The great garlic harvest
Swallowtail butterflies seem to have appeared in abundance over the last week and can be seen flitting around the farm wherever they find nectar. Here one happily feasts on a zinnia in the flower garden.
Husk cherries were a new addition to u-pick crops last year and we loved them. Sweet and slightly exotic tasting, they are a treat to enjoy. Also called 'ground cherries' they are best/most ripe when fallen off the vine and lying on the ground.
Notes From The Field
Survived the Hottest Week of the Season (thus far)
By Derek McGeehan
As I'm sure all of you are aware, last week's high temperatures and humidity and strong sunshine made for difficult conditions to work outside. Nonetheless, we somehow endured and had a very productive week, drank enough water to fill up a medium-sized reservoir, and got through it feeling a small sense of accomplishment.
Garlic harvest success! See the fruits of everyone's labor now decorating the pick up room and barn rafters when you come for your harvest.
We transplanted about 3500 feet of fall broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage (4700 plants), plus another round of beets and lettuces (600 feet). On Saturday morning, with the hardworking help of CSA members, we harvested all of the garlic, tied it in bundles, and suspended it from the rafters of the barn to dry and cure. Hanging garlic is always a pleasant sight to see. With drying conditions, we were able to catch up on weeding and cultivating and continued to make progress with the u-pick tomato trellis system. We're slowly transitioning to spending more of our time harvesting crops that were planted in the spring and spent time from the middle of spring through the middle of summer growing and maturing: winter squash, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, garlic. We're not quite at the point yet where we'll harvest the entire crop to store and distribute weekly. Each planting is made up of varieties with differing lengths of time to maturity so we start by harvesting and distributing the earlier ones. Normally, the differences in maturation aren't large enough for us to only retrieve from the field what we need on a weekly basis for the CSA. At some point we'll be forced to harvest the entirety of some crops, make sure they're properly cured, and then store them in the barn. Some crops are easy to harvest and cure; others are more difficult. Potatoes, for example, cure by themselves in the field. Their skins toughen and thicken and some minor chemical reactions probably take place within the potato. We use a potato digger to loosen the soil, place the potatoes near the top of the soil, and then retrieve them. Then they simply sit in bins in the barn. To be stored, onions and garlic need to be harvested and cured in dry conditions with good air flow. Winter squash varieties are all a bit different. Some varieties need to be cured for storage, others do not. We typically let all the varieties cure themselves in the field. Harvesting and storing these crops is normally accomplished with the help of CSA members.
This week we're looking forward to: irrigating (our crop insurance). I've refrained from irrigating any field crops since early May because we haven't had to. Very early in the spring we upgraded our mainline water distribution system by installing 3000 feet of buried 3 inch pipe to carry water to 2-3 locations adjacent to each of our fields (6). To set up the irrigation now, we'll only have to lay out 1.5 inch tube, trickling drip tape, and make the necessary connections to the 3 inch line and between the tube and tape. To irrigate all of our crops that might like some H20, the setup will probably only take about 6-8 hours. The question now is: Should I do that on a Sunday (today) or wait until Monday?
Celery, Fresh Onions, Hopefully Tomatoes
Harvest #10 should include: summer squash, cucumbers, lettuce, scallions, peppers, eggplant, celery, fresh garlic, okra, tomatoes, new potatoes, and fresh onions. Other possibilities are beets and cabbage (cucumbers are slowing way down). Some items will be a choice. U-pick produce should include: cherry tomatoes, green beans, tomatillos, husk cherries, basil, perennial herbs, and a flower bouquet. Half Shares, this is Week B.
Tomatillos, husk cherries and okra - what do I do with these?
By Linda Dansbury
That might be your question when you see these items at the farm. But relax, there are recipes for all of them on the farm website. Here is a bit of info for each of them that will help you:
Tomatillos - you will see them in the field, both laying on the ground and hanging on the plants. They are ready to harvest when the fruit fills the outer husk and the husk splits. The fruit will be pale green to golden in color. Check out the ones laying on the ground. They often fall when they are nice and ripe and as with other veggies, those at the bottom of the plants will be ready first. As for cooking them, remove the husk first and rinse off - they are a bit sticky. They can be eaten raw in salads or salsas or cooked into salsa verde or a spicy tomatillo sauce. The sauces freeze really well so make batches through the summer and freeze them in small containers. One of my favorites is the Chicken Stew with Tomatillo Sauce. The Grilled Salsa Verde is also nice.
Husk cherry -- also known as ground cherry because the ones that are the ripest and sweetest are those that are lying on the ground. If you have already picked (and eaten) your ground cherries, you know how delicious they are. For the best ground cherries, pick the ones lying on the ground -- they are much sweeter than those still on the plant. When you find some in which the husks look "beat up" and look as if they are starting to go bad -- scoop them up! The fruit inside is wonderful. If you pick them (or scoop them off the ground) and they are not ripe, they will ripen on your counter. Native Americans and pioneers ate these and for good reason -- if kept in their husks in a cool, ventilated location, they will keep for months! Out of their husks, they freeze well. Add them to salsa or pancake mix for added sweetness. There are recipes for Ground Cherry Jam and Ground Cherry Pie on the website. Since they keep for awhile, you can save up your harvest and try the recipes - although...you may not be able to resist eating them!
Okra - If you are a new member, you may not be familiar with this plant that is in the hibiscus family. The immature pods are used for soups, canning and stews or as a fried or boiled vegetable. Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients, nearly 10% of the recommended daily levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid are present in a half cup of cooked okra. Refrigerate unwashed, dry okra pods in the vegetable crisper, loosely wrapped in perforated plastic bags. Wet pods will quickly mold and become slimy. Okra will keep for only two or three days. When the ridges and tips of the pod start to turn dark, use it or lose it. Once it starts to darken, okra will quickly deteriorate. Freezing is the best method for long term home storage of okra. For more information, check out Veggies 202. As for recipes, there are several on the website, such as Easy Indian Style Stewed Okra, Roasted Potato and Okra Salad, and Okra and Green Beans.
How did I enjoy my harvest this week?
By Linda Dansbury
The extreme temperatures of this past week didn't make me want to spend a lot of time over a hot stove. We did manage to do some good eating with our veggies thanks to the grill and some easy meals. It is easy to serve up really great food with such fresh ingredients! How did you enjoy your harvest? Please take a minute and let me know, or email me a question at firstname.lastname@example.org
Green beans (actually yellow) -- my own beans are starting to be picked too, so I gave a few beans away, we steamed some of them and ate them plain and I made a large green bean salad, in which I added a pepper, scallions, garlic scapes, basil and a few cherry tomatoes. A can of chickpeas and a dressing of red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and fresh oregano made it all delicious - this salad keeps for days in the fridge and actually tastes better after it sits at least a day.
Swiss chard and dandelion greens - made an Asian stir fry with them
Cucumbers -- didn't want to heat up the kitchen with canning pickles, but I did make a batch of the refrigerator pickles from this website. They are really tasty. I also made an Asian influenced cucumber salad, which I have included as the recipe for this week. It was really good. And, as in other weeks, I cut up cucumbers and had them with my lunch every day as well.
Eggplant, peppers, squash, scallions, fennel -- grilled everything up and all of these accompanied a couple of nice cheeses and salami's with grilled slices of bread for an easy delicious summer meal.
Squash, tomatoes, lettuce, garlic scapes -- made the Summer Squash and Sausage Salad recipe for dinner one night. It is a one pan meal that comes together quickly and is nice and light for when the weather is really hot.
Fennel - I also grew a few fennel plants and a couple of them bolted, so one of the things I did was to line a fish grill basket with the fennel stalks/leaves and then grilled a large striped bass filet. At the same time, we grilled fennel bulbs and summer squash and had them all together. It was a great meal.
A few things I plan to make this week -- beet salad - a new one I just read about; a mixed veggie and fruit salad, a new version of potato salad and a new version of green bean salad. Hope I get to at least a few of these. Enjoy the harvest!
Something else to do with your harvest: preservation
By Judy Wright
In addition to Linda's great column of "what did I do with my harvest this week", as Linda eluded to, one can also preserve some of your harvest to enjoy later. With the abundance of beautiful cucumbers we have been receiving, I could not resist, even with the heat, canning/jarring 15 pints of bread and butter pickles. Preserving your harvest can be done by canning with a hot water bath or pressure cooker depending on the item you are preserving, or by blanching then freezing.
A great resource for all of the above is a book I swear by titled "Putting Food By" by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, and Beatrice Vaughan. This book can be purchased at any of our local book stores or on line.
There is nothing more satisfying and delectable than enjoying some of your summer harvest in the cold of winter.
July 28th canning workshop cancelled
Unfortunately the canning workshop scheduled for this Sunday, July 28th is cancelled. If you were planning to attend, please note the schedule change. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.
V Spicy Cucumber Salad
Adapted from Asparagus to Zucchini; serves 4; ready in about 10 minutes
1 Tablespoon white vinegar or rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce (or tamari)
1 Tablespoon sugar (I used less)
Sprinkling of red peppercorns (optional)
1 chile pepper - variety dependent upon what is available and how spicy you like it; or red pepper flakes or hot chili sauce such as Siracha
Basil or cilantro for garnish, color and flavor (optional)
Peel cucumbers (or not), slice in half vertically and scoop out seeds. Some cucumbers have very small seeds, so you can skip this step on those. Slice cucumbers into half moons. Whisk together next 5 ingredients and pour over cucumbers in a bowl. Add hot peppers and basil/cilantro and mix again. Top with the red peppercorns if using.