Monday, June 25, 2012

Week 8, CSA News

Garden Problem:  Weeds

Weeds, they just keep showing up!

On the farm, a weed is simply a plant out of place. Your beautiful Bluegrass lawn would be a real problem in our lettuce beds. Mostly we all know that every year the lambs quarter, thistles and Johnson grass will be back. Knowing how each one decides where to grow and how they reproduce is key to containing or at least co-existing with them.

The back-story is weeds are opportunistic and indicators.  Some like tight clay soils, others wet conditions.  Some like full shade, others full sun.  Some thrive in cool weather, others like it hot and dry. So when you see weeds growing in the path, spraying an herbicide is quick and easy, albeit short sighted. It or another plant that likes compacted soil will return in due time. The real solution is to loosen the soil to allow the desirable grasses and clovers to re-populate the area. A weed patch can sometimes indicate a mineral imbalance in the soil. It is counter intuitive, but if you analyze the plant tissue and see that it is high in a particular element like boron, the weed is actually living in a boron deficient soil. It provides the function of scouring the soil for any and all boron, so when it is chopped up and tilled into the soil, it will deposit the accumulated boron back and make it available to future crops.

Then, there is how they reproduce. Some rely on making lots of seeds. Others have specialized stems or roots. Guiding these systems are if they are programmed as annuals, biennials, or perennials. Annuals, like lambs quarter, arise when the temperature and moisture and placement in the soil merge to create the proper conditions for germination. When you first see lambs quarter emerge, that is the best time to manually hoe or disturb the seedling before it takes root. Since some have a fibrous root system and others make a deep penetrating taproot it is best to prevent their maturation process. If allowed to go to seed, the plant will produce hundreds if not thousands of seeds for future generations. Every square foot of soil contains gazillions of seeds from years past, known as the soil seed bank. Biennials, like thistles, take two years to go thru this cycle. When the wind blows the tiny seed, the ones that grow landed in an open spot. The first growing season it will make a low-growing rosette. The following year it will send up the seed stalk and make a reddish purple flower that sends thousands of seeds into the air. When chopping these plants you must cut the crown where the plant meets the soil to prevent it from suckering out and sending up a secondary seed stalk. If you severe the seed stalk at just the right time, the plant hormones will think it set seeds so no need to sucker out again, but actually they are not viable. Perennials, on the other hand, are the most insidious of all.  Johnson grass not only likes to make lots of seeds, it also forms specialized roots/stems known as rhizomes. These run through the soil, sending up new shoots at nodes along the stem. Usually one node will become dominant so the energy for growth is delivered there. If you chop up these rhizomes each node will become dominant and you helped it reproduce.

While all these variations on the theme are interacting, there is one other aspect to consider. All plants exude compounds out of their roots into the soil as part of its interaction with the environment. One of these has an allelapathic effect on other plants. This is a self-preservation technique that is toxic to other weed seeds, preventing them from germinating or withering soon after.

Given all these variables, it is challenging to manage our fields to reduce or eliminate weeds to produce edible crops. Some times it looks weedy, but is not really hurting the crop. Other times it looks pretty good, but the specter of doom is looming. So look at your yard or at others as you drive along the road to see why those plants might be growing where they are.  A weed problem might be as simple as adding a little organic boron fertilizer.

In Your Share

Green Beans- organic

Broccoli – organic 
One more week of the most popular green vegetable!  You told us you wanted more in last year’s member survey.


Fresh Garlic – organic
Lacinato Black Kale Greens – organic

Yellow Squash and/or Green Zucchini 

Tomatoes - organic

Napa Cabbage – organic

Sugar Snap Peas – organic

Don’t toss out your nutrients! 
So say the editors of

Recipes to Enjoy

Ginger Lemon Broccoli
Recipe shared by a friend of the farm, our thanks!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp minced garlic
¼ tsp grated fresh ginger
¼ tsp lemon peel
1 head fresh broccoli

Whisk oil, lemon juice, salt, garlic, ginger, and lemon peel in small bowl.  Set aside.

Cook 1 head broccoli, cut into florets, 6 C boiling salted water for 2 minutes.  Drain.  Toss with dressing.

Green Smoothie, our thanks to a CSA member for sharing this recipe, as smoothies are an easy way to include fresh greens in our daily diet.  She reports, “It was really GOOD!  I was worried that the kale taste would be too strong, but it really wasn't!”

Mix in blender for 1 serving the following:

3 large leaves of Kale (remove stem)
1 frozen banana
1/3 C Greek non-fat vanilla yogurt
1/3 C apple juice
1 small handful of ice cubes

Cold Pea Soup, our thanks to a CSA member for sharing this seasonal recipe.

1 pound sugar snap peas
1 medium potato
1 pint chicken or  vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T sour cream
chopped fresh parsley for garnish

String peas; peel and finely chop potatoes.  Combine peas and potatoes with stock in a saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce to simmer for approximately ten minutes until vegetables are tender. Cool for a few minutes then blend until pureed.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then force through a fairly fine strainer, discarding solids.  Stir or whisk in sour cream and refrigerate for up to two days.

Kale Salad with Pecorino and Lemon serves 4.  Many versions of kale salad are around, this one originally in The New York Times 2007.

1 large bunch kale, washed and trimmed of stems
4 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated
2 lemons, juiced
½ C olive oil
salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

Roll several kale leaves lengthwise and using the point of a chef's knife, cut away the thick center stem. Discard. Roll the remaining stack of de-veined leaves into a tight cigar shape and slice into thin ribbons.

Toss the shaved kale with the cheese. Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil and pour over the salad. Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Here is the key to any kale salad!! Let the salad sit at room temperature for 20 minutes up to an hour before serving.

Tuscan Kale Caesar Slaw, adapted from a Bon Appetite recipe from Epicurious online.

¼ C fresh lemon juice
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
1 garlic clove
1 tsp Dijon-type mustard
½ C extra-virgin olive oil
½ C finely grated Parmesan, divided
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 hard-boiled egg, peeled
1 bunch Lacinato/Tuscan black kale, center stalks remov-ed, thinly sliced crosswise (about 8 C)

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a blender; purée until smooth. With machine running, slowly add oil, drop by drop, to make a creamy dressing. Transfer dressing to a bowl and stir in ¼ C Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. Dressing can be made 2 days ahead, keep chilled.
Coarsely chop hard-boiled eggs, you can separate the yolk from the white and chop separately if you want to, depending on your final presentation.  Toss kale and dressing in a large bowl to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with remaining 1/4 C Parmesan and chopped eggs.

Substitution: you can use a little soy sauce in place of the anchovies; it’s the saltiness that you want to balance the other flavors.

Wonderfully Easy Pasta with Kale, an Asparagus to Zucchini recipe

1/3 pound penne or farfalle pasta
2 to 3 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
½ pound chopped kale leaves
salt and pepper

Bring 6-8 C salted water to a boil; add pasta and cook until tender.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onions and garlic, and cook until tender.  Add the kale and sauté until wilted.  Drain the pasta and combine it with the onions, garlic, and kale.  Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.