Monday, May 23, 2011

CSA, Week 3

Spring Lettuces alongside a Buffer Strip

From the Farm . . .

Many of you have been with us for several years, cooking up your weekly box of produce and learning to “eat with the seasons.” After a few seasons, you probably have a fairly good idea of when certain vegetables become ready, how many weeks you can expect to enjoy your favorites like asparagus and strawberries, and more or less the quantity of items to expect in your boxes. Sure, things change slightly from year to year, but generally seasonality is somewhat predictable. Until this season!

Rain, cold, rain, wind, rain, rain, rain. Unless you have been traveling a great deal lately, you are very aware of the record setting rainfall we have had in Central KY this spring. With wet, water-laden soils, we could not plant seeds, nor transplant crops from the greenhouse into the fields. As a result, many spring items are several weeks late, you saw when here at the farm tour.

Running tractors over soupy fields, marching feet up and down the muddy rows, using a hand tool or fingers to push a seed or small plant into wet soil – all of these things result in compacted soil. Such soil will not support microbial or plant life whenever it dries out – in fact, the soil structure would be devastated for the rest of the season. No capillary action, no water-holding capacity, no friability, basically an anaerobic condition.

How, you might ask, would one hurt the soil by working in it when yet? Think about scooping up some wet soil in your hand, compressing it tightly, more or less resulting in a mud ball. As the water is excluded, the ball will hold its form. The water you pushed out was in the place of air normally in soil. The airways found in soil structure are essential in allowing air and moisture, microbial life, and even plant roots to move through the soil. When you compact or compress wet soil, you close up those passageways. Then, when we get a dry or sunny afternoon, compacted soil will dry out quickly resulting in a brick-like situation. Think about making pottery, compress the water out so it dries hard. Not a good farming practice, but it has been known to happen to even the most conscientious grower. If it does, later in the season, when trying to cultivate or plow, you will find yourself “stirring marbles” due to the brick-like particles you created when your soil was too wet to work.

The freeze-thaw cycle of Kentucky winters is the “reset” button to help any mistakes in soil treatment the prior season. Most winters it helps to rejuvenate soil structure.

Another challenge is the lack of sunshine. Most of the time when it is raining, it is not sunny. Any sunny day helps all the plants quite a bit, but the color tones of the greens and lettuces show the low levels of sunshine this season so far.

Some farms have not experienced as much rainfall. Some other CSAs delayed the start of their distribution due to the challenging growing season. Elmwood did not delay, as we did not want you to miss out on any asparagus and strawberries. Many of the transplants are out, spring spinach, lettuce and peas look good, the potatoes were finally planted last week, and the first three of your four successive tomato crops have been transplanted. And, we are weeding as fast as we can!

In Your Share . . .

Items in shares may vary depending on your share size and harvest day. Each share may not have every item listed below.


Garlic Greens – organic

Your green garlic can be used in anything calling for garlic cloves, fresh garlic, minced garlic, or dried garlic. Finely chop as far up the stalk as desired, you can even use the roots.

Spinach – organic

This week’s spinach is the first harvest from the new plants. Enjoy raw fresh, use in one of the recipes in this newsletter, add to a quick pasta dish, use in soup, or lightly wilt and eat as a side dish with your favorite seasoning.

Strawberries – organic

Salad Mix – organic
Find a mix of several lettuce varieties, tender and small leaved, ready for a light spring salad. We are happy to see some lettuces growing after being delayed for many weeks.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Spinach Asparagus Frittata
Thanks to a CSA member for sharing this recipe. She likes the idea of a frittata as you don’t have to have a piecrust on hand that you do need for quiche. She adapted an online recipe by adding the garlic greens and changing the process slightly. The result speaks for itelf, Wow!

8 eggs room temperature



1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic greens, finely chopped

1 lb asparagus chopped into 1 inch pieces

3 cups baby spinach

3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Whisk eggs and add in salt and pepper to taste; set aside. Heat olive oil on medium heat in an ovenproof pan. Add in onion and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes. Add in asparagus and cook for additional 5 minutes. Add spinach and sauté until wilted.

Add eggs and stir around until they pull away from the sides of the pan. Add cheese, place pan in oven to broil on low until the eggs are set. Plate immediately and add additional grated Parmesan if desired.

Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, our thanks to a CSA member for sharing one of her favorite ways to enjoy spring asparagus.

1 lb asparagus, trimmed
2 t olive oil
1 ½ c halved grape tomatoes
½ t jarred fresh garlic OR 1-2 green garlic, minced
2 T balsamic vinegar
¼ t salt
3 T crumbled goat cheese
½ t black pepper

Cook asparagus in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and garlic and cook until tomatoes begin to soften, 3 - 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, cook another 1 - 3 minutes until tomatoes begin to break down and vinegar reduces. Stir in salt. Pour over asparagus and sprinkle with cheese and pepper. Yield: 4 servings

Strawberry Asparagus Salad

Thanks to a friend of the farm for sharing this yummy seasonal recipe she pulled off the web. She adapted with a slightly different dressing, so we’ve included both options for you. As written, makes 4 servings; you can reduce amount of asparagus and berries depending on your share size.

2 C asparagus, cut in pieces and blanched
2 C strawberries, sliced (about 1 pint)

#1 Dressing:

¼ C lemon juice
2 T vegetable oil
2 T honey

#2 Dressing:

2 T balsamic vinegar;
juice from half a lemon
1 T honey
olive oil to taste
black pepper to taste, a lot is good!

Toss the asparagus and strawberries together in a bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and mix well. Pour dressing over salad and toss. Chill before serving.

Spinach and Chickpeas
This winning recipe is shared by a CSA member

2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 lb. spinach, washed
1 T olive oil
½ C tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced (use your green garlic)
½ t ground cumin
Pinch red pepper flakes
½ t smoked paprika
1 ½ T red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Wilt spinach in large skillet or saucepan until just tender. Remove to a colander to drain well.

Heat olive oil over medium heat, add garlic and spices, and cook a minute or so until fragrant. Add chickpeas and tomato sauce and cook, stirring, until hot and chickpeas have absorbed the flavors. Season with salt and pepper.

Add spinach and vinegar and cook until hot. If mixture seems too dry, add a little more tomato sauce or water.

Adjust seasonings if necessary and serve tapas-style with crusty bread or toasted pitas. Although good immediately, this dish is best at room temperature after the flavors have had some time to mingle.