After a very soggy and cold start to the spring, last week’s bright sunshine and warm temperatures gave the plants a good shot of growth and even had us bringing out the irrigation pipes for the first time this year. Of course, the warmth and sunshine has also had the same effect on the weeds, and as we’ve learned over the years, the best way to deal with weeds is quickly and often. Quickly, because the best time to remove weeds is as soon as they germinate, and often, because there is a seemingly limitless supply of weed seeds in the soil that we have generated from previous crops. They are just waiting to get in the top layer of soil and get a shot of rain (or irrigation) and sun to start growing.
This is peak work time on a veggie farm in New England. Big plantings of corn, sweet potatoes, next year’s strawberries, winter squash, melons, and pumpkins are going in the ground, along with the regular weekly plantings of lettuce and spinach. Rebecca and Connor seed arugula, carrots, and beets on a weekly basis, and Lauren and I make sure we are mowing the cover crops on time. James spades all that lush green growth into the ground to feed the soil microbes that will eventually turn the cover crops into plant nutrients for our crops. In the spring we turn in legumes such as hairy vetch and field peas, which form an association with nitrogen fixing bacteria, and then can take this key nutrient right out the air and make it plant available. Then we prep beds, let them mellow a bit, and plant. To add fuel to the fire, tomatoes need to be trellised, crops need to be side dressed with fertilizer, and the harvest of spring lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, and arugula is peaking.
It’s also strawberry season! The plants we put in the ground last spring grew into a mat of plants that we spent many months weeding, mulching, de-mulching, and weeding again. Fresh strawberries have a complex, sweet flavor that store bought berries can’t match. We also grow varieties that large companies won’t touch because the fruit are small sized. The yield seems a little light this year, and rain can wreak havoc on ripe berries, so come by to pick your own in the next two weeks during our regular open days, and we will get as many as we can to the farmer’s markets.
We hope you enjoy the farm and the harvest,
Paul and Rebecca, for Lauren and the Fort Hill Farm crew
Featured this week:
Kohlrabi: this crazy looking member of the cabbage family is underrated! They taste similar to broccoli stems or salad turnips, with a mild, sweet flavor, but the real treat is its intense crispiness that counters the summer heat. They are great peeled and sliced as a dipping veg, or some folks grate them for slaws or sautéing (see Chicken Salad with Kohlrabi, Fennel, and Scallions recipe from our website). And the leaves are also yummy sautéed, for a two-for-one bargain. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Spinach: This is the one green that everyone can agree tastes great and adds that satisfying “greenness” to just about everything cooked or raw. We have a delicious crop coming in this week, which we lovingly transplanted back in April and wondered if they would ever grow.
salad mix, arugula, baby red kale, spinach, pea shoots, sunflower shoots, microgreens, head lettuce, curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, fresh herbs, escarole, ugly (but incredibly sweet!) sweet potatoes, scallions, salad turnips, baby bok choy, French Breakfast and red radishes, Chinese Cabbage, frozen baby ginger and (picked for you – the first strawberries as we have them available!
Carrots! Rainbow carrots too!
Pick Your Own:
Fresh herbs: parsley, cilantro, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, chives
*** Just like last year, CSA members may take a small (mixed or not) PYO herb bunch for free, one bunch per share per week! Please see sample sizes in the barn.
PYO begins 30 before and goes 30 minutes beyond barn hours.
Recipes, suggested by Rebecca Batchie. For more recipes, check out the Fort Hill Farm Recipe Database
Kohlrabi Slaw with Cilantro, Jalapeño and Lime
From Sylvia Fountaine of feastingathome
2 bunches of radishes
6 cups kohlrabi -cut into matchsticks or grated in a food processor -about three x 4 inch bulbs (or you could substitute sliced fennel, apple, jicama, cucumber, or cabbage for part of the kohlrabi for more diversity)
½ cup chopped cilantro ( one small bunch)
half of a jalapeno -minced
1/4 cup chopped scallion
orange zest from one orange, and juice
lime zest from one lime, and juice
Citrus Dressing :
1/4 Cup olive oil
¼ Cup fresh orange juice (juice from one orange)
1/8 Cup lime juice plus 1 T (juice from one large lime), more to taste
1/4 Cup honey (or agave syrup)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Trim and peel kohlrabi. Cut off two ends. Cut in half from top to bottom. Thinly slice, rotate and slice again, making 1/4 inch matchsticks.
Place in large bowl with chopped cilantro, scallions, finely chopped jalapeño, lime zest and orange zest.
Whisk dressing together in a small bowl. Toss with salad. Refrigerate until serving. Garnish with zest and cilantro. This tastes good the next day too. Serves 4-6.
1 small red onion, sliced
5 oz. spinach
juice of ½ lemon
salt and pepper
Cook 2 bunches trimmed and halved radishes and 1 sliced red onion in a skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring, until tender, about 8 minutes. Season with
salt and pepper. Stir in 5 ounces baby spinach, the juice of 1/2 lemon, and a pinch each of salt and pepper; cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Serves 4 as a side dish.
Cream Of Spinach Soup
From Mark Bittman via the New York Times
Don’t forget to sprinkle microgreens on the top of this soup!
1 pound spinach, well washed, thick stems trimmed
3 spring onions or 3 bunches scallions, trimmed and roughly chopped
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Small grating of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 cup heavy or light cream, half-and-half or milk
Combine spinach, onions and stock in a saucepan, and turn heat to medium high. Bring to a boil, and lower heat so mixture barely bubbles. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is very tender, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat, add nutmeg and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and let cool at least a few minutes.
Pour soup into a blender, in batches if necessary, and carefully purée. Return to pan, add cream, and, over medium-low heat, reheat gently, stirring occasionally. When soup is hot, adjust seasoning, and serve. Serves 4.