Monday, November 28, 2011

Multipurpose Vegetables

Today's share is actually pretty big, bigger than I was expecting at least.  From left to right in the photo there are celeriac, brussels leaves, root parsley, and a leek.  The celeriac is really grown for the roots, but the leaves and stems are quite good as flavoring, or even cooked on their own.  There's a bit of slug damage so you may need to pick and choose your stems, but they'll work just like celery for flavoring soups, stocks and other dishes, like my favorite, bread dressing.  Bread dressing happens to go very nicely with mashed celeriac root.  The brussels leaves are from brussels sprout plants and basically will cook up just like a collard green.  We haven't harvested the sprouts yet, but we had to pull off the leaves anyway to get to the sprouts so I figured they should be eaten too.  The root parsley is another that's grown for the roots but has a top that is good for the greens and stems as well.  The tops are basically parsley and like the celeriac, the tops are bit tougher than their cousins that are grown only for tops, but they are packed with more flavor and once you cook them you won't notice any toughness at all.  The roots can be roasted with other roots, or boiled and mashed.  They're like a carrot or parsnip, but with parsley flavor.  The leeks are just plain good, top to bottom.  The greens parts are just as edible as the whites, but are more commonly saved for stock and not put directly into dishes.  There's not really any good reason for this, I think, but I do it that way anyway.  

On the topic of multipurpose vegetables, I just noticed that one of my favorite farm blogs also used a similar title recently.  If you're interested in that sort of thing you might check out the Matron of Husbandry's take on the subject.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Holiday

Today's share is basically the same as Mondays so no new photo or talk of the vegetables.  Next week is Thanksgiving and we're taking the entire week off from harvests.  It's also supposed to be cold, like freezing cold, this weekend.  I've been anticipating that, which is why the chard and celery was in the share this week.  Those two crops will likely freeze out this weekend.  Even so, we covered the celery with row cover, and lots of the rest of the crops as well.  I'm hoping that the cover will stay on (it has a nasty tendency to blow off).  I'm also hoping that the newfound protection the voles are feeling under that nice white blanket won't encourage them too much and that they'll leave a bit for us when we get back to harvesting.  They've already taken out a number of the celeriac, root parsley, and radicchio.  Our trapping campaign is woefully inadequate right now, we'll have to get on that.  In the meantime, hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving, we'll be back in action on November 28.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Soup share

It occurs to me that there are some nice opportunities for soup in the share today, especially if you have some good dry beans to toss in, and maybe a bit of stale bread.  You might want to look for a recipe for ribollita, one of my favorite fall meals.

Today's share has a bit of kale, chard, carrot, celery and garlic in it.  This is not at all what I planned for last fall when I was looking at what would go in the share today, but it's still a nice mix and it reflects everything that has happened in the season up to this point and my best judgement this morning about what I need to keep around for shares in the following weeks, and what would be best this week in the shares.  At this point in the year most everything we have for the shares for the next two months or so is more or less ready.  It's not just a matter of harvesting what is "ripe," it also has to do with guessing what will hold in the ground longer, what won't get eaten by voles or deer, what will survive impending frosts, and what would be a nice combination, giving a bit of variety from week to week

The chard and celery won't hold on much longer due to their sensitivity to freezing so I wanted to give those two out today.  The kale is from a bed that hasn't been cleaned up in a while, and it seemed like some more greens would be nice in the share.  The carrots have finally started to get a little size and the voles are starting to move in so I'm trying to thin them out, give a little more space and assess the damage. I don't plan for garlic in the fall shares, but this is leftover from what we saved for seed and I figured it should get eaten.

Next week is Thanksgiving so we'll take a week off from harvesting.  I'm taking some of this afternoon, and likely many to come, starting to look at the plan for next season.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crisp and Clear

From SHF 2011

This morning was crisp and clear, enough that I ended up having to wait until 9:30 for the frost to thaw so that I could start harvesting.  The share today is basically the same as Monday, just the beet variety is different.  The Flat of Egypts from Monday were totally thinned so I thinned back through the one remaining Kestrel bed today.  While I was waiting for the thaw I started to do a little thinking about next year's bed layouts, and some possible changes.  I'm thinking we'll probably take out some of the sod pathway, making more space for vegetables, and reducing our mowing work.  I'm a little tempted to completely switch things up with narrower beds, but it's funny how much we're invested in the bed width we have now with the irrigation headers, hoops we just bent, and row cover we're using.  I was at a conference last weekend with Eliot Coleman who has always advocated 30" bed tops, which seemed a little narrow to me.  At the conference he was talking about how the Parisian market gardeners used a 10" pathway and it suddenly clicked that 30" plus 10" is exactly 1 meter.  Not that 30" isn't a good width, I'm coming to appreciate its versatility more and more, but for now we'll stick with a 48" bed top and 18" pathways, perhaps experimenting a bit with a few 24" beds with 9" pathways.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

First Tuesday Share Ever

Thanks for being patient this week. The share is a day later than usual, but other than that no real changes. The frisee continues to look good in the field so there's a head in the bags today. As with most of the chicories I like to slice this thinly for salads and soak it in cold water for a while to get it as crispy as possible and to reduce any bitter. It also holds up well to cooking. The share also has a beet or two as well as beet greens. The variety is Flat of Egypt, a new one for us so tells what you think. Finishing things out is a small bunch of parsley.

Actually, this warmish, dryish weather is keeping quite a few of the crops looking good. It's clear that growth has slowed to a crawl though, as the days are getting pretty short.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ohio Workshop

Today's harvest is delayed until tomorrow. I'm in Ohio listening to Eliot Coleman talk about season extension and hoping to bring back some good ideas.