Silver Forge Farm CSA Season 2018: Expectations and Goals

Eggs May through October:

We will do our best to provide you with one dozen eggs a week from our pastured hens in every share. Our laying flock consists of Red Stars (a cross between Rhode Island Reds and  Delawares) which lay light brown eggs and Americaunas which lay the beautiful green eggs we’ve become famous for. You can’t buy eggs in the grocery store that come from chickens more free range than ours. During the high point of the season you may get double the eggs in your shares. Extra eggs if available by the dozen at a discounted price to shareholders during pick up each week depending on the hens production.

Spring Planting and Harvest:

We will be starting our growing season off with several radish varieties, including our favorite, d’avignon or french breakfast radishes. We will also be growing hakurei salad turnips – sweet and crisp, use them as you would radishes. Beets will be going into the ground, both for their sweet roots and delicious greens. Swiss chard will be sown and harvested now along with baby kale for our baby braising/stir fry mix, as well as for mature harvests throughout the season. We will have the first of the spring salad mix up and growing, as well as mache, arugula, broccoli rabe, mustard greens, and escarole. Head lettuces will be set out every few weeks while the nights stay cool. Spinach will be coming up – blanch and freeze what you can’t eat right away, as its spring season is all too short. We have several fall planted beds of carrots we will be hoping to harvest in early spring as well. Check the sheep pasture for new additions when the season begins, we are hoping for some lambs as we expand our flock of Shetland sheeps.

Peas are one of our favorite crops, and we will be growing shelling peas as well as snow and sugar snap varieties. Pea shoots and tendrils are a delicious, sweet early season addition to the table, raw or quickly stir fried. While the kale will have a place in the market gardens all season, it is at its most productive in the spring and fall, and we will be growing red russian, winterbore, and lacinato varieties.

Our U-Pick CSA herb garden will be back up and running on a pick your own basis starting in early June, and the perennial herbs, including chives, rosemary, mint, thyme, sage, oregano, sorrel, shiso and lemon balm, should be starting to pick up the pace by late spring. Parsley, cilantro, and dill seedlings will take their spot in the herb garden now, as will nasturtiums to provide a spicy, beautiful addition to your salads. if there is an herb you would like us to add, send us a message and we will do our best to track it down.

Potatoes will go into the ground in March, for a mid June harvest, and will be followed by a late harvest in August. Expect potatoes in your basket throughout the season after the first early harvest. We will be succession planting scallions throughout the growing season, so those will also be regulars in your basket. Brussel sprouts, leeks, and cabbage will be going in now, to be harvested in the fall, and carrots will be sown for midsummer and fall harvests. Eli is an expert sauerkraut maker, so feel free to ask for tips on how to preserve your cabbage for the winter. Pak choi, Bok Choi, and Gai Lan will be harvested early in the season as well.

Summer Planting and Harvest:

While many of the spring planted crops will continue to appear in your basket, the long days and warm nights mean new additions to the market garden. Bush beans will be going in, including edamame, as well as slicing and pickling cucumbers. Basil will be growing in the herb garden by June, and eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, and okra will be well established. Dill should flower just in time to make pickles. We will continue to seed cilantro in the herb garden for salsa and other dishes throughout the summer.

We will be planting a wide variety of tomatoes, including heirloom slicing varieties, several different types of cherry and pear tomatoes, and traditional paste tomatoes for sauces and soups. Squash will be coming up, both summer and winter squash varieties. In late summer, we will be planting pumpkins and gourds for our fall harvest. Mature onions and leeks will start to make an appearance as July and August roll around, and carrots and beets will be harvested. Vegetable amaranth and swiss chard will be taking the place of colder weather greens as the days warm up. We hope that early summer will also bring garlic scapes from our fall garlic beds, with bulb garlic to follow in the late summer.

This year we are really excited to bring back honey to Silver Forge Farm with two beehives which we hope to harvest from in the summer and possibly again in the fall.

End of Season Harvest:

While Mother Nature has the final say on the outdoor growing season here in NJ, September and October are still a busy season here on the farm. Peas, greens, carrots, and radishes will all be planted again, and we will have our final potato harvest – members welcome to chip in! The kale will get its second wind, and the leeks will be sizing up. Winter squash will continue to roll in, and as we move into October, we will start curing winter squash, gourds, and baking potatoes. While green tomatoes will be available (they are so good fried but they make an excellent green salsa as well) ripe tomatoes and peppers will continue to ripen till the first frost. After the first few hard frosts, we will stop assembling shares, but eggs may be available until the year’s flock is sold off.

We have well established Concord grapes which will be harvested in the fall. They are perfect for jam, as well as eating out of hand. We also should have a good harvest of crisp Seckel pears will be included in your share as they ripen throughout the fall. We have been investing a lot of time and energy going in increasing our fruit harvest, adding blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, honeyberries (haskap), seedless grapes, kiwi vine, filberts, and additional fruit trees throughout the property. These will be included in shares as available, as we look towards future harvests.

While work hours are not required this season, we will dedicate certain parts of the gardens as pick your own and plan activities to take advantage of the help of our shareholders. Whether you pull a few weeds, take note of the crop progress, or pick off a few pesky potato beetles, it is our hope that everyone will feel welcome to get their hands at least a little bit dirty.

– Your farmers, Eli & Shannon Silver