Ellie here, with your CSA share list for Week 2. Things went a bit more smoothly this week than last!
This week, most of our beds needed to be thinned. When we plant, we plant more seed than we think we’ll need, in case some doesn’t germinate. Then, as our veggies mature, we pull some to make room for the others to grow big and strong. It’s a customary practice among farmers and gardeners to insure a good harvest.
A Taste of Spring…
The thing is, the plants we pull are just as delicious as the ones we allow to grow to maturity. Waste not, want not! So this week, I’m giving all our CSA shareholders a little taste of spring. We’ve included a wide variety of salad greens and cooking greens, as well as a few treats that won’t be mature for a couple more weeks–like the beets (which are good for their greens now, though the beets themselves are still teeny).
In your box, you’ll find:
For a closer look:
- Kale: Last week, a couple of our shareholders reported a new love of kale chips! Check out last week’s blog for the recipe. They’re also excellent in salads or as a cooked green.
- Spinach: These little guys are starting to bolt, so we won’t have them around for much longer. As the life cycle of most green leafy vegetables plays out, they go from growing leafy greens outward to sprouting an upward central stalk that flowers and eventually bears seed. Once that stalk appears the plant has “bolted” and the leaves usually taste bitter. Bolting usually occurs for early spring greens not long after temperatures climb into the hot, humid summertime range. Enjoy them while you can–we may have one or two more weeks before true spinach is out for the summer. Keep an eye out for “Malabar spinach” later in the summer for another treat.
- Pac Choi: The pac choi is also starting to bolt, though it’s not as large as we would have hoped. The wet, cool conditions transitioning suddenly into sunny heat have our pac choi feeling a little confused. Still, it’s particularly succulent when small. Try this Food Network recipe for stir-fried bok choy with our green garlic and ginger to bring out the delicate springtime flavors.
- Mixed Baby Lettuces: Pinch off the roots, float the leaves in water to rinse, and toss into your favorite salad. These green lettuces have a punch of flavor when mature but are still sweet and fairly delicate this young. One is a “Big Boston” loose-leaf lettuce and the other an heirloom heading variety called “Tom Thumb” that produces tiny heads. We can’t wait to see the mature version!
- Baby Beets: Beet greens are delicious this time of year, when they’re large but still succulent. Wilt them with other greens in a stir fry or saute. Or chop/cube the baby beets into a stir fry with other veggies and then toss in the greens a few minutes before the stir fry is done.
- Romaine and Arugula: These classic spring salad greens pack a rich, almost spicy flavor that takes your lunchtime salad to a new level. We think they’re excellent as a bed under grilled chicken, but you’ll find your own favorite signature salad.
- Green Onions: Usually, we try to leave the protective outer coating on our onions (along with the roots) to help them stay fresher longer. There’s been so much wet weather lately that the usually papery outer shells were actually waterlogged, so I’ve stripped them back to reveal the healthy green onion beneath. Enjoy!
- Spring Garlic: We’ve added a little bunch of spring garlic to this week’s bounty, but we don’t want to overload you after the big batch last week. Expect at least a little garlic almost every week–it’s an Oak Hill specialty and a staple of a healthy diet. Almost anything tastes better when it’s cooked with garlic and onions!
- Radishes: Of course you can use these in a salad, but why not change it up? Radish greens fit right in in a potato soup and give a delicate, bright flavor. The wet conditions we’ve had have caused some of them to split–but eat them while they’re fresh, and there’s no effect on flavor or consistency. If you drink alcohol, try this springtime radish martini!
- Broccoli and Cauliflower Greens: Did you know that broccoli (and cauliflower) greens are edible, delicious, and even more nutritious than the parts we usually see in stores? Probably not… we don’t get the greens in stores often–another benefit of your CSA membership! They can be hard to tell apart, but the broccoli leaves are a little smaller and lighter green, while the cauliflower are a deep green on a broad, rounded leaf. Delicious raw or cooked like collards, they’re a nutritive powerhouse that tastes like broccoli–without the little green bits to stick between your teeth!
- Swiss Chard: This beautiful green is a heat-tolerant work horse that seems to love West TN conditions. It’s delicious and delicate in this small springtime state, but it’ll grow massive and robust as the weeks pass. Organic growers love it for its weed tolerance and longevity. We’ll keep it coming! While it’s young and fresh, let those simple flavors shine with this easy recipe for chard with balsamic vinegar and garlic.
- Lollo Rosa Lettuce: This lettuce is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with 100 times the antioxidant power of common green lettuces and rich in folate, iron, and vitamins A and C. It’s slow to bolt, has a rich nutty flavor, and boasts a beautiful color combination that’s excellent for garnishing as well. We think it’s gorgeous in a salad with our red romaine against a background of rich green spinach and light, fresh baby greens.
In other news…
We have baby pigs!
There’s your cute baby picture update of the week from your friendly neighborhood farmers :).
Time to get to bed… busy day tomorrow. We’re looking forward to a volunteer shift tomorrow morning–thanks to our CSA “Farm Friends” on the workshare program who are coming out to help us battle weeds. I’ll be in town delivering boxes; Ted will be be out here working hard with the volunteers. Sometimes we have to split our forces, but we always get it done in the end!
Peace, Love, and Veggies!
Ellie Maclin, Oak Hill Farm