Sogn Valley Farm CSA Newsletter Week 12 | Aug 21-22, 2018
What's In The Box
Green beans: This week's recipe pairs beans with cherry tomatoes and garlic for a satisfying side dish. Rinse before using.
Carrots: Our second “summer” carrot planting is now full grown. Summer- harvested carrots have good flavor though aren't quite as sweet as fall-harvested carrots. Grate them on a salad, cook them with ginger and honey, or stir-fry them.
Cherry tomatoes: Mostly red cherries again with a few Sun Golds and Black cherries thrown in. Use these in this week's recipe.
Garlic: This is 'Chesnok Red' garlic, a new variety for us this year. These are smaller heads with medium-sized cloves. They have a beautiful purple wrapper, and the garlic gets sweet when cooked. Known to be mild-flavored, without a lot of heat.
Green and colored peppers: Full shares are getting a mixture of green and red 'Carmen' Italian peppers, along with an orange bell pepper. Half shares are getting some mini-bell “snacking” peppers along with a green bell pepper.
Tomatoes: This week, half shares are receiving red slicer tomatoes and full shares are receiving a mix of red slicers and heirloom tomatoes.
Salad mix (full shares) or red leaf lettuce (half shares): Fields planted with lettuce and herbs have been prioritized for irrigating, so I'm pleased to be harvesting lettuce here in the middle of the summer.
Green kale: Use this is a saute, stir-fry, soup, or green smoothie.
Cucumbers: Mostly thin-skinned 'Amiga' cucumbers today, with a few regular slicers for some full shares, which are also getting an English cucumber.
Yellow-fleshed watermelon or cantaloupe: Full shares, along with half shares at the Ferndale Market pickup location, are receiving a 'Yellow Doll' watermelon, while most half shares are receiving a cantaloupe. Yellow Doll seeded watermelons have been consistently sweet in my sampling. One note is that we have been observing a some incidence of hollow heart, a fairly common disorder in watermelons. It's pretty self-explanatory—there is a little hollow cavity at the center of the fruit. The flavor seems unaffected by this. This week's cantaloupes are either 'Athena' or 'Magnificenza,' different varieties than what half shares received last week. The striped 'Magnificenza' melons have been consistently quite sweet, and 'Athena' have been mostly very sweet with a few moderately sweet. Melons, in general, can be a little hit-and-miss.
Mini-cabbage: These petite cabbages—red, green, and savoy—make a nice single serving for most folks. Two heads for full shares, one for half shares.
Each week, we’ll give some hints about what new items may show up CSA shares in the next 1 -2 weeks. Please note, this is not a guarantee, but our attempt to give you an idea of what’s coming up.
Watermelon — Potatoes — Sweet onions — Zucchini/summer squash
I've been sitting here trying to think of a way to start this newsletter without discussing the weather, but I'm stuck in a loop. So I won't fight it.
Yesterday, for the third or fourth time in the last month, we watched the radar (and the skies) as a large rain system seemed to just stop before it reached our farm, eventually skirting around us.
With a forecast showing 80-90% chance of rain on Sunday night and through much of Monday, I closed down all of our high tunnels to keep the plants protected from rain and storm winds. I even went out to the carrot field at dusk and used our undercutter implement to loosen up the carrots for this week's box. Undercutting is a task which greatly speeds up harvest, but which can't be done if the soil is wet.
But alas, with each passing hour, the projected rain probability dwindled and narrowed in duration, with the final product being about 30 minutes of sprinkles.
We've now gone a month with little more than a quarter-inch of rain, nearly drought conditions, I would say. Talking with the neighboring farmer yesterday, he said his soybeans are starting to abort their top pods, since the plants just don't have enough water to support them.
Most crops we grow should be getting one full inch of water per week, and despite our irrigation efforts, there are some fields we haven't been able to get water to. Time will tell the impacts of this dry spell.
I was talking about this situation with my uncle, Dave, who farmed with my grandpa for about 20 years. He was reminding me to be appreciative of the good soil we have on this farm. Driving around the county, he said, you can see which are the good fields.
On our farm, although the soil is super dry, the crops mostly look like they're supposed to. But drive by a field with sandy soil, or with soil that's been highly eroded, and the crops are literally shrivelling up and turning brown. Yield will be down in all fields in this area, but those with good soils (which have high water-holding capacity) will fare far better than those with degraded or sandy soils.
I was actually thinking about this as I took my most recent field walk. One particular field of ours is a good distance from the well, and is an awkwardly shaped field that was never connected to our irrigation system. This field is all brassicas—cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale. The whole field, a little under an acre, was planted all at once around July 1st . These plants got a little water from our transplanter as they were put in the ground and one moderate rain about 10 days later, but have gotten essentially nothing since.
Yet the plants look basically fine. The kale in this week's box came from that field. So our soil has been holding enough water for our crop plants to continue with their basic metabolic processes, and I'm very thankful for that. But even though these plants aren't shriveling up and turning brown, there are undoubtedly consequences of these dry conditions: plants under stress aren't as able to resist disease (which we are seeing in some areas of the field); non-turgid leaves from water-deficient plants wilt more quickly post- harvest, shortening shelf life; and ultimate yield will be lower.
With all that said, please send us rain vibes! A good inch would push along many of the crops that will form the backbone of late- season CSA boxes. And all of the farmers working here on the farm will breathe a sign of relief.
Have a great week,
Sautéed Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound green beans, trimmed
½ cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green beans and cook, stirring often, until seared in spots, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add water, cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes for tender-crisp or 6 minutes for tender.
3. Push the beans to the side; add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
4. Add tomatoes, stir everything together and cook until the tomatoes begin to break down, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar, salt and pepper.