Saturday, September 12, 2009

Harvest moon...

Things going on at the farm:

Bounty continues! The distribution shed is filled as ever, with summer crops and the beginning of fall things like spicy greens, radishes, and salad turnips.
The theme of the summer is eggplants & peppers. Especially hot peppers!
Swiss chard is huge as ever-- these greens can be cooked just like spinach in any recipe, and the stems are edible too, if you cook them a bit longer.
Amaranth Harvest! You may have noticed the tall flower stalks next to the corn-- magenta & orange & burgundy-- Amaranth is a grain that was a staple food for the Aztecs & is still eaten in Mexico. It's supposed to be a "superfood" with more protein & other nutrients than wheat, corn, rice, etc. We harvest it by hand, lay it out in the greenhouse to dry, then we'll take the tiny seeds out, winnow the chaff, and either grind it into flour or try to pop it like popcorn. Quite a little experiment. Luke thinks I'm crazy. I just like eating flowers.
Weeding the fennel today we found a monarch butterfly caterpiller. We hope it stays there and makes a chrysalis! Praying mantises are also everywhere on the farm right now.

I expected this year to be full of "learning experiences"... and mostly my experiments have been pretty successful. Some challenges I've had lately:

Sweet Corn: I had never grown it before. The first few weeks of harvesting were awesome, we got lots of tender delicious ears. So I kept picking... I must apologize for last week's corn! It was horrible! I guess no one ever told me that sweet corn turns its sugars into starch very quickly. The grilled corn on the cob I had last week tasted like livestock feed. Next year, if I decide to do corn again, I'll plant more successions so that we can harvest just a few times off one planting, then move to the next one, to keep things fresh & sweet!

Melons: How to tell if a watermelon is ripe? Last time I picked melons, almost none of them tasted sweet. I think that this fall weather is confusing such a summer-y crop. I apologize for any unripe melon experiences. But the ones that are ripe are pretty good, right? Next year I promise to plant more watermelons & less canteloupes.

Mexican Bean Beetle, Cucumber Downy Mildew, some weird Squash Virus: These creatures have reduced the amount of summer squash, beans, & cucumbers we've been getting lately. I will research more about these things to prevent them from decimating our crops next year.

Powdery Mildew on the Winter Squash: This fungus blows in on the wind, and sticks around, helped by moist weather & cool nights. It is killing our winter squash very quickly-- but we might have a few mature ones out there. Right now it's a race between the squash vines and the mildew. We need some cheerleaders.

No Rain! Can you believe I'd say that this summer? Well, the crops are doing fine, with the help of the drip irrigation. But I have to plant 6 acres of cover crops for the winter, and the window in which I can do this is quickly disappearing... and you can't really irrigate 6 acres of rye or oats. So let's hope we get a big rain soon, so I can get this seed in the ground and green up those plowed & tilled fields!

1 comment:

floridabamboo said...

One thing I've done with over-mature sweet corn: pull the husks back and hang up the ears to dry. Then, whenever you get to it, shell off the shriveled dry kernels, and run them through a hot air popcorn popper. It's delicious! The kernels puff without turning themselves inside like popcorn, they have a delicate crispy texture, and a sweet nutty flavor. Great as a tasty, nutritious snack!