In This Week’s Beet Box:
- New Veggies: Red Cabbage
- Winter Garden Kits
- The Heartbreaking Absence of Sugar in your Share
In your share this week:
- Head Lettuce
- Purplette Onions
- Red Cabbage
- Rainbow Chard
This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.
New Veggies of the Week…
Now there’s some heft! Cabbage is a year-round veggie – in part because it grows from spring through fall, but also because certain varieties store through the winter. This is an early variety, bred for fresh-eating. It will still store for weeks in your fridge (ideally in a bag), so no pressure to eat the whole thing at once (like my draft horse, Maude, likes to do – as if it were a small apple). If you eat some of it and save the rest for later, the cut edge will brown a little. Next time you go to use it, simply shave off the outside layer first.
Great sliced up thinly with grated carrots for a festive summer slaw!
U-Pick Marionberries & Peas
They’re going strong! Come pick!
Winter Garden Kits
This week you’ll see some flats of veggie starts at each pickup site, labeled with names. They are for members who have signed up and pre-paid for Winter Garden Kits. Please don’t take any plants home unless you signed up for a Winter Garden Kit. Thanks!
The Heartbreaking Absence of Sugar in your Share
For the first time ever in the history of Harvest Baskets, there are no strawberries in the share this week (unheard of for mid-July!). The strawberry patch has been in a precipitous nose-dive since the beginning of July and the diagnosis is a soil-borne root fungus called Phytophthora. Phytophthora is ubiquitous on the farm (it can persist in soil for up to 17 years) – but doesn’t necessarily do damage unless it has ideal conditions to proliferate. We got those conditions during the big flood in January of 2012, and then again in November 2012 when the field went under water yet again. Phyophthora thrives in wet, cool soil and flood conditions will unleash it with a fury.
The first casualty on the farm was our raspberries. We lost our entire fall raspberry crop last year (as in, had to tear out the entire planting just as it was hitting it’s prime years), and our June-bearing raspberries were crippled by it (not killed, but almost; the only reason we had a reasonable fruit set on the June raspberries this year was because they pollinated so well this spring).
Strawberries are the other Phyophthora-prone crop we grow, and it has hit them hard this season, in spite of our best efforts to rotate them every year and give them the healthiest soil conditions we can. At this point, I’m declaring it a crop failure (although I’m ever-hopeful that we will be happily surprised by a turn-around later in the summer).
The challenge has been not to panic; strawberries are one of our signature crops and make up a significant portion of the summer income stream. Without those sweet red berries in the mix it’s a little unclear how the economics are going to play out for the farm this season. We have been trying to eek out whatever we can just to help cover the lost investment in this year’s crop (the strawberry crowns, all the labor to plant and maintain them, the fertilizer, the harvest labor, the packaging, etc.), but it will probably chalk up to a loss in the strawberry column this season.
Looking ahead, I just ordered our new plants (which we put in the ground each November for the following season) and I’m going to trial two new varieties that allegedly have much better disease resistance than Seascape (our beloved standby variety), and better flavor. Hard to imagine, but here’s hoping! We are also moving onto higher ground and the new strawberries will be in a place in the field that didn’t go under during the floods of 2012.
In the meantime, we will do whatever we can to get strawberries into your share if possible. Special orders are on hold for the time being, unless you want seconds (we have those in abundant supply but they’re ugly). I’m so sorry!
We have been able to get one or two good flats out of the field each harvest day (compared to the 20 or 30 we would normally be picking right now), and those are for sale at the farmstand (there’s not even enough to put them on rotation for the CSA, so we are just selling the few pints we have).
Thank goodness for the 99 other crops that are doing well on the farm. Roberto was asking me yesterday if there is compensation money from the government for a crop loss like this. The answer is no – unless you grow corn, or soy, or wheat, or somesuch commodity and you buy crop insurance for it. But for us fresh market organic farmers, our only insurance is diversity. So enjoy the 9 other things in your share this week and if you think of it, do a strawberry dance for good measure.
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
- Purplette Onions
- Fresh dill
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