Letter from the farm:
We finally were able to dig up our potato crop. Until last week the ground just had not dried out enough for us to be able to run our potato digger through the many, many rows of potatoes we planted this year. At one point we tried digging them up by hand, but the yield on the crop was so poor from the wet spring that the few crates we got out of a row would have to be valued at $16 a pound to justify the time it was taking to dig them up by hand. That’s a slight exaggeration. But, essentially, digging dozens of acre-long rows by hand wasn’t going to work.
While our digger got the job done, the ground was still a bit heavy for harvesting mechanically and a part on the digger did irreparably break in the process. It was an old digger, but as a farmer friend with a much bigger potato digger told us this weekend, his digger snapped from the weight of the wet soil too. We’ll need to look at replacing ours. A new one could cost anywhere from $5,500 to $16,000—and all that piece of machinery does is get pulled behind a tractor to dig up rows of potatoes towards the end of the season. There is no motor or anything electronic or computerized—just gears, belts and a lot of metal. Farm machinery can be costly that way, but without a potato digger, there’s just no sense in growing potatoes on a production scale. The time it takes to dig them up by hand with a potato fork and the percentage of potatoes that inevitably get speared and ruined by the fork make it worth investing in a replacement. There’s always the chance we might find a decent used one too.
IN THIS WEEK’S SHARE:
6.4 ounces baby winter mesclun mix
1 bunch carrots
½ pound shallots
2 1/2 pounds red potatoes
1 head red curly leaf lettuce
1 butternut squash
¾ pounds green beans
Winter Greens and Green Beans: One of our CSA members said she had delicious success cooking her green beans with the winter mix that’s in this week’s share. She said to start cooking the beans in butter in a 12-inch skillet and, once they’re crisp-tender, stir in the greens and some minced garlic. As soon as the greens have begun to wilt, remove the pan from the heat. It should be just enough time to wilt the greens. The winter mix does contain a number of baby-sized cooking greens, including kale. It is equally good enjoyed as a salad—cold or lightly wilted. This is a cool-weather loving crop of greens, which is why you are just seeing it this time of year and not through the summer months.
Tip from the farm on Kohlrabi: Not sure what to do with kohlrabi? Trim off the leaves and slice the bulb into matchsticks. Our kids think they’re as tasty as eating apples. Kohlrabi is a cabbage but a surprisingly sweet one. You can always dip the sticks into a dressing. Or add to a stir fry or make a cole slaw…