In your box:
–Head lettuce or salad mix
We’re already through the first third of the CSA season, and unless I’m mistaken I’ve somehow written five newsletters without mentioning the weather. That’s mostly because the weather has been….good. Actually really good. We’ve missed the 11” of rain that fell to the north last week, dodged tornadoes to our west, and avoided hail or extreme temperatures. We’ve had adequate rainfall, and it’s actually been spread out nicely this year to avoid flooding. And, as with any good American, if I can’t complain about something I just tend to avoid talking about it altogether.
I’m quite pleased that we’ve received enough rain to date, because the heat wave this week will certainly be a stress on the plants in the field. It will actually be a little bit of a benefit for the sweet corn and tomatoes, but it tends to lead to severe wilting of farmers in the field. I’ll be modifying my schedule on these hot days to get as much as possible done before noon, enjoying a siesta during the heat of the day, and then heading back out to work a bit more after dinner before the hordes of mosquitoes wake up to reclaim the fields all night.
Our raspberries started out strong but are quickly fading, unfortunately. I’ve kept track of everyone that’s received them so far, and anyone who has yet to get raspberries will be first in line when our fall crop starts coming in (expected early September). You’ll also be first in line for cherry tomatoes, which we’ve started picking this week. This year we are only growing the “Sungold” variety, which is an amazingly sweet orange tomato. The rest of the tomatoes are close behind, and it looks like we might even have some to put in the boxes starting next week.
This week is the last harvest of the loose leaf salad mix until the fall. I love distributing and eating this salad mix, but it is an incredible time hog. In the weeks we give it I spend as much time washing and spinning it dry as I do on all the other crops combined, so it’s bittersweet when it finally runs its course in early summer. Now that beans are coming in like crazy, I certainly won’t miss washing all the salad for the next few weeks. We do plant the salad mix again for the fall, so you can expect that in late September. In the meantime, we have a few varieties of head lettuce to fulfill your salad and BLT needs for the next few boxes.
Speaking of beans, we had a bumper crop in just our first picking! As in the past, I planted four different varieties of beans—green, yellow, purple, and the purple/white variety called “Dragon’s Tongue.” Because they tend to ripen at different times, we don’t always have all of the colors in your bag when we give beans. Expect beans for the next six weeks or so, until I get sick of picking them around Labor Day. The plants are in great shape and are weed-free, so it looks like we’ll have plenty of beans this summer.
The main event in your box this week is the Napa cabbage. These are also called Chinese cabbage, but I’ve reverted to “Napa” in honor of our good friend Jeremy, who is currently living in the town of Napa in northern California. According to Jeremy, all throughout the Napa Valley the residents will go for weeks at a time without eating anything but Napa cabbage. It is shredded into oatmeal, made into afternoon teas, and squeezed for milk that is then used as coffee creamer. None of that is true, of course, but with all this cabbage you might need to try some of those uses.
Napa cabbage can be used raw (chopped or grated) in salads, in any coleslaw recipe, stuffed into egg rolls, stir-fried, or steamed. Napas cook down more quickly than common cabbage, so be careful not to overdo it. These should be kept in the hydrator drawer of the fridge or in a plastic bag. We recommend you keep all the leaves on for storage, but when preparing you’ll probably want to remove the tough and dirty outer leaves in favor of the more tender center. It will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge, but we are expecting red and green cabbage in the coming few weeks, so for the sake of refrigerator space you’d do well to use it up shortly.
Expected next week: Head lettuce, baby beet greens, summer squash, cucumbers, beans, onion, cabbage or broccoli, and tomatoes!