Planting the Early Spring Salads

Ahhhh, it feels like spring. For the last several days you can hear and see geese moving north against the blue skies. The grass and dandelions are starting to show a little bit of green. The only snow left is hiding in the shade on the north side of a building. It’s been nice to go outside in the morning and not need a big coat, earflap winter cap, mud boots, and snow. The ground is firm enough, finally, that I can wear regular shoes and traverse the yard without moving around puddles or drifts.

During the last week of February, we started seeding.  In the greenhouse there are onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi emerging in trays.  Some of these will go into other greenhouses to grow, and some of these will go out in the field in early April.  Onion plants take a long time to go from a little black triangular seed to a nice green plant the size of a pencil.  Salads are also growing.  Yesterday, I could see rows of radishes, turnips and lettuce in one of the high tunnels.  Peas and spinach are starting to emerge, but these two take a little longer.  More salad will get planted early this week.  Also, this week we will seed thousands each of broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower (and a little kale). We will again be having farm hours and drive thru veggie pick ups. Or you can think about joining the weekly vegetable subscription.

I met a truck driver in Shelby, NE, Thursday night last week.  The truck was on his way from eastern North Dakota to southwestern Kansas.  The driver was hauling about 15 tons of seed potatoes.  We snagged about 500 lbs off the back of the truck.  I grew this variety a couple years ago but couldn’t find them for a couple years.  I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy….. and now I’ve got a really nice red potato!

We shelled and cleaned 550 lbs of popcorn.  Seventeen buckets full when we were done.  We used a sheller that is about 100 years old that was owned by one of our neighbors and bought by another one of our neighbors.  It takes a village. 

Today the tractors will get spring maintenance.  Oil and filters are changed.  New air filter.  Blow the dust off.  Check air in the tires.  Working on steel is not my favorite task, but this one means spring is coming.

Enjoy the weather while it lasts – see you soon.

Your Farmers,
Ryan, Katie, Jacob, Margret, Michael, Lukas, and Grace

Vegetable Farmer New Year

It’s Vegetable Farmer New Year and we want to thank you all for being part of our farm family at Pekarek’s Produce!  

I don’t know exactly when the Chinese New Year is, but it is almost Vegetable Farmer New Year. The farm doesn’t exactly follow the normal January to December calendar, so we consider the start of the new year to be when we finish delivering last year’s storage crops and begin planting anew in February. 

The last of the butternut squashes, spaghetti squashes, and sweet potatoes were shipped off last week, ahead of the major cold snap. There are a few bushels of potatoes and carrots that will go in the next couple weeks – but we have effectively wrapped up for the year!

Typically we would already have things in the greenhouse, but this year we will wait for late February, after the thermometer returns to double digits. We will begin by seeding what I consider salad crops; radishes, lettuce, spinach, turnips, carrots, and beets. These healthy veggies go directly in the ground in the high tunnels, then  – BOOM – salads in March and April.

Also in February, we begin seeding onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers in the greenhouse. These are grown into small plants that get “set” into the high tunnels. We don’t typically plant any food outside until early April. That is a lot of snow and many many degrees away. 

Most of the work now is in the office. Plans, maps, counts, taxes. I am slowly working on putting together a team of farmers to do all the heavy lifting around here. We employ about twenty people in some capacity between sales and production and packing. It takes a village to raise a meal. We are making website updates and getting ready for the weekly vegetable subscription!

Otherwise, I am trying to find some time to relax. Sitting by the fire place in the evening. Occasionally, a basketball game for one of the kids. It is currently too cold for much else. Most of the outside work consists of moving snow from point A to point B, flat on the ground to pushed in a pile and of course harvesting the lettuce, spinach, and kale from the high tunnels.

We look forward to providing you with good food. Stay warm. Stay safe.

Ryan, Katie, Jacob, Margret, Michael, Lukas, and Grace

2020 Weekly Vegetable Subscription – Week 18

FINAL WEEK: Week 18 of Pekarek’s Produce Weekly Vegetable Subscription

Today is the day.  It’s the last week of the 2020 Pekarek’s Produce Weekly Vegetable Subscription. We have really enjoyed this year’s subscription and getting to know you along the way.
Ryan preparing to toss a cantaloupe while harvesting.

On The Farm

To us the end of the weekly vegetable subscription truly signifies a change in the seasons as much just as picking pumpkins. Ryan often gets asked what he does the rest of the year and I’ll give you an idea…. we try to harvest 11 months of the year which means most years we are still harvesting crops into December. The first fall broccoli harvest doesn’t even begin until late September and we are just about to start into other goodies like sweet potatoes and Kale. Last year we had multiple carrot harvests in the snow!
Ryan and Grace on the 5303 tractor.
Once December hits though, things change even more. It becomes time to deep clean the shop, take machines apart and do maintenance, and do some more prep for next year. This pretty much goes on daily until we get to spring and wonder where the time went and why we didn’t get it all done!  Ever feel like that?

By January Ryan is ordering seed. Maybe some gets ordered earlier, here and there. This takes weeks. He pours over his notes from the last season (and the 15 before that), works with many companies and rotates every crop around on the farm – planning where everything from university trials to kids’ popcorn crops will go. Crop rotation is key for healthy soils, disease resistance and pest management.  Then when he has his orders ready to place he CALLS them in. Inevitably some seed that was advertised has an epic failure and he’s offered an alternative. 
Pumpkin sales on the farm.
Visit us this FallThis is the last week (9/23) of the weekly vegetable subscription. But that doesn’t mean that healthy eating or even visiting with Pekarek’s Produce has to end. The Lincoln Haymarket Farmer’s Market on Saturdays goes through the end of October, the College View Farmer’s Market on Sundays goes through November with some holiday markets, the Farm will have hours through the fall and by appointment, online ordering is available for socially distanced farm pick up.

The Fall 2020 Vegetable Subscription will begin November 4th. It has a fun variety of fall crops and includes so much more than “just squash” – although squash is one of the fun parts of fall.  If you are interested in learning more, please visit the Pekarek’s Produce Website.
Thank you.  We can’t say it enough. Your support of the farm always means a lot, but during this strange time where our wholesale sales to restaurants and schools are down because of coronavirus, your membership in the weekly vegetable subscription has been even more important.  Thank you.

We hope to see you again soon,

Ryan, Katie, Jacob, Margret, Michael, Lukas, Grace, and Crew

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE

Potatoes
Carrots
Onion
Peppers
Broccoli

Want to add more produce to your weekly vegetable subscription? Shop online and make your purchase by 11:59 pm Tuesday to more produce added to your bag for Wednesday!

2020 Weekly Vegetable Subscription – Week 17

It’s the season of changes around here. Tomatoes are starting to slow down, pickling cucumbers are done, broccoli should be back in a couple weeks and we will have Kale for the fall season. 

We loved getting all that rain last week.  There were big cracks in the ground, but that slow rain fall did a lot of good. Now that the sun is back, it’s a little easier to work in the field and even the cantaloupe look a little happier.

On The Farm

The rain slowed us down a bit over the last week, but we’ve been able to get a few bins of squash onto the yard, get organized in the shed, and of course, stop irrigating!  It’s already dried off enough on top to where Ryan has been doing some tractor work.  Much of fall is about cleaning up the farm, shredding things that need to be shredded, and preparing of a new year to come in the spring.  All the work that goes into fall ground preparation makes a huge difference next spring.

One of those fall preparation things (and other times of the year too) is getting our cover crops planted.  Most of the farm already has this sorghum sudan grass wherever crops are not actively growing.  The goal is to get a bunch of organic matter, stop the wind erosion – because it is verrrrrry windy out here, and hold or build some nutrients for the next year.  So we have seeded vetch and clover into our actively growing sorghum sudan grass.

Sweet Dumpling Squash

What a cute name for a nice little plump squash – Sweet Dumpling. It’s pretty and striped, and gets cooked just like an acorn squash.  My family’s cooking preference is the brown sugar and butter method:

1. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place in a baking – cut side up.  Pour 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the pan so that the squash doesn’t burn or get dried out in the oven. (You can cook these seeds just like you would pumpkins seeds, if you want)
2. Add 1/2 T butter and 2 T brown sugar to each half.
3. Bake at 400°F (205°C) for about an hour to an hour 15 minutes, until the tops of the squash halves are nicely browned, and the squash flesh is very soft and cooked through.
4. Remove from the oven and enjoy.

It’s hard to overcook squash, it just gets better with more caramelization. But don’t undercook it.

Alternative – I am the only one in my house who isn’t a huge fan of this method. I find that stuffing the squash with some sort of savory mixture is more up my alley.  Think pork sausage (from one of Margret’s pigs), brown rice, kale, onion, and apple.  The options are endless.

Housekeeping

Next week (9/23) is the last week of the vegetable subscription. The Fall 2020 Vegetable Subscription will begin November 4th.  If you are interested in learning more, please visit the Pekarek’s Produce Website.

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE

Bell Peppers
Sweet Dumpling Squash
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Tomatoes
Kohlrabi
Onion

Fall is not all about the pumpkins!

Ya know, fall is not ALL about pumpkins! There are new and delicious flavors everywhere: spaghetti squash, sunshine squash to make squash chips out of, and delicata squash – some of the sweetest squash ever! There’s also the return of many crops like cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage, etc. And there’s even new crops like sweet potatoes and kale!

But really, the pictures of fall are ALL ABOUT PUMPKINS.

Fall Markets…

I don’t know about you, but we are big Husker sports fans! We have gone to nearly every home game in the last 10 years, except when I was very pregnant. So this fall feels very different. It’s always been a reprieve that has given Ryan and I the opportunity for some dates, which are few and far between during the summer growing season. There is a little upside here though. With no home football games, we suddenly have 5 more Saturday Farmer’s Markets this fall – hooray!

Now, the College View Market already goes through October 25th. And if you are big farmer’s markets fans, you will know that there has typically been a series of indoor winter farmer’s markets in November and December, hosted by the College View folks. Unfortunately, with the number of vendors and the number of visitors – it looks like this indoor market is going to be moved outdoors. Upside: more farmer’s markets, downside: brrrrr, upside: cute hats and boots!

This year, the “Holiday Markets” as they are called, will be:
Sundays | November 1, November 8, November 15, & November 22 
10am – 1pm
Note Updated Location: 4801 Prescott Avenue in the College View neighborhood.

Change to Farm Hours

We love when you come shop on the farm, so it’s time to change up the hours a bit. With pumpkin season here and the cooler temperatures in our faces, we have decided to move Saturday’s farm hours from 1 – 5 and Sunday’s from 1 – 5. So that makes our new hours:

Mon | Closed
Tue | 10 – 5
Wed | 10 – 5
Thu | 10 – 5
Fri | 4-6


Sat| 1-5
Sun| 1-5

Fall Weekly Vegetable Subscription

The Fall 2020 Vegetable Subscription will begin November 4th.  This will include four delivery dates which we tried to schedule to go along with the holidays: November 4th & 18th, and December 2nd & 16th.  The cost for the Fall Vegetable Subscription is $125. If you are interested in learning more and seeing what vegetables you will get, please visit the Pekarek’s Produce Fall Vegetable Subscription Page.

Piggies go to the Butcher – Fill your freezer

I’m really excited to say that on 9/21, the remainder of our pigs will be headed to the locker for processing. Margret has lovingly massaged these piggies, named them all and even has some of them eating out of her hand. (I just watch) Now it’s time for them to leave.

FILL YOUR FREEZER
This is your chance to get some pork in your freezer! Can’t find a specific cut you’re after? When you buy a whole or half pig you get to specify exactly how you’d like your pork cut. Want to cook an impressive standing rib roast or indulge in smoked meats? Our butcher can make it happen! We take the pig to the butcher and you pick out the cuts of meat you want.

STORAGE SPACE
When you think about a whole animal, you might be wondering if you have enough storage space! This is how it breaks down…

Whole Pig: 7 cubic feet (small chest freezer, french-door refrigerator, bottom-freezer refrigerator)

Half pig: 3.5 cubic feet (top-freezer refrigerator)

HOW DO I ORDER A PIG?
We only have two pigs that are not spoken for. So if you are interested in a half or whole, call Ryan at (402) 641-3305.

Join us on the farm!

Don’t forget that you can order all of your yummy produce online! Check out what we have available this week. Order by midnight Thursday for pick up on Friday or Saturday! You can also drive up and order when you get here.

We will have a few low key, socially distanced, fall events this year to help you and your family enjoy the season together, on the farm. Stay tuned for more information!

2020 Weekly Vegetable Subscription – Week 16

Week 16 of Pekarek’s Produce Weekly Vegetable Subscription

On The Farm

Hooray for rain! We are so excited to see some of that wet stuff coming down. As I sit here writing this in the early morning hours, its pitch black and I am listening to the rain come down!

We hope you all had a lovely Labor Day! Around here, Ryan jokingly says “Labor day is for laboring.” But it’s not really a joke. He typically gives the crew the day off and then the family works a half day with him, then we go take a break but we’re pretty sure he keeps working!

On The Farm

You don’t always know what the weather is going to give you, but with the predicted rain for Tuesday and Wednesday, we figured we should get a few things out of the field. Sunday, we harvested the last of the zucchini and yellow squash – they were starting to get a virus. Monday we harvested the last crop of sweet corn. By Monday afternoon, Ryan had the plants shredded down and cleaned up for the fall.

We had lot’s of fun picking the first load of pumpkins and winter squash for the season. There will be several more loads that come out of the field, but this crew did a great job getting the first 5 hayracks out of the field.

Fall is Here!

Fall is no longer “coming soon,” it’s here!  I was downright chilled yesterday being outside and the rest of the crew is having to adjust to the weather too.  Reminder that the last day of the weekly vegetable subscription pick up is September 23.  We will take a short break from the weekly vegetable bags to transition into fall crops.  The Fall 2020 Vegetable Subscription will begin November 4th.  If you are interested in learning more, please visit the Pekarek’s Produce Website.

Enjoy!

This Week’s Produce
Spaghetti Squash
Muskmelon
Kohlrabi
Sweet Horn Peppers
Tomatoes

Your Farmers,
Ryan, Katie, Jacob, Margret, Michael, Lukas, and Grace

2020 Weekly Vegetable Subscription – Week 15

Week 15 of Pekarek’s Produce Weekly Vegetable Subscription

On The Farm

We’ve heard lots of people loving their watermelon and cantaloupe in the last few weeks.  Not to brag, but Ryan really does grow the best melons around!  For those of you that have asked how to get more, you can visit  PekareksProduce.com/shop to add a melon, or anything else, to your weekly vegetable bag. 

Raccoons….. grrrr. Did you know raccoons love sweet corn?  We’ve known this for years.  They will go through all of the planted varieties, skip the ones that are over grown, pass through the ones that will be ready in a week, and then select the corn that is at it’s peak of perfection.  They do this each, and every year – so we’ve known this for a while.  But did you know that raccoons are also playful?  The sweet corn is less than 200 yards away from the pond.  Apparently, the raccoons prefer the cold water pumped through drip tape (all the sweet corn is drip irrigated).  But, they don’t just go to the end of the drip tape and get a drink.  They don’t make a nice, neat little hole and take a sip.  They take their little claws and scratch and pull, yank it out of it’s home, twist the tape into little knots, and then drink.  I imagine that they run through the sprays of water that they created, while eating ears of sweet corn, and laughing at the humans!

On The Farm

This week has been about getting things caught up and cleaned up on the farm.  The amount of paper work that has to be done would probably surprise you, but it might not surprise you that we get behind on it – especially in the late summer/early fall. Produce is in a transition again.  Watermelons probably only have a couple of weeks, which is shorter than normal.  Yellow squash and zuchinni are starting to take on some disease from the aphids so we are pulling plants as we find it.  Patches of sweet corn have been shredded under. We finally have a nice glut of tomatoes for canning.

Coming Soon…. Fall

The last day of the weekly vegetable subscription pick up is September 23.  We will take a short break from the weekly vegetable bags to transition into fall crops.  The Fall 2020 Vegetable Subscription will begin November 4th.  If you are interested in learning more, please visit the Pekarek’s Produce Website.

Enjoy!

This Week’s Produce

Potatoes
Carrots
Peppers
Onions
Cucumber
Eggplant

Your Farmers,
Ryan, Katie, Jacob, Margret, Michael, Lukas, and Grace

2020 Weekly Vegetable Subscription – Week 10

Week 10 of Pekarek’s Produce Weekly Vegetable Subscription

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost August. We are all enjoying a little reprieve from the heat. Much of our crew is looking forward to school starting (very weird). And our minds wander to fall when we see the pumpkins turning colors. 

On The Farm

I’m still excited for these summer crops that we are starting to pick. This week you will get the first cantaloupe of the season. Yum!  We often get the question “how do you pick a good cantaloupe” – the answer is, of course, you get it from Pekarek’s Produce!  Ha!  But really, when cantoloupe are picked, they should “slip” off the vine.  So, when your looking at a good one, most likely there is an indentation where the cantaloupe was pulled off the vine (instead of a bit of vine sticking off the end when it is cut).  Where that indentation is, you should get a strong smell of melons. At our place, there are only a couple of people that are actually allowed to pick the melons… the rest catch and load what gets thrown at them!  (Yes, we pick the melon and then toss them to the person outside the row.  It’s a fun game when the melons are small, but every once in a while, a melon goes ker-splat. I find this game much less fun when it comes to watermelons!)

A few other summer crops are coming along nicely too.  We’ve got the first few eggplants that have made it into the house.  We’ve just started digging potatoes, but with the recent rain and mud, that has been put on hold.  Pickling cucumbers are starting to produce nicely. Another nice part of summer is that it is canning season – or freezing at my house.

If you are interested in half bushel or bushel quantities for canning or freezing, please call Ryan (402) 641-3305.  We can have these ready for one of your weekly vegetable subscriptions or for a weekend.  Think frozen corn, pickles, canned beets, etc!

Week 10 Weekly Vegetable Subscription 2020

I’m still excited for these summer crops that we are starting to pick. This week you will get the first cantaloupe of the season. Yum!  We often get the question “how do you pick a good cantaloupe” – the answer is, of course, you get it from Pekarek’s Produce!  Ha!  But really, when cantoloupe are picked, they should “slip” off the vine.  So, when your looking at a good one, most likely there is an indentation where the cantaloupe was pulled off the vine (instead of a bit of vine sticking off the end when it is cut).  Where that indentation is, you should get a strong smell of melons. At our place, there are only a couple of people that are actually allowed to pick the melons… the rest catch and load what gets thrown at them!  (Yes, we pick the melon and then toss them to the person outside the row.  It’s a fun game when the melons are small, but every once in a while, a melon goes ker-splat. I find this game much less fun when it comes to watermelons!)

A few other summer crops are coming along nicely too.  We’ve got the first few eggplants that have made it into the house.  We’ve just started digging potatoes, but with the recent rain and mud, that has been put on hold.  Pickling cucumbers are starting to produce nicely. Another nice part of summer is that it is canning season – or freezing at my house.

If you are interested in half bushel or bushel quantities for canning or freezing, please call Ryan (402) 641-3305.  We can have these ready for one of your weekly vegetable subscriptions or for a weekend.  Think frozen corn, pickles, canned beets, etc!

This Week’s Produce
Sweet Corn
Green Beans
Zuchinni or Yellow Squash
Cucumber
Cantaloupe

Your Farmers,
Ryan, Katie, Jacob, Margret, Michael, Lukas, and Grace

2020 Weekly Vegetable Subscription – Week 5

Week 5 of Pekarek’s Produce Weekly Vegetable Subscription

On The Farm

As usual, the weather is the lead story on the farm.  We’ve had a couple of storms, a little bit of hail and a lot of wind.  The hole in the high tunnel has gotten bigger and the work days keep getting longer. It can be so easy to fall in a pattern of looking at all the things we have to get done, those many many daily tasks and not look at all of the good that comes with it.  Yes there is a hole in the high tunnel, but we took down the plastic on the sides yesterday, and will pull new plastic today if the wind stays down for the afternoon.  It’s more work, but the results will be great!

Yes the long work days get tiresome and we tend to get a little bit snappy – ok a lot a bit snappy.  But long work days means we get to spend more time outside and that our family is strong and healthy enough to do so. 

So this week – we want to say a big thank you!  Thank you for being a part of our weekly vegetable subscription.  Thank you for joining our family and crew on this crazy journey in vegetable farming. And thank you for the opportunity to share in the bounty of the farm.

Strawberry Picking 2020

The veggies in this week’s bag are a bit more of the standard midwestern vegetable fare than last week. This is the end of strawberry season, but the summer crops are just starting. You will have either a cauliflower or a cabbage this week, because neither crop produced enough for everyone. We will try to rotate through who gets what when this happens. If you have a little purple tinge in your cauliflower, consider yourself lucky – it’s what happens when we get hot weather! It tastes great 🙂

Sugar Snap Peas

These things are like hidden gems of the cooking world. We mostly eat them raw – but they are great in a stir fry or as a meal on their own. Try this: Put 1 Tbs of canola oil in a pan on high heat (I usually use olive oil but it burns on high heat). When the oil is heated up, add your peas, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ginger. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally. This is a fun dish to flip the food instead of stir, but either works. Ryan really likes the peas to get a little black too.

Enjoy!

This Week’s Produce
Basil
Strawberries
Broccoli
Carrots

Your Farmers,
Ryan, Katie, Jacob, Margret, Michael, Lukas, and Grace

2020 Weekly Vegetable Subscription – Week 4

Week 4 of Pekarek’s Produce Weekly Vegetable Subscription

I’m sure you’ve see it before where kids are better at technology than the parents… well we’ve been in that stage around here a time or two! So Michael (9) and I had an adventure in making a video on my phone this week that helped me decide that we definitely need to use our children more for making farm videos (not me)! In that light, Michael made a strawberry syrup in less than ten minutes this week and made a video to go along with it!

On The Farm

The heat that we’ve been having is going to make for a much shorter strawberry season than we would like, so the next week or two is all about the strawberries! It’s time for strawberries on your salad, in your smoothies, and on your pancakes!  Picking strawberries is fun the first time or two, but I’m not sure the crew will mind a shorter picking season!

Strawberry Picking 2020

This week you will all receive a basil plant with your weekly vegetable subscription!  This is something that you can use over and over again.  Basil needs a really good sunny spot to grow.  You can either put it in a larger pot OR plant it in a sunny part of the garden for the best results.  To use it, you can cut the stem down to 2 or 3 inches, with 2 sets of leaves left.  It will continue to regrow from their all season.  You want to make sure you keep cutting those tops off to keep it from flowering.

As for basil’s uses, there are many!  We usually dry a bunch of it down in the oven, so we can use it all year.  Here’s my top 5 ways to use basil:

  1. Dry it down for use all year round!
  2. Top whole leaves onto pizza
  3. Finish pasta with thinly sliced leaves
  4. Blend it into sauces
  5. Chop it up in a salad

This Week’s Produce
Basil
Strawberries
Broccoli
Carrots

Your Farmers,
Ryan, Katie, Jacob, Margret, Michael, Lukas, and Grace