In your box:
–Head lettuce, “Mantilia”
–Kohlrabi or broccoli
When we purchased our farm property back in 2009, we were lucky enough to stumble upon one with a mature stand of basswood trees. Basswoods aren’t the prettiest tree around, and their wood is too light to make good firewood. But basswoods are absolute bee magnets in July. Soon after the 4th of July, basswoods produce beautiful flowers that attract bees and other pollinators for miles around. The basswood woods has an audible buzz as the bees go to work pollinating the flowers, and between the noise and the sweet aroma I’m always looking for an excuse to wander through the basswoods on my way to the tomato house. We keep the prairie grasses under the basswoods unmowed, and over the past few years milkweed have moved in in force and taken over a lot of the ground cover. As a result, it becomes a more beautiful area every year and abounds in monarch butterflies and all kinds of bees.
Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that the Vikings made their shields out of basswood. Also, basswoods are also known as lindens and in the British Isles they are called lime trees (despite the fact that they bear no limes and aren’t even distantly related to real lime trees).
This week continues our harvest of broccoli heads large enough to feed a ship full of vikings. This is the most rare year where all of the broccoli decides to produce really large, beautiful heads. This hardly ever happens, so over the years I’ve increased the number of broccoli I plant in the spring so that I can cover everyone. Now that I’m growing hundreds of broccoli plants, of course, they are all deciding to cooperate. So this week we have broccoli for everyone, and even two heads for our half shares that received kohlrabi last week (four heads for full shares!). If you received broccoli last week, you’ll be getting another one this week and a kohlrabi as well.
My cabbage-growing abilities have also been less than stunning in the past few years, mostly due to flooding. So now I plant three kinds of cabbage (Chinese, purple, and green) in the hopes that at least one of them will work. And, since it’s 2015 and everything I plant in the field grows perfectly, we have three straight weeks of cabbage. If it gets to be too much, you can always drill holes in it and use it as a bowling ball. Or freeze it until Halloween and carve it instead of a pumpkin.
But really, you should eat it. The purple cabbage this week makes great cole slaw, stir-fries well, and is perfect for making kimchi or Indian food. Keep it in the hydrator drawer, not in proximity to any fruit, and try to use it up this week before your next box.
Our salad mix beds have all gone to seed in the stress of the recent heat, so unfortunately it will be September before we have the leaf lettuce available again. I do plant head lettuce, which is less likely to bolt, for every week of the season. This gets to be hard to plan, and a sustained heat wave will kill them off some years anyways. But for now it all looks good, and this week we offer a butterhead variety that shaped up perfectly, Mantilia. This looks a lot like cabbage, but it is indeed pure lettuce and makes a great salad.
Finally, this week brings our first fennel of the season. Fennel is a close relative of carrots, cilantro, dill, and parsley. Both the white bulb and the green fronds are edible and are used for their anise- or licorice-like flavor. The bulb portion may be chopped and added to sautees or baked on its own. The fronds are a great stand-in for recipes calling for dill. Keep fennel in the fridge up to two weeks. The fronds wilt quickly, so they should be kept in a bag or wrapped in moist paper towel.
Try as we might, we’re never able to get all of the green cabbage looper worms out of your broccoli heads. To get rid of them, just soak your broccoli head in a bowl of lightly salted water for a couple minutes until they all swim out.
Coming soon: green beans, green cabbage, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes!