Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 31st Harvest

Here is the dirt!

Harvest for the week of July 31st:
Green Beans!
Cut Flowers
Lettuce Mix
Greens: Kale, Chard, Pigweed
Onions, Sweet Spanish and Scallions
Garlic and Garlic Scapes
Herbs: Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Mint, and More.
Zucchini and Yellow Squash
New Red Potatoes
Maybe: limited quantities of Cucumbers, Blueberries, Beets

Thanks Junior High Apprentices
This week we welcomed 5 Junior High Apprentices for an eventful week on the farm. The weather could not have been better. 70's and sunny during most days, cool at nights for sleeping, and enough rain to keep the dust down. We had two big projects and many little projects.

Donna led the students in a push to get the new coop ready for the chickens. They hung up the roosts, moved the nest boxes, and installed a little chicken-sized sliding door. Finally on Wednesday afternoon the coop was ready. So tonight after dark we snuck into the old coop and kidnapped the chickens one-by-one and brought them to the new coop. We will keep them locked in the new coop for a while to help them adjust their sense of where home is. There was just one problem. The guinea hens are very sensitive to changes in their environment, and all the removals and changes in the old coop has put them off of going in the coop at night. Monday and Tuesday nights the guineas were mostly in the tree behind the farmhouse and tonight there were no guineas at all in the coop. We will have to entice them into the old coop and then somehow transfer them to the new coop. It is very exciting to get the chickens into the new coop. Thanks to Donna and the students!

I led the students in the garlic harvest. We only harvested 10% of the garlic during the Garlic Festival, because it was mostly not ready. This week, with their help, we pulled and hung up about 3000 heads of garlic. Now the long barn is pungent with smell of curing garlic. Thanks to all!

Some of the other projects: sharpening tools, planting napa cabbage and late broccoli, weeding carrots and beets, trellising tomatoes, picking berries, watering gourds, and having a bunch of fun.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Harvest for the Week of July 24th

New red potatoes
Zucchini and yellow squash
Onions, fresh, green-topped
Bunched beets with greens
Fresh garlic
Garlic scapes
Herbs: basil, parsley, cilantro, mint
Lettuce mix
Cut flowers

New Red Potatoes
This week we have started picking the new red potatoes. They are absolutely divine. We have two methods of preparing them. Diced and boiled, and then dressed with butter an salt is the current winner. But recently in the farmhouse kitchen we have also been dropping the diced potatoes in about a 1/2 inch of boiling sunflower oil and deep frying until done, then straining them out of the oil and drying the excess oil off on paper towels before salting and serving. The new potatoes are so full of water that they don't make great french fries per se, but the flavor is so good that it makes up for it.

The zucchini have been so delicious that I forget how bored I usually get of zucchini. These new first zucchinis are treasures. Both tender and flavorful. I have been slicing them into chunks and pan frying in butter until they start to brown, then grating cheese over them and sometimes adding wild mushrooms. Yum.The quantity that is added to the pan influences whether you can actually brown them a little. Add too much and all the water they sweat out and it undermines your frying. But that is no problem, it just becomes a saute. Finish it with some chopped fresh herbs.

Fresh Garlic and Garlic Scapes
At our garlic fest last week we only pulled about 10 percent of the garlic. Maybe less. It just wasn't mature enough to store well. So this garlic is fresh and powerfully pungent. You can store it on your counter and it will start to cure there - if it lasts that long. This is really good garlic picked at the peak of flavor. The garlic "scapes" are the top portion of the plant that we have to remove as the plant is maturing. If you leave them on the plant, they develop flowers and a top-setting cluster of bulblets. Those bulblets sap energy from the underground bulb and affect the size. So anyway, we removed the top 15% of the plant. It turns out that these are tasty treats. Chop them up into green bean-sized pieces and cook by frying, steaming, boiling or baking. You can also make "garlic scape pesto" by using your blender and some creativity.

Beets, etc.
The beets were saved from weeds on our first summer work day. We are only bringing a few of these into the market, so the rest can size up even more. Lettuce mix: it is our goal to have lettuce or lettuce mix every week. Sometimes rain or lack of it can affect our planting schedule, but usually we will have something lettuce-y for you. Same for onions. Starting this Thursday look for the onion family to be well-represented every week. The fresh onions should be stored in the fridge, but can also be left out for several days. They will start to dry out, but not go bad.

Coming Soon
What is coming: There will be some cucumbers soon and a lot more in about 3 weeks (some on the early plants were killed in a windy thunderstorm when they were just tender transplants). Carrots are at least a couple weeks away. Green beans are maybe going to be ready for the second week, and then every week after that until the first frost. Tomatoes will be slow this year, but (as usual) excessively abundant when they do come in. Plan to can and freeze in September. Peppers, eggplant and melons are coming along slowly too, but each is poised to take off and produce well. Kale and chard were both planted late, but have been growing very well for the last two weeks. Next week we should start pulling some leaves off.

Why is this year so slow? Part of the problem was too much rain. We could not plant things when we wanted to plant them and so we had to make do with late planting. Then the month of June had some cool days. In fact, yesterday was the first day I even thought about how nice it would be to put in the window air-conditioning unit in the bedroom. Heat-loving crops (pumpkin, squash, okra, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, melons) thrive in these summer warm days. 85 degrees and humid. They grow like crazy. We have not had enough of these days yet. But I have the feeling the summer is about to heat up.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Garden Update With Photos

Sunflowers leftover from the Plant Sale. We meant to plant them long ago, but the soil was too wet. Now I think they might flower while still in their little plastic pots. Too late to plant these.  

Broccoli family crops ready to transplant next week.

The Grapes on the grape arbor look like they have set a lot of fruit.

One of the plums has also set a great quantity of fruit.

The plum tree on the right is coming back from some sort of setback. It had undersized leaves this spring and some dead branches.

The "Centennial" Hops are thriving in the Hugelbet next to the old corn crib.

The raspberries on the west end of the bed are dying - this happened last year when it so wet too. They stopped dying when it dried out last year - so maybe this year.

The flower block has been swamped by rain. The flowers will recover with a little fert and cultivastion.

Little basil plants. They were going to flower in the greenhouse, but we planted them anyway. They will recover.

On the right: beets that were saved on the second member work day. On the left: carrots are hopefully germinating under a protective blanket.

Three successions of green beans. The ones on the left have not yet come up.

These are the carrots that we saved with the apprentices.

Swiss chard that we planted this week.

Allis G set up to cultivate pumpkins.

This G is set up to make a trench.

Asparagus. We stopped picking a couple weeks ago.

The blueberries are all protected from grazing animals.

Look! Some berries look like they are about to turn blue!

On either side: tomatoes. Down the middle: watermelon.



Brussels Sprouts right and middle. Cabbage left.

Biodegradable "plastic" mulch: peppers, eggplant, melons, cucumbers, zucchini. Between the mulch rows: dry beans in double rows.

The golden field is a drying rye cover crop.  Last week it was four feet high.

Corn! sweet corn (three kinds), popcorn, blue corn, painted mountain corn, red flint corn, bloody butcher corn, and broom corn.

Potatoes. This has been the perfect growing season for potatoes.

Onions and leeks. Waiting for a little weed and fert.

Right: garlic. Left: sunchokes.

Arctic kiwi. Not dead.