CSA Week 6
Do you have any topics or issues you would like me to highlight as a blog post? Any burning question you have about how we farm? I'd love to hear what share members would like me to write about. Send me your thoughts via comments below, email, or at the share pickup!
This week I thought I'd talk a little bit about my planning process and how I choose what's in each weekly share. But first, a few notes about this week's share. We have a few exciting additions! The beans are just getting started and everyone will get some green beans this week. The first week of picking beans is usually fairly light but will definitely increase the next couple weeks. And, new potatoes! We taste tested these on the weekend and they are delicious. Those who have bought a potato add-on will receive it this week. I plan for 10 weeks (not necessarily consecutive) of potatoes over the season so we will enjoy these early potatoes and then a new variety will be ready in a couple weeks. We will also have cucumbers for real this week. Although I predict things right about 95% of the time, sometimes what I think will be ready for the shares doesn't end up being ready, which is what happened with the cucumbers last week.
On that note, let's talk about my planning process. A few years ago I wrote a similar post that outlined my planning process particularly as it relates to my winter seed orders and assessing the value of each share. To learn more about these things, read the post here. Today, I thought I'd write about my decision making process as far as what is included in each weekly share as well as in the trade-in bin.
When I design the shares there are a few things I use as guiding principles. First, I want every single share to include at least 1 salad green and 1 cooking green (kale, chard, cabbage, etc.). I also want every share to include something from the allium family (onions, garlic, leeks). Then, I prefer that most weeks include 1 - 2 root vegetables (carrots, beets, potatoes, spring turnips, radishes). Once these basics are in the share, I add whatever seasonal vegetables are available at that time. Peas, beans, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, broccoli, and others all fit into this category.
Some share members have noticed that the trade-in bin often includes vegetables that aren't in the share on that particular week. This is by design and my way of ensuring that members have some opportunity for customization. Occasionally, there are a few vegetables that I grow only for the trade-in bin. These are typically unusual vegetables or vegetables that I am trialing and just growing on a small scale. Examples of these include: patty pan squash, tomatillos, and celery. The trade-in bin is also a great way for me to use small harvests of vegetables that are typical on either end of a crop's harvest window. For example, each crop that I grow has a specific window of time that it can be harvested due to the quantity that I plant and the plant's ability to 'hold' in the field. Broccoli generally has a short, 2-week harvest window and does not hold well in the field. So after this harvest window there will still be a few plants that are just maturing the broccoli but not enough for everyone. Hence their appearance in the trade-in bin. On the rare occasion we have a crop failure, any of the crop that does survive will be included in the trade-in bin as well.
I also try to take into account vegetables that combine well together in recipes and ensure that they appear together in one share. Examples of this include: potatoes and leeks, or radishes and salad greens. I also try to make the bonus herbs match the vegetables: dill and cilantro combine with summer crops, and sage and thyme combine with fall crops.
While each week includes most of what is available in the field at that particular time, it doesn't necessarily include every possible vegetable. I will rotate through the vegetables that hold well in the field for long periods of time so that you aren't receiving all of them, all the time. Some vegetables that hold well in the field include: onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, kale, chard, collards, and some herbs. We also do succession plantings of these crops (and many others) so often times we will have enjoyed a few weeks of the first succession of a crop but then take a break while we wait for a second succession to size up. This happens most often with carrots, beans, lettuce, or potatoes.
I hope this give you some insight into what is in your weekly shares! If you ever wonder why something is included or not, just ask. I'm happy to talk about my thought process.
Cucumbers are a popular item with share members! I think this is partly because they are often loved by adults and children alike. And, cucumbers don't really take much prep work to eat. It can be as simple as slicing them up and eating plain or with dip. This year we are growing three varieties of cucumbers: a specialty yellow cucumber, a pickling cucumber, and a standard slicing cucumber. The standard slicing cucumbers take about 7 - 10 days longer to mature so they are not in the shares the week. But you will find the first two varieties included. The yellow cucumber is a delicious, mild, thin-skinned cucumber that has won taste tests and awards. The pickling cucumber is a crisp, green cucumber that isn't just for pickling! Use them any way you would use a standard slicing cucumber. I'm not going to include a cucumber recipe this week because you won't be receiving them in big enough quantities to warrant a recipe. Instead, here are a few ways to enjoy your cucumbers:
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