This week brings us more cut greens, keeping us busy washing, spinning and bagging in the harvest shed! Spinach is among my favorite, and always an interesting challenge to grow during the main season here in Alaska. Like so many plants, it is photo period sensitive, which means it reacts strongly to our 20+ hours of daylight this time of year. For many plants, that amount of excessive light is actually a stressor, and it causes plants like our greens, bok chois, and even cabbages and broccoli to want to go to seed. We call this “bolting” and once that process is triggered, the plant puts its energy into developing flowers and seeds and the quality of what we consider the edible part will go downhill fast. Other stressors that contribute to this are lack of moisture, excessive heat, and crowding. Having our first harvest coincide with Solstice was a predictable challenge! Our first set of napa cabbage and full-sized bok choi bolted before heading up, as did our broccoli raab. The good news is that I have weekly sowings for this very contingency – we have redundancy planned into the early harvests in particular, knowing that the season is predictably unpredictable. Cutting greens are sowed weekly throughout the seasons, and as long as we keep a close eye on them and harvest in time (as well as making sure that we irrigate adequately and thin where necessary) we usually have plenty of greens. And sometimes we just have to throw our hands up and till in a row of bolty arugula or feed the livestock a few hundred pounds of flowering napa cabbage….
The spring mix is ever evolving this time of year. By next week the cutting lettuce should have caught up and we can start referring to our mix as “salad mix.” This week we have moved beyond the mustards and kale to also include baby chard, baby beet greens, and tatsoi. The choi is a larger variety than the one you got last week, maybe one to try grilling if you are so inclined. If you are sick of raw greens, just remember that you can cook most of these. There are so many wonderful recipes online, have fun trying something new! In a week or two the season of early greens and roots will be behind us, so enjoy it while you can.
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Spring Mix Spring Mix
Arugula Oregano Plant
Kale, Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
2/3 cup quinoa
1 1/3 cups water
1 bunch kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 avocado - peeled, pitted, and diced
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Bring the quinoa and 1 1/3 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Place kale in a steamer basket over 1 inch of boiling water in a saucepan. Cover saucepan with a lid and steam kale until hot, about 45 seconds; transfer to a large plate. Top kale with quinoa, avocado, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, and feta cheese.
Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, sea salt, and black pepper together in a bowl until the oil emulsifies into the dressing; pour over the salad.
Bok Choi Salad
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar (or less)
3-4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 bunches baby bok choy, cleaned and sliced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/8 cup slivered almonds, toasted (or chopped peanuts)
radishes or salad turnips, julienned
In a glass jar with a lid, mix together olive oil, white vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce. Close the lid, and shake until well mixed.
Combine the bok choy, green onions, almonds, and chow mein noodles in a salad bowl. Toss with dressing, and serve.