Our CSA newsletter from June 9:
Dear CSA members,
Sorry about the blue paper—I ran out of white and haven’t had time to get to the store! I promise something a little easier on your eyes for Week 2.
Yay, it’s harvest season! And—also still planting season. Which means it’s a very busy season. We’re making good progress, though, with mostly just the vine crops (squashes, melons, cucumbers), green onions, and corns to plant this weekend.
As you can see, the spinach recovered from the seed corn maggot fly larva that was munching on its roots a month or so ago. Fortunately, the fly has a fairly short life cycle, so once the larva pupated and quit eating the spinach roots, the plants rebounded pretty quickly. The kale has been a little slower to recover, but it’s coming along. I hope to begin harvesting that in a couple of weeks. Despite the trouble these seed corn flies have caused us, it was pretty neat to watch the beneficial insects respond when the flies hatched from their pupas and emerged from the soil. Suddenly, there were hundreds of flies in the garden—ugh! But then, lots and lots of blue damselflies moved in. They were everywhere, darting around the plants and eating the flies.
I see this again and again, with different crops and insect species. One week aphids attack the tomatoes—the next week the tomatoes are full of ladybugs. Colorado potato beetles erupt in the potatoes—but here comes a praying mantis or two. It’s not that we don’t ever suffer crop loss because of insect damage or that we don’t take measures ourselves to prevent that, but over the years I’ve gotten much slower to panic about insect pest problems. I can’t remember the last time I used an organically approved broad spectrum insecticide on the vegetable plants. If I were to do so, I’d knock out those beneficial insects as well as the pests and then I’d have no one to help me with the next pest outbreak. Besides, it’s just fun to watch the insect drama unfold.
These situations also make me feel really grateful to you, our CSA members. By supporting us through bounty and pestilence alike, you make it possible for us to make these ecologically sound choices that might result in crop loss (but often don’t). When I choose not to use a broad spectrum insecticide (even an organically approved one), I feel your support in that choice since I don’t have to worry so much about the financial ramifications of losing that crop. I can wait and see what solutions nature provides before I jump in with extreme action. So thank you for supporting us in farming this way! It means a lot.
A couple of beginning-of-the-season notes on washing and storing your produce:
Washing—probably a good idea! Even though you don’t need to worry about chemical residues on our produce, our gardens are full of bugs and slugs and birds that may have crawled across or sampled your produce prior to harvest. We do rinse off the greens and roots after harvest, but it’s a good idea to give them another wash before you put them on the table. Also, we try very hard to make sure there are no creepy-crawlies hiding out in your vegetables before they get to you, but slugs and bugs are camouflage artists—it’s how they avoid predators and stay alive. So it’s entirely likely that at some point you may find an unwelcome hitchhiker in your produce. Apologies in advance!
Storing produce—different vegetables like different temperatures and humidities. We try to get your veggies to you in prime condition. You can extend their life by storing them under the conditions that suit them best. For example, the lettuce mix and spinach bags will do well in your crisper drawer or on the lower shelf in your refrigerator. The pac choi would do well wrapped in a plastic bag or damp towel to keep the leaves moist and stored in your crisper drawer. The strawberries—well, just eat them.
Pac choi is one of our relatively reliable spring crops. You can stir-fry it with other vegetables and proteins or simply sauté it as a side dish. It’s nice with garlic and ginger, as in this recipe from the FairShare CSA Coalition’s From Asparagus to Zucchini:
Sesame Soy Braised Bok Choy
Ingredients: 1 head bok choy [or pac choi]; 2 Tbsp peanut oil; 1 Tbsp grated ginger; 1 Tbsp minced garlic; ½ cup chicken stock; 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil; 2 Tbsp soy sauce; 2 tsp rice vinegar; 1 tsp sugar; salt and pepper; 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
Trim the root end off the bok choy head. Slice the leafy portions of the plants from the stalks. Cut both the leaves and the stalks into large matchstick-size pieces (“julienne”), keeping the two piles separate. Heat large skillet or wok for until the surface looks hazy, 2-4 minutes. Add peanut oil and swirl it to coat the pan. Add bok choy stems; stir-fry about 5 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry briefly. Add bok choy greens, stock, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until bok choy is tender and glazed with sauce, about 5-8 minutes. Remove cover, sprinkle with sesame seeds, increase heat to medium-high and cook until excess liquid evaporates, 2-3 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Have a great week everyone! And wish us luck with the planting this weekend.
Amy & John