Monday, October 31, 2011

Beautiful Fall Weather

The past few work days on the farm have been beautiful, cool and damp in the mornings for harvest, clearing into sunny warm afternoons that have been very productive.  We're getting just enough rain between work days to keep everything growing.  Of course, now that I've said that it will probably freeze hard and then start raining for the next six months, but in the meantime I've been appreciating the weather.

Today's share has a few of the leftover garlic cloves that we popped for seed, perfectly edible but they won't keep for quite as long as a head.  New in the share this week is celeriac, or celery root.  We've left the tops on because they can be cooked just like celery, although they're a bit tough for raw eating.  The roots are the main feature though.  I like to peel and cube them, and then boil them with potatoes and make mashed potatoes and celeriac.  They also make great soup, or they can be cut into sticks and parboiled, cooled and put on salad.  Along with the celeriac is more spinach, the first kale distribution of the fall and some cilantro that was unexpected.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Like Monday, but different

Sorry to have missed the Monday post this week.  I was in Northern California visiting my niece and nephews, as well as a few friends, which left Kji to harvest and distribute, and without time to post.  

Today's share is similar with a leek, chard, frisee, and peppers.  On Monday the shares got a few small Hakurei turnips, but they were far and few between and we found some really nice cilantro under some row cover so that went in the shares today instead.  These are the first leeks of the season.  If you're not familiar with leeks they are a good substitute for onion, but milder.  I love them sliced in half or quarters long ways and baked until very soft, or in baked goods.  Usually they're just sliced into thin rounds and sautéed.  Leeks are notorious for harboring dirt between the layers.  To clean them thoroughly slice them lengthwise in half and then you can separate the layers gently while running the leek under water.  This also gives them a flat side for the cutting board.  

Frisee is also the first of the year.  This is one of the chicories we grow and more will be coming soon.  We actually have quite a lot of frisee because the escarole, sadly, did not germinate well, but we accidentally seeded extra flats of frisee, luckily, so that's replacing the escarole this year.   The chicories are sometimes known as bitter greens.  To reduce the bitter slice them into small pieces and soak them in cold water before using them raw, or they also hold up to cooking well and that will reduce, or remove, any bitterness and bring out the sweetness.  Frisee is frequently blanched (whitened) but we haven't done that with these heads.  If you leave the head in a completely dark place for a few days it will start to blanch from the center out.  This also reduces any bitter.  The bitter, however, is desirable to some, and pairs well with strong salty, oily flavors, like anchovy, or just plain salt and olive oil.  Sweet also goes well , like caramelized shallots.  

Not to go on too long, but we had a very productive day and all of the garlic for next season is in the ground now, as are some over wintering onions and a bit of fava seed that may or may not make it.  I even got a bit of mowing done.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Share today is basically the same as Monday.  The peppers are different varieties, but all still sweet, green and needing a little time on the counter to color.  One new addition to the farm this week are some "quick hoops" bent from 1/2" emt conduit.  We've tried to everything as simply as possible, but the weather has been really cold and wet the last two years and we're wanting to help speed things up a bit in the spring, get some of the summer crops off to a good start, and give a little more protection to some of the fall and winter crops so we're trying out these hoops to keep the floating row cover we're already using up off of the plants.  The row cover works on the plants, but it limits the air flow and we've had some quality issues in the past so I'm hoping this solution will improve things dramatically.  More likely it'll improve things a little and introduce a bit more complexity into the system.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Southern Fall

The share has some nice collards, beets and lettuce, a few Jimmy Nardello peppers and a last green tomato. If you haven't had them before, collards are actually a good cool season green, although they're associated with the hot south. They're particularly good after frost, but I'll take them now as well. My favorite way to cook them is to cut out the stems and then roll up the leaves and cut them into 1/4" ribbons. I boil those with some tamari in the water for at least 15 minutes and sometimes a lot more. If you got one of the green tomatoes with no color, you can slice that up, dredge it in a little cornmeal and fry it in a little oil on both sides to go with the collards. I also like baked beans and cornbread with those items. The lettuce is the last of the season, we'll switch to heartier salad greens next week. The peppers aren't turning color on the plants, but they continue to size up so we may have those for another week. Make sure to take advantage of the beet greens as well as the roots. The greens are just like chard or spinach.

Today we pulled some of the summer plants to make way for winter crops. More exciting are the new conduit hoops we put up. They look and feel very sturdy, we'll see if they make a difference in covering some of the winter crops, and if so we'll probably put a bunch more up in the spring.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cover crops

That was the second order of the day, after harvest of course. Share is basically the same as Monday's. More beds being put to bed for the winter and getting a bit of rye and vetch seeded to keep the soil in good shape over the winter and to make compost in the spring. We also got to spreading a bit of compost today, something that's been on the to do list all year and hasn't really made it to the top very much.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Spinach isn't the only thing in the share, but I'm always excited when we have nice spinach as it's something that I have trouble growing. I was hoping for more, and bigger, Haukurei turnips and Cosmic Purple carrots, but the voles have been busy, as have the carrot rust fly, and they had done basically taken out the entire planting of carrots and a good part of the bigger turnips. So, we harvested some smaller turnips and thinned the next planting of Napoli carrots, which needed to be done anyway. For those of you who were spring members you might remember the Hakurei turnips and notice that they have a slightly different flavor in the fall. This time of year the growing is slowing as they ripen instead of the other way around. Make sure to use the greens as well. I like to chop them up before cooking as they can be a little stringy. Lettuce continues with a late season mix of butter, crisp, and romaines. The peppers and tomatoes still aren't getting any heat, which means they aren't turning color, which means we're giving them out green. The tomatoes aren't completely green but they can be used like a green tomato, or ripened on the counter. Parsley is in the share and looking good. My dad used to make us pasta with sauteed parsley and parmesan (and he liked to put canned clams with the juice on too).

It was a wet one today and I realized that my raincoat, which has been a great one for about the last eight years, has finally died. I think it's time for me to go raincoat shopping asap!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Text Only

Yep, I forgot to take a photo today, and it's a shame because we spent a good part of the day cleaning up the farm and it looks good right now. The shares are pretty much the same as Monday's so take a look at that post for details on the vegetables. The only real difference is that some folks are getting either a stocky red roaster or a reliably red pepper (both are mostly green right now, despite their names).

Today I got to mow all of the main pathways, which hadn't been done in quite some time. We also got to hoeing and weeding a number of beds that were just starting to get weedy with the recent rains. And, we covered the brassicas with bird netting to try to keep the deer away. Deer are a major problem for us in the fall and winter. Unfortunately the other major problem is voles. Covering beds helps keep the deer away but it makes the voles feel safer and so they cause more damage. We try to trap voles but our success rate is pretty low right now. Mowing and weeding actually helps keep the vole pressure down as well.

Looks like next week we'll be solidly into fall vegetables.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Goodbye to Summer

It seems that fall weather has really set in and the remains of the summer vegetables are showing it. I picked lots of exploded cherry tomatoes today, but only enough intact ones to give a couple per share. Cucumbers and summer squash are still holding on enough that most shares have them today. The greens are looking good and I harvested more 5 Color Silverbeet (chard) today, which has bounced back beautifully from the clean up two weeks ago. Lettuce is also still coming and we have a week or two more of that in the field before we switch over to chicories. I did a small initial pick on celery today. This is not the kind of celery you'd make "ants on a log" with, this is for flavoring other dishes, like soup, and you can use the leaves as well as the stems. It kind of feels like soup weather, doesn't it? I also cleaned up the thyme planting so there a small bunch of that, which can also be dried if you don't want to use it right away. The peppers are still coloring very slowly, so I've harvested one with just a little color and if you leave it on the counter for a few days or a week it will color completely and be very sweet. The variety for today is Jimmy Nardello, which looks like a hot pepper, but is actually one of the sweetest peppers I've ever had. Last week some of you got a Little Finger eggplant. Today some of the other pick up sites are getting them. I've been making a lot of thai curries lately and one or two of these would be perfect to chop up and toss into a bit of coconut milk with some chili paste and fish sauce and simmer until it's soft.

I was bold today and pulled out all of the irrigation from the field to make it easier to do the weeding and path maintenance we need to do. It looks like we're going to have a decent amount of moisture this week. At this point I'm actually hoping for a little rain tomorrow and Wednesday. The plants are also growing much more slowly with the cooler, shorter days so they're not using as much water.