Week 1 Newsletter : June 14th and 19th
In your box:
–Kale, Red Russian
–Scallions (green onions)
Welcome to our first week of produce delivery! We are thrilled to be offering you the first harvests from our garden this year, and we thank you for your support as we kick off 2012.
Many of you might be opening your boxes or reading off this list of vegetables with an exclamation of “What did we get ourselves into…. ” or perhaps even a more colorful response. Indeed, there is a lot in this first box (and the next few as well) that is uncommon in most American diets. Especially if you are new to a CSA, this can be a bit overwhelming. By August, you’ll be inundated with crops you’ve grown up enjoying. Until then, open up your minds and skillets to some new crops and recipes! Most of the produce in this week’s box are quick-growing, cool-season crops that set up quickly while tomatoes, corn, and squash are sitting around and waiting for hot weather. So even if the crops might be foreign to you, we’re grateful for a great, green start to this early season.
As many of you have heard, this spring we were thrilled to welcome a bouncing baby boy to our farm! Nathan Healy Kirkman was born on February 18th in Waconia, and he has been a great blessing to our family for the past four months. Spending time with him has been a great reminder about priorities in life: I could easily find enough weeds in our garden and projects around the farm to keep me busy from sunup until after sundown, but Nathan has kept me balanced and keeps me coming back to the house for my allotment of coos, dirty diapers, and great smiles.
With the knowledge that Nathan was on his way, I planned to keep this spring quiet and largely project-free. Somehow, however, my quiet spring gave way to building a 180-foot grape arbor and a 128-foot hoophouse for our tomatoes. These ended up being a good amount of work, but we’re excited to look into grape production and extend our season of tomato harvesting.
The weather has brought us a little bit of everything—hot and cold spells, long periods without rain, and torrential downpours with unprecedented (and unnecessary) rainfall totals. The weeds have grown massive and vicious after the rains, but we’ve been able to keep them in check in the ensuing dry spells. So all in all, it’s been a pretty average spring. Our only crop loss thus far, as I mentioned in an e-mail, is our spring spinach. Our Strawberries haven’t responded well, most unfortunately—while we love to give them in our first couple boxes, they are off to a slow start and we don’t have enough to give everyone yet. We’ll keep track of who gets them this week, and try to balance it out in the remainder of the strawberry season.
So on to what is in the boxes this week….
What is this stuff?
Kale is one of the healthiest green things around. We have two different varieties to try this year, starting with “Red Russian” this week. Kale is the large leafy green with the purple stem that is bunched in your box. To prepare, fold the whole leaf over on itself and trim off the rigid stem/spine. Cut it into ribbons, and then lightly steam it or bake it into a casserole, lasagna, etc. It can also be prepared and chopped, lightly oiled, and then roasted plain in the oven at 400° for a few minutes until it blackens. The result is kale chips that are not for the kale purist, but a good way to use it up if your family doesn’t immediately appreciate kale.
Mizuna is all green, has jagged edges, and is bunched in small-leaved bundles. Try these raw, mixed in a salad, or lightly steamed into most any dish. We like ours in lasagna or over noodles.
Tat Soi is probably new to you unless you’ve been with a CSA before, but this Asian green has quickly become a favorite of mine. This is the unique green head with several “spoons” radiating from the center. To use, break off these spoons and stir-fry or steam.
There are a few holes in your tat soi and some of the mizuna, which are the result of hungry flea beetles out in the field. These buggers are an eternal struggle with organic farmers. Their affects are purely cosmetic on the crops, and you can consider them our organic seal of approval.
All of this week’s crops should be refrigerated, and will keep for up to one week.
Coming soon: Arugula, bok choy, garlic scapes, and peas