Week No. 5  – 2011 Season

How many crops, animals work in a system to yield vegetables

I love the fragrance of fresh-cut alfalfa and grass hay. It’s changed over time, though. Hayfields once held so many varieties of native plants (flowers, prairie grasses, even weeds), in addition to the European grasses and alfalfa our ancestors brought to this land to feed their livestock. The fragrance of hay I smelled as a child 50 years ago came back to me this week in fields we rent for small grains, high oil sunflowers, sweet corn and hay about 5 miles from our farmstead. This particular farm’s ground has been organic for many years. It was formerly Amish. My fond memories of former times and scents mingled with concerns for the pressures, the changes, the needs of people and the land. Much hay ground is being turned into corn to capture ethanol fuel subsidies, which are driving up grain prices and causing shortages. What does hay have to do with vegetables? Why should you care? Hay is the crop that feeds the sheep and goats, which restore the minerals our vegetables take from the soil. A couple of years of hay in portions of the garden also helps break up plant disease and pest cycles. It was, as you know, a hot, dry week for cutting, raking and baling hay (all on separate days). In addition to putting up this forage for our livestock for winter, we barter hay for much of the land we rent, for a machine shed close by this rented land for storing much of our farm equipment. And in a good hay year, we sell hay to help cover machinery and production costs. Many neighbors, friends and volunteers pitched in to help with our first cutting of hay, but our son Joel bore the brunt of the hard work. We’ll lose him now to Marine Corps squad leader training for two weeks. At least, most of the hay has been through a first cutting. An equipment failure stopped our work in the last field, and a neighbor is helping repair the old hay bine. We can’t cut hay without it. 

Drought – We’ve been running water to all of the vegetable crops we can reach with hoses, drip tape and sprinklers. We need a good soaking from Mother Nature, at least 1 ½ inches a week. Where we’re able to water, however, has been responding. The new hoop house, which took a turn with green bean plantings this year, is looking like a jungle again this year. We’re trying to adapt to the new contour of this building. The Gothic style roof makes wiring for bean vines challenging to suspend. It hasn’t stopped the beans from coming early for Wisconsin, though. It got them through three frost threats and onto your plates early. 

Our time’s passing quickly – We’re a fourth of the way through the regular delivery season already. Can you believe it! Better plan your trip to visit our farm during this time, or it probably won’t happen, right? Everything we eat, every morsel of food we put in our mouths, represents an entire system. In the natural world, soil life, plants, animals and people all contribute to this cycle that yields what we eat. To see how very much your organic farm works to mirror that world is best in-person. It can help you and your household value what’s really important about this way of caring for life, over conventional food systems and methods Email us to let us know when to expect your visit and to ensure we’re not off in a field working at that time: tony@scotchhillfarm.com / dela@scotchhillfarm.com Thanks for your support!

This Week’s Vegetables are:

  • Snow peas
  • Bibb Lettuce
  • Green Beans
  • Leaf Lettuce mix
  • Radishes
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers (Shuyo Long and H19 Little Leaf Traditional)
  • Basil
  • White turnips

Cooking Tips for the Week

Fresh Peapod and Rice Salad (adapted from Crystal Lake Gardens)

  • 1 package (6 ounces) long grain & wild rice mix OR brown rice
  • 1 ½ cups chopped broccoli
  • 1/3 cup sliced red or green onions
  • ¼ cup bottled clear Italian salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups edible peapods (snow peas)
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped radishes

Prepare rice mix according to package directions. Cool slightly . Steam broccoli until crunchy-tender. Toss with remaining ingredients and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours. Makes 4 servings.

Firecracker Salad

Mix 2 Tb white vinegar, 2 tsp sugar OR honey, 1 tsp fresh ginger root (optional) and 4 tsp soy sauce. Place in screw top jar and shake until sugar or honey is dissolved. Combine with 1 cup sliced radishes and 1 cup peeled and seeded cucumber. Add 1 ½ TB minced cilantro, basil OR cress. Serve on 4 cups chopped fresh greens.