CSA distribution #8 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Monday June 24 and Thursday June 27. A very busy week, with family coming to visit next week. The farm is moving quickly into summer, with hot weather expected next week and many new crops about to start producing.

Note regarding filling out surveys, herbs, & reminder emails: We greatly appreciate it when members fill out their surveys by the deadline, because it tells us that you know a share is coming, and it means we won’t give you produce that you don’t want or won’t use. Conversely, not filling out a survey leaves us in the dark as to what you want, or whether your share will even be picked up that week. This is especially a concern for shares containing delicate or valuable items like strawberries and herbs, which take a lot of work on our part and which we don’t want wasted.

Starting this week, if you do not fill out your survey, we will omit herbs from your share, because we don’t want to waste time & work on unwanted herbs. (We planned to implement that policy earlier this year, but due to the sparse nature of the early shares, we postponed the implementation.) Also, please do not count on receiving a later reminder email for the survey. LimeSurvey doesn’t have a built-in way to send automatic reminder emails, and we’re juggling too many things to make sending reminder emails part of our standard routine. We may send them, particularly on occasions when we happen to notice a lot of surveys are missing, but don’t count on it. As always, feel free to let us know if you have suggestions on how to improve the survey system.

THIS WEEK’S PRODUCE
Kale will be taking a week off, as we’ve been hitting it pretty hard lately. Strawberries are done.

Kohlrabi Last week we’ll be harvesting these.
Swiss chard
Hakurei turnips Last week we’ll be harvesting these.
Head lettuce
Snap peas These are coming on strong. Lots of picking work here, but so yummy!
Scallions True scallions, planted from seed this spring.
NEW! Fennel Small bulbs but tasty; fronds are tasty & useful too, a great salad topping.
NEW! Baby carrots The roots will be small; enjoy them as a treat. Try turning the greens into carrot top pesto.
NEW! (maybe?) Summer squash These next two are just starting to bear; Thursday may get first crack at them.
NEW! (maybe?) Snow peas

HERBS
We have several new herbs this week, though with limited quantities so each household will receive only one bundle from among the new varieties. We’ll do the usual number of total bundles (4/full share, 2/single share).

NEW! Genovese basil This harvest will produce a bunch of short sprigs that we’ll be cutting to promote future branching & growth. The short stems won’t be easy to store by our usual suggested method, which is to treat them like flowers and put the stems in a jar of water on the counter. We recommend using these short sprigs promptly, but they’ll probably do okay for a day or so in a sealed container in the refrigerator. 
NEW! Lime basil
A really yummy specialty basil that is suitable for a wide range of sweet or savory dishes or beverages. Mince on top of a curry, flavor ice cream, infuse in a sugar syrup for drinks, flavor iced tea, etc. Store these as you would flowers in a jar on the counter; basil doesn’t last long when refrigerated.
NEW! Green coriander
Cilantro and coriander come from the same plant. So, when cilantro bolts (as it always does faster than we’d like), it will eventually put on flowers and seeds. Allowed to fully mature, the seeds are coriander. Harvested green, they have a flavor somewhat intermediate between cilantro and coriander; we think they’re delicious. Flowers are also edible. Green seeds can be gently ground in a mortar & pestle or left whole, especially if young/small. Nice added to salsa, fried rice, etc. This is the most abundant of the new herbs.
NEW! Parsley Mix of flat leaf & curly. Very limited quantity, and bundles will likely be small. 
Garlic chives

Chives
Orange mint

Kentucky Colonel mint
Oregano
Tarragon
Lemon balm
Catnip
Sage
Lavender blossoms: We expect these to be peaking in abundance next week. Don’t miss the short season of this tasty herb!
Anise hyssop (very limited): Can’t guarantee that we can fill all requests any given week, but we’ll try to make sure anyone who wants to try it gets a chance eventually. 

MENU SUGGESTIONS
Lots going on this week; share your own in the comments if you like.

FRESH EGGS
Eggs available only for regular egg customers with home/work delivery this week. We have family visiting and will need lots of eggs to feed everyone.

RECENTLY ON THE FARM
We’ve been hearing second-hand stories lately of various farmers/gardeners having trouble with a specific source of purchased compost that may be causing plant deaths and other problems due to contamination with long-lasting herbicide or some other chemical. This is not a new problem, as we wrote about herbicide-tainted mulch way back in 2008, and it’s one of the primary reasons we’ve since put so much emphasis on producing our own compost using our own on-farm fertility. We also ensure that any farm we buy straw or hay from signs a clear form stating that those fields have not been treated with herbicide or other problematic chemicals. Raising our own animals and carefully vetting sources of off-farm inputs takes extra work and cost, but it’s one of the ways we help ensure that our farm is stable and reliable for ourselves and our members. Selling animal products like milk & eggs also helps to justify the on-farm fertility production. Under these circumstances we’re especially happy with our chosen methods in this regard.

WHAT’S GOING RIGHT
The stable weather has been quite glorious recently, and most of the crops are showing approval by putting on nice growth. A few cherry tomato plants are already outgrowing their cages, some tomatoes are forming, many of the pepper plants are flowering, cucumbers are starting to climb, and all-in-all lots of plants look happy & healthy. The pole pea vines are loaded with the heaviest crop of peas we’ve ever seen. We don’t know what the forecast heat will do to them, but they look happy as can be at the moment.

WHAT’S NOT SO GREAT
The to-do list is a mile long, and the longest days of the year are always tiring.

The slow spring is catching up to us on our planting plan. Crops that would normally have vacated their beds by now are still hogging space that later summer crops are waiting to occupy. This explains why we’ll be starting to harvest carrots & beets soon, though they are still small. Kohlrabi & turnips need to make way for winter squash. Lettuce heads need to make way for sweet potatoes (which are normally 100% in the ground by now; we’re at ~50%); we’ll be stuffing bags with as much lettuce as will fit (if you say you’re willing). So, if you like sweet potatoes, eat lettuce!

The yellow potato onion crop is a real dud this year. Also known as multiplier onions, these are overwintering onions that have bulbs that grow & divide into more bulblets, in theory always providing some to eat and some to replant. Some were eaten alright, but it was the voles that did so, most likely during the snowy winter weather. Thus, what we’re harvesting needs to be replanted if we’re going to continue with these. Sorry to say that we won’t be eating or distributing bulb onions until the spring-planted, seed-grown onions are ready, sometime in mid-to-late July, most likely.

WEATHER NOTES
We often wish that the weather would just be “normal.” This past week was exemplary in its average-ness, and we approve wholeheartedly. Each day this past week, the high & low temperatures were within a few degrees of the normals (30-year averages). There was some rain…not too much, maybe a hair less that ideal, but not bad. No hail, no terribly dehydrating wind. Lots of sun. Really quite nice. There, we just proved that farmers don’t ALWAYS complain about the weather.

That said, looking forward the forecast suggests that it might be turning a bit on the dry side. Overall, slightly dry is preferable to soggy wet, but memory of last year’s drought is still too fresh to have us jumping for joy at the prospect of a long dry spell. Guess it is finally time to finish installing the irrigation….

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