Ah, mid April. As I write this, there is much happening on the farm. Seedlings filling up their pots, tiny vegetables growing by the minute, weeds invading the beds, chickens foraging on pasture, and exciting, wild edible greens popping up.
As I have mentioned previously, Sam and I are very excited about this season because we have expanded our growing space onto a new property. We have spent the past few weeks preparing the new land for our late spring plantings. It has proved to be quite a trial so far, but we feel the hardest work is over. The community really came together helping us prepare this new, unworked land and we are very thankful for that.
The crazy spring weather has been such a trip as well. Warm weather allowed us to get some much-needed work done outdoors. Although tempting, we held back on certain things. Mother Nature can be quite deceptive. Therefore, it is wise not to get too far ahead with our planting schedule, there will certainly be more cold nights in our future.
Sam and I love the work and challenge of growing food, but we also enjoy the reward of eating it. Potting up the vegetable seedlings makes us yearn for certain times of year when we can enjoy tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh herbs, colorful salads and much more. However, mid-April offers a few gems that can be made into a fine feast. You might even have some of these in your backyard. (Make sure when foraging for any edible plant that you are sure of its identity first!) Here’s what we’ve been eating:
Wild Stinging Nettles: Caution! The name says it all! Nettles are the pesky plant that offer a harsh stinging burn to the unexpected passerby. Cooking these nutritious plants disarms the plants stinging abilities, so you can enjoy the iron-filled plant like spinach. Wear thick gloves when harvesting and handling. They are best when young–cut them close ground, snip off the leaves, rinse them and steam or saute them with a bit of liquid until wilted and dark green. This week, I am going to try making nettle gnocchi!
Green Onions, Scallions and Chives: So hardy are the Alliums! Green onions, scallion and chives have been coming up since March. Since our onion supply never lasts past January, we welcome these vegetables with open arms. I use them as I would bulbous onions–in salads, on sandwiches, in dips and soups. You don’t even have to plant green onions, scallions and chives every year, because once you plant them, they keep coming back year after year. Members can also expect to receive these items in their shares in June.
Watercress: Watercress grows wild in gently running streams of water in these parts. Jay has built up several watercress patches at farm that he cuts from for the market. Sam and I discovered a big patch in a marshy area outside our apartment. It is just big enough now to cut from, and we have been eating it every day. Watercress has a flavor similar to arugula, but with more crunch and kick. See if you have a watercress patch around where you live, it is quite delicious.
Herbs: Perennial herbs are beginning to show their green faces again. Thyme and sage are the two that we are able to enjoy right now.
We are also still enjoying wonderful stored root crops. We still have a few beets, celeriac, potatoes, parsnips and squashes. I have found that the combination of the root vegetables when prepared with the fresh spring greens is just what my body needs this time of year (think beet and watercress salad…) Perhaps this will entice some of you to join the Second Wind Winter CSA program this year too. (More on that later this year!)
I have heard other growers talk about foraging for fiddlehead ferns, ramps and morels. I do not have any experience with these plants, but have thoroughly enjoyed them when foraged and prepared by others.
In official CSA news:
This year we will be sending out statements. Do not be alarmed when you receive a statement from us. The due date for share balances is still the first distribution date. You can expect these statements the beginning of May.
We only have 10 shares left! How exciting. Many of you told us last year of friends and neighbors who want to join. If this is still the case, send them to this site, and soon. Members who have friends and/or neighbors who are also members report positive feedback. These folks are able to share pick responsibilities as well as cover for each other if something comes up on distribution day. With gas prices on the rise for the summer, it’s definitely something to think about.
Enjoy the rest of April. We will make one more general post before the start of the season, at which point we will be sharing weekly farm updates and recipes to go along with the shares.