June 23rd and 25th
In your box:
–Head lettuce, “Grandpa Admire”
Over the past weekend, I started pondering the idea that perhaps the weather this growing season was no longer perfect. We had received just half an inch of rain over the past two weeks, and in June we really need an inch a week. But even before I could start coming up with a reason to whine about the weather, pull my hair and gnash my teeth at the injustice of the weather and the idiocy of weather forecasters, all is right with the world once again. We picked up 1.8” of rain Monday morning, providing our biggest rain event of the year at the time we needed it most. Nearly all of the garden is now planted and eager to grow, and it simply awaited a kick start from on high to really take off. We also avoided the 3” totals other areas received and the strong winds that damaged areas down south. So, in perhaps the longest streak of my farming life, I have now gone two consecutive newsletters without complaining about the weather.
With the rains and warmer temperatures, we have even more crops in your box this week. For the first time here, I promoted myself to chief strawberry picker over my wife Nina (who spent summers in high school picking strawberries). As romantic an image it is to picture her picking berries with Adam (3 months old) in a basket on her back while simultaneously reading a book to Nathan (3 years old) in our sun-dappled strawberry patch, that doesn’t really seem feasible this year. So while she takes the year off to bring up our boys, I’m rather enjoying picking strawberries (and taste-testing as I go, of course).
This is our first of five weeks offering green onions (aka “scallions”), which are in a rubber-banded bunch. To use the green onions, slice off the lowest part where the root hairs are and wash well. The whole green onion—greens included—can be eaten.
The loose beaked curlicues are Garlic Scapes. Garlic is planted in mid-October and is our only crop that over-winters. At this point in its development, garlic is all about procreation. It grows these scapes out of the top of its stalk as its first reproductive option. The beaked ends will open to form bulbils (miniature cloves) and flowers for seed. By cutting off the scape, we block both of those outlets and force the garlic to emphasize its third-string option for reproduction: the familiar garlic bulb. Garlic that keeps its scape grows only small cloves, so by cutting them we get the ideal clove at garlic harvest (late July). So what do you do with it? The scape has all the taste of a clove, so simply dice it up and add to any dish calling for garlic. Or, for added fun, challenge your family to a scape-eating contest: the first to successfully eat a whole raw scape wins—or loses?
Finally, this week we also add a member of the brassica (cabbage) family: sweet turnips. These white turnips are the popular “Hakurei” variety known for their sweet taste (unlike the purple varieties and their rutabaga cousins). Try slicing these raw into a salad or serve with your favorite dressing. You can also steam them for a stir-fry type dish, but they only need a minute or two in the wok. The greens are really healthy and can be eaten as well. If they are a little too bitter, try wilting them or steaming them for a milder taste.