Welcome to the Beet Box! This is the weekly newsletter from Valley Flora that describes what’s in your Harvest Basket and what’s happening on the farm. We typically send out the Beet Box on Wednesdays, but it’s going out a day early today to help prepare you for your first week of eating from the farm! Any questions, don’t hesitate to be in touch! We’re looking forward to the next 28 weeks of sharing good food with you!
In your share this week:
· Arugula (in the plastic bag)
· Pac Choi
· Hakurei Turnips (the white round roots)
· Cherry tomato plants
Are you read to eat some vegetables?!?
Good thing, cuz the veggies are on! We’re kicking off the CSA season this week with some unforeseen goodies, thanks to the warm early spring we’ve had: a big pile of broccolini and a bag of arugula, in particular. Ironically, a couple of the things we had anticipated putting in the Harvest Baskets are NOT in there, also because of the weather: head lettuce (because our first planting was so early it had already bolted by this week’s harvest) and strawberries (which were set back by last week’s Memorial Day tempest). Hopefully both of those items will be back in the line-up for Week 2.
This week you’ll also see artichokes and asparagus in your Baskets. Savor them because this is the only week they’ll be in there. Asparagus season starts in early April and lasts for 8-10 weeks – which means that by early June it’s winding down. The artichokes would normally go into June, but all the hot weather has accelerated the season and is bringing an abrupt end to our spring harvest. Steaming them is a simple, delicious way to eat them (dipped in butter or mayo, of course!), but asparagus are also wonderful oven-roasted or grilled. We like to make our own aioli to dip them in: a few scoops of mayo, a glug of aged balsamic vinegar, chopped fresh thyme or rosemary, some fresh-grated parmesan or pecorino, and black pepper – all mixed up together into a dipping sauce.
What else is in there? Pac choi, a lovely heading Asian green that is wonderful raw, steamed, or stir-fried. Broccolini- a variety called Happy Rich that is the sweetest, most tender thing we grow in the broccoli family. Just steam it – lightly – and enjoy the flavor. Or dip it in some of that aioli you just learned how to make. It’s also great with a simple drizzle of olive oil and salt and a little balsamic vinegar. You’ll be surprised that the stems are tender from tip to tail, not like typical big-headed broccoli. Arugula (in the plastic bag) is great as a stand-alone salad green, or under a piece of fish.
Those white, round roots are hakurei turnips – a Japanese variety that’s smooth, sweeth and buttery. Eat them like apples. And don’t overlook the tops – they can be cooked up like mustard greens. The red and pink radishes have a little kick, but all of it is in the skin. So if you like a milder flavor, peel them and just eat the white hearts.
For more ideas on how to eat these things, visit our recipe collection where you can search by ingredient (http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher), or any of the recipe storehouses listed below at the bottom of this newsletter.
Cherry Tomato Plants!
And finally, two cherry tomato plants! We grew a heap of starts this spring and are sharing the bounty with all of you – so take two home with you this week and plant them (two per harvest basket, so if you split a harvest basket with someone you can each take one home). These are tried-and-true Valley Flora varieties that we grow outdoors on the farm. We usually plant ours around now and see the first fruit sometime in August.
Here are some planting tips:
· Plant your tomato as deeply as possible (don’t worry about burying the bottom leaves). 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, so don't overdo it!
· 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, and will produce fewer and smaller fruits.
· Provide support to your tomato in the form of a string trellis, a bamboo stake, or a wire cage.
The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share next week…
No promises, but your tote might include some of the following NEXT week:
· Head lettuce
· Fresh herbs
Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.
For recipes and ideas, check out these links:
Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites
Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient
A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients
A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient
A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes