Week 13 – Pekarek’s Produce Weekly Vegetable Subscription

Hello folks,

It’s still a little wet around here, and that’s a good thing.  Last week we cleaned out the high tunnels and prepped them for new crops.  This week we’ve been able to go back in and plant them with orange, white, and purple carrots, broccoli and cucumbers.

 

Small Carrots

Carrots

 

Sometimes it sounds like its all peaches and cream  (or watermelon and tomatoes) on the farm, but the work and the hours are getting a little long.  Ryan and crew are out at dawn and that part is pretty nice – its quiet, cool and calm.  But, whoever invented lights for a tractor should be shot!  When the crew leaves in the afternoon, Ryan goes back out until the lights on the tractor aren’t bright enough for him to see what he is doing… Last night he was trying take care of weeds in the potato field!

 

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Potato Field

 

Cauliflower is still looking good, but has a few weeks to go.  Broccoli harvest will likely start in the next week to ten days.  This good stuff will make its way to the CSA, markets, schools, and grocery stores. We’ve still got lots of tomatoes coming along out in the field and it is a beautiful year for a pepper harvest. Watermelons are growing like gangbusters too!  The yellow watermelons are absolutely delicious – and a little fun.

 

Yellow Watermelon

Yellow Watermelon

 

This week you will get the sweetest red and yellow peppers you’ve ever tasted.  We recommend just taking a bite out of them like an apple!  Alternatively they fry up beautifully with an onion.  You will also be receiving some basil in this week’s CSA.  This is our first year growing basil and it looks like a great crop.  I’ve been drying down my basil in the oven so I can have some for winter.  Not sure how to use it? Try the classic tomato-basil combination with some fresh mozzarella, or throw some fresh basil on your pizza.  And of course you can infuse your favorite oil with basil.

 

Basil

Basil

 

Your Farmers,

Ryan, Katie, and Crew

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Week 12 – Pekarek’s Produce Weekly Vegetable Subscription

Hello Folks,

Well, last week I was talking about rain and this week we are talking about mud!  We ended up with about 4 inches one day and 2 ½ a couple of days later.  Vegetables perked up, people perked up, and everything got a little messier.  The biggest downside?  Weeds perked up too.

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Muddy

We have been working on cleaning out the high tunnels this week.  Several crops in the high tunnels have reached their end and its time for something new.  Everything either got pulled or shredded.  We prep the ground and begin planting again.  It’s crazy to think that we’ve already been planting for fall since late May!

 

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Ready for Planting

 

The fall cauliflower is looking amazing!  Pumpkins and squash are coming along and will be here before you know it. Sweet potatoes are starting to size up.  These are some of my favorite crops but they require a lot of delayed gratification!  As much as I love fall – don’t worry, we haven’t started making pumpkin pies… yet 🙂

 

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Getting Pumpkins Ready for Fall

 

With all this fall talk, we’d like to invite you to join us for the 2017 Fall CSA.  It’s a bit hard to start thinking about already, but it will be here before you know it. We are already 2/3rds of the way through this CSA and only have about a month and a half left.

 

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Fall CSA

 

This year we will be offering a Fall CSA during the months of November and December.  The CSA will include four delivery dates which we tried to schedule to go along with the holidays: November 7th & 21st, and December 5th & 19th.  The cost for the Fall CSA will be $25 per week (only one size).  As usual, the produce you receive in the box will be somewhat dependent on successful cropping and weather, just as it is in the current CSA and will primarily include vegetables that will store well.

 

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Romanesco

 

Last year, the CSA included:   Pie Pumpkin, Broccoli, Romanesco, Sweet Potatoes, Acorn Squash, Cucumbers, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Radishes, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Spinach, Potatoes, Kohlrabi, Butternut Squash, Turnips, Beets, Peppers, Sunshine Squash, and Cabbage.

Your Farmers,

Ryan, Katie, and Crew

 

What’s in this week’s box?

  • Sweet Corn
  • Watermelon*
  • Cantaloupe**
  • Wax Beans*
  • Eggplant
  • Carrots
  •  Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes*

*Full Share Only

**Partial Share Only

 

Week 9 – Pekarek’s Produce Weekly Vegetable Subscription

Hello Folks!

It’s been another busy week around here.  We had a new crew member start with us this week for the fall and we are very excited!  In a couple of weeks when school starts, it will be like an exodus around here.  About two-thirds of the crew will disappear as they go back to school.  We always hate to see them go!

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This weekend was the Dwight Czech Festival!  Which means after markets were finished, we loaded up two of the little tractors and took them to town.  The Pekarek family worked the games tent for the church during the day on Sunday.  Then on Sunday evening, we drove our little tractors through the parade!  If you’ve ever been through a small town parade, you know that most floats throw out a little bit of candy.  But for those of you that made it to the Czech festival, you know that we like to throw out veggies – This year it was carrots, zucchini and water balloons.

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Even with the cool off in weather, irrigation has been key over the last week. Most of the crops are looking pretty good.  Yellow squash and zucchini have been producing like crazy, which is great!  Unfortunately, there’s just too much this year to get moved, so we disked up some of the zucchini this week.

On the other side, this is one of the slowest tomato years we’ve ever had for production!  We always say that tomatoes for us, are like a marathon, not a sprint.  We aren’t usually the first ones around with tomatoes, but we will have them for the long haul.  Unfortunately, the four or five hails we had earlier in the season, the hot snaps and cold snaps, and any number of critters slowed everything down and knocked out several plants.  They are starting to make the turn for the better now.

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Pekarek’s Produce Beets going to find a new home at Bread & Cup

 

Beets are producing like gang busters, so if you are looking to can or pickle some beets, now is the time to call Ryan.  Pickling cucumbers are doing great too.  In a couple of weeks, we will have them coming out our ears.  Be sure to call Ryan for pickling cucumbers in bulk!

All in all, it’s been a good week on the farm.  We hope this translates to a good week for all of you as well.  Happy CSA Day!

Your Farmers,

Ryan Katie and Crew

What’s in this week’s bag?

  • Sweet Corn
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Carrots
  • Tomato
  • Beets*
  • Onion*
  • Kohlrabi*

*Full share only

 

Week 8 – Pekarek’s Produce Weekly Vegetable Subscription

Hello Folks,

Hooray!  It rained this morning.  It was only about 0.30 inches, but it was a nice rain and we have a chance to get a little bit more.  What a great gift, especially near the end of July.

We’ve also had some cooler weather this week.  Seeing temps in the 80s has been wonderful.  Monday and Tuesday have been big transplanting days for us.  The plants were getting big in the greenhouse and when they get too big, they become hard to transplant.  So early last week, all of the plants were pulled out of the greenhouse and put on hay racks.  We parked them in the shade and have been watering them during this last hot week, trying to get them ready for the heat.

July Watering

Sometimes, we crawl on our hands and knees to put plants in the ground.  Whenever possible though, we try to use a machine to plant .  The machine we used Monday has a driver, two people riding on the machine and one person walking behind.  The main goal of the driver is to go straight, which is harder than it sounds.  The two people riding the machine are pulling plants out of the trays on the shelves in front of them and then dropping them into a holder.  The machine then creates a hole in the ground, drops the plant, and covers them up.

When the machine is working well, the person walking behind should just have a leisurely stroll.  Sometimes it doesn’t work well due to soil issues, compaction, moisture, or because someone made it mad.  When that happens, the person behind, makes sure all of the new transplants get planted correctly.  After everything is in the ground, we hook up the drip irrigation and give everything a good watering.

Your Farmers,

Ryan, Katie and Crew

What’s in this week’s bag?

  • Sweet Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Yellow Squash
  • Zucchini*
  • Broccoli*
  • Beans
  • Kohlrabi

*Full share only

 

2017 Week 7 – Weekly Vegetable Subscription

Hello folks!

I don’t know about you folks, but we are feeling hot – hot – hot! With temperatures staying in the upper 90s this week, we’ve once again changed our transplanting plans.  Although we intended to transplant first thing Monday, we’ve decided these little plants have a better chance of survival if we wait til next week when temperatures cool off a bit.

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While the heat is hard on people, it’s good for a few of the crops. We are anxiously watching the crops as eggplant and peppers begin to come on.  There’s a few to harvest now, but when there are hundreds of plants, we would be excited to see more.  The cantaloupe are also starting to perk up, but we don’t expect those to come on for a couple weeks yet.   

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2017 Pepper Harvest – This is what we want pepper harvest to look like!  Right now we only get a couple peppers 😦

 

The crew has dwindled  a bit this week. We’ve currently got two crew members out of commission with (non-farm related) injuries.  But happily, we have one crew member who will be playing a state baseball championship tonight!

One of the benefits of having high tunnels (greenhouses without the heater) is that we are able to provide some protection for crops against the elements.  They are great for hail protection, wind protection, even protection for heavy rains.  They are also excellent at keeping temperatures warmer in the cool months by a few degrees. 

But when it’s hot out, we have to take a different approach.  Each of our five high tunnels, and the greenhouse are covered in shade cloth.  What we put up, is like a black fabric mesh that you put over the plastic to literally shade the plants.  In past years we’ve waited until mid-July to put it on, but we got it done early this year.  This week served as a check to see how its working– and it’s doing good.

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Lots of goodies in this weeks box. We hope you enjoy!

Your Farmers,

Ryan, Katie, and Crew

 

What’s in this week’s bag?

  • Potatoes**
  • Yellow Onion*
  • Red Onion*
  • Cabbage*
  • Kohlrabi
  • Cucumber(s)
  • Green Beans
  • Yellow Squash*
  • Broccoli*
  • Zucchini
  • Tomato(es)

*Full share only

**Partial share only

 

2017 Week 6 – Weekly Vegetable Subscription

Hello folks!

As usual, it’s been a busy week here on the farm.  We try not to work on the weekends other than going to Farmer’s Markets on Saturday, but sometimes that just doesn’t work out – and this was one of those weekends.

The weather has been pretty warm, to say the least, so keeping the irrigation going on plants has been essential.  The weekend required a lot of irrigation, and as other things took the back seat, the weekend also required a lot of weeding.  Fortunately, this time most of the weeding was done with a harrow from the seat of a tractor, but if you’ve ever seen our little tractors, you’ll know that this is not the nice air conditioned version.  This is the out in the sun, with no shade and hot (or cold in the winter) version.

Now at the end of last week (Friday-ish), the weather folks were predicting highs for the entire week in the upper 90s and even some 100s with lows in the 80s.  Unfortunately, we had plants that we had pulled from the greenhouse that needed to be transplanted.  With that forecast, we made the decision to put them in the ground over the weekend to try to give the plants a chance at survival with at least one cooler evening and a less hot day.  So we took a five-person crew over the weekend and transplanted all of the broccoli that had filled up the greenhouse.  In theory, this should have only taken around four hours.  In reality, we haven’t completely worked out the kinks on the newer transplanter and it took just a bit longer.

Fortunately, because we’ve changed our outdoor irrigation system a bit, once they were in the ground, we were able to quickly get all of the transplants watered.  Also, in a nice turn of weather, we have highs in the 80s for the rest of the week, which will help these little plants out.

This past week we’ve also been working with early starts to try to beat the heat.  6:30 isn’t too bad for a start time, when we consider other days begin at 4:30 and it sure helps everyone survive the heat.

In other farm activities, we’ve been able to harvest with our convey belt this last week which really reduces our labor.  It allows us to get the produce into bins and cooler sooner.  It also means we walk fewer trips through the field.  Check out the pictures on the blog!

Your Farmers,

Ryan, Katie, and Crew

2017 Week 5 – Weekly Vegetable Subscription

Hello Folks!

Happy Independence Day!  Well, happy 5th of July – but it’s gonna be a good one.  I know some of you are as tired as we are after visiting some of the Independence Day festivities around town and lighting off fireworks!  I know it was way past our bed time when we made it in last night.

Now, we’d like to have these couple days off, but when it’s July, the crops just don’t let up. So with a vote by the crew, everyone started even earlier than normal yesterday (the 4th) and finished the picking by 10 am.  This morning will see a normal start time as we are excited to say that, as of today, we will begin picking sweet corn!  Yay!! The family snuck out to the field and pulled a few ears for ourselves – and they were awesome! Interestingly, while we begin harvesting the first sweet corn of the year, we also plan to plant the last batch of sweet corn today.  It’s a little bit of the beginning and the end all wrapped up in one.

We’ve had a little bit of rain this week with only a small amount of hail.  This has been a blessing to see rain in the month of July as it takes some pressure off of us in irrigating.  It also makes everything a muddy mess, but we’ll happily accept this.

We have been working on seeding broccoli this week.  We hope to get the last of it seeded and growing in the greenhouse. As this new crop goes in the greenhouse, the current crop is getting pulled out of the greenhouse with a goal to get it planted sometime this week. We will plant several batches of broccoli throughout the year, with the intent of harvesting broccoli well into November and often December. 

We have planted and re-planted cucumbers.  (You probably remember we’ve had several times visits from hail this year.) Now, we have a new plague on the cucumbers – the ground squirrels are eating them.  UGH.

We will again be hosting a farm tour this year.  Watch for the date to come next week!   Have a great week and enjoy the produce!

Your Farmers,

Ryan, Katie, and Crew

2017 Week 4 – Weekly Vegetable Subscription

Hello Folks!

As usual, the farm is hopping with activity. This is one of the few years that we have been able to say that we are keeping up with irrigation on the farm.  Ryan is out at all hours (even in the dark) turning on water, moving hoses, and turning off water, but it seems to be working!

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We’ve also had some fun pretending that it was Christmas this week. It was a good week to “Hoe – Hoe – Hoe.” Getting rid of weeds is never a glamorous job, but it looks like a million bucks when its done.  Ryan’s had some fun on the tractor too cultivating to get rid of those weeds.

Just like other weeks, we’ve been harvesting away. Picking greenhouse cucumbers, digging potatoes and picking them up off the ground, cutting broccoli and cabbage, pulling beets and carrots, and more.

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And while some produce in the field has come out of the hail damage, other produce has not.  We just started cutting lettuce once again this morning. Some of the onions will survive, although the hail damage means we will have to pick them smaller.

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One of the questions people have asked lately is “does insurance cover that?” Well the answer is… in Nebraska the insurance for vegetable crops costs more than the value of the crops several times over. This means it is anything but economical to hold insurance on vegetables. So, we try to self-insure by planting several times per year,

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In the field, the field tomatoes are a long ways away from producing and its about time to string them again.  More on stringing tomatoes later.  Our eggplant plants that came through the hail now have some baby eggplant on them and that makes us happy.  The pickling cucumbers, unfortunately, look terrible. Not sure what that will mean for this year’s crop, but it certainly won’t be early.

As a reminder, try to bring back your box each week. If you are picking up produce on the farm, Jacob has farm fresh eggs for sale each week. Enjoy the produce and happy early Independence Day!

Your Farmers,

Ryan, Katie, and Crew

Week 3 – 2017 Pekarek’s Produce CSA

Hello Folks!

We are glad to say the weather has calmed down here this week!  We have been busy in the tunnels weeding, hoeing and cleaning things up.  We have been tearing out some of the outside crops and plastic mulch torn up by the hail.  We’ve done some seeding and watering in the greenhouse.

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Have you ever wondered what a day looks like on the farm? Well, every day is very different, but let me give you a picture of all the activities going on by 7:30 this week … We’ve got a crew in the shed that has harvested broccoli and is in the process of washing and packing.

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Then there’s someone cleaning up the buckets and crates used to complete the broccoli harvest.  There’s still someone else prepping the trays for seeding and another working to get fertilizer (plant food) ready so that we can feed the new plants.

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And finally, the last lucky crew members are using our old horse drawn potato digger (we now pull it with a tractor) to dig potatoes.  The digger throws them on the ground and then we crawl behind on hands and knees to pick them up.  After they’re done with that, the potatoes will go to the packing shed to be washed, weighed, and packaged… and all this is going on by about 7:30!

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We hope you are loving the kohlrabi as much as we do, but I’ve received a few questions this last week about how to eat them.  To be honest, if you ask our favorite way to eat almost any vegetable we grow, we will say peel and eat raw – and on somethings we just brush the dirt off before we eat it.

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With kohlrabi, you need to make sure to peel all of the skin off.  There is no flavor difference between a purple or green kohlrabi.  The kids like to eat it raw in slices with cream cheese.  Some people will salt it and eat raw and others like it as part of a vegetable tray with dip (think ranch, hummus, tzatziki, etc…).  It can also be sliced and grilled it with olive oil and seasoning salt. I’ve been told it mashes well, but haven’t tried it.  Let us know your favorite way to eat kohlrabi.

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We’ve got pictures up from this week and many others as well as the newsletter online at pekareksproduce.wordpress.com.

Your Farmers,

Ryan, Katie, and Crew

 

2017 Vegetable Subscription – Week 2

Hello folks,

Well, it’s been an interesting week on the farm!  A lot of work has been accomplished.  Everyone had lots of fun hoeing (joke), but the fields are looking beautiful and nearly weed free.

We filled black trays with soil and seeded cabbage and cauliflower for the fall.  All totaled, there were approximately 11,000 + plants.  These are in the green house growing so we can transplant them in the field.

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Unfortunately, the big news this week is that we had big winds and big hail.  Right now, we are thinking this is the worst hail we’ve ever had on the farm.  Lettuce season is over. We had hail stones go right through the pea pods. The plastic mulch has holes, beets outside are abused, and we are not sure where the cucumbers are now… pretty sure they were there last night, but there’s not much left.  Hmmm. (Pictures to follow soon!)

On the bright side, things in the tunnels still look good.  The cauliflower is tasty and beautiful.  To keep it from fading or turning yellow, the leaves of each cauliflower plant are wrapped up around the head and banded.  It’s kind of like giving the plants a ponytail.  It’s time consuming, but the only way to keep the cauliflower looking nice.

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We’ve got tomatoes beginning to come off in the greenhouse, although I can eat them all myself in a week.  We’ve got another batch of tomatoes growing in one of the tunnels nicely. We probably lost a third of the field tomatoes to the wind this week and another third to the hail last night, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with those.  Looks like the potatoes may have come through last night fairly well.  Again, it’s a bit of a wait and see game, but before the hail, these are probably the best looking potatoes we’ve had so far.

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Your Farmers,

Ryan, Katie, and Crew


What’s in this week’s bag?

  • Kohlrabi
  • Cucumber(s)
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Shelling Peas
  • Orange Beets*
  • Salad Mix*
  • *Full share only