This pictures pretty much sums up every day here lately on the farm. Hot and very, very sunny and dry. The good news is that the weeds are growing quite slowly and we've been able to get ahead of them in all of the fields. The bad news is that we are now about two weeks past any significant rain fall and it's looking pretty iffy for rain this next week. We have been irrigating constantly, but it never seems to be enough during these periods of drought. These big swings in rainfall and temperature are stressful on the crops and we are definitely seeing the quick decline of most of our 'spring' crops. The summer crops are mostly loving this weather as long as we can keep them in enough water. Mulches definitely help to conserve soil moisture, which is one of the reasons we love to plant our long-term summer crops into reusable landscape fabric. We planted our sweet potato slips last week and were pleasantly surprised by the moisture level in the soil under fabric we had laid down 10 days prior to planting. Getting the sweet potato slips into the ground seems to be somewhat of a turning point in the season, since it's often the last big full season crop that gets planted. We are growing three beds of these sweet taters this year, with hopes of storing a decent amount to give in biweekly winter shares (a new offering for the 2020/2021 winter season). More to come on that later.
The crops I am most excited about this week are the cucumbers and dill! Our cucumber hoophouse has really started to produce in earnest and we are reaping the benefits of vertically trellising this crop and keeping the beetles out. The fruits are so perfectly straight with unblemished skin (this is a big issue for field grown cukes) and they are so much easier to harvest when the plant are growing up vs. sprawling out on the ground. I think you will really appreciate the excellent quality of these cucumbers! Our dill weed has reached harvestable size just in time for the flush of cucumbers. I would make a really simple salad with these two - just slice the cucumbers thin, toss in salt and oil and vinegar (you can add a bit of honey for sweetness and garlic powder for tang if you like), then mix in chopped dill leaves. So refreshing on a hot day! Maria has another salad recipe that mixes kale and cucumbers with a honey ginger dressing - yum! We have been eating a lot of salads here these days since we have lettuce in abundance right now and since I often don't want to heat up the kitchen after working all day on the farm. I love a good meal sized salad with lots of veggie and protein toppings.
Kohlrabi is on for everyone this week. If you haven't tried it before, kohlrabi has a flavor that is somewhere in between broccoli and turnip. You use the bulb part of the vegetable, but the leaves can also be used just like kale. Kohlrabi is awesome cooked or roasted (see Maria's soup recipe below), but is also great sliced into strips and eaten raw (I like mine with ranch dressing). The purple kohlrabi we are harvesting this week is super beautiful. The purple color is only skin deep, so if you want to preserve the color in your cooking, I'd suggest some application where you grate the bulb. Kohlrabi is very good grated in a slaw type salad.
Enjoy all of your lettuces again this week. This will probably be the last big week for lettuce for awhile. We do try our best to give at least a head of lettuce in most shares, but we'll have to see how everything does with this hot dry weather. Hope you all have a great week!
Recipes from Maria:
Kohlrabi and Cauliflower Soup
1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
3 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled with stems removed and the bulbs cut into pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the kohlrabi and cauliflower. Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender.
In a large pot heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about a minute or so. Add the oregano, salt, and pepper. Next, add the roasted vegetables and chicken stock. Give it all a good stir, turn up the heat and bring it to a soft boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer it for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
Puree the soup. Add the apple cider vinegar and stir. At this point, you will want to check the seasoning. If needed, add more salt. Finally, stir in the cream. Garnish each serving with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese
Spring Kale and Cucumber Salad with a honey-ginger dressing
6 cups curly kale (1 large head)
2 cups chopped cucumber
2 cups red cabbage (shredded)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 scallion (chopped)
Honey Ginger Dressing
1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp raw honey
1 tsp minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 scallion (finely chopped)
Sirloin Steak Strips (optional)
2 lbs sirloin steak strips
Heat honey for 15 seconds, to liquify.
In a bowl combine ingredients and whisk thoroughly, about 2 minutes, until vinegar and oil are incorporated.
Thoroughly wash and dry kale leaves. Remove the leaves from the stem and chop finely – about 1/2″ pieces.
Cut cucumber in half. Cut each half into four strips and dice in 1/2″ pieces. If purchasing a whole red cabbage*, cut in half and thinly slice into shredded pieces, about 1/8″ thick.
Add kale, cucumber, cabbage to a large bowl, coat with dressing and toss with tongs to mix together.
Dry steak with paper towels and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a hot grill pan, cast iron skillet or grill on high heat. Sear the larger two sides of the steak for about 4 minutes on each side and a quick 2 minutes sear on each of the smaller sides. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.