CSA distribution #12 & newsletter

Our next CSA distribution will be Monday June 17 and Thursday June 21. Monday’s 3/4″ rain gave us a few days’ break from irrigation but with many sunny days around 90ºF coming up the respite won’t last long. Handling several extra one-time seasonal farm chores is making us busier than ever, such as shoehorning garlic harvest and the year’s hay delivery into the weekly schedule, so this newsletter won’t have any photos and just a brief run-down of what’s going right and not-so-right on the farm.

NOTE: We’ve made a few small changes to the intended share contents since this was first posted, as we refine our plans for the next few weeks.

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE
Shiitakes [updated 6/18]:
Last-minute addition to the share. This flush of production was a considerable surprise, because the strain we’re growing usually produces in spring and fall, not during the heat of the summer. But apparently last Monday’s rain came with cool enough temperatures to trigger significant production on the logs. A few mushrooms are a bit overgrown, and those make an excellent addition to broth, as do the stems left over from smaller mushrooms used for regular cooking.
Snap peas
(likely the last week)
Snow peas (likely the last week)
Scallions
Green garlic: Best stored in the refrigerator.
Cabbage
Carrot roots traded out for fennel, see below
Beet greens probably freshly-pulled beets w/greens, given the heat
Fennel added because we harvested enough to last one more week
Kale
(maybe, almost certainly the last of the spring)
Summer squash (small and larger): Summer squash plantings generally start producing slowly, ramp up to a large volume, then eventually succumb to pests/disease & crash in production. Our past experience tells us that if we want a steady supply of squash for the full summer, we have to do three plantings. We also find that we get really sick of picking & eating squash if it is available all summer. So, we’re doing two plantings this year, an early one (that is producing now), followed by a late one (to be seeded soon). If all goes well, this should give us bountiful squash for a while, then a break from it, followed by an opportunity to be excited about squash again when it appears for a second time in late summer/early fall. So, enjoy this planting in its abundance while it lasts, and know that you won’t be inundated with it for the entire rest of the year.

HERBS
NEW Basil: Small first quantities of standard Genovese basil. These will be very short sprigs cut from the tips of the plants to encourage further branching. Basil does not store well in the refrigerator; it will usually turn brown from the excessive cold. Long stems can be stored in a jar of water at room temperature (as you would a bouquet of flowers). These short sprigs are probably best used fairly quickly, since that storage technique won’t work with them.
Cilantro: Harvesting off of the last spring planting now; not sure if there will be enough to fill all requests this week, and bundles may be small. It’s been growing & bolting even faster than anticipated.
Green coriander
Dill (leaf): Almost certainly the last chance for dill leaf until fall. We should have some dill heads for pickling season. (Both cukes & early dill plants are flowering.)
Lavender: We’re getting hooked on the lavender & honey goat milk/ice cream. Yum!
Oregano
Tarragon
Green coriander
Orange mint
Kentucky colonel mint
Garlic chives
Chives
Catnip

Here’s a nice meal idea from CSA member Robin (of CoMo Whine and Dine). In her words:

Dinner tonight. One of your green squash hollowed out, then brushed with a tiny bit of olive oil front and back, a quick grind of sea salt and pepper. I baked it at 350 hollow side up for 15 minutes, then flipped it over for another 10 or so to brown the edges of the top. Stuffed with fresh-made goat milk ricotta (used your dill as my herb mix-in) and a good pecorino romano from World Harvest. Back in the oven for about 10 minutes until cheese was melty.

Sauce is Lucini olive and caper from World Harvest. That I just warmed in the microwave then spooned over last minute. A nice light but filling supper; one half was plenty for me.

COMING SOON
We’re getting into a time period that always worries us: Spring crops are ending and many of the heat-loving crops aren’t quite ready yet. That’s one of the reasons we’ve put some beet roots & cabbage heads in storage to make sure we have some good bulk for the next several shares. Squash plants are also doing their job of continually churning out bulk. Green beans are flowering (est. 1-2 weeks away). Cucumbers are just starting to flower (est. 3 weeks away). We expect sweet onions should be ready for some 4th of July grilling. The tomato plants have grown remarkably fast this year and are already loaded with sizable green tomatoes. Peppers are also forming; there are some ~5″ long, green Jimmy Nardello’s Italian Peppers. It’s looking like tomato & pepper harvests will break earliness records for us by weeks. Dare we say anything about potatoes? We’re used to disappointment with them, but the plants do look glorious at the moment & we’ve been cranking up the irrigation to increase their chances of bulking up nicely.

The good news
Most crops continue to grow, and produce, wonderfully and we’re happy with the quality and quantity we’ve been able to distribute. Restaurant sales have been increasing, with the recent addition of Wine Cellar & Bistro and Bleu to our weekly delivery accounts; this has helped overcome the loss of Red & Moe in our pre-season planning and the glut of produce caused by the early spring and beautiful weather. Thank them and our loyal regulars at Sycamore and Uprise Bakery by stopping in if you can; this time of year post-academic-season is often slow for restaurants and is a good time to eat out. Seems to us the CSA system is settling into a regular and beneficial routine for everyone, though we continue to work out occasional kinks. We’re getting good return rates on bags, only occasional mistakes in share-packing, and all good comments on the experience so far (please let us know if otherwise). Member events have been fun, including the impromptu  happy hour meet-up which we hope to do again sometime. Please remember to monitor the event calendar for upcoming opportunities like the next member dinner on Sunday, June 24th which has two slots left.

The bad news
The garlic, a reliable crop for five years, is of real concern this year. We hope to write a longer post with photos soon, but it’s been showing a lot of strange behaviors and plant formations this year, and we’ll learn more as harvest continues. We still think there will be plenty of edible garlic for CSA, but some of the oddities would make much of this year’s crop difficult to sell in a farmers market situation. Thank goodness for CSA. Drought is still very much on our minds, as Monday’s 3/4″ alone won’t change the long-term picture, as welcome as it was. Our early edamame plantings were decimated by voles tunneling along the irrigation lines to eat the seeds, a common but deeply frustrating occurrence. We’ll try again, but it may be a long wait for edamame. We’re in the longest-daylight portion of the year which means very tiring days and not enough sleep, especially as the weather gets hotter and the best hours for outdoor work are  early mornings and late afternoon through dusk.

What else we’ve been doing
Our blueberry plants have really been problematic this year for a variety of reasons, so we used up an afternoon traveling to Lost Branch Blueberry Farm near Kirksville, picking around 22 lb of blueberries in two hours for fresh use and preservation. Cooking and food preservation in general have been eating up lots of time as we try to minimize waste of the on-farm abundance we’re facing this year; hopefully more on this sometime.

One thought on “CSA distribution #12 & newsletter

  1. I’m curious about your garlic. Ours has done well, as far as I can tell. One variety was smaller than expected, but I think that’s because I didn’t have enough stock in the fall to only pick out the bigger cloves, and ended up having to plant everything.

    Thanks again for the garlic scape technique, by the way. We harvested 4 lb of scapes, which I think is a ton.