Starting a new CSA season

I’ve been blogging about our farm since 2006 and today marks the beginning of my weekly blogging for 2014.  I’m really off and on during the off-season, but, since this is the first week of the CSA, I consistently write about farm issues and provide news from Lida Farm every week as well as provide information about what’s in the CSA box with a recipe. 

Like a teacher looking at the new school year, I’m always a bit apprehensive about a new growing season.  Will first box be ready in time?  How do the veggies look?  Will insect pressure overwhelm us?  How about weeds? Weather?  Stress?  Kids?  Oh, boy, no matter what’s thrown at us, the season is started and there’s no turning back for the next four months.  
Putting together the box for today, however, a lot of those beginning of season fears fall away as the lettuce looks really good as we’re harvesting, there’s more broccoli than I thought, and, yes, we actually got a cultivation in with the tractor before this weekend’s rain.  A sign which gave me even greater comfort was the garter snake which surprised me this morning near the lettuce patch.  Like any reptile or amphibian, the snake is a sign of good health and I appreciate their presence even though I’m deathly afraid of them.  It was almost as if he made his appearance today to welcome us to a new season.  
In the Box: 
Green leaf lettuce 
Bok Choi (small stalk with round, green leaves)
Green onions aka scallions
Swiss Chard (bunch of greens with colorful stems)
Mizuna (bunch of light greens with jagged edges )or Tatsoi (dark green bunch of greens with round leaves):      These are both Asian green which are great to add to a stir-fry right at the end or simply saute a bit and        top eggs
Arugula (bunch of greens with elongated oak-like leaves): I like these in pasta or raw in a Italian-style salad with olive oil, balsamic, and parmesan cheese…you can also make an arugula pesto.
Recipe of the Week:
Arugula Pesto from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything
2 cups arugula
1 clove garlic crushed
2 T. walnuts or pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup olive oil, more or less
Place arugula in a food processor or blender with the garlic, nuts, salt and about a 1/4 t. pepper.  Add 1/4 cup olive oil and pulse a few times.  With the motor running, add additional olive oil to make a creamy sauce.  Use within a day.
We like to add cheese and use it as a substitute for traditional basil pesto with pasta. You can also throw in some of the parsley to make the arugula taste more mild.  Bittman suggests using the pesto on grilled chicken or shrimp.

Working between the Rains

The veggies are growing, although not at the rapid clip one would expect this time of year.  We were able to cultivate once with the tractor so far just before a rain about ten days ago – that first rain was much appreciated but it doesn’t seem to want to stop.  Rain keeps out of the fields and we just stand by and watch weeds grow.  

Mulched High Tunnel Planted to Tomatoes
Still, we are making headway.  Last weekend’s heavy rains gave us a nice opportunity to really dive into work in the high tunnel where all our cherry and some specialty tomatoes are planted.  We hoed, weeded, trellised, and mulched all eight rows and things look great.  It’s now just a matter of giving them some time, and, in that environment which plants love (they are kind of like couch potatoes in the high tunnel), they will get as tall as me and just pump out tons of perfect tomatoes. I really can’t wait.