Amidst the potato digging (which feels a bit like an antiques demonstration) and harvesting, washing, packing vegetables (with a little twist this Friday), I thought I'd focus on some edible leaves today!
Did you know that many of the green leafy bunches you're getting have edible leaves too? We've just started on our watermelon radishes - white/green skin but bright pink flesh. If you like you're spice, don't peel them! If you prefer things sweet, peel away. I love slicing them then cutting in wedges like a pizza... and guests can nibble at the sweet interior then try the spicy skin too. If you didn't get them this week check on your preferences, they're included in the general "radishes" so if you've said you aren't crazy about them Harvie will put things you like better in your box first. Not to worry, we've got lots more to come. Either adjust your preferences so you get them more often, or just swap out something else to try them next week.
The part we talk less about is their glorious greens. Steamed or pan wilted very briefly (like a minute), to take away the toughness but before they go mushy, they're one of Kelly's favourite side dishes. You can dress them up too with things like olive oil or butter, lemon juice, a bit of salt, or hot pepper flakes... but they make a nice bed for fish with no further adornment. While technically edible raw, radish and turnip greens tend to be a bit prickly (hairy) so most people prefer them cooked.
Kohlrabi greens are another edible leaf that often people overlook, in part because they're quite tough - more like dinosaur kale. I like chopping them finely to get past their fibrous nature then throwing them into any dish, especially pastas. Another one best cooked. If you have a stock pot going just throw them in to add a nice flavour.
Still to come are the carrot greens, which also have nice flavour for soups and stews. Again I like to chop finely, and they can star in anything from grilled cheese to omelettes for a flavour boost. Our twelve beds of carrots this year finally germinated on the third planting - they're notorious for not germinating and I'm relieved to hear my fellow farmers were having similar issues. I found one this week that was finger sized and I hope to start digging in a few weeks, as soon as we can get bunches for you we will!
There's not many green parts of vegetables that aren't edible here at the farm - with the exception of the nightshades. These include eggplant, tomato, pepper, and potato greens. The photosynthetic i.e. green parts of these plants, including those green spots you'll occasionally see on potatoes, contain high concentrations of solanine which is toxic. So don't eat the stems from those eggplants and peppers, and peel off any green that develops on your potatoes. Always keep potatoes in a paper bag to protect them from the sunlight. I think it's pretty cool that these plants have developed their own protection from insects!
Finally, with thanks for your patience reading my nice long happening... we had a few chickens washing your vegetables this week. The wash station job with the yellow apron has jokingly called the chicken, as our new aprons are rubber chicken yellow. So last Friday I found an addition to their "uniform"... for some good laughs!
Antique though it may be, our potato digger does the job and is worth the patience to keep it running. It has a metal blade at the front that slices off the top layer of soil, and sends it over the bars which let the soil through and leave the potatoes (mostly) on top of the soil. We've got 30 beds of potatoes this year (250ft each), so pulling out the pitchfork just isn't an option. One day we'll upgrade but in the meantime, the paddles on the wheels is actually what drives the chain on the digger. It's called "drive driven" because as you pull it, it automatically drives the gears. We think it's pretty cool!
Our yields are looking great, at four to six black crates per bed. Yay potatoes!
Have a good week to all,