Final spring share for 2018

This is week 6 if you’re counting along. Next week is the first week of summer but before we look ahead, here’s what is in this week’s share: beautiful green cabbage, red beets with the tops (which are very similar to chard), snow peas, the last of the green onions, a small bunch of carrots (more on those below), lacinato rainbow kale, two! heads of lettuce, and a handful of basil.

A note on the carrots: after bunching them in the field this week and then cleaning them off in the shed we realized that the rust fly had found them. Most of the damage, while ugly, is still somewhat superficial, meaning you can easily peel or cut it off. We’re now covering the later plantings to prevent further damage.

One more note on packaging: we’ve been making you all count quite a few items this spring instead of bagging them or using rubber bands. Our intention here is to generate less waste, especially of the plastic sort. We’d love to hear back if the extra effort is worth it to you or if you’d prefer more pre-bagged and bunched items.

Why we grow more kale than broccoli

I got a bit of feedback from a member who wasn’t a kale lover and prefers broccoli. I thought I’d take the opportunity to make a few remarks about why kale is a bit of a staple for the farm.
Not that it’s going to help much if you not a kale lover, but I’ll make a couple of plugs for the kale nonetheless, and also mention that it has only been in the share twice this year (unless you’re counting the collards and chard in the same category, we try to give at least one of those three most weeks). I happen to not really like broccoli much and to enjoy my kale (mostly sliced thinly and sautéed in olive oil, finished with a bit of balsamic or sherry vinegar and salt) but it’s good for me to hear that others have the opposite feeling.
The main reason we don’t grow much broccoli is agrinomic. Broccoli takes an inordinate amount of space and time and is far more expensive to produce on our scale. We are both space and time limited on the farm. Kale is very space and time efficient. One 74’ bed of kale will potentially produce at least 250-500 bunches over the year, often many more, it matures much earlier and produces for much longer, and then in the spring it also gives very tasty raab (unfortunately before we start the CSA). One 74’ bed of broccoli  will only produce one harvest of heads, and only about 75-150 medium heads of broccoli at most (yes, there’s potential for side shoot production, but that is even more labor intensive to harvest, and the side shoots won’t add up to a second full harvest). Broccoli is much harder on the ground because it requires much more tillage, more fertility and more water for a similar yield. Bok choi is significantly faster and less space intensive than broccoli, but still is only a single harvest crop so ultimately it takes up more space and we grow less of it. We’ve also tried to provide napa cabbage the past two years and have had crop failures both years, but we’ll keep working on more kale alternatives. Nutritionally all of these are similar but have different strengths.
As a kale connoisseur I’ll mention that we grow two varieties of kale and there are many more with quite a diversity of leaf types and flavors. The crop spans two separate species and both are particularly suited to our climate. Kale’s flavor also changes dramatically depending on weather and season. Our fall kale harvests are much sweeter and crisper, while the spring harvests have more of the tender green flavor.
I highly recommend checking out some of Katherine’s Cook with What You Have tips on kale preparations. One thing I’ve noticed is that it gets much smaller when it’s cooked and takes up much less space in my refrigerator that way. I, personally, do not recommend steaming it and find it barely palatable prepared that way, but I love it both sautéed and raw in slaws.
Hope some of that makes sense. In the meantime I’ll keep the kale alternatives in mind as we plan for future harvests.

Week 6 predictions

So fun to have a nice harvest of carrots in this week’s share. Next week is the final week of spring and it’s looking like a good one. As predicted a few items in today’s share varied from Monday, specifically we swapped in snow peas in place of snap peas, and basil in place of parsley. Next week we’ll try to reverse the flip to even things out. New next week should be mini heads of cabbage, and beets. Favas are another possible addition and there are a number of likely returns like lettuce and kale.

Spring, week 5

The shares just keep getting better. Today we have Samantha red leaf lettuce, abundant bloomsdale spinach, 5 color silverbeet (aka chard) bunches, hakurei turnips, french breakfast radishes, green onions, flat leaf parsley, sugar snap peas and the first carrots of the year! Thursday may see a slightly different share this week. It’s likely there’ll be snow peas instead of the snaps, possibly a different herb, but it will all even itself out by next week.

The fields are looking good after this weekend’s rain. As always the rain will bring a flush of weeds so we’ll try to keep on top of those before they get away from us. That, lots of trellising work and cleaning up from the first weeks of harvest should keep us busy this week.

June video farm tour

Here’s a little tour of what’s happening in the fields and in the greenhouse this time of year. I’m looking forward to looking back on all of these at the end of the year as a group. Search back through the blog now if you want to see the last few months and how far the crops have come since then. Things are looking very good right now!

Spring, week 4

In today’s share: hakurei turnips, French breakfast radishes, snow peas, fennel, hearts of romaine and green crisp lettuce, yellow collards, garlic scapes. Lots of new stuff this week. The lettuce are nice dense hearts as we had a bit of damage to the outer leaves. Peas are coming on slowly with the cool weather and I hope that means they’ll be around for a while. The garlic scapes are a one time crop, and are in short supply this year so enjoy them while they’re here. Lots of suggestions for how to use all of it is at CookWithWhatYouHave.com

Week 4 share predictions

Garlic scapes look like they’ll be ready, as does the fennel. Peas are so close and I’m guessing we’ll be picking the first ones by Monday. The collard greens are looking good for our bunching green. We should have a few new radishes, more salad turnips, more lettuce and possibly more green onions as well. As always, stay tuned on Monday to see how good my predictions were. The farm continues to look good, lots of trellising going up for the summer crops, and more spring crops maturing for the first weeks of June.