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Week 4 Newsletter

July 18, 2013

In Your Box:

–Beet greens
–Chives (full shares only)
–Dill
–Head lettuce or cabbage
–Raspberries or sugar snap peas
–Salad Mix
–Summer squash and/or cucumbers

Did you ever notice that mosquitoes are not among the catalog of animals on Old MacDonald’s Farm? In Nathan’s many picture books about farming, the farmers are never covered in welts from bites from deer flies. In the glossy, glamorous advertisements for the newest tractors, the farmers on the new machines are never clad in full-body mosquito netting. Yet that has been our reality this summer, when the mosquito population has now been calculated at three times the average amount! We are eternally grateful for our mosquito netting, and our hearts go out to our poor dog, Henry, whose defenseless snout is usually a block party for bloody-thirsty pests.

Beet greens are the result of a long-overdue thinning. Our seeder plants beets too close together to begin with, but beets are naturally close-growing. While most seeds are monogerm (one embryo), most beet varieties are polygerms (single seeds contain multiple embryos, producing twins or triplets from each seed). While this yields a bountiful array of beets, they are packed so closely together that they can’t grow well unless they are thinned out and don’t need to compete with each other. While thinning them out, we have saved the miniature beets for your boxes this week. The whole plant is edible either raw or lightly wilted as you would with cooked spinach. We love beet greens in a quiche.

We also have an array of survivors this week. While we planted enough romaine head lettuce, cabbage, and Chinese cabbage for every box, most of these plants were destroyed by hail and flooding. We have just enough to provide one of these crops for every box this week, but we have planted more for a fall crop as well. Both regular and Chinese/Napa cabbage can be used in stir fries or chopped for cole slaw.

Our summer squash (zucchini) plants are off to a great start, and every box has a squash this week. Assuming the plants keep up their healthy appearance, squash are a staple of summer boxes until the plants are killed off by the first frost. Cucumbers are also kicking into production, with a frightening amount of flowers and baby cucumbers in your near future. I’m pretty confident we’ll have a surplus by mid-August, and if so we will start selling them for canning shares if you’d like to make pickles or relish.

Dill is in the same family as carrots, parsley, parsnips, celery, and fennel, but it has a unique taste that doesn’t always blend well with other herbs.  The green leafy growth is most commonly used in stews, soups, and chilled summer salads (pasta, potato, tuna, and cucumber).  The leaves and yellow head are best known for their role in pickling cucumbers and beets.  Dill does not keep fresh for long, but it can be dried and stored quite easily.  Simply hang it upside down in a cool, dry place until it becomes brittle and then rub the leaves between your fingers into a jar for long-term storage.
Thanks so much to the Elliott family of Excelsior for their help weeding kale last weekend! The worms in the kale bed have seemed much happier this week, now that they have been properly named by the kids.

Volunteer Opportunities this week: Weeding! Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Please call or e-mail to let us know if you can lend a hand. Thanks!

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