First Delivery! (and some notes on nettles)

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on CSA sabbatical this year.  But, I do have one member (though I’m not sure you can call it a CSA with only one member), and today is my first delivery to my solo supporter.  I’m always excited to do the first delivery of the season, but I’m even more excited that because of the tiny volume, I can just hop on my bike to make today’s run.

Today’s delivery includes a bunch of asparagus (about 1 1/4lbs), a half-gallon of clipped baby arugula, a 3/4 gallon bag of stinging nettles, a big bunch of chives, and a baggie of fresh French tarragon.

Because the farmers market doesn’t start for another two weeks, I’m also offering bags and bunches of the above-mentioned items (except tarragon) to some friends and loyal customers who have expressed interest in pre-market veggies.  Facebook has made this process especially easy.

For my own lunch, I’m chowing down on some Mr. Smith’s salted baguette slathered with Grapeseed Vegenaise (have you not savored the goodness?  Oh, my!) and then stuffed full of baby arugula.  I’m also heating up a little venison ratatouille I made in the crockpot yesterday from local deer meat and home-canned summer goodness.

As I’m getting closer to the market season, I’m starting to look at my pricing and see if keeping everything at the same levels as last year makes sense.  For the most part, I think I’ll keep all bags of greens at three dollars–lettuce, spinach, arugula, nettles.

It may seem funny to have the very common wild nettles at the same price level as the greens I grow myself, but while you might suspect it’s because of the stings (and I do get plenty of those)–it’s actually because of my harvest method.

Even with a really big patch of nettles, my harvest strategy is always the same: to take the scissors and clip just the top growing point plus the first two-to-four leaves, depending on the size of the nettle plant.  I grab the top of the plant gently, pull the top leaves up, and clip right along the leaf-stem–between the bottom of the leaf itself and where the leaf attaches to the stem.

This means that in each clip, I end up with the top tender growing sprig, plus the second set of leaves, which are now loose from the stem because my cut is precisely above the leaf axil.

While this may sound ridiculously complex, it’s not–but it is time-consuming.  It’s also worth it because it gives you (and me, and all my nettle customers) the best-eating, most tender portion of the plant.

The only bagged greens that may be above the three dollar price is the Goddess salad mix.  The harvesting of the other ingredients that are grown separately is somewhat time-consuming–arugula, herbs, and chive blossoms, and then there’s the mixing.  I’ll likely keep that at $3.50 again–same as last year.

It’s looking like next week my spinach will be big enough in my estimation to start harvesting–and lettuce is coming along as well.  I’m also guessing the above-mentioned Goddess mix will be ready in two weeks time–opening day of the farmers market!

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