This week we are thinking more about fall--not because of the the cool weather, but because of the shift in the harvest and focusing on planting and caring for things that will ripen in September, October and November. At the end of last week, I planted beans, carrots, cilantro and cucumbers for a fall harvest. The cucumbers and beans are something of a calculated risk, to see if they are able to bear before the frosts hit in early October, but the cilantro and carrots should come through.
Weeds are an ever-present challenge to us, especially with crops that germinate slowly or do not provide a canopy. So what's an organic farmer to do? Well, with 214 weeds seeds per pound of soil typical, and an acre of soil has 4 million pounds of soil, so 856 million weed seeds are handled by a number of methods. Yesterday's method was flaming--using a propane torch backpack, you pass the flame quickly over the soil heating the weed seedlings beforeyour intended crop (carrots) sprouts. Flaming is clean-burning, environmentally friendly and eliminates the tedium of differentiating tiny carrot sprouts from all the weed seedlings that outpace them.
The butternuts, acorn squash and pumpkins look outstanding, and we may see some of them this month yet, or maybe it will be September. Other fall crops to anticipate are: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, salad turnips and many more.
The Taste of Summer Captured in a Simple Salad:
Made last evening, this is my version of a salad that I was served by Mikhail and Anna Zotov, Russian friends who were learning English in Virginia.
Dice and combine in a bowl:
A few tomatoes
One or two cucumbers
Two cloves of garlic
add black pepper and salt if desired
Add a healthy shot of olive oil, stir and let sit for a while before eating, or refrigerate for later
Would You Eat This?
We've been having a fungi fascination here at the farm of late, and if you've ever grown corn, you probably responded to the presence of the stuff below with disgust and revulsion, and chucked it out away from the corn. Well "corn smut" it turns out is an edible mushroom. Called Huitlacoche in Mexico, it is considered a valuable delicacy. So knowing that, we just had to try it when we found some on the Indian corn in the pick your own field. How was it? Cooked in a skillet with hot oil and butter, it tasted pretty decent, but not as good as other mushrooms I've cooked in the same manner, but everyone's taste buds vary.
For the Calendar:
Homefields Golf Tournament Friday September 17th at Crossgates see www.homefields.org
Fall Farm Potluck October 9th