CSA Weekly Update for June 25th- 29th! Week 2
We hope you enjoyed your first CSA Share this season!
This week Ben is working up ground to plant the seconds of certain crops; for example muskmelons, cucumbers, cauliflower, zucchini, beans, and a few others. These types of plants only produce for so long and then decrease in production until the plant dies. When they start decreasing in production, we till them under and start with something else in their place. It’s a rotation in the case of these plants; we need to be efficient with our space!
There are also varieties that we can only start once a season, for instance peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, to name a few. These plants need a long growing season to produce, and once they are planted in the spring, we won’t till them under until after the last plant has stopped producing in the fall.
Most of us know tomatoes will do better with the metal cages surrounding them to support their branches when they get heavy with fruit and start to droop towards the ground. If a branch gets too heavy it can actually break, and if it breaks that’s just a vulnerable spot for disease to spread through the patch.
This week we also got our tomato patches tied for the first time. What’s that mean?? We can’t use the traditional metal cages around the tomato plants because there are thousands of them. On our scale, we are pounding stakes in between every other two plants. We tie a braided twine on the end of a row and work our way to the other end, lifting branches and looping the twine around the next stake as we go. Once you reach the end of the row, you’ve got to work back to the starting point with the twine so you support both sides of the plants. Once the tomatoes have another couple weeks to grow, we will come back and tie them again; we tie them 3 times total in a season.
This week in your CSA Share you can expect: Bok Choy, Swiss Chard, Snow Peas, Kohlrabi, Green Buttercrunch, Green Romaine, Dinosaur Kale and Radishes.
Did you use your greens from last week? If not, one tip I want to share is making sure to take care of your produce the same day it comes home with you. If you prep the lettuces for a salad mix and store it in the fridge, you’ll be a lot more likely to use it than if you need to wash the greens halfway through the week. Spend an extra 20 minutes washing or storing produce the same day it comes to you and it will last all week long!
Radish greens are edible, and according to some sources they have more nutrition than the bulbs themselves. To store radishes, remove the greens and place them unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you’re going to use the greens, please note that as soon as they are detached from the radish they will start to wilt. They do have an interesting flavor- but not near as strong as the radish flavor.
Check out the Radish Green Pesto recipe on our blog!
Dinosaur Kale is a new variety for us this season- by accident! If you read last week’s post, you’d know that we got the wrong seed, so about half of our patch is “dino kale” and the other half is the traditional kale we are used to. It can be used in many of the same ways, althought dino kale does better at holding shape when cooking with it.
Swiss Chard is a beautiful plant! They are a type of green that grows with multi-colored stems. You’ll see a lot of variation in your box, they’re so pretty! They are actually in the beet family but they don’t produce bulbs. They are more tender and delicate than other greens. Swiss Chard and Kale are best stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the crisper. Don’t squish the air out of the bag, but note that the lesser amount of air flow, the longer they will stay firm.
What’s Buttercrunch lettuce? Well, surprise! Last week you received buttercrunch lettuce but it wasn’t included in the list because Ben didn’t know if it would be ready. It grows flat to the ground, instead of up. The bottom leaves are often discarded because that’s where you’ll see any blemishes (they sit right on the ground). They have a texture of spinach, and are a very soft (almost spongey) leaf.
Buttercrunch and Romaine are washed and stored the same; remove the leaves from the head and wash individually to remove all the dirt from the top and bottom side of the leaves. Ideally, using a salad spinner will get the majority of moisture out. Once it’s spun or dripped dry a bit, store the prepped lettuce with a dry paper towel at the bottom of a plastic bag in the crisper of your fridge.
If you don’t have a salad spinner, you don’t need to go buy one. We include lettuces for about 3 weeks each season. Once the weather gets really hot, the lettuces bolt (go to seed). Their flavor changes and it’s not for the better. Lettuces are not greens. We are taking cuttings from the greens like kale and swiss chard plants, that’s why you’ll see them in bunches instead of seeing the entire head in the box. The greens will produce until fall, while lettuces won’t last for even a week in the hot weather.
Snow peas! These are a treat for us at this time of year, because they are generally a spring variety and don’t grow well in the heat of the summer. We plan on having more peas for this fall though. They should be washed and used as soon as possible, hopefully within 3-4 days of harvest. Snow peas are different than snap peas because they are a wide pod, and harvested when there are just tiny little peas inside. Sugar snap peas (coming next week in the shares hopefully) are much thicker pod, with developed peas. Snow peas do not need stringing, while snap peas do. More on this next week.
Kohlrabi is something that some of us might pick up out of the box and say, what the heck are these guys growing! For others, this is a staple in their weekly grocery shopping. We want to challenge our members to try something new, but also make it easy to use!
The name says it all: kohl (cabbage) rabi (turnip). This plant was developed by crossing a cabbage with a turnip! The desirable part of the plant is an enlarged bulb on the stem that develops just above the ground. They can be used as a substitute for potatoes, carrots or turnips in almost any recipe.
The greens are edible and can be used in any recipe calling for greens (just make sure to remove the tough stem from the center of the leaf before chopping up the leaves to use).
The bulb needs to be peeled, you’ll notice that’s kind of hard because they’re tough! Start by cutting off the root end, and cutting off the top (after removing all the greens). Place one of the flat sides on the cutting board, using a paring knife peel the outside, and then flip over to the other flat side to get the remaining bits.
The variety of the week is BOK CHOY!
Bok choy, which may be written as bok choi, bok choy, or pac choi, is a traditional stir-fry vegetable from China. Choy grows in elongated & upright heads of dark green leaves with large, white stems. Since the texture of the leaves differs from that of the stems, choy is practically two veggies in one. The leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach, while the crisp stems can be used like celery or asparagus. This is also a cool season crop, so you’ll only see this in the spring.
Try the Bok Choy & radishes recipe, and can also include the peas and kohlrabi this week if you want to add it in!
This is a fun one, it doesn’t come too often and also could be out of your veggie comfort zone. What you’ll notice in most recipes is that the first step will be to cut the leaves from the stems because they are often added at different times in the recipe. For instance: if you simply chop the whole thing up and toss it in a stir fry, the stems won’t be cooked all the way through, and the leaves will be mush because they’re so tender.
To see the most traditional way to use Bok Choy, check out this Stir fry recipe!
For storage, keep the leaves intact until you’re ready to use the choy. Store in a plastic bag in the crisper in the fridge. Why do most varieties like being stored like this you ask? Well, the lesser the amount of air flow to the produce, the longer it lasts. More air flow results in wilting faster!
I hope everyone found something useful here! Take care,
~The Farmer's Wife