There are times when we put great effort into crops only to have them perform poorly. Blighted tomatoes this year are an example of that. Peppers, onions, eggplants, scallions, and beans are examples of crops that have had excellent growth and yields. Overall, we have been incredibly blessed with a great harvest in spite of difficult conditions for vegetable and fruit growers all over the Northeast. Like walking in someone else's shoes, there is no way that you can fully understand the labor of love that goes into what you see here, but I hope that the weekly updates share in a way that brings trust and understanding. Thank you very much for your encouragement and appreciation for things that have gone well and for being understanding when crops do not do as well as hoped.
Edible Acres: Pawpaws, Kiwi, Persimmons and More
Tucked here and there in the farm landscape are various unusual edible plants that are ornamental as well. Why grow them? They are usually plants that need very little care, and are not bothered by pests or diseases. Pawpaw trees are over by the sheep fence, make their own pesticide in the leaves, and the fruit tastes like banana-vanilla custard.
Persimmon trees are out by the trees at the back of the property. The fruit is like a soft-gooey apricot with a bit of cinnamon. The beautiful vines that you see on the pergola and the split-rail fence straight out through the middle of the farm are hardy kiwi vines. There are fifty species of kiwi vines around the world--the type that you see in the grocery store is large and fuzzy, but the vines at the farm are referred to as hardy kiwi and are grape-sized and do not have fuzz. Unlike fuzzy kiwi, they ripen and are winter hardy here and do well without special care in the winter. If there is a downside to them, it is that they take a number of years to start bearing. None of these have fruited yet. Delayed gratification is good, right?
- Jerusalem artichokes: beautiful sunflower type flowers for cutting! They are near the neighbors sheep fence. We will dug some up after frost for their edible tubers, but as Brian Martin said last year, "starts out like a carrot, ends up like a frying pan" in flavor. :-)
- HOT Peppers: signs are posted in the row this week. The farther back the row you go, the more capsaicin! the Nippon Taka variety is said to be incendiary.
- Concord Grapes: they don't ripen uniformly on the bunches, so just pick individual grapes that are ripe and eat or take with you.
- Black-eyed Susan flowers: these are beautiful in the kitchen or elsewhere.
- Ground Cherries: check out these tasty little paper-husked treat that have a hint of pineapple. Pick when paper turns golden brown or fruit is on the ground
- Sungold cherry tomatoes: yes, they have the late blight too--but there are some tomatoes there
- Heirloom tomatoes: various types located in the first row.
- Pole beans: including Red Noodle and Roma types, down at the low end of the PYO field
- Cut flowers: zinnias, snapdragons, celosia
- Basil: pinch off the tips just above where they branch--not sure, ask Bradley
- Tromboncino Squash Tower: Check out this rapidly growing vine and the bamboo tower that Bradley made for it.
- Summer Savory: this herb located beyond the grapes in the PYO field. Very strong by itself, it is excellent with tomatoes
- Edible flowers: Nasturtiums, and Calendula and Borage are edible and are located also toward the end of the PYO field.
About some of the characters:
- Asian and Italian type eggplants: the slender Japanese type eggplants are said to be sweeter and milder than the classic Italian types--but, when we did a taste test, they all were pretty much the same in flavor. Their color is fabulous. Coating slices with oil and soy sauce and grilling them is quick and delicious.
- Bell Peppers: these are the most nutritious when raw, and the long Carmen variety is the new favorite here
- Carrots: roasted, raw, boiled, or steamed, you can't go wrong
- Red Zeppelin Onions: beautiful red storage onions.
- Greens: discard the stems or ribs, and use the leaves sautéed with olive oil, garlic, onion, soy sauce etc.
COLLARD GREENS WITH HAM HOCKS
2 lg. ham hocks
1 med. onion
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
Remove leaves from stems of collard greens and discard stems. Wash thoroughly insuring all grit and grime has been removed from the greens. Wash ham hocks and boil with chopped onion until almost done. (Do this ahead of time making sure meat has cooked long enough.) Add greens, salt, and pepper and crushed red pepper to ham hocks. Bring greens to a boil, reduce heat and cook until greens are tender. Serve with your favorite meat dish or cornbread.
--adapted from www.cooks.com