capricious loveliness

The seemingly unseasonably cold spring has some things moving along at a pokey-molasses pace, others are all systems go. Our calendar and journal from last year tell us things are about a month behind 2017.  Here’s a quick update as to some of what has been happening on the farm these past few weeks.

We celebrated an exciting early greens harvest at the end of March. A few rows of cold-hardy greens we had started last fall and had hoped would overwinter and be ready for our earliest farm stand markets this spring started to bolt earlier than we had expected, became instead a special harvest for our early-to-sign-up farm share members.  In the greenhouse, the germination chamber is stuffed to the gills with trays of soil blocks. The thermometer consistently reads at 70(ish) degrees in the germination chamber, an insulated and many-shelved box, with heat mats – temporary parking for seed trays while seeds are getting ready for their debut into sunshine. Shelves are filling up with flats of seedlings. Radishes are swelling. Spinach is getting mowed down by mice. We’re setting mouse traps with peanut butter. Outside and greenhouse temperatures have been such that we are still playing the cover-uncover back and forth game with row covers in the greenhouse, trying to keep all the little ones comfortable during the cold nights.One of the pepper varieties we seeded last week is La Mesilla – from our own saved seed. This is a Northern New Mexico chile pepper grown by our farmer friends and mentors, David and Loretta, at Monte Vista Organics. These two offer endless inspiration for us, not only as regards growing delicious food, but also as thoughtful, hardworking, generous and truly lovely humans. This just might be the very beginning of a Spearfish Valley, regionally adapted La Mesilla strain. Over half of the tomato varieties we’re growing this year are from our own seed (that’s 18/34, if you’re keeping count).  Seeding in the spring is full of all sorts of hope and magic, wonder and possibility, all the things of poetry and prayer. These sentiments are amplified in planting seed that we’ve selected for and saved, seeing plants complete their life cycle, generation after generation, on the farm.

Also in the works/germination chamber is the very beginning of Operation RUSDSG- new for 2018. This is a special flower garden plan inspired by a friend. The name is slightly embarrassing and calls into question the legitimacy of our credibility as farmers, but it was an entirely necessary measure in reigning in Jeremy’s absurd, unending flower seed order, so please content yourself with the acronym, RUSDSG. Below is a sneak preview; some photos snitched from Uprising Organics and Wild Garden, two of our favorite seed growers and suppliers for our RUSDSG.Ginger and turmeric are presprouting. In early February, we cut seed, spread them out and covered them over. They’ve been set in the warmest nook of the house, Little Bali, a neighborhood favored by baby ginger and spiders with massive pedipalps. As soon as soil temperatures warm up in the greenhouse, out they’ll go (the ginger; the spiders, ? who knows). We’ve had good luck with growing ginger before and are looking forward to seeing how the turmeric fares.A couple weeks ago we welcomed three bum lambs to the farm. The north bay of the garage has been converted into a lamb barn/ parkour jungle gym. These little ones are spending their days snoozing and bouncing, slurping down milkshakes and gumming everything they can get a hold of: straw bales, baby spruce trees, and small, giggly visitors. The lambs will soon transition to daytime in grape vines and then they will head to the back field where they will mow and fertilize our pasture and orchard area. Lady Eve, Albrecht and Justus, we’re so grateful you are here.And, as we’re on the topic of darling, tiny, fuzzy things, in clearing out and replanting beds in the greenhouse, we found just a few mossy patches near the komatzuna – including a little clump with sporophytes!  So exciting, we had to pull out the loupe.  Moss on soil can be a problem, it’s often indicative of too much moisture and/or poor circulation. This bed was covered up for the winter and the protected, still air under greens seems to have suited their growth. With warmer temperatures and some quick successions of radishes, turnips and salad greens, these little bryophytes will disappear or go dormant.We planted fruit trees, raspberries and herbaceous perennials this week.  A South Dakota-bred pear (Gourmet) and two apples (Hudson’s Golden Gem and Chestnut Crab) were added to the orchard, now with over 65 fruit trees.  And elsewhere, throughout the farm – a honeysuckle that should be pretty popular with hummingbirds, more herbs/medicinal plants, lavender, lady’s mantle and arnica. (Also in photos: Radish is a great help with vole patrol in the orchard and when the handle on the water bucket breaks, it’s convenient to have sunflower stalks on hand.)

And just a few more photos of April, above: a juvenile goshawk enjoying a Eurasian collared dove for breakfast (that was this morning!); Halcyon in snow; the greenhouse disappearing under snow last week; lamb snuggles; spring eggs; soil blocking; spring greens; arugula+bacon+avocado+Jerm’s bread+fried egg = not our usual 13th century peasant slop(read: lentils) and thus a photo worthy feast; chickens enjoying culls from the greenhouse; baby kale (March harvest) and new harvest totes; Lady Eve Balfour; milk thistle seed; young ones in the gh; worm castings are all over the greenhouse beds; tomato seed.

Thank you, friends! A special thanks to all who made it out for the Poetry Tour last weekend, we really enjoyed the time with you all.

Bright green cotyledons, muddy boots and big smiles,  Trish and Jeremy

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ginger

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGinger, ginger! Oh bliss! Oh glee!

We grew a trial batch of ginger this year. Here. In South Dakota. We had been introduced to high latitude ginger farming at the conference at Stone Barns, in the Hudson Valley. Even without a full, long season of heat, ginger can be grown in a greenhouse and harvested early, as baby ginger. Amazing ginger. It is touted as delicious, versatile, highly valued, easily marketable, and, of course, totally hip. And, as it turns out, the north wall of our greenhouse is a bit like the north shore of Hawaii. Happiness abounds!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Baby ginger is also called ‘pink ginger’ or ‘spring ginger’, sometimes ‘ginger’s mild-mannered younger sister‘.  Unlike the characteristically gnarly mature ginger, baby ginger has a more mild flavor and is less stringy. Plus it’s thin-skinned and doesn’t need to be peeled.

We are thrilled beyond measure to be including ginger in the CSA shares this season. CSA friends: on the off chance you need some ideas, things to think about and google recipes for, consider candied ginger, pickled ginger, tea, Kimchi, ginger juice cocktails, dried ginger. The greens can be added to a dish (soups, stir fry) while cooking for additional flavor, just remove them before serving as they are tough. You can also freeze your ginger, for use later this winter.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A few notes on storing your baby ginger: remove the fronds and store separately in the crisper drawer of your fridge. It may become rubbery, that’s ok. A clever NYTimes‘  Dining and Wine writer reports: ‘It keeps for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic. It should stay moist, so wrap it in a damp paper towel. It can be frozen as well, packed in freezer bags. The younger the ginger, the more damage freezing does to the texture, so it will be too pulpy to chop; try grating the ginger directly into dishes while it is still frozen. You can also submerge ginger in a neutral spirit like vodka, and it will over time impart a delicate, spicy flavor.”

Here is some baby ginger reading from NPR, with recipes – Tickled Pink: Fresh, Young Ginger Is A Sweet Break From Gnarled Roots. And more smart ginger recipes, ideas from The Guardian, The 10 Best Ginger Recipes.

And here’s a recipe for The Best Homemade Ginger Tea Ever (from MindBodyGreen)

1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
2 cups filtered water
1 Tbsp. raw honey or pure maple syrup
½ lemon, juiced

Optional: 1 cinnamon stick, Chamomile flowers, Echinacea tincture, Fresh mint leaves, Pinch of cayenne pepper

Peel the ginger root (pink ginger probably does’t need peeling) with a peeler or with the handle of a spoon. Grate the ginger with a grater/zester. If you slice it, slice it thin and use more. Infuse the ginger; if you add cinnamon, mint, chamomile or cayenne, add it here. If you are using a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add ginger and turn off heat. Put the lid on it and let it steep for 10 minutes. If you are using a teapot, add ginger in the teapot and pour boiling water in it. Let it steep for about 10 minutes. If you are using a saucepan, strain the water to remove the ginger. Add fresh lemon juice and natural sweetener if you like. Stir and enjoy! If you want a cold tea, let your tea cool down, store it in the fridge and add ice cubes before serving.