CSA distribution #11 & newsletter

Our next CSA distribution will be Monday June 11 and Thursday June 14. We’re continuing to feel the bizarre tension of having a spectacular growing season in the short term, while confronting a worsening drought with long-term ramifications.  Dealing with the extra work and abundance of spring while planning for/worrying about the rest of the season is becoming fairly stressful. In the meantime, enjoy the wide diversity of excellent produce we’re able to provide at the moment. Read on for more about this week’s share and what’s happening on the farm. NOTE: We’ll be heading for Sycamore tonight (Friday) around 5pm for Happy Hour, if any members or readers want to join us in escaping the heat and enjoying good beer and whatever fun things Mike Odette is doing with our produce.Above is a standard full share from last week, pretty similar to what’s coming this week. Again, our pre-season planning did not intend quite so much produce to be ready all at once, but that’s how it turned out and we’re scrambling to keep up. Deciding on share contents involves juggling multiple factors including production schedule, harvest needs, storage qualities, and share contents/sizes for the next month or more.

Some items produce regularly and need to be distributed as-ready since they don’t store well, like peas & squash which need harvesting near-daily. Some items mature once and don’t hold well in the field, like lettuce heads, so need to be cut & distributed quickly while they’re still edible (the significant quantity that are bolting instead are being turned into goat’s milk and pork). Many leafy greens like kale and chard can hold for a while in the field, waiting for the right moment to harvest, but eventually still need to be cut/picked back and once harvested don’t hold well in storage; the mustard has already bolted. Other crops have very good storage quantities and can be held for weeks or more in cold storage with no loss of quality, including cabbages, beets, and carrots, though the latter two must have their greens removed for this to be true.

For the last few weeks we’ve wanted everyone to enjoy the truly fresh abundance of everything that’s maturing right now, but the share sizes are also a bit overwhelming and more work for us than planned or desired. Thus we’re going to start holding back some good storage crops temporarily while ensuring we can distribute the needy short-term crops without overwhelming members. So there will be varying gaps on things like beets, carrots, and cabbage while we work through our field stock of kale, chard, scallions, green garlic, peas, lettuce, and other things that won’t last much longer. There will also be a pulse of cut greens as we prepare root crops for cold storage. This will help ensure a steadier supply of produce in the long run while balancing our workload, especially as we wait for the true summer items like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, okra, and more to start producing.

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE

NEW! Green garlic Fresh, full-sized garlic heads. Use just like regular cured garlic, but store in the refrigerator. These will provide the bridge to cured garlic for the next few weeks to a month, as our harvest is just beginning (three weeks ahead of schedule, like everything else). We’re seeing some concerning oddities in the garlic as we’ve started to harvest; more on that later.

NEW! Kohlrabi This bizzare-looking crop forms a crunchy and tasty orb with a unique taste perhaps like a cross between broccoli and an apple. It’s fantastic shredded or sliced into slaws or salads, or cut into sticks to use as a snack like carrots. The leaves can be cooked like any other green. We don’t generally peel ours, though some recommend doing so.
Summer squash
The first abundance of summer; here are some ways to use this versatile crop, especially if you’re willing to take overgrowns. We grow a number of varieties like those shown above; all are interchangeable in recipes. Our goal is always to harvest squash small (about 6″ in length), though anyone who has grown squash know that some always manage to hide and get bigger. Bigger squash are great for zuke bread, zuke soup, zuke relish, zuke cookies, and more. We would never force the bigger squash upon anyone, but one of the things we like about the survey system is that we can offer them for those who do want them. We have pretty high standards, so our concept of an overgrown is about the size of an average market squash in this town. True monstrosities are reserved for the pigs.

Lettuce Last week for lettuce heads until fall. In spite of regular watering and shade cloth, some heads are getting a bit bitter thanks to the heat. Stronger salad dressings may be in order.

Beet greens Leaves cut from beet roots intended for storage & later distribution; these tasty greens can be chopped into salads or slaws, or cooked in soups or sautes like any other green. They’ll likely add a pink/red hue to anything you cook.

Swiss chard Saute, add to soups, use as wraps for tasty fillings.

Fennel Shred into slaw, roast with carrots & turnips, slice & use with dips.

Snap & snow peas Use lightly cooked in pasta, curry, stir fry, or just enjoy fresh.

Carrots Yum.

Scallions (?) We’re pretty sure these will be part of our share, but forgot to look at the status of the planting before our newsletter “deadline.” Too much to keep track of these days…

Cabbage, beets, & kale are being held back to keep this share to a manageable size; they’ll be back soon in upcoming shares.

HERBS
Back: Cilantro:
Another succession planting is ready for harvest. Probably one week only, to be followed in a couple/few more weeks by one last spring planting.
Back: Dill (leaf): Ditto cilantro. Thursday had a chance at this last week, so it may be for Monday only. The planting is already showing signs of bolting.
Green Coriander
: Plenty of this available. If you like cilantro, give it a try.
NEW: Lavender: Limited quantities. This is the first year we’ve harvested lavender, having started the plants last year. We made a simple lavender-honey ice cream by heating about a quart of our goat’s milk to pasteurization temperature, then adding ~8 sprigs of lavender blossoms and some honey. We let that steep while the milk cooled. The flavor initially didn’t seem very strong, so we left the lavender in the milk for several more days in the refrigerator (during which time it seemed like the flavor intensified). Then we tossed it in the ice cream maker. A very refreshing treat. 
Flat Leaf Parsley:
Smallish amounts; bundles may be small if everyone wants it.
Tarragon
Orange mint
Kentucky colonel mint
Garlic chives
Chives
Catnip

Resting: The sage could use a break after putting lots of energy into flowering.

4 thoughts on “CSA distribution #11 & newsletter

  1. Annette,

    Like pretty much all professional farmers, we use drip irrigation run off header lines from a water source (county in our case, well or pond in others). It’s far more water-efficient than sprinklers, and far more time efficient than hoses. Years ago we ran underground water lines to all our fields and many pastures, with all-weather hydrants. This has the advantage of weather-proof and reliable water throughout the year, as well as tested potable water for field washing & handling, but has the downside of a larger use cost than something like a pond or well. Conditions like this cost a lot of money, which we feel is balanced by the reliability but not so much if this starts to happen year after year. I’m working on a long post about dealing with this spring’s drought, but you might find last year’s post on drought informative as well as many of the issues are the same (only worse in spring).

  2. But, it’s not quite that simple…

    We have drip line in all of the permanent vegetable areas and for the berry plantings. However, there are a lot of cared-for or semi-cared-for plants in other places that don’t have drip line. Many of these are small plantings &/or fairly drought resilient ones, but at some point they need water too. These include: the fruit trees, the herb garden, other scattered herb beds, some native trees from MDC that I planted this spring in various locations, various flower/ornamental beds, Jerusalem artichoke beds, a newly established corn/bean field, and more. I’ve been using two methods for watering these, depending on the size & nature of the planting. For small areas, I’ve been hauling a soaker hose around and setting it to run for half an hour to an hour or more (depending on the nature of the planting and the water pressure I’m using). I’m not crazy about the soaker hoses; these are older ones that have developed leaks, so they don’t water uniformly along the length of the hose. But they’re still getting some water into the ground via a relatively slow drip that allows the water to infiltrate enough to be useful to the plants. For larger plantings, I’m running a sprinkler in the evening when it’s not windy (to minimize loss to evaporation). Usually I’ll run that for 20 minutes to an hour for a given area.

    Then there are the shiitake logs, which like it moist. We’re still trying to figure out how to best rehydrate those under these conditions without using an extraordinary amount of water.

    In any case, all of this means a lot of running around, moving hoses, turning on water, turning off water, wondering if water did or didn’t get turned off & going back to check. We’re really hoping for some rain.

  3. I hope you guys are getting the rain this morning!

    We have soaker hoses on our raised beds. They’re on a timer, so the beds get watered automatically. But we have enough other plantings elsewhere (containers, in ground plantings) that I’ve been hauling hoses around a lot, too. It’s been a pain on our small scale, so I can only imagine what it’s been like for you on a larger scale.