As Bluebird Farm has grown and developed it has been one large project after another in expansion and addition. Every week, even every day, brought a totally new project to be tackled-our first chickens, our first butchering, our first sheep, a new walk-in fridge, first planting of each crop, then on to the next first, and the next. But this week we began to see the beautiful cycles of farming. Now, the arrival of a new batch of chickens does not initiate some new adjustments, instead we just prepare and go.
In the garden, summer crops are in the ground and growing. Now our priorities are planting the second succession of the summer crops like tomatoes, cuke, and zuchinnis. Some of our spring crops are done and we clean up the bed, much like in the spring, and prepare for another round of seeds and growth. Also our focus shifts to maintaining the crops we have: namely fighting weeds and insects.
Of course we are always trying to work with natural systems and not fight them. But the weeding and insect killing of the past week can only be described as war. Suddenly potato beetles are everywhere. We are using a variety of physical (spray on clay barriers), manual (hand crushing), and spray methods. Our two first line options for insects are insecticidal soaps and essential oils. The soaps are biodegradable soaps that penetrate insect cells, causing their cell membranes to collapse, dehydrating the whole insect. The essential oil we have been using is neem oil from the neem plant. It is a natural, but powerful, oil that kills insects.
We do try to encourage beneficial insects as well. We are assisted by lady bugs, predatory stink bugs, soldier bugs, and assassin beetles. All of these insects prey on our pest species, helping to keep their numbers in check. Our lady bugs are everywhere and it’s great fun to watch the predatory stink bugs spear and suck the juices from bug larvae. A very good reason to avoid traditional chemical pesticides is that they typically kill all insects-good and bad. Almost always the bad insects will rebound first-this time into a habitat totally devoid of any predators.
A soldier bug eating a colorado potato beetle larva
This week brings another round of greens. You will find kale in your box again this week. We hope you will enjoy it as much as our new neighbor, Mr. Ground Hog enjoys it (sometimes our four legged mammal friends are worse pests than insects). Mr. Ground Hog’s house is approximately 20 feet from the garden and a well worn path is visible. We have been encouraging the beast’s relocation.
Week 4 CSA box
Chinese or Napa Cabbage
Salad mix-contains a mix of lettuce, mizuna (a mild Asian mustard), and baby kale
Beets-cook the roots and the greens (like the swiss chard-beets and swiss chard are actually the same plant bred for two different attributes)
Storing Your Vegetables
Place all your greens in plastic bags in the fridge when you return home. Greens need high humidity to keep well. A plastic bag will hold in the vegetables natural moisture, keeping it fresh and crisp for up to a week.
Please remember to return your box every week!
Kale Cous Cous Salad (Serves 4 with leftovers)
2 cups Cous cous
1 Bunch curly kale
1 16 oz. can garbanzo beans
8 oz. Feta cheese
Cucumber (available at area farmers markets-ours will be ready in a few weeks)
1 small red onion
1 clove garlic
Black olives (optional)
Hummus, pita bread, a yummy green salad
Cook cous cous according to directions on box refrigerate while preparing the rest of the dish
Prepare kale by cutting leaves off the stem (this makes for a more tender salad). Finely chop kale. Heat some olive oil and garlic in a pan and sauté kale until tender.
Drain and rinse garbanzo beans.
Dice red onion, cilantro, and cucumber.
Combine cous cous, kale, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, onion, cilantro, and cucumber. Add olives if desired. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.
Serve chilled or room temperature. It is especially good stuffed into a hummus filled pita with a green salad on the side.
Sweet Roasted Beets:
Dice 3-4 beets (nickel sized) and toss with 2 tbl sp. olive oil,1 tsp. basalmic or rice vinegar, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp brown sugar. Toss with 1 tbl sp of sesame seeds if you wish. Bake on cookie sheet at 350 F. for approx 10-15 or until cooked to your liking.
Look forward to week 5 box with:
Peas-we ended up with a lull between pea crops
The first tasty Summer Squash and Zucchini
And much more!
Have a great week!
William and Marie