Sunday, July 6, 2008

summer overflowing

What's going on today on the farm...  everything.  (L to R):
1. The winter squash has gone through several cultivations, but there are still purslane weeds growing... they get uprooted then reroot themselves with the rain.  We'll have to take the tractor through them again I think before they send out vines.
2. The melons & cucumbers are vining all over the place.  Standing at the far end of the field looking back at the barns you get the feeling that the vines want to swallow the whole place.
3. Did you know that potatoes make fruits?  This round green fruit you're looking at is not a tomato, but they are in the same family, Solanaceae.  

I love swiss chard.

The fields are beautiful, with rows of lettuce, beans, herbs, leeks, and tomatoes.

These butterhead lettuce are really as delicious as they look.  And I can't wait for the fennel harvest... roasted fennel is one of my favorite vegetable dishes I think. well as roasted zucchini & eggplant.  This eggplant is only the size of a pear, so don't get too excited yet.  And there are teeny green beans, which will quickly get huge with all the rain.  Summer crops are almost here.

The flower garden, which I planted almost entirely by myself from seed, is approaching full bloom.  It is very satisfying to think about that!  The yarrow (white flowers below) is a perennial which I didn't plant.  The one on the right is a Rudbeckia, a black-eyed susan, but this variety has "white eyes" I guess!  It was started in the greenhouse & transplanted.  
The blue flowers are Bachelors Buttons, one of my favorite cut flowers.  The orange daisys are Calendula, an amazing flower with medicinal properties, and edible petals!  Enjoy some on your salad.  And the picture below-right is California Poppies!  I guess you can grow them in New York after all.  Right now they are all closed up for evening, but they will open their 4 big orange petals in the morning if there's sun!

Some of my plant experiments (L to R):  Okra (the young pods are tasty raw!), Cardoon (french relative of artichoke but you eat the stems), and Mullein (a medicinal flower)
I found a Sassafras tree!  I may try some Sassafras root tea soon.  You use the root bark from young saplings.  Also, the leaves are edible (taste like root beer) & the dried leaves are used in Cajun or Creole cooking in a dish called File or Gumbo.  I'll be experimenting with that for sure... apparently it thickens soups.
I also found several Bolete mushrooms growing under the pine trees.  Most Boletes are edible, but there are some varieties that aren't, so I didn't take my chances.  Maybe someone is familiar with local edible mushrooms that wants to identify these?

The Japanese Beetles are here in force.  They definitely have favorite plants, like this Rhubarb, Elderberry, & Basil, shown below.  We've set traps out with pheromone lures.  The damage is pretty extensive in some places.

The Colorado Potato Beetle has also struck:

These bright orange larvae are chomping away.  There doesn't seem to be too many around thankfully, just on a few plants here and there.  They sure are weird looking.