The Big Broccoli Bang
When it rains it pours, at least in the broccoli patch this year. For the past month we’ve been eeking out enough broccoli and broccolini to put some in your totes each week – but not a lot. To blame was the wet spring, which flooded a couple of our early broccoli plantings and killed them. We replanted, but that event set our big harvests back a couple weeks.
Until last Friday, when I made my usual foray through the broccoli field. Instead of hauling out a few backpacks-worth of florets and heads, I lugged out load after load of heavy broccoli heads, totaling over 250 pounds (and stuffed all of it into my husband’s station wagon; he had the pickup truck that day…).
(We harvest broccoli into a specialty produce backpack that we can wear on our backs. We cut the heads with a sharp knife and then toss them over a shoulder into the backpack. When the backpack is full, we heft it to the end of the row and dump it into a harvest bin in the shade. A full backpack weighs about 30 pounds).
This Tuesday, I cut another 200 pounds, with no end in sight. There are four more plantings of broccoli still to mature, so you’ll probably be getting it in your share well into August this year. This is great news for the broccoli-lovers among you, ‘cuz you’re getting a full 2 pounds of it this week! Our fresh-cut broccoli tends to last for up to two weeks in the fridge, if not longer, but you might be well-advised to eat it along the way so you don’t get a mass pile-up in your fridge. Here’s another farm website that has a great recipe search engine, and some yummy broccoli-inspired dishes: http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php
New Potatoes, New Veggies!
Baby spuds, zucchini, baby carrots, cauliflower! Some of you will see all of these things in your totes this week, as we round the corner into full-fledged summer food. Yeehaw!
The new potatoes are a special treat - and kind of a sacrificial harvest. Once a potato plant begins to flower, that’s our cue that the tubers are setting and starting to size up. At this stage, the potatoes are incredibly tender. The tradeoff is that one bed of potatoes dug now, when they are “new,” yields only 150 lbs of spuds. Compare that to a bed of fully mature potatoes dug in August, which will yield over 600 pounds. As a result, it’s a relatively small share of potatoes in your harvest basket, but something worth savoring. Be careful not to overcook them, and consider using that bunch of dill to spice them up! Here’s a recipe link to inspire:
In your share this week:
- Head Lettuce
- Rainbow Chard
- New Potatoes
- Baby Carrots
This means that some pickup locations will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.
Some of you will see cauliflower in your totes this week, as our first planting slowly begins to come on. We grow three varieties: a white, an orange, and a purple. The colored heads are a shocking neon when eaten raw, and make quite a splash on a platter of crudités.
Storage: in the fridge in a plastic bag; will hold for a couple of weeks.
For me, carrots signify the true arrival of summertime eating. You would think it would be tomatoes, or peppers, or corn – but for us here on the coast, all of those crops come on at the end of summer, at the melancholy cusp of autumn. Carrots show up at the happy zenith of summer, marking a true end to the June root fare of turnips and radishes. They are long-awaited, because once you have eaten a sweet garden-grown carrot it’s hard to ever return to store-bought carrots again.
I look forward to them with an anticipation so keen it sends me out to that part of the field on regular basis, hoping that the green top I tug on will reveal more than a white thread of root. Something orange. Something perhaps at least the size of my pinky. And this week we were in luck: lots of carrots the size of my pinky, and some even as large as a forefinger!
It’s a small bunch of carrots in your share this week, but a promise of great carrot abundance to come. We are taking special pains with our carrot production this year, after losing much of our crop to carrot rust fly last season. The rust fly is attracted to the carrots and lays its eggs among them. The eggs then hatch into larva, which feed on the carrots, leaving ugly tunnels in the roots. The damage gets worse as the season goes on (the rust fly can have 3 generations in one summer), so by fall it can be impossible to find a clean carrot in the field.
Last year our CSA members were extremely tolerant of our ugly carrots in the fall, but we were determined not to have it happen again. So this winter I invested in a piece of floating row cover as big as a football field, which we are covering our carrot block with. That’s all it takes to keep the rust fly at bay. It’s more work, because we have to take the row cover off every time we cultivate, weed, and harvest, but hopefully it will prove to be well worth it come October when we still have beautiful carrots.
Storage: your carrots will keep the longest if you cut the tops off and store the roots in a plastic bag in the fridge. The tops are edible – and not just by bunnies and hampsters and horses. Carrot top soup, anyone?
The onset of summer squash! Zucchini will be a reliable companion throughout the next couple of months. It stores in the fridge OK, but can get slimy in a plastic bag after a week. So eat up!
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 that you can contribute to
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