CSA Newsletter: Week 1, 2015

I’m finally having time to update our blog! Here’s our CSA newsletter from June 1.

Dear CSA members,

Wow, we’re at our first harvest already! As usual, it seems like Spring is going by awfully fast. This is one of our busiest times of year, as we are planting summer vegetables, weeding and mulching the plants already in the ground, and harvesting our earliest crops. It’s a lot to keep track of! I wish we were a little farther ahead with our planting schedule (this past weekend’s rain slowed us down a bit), but this week sounds like it’s going to be nice, so with some luck we ought to be able to finish up putting tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in the ground.

So far, things look pretty good. Our biggest challenge so far this season has been a wily rabbit who I’ll admit still has me outsmarted. It’s eaten off our second planting of chard, nibbled the edges of the head lettuces, and possibly ate out the centers of some red cabbages (I’m not entirely convinced that was the rabbit). We have checked, double-checked, re-inforced, and triple-checked that garden fence and still haven’t figured out where it is getting in. We’ve also scoured the garden itself to make sure it hasn’t made a cozy home for itself among the kale plants. Nothing. Yesterday we reinforced the fence again and I made up a five-gallon pail full of rabbit-repellent brew: mashed garlic, chili powder, raw eggs, fish emulsion, and dish soap. I spread a line of this mixture along the fence line where I most suspect the rabbit is entering. The smell made me lose my appetite; we’ll see if it works on the rabbit!

Your first shares will contain lots of leaves and edible roots, since those are the parts of most plants that grow first. Members often ask me in the beginning of the season whether they should wash their produce once they get it home. My answer is that it’s always a good idea to wash your produce, no matter where you get it from. We don’t use harmful chemicals that you need to wash off, but because we grow organically, there’s a good chance that a slug or bug has crawled across your kale leaf at one time or another. Speaking of slugs and bugs, you may notice minor insect damage in some of the produce you receive from us. Our goal is to produce the most healthful and tastiest produce we can. We will use organically-approved pesticides if necessary to save a crop, but an organic pesticide is still a pesticide and we try to use them only as a last resort. For us, a few insect holes are an acceptable trade-off for having less toxins in our environment.

We do try very hard to make sure that no actual bugs make it into your share boxes, but sooner or later that’s bound to happen as well. Insects are very good at hiding from predators and that includes my predatory eye scanning our harvest of freshly-cut spinach leaves. The pest that’s been plaguing the spinach this spring is a little worm called a leaf-miner that actually bores into the spinach leaf and lives between the layers of leaf tissue, munching its way through the leaf’s insides, protected from predators. I’ve triple-checked our harvest this morning and sorted out all the leaves I found that had miners in them, so I hope you won’t find any! But if you see a withered-looking patch on a spinach leaf, be reassured that it’s not some weird disease that has contaminated your bag of spinach. Just compost that one leaf and enjoy the rest of your salad!

The thick, mild, juicy leaves of this Tyee Spinach lend themselves really well to raw salads, I think. I like it simply topped with sliced radishes, olive oil, and a nice balsamic vinegar. But spinach also goes really well with fruity flavors, as in this recipe from the Madison, Wisconsin FairShare CSA Coalition cookbook From Asparagus to Zucchini:

Spinach Salad with Orange Honey Vinaigrette

Ingredients: 1 tablespoon honey; 1/2 cup olive oil; 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, softened; Salt and pepper; 1 bunch spinach; 1 teaspoon minced shallot; 1 small red onion, sliced as thinly as possible; 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar; 2 oranges, sectioned; 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar; 1/3 cup roasted almonds

Whisk honey, orange juice concentrate, shallots, and vinegars in a bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Thoroughly clean the spinach and dry it in a salad spinner or kitchen towels. Toss spinach with onions, oranges, almonds, and just enough dressing to lightly coat. Makes 4-6 servings.

And here’s another recipe from From Asparagus to Zucchini that sounds super-good!

Spinach and Cheese Phyllo Pie

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons butter; 2 eggs; 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided; 1 large onion or 1 bunch of spring onions; 1/2 pound firm tofu; 3/4-1 pound spinach, large stems removed; 1/2 pound feta cheese; 1/4 pound mozzarella, grated; Frozen phyllo dough, thawed in refrigerator 24 hours; 1 large handful fresh dill leaves, chopped; 1 carton (12 ounces) cottage cheese; Salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and combine with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Puree tofu, feta, cottage cheese, mozzarella, and eggs in food processor. Heat remaining olive oil in large skillet over medium flame; add onions and cook, stirring often, until translucent. Add spinach and wilt it, stirring often. Stir in dill and small pinch of salt. Let cook for a minute, remove from heat, and let cool for a few minutes. Chop the spinach and stir into cheese mixture.

To assemble pies: Open phyllo package and carefully unroll the pastry. Layer a sheet of phyllo lengthwise over each of 2 pie pans. Brush lightly with the butter/oil mixture. Layer another sheet of phyllo crosswise over each of the 2 pans. Brush lightly with butter. Repeat with 2 more layers for each pie, laying the final 2 layers at a diagonal across the pie pans. Brush extra butter/oil on the phyllo that is sticking out of the pans. Press the phyllo to fit the shape of the pans and then fold the excess phyllo until it all fits in the pan in the shape of a pie crust. Divide the filling between the pies. Bake until golden on top and set, 50-60 minutes. Let pies stand 10-15 minutes before serving. Makes 2 pies, or 8-12 servings.

We’re growing three types of kale right now. Most people are familiar with the curly Scotch variety, but we’ve also got Lacinato (Dinosaur) kale, and a flat-leafed variety called Madeley, which I really like in soups and salads. For those of you picking up your produce on the farm, you’ll be able to choose which variety you’d like. For those with pre-boxed shares, we’ll try to alternate the kale types we give you throughout the season so that you can try them all.

Enjoy!  Amy & John

Spinach

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About Harvest of Joy Farm LLC

At Harvest of Joy Farm LLC we seek to develop, practice, and share farming systems that mirror the resilience, diversity, and self-sufficiency of a healthy biotic community.
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