Harvest is the main focus of our farm days in the summer, but there are lots of other important tasks we need to fit in before cold weather and short sun put an end to our garden year. We've been seeding our final autumn crops like lettuce, spinach, radish, carrots and Asian greens and we'll soon put nourishing, weed-smothering cover crop seeds out on the sections of the fields that we'll be resting next year. We're cleaning up finished crops like beans and zucchini, and tilling in debris to make our soil strong and rich for 2016 and beyond. And we've also started planting our new perennial herb field. We LOVE cooking with fresh herbs and we aim to get some in every box of the season as well, so you can experiment with them, too. We grow about 600 feet of perennial herbs in permanent beds but we move them to a new section of the farm every four years so that we have a chance to pull out under-producing varieties, add new varieties, divide plants that we like and want to propagate, and load the soil with composted manure and micro-nutrients. 2015 happens to be a moving year, and we've begun the giant, but exciting job of creating that new herb field. Yesterday we planted a few dozen new plants of German Winter Thyme and divided six French Tarragon plants into about 25 new clumps. In between harvests for the rest of the season we'll be moving the rest of the sorrel, chives, oregano, citrus thyme, violas, cornflower, lovage, lemon balm, sage, rhubarb and Chinese leeks. We'll also be adding lavender and more edible flowers. It is a job I love and one that produces a lot of wonderful flavors for us to use throughout the entire year. This week you've got sage, thyme, sorrel and from the old herb beds and rosemary from our pots (it's not perennial here so we don't grow it in the ground) - we thought these sprigs would pair will with the new potatoes, squash and tomatoes. Here's what else is in the box:
Basil – Fresh harvest from our new plants in the hoophouse. Hopefully these will take us through tomato season.
Raspberries – We could pick these twice a day and still miss some. The vines are LOADED and the berries are bursting with flavor. Doesn’t get fresher than this.
Tomatoes! – This could be peak week for tomatoes – you’ve got a TON in these heavy boxes. Remember – color doesn’t count! We’ve got tomatoes that’ll be ripe when green, when orange, when purple, when pink and when red, so go by feel.
Tomatillos – Some years I don’t grow these and some years I do. If you’ve ever grown them, you know they are just such a pain to harvest! They grow in little paper bags, so you can’t see how big they are and you have to feel them to find out if they are full in the bag, which is when they are ready. Often, they fall from the plant RIGHT as they ripen. Frustrating, but SOOO YUMMY. I must say I am glad I grew them this year. We’ve been roasting them and making salsa verde with the lovely big scallions and Hungarian hot wax peppers. We wish we had cilantro in the field, but we are buying it, just like you! The hot dry weather last week sent them all into bolting. Check the Farmer Kriss Pinterest page for recipes.
Yellow Squash– We have been making our bed and breakfast guests frittatas with yellow squash and kale – delicious!
Sorrel - So fresh and tender - wonderful paired with new red potatoes in the Russian peasant soup Schav, or baked into a potato gratin. Lots of recipes on the pinterest page this week.
Cucumbers – A GREAT year here for cukes, though bugs have been making their way up the vines this week, and you’ll notice damaged skins. The squash beetles have overcome the zucchini, and that must have kept them distracted from the cuke vines for a while, but now they are everywhere. Still, the vines are producing like crazy. Enjoy!
Peppers – Nothing red out there in the hoophouse yet, but we are hoping the extra heat will help us ripen some before the chilly nights close in. Sweet blocky peppers, and hot skinny peppers this week!
Eggplant – Just a few little ones this week! Dice and enjoy sautéed with squash and pepper. Don’t peel! At this size they are not bitter skinned.
Herb Bags: Sage, Thyme and Rosemary –The sage, thyme and rosemary will all be great with your new potatoes, squashes, tomatoes and eggplant. Think Mediterranean!
Melon! – We don’t always see these ripen in our chilly valley, but we do our best, starting the plants in our little greenhouse while it’s still cold, and then putting the vines on black plastic out in the field to increase the heat the ground will hold beneath them. This year it worked! Lovely muskmelons for you, though some have a bit of bug damage where the skin stayed damp on the black plastic. Oh, well – tradeoffs! The bugs only munched into the rind, and left the sweet inner flesh for us!
Sprouting Broccoli - This could be the last of our broccoli stalks, but we did side-dress them with composted manure in the hopes that we'll get a second flush from them in the autumn.
Kale – This week we just picked the gorgeous White Russian and Rainbow Lacinato leaves.
Onions - You've got both onions and shallots this week.
Scallions – These Nabechan scallions are getting bigger and stronger, but you can still use most of the stem. I clean off the bulb, cut it in half, and then chop on up the stem. Perfect for salsa.
Mini Cabbages – We started growing small cabbages when we packed Shortie Shares and needed to find small varieties of things to fit in the boxes. But we fell in love with these pointy heirloom Early Jersey Wakefield cabbages on the merits of taste and cuteness as well! Plus, now there is room for other things in your box! Try a fresh slaw or sauté with summer squash.
New Red Potatoes – These lovely Dark Red Norlands are terrific both for baking or boiling. Enjoy with toasted sage butter, or roast them with olive oil and rosemary.