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Tokyo Bekana

Posted 4/17/2012 8:29am by Chris & the Team.
The beginning of the harvest season has arrived and everything feels 'normal'. That's because I've been farming 20 years now and 'average' weather feels weird, while highly variable weather is normal. In the Midwest, average weather is achieved via temperatures that are often 20 degrees above or below average. The way people use the term 'normal' makes little sense in our part of the country. It's more accurate in places like California where 'average' and 'normal' are much closer more often. 
That said, our year has been upside down with a downright hot March, and a cool to average April. With temperatures 30 to 40 degrees above average and records being broken left and right, things got off to a ridiculously fast start. If you didn't see it, please take
Vitamin Green
Vitamin Green--as healthy as it sounds
a look at the sneak peek we sent out last Saturday. To summarize, we had to work so hard to keep things cool, rather than keep them warm as is normally the case in March, that crops are actually slightly behind what they were last year, which was quite a bit cooler. When it's consistently cool, as March usually is, we can deploy a few methods that keep things nice and consistently warm. When the temperatures are frequently warm, and even hot, we're forced to try to keep things cool, and this is a little counter-productive in early spring, when it will eventually get cool and slow things down too much.

The bottom line is that our attempts to maintain crop quality of cool loving crops with our record breaking spring heat resulted in a delay of about a week for a couple crops we expected to have in the first box. Because lettuce, turnips/turnip greens, and kale are much better tasting and longer lasting when grown in cooler conditions, we chose to err on the side of quality and flavor, and that meant slowing and cooling things down as much as possible. You'll be seein
g all these crops next week instead of this week as we had expected. In this case patience is a virtue. Don't worry; over the course of the 12 week spring season, we'll more than make up the value that this first delivery is lacking. 

This week's box features three Asian greens andspinach. Two of the Asian greens are probably new to all of you, and we've never grown them! They are, however, quite similar to tatsoi, and other greens we've grown before, and that you may be familiar with. Tokyo
spinach in the field
Our large, luscious spinach
Bekana is light green and fluffier looking, while Vitamin Green is sturdier and darker in color. Red rain is the beautiful deep red, mild mustard green, and those of you who were with us last fall will remember this one. Generally speaking, the sturdier and thicker the crop/green is, the mo
re appropriate it is for a stir fry/cooking, and thinner and more delicate it is, the more appropriate it is for salads. To be sure, some people cook thin-leafed spinach, and I love to eat cabbage raw, but, generally, thicker is for cooking and thinner is for salads.

The jar of jam in this week's box is a token of our appreciation for buying into our farm and CSA. We are not counting its value in the box (you're not paying for it) though it is true that we're including it now because the first box of the season has slightly less variety and volume than we'd like. The jam is there for fun. We use half the sugar compared most jams, even organic ones. Most jam eaters love it, and if you're not one of them, just give it away and make someone else happy. Next week's box will be much more interesting with nearly twice the variety, and it will be over the value you paid. For now, have a nice stir fry, or a salad with the more tender items. Thank you very much for being our customer. 

Chris Covelli and 
The Tomato Mountain Team

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