Week 3: June 21st

What’s in your Share This Week?
Head lettuce
Braising Mix
Broccolini (on rotation)
The surprises keep coming this spring: this week you’ll find raspberries in your share, which are here at least a week earlier than expected! The variety is Cascade Dawn, a june-bearing variety that puts on a big show of fruit for about 3-4 weeks in the early summer. Somehow they weathered all the rain and cold and are starting to ripen up red and sweet for us!
The strawberries are finally starting to kick into high gear as well, with the help of all this sun. It’s a month later than last year, but better late than never! We’re picking both Seascapes (an ever-bearing, day-neutral variety that will go ALL summer, until the fall rains come) and Tillamook (a June-bearing variety that produces for a month in early summer).
U-pick is officially open for both strawberries and raspberries now, so if you want to fill your freezer, make some jam, or just have an overflowing bowl of berries on your counter, visit us on a Wednesday or a Saturday from 9-5 to pick your own. Info is on our website.
Also this week, we’re sending everyone a couple heads of romaine lettuce with Caesar salads in mind. There’s a good Caesar dressing recipe on the Recipe Exchange, compliments of a good friend’s mom.
The New Stuff: How to eat it, cut it, cook it, and keep it:
Best eaten sooner than later, but if you need to store them for a few days, the fridge is your best bet. Many people put them into a Tupperware with a lid, sometimes with a damp paper towel on the bottom of the container to help keep the berries from drying out. They’ll keep for at least a couple of extra days this way.
Strawberries are also a cinch to freeze. Take the tops off and simply throw them into a freezer bag whole. They’ll be mushy when they thaw out, but they’re still great in smoothies, as a compote, filling for crepes, added to yogurt or in hot cereal.
Very delicate and very perishable, you should enjoy your raspberries within a day or two. If you want to try to store them for a couple of days, put them in the fridge. They also freeze well – treat them exactly like the strawberries.
Va-va-voom, I wish I had a dress the color of this kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is the alien-looking purple orb in your tote this week, a variety called Kolibri. Kohlrabi belongs to the Brassica family, along with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, mustard greens, and many more crops (it’s a very big family). It grows just above ground – squatting there like a happy, round beer belly - with a big crown of shady leaves overhead.
Kohlrabi is foreign to most folks, so a few tips:

  • The outer skin on kohlrabi is tough, so we suggest you peel it with a paring knife. The innards are tender and crunchy, like a peeled broccoli stem.
  • Kohlrabi is great cut into sticks and enjoyed raw, but you can also sautee or steam it lightly.
  • Kohlrabi stores like a champ – best in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer.

Braising Mix
The bag of baby mustards, kale, and other Asian greens is braising mix. It can be eaten raw as a salad, or flash sautéed or steamed. If you cook it, it’s wonderful drizzled with a little olive oil, cider vinegar and salt. It will cook down significantly if you leave it too long in the pan, so keep an eye on it!
Store it in the fridge. Should keep for 5-7 days if it’s kept cold.
One of the true tastes of summer, this basil is hothouse grown. We’re just now planting our outdoor basil crop to ensure a continuous harvest through the summer (a bit later than usual because of the cold, wet spring), but fortunately the greenhouse crop will carry us into July.
Store it in the fridge in it’s baggie, but beware: basil will turn black in your fridge after a few days, so use it while it’s perky and green!
On the Farm…
Farming is a constant series of tradeoffs, and this week is no exception. A few weeks ago we were lamenting the puddles of standing water in the field and the relentless rain; this week we are scrambling to get irrigation on all our crops before they wither under the solstice sun! We’re almost there, which means that the summer irrigation dance has commenced at Valley Flora.
This week I drew up the irrigation schedule for the season – a puzzle that often sends smoke streaming forth from my ears. Every crop has different water needs, and we water in many different ways on the farm: with overhead sprinklers, drip tape, poly tubing with special emitters (for the perennials and orchard), and automatic misters. We pump water from Floras Creek using a 30 gallon/minute (gpm) pump – which is a relatively small pump for our 8 acres of production. It means that something is always being watered on the farm – whether it’s 12 noon or 12 midnight – and it means that we have to be on our toes about turning things on and off throughout the day.
A typical Monday looks something like this in the Valley Flora irrigation realm:

  • 7 am: Turn on the double set of overhead sprinklers in the lettuce and root field. Run it for 5 hours using 26 gpm. (We run overhead sprinklers in the early morning before the afternoon breeze picks up – in order to conserve water and ensure an even distribution).
  • 12 pm: Turn off lettuce/roots. Clean the mainline filter.
  • 12:30 pm: Turn on Strawberry 1 (on drip tape, 12 gpm) and run for 3 hours. Meanwhile, turn on potatoes (drip, 8 gpm) and run for 4 hours. Also turn on Orchard 1 (poly tubing, 6 gpm) and run for 6 hours – for a total of 26 gpm running at once.
  • 3:30 pm: Turn off Strawberry 1. Clean the secondary filter. Switch to Strawberry 2 (drip, 10 gpm, 3 hours).
  • 4:30 pm: Turn off potatoes.
  • 6:30 pm: Turn off Orchard 1. Turn off Strawberry 2.
  • 8 pm: Automatic overhead sprinklers (controlled by a timer) turn on in the salad field and run on rotation until 6 am, Tuesday.

Whew. And then it starts all over again on Tuesday with another string of crops and timing. Counter to what most people imagine organic farming to be – groovy and mellow and unplugged – we all wear watches on the farm, carry clipboards, and we run most places. Vegetables – and their thirsty ways - rule our lives. And yes, we love it.