Start of the Produce Season

I was thinking out in the field this morning that today I’m kind of like a baseball player on the first day of spring training.  I’m excited to start another produce season, but, after a winter without the constant game schedule,  I find I’m a bit out of shape and just not into the swing of it.  I remember harvesting, washing, and packing spinach much quicker than I was able to today.  The hands just didn’t work as quickly as before.  Oh well, after 7 CSA seasons, I don’t panic since I know that it’s a matter of adjustment and the season will get into full swing.

The produce is much the same way.  Since it’s out of practice, the ground can only produce funky cool-season greens this time of year (Mizuna, anyone?).  This makes for the kind of CSA box which could really freak somebody out.  But, I assure you, the garden will get into the swing of the season too and start kicking out a whole mix of veggies without effort.  I know this is true because I’ve seen the signs of summer out on the farm like the first strawberries and blossoms on squash.  A rock-solid season may take some cooperation from the weather, but I’m optimistic.

In the box:
Mizuna – A Japanese green which looks like a bunch of Dandelions.  This is commonly used in a salad mix with lettuce or in a stir fry at the end (see recipe)
Bok Choy – a few received a purple bok choy
French Breakfast Radishes
Bunch of Red Russian or Lacinato Kale – You have Lacinato or Dino kale if the leaves of your bunch are dark green.  You have Red Russian kale if your bunch is purple and the leaves are big and jaded.
Mint – small bunch of 4-6 sprigs.  I got into Mojitos this year using fresh mint.  Give it a whirl.
Strawberries (some members) – sorry, I know it’s completely unfair, but we had just a small portion of the strawberry patch ripening, so I had to “play god” with who did and who did not get a pint.

Bok Choy and Mizuna stir fry 
Ryan’s version based on a recipe from Epicurious 
1 bunch mizuna
1-2 bok choy, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 T soy sauce
2 t sesame
2 t peanut oil
1 t rice vinegar

Mix the sauce (2 T soy sauce, 1 t rice vinegar, 2 t sesame oil) and set aside.  Add 2 t peanut oil to pan over medium high heat.  Add the bok choy stalks and saute until crisp tender.  Add bok choy leaves and garlic and saute a minute before adding the sauce.  Once the bok choy leaves start to wilt, add the mizuna for 1-2 minutes.  You can serve over rice or rice noodles.  I broiled some teriyaki-merinated pork which I tossed in at the end.

Dead Chickens and a Half Completed Greenhouse

Well, a typical spring season so far. I wish the produce were growing better and further along-another cool spring isn’t helping matters. I’m behind on most things that need to get done and if it’s not one challenge it’s another.

Today’s Challenge
This morning as I sleepily went out to feed the laying hens like normal I noticed big piles of feathers all about the coop. Being the sleuth that I am, I followed the trail out into the pasture where I found not one, not two, but four dead chickens. Argghhh! Whatever came in last night wasn’t even courteous enough to kill off the old laying hens, but went for the young ones now just begging to produce eggs. Don’t these predators
know I’ve got better things to do this time of year than to play security guard to some laying hens?

Typical Incomplete Spring Project

Like most people who farm, I dream up how the spring season will unfold every winter from the warm confines of my home. This winter I was thinking that I would leisurely put up a new 26 by 96 foot high tunnels and have it planted with tomatoes, cucumbers, and pepper by early May.
Hah…three weeks ago we finally finished the frame and it still sits there without any plastic covering (a greenhouse is pretty useless without a covering).
Winter plans never foresee the crazy planting schedule that explodes in my face every spring. It’s a lot of waiting and waiting because of cold, rain, and high winds before trying to plug in as many seeds and plants as possible in a whatever window of time nature gives me. I also have to juggle this with the beginning battle with weeds which erupts in June as well as the first forays of insect mercenaries who try begin their invasion on all fronts. Typical…
Dad and I working on high tunnel in April (note snow on ground!):

Still, it always turns around. The plants will grow. I’ll fight the weeds and bugs. Produce will be harvested and delivered. It’s only a matter of time, but I know we’ll get there.