A lovely forecast for the beginning of the week. Great weather for farming and just about any favorite summer activity! The cherry tomatoes are ripening and are delicious. Team members have been known to devour the little sun-warm tomatoes right from the vine. These should be available for members to pick very soon. Basil is also here - perfect timing for a perfect pairing.
The team has been busy trying to stay on top of all the crops. One of the biggest challenges of a small vegetable farm like ours is learning how to grow so many different things at the same time. Farmers of a single crop become an expert on that one crop while we need to understand what more than 30 different crops need to not only grow but thrive. The various crops have different irrigation and fertilization requirements, are susceptible to different diseases and pests and require various levels of vigilance. Once in awhile, the notion of one very large pumpkin patch seems like a good idea.
We recently pulled out all the old broccoli and cauliflower plants in addition to the cabbage and tilled the soil for our new pumpkin patch. We also planted our winter squash here including butternut and acorn squash. This is called succession planting which means planting one crop after another and helps make the most use out of a small amount of space. Read more about succession planting. Mother Earth News also has an interesting article on how backyard gardeners can utilize succession planting to get the most out of a small area.
Now Harvesting: POTATOES!, Basil, Cantaloupe, Golden Beets (NEW!), Japanese eggplant, Peppers (bell and jalapeno), Carrots, Onions (sweet and regular), Shallots, Cabbage, Cucumbers (slicing and pickling) and Zucchini/Summer Squash.
So many wonderful things compete for the spotlight this week that I can’t begin to give an award to any item in particular but the Alyssa Craig Exhibition sweet onions are not to be missed. A show-size onion that is really delicious in just about anything or on your favorite burger. When you are going through your bounty, your sweet onions are your very large onions!
This week I had the opportunity to help harvest potatoes with Charlie and Sam. For those of you who may not be familiar with the process of harvesting potatoes, it typically involves two people with pitch forks and one rather trusting person crouched over picking up potatoes and placing them in a basket. The object is to push the pitch forks into the ground close enough to the plant to dislodge the soil around it but not so close that you spear any of the potatoes. Then, the plant and the soil around it are turned over revealing the potatoes (this is where the "picker" comes in). Yes, there is a machine that is made to do this. No we do not have one. With such a small number of plants - just enough for our members' dinner tables - it really isn't worth the trouble of borrowing a potato picker. Besides, it's not as much fun!
I didn't cook very much this past week but I have been enjoying cherry tomatoes, cucumber sandwiches, carrots and cantaloupe. One of our members recently encouraged me to create a page dedicated to recipes. An excellent winter project! The project suggestion reminded me that Heidi Swanson's recipe journal at 101Cookbooks does a great job indexing healthful recipes by ingredient so you can find meal ideas for your fresh produce easily. For example, here is a list of zucchini recipes should your find yourself in possession of more summer squash than you know what to do with.
Enjoy the bounty!