CSA Newsletter ~ Week 20
So much for ending the streak of ten months with above average temperatures. We're back in the heat for at least the next week, but it won't be too hot. We didn't get the serious soaking Chicago did this past Sunday. From the city all the way west to the Quad Cities, and northeast to central Wisconsin, anywhere from one to three inches of rain fell, but we only got a quarter inch. As I've always said, better drier than too wet, and over an inch would have made it difficult for us to get in our last outdoor planting of the year as planned this week. An inch would have been perfect as we would have been able to wait a few days before
getting going with irrigation--again. And though it is supposed to be quite warm this week with mid 80's and even some low 90's forecast, the days are shorter, the nights longer, and the heat stress shouldn't be too bad for even the most sensitive greens. Our tomatoes and warm season crops will love the warmth and we can all expect five more weeks of these crops.
Greens continue to make a comeback from the extremely hot weather that ended about a month ago. There's kale, lettuce, and Komatsuna, the Asian green usually found in Mesclun mixes, in the box this week. The Komatsuna is at that in between age where it can
easily be eaten fresh or cooked, which would work well with the kale. For those of you who are new to our CSA, we take very good care of our lettuce crops, both in the field and post-harvest. Expect it in the box most weeks now through early November. We'll have several other greens in the weeks to come including Tatsoi, Vitamin Green, Tokyo Bekana, and Bok Choi, all of which we'll try to harvest at that nice 'adolescent' stage where it can either be cooked or go fresh into salads. And we'll likely have a week or two of Mesclun, which is basically all these varieties planted closer together and harvested younger, though we tend to stay away from the baby stage in favor of the slightly older 'childhood' stage. Hopefully, translating everything into people stages of growth gives you an idea of where the crops are at in their life cycles. Occasionally, we let these crops get to the adult stage, and then most of them
are best cooked. Lettuce, of course, is good for salads at every stage, and though you may think it's never a good idea to cook lettuce...
We're seriously considering trialing a tomato-vegetable juice in our on-farm processing kitchen that would be very much like the popular V-8 drink, only a lot better. And believe it or not, V-8 contains lettuce, which we'd also include in our 'drink'. It would also be a great soup/stew base. I've wanted to do this for years. More and more I think of using our farm kitchen for putting away crops for our winter CSA, which we're starting up this year after the Late Season share ends the week before Christmas. I typically do NOT think of giving CSA customers prepared foods like salsa, preserves, soups or pasta sauce in keeping with the clean model of a CSA providing foods that can be cooked as you like. Our whole roasted tomatoes are wonderful for all cooking and they'll certainly be part of our winter share. It seems to me that a tomato-vegetable blend is clean and basic enough that it could qualify as an ingredient more than many of the other things we make in our farm kitchen. If you've ever had our bloody mary mix, you know how fresh and clean a little celery leaf, garlic, and hot pepper can be in tomato juice, but not everybody likes that much heat in their veggies. Most people do like carrots, beets, celery, parsley, lettuce and onions, and that probably explains the huge popularity of commercially made V-8. We're sure that with our great tomatoes and other veggies our mix would be a significant improvement over the mass produced V-8. We're excited to make some as we've got the ingredients we need to try it out. Let us know what you think.