Welcome to the 6th share of the Pitchfork & Crow Summer CSA! Here’s what’s in the share this week:
- Spinach – We attempted to extend our spinach game this season, and we’re pretty excited to bring you spinach in July!
- Mixed Beets – Red Shiraz and the classic bullseye Chioggia beets this week.
- Bunching Onions
- Green & Red One-Cut Lettuce
- Summer Squash – Choose from yellow straightneck and zucchini.
- Fennel – Did you catch the fennel and salami pasta recipe that CSA member Chris A. shared in the member Facebook group? It’s delicious and is totally going on our menu this week.
- Cherry Tomatoes!
This past week was all about seeding and planting here on the farm. Succession planting is a must to keep the vegetables harvestable as the season continues and that means a continual plan for seeding and transplanting. I thought I’d give a little ‘behind the scenes’ look at the work this week and tools we use to plant.
To begin, Jeff generally mixes our propagation mix and fills the flats according to our propagation plan. We sow seeds into several sizes of flats depending on the crop. Smaller plants like lettuce go into flats with 128 cells, mid-size plants like broccoli go into 72 cell flats, and larger plants like peppers go into 50 cell flats. This week we sowed overwintering cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage, chicories, and lettuce which called for 48 72s and 28 128s.
I generally do the seeding, either by hand or with our vacuum seeder, again depending on crop type. The vacuum seeder consists of a plastic box with a metal plate screwed to the top. The metal plate has small holes drilled into it that align with the cells of the flat and a lip along one side where seeds are poured onto the plate. A small shop vac is connected to one end of the box, and when turned on creates a suction. The seeds are rolled around the plate until each hole holds a seed. The box is then turned upside down over the flat and a sliding door on one end is closed to reduce the suction and the seeds drop into their respective cells. It’s a wonder and definitely makes the sowing of flats go faster.
Early in the season newly sown flats head into the germination chamber, a dark insulated and heated space, just until the seeds germinate. This helps get plants off to a solid start before the temperatures in the propagation greenhouse are warm enough for adequate germination. This time of year the flats we sow stay in the propagation greenhouse while the seeds germinate and for a couple more weeks as the plants grow into their first set or two of true leaves. We then set them outside to ‘harden off’ in the slightly sunny/breezy/sometimes rainy space next to the propagation house. This helps the plants acclimate to what life in the field will be like.
As I mentioned, we also did a lot of transplanting this week. The next rounds of beets, lettuce, basil, fennel, endive, bunching onions, parsley, celery, cabbage, kale, and corn went in the ground. It was 17 beds and over 8000 plants! The photos above show the time lapse of plants ready for planting as we took flats out and planted them. There are a couple of other tables not shown here that held overflow corn and fennel plants that also got transplanted.
When we first started out, we planted everything by hand, laying out plants along the bed top and bending over to place them in the ground. We upgraded things several years back and now most crops get planted using our water wheel transplanter. The transplanter attaches to the back of our tractor and is pulled along the bed. A tank holds water and some liquid organic fertilizer. As the transplanter is pulled along the water flows into a wheel with spikes that makes muddy holes at the precise spacing needed for planting. Jeff drives the tractor and I sit on the transplanter seat and plant starts into the muddy holes. This process can still be slowish and has its quirks, but is really so much better than bending over all day.
That’s the general process we go through week after week during the growing season. Of course some weeks have more transplanting or sowing than others. This week is a light one and we’ll only be sowing the next round of sweet corn and transplanting broccoli and cauliflower. Luckily that leaves more time for all the other things that need doing like cultivating, irrigating, trellising, and generally cleaning up for the upcoming CSA member farm visit on Saturday July 20th! (Details in your member email…)
Enjoy the vegetables!
Carri Heisler and Jeff Bramlett
Here are a few recipes to get you inspired:
Cast-Iron Pizza with Fennel and Sausage
- 12 oz. store-bought pizza dough, room temperature
- 5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 8 oz. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1/3 cup prepared marinara
- 3/4 cup coarsely grated low-moisture mozzarella
- 1/2 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
- Kosher salt
- Crushed red pepper flakes and torn basil leaves (for serving)
Place a rack in top-most position of oven; preheat to 475°F. Place dough on a work surface; drizzle with 1 Tbsp. oil, turning to coat. Stretch out to a 10″ round and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium. Cook sausage, breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned in spots and cooked though, 5–8 minutes. Transfer sausage to a small bowl.
Remove skillet from heat and carefully lay dough inside (use spoon to help you extend dough all the way to the edges). Season with salt, then spread marinara over entire surface of dough. Top with mozzarella, then fennel, garlic, and cooked sausage. Drizzle with another 2 Tbsp. oil. Peek underneath the crust—the bottom should be golden brown and crisp from residual heat in the skillet. If it’s not, set over medium-low and cook until crust is golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Transfer skillet to oven and bake pizza on top rack until crust is golden brown around the edges and cheese is browned in spots and bubbling all over, 10–14 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then top with red pepper flakes and basil. Sprinkle with more salt and drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil.
From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit by Claire Saffitz, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/cast-iron-pizza-with-fennel-and-sausage
Lettuce and Beet Salad with Sour Cream Dressing
- 2 medium beets (about 8 ounces)
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons grated onion
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 5 cups (packed) mixed torn lettuces (such as romaine, red leaf and butter lettuce)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Wrap beets tightly in foil. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Cool; peel beets. Coarsely shred beets.
Whisk sour cream, onion, vinegar, sugar and mustard in small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Place lettuces in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Divide salad among 4 plates. Top each with beets, dividing equally.
From Epicurious.com via Bon Appétit, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/lettuce-and-beet-salad-with-sour-cream-dressing-846
Cauliflower “Rice” Tabbouleh
- 1/2 medium head of cauliflower (about 1 pound), coarsely chopped
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon (or more) kosher salt, divided
- 2 cups (packed) flat-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems
- 1 cup (packed) mint leaves
- 2 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 medium cucumber (about 8 1/2″ long), cut into 1/4″ pieces
- 6 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered
Grate cauliflower with the coarse grater disk on a food processor or the largest holes on a box grater until rice-like in texture. Transfer to a large, microwave-safe bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp. oil and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high 3 minutes. Carefully remove plastic wrap, spread cauliflower “rice” on a rimmed baking sheet, and let cool.
Wipe out food processor, if necessary, and fit with chopping blade. Pulse parsley, mint, scallions, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, 3/4 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/4 cup oil until herbs are coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in red pepper flakes. Add cauliflower, cucumber, and tomatoes and gently toss to coat. Season with additional salt, if necessary.
From Epicurious.com by Katherine Sacks, https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/cauliflower-rice-tabbouleh