Wednesday, July 23, 2008

a break in the weather, finally

I am sitting here typing this to the glorious music of a steady rain. Enough carrying big pipes around the farm, it's time for the clouds to fulfill their end of the bargain.

The rain started during Tuesday evening's distribution. We had the sprinklers going full blast on the melon field. (Melons actually get sweeter the less water they recieve, but the leaves were curling up and we weren't sure the plants were going to make it at all!) As the downpour ensued, I turned to Farmer Dave & asked whether we should turn off the irrigation on the melons. He said no, let's not do that just yet. "I'm superstitious like that."

One must be tactful when making bargains with clouds.

I can feel the earth breathing deeply to let the moisture into it's dry crusty soil. Everywhere on the farm there is relief. Here's a chance to show you what's been going on the past few days:

Washing up onions on Monday (check out the shade tent!):
Garlic we processed today:
After taking it down from the barn, we cut off the stems, trim the roots, and peel away the outer layer.
Beautiful. This variety is called "Music" and Farmer Dave has been replanting from cloves that he saves every year for 10 years!
Here's a shot of the melon field. The lower portion of the picture is summer squash, then the watermelons and cantelope are the low-growing green in between. The tall white-flowered plant in the background is buckwheat that we planted in a bed to be a "harvest lane"... this means we can get a tractor in when it's time to harvest the heavy fruits, and don't break our backs trying to carry them all out! Also, the buckwheat is a fast-growing cover crop that not only shades out any weed attempts, but provides nectar for important pollinators & beneficial insects. Standing next to it, you can hear the incessant buzzing of thousands of little winged beings, of all shapes and sizes. Farmer Dave pointed out the tiny black parasitic wasps that prey on common crop pests.
And some pictures of the 3 Sisters Garden:
The corn is "tasseling" which means it sends up this flower on the top that's covered with pollen. This is the male part of the plant.
The pollen will be carried by the wind to the female part, the "silk", and then each pollinated silk thread will produce a plump kernel of corn down there on the cob... progeny for the next generation of corn.
The beans are starting to wrap around the cornstalks!
The amaranth is looking beautiful. It has tall sturdy stems like a sunflower, and I think would make an excellent replacement for the cornstalks as the "trellis sister".
The squash is quickly covering the ground. I mulched a section with old hay, but I think that soon the squash vines will act as a mulch and prevent weed growth anyway. Maybe the mulch would have been a better idea at the time of planting, eliminating the first few cultivations we did.
And here's a vegetable I'm really excited about:
I grew a few purple cauliflower & purple cabbage, even though Farmer Dave usually doesn't, because I think purple vegetables are just great. I'm pretty proud of them, too.
And another delicious meal:

I stir-fried these veggies up with some chili pepper & cilantro, and tried making a few corn tortillas from scratch. Pretty easy to do, just corn flour & salt & water, and cook them on an ungreased cast-iron pan for 5 minutes each side. Yum.

CSA members-- I promise tomatoes for you too soon! These are just the "teasers" to make you salivate... Don't worry, there will be a whole lot of them. I plan on doing some serious canning.

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