Our newsletter from July 6:
Dear CSA members,
July already! It’s the time of year when we are forced to admit that spring planting season is really over and we must take a moment to assess how things are going, to cut our losses, and to move on into summer. As in most years, some things are doing well and some aren’t. Generally, the cool-weather crops that got planted before the big rain and didn’t get eaten by the rabbit have been pretty happy with this season. We got some early tomatoes in before the rains as well and they are starting to swell some lovely little green fruits. Cucumbers look pretty darn good too. Our first planting of yellow snap beans is climbing its trellis and with the help of some of our members this past week we got our green snap beans planted so they should be popping up any day now. Potatoes look good too, despite some black leg disease brought on by (you guessed it) too much water.
The heat-loving crops are not so in love with this season. The area where we’d planned to put our peppers and eggplants (or aubergine, thank you, Elizabeth) flooded and so we had to delay their planting until we could find an alternate spot for them. And they do not like these cold nights we’ve been having! I imagine them out in the gardens shivering and muttering to themselves about why they had to end up on a Michigan farm rather than somewhere toasty like Florida. Both the winter and summer squashes are struggling a bit. Our first planting of zucchini got completely wiped out in the rains. We’ve replanted, but the plants are definitely behind where we’d hoped they’d be at this point. Zucchini grows fast, though, so with a little moisture and heat, they should catch up quickly. Winter squash are another story. The rain delay in planting them meant that the transplants were overgrown when we put them in, leading to transplant shock. They are still recovering and we’re doing our best for them, but I think it’s still up in the air whether they really come back to health or not.
Sweet corn could be looking better as well. But it also could be looking worse. John and I hoed through most of the patch this weekend. If we can get it side-dressed with a little composted poultry manure for some extra nitrogen before Tuesday’s rain, I think it will pick up. The good news is—for the first time in five years, we actually have a sweet corn patch!
I could go on but I want to leave some room for recipes. One of our members shared her recipe for a fruit and greens smoothie with me this week and so I wanted to share it with you:
Fruit and Greens Smoothie
Ingredients: 2 cups kale or other greens; 2 cups water; 2 pears; 2 apples; 1 kiwi; 1 banana; 10 frozen strawberries
Process greens and water until liquefied on highest gear in blender. Then, peel and add each fruit individually, blending after each additional fruit. (Any variety of fruits can be used, not just those listed above.) Finally, add frozen strawberries 1 or 2 at a time and blend into mixture. Makes two big drinks.
I made this for breakfast this morning with tart cherries and blueberries instead of the pears, apples, and kiwi. I even got inspired and threw in some basil leaves. That was good!
A few of you have asked about how to use basil. I’ll include a couple of recipes today that use basil along with vegetables in your shares. But one traditional use for basil is in pesto. There are many different basil pesto recipes out there, but they all follow the same basic principle: blend basil, olive oil, Italian cheese, nuts, and garlic together to make a thick, creamy sauce for pasta or a spread for sandwiches and pizzas. Here’s a recipe that you can start with, but frankly, I never use a recipe. I just start throwing stuff into my food processor and tasting it until I get the combinations just right. I wish our basil looked a little better—tiny grasshoppers have been munching on it!
A basil pesto recipe from simplyrecipes.com: Fresh Basil Pesto.
We planted a new snap pea variety this year called Cascadia. Overall, I like it for its crispiness, but it seems to be setting most of its peas all at one time rather than spread out over a few weeks. I hope you’ll enjoy them while they last. You can eat them raw, steam them, stir-fry them, or blanch them. The most important thing I think is not to overcook them.
Here’s a snap pea recipe posted on food.com and originally from Cook’s Illustrated. Personally, I might skip the blanching step and throw them raw into the pan after the garlic, but I’m a lazy cook: Sugar Snap Peas with Lemon, Garlic, and Basil.
And here’s a recipe from bonappetit.com that uses snap peas, red cabbage, and basil: Snap Pea and Cabbage Slaw.
Have a great week! Amy & John
John fulfilled his patriotic duty on July 4 by contributing to the security of our nation’s kale seed supply: