What’s in your Share This Week?
Cabbage (green or savoy)
BonBon Buttercup Squash
Turnips – Scarlet Queen or Hakurei
The New Stuff: How to chop it, cook it and keep it…
This is the first year I’ve grown this variety, a behemoth called “Kossack” that can get up to 8” in diameter. Some – not all – reached that size, so hopefully the kohlrabi lovers amongst you received the lunkers this week.
Kossack is intended specifically as a storage kohlrabi (said to last up to 4 months in cold storage), but can be eaten fresh as well. We harvested these before we left for Italy, so they have been in our cooler almost a month already. I am always curious to experiment with veggies like this, in the interest of season extension. Given that we have the cold storage infrastructure now (in the form of our 12’x12’ walk-in cooler), I’m constantly on the lookout for varieties that we can harvest in the fall and hold in our cooler for distribution at a later date – in hopes of keeping the CSA share diverse, interesting and abundant – even in the darkest, wettest, coldest time of the year.
To enjoy your kohlrabi, remember that you need to peel it first to reveal the tender flesh inside. Most people liken the flavor and texture to that of peeled broccoli stems. Raw or sautéed, there are recipes to found via the Recipe Wizard in case you need a nudge of inspiration to put your kohlrabi to use – as something other than a softball or a doorstopper.
Your winter squash this week is a Buttercup variety with thick, dry, sweet, orange flesh. It’s probably most similar to Sunshine, the scarlet-orange squash you received a couple weeks ago. It’s hard to go wrong - no matter how you prepare any of the winter squash varieties - but BonBon’s drier flesh makes it especially well-suited for pie (sweet or savory), ravioli filling, or any other “stuffing” application. Or if you need a quick fix, just cut it in half, bake it face-down on a cookie sheet in the oven, and then slather it with butter and maple syrup. Ooooo, I’m getting hungry.
On the Farm: This Week’s Cabbage Lesson, Recordkeeping, Strawberry Planting, and a sneak peak at your Thanksgiving Share…
One of the things I love most about farming is that I learn something new almost every day – and get to apply that learning to the next season. This week’s lesson was that we should plant Storage #4 green cabbage for the last cabbage distribution of the year (this week), instead of savoy cabbage. There’s nothing wrong with the Savoy, but it was very clear as I sat in the cooler cleaning cabbages this Monday that the Storage #4’s (a tight, green, smooth-leaved cabbage) had held up far better in storage while we were away. I had to strip many layers of leaves off of the Savoy type to clean them up, whereas the Storage #4’s only needed one or two outer leaves peeled away. We harvested both types in the middle of October and have held them in storage for the past few weeks.
So how does a farmer remember all these little details as the season progresses, especially when she’s keeping track of over 100 different varieties throughout the year? The answer is good record-keeping. Every grower has his or her own system – or lack thereof – from the hi-tech iTouch approach to scrawling notes on the back of the hand.
My system in the field is a simple write-in-the-rain notebook that I always have on hand in the pick-up. Every week or two – or whenever I learn/observe something that could improve the farm in the following season – I sit down on the tailgate and jot down some notes. I usually start a new entry with the date and the crop written in all-caps, underlined – so it’s easy to find it when I flip through my notebook down the road. I also star things to indicate “take action on this item next year!” It works pretty well.
Along with that notebook, I have a binder full of field maps, planting calendars, and harvest records that gets updated throughout the year. Come December and January, I sift back through it all and start formulating the master crop plan for the next season. It’s a month-long planning process that always begins with decisions about our market – what markets (CSA, restaurants, farmstand, u-pick, etc.) are we going to grow for and how much are we going to grow. From there, I get into the details of timing, successions and varieties – fine tuning the previous year’s plan with all of the nuggets of info I jotted down during the season. The crop planning process culminates in a big seed order (usually on the order of $1000-$1500 in seed each season).
By February, the entire farm for the upcoming season is in my hands, in the form of hundreds of seed packets – all of which fit into a single Rubbermaid tote! It never ceases to amaze me that that single tote of seeds will transform into acres of vegetables and full-time employment for me, Roberto, my sister, my mom, and the handful of folks that help us part-time. I am reminded every year to never underestimate the power of seeds.
Or, for that matter, strawberry crowns – 5000 of which will be arriving at the farm today via UPS from a nursery in northern California. Sadly, I wasn’t able to source organic crowns this year, due to the fact that my usual supplier – and the ONLY organic strawberry crown nursery in the country, Prather Ranch - halted its organic strawberry crown production for lack of demand (as I explained in a frustrated summer newsletter a few months ago). Even though the crowns aren’t organic, their fruit will still be considered “organic”…funny how the organic rules are crafted.
The arrival of the crowns ushers in a flurry of activity for us as we try to get all of them in the ground as quickly as possible. We’ve spent the past few days prepping the new beds (laying drip lines and stapling down landscape fabric to prevent weeds) and are almost ready to dig in. This will be the largest strawberry planting we’ve ever put in (9 beds instead of the usual 6), so we’re anticipating a big and bodacious harvest next summer.
It’s always odd to me to be so immersed in strawberries (or strawberry potential at least) at same time that we’re gearing up for Thanksgiving. I imagine many of you are starting to make plans for your feast, so I’m including a quick preview list of what (and how much) to expect in your TWO totes next week – so that you can incorporate your farm ingredients into your holiday food extravaganza. Also, keep in mind there are many Thanksgiving-inspired recipes on the Recipe Exchange – some that are traditional and some that add a new twist on old favorites. And, if you have a favorite crowd-pleasing dish that’s part of your Thanksgiving tradition, post it on the Recipe Exchange! Happy menu-planning!
In your TWO totes next week!...
2 yellow onions
1.5 lb red shallots
1+ lb beets (mixed red, gold, chioggia)
1+ lb rainbow carrots
1+ lb orange carrots
4-6 stalks celery
1 head escarole
1 lb Winterbor kale
2 lb parsnips
4-5 lbs yellow potatoes (Yellow Finn, German Butterball & Bintje)
1 stalk Brussels sprouts
4 Delicata squash
1 Sunshine squash