Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Greens

Our first rainy day harvest. It was cold and dark and wet this morning when I left the house, but by the time Danny showed up at the farm it was quite a bit warmer, the rain had slowed to a drizzle and there was plenty of light. We pulled some beautiful Hakurei turnips for the share. These are sweet enough to eat raw, although they are also good cooked and they aren't quite as sweet as spring plantings. We harvested chard leaves heavy today. We'll probably get another harvest if it doesn't frost, but frost will make the stems soft and leaves slimy so we pulled most of the good sized leaves today. The fennel is another one that doesn't like frost, and even though there's none in the forecast its growth has slowed way down and the tips of the leaves are starting to yellow from too much water and cold and wind so we cut every last one of them for the shares, no more until next year. Finally, we've started in on the cool season heads with escarole. The variety is bionda cuore pieno, a full hearted light green escarole. If you're not familiar, escaroles are similar to a very hardy lettuce. Some people find them slightly bitter, but this time of year they can also be very sweet. My favorite thing to do with escarole is to slice it into thin ribbons (across the ribs), soak it in ice water for fifteen minutes to a half hour to crisp it up and leach any bitterness, and then toss it with a nice olive oil, lemon and salt dressing, and maybe some anchovies. It can also be cooked with olive oil and salt, but I save that for pan di zucchero, which we'll be giving out later in the season.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Farewell to lettuce

Lettuce has been a solid staple for us in the shares this year. This time of year, with the cold, damp conditions the lettuce starts to complain so we cut the last of it today, a bit of red iceberg. We do have a variety of chicories, close relatives of lettuce, and more cold hardy, that will show up in shares over the next eight weeks. Also finishing up are the shell beans. Most of them are pignas, same as last week, but a few shares will get tolosakas, a black bean also brought back from my trip to Italy. The yellowstone carrots and tango celery stalks would cook up nicely with the beans. There's a bit of noorman spinach in the share which would round out a salad or be nice sauteed next to the beans.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Post frost

Here we are with our first post frost harvest. Danny came out to the farm on Sunday to salvage peppers before it froze a little harder that night. All the summer crops are done now, which is bittersweet for us. We're excited for fall but it's hard to leave behind tomatoes and peppers sometimes. There's one special item in your share this week, shelling beans. These need to be pulled out of the pods and then gently boiled in salted water until they're tender. Use just enough water to cover the beans and not boil down below the beans while you're cooking them. This usually takes about 15 minutes but it varies a little depending on the moisture in the beans. The variety is called Pigna and is something I picked up at a food show in Italy during the Terra Madre conference three years ago. I've been growing these out ever since then and hoped to have them for you dry but the timing didn't work this season.

There are also the last salvaged peppers. Unless the ones you get already have a little red they will not color more so eat them green. There is lettuce in this week's share and we'll have the last of the lettuce next week before switching into more cold hardy greens. The last of the dill is in small bunches, just enough to make a little dressing or flavor some raita. The leafy greens are raab which is a little like mustard greens without the bite. These should be cooked before eating.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

10 more weeks, or so...

Today's share continues the transition into cool weather, with a few hold outs from the summer. There's a bit of cilantro, a sweet pepper or two, a little tomato of one sort or another, and a few folks get the last of the very small summer squash and cucumbers (we pulled the plants today and planted onions for next season in their place). Lettuce is also on its way out but we'll have a couple more weeks of that before we transition into other greens. We pulled another carrot planting that rodents of one sort or another let us know were ready, some of the carrots have cut spots where we cut away the parts they had pre-sampled. Very small beets from summer plantings that never really took off are in the share. When we turned up the soil to plant cover crop following those beets we discovered an outrageous network of bindweed roots, which might have had something to do with it. Lastly, celery makes its debut. This is soup celery, not the type you necessarily want to makes ants on a log with. It's very full of flavor, which makes it great for cooking. Depending on how the weather holds out (frost mostly being the issue) we'll have a few more rounds of celery and maybe even a few more tomatoes. The winter greens are looking good right now and if the rodents stay away from the roots we should have a good supply of carrots, parsnips, root parsley (their favorite), salsify and scorzonera. We also pulled some small popcorn ears today and I need to count to make sure we have enough, the pollenation wasn't great but I'm optimistic.

Monday, October 5, 2009

killing melons


Here's a link to a blog entry over at the other Slow Hand Farm blog on why we killed the melons last week. It's fall - everything that will be harvested this fall is in the ground already - but we're about to start planting for next season already, and cover crops are already going in as well. More on that soon...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1


Here's the first share for October. We've included more thinnings from the chard, pirat butter lettuce, a few peppers, some of the remaining tomatoes and summer squash or cucumbers, and the last of the basil. As the weather cools, the days get shorter, and the ground gets wetter, we're finishing up some of the summer crops, pulling them out and putting in cover crops. Today we seeded some trials of wheat, hull-less oats, and naked barley as cover crop for the winter. The melon beds got pulled and the remaining melons will be served on Sunday along with farm tours.


This is peak pepper season and we have three varieties we're distributing, all sweet red peppers. The Jimmy Nardello variety has been featured on a few blogs lately such as the Slow Food Portland blog and Slow Food USA blog. We're also growing Joelene's and Gypsy peppers. All three get sweeter and deeper red with a few days on a counter top, not in the fridge. As long as the weather holds we'll have these for a few more weeks. Enjoy!