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Week 5 Newsletter

July 12, 2012

In your box:

  • Cabbage or Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Parsley
  • Peas or Green Beans
  • Salad mix
  • Sweet onions
  • Summer squash, cucumbers, raspberries, or tomatoes

 In planning out one’s summer, it’s basically impossible to really know when a vacation will be most needed. But we really lucked out over the post-4th of July weekend, when we made plans to go to Red’s uncle’s cabin up north. We picked this weekend to correspond with some family coming out to visit, and the timing ended up being perfect. After a week of record heat, miserable humidity, bugs that bite and sting and harass, hot nights, and skyrocketing weeds, we needed to get out. So we got up early Friday morning and drove north of the cold front line, leaving behind another 100 degree day for a weekend on the lake where Friday’s high temperature was 60! After a couple days of swimming, playing games with family, and a classic whiffle ball game, we were rejuvenated and ready to get back to work.

This has been an amazingly perfect week, with good sun and very comfortable humidity. We’ve still been working long hours to catch up on weeding, but we are slowly making good progress against the towering weeds. We lucked out with over an inch of rain during the week-long heat wave, which has kept everything growing nicely. Our sweetcorn are forming ears, our winter squash are sending out creeping vines, and our tomato plants are full of flowers and fruits. It’s a beautiful and exciting time on the farm, with a great season of fruits and common vegetables quickly coming your way.

This week is a sort of middle school for the farm season, as we close out the springtime elementary school crops and usher in a lot of angst and uncertainty. As you’ll notice in the abundance of “or’s” in the veggie listing this week, we have a few of a lot of different crops. As we pick our peas for the final time, we’re starting to find good Green Beans to take their spot. Our fruiting crops are just starting to kick out the Summer Squash (zucchini) and Cucumbers, and we even have our first Tomatoes for a few random members this week. We’ve never had tomatoes to give during July before, but this year we actually had a cherry tomato each on the last day of June! Our plants look great this year, aided by a warm spring and, above all, a hoophouse to grow 2/3 of them in.

We finally cleared out the last of our scallions last week, and now we move on to Sweet Onions. Like scallions, the greens on these are quite tasty and should be used along with the bulb. These are not quite fully grown yet, and should continue growing out their bulbs for the next few weeks. Sweet onions, unlike storage varieties, should be kept in the fridge and will last at least a couple weeks with proper storage. If you have a Friday pizza night like our family, be sure to chop some of these on top!

This week, we introduce the first of the common brassica family crops: Cauliflower and Cabbage. Along with kohlrabi, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and even kale, these veggies are cultivated strands of the same plant, which would most closely resemble our cabbage. Throughout the preceding centuries, farmers and gardeners have selected seed from this parent crop to breed crops that bear green seed flowers (broccoli), yellow/white seed flowers (cauliflower), a swollen stem (kohlrabi), stem bulbs (Brussels sprouts), and a compact seed-bearing head (cabbage). All of these healthy crops have nearly identical seeds and cotyledons (the first leaves that germinate). But they have been masterfully bred to form tasty, nutritious veggies that can be used in many distinct dishes. We have planted spring and fall crops of each of these, so we should have a variety available for the next couple weeks and then again for the last few weeks of the season.

 Cabbage should be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks. It stores best with its outer leaves around the head to preserve its freshness, and does not need to be kept in bags. Cabbage tastes great raw (try it grated in salads or coleslaw), lightly steamed, or stir-fried. Do not overcook, as this leads to a strong odor.

Cauliflower does not keep as well, and should be used at least within one week. Store it in the fridge, preferably in a bag or container. To remove any pests that may have hitched a ride, soak the head upside down in cold, salted water until the vagabonds float out.

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