Well, members, can you believe it?! Half-way there! It’s been one of our hardest farm seasons ever, and we really hope to have a breath of fresh air and some better luck with weather and pests for the next 9 boxes. We got a little over an inch of rain overnight and during the day, so the plants are all set for the week! It will be a relief to not have to drag irrigation pieces all over the farm for a little while.
A word on ripeness and when to eat your tomatoes:
We usually save this kind of thing for after the list of whats in the box, but I imagine there are many well intending members that just don’t quite make it that far in the newsletter, so I thought I’d put this at the top since it will drastically improve your CSA experience: All the tomatoes you receive should be eaten really soon after you receive them. Most of the tomatoes we grow are heirlooms, desired for their flavor, unusual shapes and otherworldly beauty–but not for their shelf life. When they get to you they are either ripe or really close to being ripe–even if they are green in color (like the one in the picture above-that tomato is ready to go)! You will receive red, yellow, white, green, and purple tomatoes and some of them will take a leap of faith to cut open because the color may not look right, but do it! Some of the green ones are particularly tricky because they turn more red as they become over-ripe. If your second guessing yourself, you can often tell by how soft the tomato feels. The bottom of the tomato should be soft to the touch and feel like it could be bruised if you press it beyond gently holding it. But they are worth all the fuss! Heirloom tomatoes are one of the highlights of belonging to a CSA.
We’re sorry to report that we’ve lost our star full-season employee, Megan, quite suddenly due to a family emergency. Our star part-season employee, Ben, goes back to the wilds of West Virginia at the end of the week to finish his last semester at school. Suddenly we find ourselves on our own! We are advertising for replacements and in the meantime if any of you have any tips, leads, kids to loan out, or want to come out and lend a hand, we sure could use it! We aren’t typically on our own until October, and truth be told, Heather is starting to slow down because of her pregnancy, in spite of her stubbornness.
Let’s check in on the melons:
A few other photos from the week:
There’s been a big invasion of one of the worst pests a farmer can get in the midwest-squash vine borers. These little bugs do a lot of damage, attacking squash, pumpkins, zucchini and gourds. They lay eggs so small they’re invisible to the human eye, and then the little larvae bore into the squash stem, eating and destroying the plants in a matter of days. We only lost 5 plants to the little red and black menaces last year, but they are showing up in huge numbers this year. We’re actually pretty worried about our winter squash crop. There is little that can be done once you have them beyond cutting open each plant stem and manually removing the larvae or injecting a bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis) into the stem with a syringe that disrupts their digestive system (but is completely safe for humans). Once we noticed the symptoms we starting treating the plants in hopes that the larvae weren’t too far along. It’s a surreal experience, administering something like that to a plant, and a frustrating reminder of how little we can do to protect some crops. Keep your fingers crossed for the squash plants!
This Thursday Heather is teaching a class on the main floor of the farmhouse, for the Hungry Turtle Learning Center. The class, Healthy Cooking: Eating on the Wild Side, recaps highlights from the fascinating book “Eating on the Wild Side” by Jo Robinson, and gives attendees tips on how to purchase, store, and cook vegetables and fruits to get the most nutritional value out of them. There are still a handful of spots left, so if you’re interested, go to the Hungry Turtle website to sign up!
Okay, finally, here’s what’s in the box this week:Sweet Corn (2 ears for small shares, 3 for medium shares, and 4 for full shares) Tomatoes (3/4# for small and medium shares) Snap beans (1/2# for small shares, 3/4# medium–thursday mediums may get slightly less beans but extra tomatoes to make up for the shortage) Mustard Greens: Ruby Streaks or Mizuna (1 bunch for medium and full shares) Arugula (1/3# for small shares) Zucchini (3 for full shares, 2 for medium shares) Cucumber (1 for medium and full shares) Eggplants: Fairy Tale (10-12 fairy tale for full shares) Chives (1 bunch for small and medium shares) Broccoli or Cabbage (1# broccoli or 1 cabbage for small shares) Head Lettuce (2 heads full shares)
Sweet Corn! Yes! Our first round or two of sweet corn will be a little slim and runty: the wet wet wet spring made it impossible to keep everything as weeded as usual and unfortunately sweet corn was one of the victims. That combined with it being incredibly dry once the ears started filling out has been a double whammy that makes for smaller ears and shallow kernels. But fear not, we have some beautiful second and third plantings on the way that will surely make up for the first round!
Mediums and Fulls may recognize the mustard green bunches they receive this week, either Ruby Streaks(purple and frilly) or Mizuna (green and spiky). We use the baby version of these greens as part of the spicy salad mix that was given out in the spring. It is common to get mustard greens as mature leafed plants like the bunches your getting this week. They can be used in the same ways as you did the spicy salad: raw like a lettuce or slightly cooked or wilted more like a kale. They will be milder when cooked and are excellent in egg dishes–I’ll often mix them in raw with my egg batter for an omelet or scrambled eggs.
Corn and Tomato Pasta
- 1 1/2 cups dried bow-tie pasta
- 2 fresh ears of corn or 1 cup whole kernel frozen corn
- 1 cup shredded, cooked chicken-optional
- 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chicken broth (if using) or water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- Snipped fresh chives, basil, or any other herb you have on hand
- In a Dutch oven, cook pasta according to package directions. Add corn during the last 7 minutes of cooking pasta. Return to boil and continue cooking. When pasta is cooked and corn is crisp-tender, drain pasta and corn in a colander. (If using fresh ears, it may be easier to remove the ears with tongs, and then drain the pasta.) Rinse pasta and corn with cold water to stop cooking, and drain well again. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cobs.
- In a large bowl combine pasta, corn, chicken (if using), and tomato.
- For dressing: In a screw-top jar, combine the olive oil, vinegar, herbs, chicken broth (if using), salt and pepper. Cover and shake well.
- Pour dressing over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat. Chill, covered, for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and basil before serving.
Raw Corn and Zucchini Saladcourtesy of Martha Stewart
- 3 ears corn, husks and silks removed
- 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
- 2 T. fresh lime juice
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 T. chopped chives, basil, or any other herb you like
- coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Cut off tips of ears of corn; stand corn in a wide, shallow bowl. With a sharp knife, slice downward to release kernels (you should have about 2 cups); discard cobs, or freeze, saving up until you have enough to make a rich corn stock for a soup this winter. Transfer kernels to a medium bowl. Add zucchini,lime juice, olive oil, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and toss well to combine.