CSA Newsletter: Volume 4, Issue 2

Flying Tomato Farms News

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

Vol. 4, Issue 2


I have been hitting it hard in the last week. Now that it has warmed up, I am trying to get all of the summer crops transplanted and seeded before the beginning of June, when my son will come to stay for two weeks. This week: sweet peppers (Ace Bell and Italian Sweet), hot peppers (Hungarian Hot Wax and Bulgarian Carrot), Eggplant (Black and Lavender Touch), plus tomatoes of a couple dozen varieties everywhere—along their own trellises, tucked in between the sugar snap peas—wherever there is space and vertical support.

For seeds—okra (Cajun Delight) and cucumbers (Summer Dance, Mideast Prolific, and National Pickling) have gone in this week. Sadly, I had to pull the English (shell) peas, as they were looking diseased. I’ve never had this problem before, and the other peas right near them look fine, so I’m guessing it was a bad batch of seed. Grr.

I am focusing much of my transplanting in the newer north central garden. I attempted to plant that spot for the first time last year (sweet corn), but the drought and weeds got the best of it. I have to remind myself that it takes a year to get a new spot really under control for intensive planting—I should always plant a weed-suppression crop like buckwheat in new areas the first year. Now the area is cleaner, and filling up fast with cauliflower, okra, hot peppers, tomatillos, and eggplant, and lots of straw mulch.

Garden Tour! On the evening of Wednesday, May 28, I’ll be leading a tour of the gardens for the community gardeners and friends of the community garden. I am more then happy to have CSA members come as well. This is a good opportunity to see firsthand where your food comes from. I’m sure there won’t be a single weed by then! Please give me a call for details (I am not sure just yet what the time will be or where we will meet)—I’ll likely also publish them in next week’s newsletter if I remember.

Next week it looks like we’ll have spinach, and the radishes are sizing up nicely, so more than likely you’ll see a bunch of them as well. Soon after we’ll have young broccoli raab and arugula. I always seem to pick arugula about a week after I should have, so don’t be surprised if you see it next week instead. I’m trying to get in at least one or two deliveries of that spicy green before it gets too big and strong-flavored.


Spring garlic, rhubarb, lettuce, asparagus.

The spring garlic is courtesy of Mike (Vito) Gaidelis of Red Rooster Farms in Wakonda. Mike grows some of the most beautiful garlic I’ve seen, and later in the season you’ll be seeing a few bulbs of his gorgeous elephant garlic.

These bunches of spring garlic can be used in much the same way you’d use green onions. However, the white and light green parts of the garlic are slightly milder than the green tops. All parts of the bunch are edible, and all have great garlic flavor. Try snipping some into a salad, or chopping some for stir fry or other cooked dishes.

The rhubarb is from John Fremsted’s patch here in town. I have a few plants started out on the farm, but not enough to deliver as yet. John assures me he doesn’t spray or use any chemical fertilizer or pesticides on his rhubarb.

Oatmeal-Rhubarb Bars


1 cup All-purpose flour

3/4 cup Oatmeal -- uncooked
1 cup Brown sugar -- packed
1/2 cup Butter, unsalted -- melted
1 cup Sugar
1 teaspoons Cornstarch
1 cup Water
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
4 cups Rhubarb 


Mix flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and butter until crumbly. Press 1/2 into greased 9″ pan. Add rhubard, cut in 1/2″ pieces. Combine sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla; cook till thick and clear. Pour sauce over rhubarb. Top with other half crumb mixture. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

(From http://www.rhubarbinfo.com)

Black-seeded Simpson is the lettuce variety you’ll see in the bags this week. This is an heirloom early lettuce with a mild flavor, so it favors a light vinegar-and-oil dressing. Make sure to wash your lettuce (a salad spinner is really handy!)—I clip and hydrocool the lettuce and other garden greens (submerge them in cold well water), then spin them dry in my 5 gallon spinner, but a good washing before serving is recommended.

You may see a few stray leaves of Osaka Purple Mustard or Red Russian kale in your bag of lettuce—they are volunteers from the patch of stir fry mix I grew in that spot last fall, and they are quite edible.

For those of you who are new to the CSA this year, you’ll notice that these greens last longer than anything you’ll buy in the store. That’s because you’re getting them on the same day they were harvested, and they go straight from field to water bath to spinner to bags and then straight into the cooler. It doesn’t get much fresher!

The asparagus is again from our patch on the farm and the patch at the now-defunct From the Ground Up Garden Center. I hope to be able to deliver asparagus for a couple more weeks, weather permitting. Enjoy this early spring treat while it lasts!

Asparagus Packets on the Grill

Trim any hard bottoms off the asparagus, and lay the spears on a sheet of heavy-duty tinfoil (or use two layers or regular foil). Dot spears with butter (or drizzle with olive oil), sprinkle with the juice of ½ lemon, plus salt and pepper to taste. Fold the foil securely around the asparagus so that it forms a flat rectangular packet. Grill over medium coals for 5-10 minutes on each side—until spears are the desired tenderness.

You’ll be seeing more deliveries that come exclusively from our gardens as the season progresses—right now many of the crops here are playing catch-up from the chilly spring.

You can visit me at the Vermillion Area Farmers Market. This year we’ll be setting up on Thursday evenings from 3-7pm at the Clay County Fairgrounds, corner of Cherry and High Streets.

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