FARM NEWSLETTER / / WEEK 2
I hope that you all enjoyed your first week of CSA Shares! The first week is always a big one for us. Everything went really smoothly, thanks for helping make the first week great! I love the enthusiasm I am seeing on our FB page in regards to trying new recipes and solving the mystery "what on earth is this thing in my box"? Haha!
If you're ever stumped by the varieties in your box, reference the section below that lists the varieties in your box this week, check out the photos in the storage guide, or send me an email!
This week we've been tying tomatoes, which you probably heard me mention in last week's blog. It's literally using twine to tie between stakes to support the tomato plant. If it isn't supported properly and the weight of tomatoes breaks a stem, that leaves the plant open for disease transfer and ultimately could travel through the whole patch. I.e. Tying is VERY important! By the end of the day, my hands smelled like fresh tomatoes, what a treat! ;) There are actually little 'maters on the plants already but they're still really small. I would say we have at least a month before we see our first tomatoes.
Remember how I mentioned that once the zucchini started producing, it would be a waterfall of never-ending zucchini? Well, that was today. Ben picked 18 CASES of zucchini. Last week, we picked every day and only got 6 cases all week. That's roughly 200 pounds. The same for pickles, which are now being harvested in fairly strong numbers as well. Spoiler: we will be including both of these staple varieties this upcoming week in your CSA!
We've been working on a lot of field maintenance too, because right now is a crucial time of the season for the plants. If the weeds outshine the plants, they will overtake the whole field and the plants won't ever reach their potential. We don't use roundup, no Gmos etc, so we're out there literally using every other weed control there is. We start with the cultivator, which is an attachment for the tractor. It has big tines that drag between the rows, they have custom settings that will adjust for the plants so it rides right over the top instead of taking out all the plants. Once the cultivator has gone through and gotten the majority of the weeds between the rows, we need to go in with a hoe and get the weeds between the plants in every row. Depending on the variety, we will finish the job with weeding by hand or the hoe between each plant.
The produce varieties we will be including this week: Pickles, Zucchini, Radishes, Swiss Chard, Red Potatoes, Chives and Romaine Lettuce.
Pickles are kind of mis-leading because we're all used to saying pickles and thinking about the jar of dill pickles right? It's actually just referring to the shape and size of the cucumber, not the flavor. These are 'pickling cucumbers'. I would choose pickles over cucumbers to snack on because the pickle skin is much thinner (which the vinegar pickling brine permeates through easily, hence why these are calling pickling cucumbers). A lot of people will use these to make refrigerator pickles, and some will just slice them up and eat them on a salad, or as a snack! If you want to make them fancy, peel strips of the skin off (instead of peeling the whole thing) and then use a fork to score the skin giving it a really fun texture.
Zucchini will be coming in your CSA Share quite frequently. If you haven't gotten on the zucchini noodle bandwagon, don't worry. There are a ton of ways to use a zucchini! They're just as versatile as a potato. You can shred them and make fritters, you can cut them into slices and eat them raw, you can grate them and make breads and other desserts, or you can chop them up and add them to a stir fry. They have little flavor and naturally go well with a lot of other varieties in a stir fry. We also add thick slices of zucchini to our shishkabobs.
Freshly dug Red Potatoes are a delicacy. They have very thin skins and they're most desirable when they're small so this is a great time of year to dig reds! We can't sort the potatoes by size, because we aren't digging enough to invest in a machine to sort them. You'll see a variety of sizes but keep in mind they can all be used the same. Just cut up the bigger ones to match the smaller ones in size so they all cook uniformly.
I suggest using Chives while they're fresh. They have flavor when they're fresh but once they're dried they lose almost all of their flavor. You can use them for garnish, but there are also recipes specifically for chives! I would suggest finding a way to add them into your normal mealtime favorites instead of looking for a new recipe for them. You can also use them in dishes that call for green onions if you want a more subtle flavor.
Romaine Lettuce is coming in your CSA again this week. This could be the last week with lettuces because it's getting really hot outside and this is one of the varieties that is very susceptible to bolting. When you receive your lettuce, please take it out of the box and wash it thoroughly. There is a trick to it, see the veggie handbook to read my tips on how to get it completely clean, because who wants sand in their lettuce. We will have other kinds of greens throughout the summer but lettuces are different, not as hearty as the chard or kale for example. We're hoping to get another planting going for this fall depending on what the weather patterns are at that time.
Swiss Chard is a colorful green that comes from the beet family, although they don't produce a bulb. This is one kind of green that you can harvest all season long, from the same plant. Just make sure to break the leaves off right at the base of their stem, and avoid taking the 'heart' of the chard which is the small developing leaves in the center. As long as the heart stays intact, the plant will continue to produce greens for us!
The variety of the week this week is Radishes!
Radishes are spicy at this time of year. They've definitely got more heat this year too!! I wonder if it's because of the growing conditions this spring, they seem really, really spicy.
Anyways, if you want to cool them down,slice them and place them in a bowl. Generously sprinkle salt over the top of them and flip them in the bowl a few times to coat the salt evenly. Let them stand for about 20 minutes, flipping throughout if you have time. That will take a lot of the heat out. Another way to cool them down is cooking them, as with most produce varieties if you cook them, it lessens their flavor.
To store: Remove radish leaves if they are still attached. Store the unwashed greens in a loosely wrapped plastic bag in the crisper bin of your refrigerator and use ASAP. Store radish roots dry and unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 1 week. PS we have a radish pesto recipe for you, so save your greens!!
Handling: Scrub radishes well to remove dirt. Trim off the stem and rootlets. Slice, chop or mince the roots or leave them whole.
To use: Eat radishes raw with a sprinkle of salt, or with room-temperature butter. Grate radishes into slaws and salads. Try small young radish leaves in salads or scrambled eggs; they are perfectly edible and have a terrific earthy taste like watercress. Blanch whole radishes in boiling, salt water for 5-10 minutes, or steam them until just tender, 8-12 minutes. Top with butter, salt, and pepper or with a vinaigrette. They’re also great grilled.
We hope you're enjoying your CSA!
Have a wonderful weekend!! ~The Farmer's Wife