In your box:
–Cucumber or eggplant
I’m the proud papa of two fine boys: Nathan (age 6) and Adam (age 3). Given the history of large farm families working together and producing as many willing workers as nature will allow, I get a lot of questions about the boys helping on the farm. This is a beautiful idea, but it’s also a sure-fire way to burn them out and overwhelm their childhood with sweaty tasks of manual labor under clouds of mosquitoes. And besides—what is it about the nature of farming that it is automatically assumed that they are being reared to help out? This is my job. My wife Nina is a teacher. It would be ludicrous for them to go to work with her, grading papers or cleaning the chalkboard or applying classroom discipline. It’s her job. And it’s their job to be kids.
So I am daily walking the line between sharing my world with them and walling off my farming world so that I am “at work” even when I’m just in the back yard, and they are free to play with Legos. But my job also involves tractors. And these boys like tractors. It also involves cherry tomatoes, baby broccoli sprouts, spinach, and strawberries. And the blessing of walking the land, learning about the soil, and observing the natural world all throughout my day. All of which I want to share with them, but not to the extent where I am burdening them with my own employment or keeping them away from the sandbox by insisting they pick green beans with me. So far the balance has been working—they like to hear about what I worked on that day and they watch me on the tractor and occasionally help bring in a basket of squash, but I’ve yet to ask them to thin carrots with me for four hours with a cloud of deerflies chasing us….
This week we welcome beans for the first picking this season. We grow four different kinds of fresh beans—green, yellow wax, a purple variety called “Royal Burgundy” and my personal favorite, an heirloom purple and white variety called “Dragon’s Tongue.” We grow a lot of beans—I’m impartial to any crop that grows more than a couple inches off the ground, so that I’m not hunched over on the ground any more than I need to be. We’re likely to have beans until Labor Day, as long as the plants keep happy and healthy and continue producing new beans. We strongly recommend not overcooking them! It really just takes about 4 minutes in boiling water to get these cooked. Anything longer than that makes for mushy beans and unhappy eating.
Beans keep well for a week in the fridge, but if you find you can’t get to them before your next box arrives it’s quite easy to freeze them for use in the winter. Just cook them up as you would for fresh eating (maybe a minute less so they stay a little rigid), cool them off with cold water so they stop the boiling process, and then set out on a drying rack to cool and dry. Once most of the water has come off of them, just put them in a freezer bag and store for 6 months or more.
This week we also welcome one of our most divisive crops: Kohlrabi. If you’re unfamiliar with this crop, kohlrabi is the white bulb with a short stem and large kale-type leaves rising off the top. There are also purple varieties of kohlrabi, but this what kind has been the most consistent for me. In our member application I always ask what crops people are most and least excited for, and roughly 25% of members list kohlrabi in the excited column and 25% of members are dreading it before it even ends up on their plate. So I compromise and make no one happy—I grow just a little bit. We’ll have it this week for a spring planting and then in September when the weather cools and it’s happy to grow again. To use it:
Peel off the outer skin and slice up the kohlrabi into slivers. Try dipping it in lemon juice, olive oil, or dressing.
Grate it into a salad for a modified cole slaw.
Add it to a stir-fry.
The leaves are edible and can be cooked up as a substitute for kale. The leaves will keep well for a few days in the fridge, while the bulb itself will last for a week to ten days in the fridge.
Expected next week: Tomatoes, beans, endive frisee, basil, cucumber, zucchini, scallions and baby beet greens.