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June 24,2014

Posted 7/1/2014 11:05pm by Don Kretschmann.

June 24, 2014

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

Three weeks ago my three brothers and I drove with my 93 year old mother back to Long Island, NY for the funeral of her last brother. It brought into focus some of my real roots as a farmer. We have heard our whole lives the stories of how they had moved as young children from Brooklyn to "the countryside" of Naussa County, and settled in 1928 just outside the boundaries of NYC in New Hyde Park. My grandfather promptly lost his job at the onset of the Depression and then appropriated all the vacant lots adjoining his new home to plant gardens, raise poultry, and provide for his large family. In driving by grandparents' old home I realized it was right between Garden City (where my uncle lived) and Floral Park where my aunt's family were farming landholders. This was where my passion for gardening all began. I'm blessed now with living astride these same two milieus. Becky has created the most wonderful succession of flowers, groundcovers, and shrubs to make our home a beautiful floral park perfectly complemented by our gardens of plenty.

This is the time of the season when we're stretched to the max. Last week we planted winter squash, lettuce, cilantro, dill, and basil in the fields. For the last big push of plantings we seeded dozens of flats of late cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce, and basil in the coldframes. We're also making great headway in the tomato fields. We mulched all the tomatoes with straw; staked 2/3 of them, and have tied the early ones.

Rain has been great for the new potatoes, just forming. They are in the on-deck circle. This season we deliberately planted lots more greens--chard, kale, and collards--than we normally have in the past. There's a greens revolution happening, with increased awareness that these foods are nutritional powerhouses containing high amounts of vitamins and minerals. Because they are cooked, we tend to actually eat more because they're more condensed. (hard to eat 8 oz. of salad). The last two weeks, we've sent either collards or Tuscan kale. Both have thick leaves which maintain a nice texture even after cooking or in the saute pan. The rainbow chard this week cooks quicker, much more like spinach. All the greens can easily be parboiled and frozen for later use.

We've got a great early field of beans up and growing well in a field bordered by a deep woodlot. As I've been cultivating the beans I've been scanning the rows, especially on the edge near the woods, for signs of the deer eating them. With all the deer we have, there is no damage--puzzling because they are everywhere! This morning, the reason came to me. Right next to this field are field peas to fix nitrogen and provide green manure for the late seeded root crops. As I contemplated tilling this under, I realized peas are like candy to a deer. After they are gone, the deer would immediately start munching the beans. So the buggers are holding the peas hostage, I can't till them without losing the beans!

Enjoying the first zucs and cabbage, we are sincerely,

Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

For Extra Purchase: Seven Grain bread @$4/loaf. Indicate the week or weeks. Messages: If you send a note or check, please indicate your stop letter and the last name under which the account is listed. Vacations: Send us a note with the subject line "vacation". Indicate the specific date and whether you want to donate the box or get a credit. If you're a light share, let us know if you want to skip three weeks in a row (the default), if you want an extra box the week before or after, or if you want to just skip two weeks, then swap cycles and continue every other week. Remember that if you get coffee, cheese or chickens, this won't work. Cabbage Salad with Celery Seeds: Slice up 6 c. cabbage, 1/4 c. green onions. Toss well with 1 c. mayonnaise, 2 tbs. sugar, 2 tbs. sugar or honey, 2 tbs celery seeds 1 tbs salt. These pickles are easy and taste just like bread and butter sweet pickles. Great for a 'burgher on a burger. Zucchini Pickles: Cut up 1# Zucchini into pickle thicknesses. Cover with cold water adding 2 tbs. salt. Let stand 2 hrs. Drain thoroughly. Bring 1 1/2 c. cider vinegar, 1 c. sugar, 1/2 tsp celery seed, 1/2 tsp tumeric, 1 tsp mustard seed to boil and pour over zucchini. Let stand 2 hrs. then heat everything to just boiling for 5 min. Put in pint jars and refrigerate when cool, or process in canning jars w/lids in boiling water bath for 15 min. Easy to make without a lot of bother. The secret is: don’t cook the pasta. Zucchini Lasagna: Preheat your favorite tomato sauce. Slice zucchinis 1/4” thick in rounds or lengthwise. Mix 1# ricotta cheese with 1/2c minced parsley. Brush bottom of baking dish with olive oil. (9x13” is our favorite size) Spread layer of tomato sauce on bottom of pan, then add first layer of uncooked lasagna. Spread layer of zucchini, then layer of ricotta, and then a more tomato sauce. Repeat the process until the pan is full and top with grated mozzarella. Bake covered at 325 deg. until pasta is cooked, then remove cover and bake another 10 min. Rice Noodles with Diablo Sauce and Greens Blend until smooth: 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes, 3 large garlic cloves or 1/4 c. fresh garlic scapes, 3 Tbs. Minced fresh ginger, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, 2 Tbs. Honey, 4 tbs lemon or lime juice, 1/2 cup sesame oil, 1/4 tsp. crushed red chili pepper (more or less to taste). Salt. Saute in 1 tbs. Olive oil: ½ c chopped scallions 2-3 min, then add 6 c. chopped chard or beet greens and cook another 5 min until tender. Meanwhile, to a large pot of boiling water, add 12 ounces soba noodles and a tiny bit of oil. Cook until al dente (slightly hard in the middle) –5 min. Drain. Place noodles on plates, spoon sauce and top with greens then more sauce. Veggie ID's: Collards, Tuscan Kale, Curly Kale--all are blue green in color. Collards are very flat leaves. Tuscan kale has little wrinkles. Curly kale is very curly and fluffy. Ropey green stems are garlic scapes. Use them just like garlic. These are to garlic what scallions are to bulbing onions--more or less... Tip: Keep in mind that cooking greens like chard, kale, or collards can very easily be frozen for later use. Parboil, drain well, put them in a heavy plastic bag in a quantity you'll use in one meal. These are great to pull out in the winter and use in omlettes, as a side dish, or in soups. They reduce in volume to very little and you'll never have too many for the off-season.