And here we go again – another season kicks off in earnest today! We will also start going to the farmer’s market now every Saturday morning in Saint Croix Falls – if you’re in the area, stop by and say hello.
I seem to have forgotten how to write these things. Words? Words. Words!
Well, let see. Since we last sent out a communiqué, we’ve been focused on preparing the field for the season. Transplanting, seeding, tomato trellising, weeding, war with quack grass, fencing.
Last year, with the new baby and the c-section recovery, the weeds got ahead of us and we spent the rest of the year struggling to not drown in their shadowy tendrils. We were damned determined not to let that happen again, and put all our efforts into a successful mission to cover all possible bare ground covered in some form of mulch.
The cool season crops – salad, broccoli, potatoes, radishes, turnips etc – are nestled into thick blankets of hay, which retains precious, tenuous soil moisture as well as prevents most weeds from sprouting.
The hot weather crops that will be harvested later in the summer mostly went into black landscape fabric, which suppresses the incredible weed seed bank and warms the soil beneath, making heat-loving plant roots happy.
This tactic turned out to be an unexpected lifesaver this year. We had a surprise frost in the middle of June, a month past the official USDA “Last Frost Date” for our region – the field got down to 32 degrees overnight, which would normally wreck havoc with crucial crops such as tomatoes, melons, zucchini, and peppers. And this frost was bad enough to damage and kill plenty of even cool weather crops like kohlrabi, potatoes, and cabbage.
However, the hot plants managed to survive, oftentimes undamaged. The preceding day had been nice and sunny – and in the light, the black fabric warmed up the soil around them – which then slowly flowed up and out through the planting holes over the course of the chilly night, preventing catastrophe.
Hay, that’s a happy ending, so I’ll stop there and turn it over to:
The Weekly Box:
Spring Salad Mix – we hydrocooled and dried it, but recommend a final wash before serving to remove residual soil.
- Lettuce (green and smidge of red – for some reason it refused to grow much this spring!)
- Bekana – an Asian green – if bok choi and Napa had a baby, this would be it.
- Pea tips – the usual type, plus a new fancy frilled variety
Consider this wild harvested ;). This delicious weed is in the same family as spinach, quinoa, and beets and a nutritional super green. We snack on raw leaves, but if I’m using a lot in a meal I usually cook it – probably would be your best bet. It can substitute for spinach in recipes (curry, quiche, gratin etc.). Note: you may notice a sort of whiteish powder on the leaves – this is natural to the plant, and nothing to worry about (we did rinse and spin them dry)
French Breakfast & Lady Slipper Radishes & Greens
Lately we’ve been slicing plenty of radishes up onto our salads (leafy and egg), soups, and sandwiches. The greens aren’t good raw, but are delicious wilted/sauteed. And this is probably a good time to inject this:
The basic pesto guide:
A lot of herbs and greens (including radish greens, lambs quarter and scallions!) make great pesto:
- 2 cups packed herbs/greens
- 1/2 cup grated hard cheese
- 1/3 cup toasted nuts/seeds
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup oil
- Salt to taste
Green onions aka Scallions
Kristin recommends infusing vinegar, snipping them into salads, or tempura-ing them. Read other idears heres.
Apple Preserves (either Apple Pie in a Jar, Brandied Apples, or Cinnamon Fireball Apples)
Some sweet canned goodness from last Fall’s apple boom – harvested from friends all around the area. (This year, we will be getting a ton of local apples from a friend in exchange for gopher trapping services!) We’ll happily reuse the jar if you return it with your box