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2013 Middle Way Farm CSA - Week 3
Middle Way Farm
big radishes

Some radishes to remember

I took this photo after harvesting the rest of the radishes last week. Its amazing that these radishes did not split (which often happens during heavy rains when radishes absorb water and grow to quickly). The two people who helped me harvest were competing with each other to see who could find the larger radish. 
Dear CSA shareholders,

One of my favorite things about eating locally is the seasonality of vegetables. Growing up we bought all our food from the grocery store and I was almost completely unaware that food not sourced through the global food supply chain is only available for a limited part of the season. One of the prime examples is celery. Its eaten throughout the year but when sourced locally, its season is actually quite short (August & September) and it does not preserve well. Other vegetables can be eaten fresh and local through almost the whole year, if they are grown continuously and stored under the proper conditions (beets and carrots are good examples). Over the last few years I have learned to love this rhythm of foods coming and going with the seasons. By appreciating each vegetable as it comes into season, I've learned that almost as soon as I get tired of a particular vegetable its done for the year. As we bid farewell to seasonal favorites, there are more to look forward to. This will be the last week of rhubarb and next week I hope to offer locally sourced strawberries. I bought my first pint of local strawberries today at New Pioneer Coop in Iowa City (from an organic grower in Kalona). The last of the spring radishes were picked last week and I look forward to fall radishes in September and October. This may be the last week of head lettuce, but I will continue to grow salad mix and arugula throughout the growing season. Soon green garlic will be transitioning into garlic scapes (the flower stalks of the garlic plant) which are just beginning to poke out of the plants in the last few days. The kale plants are just large enough to harvest now. 

The start of the season in spring is really salad season: radishes, lettuces, spinach, arugula, edible wild flowers, and other salad ingredients are abundant. I look at the next few weeks as stir fry season. Cooking greens like kale, Swiss chard, and Chinese cabbage (and wild ones like lamb's quarter and amaranth) become available while great stir fry ingredients like garlic scapes, broccoli, kohlrabi, green onions, and peas begin showing up. I hope you will take advantage of the seasonality of these foods to enjoy them while they last. 

For a wild edible this week, I'm offering amaranth greens. Many people call amaranth "pigweed" (although lamb's quarter is also referred to as pigweed so I prefer to call it amaranth) and its a notorious garden weed. Some of you may be familiar with amaranth grain, which has become a popular ingredient in organic and natural cereals and other grain based products. It was a staple food of the Aztec Empire but was not adopted as a grain crop by European settlers of the New World until the last few decades. A Hispanic immigrant I knew used to gather amaranth greens (or "blero" as they called it) daily this time of year, when it is about 6 inches tall. He suggested cooking it in a pan with a little bit of salt and lemon. Its similar to lamb's quarter in many ways (it has a nutty flavor when cooked) but the leaves are larger and more succulent. It has far more protein than traditional cultivated greens like spinach and lettuce and is very nutritious, containing vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and other vitamins and minerals.It can be eaten raw or cooked, but I would suggest cooking it like spinach or the other cooking greens available in this share, kale and Chinese cabbage. Its very abundant in the my garden, which is both a blessing and a curse. Its a beneficial weed and companion plant, serving as a trap for leaf miners and some other pests while sheltering beneficial ground beetles and breaking up hard soil for more delicate neighboring plants.  But, each plant produces thousands of small seeds that can remain viable in the soil for decades and will show up readily after the soil is disturbed by tillage. If you don't take care of it early, it can begin to shade and choke out neighboring vegetable plants while developing a long, tenacious taproot that makes it difficult to remove. 
 
Announcements

Twist Ties: I will take any used twist ties back that you don't want to keep for yourself. This reduces the need to buy new twist ties and saves you the trouble having to store them or the waste of discarding them. 

Sweet Potato Slips: My sweet potato slips arrived yesterday at Grinnell Heritage Farm (I did a joint order with Andy and Melissa Dunham, my former employers). I ordered a number of extra slips and will have them available this week and this week only. They are bare root plants and need to be planted as soon as possible (they should be stored in a vase or bucket with water until planted). You can choose from three varieties: Covington, O'Henry, and Beauregard. Please visit this link to learn more about each variety. $3 for a bundle of 6 slips or $5 for a bundle of 12 (1 variety per bundle), as many as you would like. Visit this link for information about growing sweet potatoes. 
 
Order
For delivery Friday, June 14th. Please e-mail middlewayfarmer@gmail.com with your order (for items from all categories) by 11 pm on Tuesday night, June 11. If you would like 1 unit of each produce item listed under "Standard" below, simply put "standard share" in the subject line. If you only want to receive the standard share each week, just put "always standard share". You can change this preference at anytime. The extra items each week will tend to be either wild edibles or crops from the farm that are of more limited availability. If you are getting the standard share, extra items will need to be ordered separately.

Produce

Standard:
  • Green garlic - 1 bunch ($2.00)
  • Green onions - 1 "mini" bunch ($1.50)  (onion plants are small this week but will get bigger as season goes on)
  • Head lettuce - up to 3 heads ($2.00 each)
  • Kale - 1 bunch ($2.00) (first pick so smaller leaves)
  • Rhubarb (locally sourced, chemical free) - 1 bunch ($2.00 each)
  • Salad turnips - up to 2 bunches ($2.00 each)
Extra: 
  • Salad mix - 1 six oz. bag ($3.00)
  • Amaranth greens  - 1 six oz. bag ($3.00)
Storage Tips: For all of this week's produce, store in the crisper drawer of your fridge in separate, sealed plastic bags to keep them from dehydrating.  Turnips greens are edible. Cut them from the roots and store them separately if not using immediately.

Plant Starts
  • Sweet potato slips - Bundles of 6 ($3.00 each) or bundles of 12 ($5.00 each)
Baked Goods (Sarah's Simples)
  • Please see original e-mail with the Sarah Simples baked goods list attached. Let me know if I need to resend it to you.
For those of you that got lamb's quarter last week, I'm interested what you think! And for those of you that get amaranth this week, I will also like to hear your reactions. And if you have any other feedback during the season (positive or negative), please let me know. 

Your farmer,

Jordan Scheibel
middlewayfarmer@gmail.com
(641) 821 0753
Salad

Cutting salad

This week's salad mix will be a recut from the planting I harvested last week. As long as you don't cut the growth point off the lettuce plant (inner whorl of leaves at the center of the plant where new leaves are produced) the plant will continue to grow and can be recut up to several more times. I use scissors, a mesh laundry bag, and a bucket to collect salad mix. I quickly move it inside and wash it in two tanks of water before drying and bagging it. 
amaranth

Amaranth

The tips of the amaranth plant can be cooked whole (no need to de-stem them). Larger leaves farther down the stem should be stripped off before cooking. Check out this link for a nice amaranth greens recipe that includes green onions and garlic. 
kale field

Kale field

Kale is one of my favorite vegetables to grow and this year's planting looks great. Its been weeded and mulched and I look forward to harvesting it most weeks from now till well into the fall. Once the plants are larger, I will begin offering kale weekly. It will be one of the staples (like onions, garlic, and soon potatoes) that I will offer on a weekly basis and allow you to choose when and how much you want. So you kale fiends can get it every week and those of you who don't care for it can take it or leave it. But, if I have a chance will try to persuade you of the virtues of kale. 
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