Category Archives: crops

Foggy walk precedes August rain

August delights

Foggy

By Emma Palova

It was a foggy morning walk on the gravel road to the Sisters as August made its grand entrance on the summer scene this week.

After days of drought, the rain was forecasted at 70 percent last night. Ella called the weatherman, a douche bag. That was very appropriate, since “douche” in French means shower.

On Tuesday, I went to the Paulson’s pumpkin patch farmer’s market north of our ranch. I bought our favorites, peaches and plums for the classical Czech summer fruit dumplings dish topped with cottage cheese.

I had to pass on the first harvest of cucumbers, since we will not have the time to can them this year. But we do have a good stock of last year’s sweet and sour pickles to get us through the winter.

Purple blue plums are also the main ingredient in plum brandy, known as “slivovice.” I call plum brandy, the Moravian gold.

It looks like an abundant harvest this year.

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Czech fruit dumplings with cottage cheese

The Paulson’s farmer’s stand overlooks the vast fields of vegetables, fruits and orchards that were wilting in the heat, along with some marigolds by the fence.

“Did you do the rain dance?” asked me the owner sitting comfortably in an orange folding chair behind the counter loaded with fresh produce.

 

Among the novelties at the stand were sweet jalapenos. I have yet to try them. But, I did buy yellow cauliflower and red lettuce for different color varietals.

“No, should I?” I asked.

“You should do it every morning,” he said.

Then, I remembered while watering the patio garden, I did run a stream of water on my brand new mysterious “rain chain” and on the tin sunflower, causing it to whirl.

And it finally rained, this morning after I dropped off Ella at the summer school. I went to my favorite hideout, and it poured on the lake. I watched the rain swirl and twirl on the windshield.

But, before that, being totally stripped of any energy, I ate the entire Chocolove xoxox Almonds & Sea Salt dark chocolate bar. It tasted like heaven, after weeks of starving myself for the book signings.

To my great delight, I discovered inside the chocolate wrap a poem by Alexander Pushkin:

Thou and You

She substituted, by a chance,

For empty ‘you’- the gentle ‘thou.’

And all my happy dreams, at once,

In loving heart again resound.

In bliss and silence do I stay,

Unable to maintain my role:

‘Oh, how sweet you are!’ I say-

‘How I love thee!’ says my soul.

It’s going to be a great August.

I am looking forward to the Czech Harvest Festival this Sunday in Bannister. Watch for post.

 

Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Freeze takes asparagus for Mother’s Day

Freeze takes away asparagus for Mother’s Day

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- I walked into Bob Kietzmann’s farm on Grand River Drive yesterday, in the wake of the bad news of Monday’s frost damage to Michigan asparagus.

The barn was empty with all but a scale and a can with the label touting asparagus for $2.50. Empty yellow caddies were laying all around. There was also a black notebook, the Kietzmann’s Asparagus Ledger for people to sign off on their purchases. The sale of asparagus at the farm has been based on an honor system  since it started 24 years ago.

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Saranac asparagus farmer Bob Kietzmann

Usually, there are yellow boxes loaded with firm green stalks of asparagus, people digging in and picking for the best ones, and a bunch of recipes on the table. The bustle lasts well into mid-June on a normal year..

And the week of Mother’s Day is always the busiest time for asparagus, according to owner Bob Kietzmann.

It didn’t take too long for Kietzmann to arrive on the vacated barn scene. Yes, there wasn’t even a sales sign off the busy road that parallels I-96, near the Lowell exit.

“Can we help you?” asked Kietzmann.

“Sure, I want some asparagus,” I said.

“Well, the good guy up there arranged that we won’t have any, until next week,” said Kietzmann tilting his hat as he squinted into the late afternoon sun. “Mine froze too.”

We walked into Kietzmann’s sunlit office to chat about the asparagus that has been damaged by the frost. Kietzmann estimated he lost approximately 20 percent of his crop.

“It’s really hard to say,” he nodded.

Three years ago, kids from the Saranac FFA (Future Farmers of America) planted 50,000 crows of asparagus over four nights on a six acre parcel.

“It takes six years for asparagus to be profitable,” Kietzmann said.

However, asparagus is a fast growing plant. It can grow anywhere from two to three inches overnight at 50 to 60 degrees.

“It grows best at night,” said Kietzmann.

We took a ride into the nearby asparagus field. Kietzmann pointed out the translucent asparagus stalks damaged by the frost wilting into the ground.

The good news is that the first and second pickings were early this year at the end of April due to warm weather.

“Anything that is in the ground didn’t freeze,” said Kietzmann. “We already had two rounds.”

On a good harvest day, one picking is in the morning around 7 a.m. and the other one is at 6 p.m.

The picking height of asparagus is from seven to 10 inches, and there is hardly any waste.

Kietzmann started picking wild asparagus in the ditches along the road as a kid dreaming of a day when he would have a ½ bushel for himself.

“I’ve been picking it since I could walk,” he said.

Well, that day came after years of milking cows and building farm equipment.

“We’ve picked asparagus in the snow in May,” he said. “We’ve only had three year like this with the frost damaging the asparagus.”

And Kietzmann loves meeting customers from all over Michigan.

“I have guys come in here buying asparagus for their mothers,” Kietzmann laughed. “They’ve never even tasted asparagus.”

Some customers ask for asparagus bunches like they find at the stores.

“Well we don’t have that here,” he said.

The rider for picking asparagus has two blades that cut the asparagus in two rows and throws it in the bin. Now, due to frost, asparagus will have to be sorted from the damaged stalks.

By July, the asparagus plants tire out or fern out.

“Then it’s done for the year,” he said. “I spray for weeds after we’re done picking.”

At Heidi’s farm market stand on M-50, there was some asparagus from Hart still left,  that was cut last Sunday.

Luckily, the shortage is only temporary, until next Monday.

Temporary

The annual asparagus festival takes place in Hart, Michigan on June 9, 10, & 11.

http://www.nationalasparagusfestival.org/

For more info on Heidi’s go to www.heidisfarmstand.com

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.