Another beautiful week at the farm. It’s awesome weather to work in but we are hoping for rain soon! How different from last year’s cold wet spring.
This year we have really been working on dialing in our irrigation system. Unprecedented heat in May made for a real challenge keeping water on all of those teeny tiny plants. When they get bigger and have a wider root system they need far less attention when it is dry. But baby plants need a little water all the time. For a while it felt like we had a new born baby human again! We woke up every two hours to move irrigation during the night (we overhead water during the night because there is less wind and evaporation). During the day, we irrigate under black plastic with drip tape. The drip tape is a plastic hose with small holes in it so water gets evenly spread throughout the bed with little waste.
Some plants prefer to be on drip tape, mostly things that have a flower and make a fruit (tomatoes, strawberries, squash, pepper, etc) and some prefer to be overhead watered (carrots, salad mix or lettuce, fennel, broccoli, etc). We try to get the plants water the way they like it whenever we can.
The great part is that we made it through that dry, hot spell and things look AMAZING, the bad news is that we drained our well so low that part of the well caved in and now the recharge on the well is minimal. I’ve learned more about wells, water, and geology the last couple of weeks then I ever thought I would need to know. I also learned that water is of greater value than I was giving it credit for. It has become so precious that our kids ask permission before they flush the toilet. The long and the short of it is, we need to drill a new well. Big bummer but luck wasn’t in our corner on the last one. I guess I still feel lucky that we have the option to have a well with great water quality.
Hopefully the new well will produce what we need and we can feel confident moving forward with or without rain… in the meanwhile, rain dance your hearts out!
Broccoli- You might notice some hollowing in the stems of your broccoli. This will not affect the taste or nutritional value of the broccoli but it may affect its storage capacity. It happened due to the extreme heat fluctuations.
Scallions (Green Onions)
Romaine Head Lettuce- So crunchy and refreshing. Romaine is the lettuce of choice for Cesar Salads. But it also works great for sandwiches and burgers. Chopped salads and it’s even sturdy enough for the grill! Romaine will shred nicely too to make delicious slaws, consider a sweet strawberry vinaigrette. Stores nicely in a bag in the fridge. Once chopped, it will tend to brown after a few days.
Fresh Broccoli- These big beautiful heads are perfect for chopping into chunks/trees and steaming lightly. With these early broccoli, we often just give them a quick steam (approx. 2 mins, being careful not to overcook) then dress them with salt and lemon juice for a nice summer treat. Great served right away or allowed to cool first. Also great with melted cheese or butter, and a good choice for fresh chopped for salads or dips Stores best in a bag in the crisper drawer, but eats best and has the most nutritional value right away. Broccoli can be blanched and frozen. Many of these broccoli stems are hollow. That’s due to a calcium deficiency in the plant. Shouldn’t affect the tops in any way, but feel free to discard the stems if it’s unappealing. These grew in our hoophouses which are our most heavily rotated and managed soils. We are working to resolve the issue.
Dill- fresh chopped dill adds brightness and a taste of summer to any dish it’s dressed with. Dill’s flavor does not hold up well to heat, so consider adding at the table or at least after removing from heat. Chopped dill pairs well with potatoes, beets, carrots fish, chicken, eggs, sour cream/yogurt. Dill will keep in a bag in the fridge with a damp paper towel for several days, or it can be frozen (simply chop and freeze in a bag for later use.) But flavor will be best right away.
Spring Carrots-Remove tops for best storage. Sweet and crisp. These are the perfect carrots to enjoy raw. Just rinse and eat. Slice or shred them into a salad with a cheese grater (or make carrot curls by slicing them at an angle with a veggie peeler. These carrots are also delicious grilled whole with olive oil salt and pepper. Grill them on a hot grill for just long enough to leave char marks from the bars and an “al-dente” crunch in the middle. Store them in the fridge in a bag, with the tops removed. But save and eat the tops too! These will be the best carrot tops of the season, mild with a little parsley flavor. Chop them for a garnish with fresh flavor, or make a carrot top pesto. Pesto can be made of just carrot tops and oil, salt, and lemon pureed together. Or carrot tops can be pureed with other herbs (like dill, basil, fennel or parsley) to extend a pesto or stretch it farther.
Scallions- Use greens and whites for a fresh burst of onion flavor that adds zest to any summer salad or slaw. Great as a garnish in soups or grilled whole for just a couple of minutes. Stores best in a bag in the fridge.
Zucchini- these are young and tender enough to eat raw. Marinated zucchini is a hit around our house. Simply slice or wedge zucchini and soak in a mix of olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and soy sauce or salt and pepper. Allow a minimum of one hour in the fridge before eating them as a side or on a salad. Marinated zukes can also be grilled just long enough to put lines on them. Also try shredding them, then add to salads, noodle or egg dishes, or make zucchini fritters. Just shred and mix with enough egg to form a thick paste. Stir in salt pepper and fresh dill or scallions. Fry in a skillet over medium heat with butter or oil until just cooked through (think pancakes). Store whole zucchini in the fridge until ready to use.
Strawberries- Our strawberries are always delicious, but this year they are the earliest they’ve ever been and the prettiest (at least someone’s enjoying the dry warm weather). These gorgeous berries are at peak ripeness and very fresh, they could keep for several days in the fridge, but how could you wait? Store loosely covered in the fridge, or top them and freeze in a bag for later. Frozen berries will be perfect for saucing, but won’t have their fresh texture again. Wonderful sliced with cream/ice cream, or atop a fresh salad.
Spring turnips- (full shares only) So easy to eat, just eat them fresh like a salad radish (except more sweet than spicy). Remove tops for best storage. Turnip greens cook well and quickly. Perfect for eggs or stir-fry. Store greens and roots separately in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Sugar Snap Peas- (Full shares only)Sweet and crunchy, eat whole (pods and all) as a snack simply snap off stem end and peel down the concave side of the pea. Stores well in a bag in the fridge, but tastes best right away for fresh eating. Also great chopped and used as an English pea, with a little heat or fresh. Perfect for potato salads and stir frys.
Cucumbers- (Small Shares only) These are fresh and delicious. Cucumbers have a cooling effect. Great for fresh salads, or in a tall glass of water! Slice for dipping or shred for salads. We’ll be seeing more of these to come, but please enjoy the first offering of the season. Stores well in the fridge. Tastes great in juices and blended drinks!
Coffee Organic Mexican Coffee- our favorite!
This week everything from your box could simply be chopped up and eaten. A glorious fresh salad of crunchy romaine with chopped broccoli florets and shredded zucchini, topped with chopped scallions, peas and/or cucumbers, sliced turnips and carrot curls (peeler shavings). All drenched in a fresh strawberry dill vinaigrette!
Or… Dilly Carrots:
-Snap the tops off a bunch of fresh young carrots. (trim the ends if you must, rinse
and pat dry if you like) Halve larger carrots
– in a high-walled roasting pan place into a hot oven for about 1-20 mins until dry and starting to get tender.
-Switch oven to broil, add a generous pat of butter and a drizzle of honey, toss to coat as butter melts.
-Place under the broiler for about 5 mins (always stay close when the broiler is on)
-When skins begin to char and blister remove from the oven. Sprinkle with salt, lemon juice, and lots of fresh chopped dill.
-Toss again and serve.
-Enjoy (these are a favorite of our kids!)
-Sugar Snap peas