Tuesday, June 22, 2010

CSA Week 4

A ladybug, a natural predator of pests, nestles in the fronds of some upcoming fennel

Letter from the Farm At last we’ve had some nice weather—warm temperatures with enough moisture so that the plants are showing some vigor. Up until now, cold nights, dry stretches, and general inconsistencies in growing conditions have been hard on many of the plants in our fields. In sum, we’re finally seeing crops growing.
Now is a critical time for pest control, as this is the time pests really take off. Our main insect problems are potato beetles, cucumber beetles and flea beetles. On occasion, we battle cutworms.
Just like weed control, successful pest control is all about timing and getting on top of the issue when it’s new. We make every effort to cultivate when the weeds are hair-like (and easy to remove); we try as best we can to control pests now before they have a chance to lay their eggs and multiply exponentially.
This year we’re lucky enough to have planted our potatoes ¼ mile away from where we planted last year. We’ve seen not one potato beetle on the plants thus far. Last year the beetles hammered on the plants with an intensity we’d never seen before, and then came blight. It was a weak year for potatoes.
The potato beetles are here but have tried to prey upon our eggplant crop instead. So we have been going over the rows of eggplant twice daily squishing with our hands the adult potato beetles off the top of the plants’ leaves and, just as importantly, smashing any eggs laid on the underside of the leaves that we find.
The kicker is, often times, the farm’s weekly schedule and the weather don’t allow us to do such things in a timely manner. So bugs and especially weeds take off—all too often. This results in much more labor-intensive pest and weed control and, at worst, the loss of a crop.
Like most years, we’ve had our share of successes and failures. Right now we’re seeing a lot of crops looking strong. That feels good.



1 pound garlic scapes (see recipes)
1 bunch basil
5 ounces mesclun mix
1 bunch spring onions
1 green cabbage (local CSA members); 1 bunch broccoli (NYC members)
1 head freckles romaine lettuce (see note)
1 bunch Tuscan kale
½ pound salad mix


notes on this week’s share:

Freckles! Don’t be fooled by the brown mottling on this week’s lettuce. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. This is an heirloom romaine lettuce—meant to have light-brown freckling—that we just love. It’s buttery-tender yet toothsome, and delicious.

Garlic scapes. Those curly-cue shoots in this week’s share are garlic scapes. They’re a flowering shoot that gets snapped off the garlic plant shortly after they appear so that the plant’s energy stays focused on developing a large, healthy bulb underground. Snap a scape in half, and you’ll recognize the bright aroma of early-season garlic. Scapes store really well (refrigerate in a sealed bag, and they’ll hold for at least a couple of weeks). But, if you use them like you would garlic or a scallion, they probably won’t last that long in your fridge. You can sauté or stir fry. Grill whole. Chop and add to pasta, salad, eggs… It’s incredibly versatile. Have fun experimenting with it on your own or with these two recipes.



by Melissa Clark, published in the New York Times.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups.
Time: 15 minutes

Melissa is an inspiring food writer, who wrote a great companion piece to this recipe about green garlic (in case you still have some of yours kicking around in your fridge).

For ½ pound short pasta such as penne, add about 2 tablespoons of pesto to cooked pasta and stir until pasta is well coated.

1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into ¼-inch slices
1/3 cup walnuts
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional: To bring out the flavor of the walnuts, gently toast them over medium-low heat in a skillet until fragrant. Remove from the skillet immediately. Let cool before processing.

Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until blended. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add parmigiano to taste; add salt and pepper to taste.

Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for one week. Or freeze in a thin layer in a sealed freezer bag. Break off a portion of the frozen pesto to use as needed—to flavor pastas or soups or spread on a sandwich.

Adapted from "A Mighty Appetite with Kim O’Donnell" blog, The Washington Post website

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