Our newsletter from June 7:
Dear CSA members,
Well, it’s been a roller-coaster of a Spring, hasn’t it? First it seemed like Winter just wasn’t going to end, then we catapulted into mid-summer weather. Now we’re back to Spring again. Between the crazy temperatures and the craziness of trying to help my Dad survive our health care system, I’m kind of amazed that we made it to this first harvest!
We are still running about a week behind where I’d hoped to be with our planting schedule, longer on a few crops like beets and beans. But after school gets out at the end of this week, I think we’ll be able to get caught up. After we get most of the vegetable plants and seeds in the ground, we’ll need to turn our attention quickly to apple thinning. Because some of the apple trees had a relatively decent fruit set this year and we didn’t have a late frost, some of the trees have set more fruit than they can successfully bear. We need to remove a good portion of those immature fruits, otherwise we will end up with lots and lots of tiny apples instead of good sized ones. Most commercial orchards use chemical thinners to stress the trees into dropping young fruit, but we do it the old-fashioned way, by hand. It’s a boring job, but can also be kind of meditative if I’m in the right frame of mind. And, it makes me pay close attention to the trees at a time of year when I might otherwise be rushing blindly through the orchard on my way to the vegetable gardens. So that’s a good thing.
Most of the plants are looking decent right now. Snap peas have been struggling, first with seedcorn maggots, then with the heat, and now with sparrows who are snacking on the tops of the plants. The sparrows have also discovered that the hoophouse attracts flies and have been spending afternoons picking flies off the inside of the hoophouse plastic. Since the larval stages of several different types of flies are some of our most challenging pest species (like those darn seedcorn maggots), that makes me very happy!
One crop that I’m surprised and delighted to have gotten through that week of 90 degree days is spinach, which doesn’t like the heat and tends to bolt when it gets that warm. The variety you have in your shares today is called Abundant Bloomsdale, a relatively new variety from the Organic Seed Alliance, which works with organic farmers to develop crop varieties adapted to organic growing conditions. You can learn more about the project that developed that variety here: https://seedalliance.org/2015/osas-abundant-bloomsdale-spinach-hits-marketplace/.
Abundant Bloomsdale is good in cooked dishes like omelets and lasagnas, but mostly I end up just eating it raw in salads. If you do make a spinach salad, you could use your garlic shoots to make a dressing to go on it. Garlic shoots are just baby garlic plants, pulled before they start forming bulbs. Chop up the tender white ends and use them in anything you’d normally put garlic in. If you’d like to make a salad dressing, here’s our basic recipe:
1 part your favorite vinegar or lemon juice; 3 parts olive oil; a dab of brown mustard; salt and pepper to taste; minced garlic; whatever herbs you like. Put in a small bottle with a lid and shake to combine. Toss salad and enjoy!
Before you make that salad, though, you may want to give your spinach a quick wash. Even though you don’t need to worry about chemical residues on our produce, our gardens are full of life that may have crawled across or sampled your produce prior to harvest. We do rinse off 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 at some point you may find an unwelcome hitchhiker in your produce. Apologies in advance!
You could slice up your turnips and throw them into your salad for some crunch. I love turnip leaves and often put them in my salads as well. But here is my all-time favorite thing to do with turnips (modified from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book):
Peppery Turnip Treat
Ingredients: 2 teaspoons butter; 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey; 1 pound (or however many you have) turnips, diced; Turnip greens, separated from their ribs and chopped into 1-2” pieces; ¼ to ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and honey (or maple syrup) over medium heat. Add the turnips and pepper. Saute the turnips until they are tender and slightly browned. Add turnip greens and cook, stirring, until the greens are well wilted (but still a bright green) and have sucked up all of the remaining maple syrup and butter in the pan.
We’ve worked hard to get this first share to you this week—we hope you enjoy it! If you ever find anything less than wonderful in your share boxes, please let us know. We do our best to get produce to you in good condition and if there is a problem with your shares, we want to know about it so that we can fix it.
Wishing you a wonderful week!
Amy & John
One exciting thing that happened this week was the hatch of nineteen Ancona ducklings! Here’s the first one to hatch out on Wednesday morning: