CSA Newsletter 5: How can we Weed while the Field is Burning?

My favorite moment from this week was the Sunday evening that the whole crew spent on the screen porch,watching as the massive thunderstorm system rolled past and toward us.

The first of the cells were dozens of miles to our south, yet still visible as the constant silent barrage of high-atmosphere lightning snapped streaks across the roiling clouds.

And we weren’t the only ones watching.

The lightning bugs – which had been present but not all that common up on our hill, were out in unprecedented numbers, all around us – and not just casually blinking while leisurely flying around, either – they were darting and dashing, their lights flashing stroboscopically through the shadows of the oaks and pines.

It was an incredible display (sadly not capturable on my phone), and it seemed clear that the fireflies were flashing in response to the electrical storm going in the skies around the farm. Maybe this was really why they’re called lightning bugs!

Other than the storm, it’s been a pretty standard work week on the farm – plenty of weeding and mulching in the field, and pruning and trellising tomatoes in the high tunnel. Oh and we set the field on fire a little bit … Kristin was flame weeding while WWOOFer Marty ran the extinguishers, keeping the hay mulch from catching … until a miscalculation left him afield with an empty extinguisher just as the a new section of drier mulch caught fire in earnest.

I heard the screaming from all the way up on the hill, and came running with a big bowl of water, joining Sarah, Rob, and Marty in putting out the several patches of flaming hay that had erupted during the confusion.

Once the flames were vanquished, we took stock of the damages : a melted section of irrigation hose, and several beet plants with one side singed. Not too bad, well worth it in exchange for the refreshing burst of adrenaline and that old lesson renewed … fire is a tricky monster, even when it’s being your friend.

What else? The first ripening has begun among the tomatoes – just cherry tomatoes for now, but so it begins … there are lots of green ones throughout the rows, ripe with promise, if not redness.  The peppers are peppering, the okra is downright okratic.

It’s good to be growing.

Box #5

During the course of today’s harvest, Neighbor Marcia went to check on the three baby chickens … and discovered that a fourth had just hatched!

Happy literal birthday, little chicken.

  • Garlic – fresh dug & uncured, which means great flavor and a lack of the papery skin you’re probably used to. Treat like regular garlic!
  • Baby Carrots –  cut off your tops!

    We leave them there because they’re beautiful, let you know they were harvested today, and they’re edible! Great for vegetable broth (perhaps with your green onion tops?) But if you are saving your carrots for a future day, give them crew cuts before they hit the fridge, or the carrots will get all rubberylike.
  • Zucchini – the first of several, gods willing. Kristin recommends that you chop them up and sautee them with garlic and onions, and after removing it from the heat, throw in some basil!
  • Kohlrabi – The aliens are getting larger and more menacing … but are still tender even at this size, as the Grand Duke variety is bred to get big without becoming woody.
  • Spring Onions –  The green onions have now graduated to the next phase of onion plumpness!
  • Sugar Snap or Snow Peas – If they’re flat, hey’re snow peas and ideal for stir frying – if plump, they’re sugar snaps and best raw … in my opinion. Really, you can do both with either!
  • Purple & Italian Basil – DO NOT REFRIGERATE!

    It will turn black and you will be sad. Put the stem in some water, or leave it in the plastic bag on the kitchen counter if you’ll be using it within a few days.
  • Deconstructed Napa Cabbage –  it’s been a lousy year for Napa cabbage – we planted extra this year, and to our dismay it all started to flower instead of growing complete heads. It must have been the weather this year, as several of our grower friends from all around the area have had the same thing happen.

    Instead of sending them to the chicken compost pile, we decided to embark upon a laborious salvage mission – pulling apart each head, removing bad leaves and the flowering centers.
    It was a ridiculous amount of work and not very pleasant (our volunteer helpers almost revolted, but we stemmed the rebellion with a box of donuts). Napa has great crunch, and is very versatile – can be used fresh and raw, or stir fried, or fermented into delicious kimchi!

we use spiders to defend our cabbage from bugs
we use spiders to defend our cabbage from bugs

 

Momma Bear from above
Momma Bear from above

 

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