting next to your steak at a supper club, became relegated to ignored garnish status is beyond me. Parsley contains three times the nutrients than lettuce. Chopped finely, makes a great addition to any summer salad with zucchini, tomato, or cucumber. Tabbouleh, anyone?
Thyme Strip the leaves for general cooking, use whole sprigs tucked under the skin of roasted poultry, or infuse in a vinegar for future dressings.
Wild oregano mint Hard to know what to call this one, because while the Swiss mint was the mintiest, this is hardly minty at all. At times, it doesn't even register as mint. Instead, it has an oregano-thyme flavor, disqualifying it from desserts but setting the tone for savory stuff like meat seasoning, roasted vegetables, and spice mixes. Also a bonus because four-lined plant bugs ruined all the oregano this year.
Cinnamon basil A warmer, fruitier scent to it, this basil lends itself to peach or pineapple fruit salads.
'Purple Ruffles' basil A strong and abiding anise-flavor. Slice it into fine ribbons at the last minute to serve atop anything you'd like imbued with our sturdiest (and slowest-growing) basil.
Yellow dock leaves Also known as curly dock, this is a sour green that compares most closely with sorrel. It's the same flavor as the wood sorrel, too, but lacks the clover leaf-like shape in favor of long, strappy swords. We included it in Greens of the Season Mix because of the lemony-tart aspects, so you can use it to wrap up fish, slice thinly for a chopped vegetable salad, wilted in pasta, chopped or pureed for a sorrel soup, or as a lemony green in your pesto. Just think of it as lemon in a leaf. Despite the green leaves, yellow dock is named for the yellow-fleshed root it produces, also edible and medicinal, and on deck for fall shares.
Bee balm petals The Jello shot glasses came in! Besides that, this is the second and final week for petals. Most florals pair best with fruits and sweets, but bee balm petals' thyme-sage bite holds up to grilling, spice, garlic, smoke, you name it. Consider mixing them into Lebanese lamb meatballs or marinating your favorite pork cuts for the grill.
Tomato Tomatoes have begun! There are too few for one of each for everyone, so the varieties are in rotation for now. Our very first tomato was a toss-up between Principe Borghese (cherry-sized, best sun-dried) and Hawaiian Pineapple (a red-blushed orange beefsteak with lots of gorgeous cracking and mottling). Others are Stupice (stoo-PEACH-ka) and Sub-Arctic Plenty (plum-sized earlies), and a beautiful green-spotted Black Krim. Tomatoes are the main event here on the farm, and we've been doting on our nearly two dozen varieties to start coming on in waves.
Pea and bean mix New to the mix is Burgundy bush beans, which probably are the best 'green' beans I've tasted – sweet, juicy, crispy, soft skin and tender flesh. New Sugar Anne snap peas just starting. Gold beans are seven feet tall with nary a bean.
Jalapeno The more we pick, the more robust the plants get and the more fruit they put on. Cool.
Cucumber Finally, enough to go around. I prefer the versatility of pickling cucumbers to slicers, but obviously the size is different. The good news is the cucumber plants have recovered and should be abundant; cucumber beetles have already killed several replanted vines casting doubt on late season cuke harvests.
Green zucchini and yellow summer squash These plants are also recovering and loaded with flowers and bees, and again the new ones are under attack. Small ones are tender slicers for soup, salad, or sides; large ones are good for shredding, stuffing and baking, and pickling into relish. Did you know 40% of food goes to waste? That's why we include a giant zuke every once in a while – it's a shame to throw out a two pound courgette when it just needs the right recipe to make a meal with leftovers after.
Unripe 'Red Belgian' pepper Unlike other peppers we know, Red Belgian begins as a pale yellow fruit with purplish markings. We planted these right where the center of the brush pile was for lack of weeds, and the soil seemed extra water-retentive for sandy-silt. Turns out, there's lots of nutrients to grow fruit, but little nitrogen for leaves. Picture eight-inch plants with eight fruits on them – it's not sustainable for the plants, so we're thinning and eating them.
Dryad's saddle mushroom I find it unbelievable that I'm still finding dryad's saddle mushrooms erupting from the same prolific garden stump, but here they are. These polypores are nearly always done in June; that we're finding them in nigh August is weird. Nice thick flesh, though. To eat: Fillet the under pore webbing, gently clean the top, slice very thinly, and fry. Or perhaps you started Fruitti di Bosco – a great place for a watermelon-y fungus.
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Infusing flavors into vodka, but looking to expand your horizons? Consider reserving a few herbs to flavor your own gin. Whether your gin of choice is piney Tanqueray, smooth Bombay Sapphire, or rail-style Seagrams, this CSA is bringing flavors you can apply to your own custom G&T's, smashes, and fizzes. This week, consider bee balm petals for more than just garnish and let loose their thymey-sage glory. Or pair the flowers with another wild one, the oregano mint. Other reasons to go with gin include that soon Sichuan peppercorns will be popping open and ready for sparing applications where numbing-lemon-pepper flavor is need, plus our harvest of piney-spicy juniper berries is approaching.
Don't think your herbs will stretch as far as I'm pulling them? What about parsley vodka? Remember, if you're wondering how fresh vegetables fit into cocktails, that's what Bloody Mary's are for. (Or parsley shots alongside gazpacho in August.) Rounding out the bar, go for fruitier matches for the cinnamon basil – Malibu or peach schnapps. If vodka's still your gig, put that 'Purple Ruffles' basil into some Prairie Organic from Minnesota or 360 vodka which comes in a beautiful and reusable bail-top bottle.
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Not too much to report here – we are in the doldrums of early summer foraging, when the gooseberries and blackcaps are tapped out. There's a similar signal when the spring foraging season has ended – that late May or early June morning when you notice all the dandelions have vanished. There are abundant wild things on the way, but for a few weeks,we can indulge in the heirlooms that gardeners have been working on for hundreds of years to supplement the abundance of the wild.
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Volunteers needed The state of the garden is such that volunteers are needed to pull us back from the brink of weeds, trellis tomatoes and pumpkins trying to escape, pick buds off basil, replant areas of succession crops and replacing crop failures, pulling unwanted plants by hand (mostly rhizome grass, lamb's quarter, and soapwort), fertilizing with fish emulsion and pond bottom fines, and a seemingly endless list of physical work from didn't-even-break-a-sweat tasks to Sisyphean chores.
We want to ask you to come help us get this garden under control so that we can increase our yields and devote more time to harvesting for the next eleven weeks. In August, I'm calling on volunteers to head out to Broadacre Farm and pitch in to make this year's work count for next year, too.
The best days for volunteers at the farm are Fridays through Wednesdays.
With installation of the well and pump approaching, we are still under a water watch – that means we have limited hand-washing, potable water, and irrigation, but not for toilet facilities, bathing, or dishwashing. Phone recharging is available, though.
There are coolers for storing cold beverages and snacks brought with you, although extra refreshments of bagged ice are always welcome and encouraged. Food is potluck-style – I cook, you cook.
We also have a need for various recycled items, so bring your junk and leave it with us. We need five-gallon pails, brown cardboard, broken hoses, and various other things you're waiting to dump.
Access to the garden at the farm is dry, unobstructed, and mowed, while the eroding driveway is holding together.
Also, free beer.
But wait! Call or write ahead to make arrangements – 715-505-5380 or email@example.com
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Preview of next weeks new Purple Peruvian fingerling potato, Sichuan peppercorn, tomato, beans and peas, lemon basil, cilantro, peppers
– Barrett Johanneson