July 4 (Newsletter)

The flower beds are popping after that beautiful rain.

Let’s Talk Brassicas

Brassica…what’s a brassica?

Well, some of our favourite vegetables are members of the Brassica family. And this week we have a number of them in the share all at once.

Brassicas are sometimes referred to as the cabbage or mustard family and include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radishes, turnips, collard greens, mustard greens. bok choi, tatsoi, arugula, mizuna and more. Whew! 

Just about everyone loves to eat brassicas – and that includes some garden visitors/pests. That’s why you’ll often see a white netting over our brassicas in the garden. Rather than spray to keep the pests “under control” I prefer to exclude them with this physical netting barrier which works pretty well, but not perfectly. So we do have some marks on the leaves which happily are not visible after slicing and cooking the greens.

Komatsuna (middle row) and bok choi (foreground) growing under cover with flowering companions. Both of these vegetables are in the brassica family and in the share this week.

Brassicas this week:

Kale – we’ve got a nice new bed of curly kale to harvest from this week. This is the kind of kale we see most often in the grocery store, but it is super fresh unlike that grocery store stuff. These leaves are perfect to use as a wrap.

Salad turnips  – I know, we’ve had a lot of these lately. They grew very well despite the hot weather we had early in the season. Here’s another way to prepare salad turnips in a grated salad with carrot. Or you can just eat them with salt like I do. 

Broccoli – I chose this variety of broccoli mainly for what it will provide us after we harvest the small heads; a continuous production of side shoots. I’m hoping this is the beginning of several weeks of rotating broccoli shoot bundles in the shares.  (I’ll keep track and make sure everyone get’s a bundle or two as the season progresses.) Think of it as a little bonus when you see them in your share!  

Bok Choi – this is the fourth seeding of bok choi and we are getting it out of the garden just as the next heat wave arrives. (We lost the previous two seedings in that early heat this spring.)

Komatsuna – Yes, it’s another new vegetable! Komatsuna is also called Japanese mustard spinach. Treat it like any other new green: give it a taste raw and if you find it too strong, plan on blanching it before adding it to your meal. We’ll just have a light harvest of the outer leaves this week. Here’s an easy recipe for a cooked salad (I think where it talks about roots, they mean stems) and one paired with scrambled eggs.

Non-Brassica Family Veg:

Garlic Scapes – I had the big final harvest of garlic scapes this weekend.  According to my garlic guru, the garlic is ready to harvest 5-7 weeks after the scapes emerge. 

Green onions & spring onions – The original crop plan has some form of onion in each share. Just about every meal I cook starts with sautéed onions. I hope you are enjoying the different shapes and sizes of the onions as the season progresses. 

Snow peas – Did you know you should string your snow peas before cooking them?   I’m sorry I didn’t mention this last week. Here’s a short tutorial if this is a new kitchen move for you.


Last but not least

We had a bit of excitement at the house last week.

Talia and I watched a large black bear walk up to the clothesline area and give things a sniff. We had just collected the recent rain water and wondered if it was thirsty. Also, Talia was baking a phenomenal chocolate cake.

At any rate, we scared it off by barking out the window and getting our dogs to join us. We sounded like a real pack of hounds, I’m sure.

Our fuzzy black visitor sniffs the air as Talia and I watch from the washroom window. We stayed inside the rest of the day.