Frost Fairies

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After a balmy weekend of 90-degree temperature in parts of the Bay

Area it seems incongruous to think about frost. But that is what some

of our California farmers are still worried about. With the variety of

microclimates we have in California there were some counties, such as

Sonoma, Napa, and Monterey, that got touched by the Frost Fairies last


Farmers need to reckon with Frost Fairies along with all the other

crop risk factors, so they use a formula to calculate the first safe

day to plant spring seedlings. In California the first planting date

varies from January 19 in Berkeley to June 13 at Mount Shasta, a mere

220 miles north as the crow flies. Of course there is never a

guarantee. The Victory Seed Company puts a disclaimer on their

planting guidelines that says, “Remember, this is weather and

not science!”

So as the Frost Fairies and Sun Sprites take shifts, so do winter

veggies and spring newcomers. Bok Choy has enjoyed the cool weather,

making its stalks turn white and putting lots of chlorophyll energy

into its dark green leaves. Bok Choy comes from the winter fields of

Martinez Family Farm near Watsonville in Santa Cruz County. The

Martinez Family Farm consists of eight brothers and two sisters. They

are known as the “Organic Ten” for their farming,

community principles, and land stewardship practices.

Bok Choy (or Pak choi) is easy to prepare and so tender it can be

eaten raw. After rinsing, the stems can be sliced in any shape, from

matchsticks to half-moons. The green leaves may be coarsely cut as

well. Steam Bok Choy in a few tablespoons of water for 2-3 minutes. A

traditional preparation is to toss the Bok Choy in a few tablespoons

of hot high-heat oil (such as peanut oil) and chopped garlic,

sauté for a minute, and then (carefully) sprinkle with a few

tablespoons of vegetable stock. Let the steam cook the Bok Choy for a

moment more and then you may like to say “Ho Sik,” or

"delish!" in Cantonese.


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