I am starting with the list of produce for the week:
Kale or Chard
This week I will not be posting any recipes, but if anyone has anyone questions, please don’t hesitate to post questions.
We are growing a wide variety of both summer squash and cucumbers this year. To keep you well-informed, here is a description of them.
Cucumbers A popular summer treat, cucumbers are refreshing and easy to prepare. They are usually enjoyed raw in salads and cold soups. Cucumbers often have a bitter flavor which is concentrated in the skin and the ends, so peeling them and chopping the ends off helps keep the bitterness at bay. We pick the cucumbers at a variety of stages. Younger cucumbers have a slightly wrinkled, thin skin with small seed while more mature cucumbers have a shiny, thick skin and large seeds. When a recipe calls for the seeds of cucumbers to be removed, it generally refers to mature cucumbers. Small, young cucumbers are good for pickling because they stay crisp longer.
The five varieties we are growing this year are Poona Keerna, Boothby Blonde, National Pickling, Lemon and Marketmore 76.
Poona Keerna is an Indian heirloom that has a pale yellow skin and is shaped like a Kirby. They are a heavy producer, easy to grow and have a nice flavor and texture. They are early so there will be more of them than the green ones in the beginning of cucumber season.
Boothby Blonde is a new variety for the Second Wind CSA. The seed catalog we order from called it “a staff favorite” so we decided to give it a try. It is quite yummy! It look so similar to the Poona Keerna that we can hardly tell them apart, save the black spots that adorn the Boothby Blonde.
Lemon cucumbers have quite the reputation among locavores. Farm market and CSA aficionados rave about the lemon cuke. They look like lemons, but taste like cucumbers. Some people claim that they taste citrusy, but I will leave that up to you to decide. I love their flavor, both as a young cucumber and a mature one.
National Pickling The name says it all. Well, not quite, because these cucumbers can also be eaten as is, no pickling needed. National Pickling cucumbers are super crunchy, allowing them to make delicious, crunchy pickles. I also recommend making cucumber salad out of them, for the very same reason.
Marketmore 76 is the long, fat, green cucumber we all grew up eating. This type of cucumber is usually what you find in the store, only better coming from the CSA! We try to pick the Marketmore big and ripe because they have the best flavor and texture as a mature cucumber. These cucumbers are also large, so they are good for making salads, soups and sauces that call for cucumbers, such as Gazpacho, tsatsiki and tabouli. We will have recipes for all these in the weeks to come.
Summer Squash The first summer squash of the season are quite exciting. We are growing 4 heirloom varieties this year. Summer squash matures quite fast, so there might be giant squashes at times. We find that these are best for making things like zucchini bread or zucchini souffles, leaving the smaller tender ones for other dishes that highlight the flavor and texture of summer squash.
Dark Green Zucchini is the run-of-the-mill green zucchini.
Costata Romanesca is my favorite. Quite the looker, Costata Romanesca is ribbed and striped making it quite beautiful to look at, whole and sliced. Plus, it has great flavor, even when large.
Yellow Crookneck is a yellow squash with a bumpy skin and a crooked neck. Makes great fried squash.
Benning’s Green Tint is the weird flying saucer shaped vegetable in the squash bin. Grab one of these and you won’t be sorry. The shape may seem odd at first, but you will soon learn the virtue of the large slices you can make if you like to put summer squash on the grill.
Question of the Week
This week’s question is an issue we have been wanting to address for a while. Many of you have asked us this question in one form or another, but paraphrased it is:
The weather is so different this year from last. How is the season going with all the dryness and heat?
As shareholders, I think you should be well-informed of not only our farming practices, but how the season is going and how we deal with difficulties. And unfortunately, I think we will see the down side to this season this week. In short, we have had some crop failures. We have had to take many crops out of the ground due to poor germination and bug damage. These crops include arugula, mustard, bok choy, Asian greens, radishes, cauliflower, herbs and now kale and our second round of summer cabbages are suffering greatly. We have a high concentration of bugs at the farm and one of the ways we deal with them is by covering things with row cover. This has not worked for us for a couple of reasons. First, it created a mirco-climate for many bugs that originate in the ground, such as aphids. Second, the row cover has been causing the plants to get burned, but when we take the row cover off, the plants suffer greatly. Since the plants are already vulnerable due to the heat, they are more suseptable to the air-borne bugs that we use the row cover to protect them from. So this week, we don’t have much greens to round the shares off with, and that’s why.
On the other hand, our tomatoes, peppers and eggplants look gorgeous. They love the heat, and we are using drip irrigation this year, so they are quite happy to get their roots watered and to hang out in the dry heat all day. We are predicting that we have a good onion harvest, with less rot on the storage onions. We are also hoping to have a good long summer squash season. Some of you may remember that we had a short, measly summer squash season last year since a fungus attacked our squash plants due to the wet chilly weather. There is rain in the forecast, so we will be spending time this week seeding all sorts of veggies that will be ready in the weeks to come.
It’s just like the cliche, you can’t control the weather. We try, but sometimes our efforts are no match. That’s why it is important that we grow a wide variety of vegetables that cover the spectrum of our seasonal climate.
Have a great week.
Erin and Sam