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Welcome to the blog.
Posted 7/27/2011 10:52pm by Andy Watson.

When it rains, it pours. Last night we caught up on the lack of water at the farm.  We have had a couple of small rains in the last week or two, but last night was a good soaking rain.  It is now time to get the garlic out of the ground before it gets too wet which can make the bulbs burst and end up splitting the paper wrappers leaving them impossible to store over winter.  If you are looking to get your hands dirty on the farm, come on out this Saturday for a member work day.  We will be pulling and bundling garlic, then taking it to the different sheds to cure.  It takes a few weeks to cure properly, then we will trim the stem down to the bulb and store them for boxes and market.  We hope that some of you can make it out. 

            The tomatoes are moving right along and the ones in the big hoophouse are just starting to turn color.  I am anticipating the cherries will be the first ones you see and I am hoping for next week. The eggplants, peppers, and cucumbers are looking good.  You got the first cucumbers in the boxes this week and next week there will be plenty more.  The zucchini are just revving up and we are harvesting every other day.  We picked over four hundred pounds in just 5 days.  You will be getting a nice mix this week and there will be extras if you are interested in more

            Based on our member surveys last year, we have been working hard to make our boxes more bountiful.  One addition is the sweet corn. We purchased it from Zander Family farm out of Columbus; it is certified organic and I am happy to inform you that it was harvested yesterday morning.  There may be a chance that a worm made its way to the tip near the silk.  Just check each one and cut an inch or two off of the tip before cooking.  We are looking at one more ½ dozen batch in a few weeks.  We hope you enjoy this summer treat.

 

In Your Box This Week:

 

Cippolini Onions

Celery

Sweet Corn

Head Lettuce

Green Beans

Zucchini

Cucumber

Fresh Garlic

Herb: Parsley

 

Cippolini Onions: Pronounced  chip-oh-LEE-nee this is a smaller, flat, pale onion. The flesh is a slight yellowish color and the skins are thin and papery. The color of the skin ranges from pale yellow to the light brown color of Spanish onions. These are sweeter onions, having more residual sugar than garden-variety white or yellow onions, but not as much as shallots. They are great peeled, then caramelized whole or roasted whole with a chicken, or marinated and grilled. 

Posted 7/22/2011 7:53pm by Andy Watson.

So if you were ever wondering if it was ‘worth it’ to belong to a CSA, I’m sure this week’s weather cleared that up! Who in their right mind would be out in this heat and humidity for hours each day, right? Well, the Sprouting Acres crew has been working early on in the day and late into the evenings, trying to escape the harsh mid-day heat. Farmer Andy has changed clothes so many times during each day that it feels like we run a Laundromat here…better than the stinky alternative.

            Now that the heat has been cranked up, some of the tomatoes are just starting to turn red and we have baby eggplants as well. It shouldn’t be much longer before they are in our boxes. Of course, we’ve had to water a lot so we are hoping that rain will be in the forecast soon.

            We have just returned to the Downtown Saturday Markets now that our box supply is strong. We usually offer similar produce to what you get in your box and a few different items.  We will keep the website updated weekly to let you know if we will be downtown. And you can always find us at the Eastside Market in Madison on Tuesdays. We still are planning on a “garlic pull-a-thon” but our garlic needs a bit longer in the ground and the weather needs to turn a corner. We will let you know when we decide a date!

 

            We hope everyone is keeping cool and enjoying the summer. Happy eating!

 

Posted 7/15/2011 10:12am by Andy Watson.

Aside from the storm that ripped through this Monday, we’ve had pretty amazing weather lately….your finger crossing and well wishes must be working! Keep it up. Our crops faired the storm pretty well, except some of the flowers. And we did have 2 work shares stuck en route to the farm on their bikes that day but our chauffeur service got them to the farm safely.

            The mosquitoes have arrived but so far they aren’t too terrible but the Japanese Beetles are a bit maddening. They love the flower bed, especially calla lilies and sunflowers. Andy has noticed they are all over the weeds by the crops but they haven’t really ventured over to the crops yet. There isn’t a great way to get rid of them except hand-picking them and dropping into soapy water so we hope they stay away from the crops. There are a variety of things we’ve done at the farm for pest control in recent years. Last year, we added bat houses and a kestrel house and we think we have inhabitants this year! Each year we buy and release thousands of ladybugs in the greenhouses to eat up the aphids. Occasionally we cover newly transplanted crops with row cover until the plants are mature enough to fend off pests. And of course, some years are just better than others…we are hoping that the pests don’t have a good year.

            You can store your cabbage in a bag in the crisper for quite a while if you are not ready to use it.  When it is time to use it, just peel off an out leaf or two and it will be as good as new.  Use the pac choi in a stir fry or slice in half, marinade in teriyaki or soy sauce, a little oil, and grill.  Just remember if you do grill them, when you slice them in half, keep the root on so the two halves don’t fall apart on the grill. Happy Eating!

 

In Your Box This Week:

 

Green Cabbage

Fresh Garlic

Zucchini

Spring Onions

Chard

Sugar Snap Peas (Last ones)

Baby Pac Choi

Herb: Basil

Flower rotation

Posted 7/7/2011 9:30pm by Andy Watson.

We hope everyone had a great and safe holiday weekend! We have been very happy with the continued warm weather and so are the crops. We’ve had to irrigate quite a bit lately which is never quite as good as rain but we are fortunate to have an irrigation system. Our irrigation system was inherited from Andy’s father, who originally bought to run a small tree farm in the 70s.  It does a great job and can currently reach almost all of our fields.

Sadly, it is the end of the strawberry season for us but we were very happy with their progress this year. This was only year #2 for them so we look forward to seeing how much they improve next year.  The raspberries, which are planted near the strawberry patch, are coming along nicely. You may be seeing raspberries at the farmer’s markets and such, but ours are fall bearing which means it will be late summer before they show up in the boxes. My mouth is watering already just thinking about them.

Farm chores this week have finally reached a reasonable pace with most of the transplants out in the fields, we’ve been able to keep up with weeding and harvesting. The flowers are amazing this year and another site will be getting bouquets this week. Please take one bouquet, snip the ends again when you get home and change the water often to keep them as fresh as possible. If you haven’t gotten flowers yet, don’t worry, you’re pick up site will be getting them soon.

Enjoy the box this week and keep your fingers crossed for more beautiful weather!

 

Garlic Dig-A-Thon

 

If you dream of stinking like garlic like we do, then don’t miss the Sprouting Acres

Garlic Dig-A-Thon.  Watch the newsletter next week for the specific date but it is coming up soon.  Activities will include pulling close to 10,000 heads of garlic, bunching it, tying it, then hopefully finding room in the outbuildings to hang it.  It will be a Sunday afternoon again as was our last member farm activity day.  Come help us out and go home with extra garlic!

Posted 6/30/2011 11:11am by Andy Watson.

It has been a beautiful weather week, probably the best week so far this season. Although it is already the fourth of July weekend, the growing season has been about 2 weeks behind due to the cool, rainy weather. This lag in the weather though, doesn’t have us discouraged in the least because the crops are absolutely gorgeous. The early season fertilizer and the TLC we’ve given them with weeding and water has helped immensely. Andy has noticed that most of the crops look better than he has ever seen them look before. We are getting close to the mid- summer veggies and they are going to be amazing. Keep enjoying the greens and early summer veggies while they still last.

            It was wonderful to see many of you out for the farm visit on Sunday. We truly appreciate your helping hands and hope you enjoyed the extra goodies. We hope to host another farm visit soon so we’ll keep you posted and hope to see you there. If farm work isn’t up your alley, don’t worry, we will still host the annual farm visit where the main goal is to hang out, eat farm fresh food and take a tour. Details to come!

            In addition to keeping the crops happy, we also had our annual organic inspection this week. Our inspector was pleased with our record keeping, organic methods and fields.  Looks like we’ll pass it again this year.

            We hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday weekend. Enjoy the veggies!

In Your Box This Week:

 

Baby Red Onions

Fresh Garlic

Garlic Scapes

Sugar snap peas

Strawberries

Broccoli

Kale

Collards

Herb: Basil & Sage

Posted 6/23/2011 8:01pm by Andy Watson.

Greetings Everyone! We are very excited to bring you a much more diverse and plentiful box this week.  It is satisfying to see some of the perennial crops increase their yield as the years progress such as the asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries. It takes awhile for these crops to establish themselves and for the last few years we’ve had to do a rotation at pick up sites for some of these items in the boxes. This is the first time we are able to give strawberries in every box in the same week! That’s right, we picked 81 pints of strawberries this week for the boxes plus another 20 or so for the workshares. We may still have to rotate items in future boxes but we were thrilled that this time we didn’t have to.  The strawberry field was a new edition about 1 ½ ago and with much TLC seems to be doing well. The fall bearing raspberries are coming along nicely, so you can look forward to those too later in the season.

            This week is the last week for asparagus. In order to keep this veggie happy, we must stop picking in order for some of the asparagus to mature to get proper nutrients for it to grow and maintain itself for next year’s crop.  Luckily for us, asparagus tapers out just as the other labor intense produce kicks in- such as the sugar snap peas, strawberries and beans.  This will also be the last rhubarb of the season for the same reasons as the asparagus. The flower bed is looking great and Pewaukee is getting the first round of bouquets this week. Remember flower bouquets are rotated through pick up sites.

            It has been a busy week with many more transplants headed out to the fields and lots to harvest. Some of our work shares were able to pick up an extra shift this week to help us stay on schedule. We hope you thoroughly enjoy the box and have a excellent weekend. 

In Your Box This Week:

 

Green Onions

Asparagus

Garlic Scapes

Sugar snap peas

Pac Choi

Strawberries

Broccoli

Rhubarb

Chard

Herb: Parsley

 

Garlic Scapes

 

·           The green curly cues in your box are garlic scapes. It is the shoot or spear that grows up/out of the bulb in the ground and is very tasty.

 

·           Our favorite way to use it is in garlic scape pesto but you can also sauté it with other veggies, dice it into scrambled eggs, use it in your favorite pasta or pickle them.

Posted 6/15/2011 10:33pm by Andy Watson.

Thankfully, everything on the farm made it through the storm unscathed. We have had to replace tent tops often through the years from wind and snow but that is much better than crop or greenhouse damage!

This week, the box is a little smaller than we’d like due to the cooler spring and start to the summer. Typically as the season progresses we do have a few boxes that are light as we transition from early spring to summer and then from summer to fall produce. While we plan as best as we can, we have come to realize that mother .1nature has the final say. With the upcoming temps, mix of sun and increase temps, things should turn around.

Our work crew has been very busy keeping up with all the weeds, transplants and harvesting. On Wednesday alone, it took several hours to pick all the sugar snap peas for the boxes. With 82 boxes to plan for, the labor is pretty intense and we are so lucky to have great work share members yet again this year. This Saturday, Andy and another member will put the finishing touches on the tool shed they built this summer for the top field. Andy almost scheduled it for Sunday but I had to remind him it was Father’s Day! This time of the year, Andy lives and breathes the farm and would probably forget to come home if I didn’t remind him.

Madison Areas CSA Coalition is hosting the 5th annual Bike the Barns event and Sprouting Acres will be one of the stops along the way this year. Registration is now open, just visit http://www.csacoalition.org/our-work/bike-the-barns/ to find out more and to register. The event is a fundraiser to help bring local, organic food to people in need. It is a great cause and an awesome event. It is held on Sept. 18th and we hope to see you there.

Enjoy your box and Happy Father’s Day!

 

Mustard Greens

 

·       When eaten raw, they have a strong mustard flavor.

·       When cooked, they taste more like spinach with a peppery flavor.

·       Store in plastic bag in your refrigerator until ready to eat. Keeps for about 5 days.

·       High in beta carotene, Vitamin C, calcium and iron

·       Just trim the end stems, the rest can be eaten

·       Very good braised and served with choice of meat or sauté and add to stir fry 

Posted 6/8/2011 10:21pm by Andy Watson.

We are hoping while we write this that all the hoophouses survived the winds last night. There were gust at around 100 mph. near Edgerton which is just a few miles from the farm.  We won’t know until morning if anything was damaged and we will let you know the farm report via the website in the next day or so.

We hope you have been enjoying the first couple boxes this season.  We are still busy putting plants in the ground, in the hoophouses, and seeding new salad plots where old ones were just a few days ago. This is a crazy time at the farm.  It has been especially crazy this year because of the late frosts we had. The nighttime lows were too low to put out heat loving plants and days just barely warm enough to get them to grow.  The only crops that did well were the leafy greens, lettuce, kales, spinach, and anything else that likes it not too warm during the day and a little cooler at night. 

We did get a good amount of tomatoes planted outside in our big cages before the rain last night. We will be planting like crazy the next week or so with the hopes that everything is out and watered in before the end of next week. Beets and carrots are up and growing fast, beans are putting on new leaves everyday, and as noted above, sugar snap peas will make an appearance next week in boxes.  We planted two 300 ft. trellises of one variety that will start producing a week or so after the other variety of which we planted around 1200 ft.  This is the most peas we have planted at once since we started back in 2004 and we are looking forward to a good crop.

Kelly is wrapping up her final days of teaching this week and will be home for the summer on Friday afternoon.  The flowers are looking good and we just re-seeded more today in the greenhouse for a second succession that will go out into the field in July.   

In Your Box This Week:

 

Romaine Lettuce

Kale

Green Garlic

Spring Mix (baby lettuce, arugula, Italian greens)

Asparagus

Spinach

Herb: Mint                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       `                                                                                               

Chard

 

Next week….sugar snap peas

Soon…..Strawberries

All about chard

 

1. You can eat the stem and leaf of the rainbow chard. Keep in bag with paper towel.

2. Keeps in the refrigerator for about 6 or 7 days

3. It’s delicious tossed into a hot sauté pan with a little butter and balsamic or just butter. Plus Salt & Pepper.

4.  Chard and goat cheese frittata for breakfast is always an easy one. (see back)

5. Chard is High in Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, Manganese, Thiamin, Folate and Zinc. Also high in Sodium.

 

 

 


Posted 6/1/2011 9:47pm by Andy Watson.

It is finally feeling like summer is on its way with the warmer weather. We have had to hold many of the plants in the greenhouse because it just hasn’t been warm enough to get them out into the fields. After some of the frosty mornings we’ve had and talking with other farmers who had already transplanted many crops outdoors, we were happy that we had very little crop damage to the cold.  We are rotating some of the tomato crop into the greenhouse this year. So although we haven’t transplanted any tomatoes outside, we did get 250 tomato plants inside. We still have the other side of the greenhouse to plant with tomatoes too. This is much more than we have ever planted and that doesn’t include the plants that will go in the field. In the past few years, we haven’t been satisfied with our tomato yield so we are increasing our crop and hopefully with the warm greenhouse, they will do well. In addition to the tomatoes, we also were able to transplant the rest of the herbs outdoors. You can look forward to parsley, sage, basil, thyme and savory!

For those of you who are interested in learning more ways to cook some of these delicious vegetables, you should check out the kitchen store in Stoughton, All Through The House. Farmer Andy teaches cooking classes there almost year round but the classes do fill up quickly. You may want to inquire if they have an e-mail list so you get the list of new classes first. Also, if you have a recipe or cooking tip that you’d like to share with other members, either post it on our website in the blog section or send it to us and we’ll share it for you.

Enjoy this week’s box!

 

 


Posted 5/27/2011 7:28pm by Andy Watson.

Hello Everyone,

Just a quick note to say that we will not be at the Madison Downtown Farmer's Market this Saturday, May 28th. Our first boxes went out this week and we put nearly everything we had available into the boxes. We will be at Madison's Eastside Farmer's Market the following Tuesday.

 

Thanks Everyone and have a safe and fun Memorial Day Weekend!

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