The much-anticipated harvest is upon us! In addition to harvest this week, we are planting squash, seeding corn, setting up irrigation, and tackling weeds!
In your share this week:
- Pac Choi
- Head Lettuce
- A Cherry Tomato plant of your choosing
- Spring turnips
Here’s some background info about the produce in your share this week, with tips for preparation and storage. Looking for a recipe? Visit the Recipe Wizard to find ingredient-specific recipes, or go to the Recipe Exchange if you have a killer recipe you’d like to share with everyone!
Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.
This is an heirloom variety that we’ve propagated at the farm for over 30 years (long before Valley Flora proper existed). Our first plants came from a friend who lived on the jetty in Bandon, so they are well-acclimated to our coastal clime. We’ve been dividing them ever since, and enjoying their chokes every spring. The easiest way to eat them is to steam them until the outer leaves pluck off easily and then dip them into your choice of condiments – butter, mayo, or our favorite: a homemade aioli. Combine a few dollops of mayo with a splash of balsamic vinegar, some capers, and black pepper. Dip away. Don’t forget to relish the “heart” at the end – the meaty bottom of the artichoke.
You may be wondering, what’s with the small artichokes? Well, here’s your first farm fact for the season: Artichokes are actually a domesticated thistle. The plants tend to produce only a few “king” chokes – the big artichoke that grows from the center of the plant. They also produce a whole bunch of side-branching chokes, which tend to be smaller. In the supermarket world, you see the king chokes in the produce aisle for $3.99 each and you find the baby chokes a few aisles away in jars - in the form of marinated and canned artichoke hearts. A little known secret is that the baby chokes actually make wonderful fresh eating because they lack the hairy “choke” that you encounter in the center of a big artichoke. You can eat pretty much the entire thing, from the bottom up!
Storage: keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag. They’ll hold for a week or two.
We are celebrating the fact that this year, for the first time ever, we have asparagus for the first week of Harvest Basket deliveries. Usually the harvest is over by early June, but this year’s cold spring temps slowed production down enough that we are able to give everyone a full pound of spears. These are a supreme, seasonal treat for us; we hope you enjoy them!
The quickest way to eat asparagus is raw – yes, you can just bite into them. The next easiest is to steam them lightly until tender, but not limp. Dip into any of the condiments we suggested for artichokes, or drizzle them with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. You can also roast asparagus in the oven with olive oil and salt at 400+ degrees. Or, grill them. Or make soup. Or stir-fry. They really aren’t picky, so long as you don’t overcook them!
Storage: in the fridge, in a plastic bag
A little spicy, a little nutty. Eat it raw as a salad, or put it under filet of fish. There’s an arugula pesto recipe on the Recipe Wizard if you want to get creative.
Storage: in the fridge, will hold for a week or so
A classic Asian stir-fry ingredient, pac choi (also spelled bok choy and bok choi) is a succulent green with meaty, crunchy ribs. Turns out, it’s also a favorite of our resident slug population at Valley Flora. If your pac choi has a few holes in it, or a tattered leaf, slugs are the culprit. More likely than not, there’s also a slug hiding inside your pac choi heads. Our apologies, but even a good dunk in the wash tub doesn’t dislodge them. I’d recommend washing each leaf before you get all crazy with the cleaver. You might end up with a slug in your stir-fry otherwise.
Fortunately, the slugs only hit hard in the early spring when the ground is wet and our cover crops aren’t completely broken down yet.
Enjoy pac choi raw, steamed, or stir-fried. We did it up last night lightly sautéed with a dressing of rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, olive oil, sesame seeds, salt, red pepper flakes and maple syrup.
Storage: in the fridge in a plastic bag, will hold for a week or so.
Slugs love green butterhead lettuce, so the outer leaves of your butterhead look a little ragged as well this week. Fortunately, the slugs don’t venture into the creamy, buttery, blanched heart, so the best part of the lettuce should be good as gold. Heap your head lettuce high with the other veggies in your share for salad galore!
Storage: in the fridge in a plastic bag, will hold for up to a week or so
Radish & Turnips – On rotation
Some sites are getting radishes this week, others are getting turnips. Whichever you get, you’ll receive the other next week. Sometimes we do this when a crop hasn’t matured fully enough to dole it out to everyone. Never fear, when crops are “on rotation” we keep track of who got what to ensure that everyone gets everything eventually!
If you are a radish site, you’ll be getting Crunchy Royale red radishes. They get rave reviews every year for being the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. All the kick is in the skin, so if you don’t like picante, you can peel them for a milder experience.
If you are a turnip site, you’ll be getting Tokyo Cross turnips. Usually we grow a variety called Hakurei, which is famous for it’s sweet, buttery flavor and texture. Unfortunately this year there was a seed crop failure and we couldn’t source seed anywhere. Tokyo Cross is supposed to be an almost identical replacement; we’ll leave that up to our veteran Harvest Basket members who know and love the Hakureis. Tell us what you think!
Both radishes and turnips are wonderful raw, in salads, or munched like a little apple. You can also eat the greens. They are similar to mustard greens, but are best lightly steamed or sautéed to tame their bristles.
Storage: frige, plastic bag, a week or two. The roots will keep longer if you cut the tops off.
Broccoli – On rotation
Our first broccoli harvest is just starting to come in. For early June, we grow a sprouting broccoli that doesn’t form full heads; instead it makes lots of florettes over the span of a few weeks. By the end of June, we should be harvesting full heads from our next plantings, but for now it’s the little guys. We plant broccoli every other week throughout the spring, for a total of 8 plantings. This means you should see broccoli in your share through July. We take a break for August and September when there is so much other food to eat(!), and then you’ll typically see it again throughout the Fall.
Storage: fridge, plastic bag, a week or so
They’re not the prettiest berries ever, but they are berries nonetheless! We had our first harvest of strawberries this week and with a little more sun they should be pumping from the field, red and sweet. Strawberries will be a regular in your share throughout the season. Might be time to stock up on some whipped cream for the fridge!
Storage: fridge or countertop, depending on how fast you eat them! In the fridge, a lidded tupperware helps keep them perky...Will last a couple days.
Cherry Tomato Plant
This week you get to take home your very own cherry tomato plant and grow some of your own food this summer! We’ll still be providing you with baskets of cherry tomatoes come September, but if you have a warm spot – be it in the ground, or in a pot on a deck – we encourage you to try your hand at growing your own cherry tomatoes this year! They are easy to grow and the surest-ripening of all the tomatoes. There are three varieties to choose from: Sungold (orange and tropical-sweet), Sweet Millions (red and prolific), and Yellow Mini (yellow and lemony-sweet).
Please choose one.
- Plant your tomato as deeply as possible. It will grow roots out of its stem if buried (a unique trait called adventitious rooting) and create a bigger root zone.
- Feed your tomato a balanced organic compost or fertilizer. Too much nitrogen will make a huge leafy plant – with no fruit!
- Water according to need. If your tomato is in a pot, it will need water more frequently. Try not to get the leaves wet when watering.
- Make sure you put your tomato in a sunny, warm spot.
- If growing in a container, the bigger the pot the better. A small pot will require more frequent watering and fertilizing.
- Provide support to your tomato in the form of a string trellis, a bamboo stake, or a wire cage.
- If all goes well you should see some fruit by August or September!
We leave you with this Farm Fact of the Week:
Measured end to end, we grow over 15 miles of crops at Valley Flora.