In your box:
–Chinese Cabbage (aka “Napa”)
–Kale (“Curly Roja”)
–Summer squash or red onion
There are a lot of things I expect to endure in my work as a farmer. Blistering heat and humidity—sure. Unpredictable weather—ok, at least it gives me something to talk about. Rain and mud are ok. I get used to mosquitoes and I can tolerate a few deerflies. But when a horsefly found me yesterday and flew off with a chunk of my….hindquarters….it was simply not acceptable. I jumped a foot in the air and used some words I’m glad my mother wasn’t around to hear, and within a few minutes I had an unpleasant welt rising that has made sleeping, walking and sitting quite uncomfortable for the past day.
In the world of more pleasant bugs (ones that don’t consume human flesh from vulnerable parts, at least), it’s been a good year for Monarch butterflies here on the farm. I’ve planted dozens of milkweed and butterfly weed plants on the farm, and I do my best to mow around the native milkweed that volunteer everywhere throughout our fields. It takes some extra work and concentration to work around these beautiful plants and the potential caterpillars feeding on them, but every time I pass by a butterfly it certainly feels worth it.
This week is the final picking of garlic scapes, so this is your last chance to enjoy the taste of fresh garlic for a few weeks. I’m expecting to harvest all of the garlic by the end of the month. Once it is out of the ground it needs to dry out for a couple weeks so that it is fully “cured” for storage and the taste is at its peak, and we’ll start offering heads of garlic by late August for the rest of the year.
Our summer squash are just starting to mature. I planted them a week later than usual due to weather uncertainty, but the plants look good and it looks like we should have another strong year of these. Anyone not receiving a squash this week will receive a red onion instead. The cucumbers are full of flowers, and I’m expecting to have those in your box next week.
This week we have a new variety of Kale: “Curly Roja.” I have no idea why half of the name is English and half is Spanish. If it were all Spanish the name would be “Rizada Roja,” which I kind of prefer personally. I suppose it sounds more international or culturally inclusive? Maybe we are transcending international differences with a bilingual name? Regardless, it is used like the Red Russian variety we’ve had earlier. The leaves on this variety don’t get as large as the Red Russian, but we’ve found it to be a little more tender when we cook with it.
Our broccoli bed has been meticulously weeded as of late, and the plants are responding with a strong first harvest. I love broccoli and it’s pretty easy to grow, so we hope to offer it a few times this spring and again in the fall. Cabbage moths and loopers haven’t been too pervasive this year, but a few cabbage loopers always seem to make their way into the plants. We don’t spray anything to control these—even organic pesticides tend to harm beneficial caterpillars as well—so we recommend taking a good look through your broccoli and cabbage heads to remove any tiny green worms that might be hiding in there.
A crop in your box that might be new to you this week is fennel, a licorice-scented member of the carrot family (along with celery, parsley, dill, and many flowers). The whole crop is edible, with the leafy fronds a common ingredient in soups and baked dishes, and the bulbs used for stir-fries and roasting. The bulbs can be substituted in any recipe calling for celery. For a good starter into the world of fennel, try it baked: cut into quarters, drizzle with olive oil, and bake until tender, about 35 min at 350°. To store: The bulbs will last for two weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge. The leaves will go limp, and should be wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge.
Expected next week: Currants, tomatoes, green cabbage, kohlrabi, cucumber, zucchini, scallions and baby beet greens.