Thursday, August 13, 2015

Homefields Botanical Garden?

Hello from the farm, 

As you may have noticed, there was no newsletter last week due to internet problems.  Even down on the farm technology seems essential for so many tasks.  This week a new planting of beans is reaching maturity so you will see them in this harvest.  The big flat-podded Roma variety is favorite kind that I remembered from growing up.  We are also harvesting melons, both watermelon and a few latecomer cantaloupe.  The fall planting of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage transplants appears to be taking off after sitting quietly for a while and the butternut and acorn squash, and pumpkin plants are flowering nicely for what will be a late September harvest.  
Your farmers seem a little bit sleepy this week, like the changing day length just suddenly hit us unexpectedly.  We are looking forward to the arrival of the cooler season and all of the fall crops that come with it.  

John smiling big about all these beans, as well he should.  Your farmers picked over 250 lbs of beans--if you've ever picked beans, you know that it is a Herculean task.  Way to go guys!  

Abendessen Bread: This week Stephanie is baking Sourdough for $5 a loaf.

Did you Know?  An inch of rain falling on an acre is 27,000 gallons. 

The Homefields Botanical Garden?  

As you have probably already figured out the farm is pretty fruity and nutty in addition to being very veggie.  One of the neatest parks I've ever been to is the Fruit and Spice Park in Homestead, Florida. There you can see just about every kind of edible tropical plant growing, from Eggfruit to Ice Cream Bean, to Starfruit and Mango. Along the same lines, but in temperate climate fashion our farm features some fascinating edible and ornamental plants including hardy kiwi growing on the distribution area pergola, a pawpaw tree planting, persimmons, jujubes, Chinese pistache, passionflower, figs, black walnuts, edible dogwood, goumi berries, blueberries of course, pink blueberries (plants are not bearing age yet) elderberries, Asian pears, grapes and more. 

 We planted a few of these Moon and Stars watermelon as an experiment.  They grew well and their unique coloring makes them stand out. Will definitely revisit them next year. 

Serving Suggestions for the harvest this week:

Melons: there are so many kinds of melons that one could grow, but we have to limit ourselves to a few varieties of each watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew.  Then there is the question of chilled vs. room temp eating, to put salt on your watermelon or not, or to add fresh ground black pepper on cantaloupe (you should do the pepper ;-) just kidding, I happen to really like it that way--Scott.  We have a bunch of old fashioned heirloom watermelons and yes some seedless ones also.  How does watermelon become seedless?....well, a little bit like crossing a horse and a a donkey to get a mule--plant breeders cross two different types of watermelons that have differing numbers of chromosomes.   Let's say "Big Red" with x number of chromosomes is pollinated by "Sweet Red" which has a lesser number of chromosomes.  This watermelon grows to maturity and forms seeds that are collected for next year.  Next year, those seeds will grow and produce watermelons that are referred to as "seedless watermelon."   We are not plant breeders here, so we purchased the seedless variety seeds when we want to grow seedless melons. 

Sweet Peppers: sweet peppers come in all shapes, colors and sizes.  Carmen, a long horn-shaped pepper is a perpetual favorite among your farmers.  We like to snack on them as if they were candy. 

Tomatoes: tomatoes seem to stand for themselves without words of introduction, but here are some words anyway: delicious, great in sandwiches, BLTs, tomato & cucumber salad, cooked down for sauce, chopped in salad, fresh or canned salsa and more.  

 Green/Purple/Yellow Beans: these beans are so amazingly good it almost puts frozen beans to shame.  The purple variety is beautiful--if heated they turn green, if used in salad their purple looks great.  To cook, bring to a boil in an inch of water or so, then turn down to three lines or so until tender. Yum yum! 

Garlic: woohoo for our farm's garlic, so fresh and tasty. It goes really well in the tomato cucumber salad I talked about last week. 
Storage Onions:  the red and white storage onions should keep for a month or two in cool dark storage.  
Eggplant: The Italian and Asian types differ only in shape and color, they are used in the same manner.  I like them sliced and grillled or pan fried with soy sauce, oil, miso etc until browned and crispy.  
Scallions: These mild-mannered onion family folks give an easy onion flavor to salads, sandwiches, stir fries and more.  Or you could do the old classic buttered bread and sliced scallion treat: my grandparents talked a lot about enjoying them in spring.  "A good spring tonic" says my 101 year old grandma. 
Chard: this cousin to the beet is appreciated for its leaves instead of its roots.  Use for salads, or as a spinach or kale substitute in cooking.  


 Cucumbers:  these are nearing the end of their life cycle, enjoy them while they fade away. 

Beets:  We grow red, orange and striped beets, beautiful.  mmm, I used to love to eat these after my mother had blanched them and slipped the skins off and they were cooling on the counter.  Super nutritious, they can be roasted, grated for salad, boiled or steamed, then eaten hot or cold, and of course, made into pickled beets or used for pickled beet eggs.  Makes me hungry writing about them.  
 Kale/Collards/Senposai:  these are surrendering to the hot summer weather as usual.  We like to fry these in a skillet with butter or coconut oil until crisp, add some onions and saute them as well--a superb topping for rice, fried eggs or stand alone too.
Cabbage: great for a cabbage and chopped peanut with vinegar salad. Simple and surprisingly good in spite of its simplicity. 
Garlic scapes:  these are the would-be flowering stems of garlic--soft, tender, easy to use for stir fries, diced for salad, really anywhere a mild garlic flavor is desired. We like to use it for pesto here at the farm. 
Napa cabbage: this Asian cabbage is main ingredient in Kimchee, a spicy kraut or relish of sort. The quality is great diminished so we are not harvesting it any more until the new fall crop. 
Bok Choi: the joy of choi, this is great for stir fries and goes well with peanuts, cashews, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, peanut butter, chicken.   This will return in fall. 
Lettuce heads: the lettuce did really well, we hope you enjoyed it.
Green garlic: this is garlic harvested before the base swells and becomes a bulb. It has a milder flavor than bulb garlic and can be used anywhere garlic is called for. Keep refrigerated as you would green onions/scallions. 
Rhubarb: rhubarb is harvested only in Spring and is then given a year's rest 
Parsnip: may have a late fall crop of these. 

 The Pick Your Own Field: Hot Chiles 

If you are a hot pepper fan, there are some tasty fiery chiles down in the field.
Use caution around hot peppers, their oils can stay on your skin and get in your eyes. Yow!  A long time ago, I processed a dishpan full of serrano peppers with bare hands and found out the hard way when, after repeated washings with soap, my fingers still got hot pepper oils on my contact lenses.  I encountered the capsaicin oil next morning when I put my lenses in. Double yow! Don't do as I did...
General rules of thumb:

If plentiful, take a little more, if scarce, go easy on the crop

For herbs--pinch only the tops of stems so that they can regrow. 

We hope you are enjoying the August harvest goodies,

No comments: