CSA Week 8.

CSA Week 8

We will call this the month of rain. The month of non-stop rain and unrelenting high humidity. The last several weeks have been remarkably wet, something we fear may be the new normal. It hasn’t just been a drizzly gray day here or there. It has been rain that comes down in buckets for hours and hours and hours. And then happens again the next day.

IMG_5727

Even though it hasn’t rained significantly since Friday night, things are still wet all over the Southern portion of the state. We’re feeling lucky that we’re not flooded like so many of our farm friends, but also frustrated by the state of our fields. Here’s what all the rain lately means for our little portion of the world:

1. So many weeds. For better or for worse, our rich soil has always been exceptional at growing weeds. The non-stop rain means non-stop growth for the weeds. They seem to be growing five times faster than our crops which can be stressful, but luckily we have a lot of weed management strategies already in place. We lay landscape fabric in between the rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, winter squash and melons which means we don’t need to weed four of our fields at all! The onions and peppers were already so well weeded that former weeds have made a kind of mulch so we’re able to stay ahead on these crops as well. Brassicas have a large leaf canopy so they shade out weeds on their own. All of this is great, but a lot of other things have been getting consistently buried week after week (roots, scallions, leeks, fennel, potatoes, young, newly planted brassicas).

IMG_5688

Kyle has been prioritizing a pretty ambitious weeding schedule so we’re staying ahead but it’s taking a tremendous amount of time and energy. Beyond that, our field rows and paths between fields (or on the edges of fields) are a total mess. This is the worst part for me. These weeds aren’t actually inhibiting the growth of crops but they make everything feel disorganized. I love stepping into the fields and being able to see everything from one vantage point. Now giant ragweed stands eight feet tall in places. You can’t see past it. The “messiness” makes me feel like things are more out of control than they really are or like we’re going to miss something important. Kyle plans to do a ton of mowing in these spaces during the next couple of weeks in preparation for Soil Sisters and I can’t wait for things to look a little tidier!

IMG_5691

2. So many cucumbers. The high temperatures, high humidity and abundant rain have really done a miraculous job on a few of our crops. If you haven’t noticed, our broccoli is doing AMAZING this year. The eggplant and onions also really adore all this moisture and are GIGANTIC. But the most astounding (by far!) is the cucumbers! They are producing at a rate that is staggering. We harvested 800 pounds in a span of three days last week and have started leaving some in the field because we just can’t possibly spend the time harvesting everything that’s out there. We hope you enjoy cucumbers because you’ll be seeing a lot in your boxes over the next few weeks!

IMG_5770 IMG_5786

3. Disease is spreading. For us, the scariest thing about the rain is disease. We had already spotted disease on our peppers and winter squash much earlier than usual. Now it has begun to show up on the eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash as well. It’s limited and we’ll try to maintain it with organic sprays, but the more humid and moist the air, the faster disease spreads. Plus when it keeps raining, organic sprays are quickly washed off rendering them useless. Things are under control for now, but again, the sight of all this disease just makes us feel anxious all the time.

image5 (2)

4. The tomato plants are gigantic.  Kyle added a fourth string to the tomato trellis this weekend after just adding a third string last weekend. Usually there’s a little more time between these tasks because tomatoes aren’t growing a couple feet per week! This is both good and bad. It’s good because these plants are strong, happy and healthy and putting out TONS of fruit. It’s “bad” because we have to wait longer for tomato abundance. Usually we do a technique called “starving” where we don’t irrigate them for a week or so around mid-July causing the plants to stop focusing on growth of plant material and start ripening their fruits. It kind of jump starts the tomato season, but with no control over the water this July, we’ll just have to be a little bit more patient for summer’s bounty of tomatoes. However, the leading variety, Sungolds are always the first to produce and we found a handful yesterday! Tomato season here we come!

IMG_5775

5. The mosquitoes are out. Day and night there are mosquitoes out in the field now so we’re just feeling fortunate to be located on a hillside that almost always has a breeze and helps to keep the mosquitoes at bay. The days when the wind is negligible we really notice how many mosquitoes are out!

IMG_5780 IMG_5784

6. It’s harder/impossible to do field work. With fields so wet, you really can’t do anything to the field for fear of soil compaction. This means no tilling, no transplanting, no seeding and limited mowing. It’s hard to watch so many things that need to be done and just have patience,, but it always pays off. Running a tiller over wet ground will cause soil damage we’ll pay for for years. We did try a new technique this year where we covered half a field with huge pieces of landscape fabric for a month. This is a sort of no till technique more and more organic farmers are trying. It kills the weeds (because they don’t have light for so long), improves the life beneath the soil (important for nutrient uptake) and loosens the soil without needing to till. The really fortunate thing is that we did this over a field that came due for planting this past week. We were able to remove the landscape and transplant five beds of fall brassicas into wet ground without using our tiller!

image3 (2)

Here’s hoping for a dryer month ahead and some beautiful weather for us all!

-L&K

image7 (2)

IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Chard (Full Shares Only) // Do not wash chard before storage. Wrap in a plastic bag and try to remove most of the air from the bag. Store in the fridge and try to use within a few days.
Collards (Half Share Only) // Refrigerate in a plastic bag until ready to use. Do not wash before storing.
Beets // Without the greens, the beets will easily last a couple of weeks. They’ll get soft after that but can still be used. Store the roots loose in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
Broccoli // Store in the crisper drawer of your fridge. The colder the better for broccoli. Try to use within a few days.
Cucumbers // Store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Try to use within one week.
Zucchini & Summer Squash // Zucchini and summer squash spoil most quickly in very warm or very cool temperatures. They can be stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge, but try to use within a week as they will get soggy quickly in there. I find that zucchini and summer squash last best in a cool part of the house (pantry or basement).
Eggplant  (Full Shares + Some Half Shares) //  Eggplant is absolutely best fresh and very perishable. Use quickly or definitely within the week. Many people recommend not storing in the fridge because it will get soggy quickly.
Bok Choy (Full Shares + Half Shares who did not receive eggplant) // 
Green Bell Peppers // Refrigerate peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer. Moisture makes them spoil faster so don’t store in a plastic bag.
Shishito Peppers (Full Share Only) // Store the same as any other sweet pepper (see Green Bell Peppers above).
Walla Walla Onion // Fresh onions, which are freshly harvested and have not been cured, should be stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge until ready to use. They will last about a week.

IMG_5785

Veggie ID: Shishito Peppers ↑

Shishito peppers are a new variety to us and one we are very excited to be growing! These peppers are a Japanese variety that became real trendy a few years back, but over time have proved they have staying power . The peppers are thin-skinned, crunchy and sweet, but the best thing about them is that they don’t take much work. You don’t need to seed them or even cut them at all.

I think these peppers are made for a vegetable skewer with some beef and onions,  but most folks swear by just tossing them in a pan until blistered. Here is a great link that teaches you how to blister them and also shares a few great recipes. If you aren’t feel too creative or like learning a new veggie, don’t distress, you can also chop them up and throw them in anything that calls for green peppers or mild chile peppers.

We were experimenting with this crop this year so we aren’t growing a ton. Therefore, these beauties will be rotated through your CSA boxes until everyone gets some!

IMG_5776 image4 (2)

IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK
You can expect 10-12 of these items in your box next week

Blueberries
Watermelon
Beans
Fingerling or Red New Potatoes
Curly Kale
Cucumbers
Summer Squash
Zucchini
Sungold Tomatoes
Green Peppers
Jalapeno or Poblano
Shishito Peppers
Eggplant
Fennel
Onions
Scallions
Garlic

BOX INSPIRATION

22151557746_195e823136_b

Smoky Beet & Lentil Salad // Beets, Cucumbers, Onion // Beets & cucumbers are a recent revelation and a combination I just can’t stop experimenting with. This meal of a salad uses some of my favorite July veggies and tosses them with hearty ingredients like lentils and feta.

Vegetarian, Vegan (if you leave out the feta), Gluten-Free

200910-xl-summer-squash-pizza-with-goat-cheese-and-walnuts

Summer Squash Pizza with Goat Cheese & Walnuts // Summer Squash (or Zucchini), Onion, Add some very thinly sliced Green Peppers, Extra Garlic if you have some from last week  // We already know my love affair with yummy summer pizzas piled high with seasonal veggies. This one is a little different. It’s light and bright with no sauce, thinly sliced simple veggies, light cheese and a generous sprinkle of walnuts. The nuttiness adds a lot and wth some pre-made dough, it makes for a super quick weeknight meal.

Vegetarian

1492333477293

Stuffed Bell Peppers // Green Peppers, Onion, Zucchini, Add some Garlic if you have extra on hand from last week // I love a good stuffed bell pepper, but when we’re working mainly with green peppers (as opposed to colored peppers), you need a really rich filling to balance things out. That’s when I turn to a super classic preparation of stuffed peppers: the kind from my childhood. Rice, ground beef, some veggies, and a can of tomatoes alongside some spicy pepper-jack makes a super simple meal with tons of flavor. Yum! Tex Mex at its finest.

Gluten-Free

15091871279_2cd65fbaa7_z

Cucumber Lemonade // Cucumbers! // Cucumber mania has begun. Full shares, I know that 4 pounds is like really a LOT of cucumbers, but the thing is, we could have actually given you about 5 times as much as we did so consider yourselves lucky! When dealing with a real abundance of cucumbers my solution is always the same: drink some! I’ll be sharing a cucumber beverage recipe each week (the cocktails start next week!). But for now something super simple, a homemade lemonade that uses up 3-4 cucumbers. Pro tip: if you don’t feel like making your own actual lemonade and squeezing a million lemons, you can absolutely add the strained cucumber puree to your favorite store bought lemonade.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

51153400_shishito-peppers_1x1

Sauteed Shishito Peppers // Shishito Peppers // For those that received shishitos this week, this is exactly what you should be doing with them: keeping it simple. For some reason the ingredient list form this recipe is missing but all you’re going to do is heat some olive oil in a heavy skillet until hot but not smoking, toss in the peppers and saute until blistered then squeeze some lemon over the top and sprinkle with some salt. Voila. Peppers in minutes.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

lemongrass-cocnnut-curry-summer-vegetables-646

Lemongrass and Coconut Curry with Summer Vegetables // Possibilities are endless, but most likely: Onion, Eggplant, Green Pepper, Broccoli, Bok Choy // I give you this recipe not as a recipe but as a base list of ingredients to experiment and play with. The garlic, ginger, lime, curry paste, coconut milk, and fish sauce (don’t stress the last three ingredients are available at any grocery store in the Asian or international aisle) are all essential. The lemongrass is great to add if you can find it, but everything else is completely up to you. Throw in scallions if you still have some laying around (as the recipe suggests), but if not, throw in some onions. Use eggplant or bok choy if you received it in your box this week alongside broccoli, green peppers and some zucchini. Add shishitos or some chard. Toss in some parsley or leftover fennel. The goal is to use 6-7 cups of vegetables and I bet that won’t be a problem.

Vegetarian & Vegan (if you leave out the chicken as I always do), Gluten-Free

almond-crusted-trout-with-white-grits-and-swiss-chard

Almond-Crusted Trout with White Grits & Swiss Chard // Swiss Chard, Add Onion + Green Peppers to Grits // I whipped this up last week for dinner with a bunch of leftover chard and fell in love immediately. The crunchy almonds, perfectly cooked fish, nutty greens and creamy grits (with as many onions and peppers as you can fit in there) are heavenly together. The only part of this recipe that’s difficult is the cooking of the fish so feel free to keep things simple and just broil your favorite fish and serve it all with some toasted almonds for similar flavor without all the work.

Gluten-Free

takeout-style-sesame-noodles-with-cucumber1

Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles with Cucumbers // Cucumbers, Feel Free to add Finely Diced Green Peppers, leftover Garlic + Basil //  I love, love, love this recipe!!! And really pretty much any variation on this recipe. Noodles + cucumbers + delicious sauce + peanuts is something I’m munching on all summer long when I’m too lazy to get creative with my food. I’m sharing this gem with you now because of the cucumber overload. I love to add some diced bell peppers and red pepper flakes to the mix. (PS I usually use peanut butter or tahini instead of the Chinese sesame paste and regular old rice vinegar instead of the Chinese rice vinegar. Substitutions are your friend. And no matter what you toss in this dish, it’s always tasty).

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free (depending on the noodles you use)

quick-zucchini-saute

Quick Zucchini Saute // Zucchini // 5 minutes + 4 ingredients + Salt & Pepper = the quickest yummiest side dish you’ve ever made. Thanks Smitten Kitchen. You always know how to help me make it through my pounds and pounds of zucchini.

Vegetarians, Gluten-Free

IMG_1164-e1279317413492

How to freeze broccoli // Broccoli // The perfect solution for 7 weeks straight of broccoli: instructions for how to freeze it for winter!

24recipehealth_600-jumbo

Looking for more chard or collards recipes? Visit the CSA week 3 and CSA week 5 newsletters for some of my favorites!

MOM’S RECIPE CORNER

Creamy Cucumbers // Cucumbers, Walla Walla Onion
This recipe is a class from my childhood. Just taking a bite gives me a major case of nostalgia. It’s one of my favorite things that my mom makes and I literally eat it by the bowlful for lunch, dinner, snack, whatever. I’ve changed up her original recipe that calls for 2/3 cup Miracle Whip and swapped in half mayo, half Greek yogurt to lighten things up a bit, but overall it’s still the flavors I’ve loved since I was 10 years old. And a great way to use up way too many cucumbers.

Serves 4-8 (I usually make a double batch)
Takes 20 minutes + a couple hours to let the flavors really soak in

2 cucumbers, peeled and very thinly sliced
1/2 Walla Walla onion (usually it’s a whole onion but these things are MASSIVE!)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Layer cucumbers and onions in a large bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over veggies and let marinade in fridge for at least an hour and up to 24.

IMG_5765

This entry was posted in Newsletters. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 
 
Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 04 Image 05 Image 06 Image 07 Image 08 Image 09 Image 10 Image 11 Image 12 Image 13 Image 14 Image 15