This week we have been busy weeding (does this ever stop?!) and scything down early crops like peas so that the beds can be covered with silage tarps. On the recommendation of the well-known market gardener, Jean-Martin Fortier, we are using silage tarps as a means of weed control and soil building. Silage tarps are the giant white or black tarps used to cover silage, which you may commonly see weighted down by tires in farmers' fields. We lay these 40'x100' tarps over several unused beds, which causes the weed seeds underneath to germinate in the hot temperatures and then immediately die due to lack of light. We can then remove the tarp after several weeks and plant into beds that have much less weed pressure. Finding ways to thwart the weeds is something us market gardeners spend significant time thinking about!
It is usually about this time in the CSA season that I start to hear share members concerned about using up the produce they receive while it is still fresh. Last year I shared a few tips and instructions for saving some of the common vegetables and I thought I would re-post, with some additions, here:
Have you ever tried lacto-fermenting? Lacto-fermenting is a means of preserving food using beneficial bacteria. Not only does the food last longer, but the benefits to your digestive and immune systems are numerous. This week, I made pickled turnips. To make, place 1/2 red onion, sliced, in the bottom of a mason jar, along with 1 teaspoon of pickling spice. Then fill the rest of the jar with whole or halved raw turnips. Combine 2 cups of non-chlorinated water with 1 tablespoon of sea salt and pour over the turnips so that all are covered. Use a cabbage leaf, folded to hold the vegetables below the brine. Screw a lid on tightly and let sit on a dark part of your kitchen counter for 2 days. After 2 days you will need to 'burp' the container by slightly unscrewing the top and then re-tightening immediately. The turnips will be fermented after 7-10 days and then can be stored in the fridge for up to 12 weeks.
Beans will keep for 1—2 weeks in the fridge, if placed in a sealed airtight bag or container. If you can’t use them all, I strongly recommend freezing them. Simply snap off the ends, toss in boiling water for 1 minute, remove and immediately rinse under cold water or dunk in a sink with water and ice cubes. Place into freezer bags and remove the air. I use frozen beans throughout the winter in soups, stews, and casseroles.
Beets will keep for many weeks in the fridge, if you remove the greens. To freeze, follow the same directions as for the green beans.
Any fresh herbs you receive can be frozen for later use. The easiest way to freeze herbs is to chop them finely, place a spoonful in each compartment of an ice cube tray, top up with water and freeze. Once frozen, remove from the tray and place in an airtight container in the freezer. These herb cubes are fantastic additions to soups and stews. Simply throw whole cube into the pot.
You can also make basil pesto, and freeze in serving size containers.
There are many ways to use zucchini fresh, but if you can’t use them all, they can be frozen. My preferred way to freeze is to grate and place in a freezer bag. When thawed, the grated zucchini can be used in baking.
Greens such as swiss chard, spinach, and kale can be frozen, dehydrated and ground into a greens powder, or used in smoothies whenever you have a surplus. To freeze, simply chop, place in freezer bag, suck the air out using a straw, and seal. These frozen greens can then be thrown directly in soups, stews, or pasta sauce in the winter months.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to save lettuce for use later on….but did you know that for optimum health an adult should consume 1lb of greens per day?! 1 large head of lettuce is approximately 1lb., so eat more salads! :)
For further ideas, try this recipe generator designed for CSA share members.
Cabbage OR Swiss Chard
Green Beans OR Spinach
Try this yummy potato and green bean salad this week! Perfect alongside BBQ'd burgers. Since I'm unable to make any recipe without substituting at least one ingredient, I would use fresh dill instead of thyme.