WINTER BREAK: There will be no CSA boxes on February 26 or March 7.
In Your Box
|Taste-testing the tender new asparagus
Every Other Week Boxes
Mixed Winter Squash
News from the Education Program and Grow Your Groceries
By Sarah Barnes
I seem to recall that the winter months are usually the slowest time of year around the ranch, with lots of slow-moving farmers (and non-farmers) bundled up in beanies and scarves, their gloved hands wrapped around frequently-refilled coffee mugs.
This year we skipped over that part. Not only were there few wet, cold days but the weather was so warm and dry, everyone was busy keeping up with irrigation and crop maintenance.
Likewise on the Adult Education side, the winter has been hopping! We had three very successful trade skills workshops for our Grow Your Groceries Urban Farmer students in January and February. Alex Hess from Davis High School taught us how to weld and how to take small engines apart, and Farmer Elle’s father and brother, Richard and Lucas Balzer, spent nearly all of Super Bowl weekend with twelve dedicated carpentry students putting up an amazing chicken coop for the soon-to-arrive Youth Garden chicken flock.
That same weekend, author Alicia Funk came down the hill from Grass Valley to teach a packed class about the delicious food and drink you can make with edible native plants. In addition to involving the participants in making some of these foods, she generously brought samples to share (my favorite was the chocolate covered “oak nut marzipan” made from acorn flour!).
This busy winter looks like it’s going to carry us right into Spring! March 8th the American River Ranch’s beekeeper, Brian Fishback, will teach a 6-hour Beekeeping I class, and the following weekend is the Two-Day Small Farms Intensive Workshop, a popular hand-scale gardening primer that covers a range of vegetable & fruit growing topics just in time for garden season.
Recipe: Overnight Chinese Daikon Radish Pickles
Featured Veggie: Asparagus
This week you get to sample the first harvest of the year of asparagus! Asparagus oficianalis is a perennial plant that produces a delicious, tender stalk that then forms a multi-branched, feathery leaf, small greenish-yellow flowers, and small red poisonous berries.
In addition to being a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, folate, and dietary fiber, asparagus is high in anti-oxidents and is believed to aid in the curing of hangovers, according to a Korean study.
Asparagus is a great companion plant to tomatoes, as the latter wards off asparagus beetles, while the former may repel some harmful root nematodes that affect tomato plants.
Asparagus is a cousin of the onions, and was formerly considered a member of the lily or Liliaceae family, before it was split off into the Amaryllidaceae (onions) and the Asparagaceae families (asparagus). It is native to Europe, northern Africa and western Asia.