Small Family Farm CSA

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June Nineth

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The 2021 growing season is sure kicking off with a bang!  Last week we finished planting our tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and got a parsley planting in.  This week we will continue planting our second succession of sweet corn, continual lettuce plantings, fennel and basil and another Strawberry planting for 2022 harvest!  A CSA farm is unique from other farms in that we are always planting something.  We are always weeding and always harvesting. 
 
The heat on the farm has made Farmer Adam turn into something of a wild man.  The only thing he can think or talk about right now is irrigation.  He is fully in the zone.  We picked up another stash of 2 inch blue layflat, dripline and a mess of connectors this week in an effort to get water to all of the plants on the farm that need it.  It has been more than 2 weeks since we have gotten rain and some of the transplants that went in two weeks ago are looking like they must have water at this point.  Our hardworking nephew, Sam, is out there laying dripline while Adam hooks everything up, fills the irrigation tanks, starts up the generator and monitors the process.  By the end of the day on Monday Adam finally had a look of relief in his face that I haven’t seen for a little while knowing that the crops that needed water the most got a good soaking. 
 
This heat and the beginning of what looks like and feels like a drought year is a little frightening for a farmer.  Sever storms, erosive rains and high winds are more obviously fearful, but a long moisture debt, lack of rain in the forecast and a long stretch of 90 degree and upper 80 degree weather in enough to instill a little fear in a vegetable farmer as well.  We think of some of our summer vegetables as loving the heat, but truly, most vegetables thrive in an arid 65-75 degrees, even tomatoes, peppers, melons, and corn.  Think of California’s climate where most of the country’s vegetables are grown.  Temperatures in the high 80’s and 90’s induce plant stress that can actually slow their growth and impact their yields-especially the cool weather loving ‘Spring’ crops like peas, lettuce, radish, turnip, cilantro and broccoli. 
 
The good news is that it is still quite early in the season.  There is still time for the tables to turn.  We are getting water to the plants (even if it is loads of extra work!).   It could start raining again.  The temperatures could cool off a bit.  The field crew hasn’t said a word of complaint and everyone’s spirits are still relatively high.  Everyone is happy to split the day up with harvesting and then washing the vegetables in the shady, wet and cool packing shed in the afternoon.
 
We are seeing our first Monarch butterflies, fireflies, inchworms and lots of June bugs (or “May Bugs” as my 3-year old calls them) clumsily flying in the evenings and singing their buzzy songs.  Even the flies are in full force.  It sure feels like summer!  The children are swimming almost every day in the pool we set up for them last summer at home on the farm.   Our 5 month old puppy even lays around in the heat like he’s an old dog and I feel we have been given this one small reprieve. 
 
In the evenings there is grilled asparagus and hamburgers and potato salad and pac choi salad with yummy crunchies on top.  There are ceiling fans and ice and the rosy cheeks of my children and their summertime eyes gleaming like the sun itself.

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Sooo….What’s in the Box????
Pac Choi- These are the Asian style vegetable with the white stems and green tops! Pac Choi can be tricky to grow in the Spring because the flea beetles love it too, but we cover it with remay and grow them in the hoop houses to get an early start on greens for the first boxes! These are wonderful in stir fry or in an Asian style salad raw!
 
Cherry Bell Radishes- Big, juicy red radishes with their greens attached. Don’t forget that radish greens are edible! They are wonderful wilted or even raw in salads. These radishes have a bit of a bite that I attribute to the dry spring we had. Radishes will be mild when there is plenty of rain during their growing period. Radishes are a welcome treat in these early days!
 
Red Buttercup Lettuce or Green Oakleaf Lettuce- Also hoop house grown! We get an early start on spring lettuce by planting it in the greenhouse. I love how tender the Spring lettuce is, especially these buttercup and oakleaf varieties, SOO lovely.
 
Spinach-  Two 1 pound bags. Wow!  This is the very largest spinach giving ever on our farm!  We had a bumper crop of spinach this Spring that we needed to harvest last week because of the hot weather that makes spinach plants bolt (or go to seed). We were hoping to save that extra pound for the Week 3 boxes but we didn’t trust that it would hold in the cooler.  We noticed that since it was so tender it might not keep as well as Fall Spinach or thicker walled spinach grown in cooler temps.  Spinach is wonderful on pizza, wilted spinach salad, in quiche, or even in a spinach dip. Such a versatile cooking green that fits in everywhere!
 
Asparagus- 1 pound bunches for everyone. Asparagus is the one crop that we do buy for our CSA members each year because we would need to have acres of asparagus to get this weight we need to share with everyone. Additionally, it wouldn’t be seasonal eating if Asparagus wasn’t on the menu!
 
Overwintered Shallots- It’s hard to believe that these little guys were actually harvested last summer! They’re terrific keepers and they slept soundy in our cooler all winter long waiting for this moment to be delivered to you! They might want to sprout if you keep them at room temp, so we recommend keeping them in your fridge, or better yet, gobble them up! Shallots shine in sauce, dressing and marinade recipes, but can also be used just like an onion.
 
Herb Packs- These herb packs contain thyme, oregano, mint and basil. Each plant should be transplanted either into your garden or into larger pots and set in your window. There is simply nothing like fresh herbs for your summer cooking and even your Fall Soups!  All of them will do better in full sun.  Mint, thyme and oregano are perennials that will even overwinter if planted outside. 

Next Week's Best Guess-  Lettuce, cilantro, cherry bell radishes, hakurai salad turnips, kohlrabi?, overwintered potatoes, kale. 

Recipes:

Wilted Spinach with Chopped Radishes and Shallots

 Asparagus Bacon Quiche

Roasted Radishes with Brown butter, lemon and Radish Tops