Our newsletter from June 23:
Dear CSA members,
Whew, we’ve had some hot weather this week! We are grateful it’s cooled down these past couple of days; it makes working in the gardens much pleasanter. We’ve pretty much wrapped up our “spring” planting, just in time for summer. Now our energies shift to cultivation—stuff like weeding, thinning, trellising, bug patrol, etc. One of our goals is to keep on top of the weeds better than we have in the past couple of years. Along with hoeing and pulling, we’ll be seeding cover crops to crowd out weeds in our fallow beds and mulching the planted beds as much as we are able. Mulch is going to be especially important this year, as it looks like it’s going to be a droughty summer. If we can get a thick layer of mulch around the plants, it will save us a lot of time and energy in watering in July and August.
The dry weather has consequences beyond the need for irrigation. It also affects the insects and other vegetable predators we find in the gardens, since the gardens are one spot in the landscape that these critters can reliably find moisture and succulent plants. We’ve noticed increased populations of slugs, earwigs (ugh!), and grasshoppers snacking on the leaves of chard and kale. We’ve also had some kind of broccoli-loving mammal going after the broccoli hearts just as they are getting ready to bud. Besides having some of its hearts eaten out, the broccoli looks great, so we reinforced the fence and threw a shade netting over the plants as an extra barrier in case it is a deer that’s simply walking over the fence into the garden. Whoever this critter is, it isn’t going to get the broccoli without a fight!
Last week’s salad mix did not keep well in my refrigerator, so I’m guessing it didn’t keep well for you either. I have a couple of ideas about why. First, it was really hot the few days before we harvested that batch, which made the plants grow fast but not sturdily. So the leaves were delicate when we cut them. On top of that, I made the mistake of weed-whacking too close to the salad bed earlier that week, so we double-washed the salad mix in an attempt to get the grass clippings that I’d sprayed onto the bed rinsed out. I think that extra handling in combination with the leaves being especially tender meant that they got beat up a bit in the rinsing process, which caused them to start to break down more quickly than usual. I think this week’s batch and the head lettuce this week should be in better shape.
The kale has recovered from its early bout with seedcorn maggots and we’ve got some nice bunches for you today. I suspect many of you are looking forward to kale chips (tear kale into bite-sized pieces, coat with olive oil, spread single-layer on a baking pan, sprinkle with salt, then bake at 300 degrees until crisp), but I also really like a simple dish of cooked kale, like the following from Moosewood Restaurant Favorites.
Moosewood Restaurant Favorites Quick Sautéed Greens
Ingredients: 8 cups chopped greens (such as kale, collards, or chard); 2 tablespoons olive oil; 4 garlic cloves, minced; ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste); ground black pepper; a pinch or two of red pepper flakes (optional)
If using chard, cut stems crosswise into ½ inch pieces and coarsely chop the leaves. If using kale or collards, cut off the tough stems and compost. Coarsely chop the leaves. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté briefly, for a minute or two. Add the chard stems if you are using those and sauté for another minute or two. Add as many chopped leaves as you can comfortably stir in your skillet. As the leaves wilt, add more. Sauté until the greens are limp and tender but still bright green. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. (Another option: add a splash of vinegar just before serving.)
A variation on this that I like is to add a splash of tamari or soy sauce at the very end of cooking. This gives the kale a rich saltiness that I find particularly satisfying. You could substitute the green garlic in your shares for the garlic cloves. Green garlic is immature garlic pulled before it has fully formed its cloves. Like the scapes, you can pretty much use it in anything that calls for garlic. Peel back any of the skins that are tough, chop, and enjoy! Here’s a recipe from naturallyella.com that calls for a green garlic salad dressing:
Kale and Couscous with Green Garlic Dressing
Salad Ingredients: 1 cup kale, de-stemmed and shredded; 1/2 cup Israeli Couscous (Ptitim), uncooked (or the website says you can substitute regular couscous); 1/2 cup chickpeas (drained, if using canned); 1/4 cup feta
Dressing Ingredients: 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil; 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar; 1 Tablespoon honey; 1/8 teaspoon salt; 2 Tablespoons green garlic (or 1/4 cup green onions)
Place couscous in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook until couscous is tender, 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. While couscous is cooking, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, and minced garlic. (You can also whiz the green garlic in the food processor and then add the other dressing ingredients.) Once couscous is done cooking, toss with kale. Let sit until kale is slightly wilted. Add in dressing, feta, and chickpeas. Toss all together and serve. If you want it warm, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add in chickpeas, cooking for 1-2 minutes until heated through. Add in kale and cook until slightly wilted. Toss with couscous and dressing.
I’ll bet some chopped hakurei turnips would be good in that salad too! You can eat these raw or cook them (the greens are also delicious). Try them sautéed in butter and maple syrup or honey. Cook the turnips until tender and glazed, then throw in the chopped greens to soak up all the extra butter and syrup. Yum!
Have a great week, everyone! Amy & John