In your box:
–Something else: Raspberries, beans, broccoli, cabbage, ground cherries, eggplant, tomatoes, kohlrabi, or a pepper
O summer where art thou? I hate to complain about a week of 72-degree weather with no humidity and cool nights. And in fact, I’m not complaining. But our tomatoes, corn, watermelons, cantaloupe, beans and squash plants sure are. The ripening of these crops all rely on heat, which we’ve been lacking the past few weeks. As a result, we’re still muddling through the transition from spring crops to the common crops of summer.
Thankfully, we have had some great rains lately to aid the progress of the gardens. We’ve picked up just over an inch this week and, more importantly, missed the huge hail storm that passed just a couple miles north of us. I actually declared Monday, August 5th the “best weather day of the year.” After a timely soaking rain, we were blessed with perfect sunshine and a warmish day. With the comfortable weather pattern we’ve had lately and the blessed diminution of the mosquito population, it’s awfully nice to be a farmer these days.
We have a couple great new crops this week. Our green onions were largely washed out by the June flood, but thankfully our main onion beds have fared much better. This week we introduce Sweet Onions for the first of three weeks. Sweet onions are similar to scallions in taste and utility, but form a larger bulb like common storage onions. These have a fridge-life of about a month. The greens are edible and can be added alongside the onion in any dish, or sliced thinly and added raw to a salad or meal in the same way as green onions.
Chard is also known as Swiss Chard, but I’ve dropped the “Swiss” because there simply isn’t anything Swiss about it. It is only called that because a Swiss botanist first studied it in the 16th century and, presumably, the Swiss want to have another food named in their honor besides a certain bland hot chocolate product. Chard is a close relative of beets and spinach, and has a similar waxy leaf to those crops. Use it as with other cooking greens, especially kale. Our favorite use for chard is in a quiche. We were afraid we had lost our chard crop when it took a beating from hail in June, but thankfully new leaves have formed and its future looks as bright as its coloring. Some of the leaves are a little small, but by harvesting them we’ll encourage continued growth.
Chard should be refrigerated, and it will keep well for at least a week. Unlike kale, the stalk of chard leaves is quite tasty and should be used as well. It can be substituted for any recipe calling for celery, or mixed into a chard dish alongside the leaves. Allow an extra minute or two for the stalks to cook down before adding the rest of the leaf, if you include it this way.
This week brought a deluge of cucumbers, the one summer crop that’s proved reliable with our chilly weather. This week also brings our first Lemon cucumbers. They do look quite similar to a lemon, but with the telltale striping and spikes of a cucumber. For a picture, see above. These take a couple extra weeks to ripen, but they keep going into September when other varieties have wrapped up for the year. They are used just like any cucumber, but have a slight lemon taste to them.