After the daily morning harvest, we head back into the rows to weed for a few hours, then after lunch we tie up our rambunctiously vining tomatoes. Like many growers in Wisconsin, we have seen significant early signs of blight, probably as a result of the ultra-wet conditions in early June. The plants are loaded with fruit, however, so we are hoping to reap a ton before the plants succumb. So far we’ve only got the first few ripe ones for the box. The hot dry conditions we've been experiencing are the best thing for keeping the blight in check, so our fingers are crossed.
Hot dry conditions weren’t the best for most of the other things on the farm, however. We have the entire farm under irrigation (drip tape) but artificial watering will just never support a plant the way rain will. Many of our crops are starting to show stress from the prolonged dry period and aren’t bouncing back from cuttings the way we expect, though the recent rain has helped. As a result, we have fewer greens for you this week than we’d like – we had less Swiss chard and beans than we should have, so we had to split those between Shorties and Fulls. But we’ve got a lovely harvest of sorrel – also known as “summer lettuce” – whose deep perennial roots have been able to reach farther for moisture than many of our annual crops. And we are very much enjoying the bumper crop of summer squash for crew lunch every day. Hope you like them, too!
Here's what's In The Box! Use the first things first:
Radicchio: (Full Shares Only) Our head lettuce and salad is on break for a few weeks while we nurture along the new rows in the shade. These bitter greens may look like lettuce, but they are an Italian open-leaf variety of radicchio that is wonderful grilled. So it’s the perfect time to heat that grill up outside in the sunshine – while you’ve got it hot you can also marinate some summer squash and zucchini and sear that up, too! See our Farmer Kriss Pinterest page for some great instructions.
Tomatoes: These, too, are just getting rolling. For this week, we have two heirlooms for the Shortie Shares and a bag of pretty cherries and currants for the Full Size. We’ll get you more soon!
Swiss Chard: (Shortie Shares Only) Enjoy raw or cooked.
Zucchini and Summer Squash: You’ve got a big and some smalls in your box. All are good eaten fresh with dips, sauteed in coconut, grilled with olive oil or shredded into breads and cakes. But try making raw pasta with your veggie peeler!
Baby Kale and Collards: These lovely baby leaves are tender enough to use for a fresh salad, but flavorful enough to use for cooking. The best way to enjoy kale as a salad is to cut it in thin ribbons, then massage it (really, mash it with your hand) in the dressing 15 minutes before you plant to eat. We planted 5 different varieties of kale this year because our members have been telling us how much they love kale. Enjoy!
Lemon Balm (bunched with chocolate mint and lovage): This bright-tasting herb is a favorite for us in the summer. Add to lemonade, iced tea or chiffonade into your salad. This is terrific chopped and added to goat cheese or a quick bread recipe. Wonderful in shortbread cookies. This week, you can add the lemon balm to your basil and make a tart fresh pesto! Find a cookie and a salad dressing recipe on the Farmer Kriss Pinterest page.
Chocolate Mint: Just what you need to beat the heat! Add to lemonade, slice thinly over fruit salad, make mojitos. Store in an inch of water in the fridge until you are ready to use.
Sorrel (bagged): You asked for it, you got it – more sorrel! This is a great stand-in for lettuce for fresh salads, and since lettuce is on hiatus until the heat pulls back a bit, now is a great time to experiment with more fresh eating ideas. In fact, sorrel is sometimes called “Summer Salad.” We’ve given you lots of new recipe ideas.
Lovage: Both the leaves and stems of this perennial celery are useful when you need celery in a recipe – which is often this time of year.
Cucumber: Lovely and crisp. The flavor of these is so good try chopping and eating as a plain salad with just rice wine vinegar and chunky sea salt. Mmmmm. A little chopped lemon balm and you’ve got a very special little side dish!
Eggplant: Our plants are loaded with flowers and little fruits, but we did harvest enough yesterday for all the Full Size shares to get one eggplant. Yours may be purple, green, white or pink. They may be long, skinny or round and fat. All are ripe and ready to use, we’ve just grown a lot of different varieties.
String Beans: Just a handful left on the plants, but they are sooooo good we wanted to get you a few. The flavor is exceptional, so try just lightly sauteeing in olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and eat while quite al dente. Do forgo boiling!
Flower Bouquets: My goodness, these were a ball to harvest! We’ve got some of everything here – flowers, seed pods and buds – from both the garden and the wild fields. You will notice a lot of amazing smells, too – the sweet perfume of purple Buddleia and the medicinal mint of lilac Monarda or bee balm. Full size bouquets have the frilly pods of hazelnuts and the Shorties shares have berries from viburnums. The greens for the bouquets are asparagus gone to seed!