Monday, August 20, 2012

Week 10: Late Summer Life on the Farm

The hoophouse and brassicas in the late afternoon sun.
Ah...the last few weeks of August on a vegetable farm. The much anticipated crops - cucumbers, squash, tomatoes - are rolling in and the fall crops are sizing up and ripening without much effort on the farmers' part.

Onions currently curing in the hoophouse. Our work is nearly done here.
Um, right? Because that is what I planned for when I signed up for this farming gig....


We do have a lot of wonderful vegetables to harvest right now, so the week 10 share will include many lovely late summer items: Summer Squash/Zucchini, Potatoes, Cucumbers, Carrots, Tomatoes plus Eggplant/Pepper/Tomatillo OR Ground Cherries, Head Lettuce, Basil, and Kohlrabi.

But we still have a few challenges to contend with.

The cucumbers and squash are definitely rolling in, but the cool nights are slowing down the field tomatoes a lot. We still have hoophouse tomatoes for the shares, and I remain optimistic that we will see a lot of ripe tomatoes from the field this year, but only time will tell. The eggplants are certainly happy! 

And the fall crops are looking great too. We have, among other things, onions curing (see photo above), rutabaga getting bigger and more delicious every day, and lots of lovely winter squash and gourds sizing up on the vines.

Our biggest challenge this year remains pests. The amazing caterpillar pressure we started the season with fueled rodent pressure the likes of which we have never seen. I think mice have gotten as many ripe tomatoes out of the field as we have. 

Then there are the insects. Teeny, tiny, aphids and flea beetles, again at population levels we have never seen before. As I mentioned last week they are going after the greens in the field and, we just discovered yesterday, in our fall starts too.

Redbor kale fall starts look good, only a couple aphids to be seen.
But the Beedy's Camden kale starts are under massive attack.
We're going with the tried and true methods of squishing and dish soap as our first lines of defense (you can see a few bubbles if you look closely in this photo, I'd just sprayed), probably with some diatomaceous earth as a follow up if need be. Kale lovers cross your fingers.

In the meantime of course, you have all the vegetables in your share to enjoy. You are getting kohlrabi again this week, and I know that many of you take them home without much of an idea of what to do with them, so, though last week's recipe was a kohlrabi dish, I am featuring kohlrabi again in this week's recipe.

Kohlrabi are really simple to prepare in many different ways. They taste like mild broccoli stem and are wonderful cooked (as in the stew below) or raw (as in last week's slaw recipe).

Summer's end Kohlrabi Stew

This recipe uses several of the items in your share, but it makes a lot of food. This is easily two large meals worth of stew for us, and we are big eaters. Be sure to serve it with crusty bread or biscuits for sopping up the liquid.
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 - 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno (or none or more to taste), chopped. If you have any chipotle around you could use one or two of those instead.
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound stew beef, cubed (I actually used venison)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large kohlrabi, peeled and chopped into one inch cubes
  • 1 pound tomatoes (about what is in the share), roughly chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 or 3 medium summer squash or zucchini, chopped into one inch cubes
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and onion. Stir until they are coated in oil.

Add the beef. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Continue to stir frequently until the meat is brown on all sides, 5 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the kohlrabi. Add water to nearly cover the meat and vegetables. The squash and tomatoes will add a lot of liquid when you add them later, so be stingy with the water now.

Increase the heat to bring the water to a boil, then decrease the heat to simmer. Simmer uncovered for approximately 30 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and squash and simmer, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes.

Colorful stew is the best kind of stew.

1 comment:

  1. Hi My name is Andrew. I live near L'Anse in Aura. I have grown a lot in my garden but haven't grown garlic yet. I read that hardneck worked out the best for you in terms of keeping longer. May I ask what variety you used? I liked the sound of mega garlicky-ness and keeping well. I was hoping to plant enough to harvest like 60-80 bulbs next fall. Is it too late to plant right now? I live right by the shore so it doesn't freeze over here as quick as other areas. Your advice would be much appreciated. Sincerely, City slicker wanna be farmer dude