We are growing four different varieties of summer squash this season. The light green zucchini shaped squash with stripes is an heirloom variety called Costata Romanecsa, and is widely recognized as one of the “best tasting” summer squashes. We are also growing a standard green squash for those who prefer squash of the dark green variety! The third type of squash we grow is our favorite of the yellow squash variety. It is called Zephyr and has a light yellow color with a small green portion on the blossom end. Finally we are growing the yellow patty pan squash Sunburst. We harvest squash three days a week to try to keep them from getting too large and tough. With young squash it best to cook them just until they are tender, and to be careful not to overcook them. If you find yourself with more than enough summer squash you can always make zucchini bread, cake or fritters with all types of summer squash.
We like the texture and taste of flat leaf parsley better than curly parsley. The two varieties of parsley can be used interchangeably. Try adding freshly chopped parsley to meatballs, meatloaf, falafel or toubouleh. Like other herbs fresh parsley may be chopped and frozen in an ice cube tray. The parsley cubes can then be thrown into soups or stews at a later time.
Fennel is a common herb with a flavor similar to anise, but the kind we grow has a swollen bulb-like stem that is used as a vegetable. It can be sautéed, braised, roasted, or eaten raw as can the dill like fronds.
Beets have been maligned for years but are experiencing a recent renaissance as people have discovered there are lots of ways to prepare fresh beets. Memories of beets from a can have given way to roasted beet salad and beet gratin. We love beets here at Mile Creek Farm. They are so flavorful, both earthy and sweet and it’s a 2 for 1 vegetable as you can eat both the roots and the greens! We grow traditional red beets (really purple in color), golden beets and an Italian heirloom, Chiogga, which have a red and white bullseye center. Beets are easiest to prepare by cutting off the tops and root tips and boiling for 30 to 40 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the beet. After they have cooled, the skin will peel right off. You can also roast beet halves with salt, pepper and olive oil in a 425 oven for 40 or so minutes. Again, the skin will peel off when cooled. Beets can then be sliced and eaten plain or with butter, but we like to add beets to things. Beets go well with strongly flavored cheeses, mustard, dill, mushrooms, and sour cream. A simple salad with roasted walnuts, goat cheese and beets is wonderful or you can try these more complex recipes and see if we can’t make a beet lover out of you.
Beets in Creamy Mustard Sauce (we like to top mashed potatoes with this and often add sautéed mushrooms)
1. The fruit share will resume next week with blueberries!
2. We are now including the farm notes in the same blog post as the veggie list. All CSA newsletters can be easily located by clicking the “CSA: In this week’s box” link under the categories menu on the right side of our homepage.
3. In more exciting news this week we have moved from garlic scapes to fresh garlic! Plus we started harvesting our first successful spring broccoli crop which worked this year because we finally had dry enough fields to get it planted at the appropriate time. Every other year broccoli has always been much more reliable for us in the fall, though it often peaks after our CSA season ends.
Early June on the farm is a time of unrealistic expectations. We wake up each morning with a to do list that could fill a week and have come up with an additional month’s worth of work by the end of the day. After five years of doing this we figure that that is just the way it is always going to be. Most crops get planted, most crops get harvested and life goes on.
The last two years early June has been filled with anxiety because the fields were so wet that we weren’t able to get crops planted at the appropriate time. We watched the seedlings to be planted accumulate outside the greenhouse and wondered if we would ever get to plant all of them. And, we watched the weeds take off while our crops languished not knowing whether or not to use the days when the fields were dry enough to work to plant or to weed what we had managed to get in the ground.
On the other hand, this year it has been so warm and dry that we have been on top of planting for the most part, and with a few exceptions the weeds are a bit more under control too. In fact we have so many different crops in the ground already that it feels like we are in July, not June (of course the weather also feels more like July than June too!).
Teriyaki Broccoli and Snap peas
You can’t get garlic any fresher than this!
Fresh garlic may be used just like cured garlic. You’ll find that the wrappers around the garlic have not dried completely and the flavor is milder than regular garlic. Like garlic scapes fresh garlic is a treat especially for locavores since it can’t be shipped and is available in its fresh as opposed to dried state for only a couple of weeks. Consider using fresh garlic in recipes where garlic is lightly cooked or eaten raw. We think that you’ll appreciate the difference!
While every growing season is rewarding and challenging at different points throughout the season, this year we just keep marveling at how divergent from every previous year this season has been. The most recent example of the unexpected becoming necessary happened yesterday evening as I was heading out to set up irrigation. I walked past the garlic and noticed that a few plants were starting to send up secondary scapes. This happens every year with a handful of plants, but we like to harvest the crop before this becomes widespread because the garlic sends up a secondary scape when a clove starts to split off of the main head.
After digging up a couple of heads I determined that the garlic is essentially ready to harvest. To put this in perspective the rule of thumb in this part of the Midwest is that garlic is ready early in July. Now we have found that our garlic has always been ready about a week or two before that. In fact I had decided to dig our garlic at the summer solstice. So June 4 is very, very early, but it seems to follow the trend of everything being around two weeks ahead of where things have been in previous years.
So, after getting the water running Emily and I sat down and tried to figure out how we were going to get all the garlic harvested and tied up in the barn this week when we already were planning to setup the tomato trellis, plant out more flowers and vegetables, hill the potatoes, cultivate everything that needs it, and harvest for market! We don’t know how, but we do know that it will get done so check back for pictures of this year’s garlic harvest.
In this week’s box:
Red Leaf lettuce
French Breakfast Radishes
Hakurei Salad Turnips
Potted herb (select from: savory, thyme, oregano, basil, sage and mint)
We can’t believe that it is already the third week of the CSA. In addition to the recipes on the linked pages above, here are a couple more ideas if you are stuck on what to do with one or more of the veggies this week.
Dill Dip (kohlrabi, salad turnips, snap peas and radishes are perfect vegetables for dipping)
Radish and Snow Pea stir fry (use garlic scapes as a substitute for green onions)
I was out this morning spreading cover crop seed in between the rows of tomatoes planted in plastic mulch. It was a good morning because it was relatively cool, the task at hand was straightforward and easy to accomplish in the time I had, and most importantly I could hear thunder nearby and thought we were in for a good soaking. A couple hours later as I left the farm to deliver our CSA boxes it was once again hot, sunny and dry – we received only light showers this morning. Oh well, it’s not the first time or the last time that we haven’t gotten the weather that we hoped to get.
It is impossible not to get our hopes up when the weatherman predicts helpful weather, but we have learned that farming means preparing for multiple possibilities and being ready to change course quickly. That’s why we love tweaking how we do something so that we are better prepared for whatever might happen. For example, that plastic mulch suppresses weeds, but it also keeps the soil nice and moist so we don’t have to water crops on mulch nearly as much as we do crops on bare ground. Plus we can water in the heat of the day because the drip lines are buried a couple inches underground, beneath the plastic, and there is no loss to evaporation! This really helps when we are in a particularly dry stretch early in the season – like the last two weeks – because we have so many lines that need to be run overnight.
So, the next chance of rain is Friday, we’ll wait and see!