Patchwork Green is a hillside and ridgetop farm overlooking the beautiful Canoe Creek Valley several miles north of Decorah, Iowa. Our family grows five acres of vegetables on a farm near Decorah, Iowa. We grow a wide variety of high quality, chemical-free vegetables using sustainable techniques.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Veggies and Music at Saturday's Indoor Market

The last indoor farmers market of the season is Saturday, 12/19.  We'll be at the Danan Lansing Building at the Fairgrounds from 8:30 to 11:30.

At the Patchwork Green Farm table, you'll find lots of potatoes (red, yellow, fingerling and blue), lots
of cured alliums (garlic, red and yellow keeper onions, red and yellow cippolini onions and shallots) and a few fresh vegetables (cabbage, carrots, beets, cilantro and turnips).  We're thankful to still have some good produce left, due to a warm fall and a good root cellar.  We're also thankful for you, our community of healthy vegetable eaters, for supporting our farm and eating all of the food we produce!

An extra bonus this Saturday: my friend John Goodin and I will be playing music at the market from about 9:00 to 11:00.  We'll have a bunch of our CD's available for your holiday shopping, of course.

The recent mild weather has allowed me to do some good fall cleaning of facilities and containers and wash about 2000 pounds of potatoes for winter sales.  The multiple inches of rain have all soaked in beautifully, and it's reassuring to know we'll have good soil moisture to plant into next spring (otherwise known as MUD).  The ground should be frozen enough tomorrow to start mulching the garlic patch without making a muddy mess of things (thanks to those of you who contributed leaves to the effort).  This is certainly the latest I have ever done that job, and an unfortunate sign of the times we are living in.

The seed catalogs are begging for my attention next week, and I'll be in touch with you about Patchwork Green Farm CSA membership for 2016 in a few short months - dreaming of asparagus and peas....

Have a wonderful holiday break, and eat well!

Erik and Sara
Meg, Mairi and Nina
Fingerlings with Slivered Garlic 
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil, plus extra for the dish
1 pound potatoes, scrubbed and sliced lengthwise into halves or thirds
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly butter a shallow baking dish.  Layer the potatoes in the dish with the garlic and small pieces of butter or a drizzle of oil and season with salt and pepper.  Make sure there's butter or oil for the top.  Add a few tablespoons of water to the dish, then cover and bake until tender, 40 or 50 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer to brown on top.  These potatoes end up moist and succulent unless you continue baking them once they're tender - then they'll crisp on the bottom, and that's delicious, too.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Last big garden harvest - get ready for Thanksgiving

Here comes the cold weather and probably a decent amount of snow!  Are you as excited as all the 10-year-olds I talked to today?  I felt kind of old as I complained about all the unfinished fall projects and the too-cold weekend temperatures, but I'll try to get in the mood by Saturday.

We did the last big garden harvest on Wednesday.  It was wet and windy, but it was above freezing,
and we pulled in a lot of produce.  The late fall broccoli is amazing, and there are a lot of nice kales, cabbages and Brussels sprouts as well.  We picked lettuce heads and some Salanova mix, and pulled some great radishes, baby beets and turnips.  The kohlrabi sized up during the last warm spell, and we found a bit of parsley and cilantro to season your holiday dishes with.  Of course, we still have lots of garlic, onions, shallots and potatoes in storage to go with the fresh greens.  The weather for the past 6 weeks could not have been much better for the late-maturing greens and cabbage family crops - a few light freezes, some gentle, soaking rains and plenty of sunny days in the 50's.  Those conditions make for some of the tastiest crops imaginable.

Just in time for your Thanksgiving table, we'll be offering up these morsels at the second indoor farmers market on Saturday, 11/21.  We'll be at the Danan Lansing Building at the Fairgrounds from 8:30-11:30, no matter how much snow we get Friday night!

Friday, November 6, 2015

First Indoor Market of Fall


After a Wednesday off, the Winneshiek Farmers Market has its first indoor event of the season this .  We'll be set up at the Danan Lansing Building at the Winneshiek County Fairgrounds in Decorah from 8:30 to 11:30 on Saturday, 11/7.  The next three markets are on Saturdays:
  • November 21 
  • December 5
  • December 19 
You'll find many of your favorite vendors, selling veggies, crafts, baked goods, apples, wine and other goods.  Live music as well!

With the warm week, our greens grew!  The broccoli is amazing, and the lettuces are great for November.  We also have lots of Brussels sprouts, some spinach, kohlrabi, kale, chard, cabbage, rutabaga, scallions and leeks.  We still have a good supply of potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots and a few varieties of winter squash as well.  We hope to see you down at the Fairgrounds.  Market Share CSA members are welcome to use their remaining balance at these indoor markets.

I always find good vegetable recipes in the 'Eating Well' magazine each month.  Sometimes, they are variations on dishes we already make, and sometimes there are totally new ideas or combinations of ingredients that are intriguing.  Here are a couple from the November issue that feature vegetables that we are selling this week:

  • 2# Sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 small lemon, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese  
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Preheat oven to 425.  Toss sprouts, lemon, garlic, oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Divide between 2 large rimmed baking sheets and spread in an even layer.  Roast without stirring for 10 minutes.  Switch the pans top to bottom and continue roasting, without stirring, until lightly browned and tender, 8-10 minutes or more.  Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with Parmesan and pine nuts.

This makes about 12 1/4-cup servings, so feel free to cut down the quantities!  Feel free to ask me for small onions for this recipe - I think they would work best.

  • 2# cipollini onions
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 12-oz bottle wheat ale, lager or hard cider
  • 2 T packed light brown sugar
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add onions and cook for one minute.  Drain.  Peel and trim the root end, if necessary, but leave the onions whole.  Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is melted.  Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until browned in spots, 5-7 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir in beer or cider, brown sugar and thyme; bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Uncover and gently stir the onions.  Increase the heat to medium-high and cook at a gentle boil, spooning the sauce over the onions frequently, until the sauce has thickened to a light syrup, 8-10 minutes.  Remove thyme sprigs before serving.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Market this week and Looking for Leaves!

I hope you can enjoy this amazing weekend outdoors.  Start it off right with a visit to the market! 
  • We've got some late summer produce, like sweet peppers, joining the fall greens and storage
    crops in this mild fall.  
  • This week, we'll feature sweet and hot peppers, cilantro, kale, chard, radishes, delicata squash, mini ornamental pumpkins, garlic, cooking onions and 5 types of potatoes.  For the early birds, we'll have a few beets, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, Napa cabbage, Jack-O'-Lanterns and pie pumpkins.
We'll wait a few more weeks before we bring in a few of the latest-maturing crops.  Look forward to Brussels sprouts, big winter squash, tatsoi, rutabaga, carrots and a big crop of sweet, fall broccoli.

We are starting to fill bulk orders for the fall.  Place yours now to ensure availability!  You can order potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, cabbage and beets.

See you at the market!

More News from the Garden
Now that we have worked in our new packing and storage facilities for a full growing season, their utility is really beginning to shine.  The root cellar, with it’s nifty Coolbot system, is easily keeping 5 pallets of potatoes, onions and garlic at a constant 44 degrees.  We’ll put cabbage, carrots, beets and other storage crops in there for the winter to see how they hold up.  We’ll probably drop the temperature lower as well, and keep a close eye on the humidity level.

The packing shed is still a work in progress – all the construction is done, but we’re still figuring out the best configuration of tables, sinks and storage areas.  The covered outdoor area has been very useful all summer and fall.  Food safety is a lot easier when you can clean off a concrete slab at the end of each work day and indoor storage space is completely pest-proof.  The indoor part of the building stayed cool all summer long, so flats of ripening tomatoes and cured garlic were happy (it was 85 degrees outside and too cold in the cooler and root cellar). The fall crew and I are looking forward to washing potatoes indoors on a cold November day.  I’m confident that we’ll continue to find new perks in these buildings every year.

It’s that time of year when we need to gather many bags of leaves.  The garlic planting starts next week, and we’ll use the leaves as the bottom layer of mulch.  We top them with straw and the garlic cloves will stay at a consistent temperature through the winter months.  The mulch also acts as a weed suppressor in the spring, then feeds the soil after it is tilled into the garden in August.  If you have leaves that you have raked and bagged, and have not sprayed your lawn in at least a few months, I would love to come pick them up.  I can return your leaf bags in November if you would like.  They make a great compost if we have extra, and we would be happy to get hundreds of bags of leaves.  No yard waste or walnut leaves, please.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Reserve your pumpkins!

And, all of a sudden it's fall.  What a glorious change of weather we have had this week.  We have even had a light frost for the last four days.

We're doing lots of harvesting now: the last of the beans and tomatoes, more peppers, and some winter squash.  Yesterday, we cut all of the pumpkins, and we'll start bringing a few Jack-O-Lantern's to market each week (let me know if you would like to reserve a few).

The fall lettuces are getting sweeter each day, and we are now picking radishes, turnips and rutabaga.  Although the basil and dill are done, October is a great time for fresh cilantro and parsley. We also have kale, chard, beets, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, delicata squash and a few carrots and cucumbers.   And, don't forget about the cooking basics: onions, shallots, garlic and potatoes.

 Enjoy the beautiful weekend!

Erik and Sara

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Variety Called Carmen

It's going to be a gorgeous weekend, and cool enough to do some comfortable cooking.  The unusually warm
weather this past week has kept the peppers, tomatoes and zucchini producing much better than in most years.

We picked about 150# of sweet peppers today.  From red to yellow to orange to chocolate, and from mini to large bells and bull's horn, they are all beautiful, sweet and nutritious.  We snack on them raw, and then put sweet peppers in every type of salad, on our pizza, in the tacos and pasta dishes, on sandwiches both raw and roasted ....  OK, so we're a little addicted to peppers!  We also chop and freeze peppers for off-season use.  Tomorrow, we'll feature the big, bulls-horn (corni de toro) variety called 'Carmen.'  It has a nice crunch, medium-thick flesh and stunning brick-red coloring.  Peppers like to be stored at 55 degrees.  This week, you could just keep them on your countertop, or in a cool garage or porch.  If you put them in the refrigerator, put them in the warmest spot.  They should keep for up to two weeks.

We still have a few flats of tomato seconds available.  The cool nighttime temps a week ago has diminished the quality of the basil, so I'm afraid that bulk orders are done for the year.  We are starting to fill orders for storage garlic, onions, shallots and potatoes, so put in your order.  You are welcome to use your CSA balance for bulk orders, or just pay in cash.  We price bulk orders at our wholesale rate, so items are cheaper than the retail price you see at market.

This week, look for the last succession of green and yellow beans, lots of Salanova lettuce mix, some head lettuces, and 5 types of potatoes.  There is a fresh crop of kohlrabi, some broccoli and green and red mini cabbages.  We are still offering sweet onions, as well as cured garlic and cippolini onions.  I'll bring the first shallots to market, and we still have eggplant, summer squash and cucumbers.  We started picking fall scallions today, and they are large and healthy.  Cilantro has been the top-requested herb this summer, and we picked lots for this weekend.  Also, look for parlsey, dill weed, basil, bigger red and golden beets, Swiss chard, great kales, yummy cherry tomatoes and butterscotch melons.

I've got CSA balances at market, so ask if you are curious.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tomatoes and potatoes

It's not quite 90 degrees, but wow, it's been a hot week!  Very muggy, and not much in the way of breezes or clouds.  But, we should enjoy these late-summer days, right?  It sure ripens the tomatoes and zucchini quickly.  The crops are all looking much healthier than they were before the rain last week (an inch and a half out here), and they can withstand the heat when their feet are cool and wet.  We are hoping for more rain in the next week, and cooler temperatures will be good for all the fall brassica's (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, etc.).

This week at the market, you can get oodles of tomatoes, lots of fun colored sweet peppers and new crops of green and yellow beans.  The head lettuces are finally ready for a return (sorry about the lack of late August lettuces!), and we'll have kales, chard and lots of fresh herbs.  

Now that all the potatoes are harvested and in the root cellar, it's easy to bring more varieties to market each week.  We still have thousands of pounds of Red Maria (large, round white-flesh potatoes) and Carola (waxy, yellow-flesh), and we'll now bring in the All-Blue (blue on the inside and the outside) and Kennebec (large, dry-textured spud for baking and frying).

Don't forget that almost every dinner should start with some sauteed, roasted or just minced onion and garlic.  We still have the sweet/mild white and yellow onions, as well as the amazing cippolini roasting/boiling onions.  They should all still be refrigerated.  The garlic, on the other hand, is now fully cured, so you can keep it on the countertop indefinitely. 

We'll see you at the market!

Patchwork Green Farm

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dry spell

Crops are slowing down because of the dry spell we're in.  Hopefully, a bit of rain will revive the greens and bring squash, cucumber and bean production back up.  In the meantime, enjoy the tomatoes!  They don't mind the dry
weather at all.  

This week, we have lots of tomatoes, some hot and sweet peppers, lots of fresh onions and cured garlic, tons (literally) of potatoes and a good variety of herbs, greens and other vegetables.

See you at the market!
Erik and Sara

News from the Garden
Wildlife Report: We continue to see the little brown grass snakes and an occasional garter snake in the gardens, usually hiding under row cover or in a leaf pile.  The toads have been scarce recently, I assume because of the dry spell.  The neighbors’ honey bees have done a nice job of pollinating the squash and cucumbers in our garden, but the wild bees seem scarce.  Plenty of hornets and wasps, though!  

We have been lucky that the deer have respected our big fence this summer better than last, meaning a lot more lettuces and beets for you.  This has been a bumper rabbit year, as I’m sure you have noticed.  Even in our wide open gardens, we have had a few litters of them, and we find that they really like cucumbers!  
There have been a lot of killdeer in the gardens this year, feeding on the bare and recently seeded parts.  Not a bird we have regularly seen in past seasons.  

And lastly, our 5-month-old chicks (now young hens) just started laying their first eggs this week, right  on schedule. The girls are thrilled with the little brown eggs, and we are excited to see all the ‘varieties’ that our multicultural flock will produce.

The onion harvest went very well, and the storage varieties are drying down well in this weather.  We should have a bumper crop of yellow and red keepers, so look forward to a nice bag of them in October.  The potato harvest is also going well, with only a few rows left to dig.  Good size, great quantity and very disease-free.  Make the farmer happy!

More rain coming, please?

Friday, August 21, 2015

A half inch of rain

We unfortunately only got a half inch of rain out
of the two-day drizzle, but even that amount perked the plants up.  We quick got a bunch of fall lettuces transplanted while the weather was mild, and enjoyed working in the cooler temp's.
This week at market, we're featuring:

Red, white and yellow potatoes
Lots of head lettuces
Salanova lettuce mix
A new planting of sweet kohlrabi
Mild white and yellow onions and mixed, fresh cippolini onions
Chard and Kale
Red cabbage
Gorgeous sunflowers
Cherry tomatoes
Lots of red and heirloom slicer tomatoes
Piles of cucumbers and dill heads for fresh eating and pickling
Beautiful Italian globe eggplant
German White cured garlic
Jalapeno and Serrano hot peppers
A new crop of beets

Coming soon ...... more sweet peppers and green beans.

On another topic: Come down to the Arthaus Courtyard Friday night (8/21) at 7:00 for a lively acoustic show featuring the dance band I play with, Contratopia (  Lots of original and traditional reels, jigs and waltzes with some great musicians.  Music that makes you smile!

See you at the market.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring Planting/Music Lessons

My 9-year-old daughter and I planted some of the first crops in the garden a few weeks ago.  It was one of the sunny, mild days, and we were quickly forgetting about the 12” of snow that had fallen a week earlier.  The soil was cool, but dry enough to till, so I cleaned up the tiller and made a few passes in the half-acre designated for ‘first-early’ crops.

Our priority was sugar snap peas, a family favorite and a crop that loves cool weather.  I dragged a triangle hoe through the tilled soil and opened a 5# bag of pea seed.  Mairi found the wrinkled, green seeds ‘cute’ and soon found a few off-types that looked more like soybeans.  Peas and beans seeds are very kid-friendly because they are big and easy to handle.

Their germination rate isn’t always stellar, however, so I wanted to get quite a few seeds per row foot.  Mairi has been studying piano for several years now, so I told her to space the peas about a half-step apart, meaning the short distance between two fingers when they are touching.  I showed her how to grab a whole handful of pea seeds out of the bag and then drop them out slowly, but not too slowly in the row as you walk at a steady pace.  After making six, 140-foot rows, I followed Mairi with the hoe, now pulling soil over the seeds and tamping it down.  

Continuing with the music theme, I had Mairi plant some spinach at a distance of a major third apart, and radishes at 12 per octave.  I think she did pretty well!  A few days later, we covered all of the seed beds with floating row cover, to keep them a little warmer and to ward off hungry crows whose favorite spring treat is pea shoots.

Since they were seeded, we have had more snow, lots of good rain, some warm, sunny days and some cold, cloudy days.  Because the soil temperature is so cool, germination this time of year is much slower than in the summer, so the seeds are just now starting to emerge.  Patience, patience.  The peas will be ready in mid-June, I’m sure, just as they always are, but the radishes may be ready to pull by late May.  Mid-spring is all about transition and hope and milestones and not getting ahead of yourself.  Everything will speed up soon enough.

Because we are in planting mode, it is important to know how many CSA members we are growing food for.  If you have not signed up for the Patchwork Green Farm 2015 CSA yet, and would like to, please do so in the next two weeks, if at all possible.  Go to our website, for ordering details.