Welcome to the 11th week of the Pitchfork & Crow Winter CSA!
Here’s what’s in the share:
- Garlic – Music is the variety this week, known for it’s medium heat and good garlicky flavor
- Yellow Onions
- Arugula – Now we know why it’s called rocket! Our mild arugula turned hotter and now includes bonus arugula rapini.
- Pink Beauty Radishes
- Salad Turnips – these are lovely sliced on salads raw or cooked lightly and don’t forget about turnip greens!
- Carrots – we’re not taking these overwintered carrots to the state fair but hey they’re carrots
- Rapini – Also called broccoli rabe, this is the broccoli-esque flowers of cabbage, rutabaga, and collard plants gong to seed. It’s delicious sauteed lightly. We can’t get enough of it while it’s in season.
- Dried Apples – We grew them, we dried them, we hope you like them.
Please note that our next pick-up in two weeks will be our last winter share. Somehow we’re creeping up on May, even though it seems like it was just December. We hope you been enjoying the winter CSA experience. Summer season starts May 27th! We’ve still got space in the summer program if you’d like to join us.
Spring has arrived and with it the manic weather patterns we’ve come to know as the early planting season. Watching the weather reports closely, we attempt to plan for the work of the days ahead, always factoring in the rainclouds on the horizon. We’ve been lucky with extended dry spells recently, and somehow we’re keeping with our planting schedule. This is no small feat given how springs of recent years have plagued us with wet and cold. Hopefully I didn’t just jinx us there.
I thought I’d share some photos of the last couple of weeks of spring on the farm. For us that means fruit blossoms, baby plants, seed, tractor work, and a strawberry experiment.
In the last newsletter I detailed our recent bee adventures. they seem to have taken to their new home quite well. On warmer days they can be seen buzzing around the orchards and their hive.
Although we still haven’t researched many of the fruit varieties here on the farm, were grateful for the extended flowering window that seems to be in place. As the pears wound down, the early apple varieties burst into bloom. Now we can see the tiny pears beginning to develop from those flowers that were successfully pollinated.
We’ve been especially thankful for the recent dry spell. We were able to plant beds of peas, lettuce, bok choy, kohlrabi, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, chard, kale, collards, fennel, parsley, carrots, beets, arugula, spinach, radishes, turnips, green beans, and fava beans. Whew!
As I write this a torrential downpour is beating our metal roof, reminding me that the weather can go either way this time of year. I can’t emphasize just how grateful we are to have plants and seeds in the ground, rather than waiting for the next dry window for working the ground.
Most of our planting for this round was of transplants that we started from seed in our propagation greenhouse. However, we did quite a bit of direct sowing of crops like radishes, turnips, carrots, arugula, and green beans. These crops don’t tend to grow as well from transplants and we find it easier to sow the seed directly into the soil.
We use an Earthway seeder for these crops. Seed is poured into the hopper at the top and then evenly distributed and planted as the seeder is pushed along a bed. The Earthway has different plates that are attached inside the hopper for different seed sizes and distribution rates. While it’s not an exact science, we generally have pretty good luck with this method of direct sowing.
As I mentioned, most of our recent planting was of transplants. We start the seeds in flats full of a compost-based propagation soil mix. In the winter we make a schedule that details what crops need to be started and when to ensure a season-long succession of crops like lettuce and cabbage and to ensure crops like tomatoes and peppers get started early enough to produce fruit before the summer ends.
In the photos above you can see two successions of lettuce, some local heirloom gifted melon seed being sowed, peppers that have been potted up to larger pots, and propagation house friends: the frog and slug. Well, actually the slugs aren’t our friends, but we do like the frogs a lot!
As seems to be a natural law of farming, just as things seem to be under control something goes terribly wrong. A few days after finishing our first big planting push our main field work tractor had some issues. Phrases like “steering arm”, “tie rod ends”, and “hydraulic steering cylinder” suddenly became very important. It looks like our local welding shop may be able to fix the worst parts. Hopefully we’ll be back in business before the next dry window, though I admit we’re dreaming of adding another tractor to our fleet for times like this.
Once again our very knowledgeable neighbor provided advice and moral support beyond what we could have expected. He’s also letting us borrow a heavy duty jack that his uncle salvaged from a Portland shipyard just after WWII. Evidently they were throwing them into the river!
Luckily we had already prepped the ground we wanted to use for our strawberry experiment and we were able to move ahead on that project without a tractor this week. This is our first planting using ground cloth for weed control and it was an interesting learning curve. Jeff used our propane weed torch to burn holes for the strawberries into the ground cloth. We then laid drip tape for watering under the cloth and planted the strawberry plants through the holes. Fingers crossed we weren’t too late in planting and that we might even see strawberries this fall!
Enjoy the vegetables and we’ll see you in two weeks!
Jeff Bramlett and Carri Heisler
Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 2 bunches Swiss chard (or sub. Spinach!), thick center ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 12 cups)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 12 large eggs
- 2 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated (about 1/2 cup)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 8-10 minutes.
Add chard to skillet by the handful, tossing to wilt between additions. Cook, tossing often, until tender, 8-10 minutes. Add cream and simmer until thickened and almost evaporated, 8-10 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
Spread chard mixture evenly in a 13x9x2″ baking dish. Using the back of a spoon, make 12 small, evenly spaced divots in the chard mixture. Crack 1 egg into each divot. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese over.
Bake, rotating dish once, until egg whites are almost set and yolks are still runny, 15-18 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
DO AHEAD: The chard and cream mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Reheat before transferring to baking dish.
From Epicurious via Bon Appétit by Joseph Leonard, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Company-Eggs-51160890
Smoked-Turkey Tea Sandwiches with Arugula Mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup (packed) coarsely chopped arugula leaves plus 30 whole arugula leaves (about 4 large bunches total)
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 12 thin slices firm white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed
- 10 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey
Mix mayonnaise, chopped arugula, shallot, parsley and lemon peel in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Place bread slices on work surface. Spread mayonnaise mixture on each slice, dividing equally. Top 6 bread slices with turkey, dividing equally. Place 5 arugula leaves atop turkey on each. Top with remaining 6 bread slices, mayonnaise side down, pressing to adhere. Cut each sandwich diagonally into quarters
Turnips with Bacon and Pickled Mustard Seeds
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 pound thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise 1/4″ thick
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 2 pounds baby turnips, trimmed, halved or quartered if large
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Bring sugar, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in mustard seeds. Let stand at least 4 hours, or cover and chill up to 12 hours.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, 8–10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a small bowl and stir in pickled mustard seeds and whole grain mustard; set vinaigrette aside.
Meanwhile, cook turnips in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and pat turnips dry.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add turnips and vinaigrette and cook, tossing, until warmed through, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
From Epicurious via Bon Appétit by Joseph Lenn, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Turnips-with-Bacon-and-Pickled-Mustard-Seeds-51198700