2016 CSA – Week 5: Cultivating a Tomato Forest

CSA Week 5 Graphic

CSA Newsletter  – Week 5


Cultivating a Tomato Forest

I was walking through one of the greenhouses a few days ago and couldn’t believe the size of our tomato plants. It was like walking through a tomato forest. Plants towering over my head and branches the circumference of a shovel handles. These tomatoes aren’t messing around!

The genesis of these tomatoes began in the early months of the year in our propagation house. When they are about the size of a toothpick, scion stems are meticulously grafted to separate rootstock plants. The seeding, grafting, and healing process of the tomato plants takes about 4 weeks of diligent care in the propagation house.

Once the tomatoes are planted in the high tunnels or in the field, they are “trained” by wrapping the leading stems with twine.  This supports the plants vegetation and fruit as they grow larger. Each week, the plants are pruned and shoots called suckers are removed.

In the high tunnels, the tomato plants can reach the high tunnel ceiling, up to 15 feet high. If the plants remain healthy throughout the season, fruit can be harvested up to the first hard frost, usually into November. That is some serious growing power!

Have a great week and enjoy those veggies.

-Lily, CSA Coordinator

 

Table of Box Contents

Lettuce ($2.00)

Red Scallions ($2.50) – Delicious in eggs, salad, or grilled

☐ Fresh Sweet Onion ($1.50)

☐ Bunch Carrots ($3.50) – Remove tops for storage

Italian Parsley ($2.00) – Substitute for basil in your favorite pesto recipe or try this one from SimplyRecipes.

Radicchio ($3.00) – Delicious in salad or grilled. Pairs well with balsamic and an aged cheese such as parmesan.

Swiss Chard ($3.00) – Sauté with onions and eat with eggs or top over a grilled sausage.

Green Cabbage ($5.25) – Coleslaw is a wonderful summer salad. See recipe.

2-4 Zucchini ($3.25) – Grill, sauté, or make zucchini bread.

4 Cucumbers ($4.00) – Try them smashed! See recipe.

1 lb Tomatoes (2-3) ($3.50)

 

Recipes

Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashing cucumbers is fun and it makes a delicious salad! I made this last week and it was so tasty, and refreshing. Definitely a new summer staple for me! Use as few or as many cucumbers as you like and season to taste.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-4 cucumbers
  • salt
  • Chili oil or toasted sesame oil
  • rice vinegar (optional)

Add-ons: toasted sesame seeds, scallions, garlic, red pepper flakes

PREPARATION

  1. Smash the cucumbers, one at a time, using a rolling pin. Smash on one side, flip, and smash on the other.
  2. Tear cucumbers into chunks, place in a colander, and salt. Let drain for 10 minutes.
  3. Drizzle with the oil and add any other additional flavorings to taste.

Watch this fun Bon Appetit video for a visual recipe.

 

Quinoa Tabbouleh

This twist on the classic Middle Eastern salad is delicious using quinoa but you can also use the traditional grain, bulger. This is one of those dishes that just taste better the longer the flavors meld so make a large batch and eat it all week!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • Scallions, thinly sliced

PREPARATION

  1. Bring quinoa, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Spread out quinoa on a large rimmed baking sheet; let cool. Transfer to a large bowl; mix in 1/4 cup dressing.
  6. Add cucumber, tomatoes, herbs, and scallions to bowl with quinoa; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle remaining dressing over.

Read More: Epicurious

 

Coleslaw with Mint and Golden Raisins

This is one of my go to salads. The mint is so fresh and the raisins add a hint of sweetness. Make a day ahead to let the raisins plum up and for the flavors to meld. Quantities are flexible depending on how you like your coleslaw. Season to taste.

INGREDIENTS

  • Green or Red Cabbage
  • Mayonnaise (or veganaise)
  • Fresh Mint
  • Golden Raisins

PREPARATION

  1. Chop Cabbage into long, thin strips. Chop mint.
  2. In a large bowl, mix cabbage, mint, and golden raisins.
  3. Add enough mayonnaise to coat. Enjoy!

CSA 2011 – Week 14: Hybrid vs. Open Pollinated vs. Heirloom seeds

Many of you have been receiving some of our specialty ‘heirloom’ tomatoes each week. They seem to come in all sorts of crazy shapes and colors. Along with these some of you also get some of our big beef tomatoes as well. The big beefs are fairly uniform in color and shape and the plants have a high yield. What is the main difference between these two types of tomatoes? The seeds. The heirloom tomato seeds are old varieties from which the seeds have been saved. On the other hand, big beef tomato seeds are a hybrid variety of seed. This means that the seed was produced by the mating of two “parents” in the same species.

So, one would purposefully cross a high-producing tomato plant with one that is disease resistant in order to create a tomato that would be both high producing and disease resistant. Nowadays, from a legal standpoint, the pollination of hybrid must be controlled and the parents must be known. Hybrid crops seem great from one angle: more tomatoes, disease resistance – what could be better? However, one fallback is that the seeds saved from hybrids do not stay true to their type. So, if you tried to save seeds from a big beef tomato, the seeds may not germinate, and if they do, they may not produce fruit. If they do produce, they may not be ‘big beefs’. On top of that, hybrid seeds are generally more expensive than open pollinated or heirloom seeds.

Now, a little bit about open pollinated seeds. ‘Heirloom seeds’ is just a name for old varieties of open pollinated seeds. Open pollinated seeds are ones that are true to their type in the way that you can save their seeds, replant them and they will produce the same plant that you saved the seeds from. Some species of plants are self pollinating (beans, peas, tomatoes, and lettuce), so these do not have to be isolated by types in order to keep from crossing. On the other hand, species such as beets, brassicas, carrots, corn, and squash are cross-pollinating species, and they need to be isolated in order to keep the resulting seeds true to their parent plant.

We grow a combination of hybrid and open pollinated vegetables here at GTF. I think that there is something very valuable about being able to save seed from your own crops. But at the same time there is something very valuable about a plant that will readily produce and be vigorous. I guess you can find both qualities in some hybrid and open pollinated varieties of vegetables. I think that it’s safe to say that both seem to have their place in the vegetable farming world today.

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Rose Gold)- Steam, roast, fry, mash, you can do just about anything!

Carrots, bunched – Shred them on salad, sauté in butter with salt, or eat plain.

2 onions (1 white, 1 yellow)– Add to any sauté, or eat raw sliced thin on sandwiches, or add to a slaw or potato salad.

Charantais melon– Eat just like it is!

Lemongrass– Use it as a seasoning in curry or Thai dishes, try steeped in soup too! Make lemongrass tea!

2 colored peppers—Grill, roast, or just eat raw, they are sweet.

1 cippolini onion– Caramelize, or eat raw. They are sweet when cooked.

1 Broccoli or cauliflower– Steam, eat raw, or blanch and then sauté in butter or olive oil. It’s tasty roasted as well.

1 green cabbage– make slaw, steam in chunks or add to soup or stew.

Cardinal or Red oak compact lettuce– Make a salad, or add to sandwiches, make lettuce wraps.

Tomatoes (approximately 2 lbs) – Chop raw on salad, or sandwiches.

1 pint of cherry tomatoes– eat on salads, cut in half and make a tomato salad with basil.

4 ears of corn– Grill in husk or steam; add salt and butter or just eat plain.

Vegetable curry
2-3 cups of chopped cabbage
3-4 carrots, sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 head of broccoli or cauliflower
1 small tomato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped lemongrass, chopped
4 tablespoons red or green curry paste
1-2 cups of water or stock (vegetable or chicken work well)
Salt to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pan or wok on medium. Add the onions, carrots and cabbage. Sautée for 10 minutes or so, or until the carrots are about half cooked. Add the broccoli and garlic and continue cooking for another couple of minutes.

Add the stock, coconut milk, curry paste, chopped tomato, and lemon grass. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Salt to taste. You may add more or less curry paste depending on how spicy you would like it to be.
*The lemongrass can be put in some sort of a cheesecloth baggie and steeped or put directly into the curry. It will stay woody even when cooked so I usually don’t eat the lemongrass, but infuse the flavor into the dish.
*Add some sort of cooked meat to this if you’d like! Cilantro or Thai basil goes well in this dish too.

Roasted pepper ‘pesto’
2 colored peppers
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup toasted nuts, almonds or filberts (optional)
Pinch of salt

Roast the peppers in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until skins start to brown. Place in a metal or glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit until somewhat cooled. Peel skins off of the peppers and remove the stem and seeds. Place the peppers aside.
Meanwhile in a blender or food processor, place the oil and garlic, Pulse until the garlic is no longer visible. Add the peppers and pulse a few times longer. Add the cheese and nuts, pulse a few more times and then salt to taste. This spread goes wonderfully on sandwiches, as a topping for many veggie dishes, or even as a dip for carrots or broccoli.