In your box:
Last week’s heat wave and relentless humidity were not a bit of fun to work in, and I had to limit myself to basically working all morning and cooling off all afternoon. Everything in the garden really seemed to enjoy it, thankfully, and many plants had some astonishing growth as they basked in the sticky heat. We also had adequate rainfall but avoided the heavy flooding and hail that surrounded us, so in all it was a great week to be a plant and a miserable week to be the farmer tending that plant.
We’re excited to bring out some new crops this week, starting with Napa cabbage (also called Chinese Cabbage). These are more closely related to bok choy than to true cabbage, and their utility is really a combination of the two. Napas are great shredded as a straight salad but can also be lightly wilted for a stir-fry or cooked dish. Just be careful to not overcook them! Mushy Napa cabbage smells horrible and is a certain way to turn off your family to the crop. You can use as much as you like at a time—just separate as many leaves as you need or slice it open like a watermelon and reserve any leftovers in the fridge. Napas should keep well in the fridge for up to a week.
This week we’re experimenting with a brand new crop, Red Currants. Over the past four years I’ve planted 40 red and 10 white currant plants, and this week’s harvest marks the first time I’ve had any kind of a crop from them. It’s not a lot, but I just wanted to spread around what we had and hope that the plants ramp up production much more next year. Currants are perfectly fine to eat raw, although many will find them a little sour. You can also try sprinkling on some sugar to lessen the tart taste. Currants are great mixed in oatmeal or cereal, can be blended into a smoothie, or added to a tossed salad. I wish we had more to give, but hopefully this sample will get you experimenting and eager to try out a more bountiful harvest in the years to come.
We also have our first crop of beets this week. In the past I’ve seeded all of our beets directly in the field and spent hours tediously thinning them out. This year I tried transplanting them (starting in the greenhouse and planting them with adequate spacing in the garden after 6 weeks). I’ve really loved the results. The plants took off and out-competed the weeds, resulting in bigger beets and an earlier harvest than I’ve had in the past. I grow both red and yellow beets, and they can be used interchangeably. The greens on these beets are still in good shape and can be used in place of chard or kale for a nutritious cooking green addition.
Finally, this week brings our first red onions of the year while I give our scallions the week off. This week’s offering is an Italian heirloom variety, “Red Long of Tropea.” These have more of a torpedo shape than traditional bulb onions but are used in the same way. The greens on these are edible and the whole of the onion should be kept in the fridge. The core of it should keep for two weeks or so.
Expected next week: Broccoli, potatoes, head lettuce, escarole, cucumbers, summer squash, green onions, sweet pepper, beans, tomato.