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June 17th, 2013

Out of This World

With a CSA share this past week of neon-purple kohlrabi, snap peas with their tender twining shoots thrown in, and a constellation of edible flowers, we’re reaching into the beyond for taste and texture. Throw in the drumming and flooding rain and the freakish, alien cicadas whirring about, and it feels like science fiction out there.

SGF JUNE 15 2013-8434Harvesting sweet and crisp snap peas and shoots

Kohlrabi is the Sputnik of brassicas. With its gangly, out-rigged antennae and swollen, spherical center, you can almost imagine it floating silently in the cosmos.  And Snap peas, with their clambering tendrils and pods of remarkable sweetness are also, metaphorically at least, out of this world.

SGF JUNE 15 2013-8461Satellites of purple kohlrabi

Having descended  from their skyward vines on delicate white parachutes of bloom, the Sugar Snap pods have emerged to conquer our taste buds. And they’ve come in peas.

The ongoing space race on the farm is so 1960s. Where the peas are beginning to tower, indeterminate cherry tomatoes below are competing for light and nutrients, waiting for their turn in the sky. The peas have been fixing nitrogen in the soil (something legumes do) and will make it available for hungry tomatoes. Lettuces, too, have been carrying on well into early summer, shaded as they are by the broad leaves of kale and chard; and nasturtium, squash and pole beans are all in a delicious tangle for space. At Stonegate, the universe may be expanding, but it’s not infinite.

SGF JUNE 15 2013-8584With a taste reminiscent of radish and broccoli, and an evocative form, kohlrabi is one of the stars of the farm

At the moment, the war of the worlds is mostly being fought in the orchard, where cicada mating and egg laying has begun in the tree fruit and chokeberries. Although I went about mercifully at first, unable dash the hopes of so many seventeen-year-old virgins, I’ve had a change of heart. All it took was one look at a young quince tree, with its velveteen fruit full of promise but its outer branches collapsed and dying from the bark-piercing spawn of females cicadas to turn me.  They had me at hell no.

SGF JUNE 15 2013-8919Snap peas’ sweet and floral tendrils

So  the cicada pogrom was on. Mating pairs we’re plucked in-flagrante from branch tips and crushed. Spent and feckless males were fed to excited chickens. Larvae ridden bark has been thrown on the burn pile. It’s a winless battle, I know, but maybe it will put a dent in the next brood, or my own exasperation.

SGF JUNE 15 2013-8997Last week’s eye and mouth candy: snap peas and shoots, edible flowers, purple kohlrabi, and fragrant Russian sage.

The cicadas will fly to the tree tops, mate, and die. The indeterminate tomatoes and pole beans and sunflowers will defy gravity and touch the sky, the surreal climbing squash and cucumbers will curl themselves upward, and we’ll be down below, buzzed about it all.  To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “we’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” —Mb

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