- Tat Soi
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Garlic scapes
During most years, the first few boxes of the CSA season are a little light on the favorites and make me a little nervous that our members might think we’re only growing various salad greens. This year, however, with our warmth and rain, our crops are progressing nicely. We already have zucchini forming, although they’re not much larger than a pencil eraser yet. Broccoli are coming along well, too. This week, we are excited to offer Beets. These are from a transplanting experiment that has worked out very well. Beets are usually sown directly into the soil, which requires me to wait until the fields can be worked. By transplanting, I start them indoors in early March and move out good-sized plants directly into the field. This has bumped our beet production up by about three weeks. Unfortunately, as it was only an experiment, there are not many to offer yet. Expect more in a few weeks, and many more early next spring.
Also, a little competition for strawberries for those who favor backseat munching on the drive home from the delivery site: Sugar Snap Peas. No need to shell these—just break off the tips and the “string” between them, and crunch on the whole thing. These are so good, your kids will forget that they’re not supposed to like peas.
We’ve included some massive Tat Soi plants as well. These were a huge hit last year with our members, and we’re growing other batches for later in the season, too. These resemble large green lollipops with short white stems, if you ask me. Try them lightly steamed or stir-fried. They have grown so large that we’ve cut them in half for half-shares and included a big monster for the full shares.
The curly, green/white beaked snakes are Garlic Scapes. These are a backup reproductive option of garlic plants, producing seeds (very rarely, and not in most varieties) and bulbils, which are essentially miniature cloves that would achieve full garlic size in a few seasons of planting. However, nearly all garlic grown commercially, and all of ours here, comes from planting the cloves that form the bulb of the garlic plant. Because these scapes distract from the growing energy of garlic plants, redirecting nutrients from the desirable cloves to the umbel capsule (the beak itself where the seeds and bulbils form), we break these off as soon as they form so that the cloves will form more completely. More than likely, you’ve already dozed off during this elaborate discussion of why you have these strange things in your box. Unfortunately, I could go on at even greater length about the evolution of reproductive structures in garlic. But probably all you want to know is that you can eat these. They have much of the same taste as the cloves themselves, and can be substituted into any recipe calling for garlic. They will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge, preferably in a bag or a humidifier drawer.
As a side note, you can also eat them raw. But this will make your spouse or make-out partner decidedly angry with you, even if you mention all of the numerous health benefits of raw garlic and the mineral compounds that are lost when garlic products are cooked. Mostly, no one will make out with you unless they also eat raw garlic. Not that this farmer would know from firsthand experience, of course.
Finally, we have included the first of our three varieties of Kale in this delivery. The reddish oak leaf variety is Red Russian, even though it’s more purple than red. This is a remarkably healthy cooking green, great in stir-fries or baked dishes (substitute in recipes calling for cooked spinach, collards, chard, etc.)
In the brief interludes between rainstorms, we have been busy getting things into the garden. This week, we seeded the last batch of carrots and beets. We also transplanted collard greens, popcorn, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, and our last group of sweet corn. There are now only a few blank beds out in the field, as nearly every inch is filled in with something growing. And with these warm, humid days we’ve had lately, we can almost watch your crops growing in the field. It’s an exciting time on the farm, as our focus shifts from getting crops into the soil to maintaining, weeding, and watering (not much of that, lately) everything that is out there.