The Valley Flora Beetbox

Valley Flora's newsletter, sharing news from the farm, seasonal updates, and more!

Week 2: June 13th

Farm Notes

  • Our farmstand and u-pick are now open for the season - every Wednesday and Saturday from 9 to 5. Strawberries are in season for u-pick right now, and the raspberries should be ripening up in the next few weeks. The farmstand is typically stocked with all kinds of goodies that you see in your share, plus garden starts.

 

 

  • Last week we got all of the winter squash planted, with the extra help of Pippin and Cleo. It may seem odd to be thinking about winter when summer hasn’t even begun yet, but it’s true: we are already seeding and planting out our fall and winter crops on the farm. The winter squash will grow and ripen through the summer for harvest in October, at which point you’ll start seeing them in your share each week….all the way through December. We just heaved the last of our 2010 Delicata winter squash into the compost this week, after 6 months of good eating. This Fall you can look forward to Delicatas, Butternuts, Kabochas, Spaghetti squash, Pie Pumpkins, and more! This is how much fun it is to plant winter squash all day....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Homemade tamales! Roberto’s sister, Juana, makes some of the best tamales we’ve ever tried. She creates them from scratch in her certified kitchen in Coquille, and this season you can enjoy them, too! We’ve ironed out the details with her and are going to be offering tamale shares this year, starting in July. Details to come in a follow-up email. Yum!

In your share this week:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries

 

On Rotation:

  • Radishes
  • Spring turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Basil
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus

 

 

Kitchen Tips

Don’t forget to 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.

 

Kale

This is an heirloom variety called Red Ursa. Of all the things we grow on the farm, the Red Ursa takes the prize for longevity, hardiness and yield. We plant it the first week of April, it grows and produces all summer long, weathers all those nasty winter storms, and come next April it will still be yielding delicious kale. Now THAT’s the kind of plant that deserves some respect!

 

Kale packs quite the punch nutritionally, with the highest protein content of ALL cultivated vegetables and a high dose of Vitamins A, C, B and calcium. It’s the oldest member of the cabbage family and was a favorite vegetable in ancient Rome. It hasn’t gained the prestige it deserves in the U.S.; ironically the largest buyer of kale in this country is Pizza Hut – for garnish on their salad bars!

 

So be a trend-setter and eat more kale! It’s great steamed, sautéed, tossed in soup, or used interchangeably with other dark greens like spinach: put it in lasagna, in omelettes/egg dishes, as an accent in risotto, with pasta, or to liven up a casserole. You should also try making kale chips. You might roast them with toasted sesame oil and salt as an alternative to olive oil.

 

A note about greens: Often folks are overwhelmed by all the greens you receive from us in the spring, but remember this: all of it cooks down to practically nothing (at least by our skewed veggie-addict standards!). That raw, frilly bunch of greens in your fridge is no big deal – just cook it if you’re overwhelmed, and add it to everything you can think of. Your body will thank you!

 

Storage: keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag; stores up to a week.

 

Rhubarb

This is our very first harvest ever of our two-year-old rhubarb plants! I planted them last spring for a very specific reason: strawberry rhubarb pie!

 

Alas, the harvest wasn’t big enough for you to all make a pie this year (maybe next year!), but you might consider dicing up your two stalks, putting them in a small saucepan wit some water, adding a sweetener of your choice to taste and cooking them down into a mushy compote. Then fill a bowl with vanilla ice cream and cover it with fresh strawberries and rhubarb sauce.

 

‘Nuf said.

 

Raw rhubarb will make you pucker up it’s so tart (lots of vitamin A & C), and the leaves (which we’ve removed) are toxic due to their super high oxalic acid content. This is one of those seasonal spring treats that really is a great excuse to do it up with some sugar (or agave, or honey, or whatever).

 

Storage: keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag; stores for awhile!

 

 

Farm Fact of the Week:

Last year we weighed the Harvest Baskets each week during packout. The total weight of a Harvest Basket for the entire season was 322.5 pounds (an average of 12.4 lbs each week for 26 weeks). We packed 92 Harvest Baskets each week, for a total of 29,647 pounds of food packed and delivered. The early baskets weighed about 10 lbs each; the late-season baskets weighed about 18 lbs each (the subtext here is that you have heavy roots, squash, potatoes, and tomatoes in your future!).

Newsletter: 

Week 1: June 6th

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:

 

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Arugula
  • Pac Choi
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • A Cherry Tomato plant of your choosing

 

On Rotation:

  • Radishes
  • Spring turnips
  • Broccoli

 

 

Kitchen Tips

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.

 

Artichokes

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.

 

Asparagus

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

 

Arugula

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

 

Pac Choi

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.

 

Head Lettuce

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

 

Strawberries

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.

 

Planting Tips:

  • 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.

Newsletter: 

May on the Farm

Me-oh-my-oh-May!

 

We’ve been getting inquiries about when the Harvest Basket season will start, which was a good reminder that it’s high time to send everyone an update from the farm!

 

At this point, we’re hoping the first week of Harvest Basket and Salad Share deliveries will begin the week of May 30th. Specific dates for your pick-up location, whether it be Port Orford, the Farm, Bandon or Coos Bay, are posted on our website at: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/valley-flora-pick-locations-protocol

 

We will keep everyone posted as the week of May 30th draws near. Last year we had to postpone the first delivery by a week, due to the cold wet spring we endured, but this year it looks more hopeful. It’s been a chilly spring thus far (our weather records boasted only three days in April that were 60 degrees or warmer, compared to years past when more than half of April was 60….and even 70 degrees!). But fortunately, April and May haven’t been as brutally wet and grey as last year, which means that we’ve been able to stay on track with weekly outdoor plantings and tillage in the field. Your veggies are growing, and your strawberries are flowering, so keep your fingers crossed that you’ll be eating Valley Flora produce within a couple weeks!

 

We’re lucky to have well-drained ground; even a day or two of sun right now will dry the soil out enough that we can get in to work up beds for transplanting. And miracle of all miracles, we’ve had good luck so far with direct-seeded crops like beets, carrots, peas, turnips and radishes (compared to last season when we didn’t get a successful carrot germination until early June….ach!). Brave little seedlings that they are, we have most of our crops covered with floating row cover right now – to give them a few degrees of extra warmth, plus protection from pests, hail and frost.

 

Currently in the ground outdoors: lettuce, leeks, onions, shallots, kale, chard, broccoli, turnips, radishes, pac choi, kohlrabi, carrots, beets, parsnips, peas, potatoes….plus all the perennials that we tend: raspberries, strawberries, marionberries, artichokes, asparagus, orchard trees, and more. In the greenhouse, the tomatoes and peppers are getting planted, as well as some early summer squash and cukes. Yum.

 

It’s hard to believe that we’re barreling into the produce madness of summertime once again. This year promises to be even more of an adventure, with Abby’s 16-month-old Pippin toddling around the farm (and taking great interest in all things mechanized, particularly Wilma, the Kubota tractor…), and Cleo, my 4-month old, riding around in the front pack. Farming is always a juggling act - a bit of a dance - but now more than ever as we try to do it all with the kids in tow. Just last week, Abby and I were racing to get a batch of salad greens seeded in the field between rainsqualls. Pippin was on her back, Cleo was on my chest, and in the end we all got soaked – but at least the salad got planted. At this very moment, Cleo is squirming on my lap as she awakens from a nap. My one-handed typing skills are getting better and better….:)

 

Fortunately, we are so lucky to have the help of Roberto Sierra, who has worked with us since last summer. He has kept the farm ship-shape in the months since Cleo was born and is an incredible part of our farm team. And of course we couldn’t do it without the help of our mom, Betsy, who is busy farming herself but who always makes time for her two grandkids - so that her two daughters can get some work done in the fields! To top it off, we've had the invaluable help of Tom Lynch this year. Tom was a founding CSA member and has put his incredible quiver of skills to work at the farm, maintaining equipment, improving our irrigation system, helping us build the new greenhouse addition, and getting the new electric tractor tricked out with cultivating and seeding set-ups. Turns out, it takes a village to grow a farm!

 

So here we go – the big farm adventure of 2011! We’re glad you’ll be part of it, and look forward to bringing you all the good food we can grow!

 

Starting the week of May 30th – or whenever our first harvest and delivery is – we’ll be sending out a Beet Box newsletter on a weekly basis to tell you what’s in your basket and what’s up on the farm. And of course, don’t hesitate to be in touch with us anytime. We plan to host a farm tour for all of you in late June so that we can meet face-to-face (we’ll be sending out info on that soon), but in the meantime we have posted a bunch of new photos on the website where you can get a glimpse of the Valley Flora universe in spring!

 

Thanks so much for your support and your choice to eat locally!

Zoë

Newsletter: 

tester newsletter

Week 1
June 1-6, 2009
 
What's In Your Basket?

  • Tillamook and/or Seascape Strawberries
  • Sylvesta Green Butterhead Lettuce
  • Crunchy Royale Radishes
  • Green Globe Artichokes
  • Arugula
  • Genovese Basil
  • Black Summer Pac Choi

 
Coming Soon!

  • Hakurei turnips
  • Kale & Chard
  • Kohlrabi
  • Spinach

 
We're thrilled to be able to include some of our favorite tastes of summer in the very first Harvest Basket of the season - among them, basil and strawberries. June will be a month to savor these early treats, as well as some of Spring's signature crops: kale, chard, spinach, and the sweet, buttery hakurei turnip (coming soon!).
 
Also remember that these early Harvest Baskets will be leaner than those that come later in the season. We strive for an average value of $25 of produce each week, which means that as the season progresses the baskets will get heavier (literally!) with summer's bounty. Enjoy the first harvest!
 
And finally, we recommend that you wash your produce before eating it. Technically, we only "field-rinse" the produce, so it is not legally considered to be "washed."
 
 
Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!
 
Radishes

  • Some people love the spicy bite of a spring radish, but if you want a less sassy mouthful, peel your radishes. All of the heat is in that red skin; the meat of the radish is tender, juicy and sweet!
  • Also, radish tops are great in stir-fy (they belong to the same family as mustard greens). Don't toss 'em - chop them up with your Pac Choi and sautee with a little rice vinegar, tamari or any other seasonings!
  • If you want your radishes to last longer in the fridge, cut the tops off and store the roots in a ziploc in the crisper.

 
Artichokes

  • We are choke addicts here at Valley Flora. We usually prepare them the simple old-fashioned way in a steamer basket. It usually takes 30-45 minutes in a regular steamer basket with plenty of water, depending on size, or 8-14 minutes in a pressure cooker. The bigger the choke, the longer it takes. Check for done-ness by plucking an outside leaf. The chokes are ready when a leaf plucks off easily. Dig in and eat your - its - heart out.
  • Check out our easy ailoi recipe and turn your artichokes into a great vehicle for mayo, balsamic and capers.

 
Arugula

 
Pac Choi

  • Great sauteed, stir-fried, or eaten raw, this succulent green keeps best in a plastic bag in the fridge.

 
Strawberries

  • In the unlikely event that any of your berries are still left by the time you get home, folks say that their berries store best in an airtight container in the fridge with a damp paper towl lining the bottom.
  • Whipped cream anyone?

 

 

On the Farm....
Now that the soil temperatures have warmed up and the nights are hovering near 50 degrees, we are putting lots of summer and fall crops in the ground this week: pepper plants galore, as well as an entire block of winter squash (for your eating pleasure come October...). We are also prepping fallow ground for some summer cover crop plantings of buckwheat and sudan grass. In the greenhouse, we're already seeding fall crops like chard, kale and cabbage, which will be planted in early July. Farming is one of those things where you are living 6 months in the future and every day in the moment - all at once....

 

As for the present moment, don't forget to visit the
Recipe Exchange
to check out the new recipes this week, and to share your own recipes with other farmsters.

 

Aprovecho!
 

 

 
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