CSA Newsletter: Volume 4, Issue 1


Flying Tomato Farms News

A newsletter for members of Flying Tomato Farms C.S.A.

Vol. 4, Issue 1

GARDEN NEWS:

Welcome! It has been a chilly spring. Despite having started planting on schedule in the final week of March, none of those early-planted crops are yet ready for harvest. However, I do think that the green leaf lettuce will be ready for next week’s deliveries.

I will tell you what is in the garden so far, so that you’ll know what to look forward to: peas, spinach, fingerling potatoes, several kinds of lettuce, cilantro, turnips, carrots, beets, cress, red onions, yellow onions, broccoli, leeks, garlic, arugula, rapini, parsley, and yes—even a few tomatoes (those are well-protected). Soon I’ll be transplanting cauliflower (a first!), more tomatoes, eggplant, peppers (hot and sweet), basil and lemon basil—and there are a lot more crops to direct seed as well.

To quell the frustration of everything growing so slowly, I’ve been working on setting up more permanent beds throughout the gardens, bringing in loads of composted horse manure, and planning the rest of the spring planting schedule (as well as trying to figure out where everything will go). Though the chilly weather has slowed growth—it’s pretty pleasant to work in at least!

THIS WEEK’S DELIVERY:

The first couple weeks of deliveries promise to be a bit light, as the temperatures catch up with the season. This week, you’ll see green onions (scallions), asparagus, and nettles.

I’ve been thinking of delivering stinging nettle tops for a couple of seasons now—my partner, Harry, and I eat them like crazy in the early spring. They grow wild in fields and at the edges of woods, and if you’ve ever wandered into a patch with shorts on, you know how they feel on bare skin. Some traditional medicines recommend flogging bare arthritic joints with nettles—Yikes!

Do not handle nettles with your bare hands or you will get stung! I dump my bag or colander of greens into the kitchen sink and cover them with cold water—swishing them around with a spoon. When they’re ready to go in the pot or pan, I lift them with tongs or a couple forks.

Nettles are very nutritious—high in vitamins and minerals. You can stir-fry them until wilted, steam them, or even make a bright green tea out of them.

My favorite simple nettle recipe:

3 or 4 green onions (or a clove of garlic)

1 TB olive oil

½ bag nettle tops, washed

soy sauce

Chop onions, separating the white and light green from green parts. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high, then add white/light green parts onions (or garlic). Saute for about thirty seconds, then start adding bunches of nettles, letting the batches wilt a bit in the pan before adding more (if there’s just a little of the wash water clinging to the leaves, it helps them wilt faster).

When you’ve added all the nettles to the pan, sprinkle with soy sauce, and cook the nettles until they are all wilted. (You do not have to cook them until they’re mush—but they should at least be wilted.) Garnish with the green onion tops, if desired.

Serve them as is, or with a dash of dark sesame oil if you have it—or a grind of black pepper. I also like a little dash of cider vinegar sometimes. This recipe works equally well for all kinds of greens—mature spinach, chard, lamb’s quarter, rapini, kale, collards.

The asparagus comes both from the patch on our farm and the patch at the old From the Ground Up Garden Center off north University Road (and handily on the way to and from our place). I am ordering 100 crowns of asparagus to plant at the farm this year, as well as hoping to get more perennial crops like rhubarb, strawberries, and raspberries going.

Asparagus can be steamed in a steamer, or in a large lidded frying pan with the spears laid across a couple of chopsticks and a little water in the bottom. The traditional accompaniments are a squeeze of lemon and a bit of melted butter—salt and pepper if you like. My son, who eats very few vegetables (and none of them cooked), loves raw asparagus. Just remember that, raw or cooked, eating asparagus will make your urine smell funky!

The green onions are a “gimme” crop—as a hardy perennial non-bulbing type they come up every year without muss or fuss, and they multiply themselves as well. The only thing I might have to do this year is to dig some out and start a new row with the thinnings. Butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects love their white globe-shaped compound flower heads. Some of the onions in this week’s deliveries have small flower bulbs emerging—they are OK to eat, too.

You can eat green onions raw–some people like to keep a water glass full of green onions to snack on with a little salt from the shaker.

My preference for green onions is to cook with the white and light green parts as I would a regular onion, and reserve the green tops for raw use in salads and garnishes.

None of these vegetables have been washed—so please be sure to give them a cold water rinse directly before using. Washing before delivery lessens the life of the vegetables, so I will only wash the really dirty ones (root crops, usually) and rinse others in cold water if they need cooling down.

Remember to

WASH YOUR VEGGIES!

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