Farm News- June 16, 2011

Circle Brook Farm
Circle Brook Farm

Hi Folks,

The week you have been waiting for has arrived-the first delivery of the season. This is the week that my crew and I have been working and preparing for since March. It’s also the week that I have been worrying and fretting over for about the last month; would there be anything to deliver? Crops were growing very slowly during the gray, rainy Spring and windows of opportunity for sowing seeds out in the field were rather limited. I’ve often thought that worrying is an inescapable aspect of farming.

There are so many factors beyond one’s control that being proactive has to be replaced with reactive and adaptive, and lots of worrying! Sowing seeds directly in the field is an especially anxiety producing task; are the seeds falling thickly enough? Are they deep enough? Are they too deep? Will it rain enough or too much and wash out the seeds? Usually everything comes out (and up) fine, but this Spring, Murphy’s Law was in full effect and many of the things that could go wrong did. Nevertheless, while the first delivery may not be as bountiful as last year’s, it is a reasonable start to the season.

There is nice spinach; some a red type and some the traditional green. We have lots of mustard greens: arugula, tatsoi, mizuna, and broccoli raab. The leaves of the mustards have some lacing caused by a particularly pesky pest called the flea beetle. We have tried our best to control them with an organic pyrethrum spray but it is nearly impossible to eliminate them completely. The active ingredient breaks down quickly in sunlight, which is why it is safe and allowed in organic production, but that also means it has no residual effectiveness. The arugula is very peppery as it always is this time of year. The broccoli raab will have some flower buds though probably not that many. Tatsoi, also known as spoon mustard, is the mildest of the bunch as well as the darkest green and is my favorite mustard. The lettuce patch is gorgeous and colorful and is crying out to be photographed before we begin to part them from their roots. There are thousands that have almost filled out and after last week’s heat wave are probably thinking about bolting (the same effect the heat has on me!) and will have to be cut. If not this week, then next there will be 2 lettuces in the share. Are you ready to eat the BIG salad? The most likely candidate for lettuce of the week is Forellenschlus, an heirloom romaine called trout in German because of its red mottling. We also will have plenty of peas, provided we can pick them promptly. It will likely be mostly sugar snaps (edible pod) this week, though some groups may get English (shell) peas. The radishes, like the arugula, will be spicy, but don’t forget that they can be cooked and will lose most of their heat. And the first delivery would not be complete without garlic scapes. These are the flower buds of the garlic; flowers that don’t produce seed, but rather bulbils. Garlic is a strange plant. The scapes can be chopped finely and sautéed, grilled, pickled, or blended to make a kind of pesto. They also store for weeks in the refrigerator, so don’t feel you need to use them up quickly.

The share for this week will be:
Romaine lettuce, spinach, radishes, garlic scapes, sugar snap or English peas, arugula, and choice of tatsoi, broccoli raab, or other mustard greens.

Farmer John

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