In your box:
–Kale: “Red Russian”
Our growing season officially came to a close last Friday night, when we received our first frost of the season. We had good cloud cover to keep us from an outright freeze, but we still had frost basically everywhere on the farm. There were no big losses—tomatoes and peppers and squash were done for the season, so everything that died from the frost was not going into the boxes anyway. The frost will actually improve and sweeten the flavor of many crops, so the taste of carrots, rutabagas, turnips, and Brussels sprouts actually benefits from the touch of frost.
I do have some most unfortunate news from the garden to pass on. The large part of the field set aside for winter squash and pumpkins is an impenetrable forest for most of the season, with sprawling vines and no shortage of weeds quickly taking over the whole area. The good news is that I don’t have any work to do in this part of the garden after planting and one quick weeding. The bad news is that there’s no easy way to check on the progress of ripening squash in the field, and, as most disastrously happened this year, it also leaves the field vulnerable to small rodents with sharp teeth that really enjoy the taste of squash. I’ve always lost a dozen squash or pumpkins to rodents looking for a meal. But this year, it was hundreds. The entire squash field is a disaster area of rotten jack-o-lanterns, butternut squash with their guts spilling out, and hollowed out pie pumpkins. So far I have only found 4 squash that the rodents left alone, compared to 500 to 1000 that were eaten. I’m still not sure what would have done this—rats and raccoons seem most likely. Next year I will set out live traps to avoid this ever happening again, and clear a path through the squash patch so I can keep an eye on them as they ripen. But for this year I’m afraid it’s too late—there will be none of my favorite crops in the box this fall. But as we always say in farming, there’s always next year.
Even without squash and pie pumpkins, there’s still plenty of produce to fill out the rest of the year. This has been a great fall for the bok choy, some of which has reached a threatening size! I was able to break off some of the outer leaves so that the heads would fit in your box, but even still some of them are quite large. Hopefully by now you’ve found some good ways to use bok choy. All of our archived recipes are still on our website and I’ve included one more below, as well. This should be the end of the bok choy season, and we’ll switch to regular cabbage for next week’s box.
At this point in the season the arugula is well beyond the “baby” stage, but it does still work well in a salad or chopped onto a sandwich. You’ll probably notice that the flavor is much more mild now than it was last week—the arugula was well frosted over the weekend, and this causes a lot of the spicy “bite” to soften as the leaves sweeten up. If you still don’t care for the taste, it can also be processed into pesto. Our basil this year fell victim to disease much too early, so if you didn’t get enough basil pesto you can easily substitute the arugula for it. We like to make a lot and freeze it in small containers for use throughout the winter. See the recipe, below.
Thanks so much to everyone who made it out to our harvest party last weekend! We had a great turn-out despite the cold, and it was great to see so many old friends and new members out for the evening. We did have one child’s winter hat left behind—if this belongs to your family, please e-mail me and I’ll get that back to you with your next CSA box.
Expected next week: Salad mix, arugula, cabbage, carrots, spinach, turnips, leek, and Brussels sprouts