Thursday, November 6, 2014

Summer crops march into Fall, November Sunflowers

 Hello from the farm!

This week we are grateful for warmish days, sunshine, and plenty of crops in the fields to harvest.  The soil dried out over the weekend and we were able to prepare more of our fields for cover cropping.  After the wildness of summer growing, it feels good to put beds to rest and get things looking a little tidier.
Wednesday morning our farm crew was out digging root crops.  We heard a rustle in the tree line and I asked "What was that?"  I thought it might be the beginnings of a rain shower. Cameron replied, "That is the sound of fall."  I looked up and what I saw was a leaf shower. It hadn't made it on the weatherman's forecast, but there it was.  We watched  the yellow leaves blow off the trees, catch on the breeze, and meander their way down to the fields.  You may just find one of those magical leaves going home with you this week, as they have a habit of showing up in the most unusual places.

Surveys and the end of the harvest season
Please take a few minutes to fill out a farm survey.  We will have them available on the sign in table during these final weeks.  Your feedback will help us to grow and improve the farm for next year.  Our final harvest is scheduled for November 13, 14 and 15.

Thank you to our leader, Farmer Scott!
It is a little quiet around here this week without our Farm Manager Scott Breneman.  Our favorite farmer is taking a few days away this week, much deserved after a very busy harvest season.  Scott is known for his love of trying new things.  Not every experiment can be a success, but this year he took a gamble planting a late crop of beans and sunflowers. His gamble paid off, and we have been able to enjoy these "summer" crops well into October.  

Scott admires one of the pawpaw trees that he started many years ago from seed. Scott has a love of unusual trees, both native and tropical.  He has grown tropical loquat trees here, and established a lovely grove of pawpaws.  The jujubes are one of his contributions, too.  I think of Scott as the Johnny Appleseed of pawpaws, as he saves pawpaw seeds and spreads them wherever he goes.

Scott checking out a mushroom in the treeline.   If he doesn't know the name of a mushroom right off the bat, he is sure to find out! Through close observation of skin color, texture, stem, gills and spore prints, Scott is able to identify most mushrooms.  

Thank you Scott for your warm and generous presence here at the farm.   You are always ready to share your knowledge, listen to our ideas and brighten our days with yummy farm treats.  We appreciate all of your hard work leading us through another growing season.

Congratulations to our bread baker Stephanie Breneman and her husband Duane on the arrival of baby girl Addison Grace!  
 Suggestions for the harvest:

Napa Cabbage:  great for making Kimchee and Asian coleslaw.
Spaghetti squash:  Courtesy of Promise Land Farm. Thanks to friend and neighbor Amy Yocum of Promised Land Farm down the road, we were able to trade some of our abundant crops for some of hers to your benefit. A good neighbor indeed.  Bake spaghetti squash and enjoy with your favorite sauce.
Long Island Cheese squash: along with butternut squash this is one of the best tasting and best keeping winter squash and has been our favorite here at the farm for many seasons.
Bok Choi: this Asian cabbage shines in a Japanese or Chinese stir fry, great with soy sauce, sesame oil, peanuts, garlic, garlic, ginger.  Well-suited to peanut butter sauce and/or chicken dishes.
Popcorn: homemade popcorn from our fields is just the thing for cool fall evenings.  Everyone seems to have a slightly different technique for popping popcorn but here is what works for me:
-shell the popcorn by rubbing two ears together.
-winnow the chaff out by pouring from one pan to another in the breeze outside. (optional, the chaff doesn't seem to hurt anything)
--store in sealed container in the freezer until ready to use.
-heat oil in a pan to cover the bottom generously
-throw in a test kernel or two
-when they pop, pour enough popcorn in to cover the bottom of the pan plus a little more, stir well to coat with oil, put lid over top of pan, allowing steam to escape, and keep shaking on high heat until popping slows considerably. Remove from heat, salt and eat!
Pumpkin: Do you have a pumpkin lurking?   Yes, they edible, especially the tasty seeds when roasted in the oven with some oil or butter or see the recipe above.  The pumpkin is not nearly as tasty as butternut squash, which is what is really contained in a can of so-called "pumpkin" from the store. They can also make great soup--either sweet spiced soup or curried. 
Butternut Squash: one of the very best winter squash for flavor and long keeping! Roast in the oven in halves, you can also roast the seeds as per pumpkin seeds.

Hakurei turnips: aka salad turnips.  The tasty turnips from Japan are sweet, mild, and best eaten raw.  Yum. You'll soon be a surprised turnip enthusiast!
Scarlet Queen Turnip: stunning color, can be eaten fresh or cooked, as in potato and turnips mashed.

Indian corn/ornamental corn: this makes incredibly good and fresh cornmeal for use in cornbread, cornmeal pancakes, waffles and more!  Allow to dry a few weeks, then shell it, bring kernels to the farm and grind in our grinder. Store cornmeal in freezer if not using immediately.
Winter squash:  firm winter squash are great for baking, "pumpkin" pie, faux spaghetti noodles in the case of spaghetti squash or halved and baked in the oven with butter and maple syrup and/or brown sugar.  The acorn and delicata squash we are harvesting now are not types intended for long storage. Use within a week or two for best results.  (The Long Island Cheese squash and butternuts that will be harvested later on are the best keepers, which is why they are at the tail end of things).

Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are just about finished. We still are getting some peppers and tomatoes--pretty wild for almost November!
 Thank you to all of the farmers who worked to bring this harvest together.
We hope you enjoy this harvest.  Wishing you lots of treats and not too many tricks!

--Your Farmers

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