Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Passage Creek Farm CSA - Week of May 18, 2009

NOTE: Previous CSA newsletters are posted below.

We had our first farmers’ market this weekend, and as May markets go, it was a big success for us. We were hoping it would be busier, but with Mayfest going on in Strasburg, we had some competition. But we made some money, sold some annuals and some greens, and did it all while managing a four-month-old baby. Elliot was a super trooper and charmed the market visitors thoroughly.
Our hired help worked out well last week. Joe helped us get our tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and zinnias planted, and some significant weeding done. We can now see our spinach and beets! The snap peas are beginning to come in, so they should be appearing in the bags soon. This week will present some challenges for us, mostly in the form of night temperatures in the 30s. It’s unusual for this late in May, so we thought we were in the clear, but we’re going to be scrambling to get everything covered today. What a fickle month!
We harvested some mustard greens for the bags this week, and as you can see they have some tiny holes in them. “How ugly!” you might say. But don’t, at least not until you know the flea beetle story. These little critters love the brassica family, which includes all mustard greens. Since we grow organically, we can either pay for (expensive) organic sprays that are still fairly toxic (Concern, for example, says it will harm fish, and we happen to have a lovely little creek nearby), or we can cover the crops with row covers. We opt for the latter, which has its own challenges, primarily that it is so windy here that it is hard to keep row covers on the crops. But we diligently do it every year and every year the row covers are all over the field after a hard wind. So, the flea beetles get to the greens. We hope you won’t hold a small cosmetic defect against these delicious greens. They are extremely healthy and make a quick meal.

This Week:

Two heads lettuce (green leaf, red leaf)
Mustard mix (mizuna, Savannah tendergreens, tat soi, arugula)
Basil (that’s right, basil, right smack in the middle of May!)

What to do with it:

So we thought you might still be a bit overwhelmed with lettuce from last week, so we only put in two heads this week. The red leaf is called Cherokee, and believe it or not, that’s as big as it gets. Small but tasty. The mustard greens are for stir-frying, steaming, or even eating raw. They’re all very mild, and they will cook down quickly, so only give them a couple minutes in the wok or frying pan. If you add onions and mushrooms, you have a very simple stir-fry. You can dress it up with coconut milk, some of the basil, or even shrimp or chicken. We like to add carrots when we have them. Todd will often add a scrambled egg or two, and sometimes a bit of peanut butter. If you want to eat the greens raw, we recommend blending some with the lettuce for a slightly spicy salad.
The radishes (and their greens) can also be added to the stir-fry (the greens will have a funny texture raw, but this will disappear with cooking). These radishes are also fairly mild. Todd says he wishes they were spicier, so for those of you who are afraid they might be too spicy, we hope you are pleasantly surprised. The dill is versatile – if you’re into baking, try some cheddar-dill biscuits or some savory bread. It’s an interesting addition to salad dressing, and also goes well with eggs. We like to make a lot of frittatas (there’s a zucchini-okra frittata on our website, but you can put anything in it you want), and we often add dill or basil, but usually not both at the same time.

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