Seasonal Change = New Crops in the Box!
We have some big seasonal changes this week as several new crops came in all at once. We are still stuck on Saturday delivery for this week due to the rains, though. I’m doing my best to slowly move it back to Friday and then Thursday. I’ll be happy when this mid-to-late in the week rain cycle changes. I do like to harvest as close to delivery as possible, so I guess we are always going to be a little bit vulnerable to the elements.
A Little Bit of Farm and CSA Membership News
I’ve mentioned to a few of the Members that I’ve seen on delivery days that we will be partnering up with the incredible flower growers over at Castle Hayne Farms. The owners, Edwin and Mark have become good friends of mine over the years and we have flirted with the idea of growing vegetables together in the past. The shock of the pandemic has kicked that idea into high gear, and, as a result, they have asked me to put together a vegetable crop plan for both of us. Not only does this help with labor for me, but they also have enormous capacity for season extension under either outdoor shade cloth or indoor greenhouses. What this means is that we will be able to significantly lengthen the availability of the most sought after crops regardless of season. For example, right now, we are planting salad mixes, carrots, hakurei turnips, etc, underneath shade cloth to keep them cool going into the heat of the summer. Later, we will be able to extend warm season crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, and peppers into the late Fall and Winter. The Membership will also have special access to flowers and you’ll find them in the box almost weekly.
On a completely different front, I’ve been approached by a few Members about landscaping generally, and, edible landscapes in particular. I’ve been thinking about edible landscapes for many years as I used to be a professional landscape designer. I’ve also been asked to contribute to new blogsite called greenandfree.org, mostly to comment on sustainable agriculture topics like decentralizing the American food system. Please don’t let this confuse you as you may see some cross-linking from time to time. I mention this together with the edible landscaping idea because they are related. Growing your own vegetables and herbs and buying directly from your favorite small farmer, i.e., knowing where your food comes from, is a great way to change the way we think about our food and how we source it. Most likely I won’t be doing any actual installations until the Fall, but I am always available to the Membership to answer any questions, or try to source (or even grow out) plants for you. I’ve also began to flesh out some edible landscape design ideas on our own TFF site.
This Week’s CSA Box – New Stuff!!!
Russian Banana Fingerling Potatoes
If you’ve never had potatoes straight out of the ground, you’re in for a treat. Over time the sugars turn to starches so the sooner you eat them the better. Potatoes are in the solenaceae family along with tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. They are fun to grow and can be planted as early as February 1st around here.
Culinarily speaking, well, I’d just roast (bake) them with olive oil and S&P. You can roast them whole, but I like to cut them so they are similarly sized and have more exposed interior surface area for browning. Add in your favorite herbs, dried or fresh, like parsley, dill, tarragon, or chives. You can certainly use the spring onions in combination with these potatoes.
We call this “green squash” on the farm 🙂 They are in another large, well-represented plant family, Cucurbitaceae, which includes summer squashed, winter squashed, and melons. This variety is called Green Machine. We plant them monthly since we get at least 30 days worth of harvesting from them. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how far into the late Fall 2020 we can carry these under high tunnels.
There are myriad ways to prepare zucchini. The most basic of which, and one that would work very well with this week’s CSA Box, is to simply cut them in rounds with the yellow squash, and saute them in olive oil, S&P. Slice up those spring onions and add them in too for extra flavor.
One thing I’m going to try this week is to add some of those Fava microgreens to the pan toward the end of the saute to add a nutty flavor.
Obviously yellow squash is the very close cousin of the zucchini and is another Cucurbit. We plant them in the same succession with the Zucchini. Notice that our Multipik has a yellow (not green) stem which is a dead giveaway to it’s variety name.
On the table, it’s an outstanding complement to any dish and is more nutritious and healthful than people realize. There’s a great article here on the health benefits.
<<<Since we all know what yellow squash looks like, I used a picture from one of our CSA Members who has a Spiralizer that makes those wonderful zuchinni/squash noodles. I’ll have to ask him if he added pasta sauce to this. Man, I bet that would be terrific, especially with some of our spring onions.
Hakurei Turnips with Tops
This brassicaceae family crop is a joy to grow as it germinates quickly and both the tops and roots are tasty. I give out samples of the roots at the farmer’s market and watch people’s eyes widen in surprise when they taste them. They are mild and juicy.
The greens are great in a sautee/wilt. They could be combined with the lacinato kale in this week’s box easily in that preparation. The roots can be sliced and added to a salad, lightly roasted whole or halved, or just sauteed in butter.
A nice glaze would work really well, too, and I bet I can pick Chef Dean’s brain on that next week as he is partial to glazed root vegetables, especially with fish. I’ll do my best to keep this in succession for as long as the season, and season extension methods, will allow. Top notch crop in every way.
Lacinato (Dino) Kale
All the Kales are in the Brassica family with the turnips, mustards, and cabbages. This is my favorite in the field and on the plate. It’s extremely hardy, both heat and cold tolerant, and bug and disease resistant. It’s also easy to harvest. Even when it bolts (goes to flower) the flowers are great tasting in a salad or even a wilt.
This week’s Dino Kale is very fresh new growth so you can easily use it as a salad green. A mild wilt with the hakurei turnip tops would be great, too. If you’re feeling really adventurous, use some of the larger leaves as a wrap. I’d love to see someone do that, and it’s another technique I’ll see if I can get Chef Dean to explain to us.
Another top notch crop. If you’re interested in the exceptional nutritional properties of our brassicas, Dr. Rhonda Patrick is always fascinating. Check out her explanation here.
These members of the alluim family are another fun crop to grow in the Spring and Fall. This variety is called Everygreen Hardy White. In the Fall we will be adding a purple variety as well. This is another one of those “staples” that we want to have as much as possible – along with the storage onions which will be in season soon.
My favorite preparation is to coat these with olive oil/S&P and just grill them. You can do this just as well in a large pan or cast iron skillet. When you get them this fresh, they can almost be too sweet when sauteed and added to, say, a sweet-ish spaghetti sauce, so don’t overcook them if you want them to retain that onion-ey bite.
That said, this preparation from Epicurous looks to-die-for. Please let me know how it is if anyone tries it!
Carrots with tops!
Carrots are in the Apiaceae family along with celery, parsnip, dill, fennel, coriander, chervil, cumin and parsley. We are going to do our best to extend this crop into the hotter months by planting them in open high tunnels under shade cloth. I consider this crop to be a culinary “staple” so I want to grow it in as many seasons as possible.
Culinarily speaking, carrots are good raw (typically sliced thin,) roasted/baked, glazed and sauteed. The tops are a great addition to salads when used judiciously, or in smoothies. One member told me she saw the carrot bisque recipe from Chef Erin of The Husk in downtown Wilmington and loved it. Don’t forget our pesto videos, of course, for the tops but you can also use the tops, judiciously, in a salad or greens mix.
That’s it folks! There may be some extras if I can get to it, but I’m really happy with the quality and diversity of this week’s box. We are working on a new baby salad green mix which will be coming soon, and, of course, the tomatoes are on the way. I’ll see you, or your houses anyway, on Saturday!