CSA Week 31—Frosty Nights

Fall Food: Potatoes, Spaghetti Squash, Onions, Carrots, Kale or Celery, Tomatoes or Beets, Garlic, Cilantro or Parsley

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Potatoes
• Spaghetti Squash
• Beets or Tomatoes
• Kale or Celery
• Onions
• Carrots
• Parsley or Cilantro

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Cauliflower, Pie Pumpkin, Watermelon Radishes

SPECIAL NOTE: CSA enrollment for 2019 is nearly full. There are four spaces remaining, so let me know ASAP if you want one of them. I am serious about capping CSA at 80 families next year. Payments are due by December 31. 

Frosty nights mean sweeter kale.

It’s difficult to express the heartache I felt when I discovered in August that sparrows had raided the propagation house and eaten all the tender leaves of the kale and broccoli plants meant to feed everyone all winter and next spring. I’m a great lover of songbirds, but I felt utterly betrayed, and at a loss; for what would we do about kale? It’s a winter staple! I took a chance and seeded a new patch outside immediately. It was a “Hail Mary” effort, or in this case, a Kale Mary, for kale takes 60 days to mature, and at that point there were only 50 or so days until the October daylength makes plant growth negligible. But, perseverance and faith paid off, and the kale patch is quite lovely. And tasty, too, now that we’ve had a few frosty nights. The cold turns some of the starch molecules in the leaves into sugars that act as antifreeze.

Crop diversity as is important as ecological diversity. Here’s an example from the field: I planted my usual white variety, Bishop, and the green cauliflower that is a few weeks later to mature. For whatever reason, the white variety became infested with aphids, and then came down with this black mold. The green is beautiful and perfect. Sadly, there haven’t been enough white crowns to give to CSA, but the green is looking good for Thanksgiving week.

I’ve received a lot of questions about Celery vs. Celeriac (Celery Root)! Here’s a photo: celeriac on the left, celery on the right. The two are cousins. Originally one plant in the Mediterranean/Middle East, it was encouraged to form either a large root or juicy stalks and leaves. Now, thanks to about 2,000 years of plant selection by breeders, we have two distinct vegetables. Fun fact: Homer included celeriac in The Odyssey, but it was then called “selinon”.

Celeriac on the left, Celery on the right. Fat root or fat stems?

The potatoes are really nice this year, and prolific. My new fertilizer program, boosting phosphorous, magnesium, and trace minerals, is really starting to pay dividends. Nutrient-rich soil grows nutrient-dense food.

The rains have started, and frosty nights are happening whenever the skies are clear. This is a nice, dry week, so it looks like I’ll be able to get all the garlic and shallots planted in the next day or two. Then, all that’s left is to get cover crops sown to protect and nourish the soil all winter.

I usually plant two types of garlic: hardneck and softneck. The hardneck types have bigger, easier-to-peel cloves and a punchier flavor, but don’t keep as long. The soft neck varieties are easier to braid, and keep longer, even into the spring. Hardneck varieties need a longer cold period before bulbing, so I always plant them first, just in case the heavy rains come and delay planting. The beds I planted two weeks ago are already popping up out of their plastic mulch.

 

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