CSA distribution #3 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Monday May 20th and Thursday May 23rd. We hope and intend that shares will be weekly from now on, though the next few may still be somewhat small as crops catch up from the late spring. If you have questions about the delivery schedule, please check our web-calendar. For Monday members: Please note that the following Monday (May 27) is Memorial Day, when we will be delivering as usual; rapidly growing vegetables do not respect holidays. If you will have a problem receiving or picking up your share that day, please let us know via the survey. From now on, Monday members will receive their survey on Fridays, Thursday members on Mondays.

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE
Note: We’re in the process of building pages for each type of produce with handling information & cooking suggestions; these pages are linked where available.

Spinach One final harvest of the overwintered spinach; fresh new growth from the plants featured in share #2. After this, the plants will be turned in to make way for tomato transplants. Depending on the sudden heat this week, some of these plants may bolt, but we expect enough to last long enough for a decent quantity to be available. Flavor not as delectable as before, but we’ve still been eating some in salads & it’s a great cooking green.
Saute mix Our special blend of diverse young greens, great for richly flavored salads or cooking; this batch will feature kale, arugula, mizuna, tatsoi, and a couple varieties of mustard.
Spring radish mix A collection of young spring radishes; these may be harvested small depending on how quickly they grow this week, but will provide tasty bursts of flavor and color to salads, stir fries, and more. Radish leaves are edible, too.
Allium surprise (green onions or leeks) We have a small quantity of both these items, but not quite enough of either for everyone. We’ll divide these up so everyone gets something.
Pea shoots (full shares only) Smallish amount; a nice topping for salad. We’ll pack these in the bottom of your herb bag.
Orange mint Very abundant right now, so we’re going to put this with the produce options to get some to everyone who is interested. The flavor isn’t especially citrus-y, nor is it especially orange in color (quite purple, actually, especially under the leaves), but that’s what the plant was labeled when we bought it years ago, so we’ve stuck with the name. The flavor is distinct, with a nice cooling effect. This is our preferred mint for hot or iced tea, and it works well in many desserts. See this post from last year for ideas on using mint in beverages.

HERBS
Since the shares are otherwise small, and since the herb garden is growing prolifically, we’re planning on 4 bundles/full share & 2/single share this week (in addition to the orange mint noted above). A note on herbs: We never wash herbs, so as not to wash away any flavor compounds, but we suggest that you rinse them before use. If they’re wet when you receive them, it was probably either raining or we had to start harvesting before the dew dried. We virtually always harvest herbs on the day of the distribution.

Garlic chives
Chives
Kentucky Colonel mint The leaves of this mint are solid green. This is described as a spearmint; we think it has the most generic (in a good way) mint flavor of the mints we grow. This mint is excellent when infused in a sugary syrup for a base of mixed drinks (such as mojitos or mint juleps). We also like it in Middle Eastern & Mediterranean dishes. Thyme
Oregano
Bronze fennel (new): A variety of leaf fennel with a lovely bronze color; adds a lovely licorice flavor to salads or other preparations.
Tarragon
Lemon balm
Catnip
Sage

CLARIFICATION ON EXTRAS
In response to a member’s question on the last survey, there is no moral hazard associated with requesting extras. You are not being greedy or rude by requesting extras; as we note in the member guidelines: “extras allow the CSA to place produce where it’s most useful and wanted, and you will get the best value from your membership by being flexible and willing to take, eat, & preserve whatever is available.” All we ask is that you not request more than you can use/preserve that week, don’t waste what you do take, not give produce to other households, and understand that extras are entirely dependent upon availability and are not guaranteed. Extra requests (and rejections) help us assess the popularity of items and the proper quantities for most people. All of this is useful information for our long-term planning.

MENU SUGGESTIONS
Salads, stir fries, pasta, and sauteed greens are all reliable spring meals for us. We especially like quickly sauteing mixed greens with some chopped green alliums, then drizzling balsamic vinegar on at the last minute; the vinegar caramelizes a little in the hot pan and really complements the rich flavor of the greens. This can be eaten on its own, as a topping for pasta, or as a base for meat. Pickled radishes are an interesting treat worth trying if you don’t like them fresh, and all the greens can be added to soups and stews for flavor if you don’t like greens on their own. Visit last year’s Share 6 newsletter for some nice photos of common seasonal meals we make, and a reminder of how far behind this year is (share 6 happened May 7 &10, 2012).

FRESH EGGS
The hens are laying well, but with the slow start to spring, we’ve been building up lots of eggs and hope members will consider stocking up on these tasty, healthy treats for cooking, baking, and more. Eggs will be available this week, both for home/work delivery AND a dropoff at a centrally located member’s house for WH members (please review the member guidelines for details on how egg orders & deliveries work). Help support the happy chicken flock that provides fertility for your vegetables!

RECENTLY ON THE FARM

CSA3_1

It’s finally looking like a farm around here, as the soil & weather are warming and we scramble to seed and transplant, well, just about everything. Above, our smaller growing area filled with growing radishes, mixed greens, chard, garlic, onions, cabbage, kale, carrots, and more. Many transplants are more than ready to be outdoors as well, especially these tomatoes and, soon enough, the eggplants. CSA3_2

WHAT’S GOING RIGHT
Crops are finally growing! After what seemed like a lengthy period of stasis, most crops have gone through a rapid growth spurt that we expect to continue. Cabbage, kale, onions, radishes, and baby brassicas have made especially good progress. Multiple successive days of sun are certainly helping here.

WHAT’S NOT SO GREAT
The tick population has been outrageous this spring, and we’ve had more embedded in us so far than the past few years combined; ugh. After the slow, cold spring we’re not quite adjusted to heat yet, and hope summer doesn’t arrive too quickly, before our bodies have time to adapt. Weeds are growing like crazy thanks to the long days. There’s also the pressure of a lengthy planting to-do list to give plants as much advantage of long days as possible now that we seem to be finally beyond frost. All in all, though, it’s been a pretty nice week.

WEATHER NOTES
The first half of May continued this spring’s trend of well-below-average temperatures, though we’re in a slow warming trend. The past week has certainly demonstrated Missouri’s unstable spring weather, going from a hard frost Saturday night (images below) to near-record heat on Tuesday. We had to cover a number of different crops to protect from Saturday’s freeze, including the heavily flowering strawberries, and are relying on this being the last frost until fall as we’re now transplanting out a wide variety of summer crops such as squash and tomatoes. CSA3_3Our innate caution toward weather served us well in this case, as we had been holding back from rushing such transplants earlier, which would have been a real mess had we gotten impatient. We’d really like to see some stable, warm spring weather for a while, instead of jumping straight to summer heat (or worse, another late cold spell).

One thought on “CSA distribution #3 & newsletter

  1. One update on greens: since the writing of this newsletter and harvest for Monday’s shares, several of the greens varieties have begun to bolt (read background on this here). This is far faster/earlier than we expected, and is likely due to the combination of slow growth during the prolonged cold spell followed by the recent abrupt transition to hot, sunny conditions. We did not expect our beds of mixed greens to bolt before we even got a first harvest off them; normally we expect 3-4 harvests before bolting.

    We have taste-tested all the bolting greens and they’re still quite edible, though they may come across slightly stronger and perhaps a bit tougher. They’ll make excellent cooking/saute greens, and still good salad for those with more robust taste buds. We trimmed off the biggest flower stalks but you may still find a few in the mix; they’re entirely edible. Just wanted to give an explanation in case anyone notices the difference. The same will be true for Thursday shares, which will be harvested on Wednesday.