In your box:
- Head lettuce
- Potatoes, “Red Norland”
- Summer Squash
- Sweet onion
- Sweet pepper
- Swiss Chard
While late summer does bring in a bounty of harvest delights, it does also usher in the worst time of year for poor saps like me: ragweed season. As I write this, I can barely see my computer screen through the tears from my irritated eyes. The whole house is shaking from Jeremy’s violent sneezes upstairs. The drowsiness side effect of his allergy medicine has him taking two naps a day now. I have enough well-used handkerchiefs scattered around the farm to supply a middle school flag football team. And still the mucus flows from my nose like….juice from a tomato that is stepped on while wheezing.
This week brings us two crops from the “Where have they been all summer?” file…. This should mark the last time I blame our cold, wet spring for any harvest oddities. But I still reserve the right…
Potatoes have been way behind schedule but finally appear in our boxes this week. We were a whopping two months late in planting them, compared to 2010. This was simply a case of not being able to work them into the swampy soil we had all the way through May. When we did finally plant them, we tried an experiment. Rather than burying the seed potatoes a foot deep in the soil, we set them on the surface and covered them with straw and hay. It was kind of a risky move to experiment with our whole crop, as potatoes do take up about 15% of our entire garden. But we simply couldn’t wait any longer to plant them, so we tried the surface method. Overall, I would grade the experiment about a C-. We didn’t have to deal with many weeds, and potato bugs seemed deterred by the hay mulch. But our initial harvest was only about half of what we might expect from a “usual” year with potatoes planted in soil. The reduced harvest was likely effected by uneven temperatures, late planting, and a long dry spell soon after they were planted.
Regardless, we’re just happy to have potatoes! The variety this week is “Red Norland,” an early cultivar that cooks up well and serves best in recipes calling for “new” taters. You might notice some of the skin flaking off of these, but this is only because they were taken before they fully matured and hardened off their skin. New potatoes don’t need to be peeled, and their soft coating is quite delicious and nutritious.
In past years we have given potatoes weekly throughout their season, but due to our reduced yields we are planning to offer them every other week for the rest of this year, but in greater quantities–we hope for 2 pounds a week for half shares and 4 pounds for full shares. Potatoes can be kept in the fridge, but they prefer a dark spot in a pantry or countertop. Discard any green sun spots on spuds. Potatoes carry a minor toxin, prussic acid, that is activated by sunlight. Thus, any potatoes allowed to see the light of day for considerable time turn greenish and should not be eaten.
Also, we welcome Swiss Chard to the boxes at long last. Chard is a mainstay of CSA programs, mainly because it bears all weather and fills up the box with healthy goodness. Our first planting fell victim to an early June heat wave, but our second planting has finally grown up. Chard is a close relative of spinach and beets. Use it in the same way as other cooking greens, such as kale and collards, but include the spine when preparing. Keep chard in the fridge for up to a week or two. By the way, there’s nothing actually “Swiss” about chard–it was only publicized and researched by a botanist who happened to be from Switzerland.
No doubt many of you will be attending the State Fair over the next week, and perhaps even a few of you will defile your palette with all manner of unspeakable “food” while attending there. Please note that your CSA box does not judge you, and will welcome you back to reality with fresh offerings of edible items as soon as you leave that wasteland. You can even stick your kohlrabi on a stick and deep fry it, if it helps you with the transition. Please don’t let me know about it, though.
Don’t forget–Mark your calendars for the Fall Harvest Festival on September 24th, starting at 4:00pm!