Fall Planting

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Fall Planting

August means its time for fall planting! We are finally getting on top of all the weeds that took over while we were occupied with the new baby, and it feels good to be re-taking our beds with new plantings. We just learned that it’s not too late for cucumbers, so we got another round of those in, as well as our last succession of our purple green beans. Last week and this week we are also starting to plant fall crops like beets, radishes, spinach, and carrots. This year because of Cassidy’s birth we are a bit behind, so it feels strange to be planting fall crops when our summer crops aren’t even in full swing yet, but hopefully that just means we will have a bountiful autumn!

This has been a great year for foraging chanterelle mushrooms, one of our favorite wild mushrooms. These bright orange, irregular mushrooms have no poisonous look-a-likes, and are easy to spot on the forest floor. This makes it fun hunting for the whole family, because even Quin can find some! They are delicious just fried up with butter and salt and eaten like that, or added to pasta, pizza, eggs, atop meat…anywhere you would use mushrooms, these add a nutty, sweet, complex flavor. Some of you have already gotten them, and please let us know if you would like us to save you any. We haven’t been giving too many to the farm share because we forage for them the day of market, and never know how many we will find.

The wild elderberries have also started ripening, and we are also bringing a limited amount to market, but again, we would be happy to save some for you if you are interested. This has been an especially bountiful wild foraging year, and we can’t wait to see how the autumnberries will be!

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A Farm of one's Own

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A Farm of one's Own

This is our fourth year farming in Missouri, and for all that time we have been leasing land from another farm to grow our produce. It is a work-trade, and we do 20 hours of work per week for them in exchange for a house to live in and space to grow. It has been a great setup for us, but we have always ultimately wanted our own land, especially so we can grow perennials like fruit and nut trees that take several years to mature.

Back in March we secured financing and have been actively hunting for the perfect plot ever since. After seeing quite a few properties (quite a few), we finally found an amazing chunk of turf that we love! It is an old farmhouse in Leasburg, MO, between Cuba and Bourbon. This only adds about 10 more minutes to our St. Louis commute and allows us to keep attending the same three Farmers’ Markets and see all the people we’ve come to know and love over the past four years.

The land itself is 15.5 acres, about half wooded and half open pasture, which gives us plenty of room to grow our produce, raise some animals, and put in that orchard! The house on it is 119 years old, and understandably needs a little work, but is solid overall. There is also a cozy 2-story barn, a nice little woodshop (Randy is very excited), and a few other outbuildings. Maybe we’ll host a WWOOFer or two some day…

We’re going to finish out the season where we are (it’s hard to pack up currently growing vegetables), but we can’t wait to start establishing our very own farm!

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I Yam Glad We Got the Sweet Potatoes In!

We are still working on getting all of our tomatoes and peppers transplanted out, but this week we have also been busy getting 400 sweet potato slips in. Sweet potatoes are grown from a sprout or “slip” unlike regular potatoes, which propagate from the planted pieces of the original spud. To get the slips, you let a sweet potato grow sprouts, then break the sprouts off and let those grow roots, which you then plant. In the past we have tried growing our own slips, but have never had much luck—they grew super slowly and we didn’t get many. So this year we decided to buy them, and we found a place in Iowa that has dozens and dozens of different varieties and was literally the only farm that had some of the heirloom varieties we were seeking. A generous grant from Slow Food St. Louis allowed us to choose 8 varieties, a mix of white, orange, and purple. This seems a bit late to be planting them, but the place we got them from doesn’t ship them until mid-late June and claims that sweet potatoes planted later in the summer heat did better than those planted earlier. Sweet potatoes are super susceptible to the cold, and if you plant them too early and they get a few cool nights, they can become stunted, rot, or become colonized by fungus. They assured us that late-planted sweet potatoes still produce bumper crops come late September, so we shall see!

We are about to harvest our garlic, and many of you will be getting fresh, uncured garlic this week. After harvesting garlic it needs to cure (be in an airy, warm, dry spot) for about 10 days so that it will store well. However, you can eat it when you first harvest it, and the uncured garlic has a slightly different flavor, a little more sweet and savory and less spicy. This garlic needs to be used within about a week or two, and is better kept in the fridge

Many of you will also be getting new potatoes this week. New potatoes are simply young potatoes harvested early. They are smaller and have a thin skin, which makes them nice and tender, but they do not store as well as mature potatoes. Like the garlic, they should be used in the next week and stored in the fridge.

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Daylilies for Days!

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Daylilies for Days!

We have been enjoying the mild weather with plenty of rain! Randy has been busy weeding and hilling all of our potatoes (look for some baby potatoes in your bags in the coming weeks!). Holly has still been mostly resting and recovering from giving birth, but has also been helping with some transplanting to ward off cabin fever. Because of Cassidy’s birth we are a bit behind on our transplanting, and still have a greenhouse full of peppers and tomatoes to get out. So, we won’t have these crops early, but we will have an abundance later in the summer!

We are also excited because right now is this short window every spring when we get to eat daylily buds. They are tender and just need a very quick (like 1 minute) steam, boil, or saute. We usually saute them with a little butter and salt to get the full taste as a side dish, or we drop them into stir fries right at the end. They might open up a little while cooking, and that is fine. The flavor is reminiscent of a green bean, with a dash of asparagus.

It is also the beginning of the purslane season, another favorite. Purslane is a wild succulent green that is incredibly high in omega 3s. It has a thick, meaty leaf and a crunchy edible stem. The flavor is fresh with a hint of lemon. You can eat it raw or cooked, we usually eat it fresh in salads or sandwiches.

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