June 9, 2009

Final Week of the Spring CSA Season

This Week's Vegetable Harvest:
  • Strawberries*
  • Rhubarb*
  • Head Lettuce
  • Green Onions
  • Cilantro
  • Curly Endive (Frisee)
  • Napa Cabbage or Bok Choy
  • Corn Meal (for those who didn't receive it last week)

*not grown on our farm. See Notes from the Farm Kitchen for more info.

Important Reminders

-Next week (June 17th/18th) is the start of the Summer Vegetable Season.

-The Fresh Fruit Season begins the following week, June 24th and 25th.

-There will be an Early Summer Field Walk at the farm on June 23rd from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Farmer Matt will lead a tour of the fields. Don't miss this great opportunity to see your food growing! Light refreshments will be provided.

Farm Journal

Well, we've had no shortage of rain this spring, that much is for sure. It's Tuesday afternoon and I'm on my way out to feed the pigs and to make sure they're staying warm and dry in the wake of yesterday's big storm. When I arrive at the pen, I find them curled up together, nestled deep in their nest of warm, dry straw. I spread extra straw around in the wettest parts of the pen. Though it is early June, there is a distinct chill in the air, and I shiver a bit as I hustle around doing my chores. I pitch a crate full of leftover lettuce and other assorted greens into the pen and head back toward the henhouse to collect the afternoon's eggs.

On the way I stop to check out the broccoli field. The broccoli looks fantastic, as do the cabbage, chard, kale, beets, kohlrabi, lettuce and fennel. These crops don't seem to mind the unseasonably cool, wet conditions. In fact, they are positively thriving. The state of the pea and bean plantings, on the other hand, is a little less than ideal. Seeds such as peas, beans and others that contain high levels of sugars, are susceptible to rotting before they have a chance to sprout when the soil is too moist. Because we use no fungicide or insecticide treatments, obtaining good stands can be tricky. With peas and beans our strategy is to plant multiple successions and hope that a couple of them do well. Sweet corn is another crop whose seeds, because they're basically little sugar bombs, often don't germinate well in cool soils. To get around this problem we transplant our sweet corn. Yes, we actually plant our sweet corn from seedlings that we start in March and April in the greenhouse. If it sounds like a lot of work, believe me, it is. So far it looks like it's paying off, though. Our two sweet corn fields look just beautiful. (see photo below)

I come around the corner of the sweet corn field and stop by the packing shed to pick up the second crate of leftover greens before heading over to the coop. The chickens, utterly uninterested in the weather, scurry around with only one thing on their minds--food. From the moment they see me approach, it's a flat-out sprint to get to the fence. The sight of twenty-five hens running full-speed toward me never fails to make me smile. I lob the greens over the fence in giant handfuls and watch as they compete for the best bits. (see photo below) I return to the house with six still-warm eggs that will be the foundation of tonight's dinner. Cool and damp though it may be, it's been a good day.

Have a good week! --Peg

Notes from the Farm Kitchen

Also known as Chinese cabbage, Napa cabbage has been cultivated for over six thousand years. Brassica rapa seeds have been found in jars in the excavated New Stone Age settlement of Banpo. They were a common part of the diet in southern China by the 5th century. Use Napa cabbage to make cole slaws similar to those made with the familiar green cabbage. For a simple crunchy side dish, chop it up, add sliced almonds and chopped green onions and dress it with oil and vinegar.

Our friend Mick Klug, a Michigan fruit grower, has provided the strawberries and the rhubarb for us this week. Mick is the farmer who grows all the fruit for our fruit share. While it is not organic, all of Mick’s fruit is low-spray and is a healthy and tasty alternative to conventionally-grown fruit. We will likely have a couple of weeks of Mick's berries coming up and then a week or two of berries from Wisconsin organic growers Paul Ehrhardt and Kay Jensen.

A Chinese vegetable that is gaining in popularity here, bok choy (also known as pac choi) has a mild, sweet flavor when cooked. Like many members of the Brassica family, its growing season is limited to the cool spring and fall. We cover our bok choy with fabric row cover while it is growing to protect it from one of our most persistent pests, the flea beetle. Nutritionally speaking, bok choy is loaded with vitamins. When cooking with bok choy, use the entire plant, both green leaves and white stems.

This Week's Recipes

Cornmeal-Crusted Trout with Cilantro Tartar Sauce
Strawberries with Honey-Sweetened Yogurt Cheese
Endive & Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese & Walnuts
Cilantro & Green Onion Couscous
Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet
Szechuan Noodles with Peanut Sauce

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess...) strawberries, radishes, head lettuce, kohlrabi, dill, mustard greens, swiss chard, hakurei turnips and more!