Week 10: August 3-8

What's In Your Basket?

  • Seascape Strawberries
  • Head lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini & Summer Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Nelson Carrots
  • Purplette Onions
  • Islander & Bianca sweet peppers
  • Sugar Snap Peas

On Rotation:

  • Raspberries
  • Little Gem lettuce

Produce Tips - How to Eat It, Cook It and Keep It!

Sweet Peppers

  • The first of the season! There are many more colors and shapes to come, but these lavender and white bell peppers are the Capsicum frontrunners every year in the greenhouse. We grow at least a dozen different pepper varieties, from hots to sweets to bullhorn types. They tend to come on in a rainbow profusion in September, but a few varieties – like the Islanders and the Bianca – start a little sooner. What many people don’t know about sweet peppers is that almost all of them start their lives green. A yellow, red or orange bell began as a regular old green pepper, but if you leave it on the plant long enough it’ll develop its full color and sweetness. That’s part of the reason colored peppers command a higher price in the produce aisle: they take at least a few more weeks of tending to turn lipstick red.
  • Note that if you cook the lavender peppers, the skin will lose its purple color.
  • Peppers store best in the crisper, ideally in a plastic bag

Little Gem Lettuce

  • Little Gem is going out to some pick-up sites this week – a specialty lettuce that is one of our favorites on the farm. Little gem is a diminutive butter-romaine cross that makes for a perfect 1-2 serving lettuce. The leaves are crisp, ruffled, and sweet and hold onto a Caesar salad dressing like none other! Try this family Caesar dressing recipe: Bunny’s Creamy Caesar
  • Like all of the head lettuce we grow, Little Gem starts its life in a 128-cell tray in the greenhouse where it germinates and grows for 4 weeks. After “hardening off” the seedlings so they’re better acclimated to life in the outdoors, we transplant them into the field. Some lettuces, like romaine, get planted on 6” spacing. Others, like butterheads and summer crisps, get 12” spacing. The Little Gem is special: we plant it 4” apart. It makes for a long day with the trowel, but the result is well worth it. We think these compact, dense heads were aptly named.

Sugar Snap Peas

  • More peas! Enjoy them raw, sautéed, steamed, or stir-fried. Great cooked up with baby carrots, drizzled in olive oil, sprinkled with fresh herbs and salt. A simple, quick way to savor the pure flavor of fresh peas!

Summer Squash

  • Green zucchini has become a regular staple in your harvest basket, but occasionally you’ll see a few other types of summer squash nestled in there among the goodies. There are a few varieties fruiting right now:
    •     Green: Black Beauty
    •     Yellow: Zephyr
    •     Light Green, Round: Ronde de Nice
  • Remember, zukes do best in the fridge in a plastic bag.

On the Farm....
The fog has been relentless this week, keeping the farm shrouded in grey. It’s put the brakes on some of the outdoor tomato ripening, slowed down the next wave of raspberries, and notched down the sugar content in the strawberries.

But we would take grey any day over the other options: the 100+ degree heat that is baking the rest of the west; the incessant rains in the Northeast that have brought on a devastating region-wide tomato blight; the drought that is burning up crops in the South.

A little fog seems like a blessing next to all the other extremes peppering the weather forecast these days.

The bright side to our inconvenient monochromatic sky is that it makes for great weather to get a lot of hard, dusty work done. We’ve been discing the ground that we plowed up with the horses last week, in anticipation of the buckwheat cover crop that needs to get seeded ASAP. Even in the cool of Monday, the horses were drenched in sweat as they dragged me and disc around and around, breaking up clods and smoothing out the field that is to become the home of 250 new apple, pear and plum trees this winter. It’s the kind of work that makes you appreciate some cloud cover - and the swimming hole.

And many crops love this weather, especially the fall and winter crops we’re tending: late broccoli, romanesco, Brussels sprouts, chard, kale, pac choi, kohlrabi, celeriac, cabbage…… These are some of the things you’ll be eating come Autumn and right now they are growing like crazy - in some cases putting on visible inches of growth each day.

But wait – there’s a hole in the sky with blue behind it, right now, as I type...it’s getting bigger, the grey is lifting, sun! Must go. We’ve got a few more laps to go on the disc today, and then, yes, maybe a dip at the swimming hole…