Farmer John Writes: Your First Box

Welcome to the First Harvest Week of our 26th Season as a Community Supported Agriculture Farm!

Week 1 Saturday Box Contents:

Cilantro
Spinach
Pea Shoots
Lettuce
Radishes
Pac Choi
Scallions
Kale

Exciting!
I realize that there are many people today who do not find farms exciting. I, on the other hand, consider our farm–and many other farms–to be infinitely exciting. Angelic Organics is a dynamic organism, where work, love, weather, soil, seeds, machinery and personalities converge, and then– food for your tables! I write this Farm News column to let you in on the excitement.

The Season Begins Beautifully
The crops look absolutely splendid! Overall, the weather has been great this spring. We have been able to get everything planted in a timely manner.  I will reflect now on the vegetables and herbs that will be in your first box, and one that won’t.

But First…a Little Lesson in Timing
First, I want you to know that it is an art and somewhat of a guessing game to have all the crops that are scheduled for your first box to actually be ready at the right time.  That requires precision in timing, luck with weather and a bit of alchemy. Some crops have a very narrow window in which they must be harvested:

Spinach A beautiful crop of spinach, slated to be harvested on a Monday, can go from dark rich green on a Friday to yellowish brown by Monday, if the weekend is especially hot. I’ve had so many spring spinach crops come in too early, or go bad over a weekend, that I decided this year to reduce the number of spring spinach seedings.

Radishes This past Saturday we were going to harvest radishes, but I decided they had not sized up enough yet. I knew that some of the perfectly sized radishes on Saturday would split open by Monday, and by then the little marble sized radishes would be the right size to harvest—that’s fast!

Arugula is astounding in how fast it becomes ready–3 1/2 weeks from when it is seeded. It is then ready for harvest for a few days, and then it becomes oversized. Arugula that passes its harvest prime is not a problem like spinach or radishes; arugula gets spicier and a little coarser after its idea harvest window, but it will remain a harvestable crop for a week or more after it is initially ready—same for other mustardy greens such mizuna and baby pac choi.

Lettuce has a slightly more generous time window for harvest. If the weather is cool, it has a harvest window of 5 or 6 days before it rots at its base or bolts.

Broccoli heads can go from luscious to yellowish over a period of 3 days of heat. If the weather is cool, the heads might stay good in the field for 5 days.

In Your Box This Week

Cilantro I seeded the cilantro early—earlier then ever before. It came up beautifully. I believe that this will be the first year when we have had cilantro in the first box. This is your farmer’s idea of fun.

Spinach Your spinach enjoyed a cool weekend, so it should provide a lovely portion to all of our shareholders this week.

spinach

Spinach Weathered the Weekend Well

Pea Shoots As much as I love weather, I have trust issues with weather. For example, I have seen many lovely spinach crops suddenly become un-harvestable, especially in spring (as opposed to fall). I therefore seeded pea shoots to take the place of the spinach, just in case the spinach went bad. The pea shoots and the spinach are both ready for the first week, so you will receive a large amount of baby greens (if we are able to find room for both of them in your box.)

Lettuce Beautiful heads of lettuce are ready for the first week—perfectly sized. Last year, though planted at the same time as this year, the first lettuce heads of the season were small. (The Mysteries of Farming! Could this be a TV series?) I typically schedule 3 heads of lettuce for both the first and second weeks of deliveries. After a long winter, it seems that our shareholders love large salads for the transition into spring. By Week 3, the number of lettuce heads in your box usually drops to 2.

Radishes The radish leaves are a bit tattered from flea beetles. We typically cover the radishes with  floating row cover to protect them from these frantic little hopping, chewing insects, but this spring, I decided against covering them. Covering crops is labor intensive, and the flea beetles were not so prevalent early this year as they usually are. However, the marauders came on strong a couple of weeks ago, and munched holes into the radish leaves.

choi (1)

Cilantro, Dill, Pac Choi

Pac Choi We covered our Chinese cabbage and chois with reemay as soon as they were transplanted. Flea beetles love these crops and I did not want to expose them to the risk of these frenetic creatures. Even though these crops were covered, some flea beetles still managed to get under the covers and munch a bit—a tolerable amount.

Scallions We harvested petite scallion bunches. I was tempted to let them grow another week, but I thought you would welcome their spritely taste of spring.

scallions

Dainty Bunches of Scallions

Kale Our kale has grown up magnificently, and will provide what I believe to be the biggest bunches of kale ever for our first harvest week.

Not in Your Box this Week – Broccoli
Some seasons, the broccoli has come on too early for the first harvest. This season (and last season, too), though it went into the ground on time (at least, I thought it was going in on time), it is just now starting to bud. I predict that all of next week’s boxes will contain broccoli, and likely for a couple more weeks after that. It’s possible that broccoli will even find its way into the boxes we pack at the end of this week. I’m a bit stumped by the slow broccoli, but again, farming has its mysteries.

Broccoli

Slow but Sure Broccoli

Speaking of Bounty
We’re going to have a hard time fitting this week’s harvest into the CSA boxes. We are now sold out of full season shares. As we approach our fourth week of deliveries, we will be even more inundated with vegetables.

If you like your CSA experience, please encourage your friends to sign up for a 16 week share at www.angelicorganics.com/receive-our-vegetables/. We are currently offering a $60 discount for the 16 week share. Let Shelly know at email hidden; JavaScript is required the names of your friends who sign up and we’ll send you 8 to 10 bulbs of our signature German White Porcelain Garlic in the fall for every share you help us sell (we planted extra garlic for discretionary purposes.) That’s about two pounds of garlic and worth around $50. We’ll limit this garlic offer to the first 100 shares that our friends help us sell–I don’t want to over-commit our precious garlic.

Sign up for the Free Recipe Service!
Make sure you sign up for the Local Thyme recipe service we offer with this year’s share. It received many great reviews from our shareholders last season. Find the instructions for signing up for Local Thyme here: http://www.angelicorganics.com/local-thyme

Let us Know
Let Shelly know anything you’d like to share about this week’s box email hidden; JavaScript is required. Please note the week and day of delivery, your site, when you picked up your box, and any comments about your box.

Please Fold Your Boxes Properly and Return Them to Your Site
The farm re-uses the vegetable boxes. Flaps are easily torn when the boxes are dismantled improperly, and then the box bottom might later burst open with fresh, organic local produce heading towards the floor. Please return your empty, flattened vegetable boxes to your delivery site.

More from Shareholders
Visit us often at www.facebook.com/angelicorganics , where we post exciting farm developments regularly, and shareholders post recipes, tips, and photos.

We hope you enjoy your first box of the season.

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