Update from the Gardens – September 10, 2016

The rainy Wednesday proved to be a challenge for our CSA pick up, left the grounds fairly muddy, but nicely watered the seedlings in the ground. It also provided the opportunity to complete our Certified Naturally Grown certification inspection. It’s a busy season for our inspector, Jerry Boone from Froggy Meadows Farm, but with the mud on his farm, harvest was at a standstill so he journeyed here and did our inspection. Every year we learn from our inspectors. Each year brings a new person, shared ideas, and hopefully certification. WE PASSED! I knew we would.

During our “walk about”, we shared frustrations over leeks and came up with a plan for next year. Leeks under plastic. The problem there is that they need to be hilled for long leeks. So, we’ll pull the plastic off (leeks grow straight up and should go through the holes), put on the hiller, and hill when they get a substantial diameter, then hopefully they’ll need little weeding after that. When we did his farm a couple years ago, we learned to save our own seed potates. We now put 50# burlap bags in a black tote, cover with a tarp, set by the compost piles and bury 2 feet deep. Last spring, when we were ready to plant, we dug them out finding perfectly chitted taters ready for planting. You wouldn’t get any feedback or ideas from the USDA organic certifiers in their suits.

We did a “walk-about” in the winter squash patch and found lots of mud. Usually this time of the year is dry and the squash cure well in the field. This year the vines are dying down early so we’re starting to harvest. You’ll find spaghetti squash this week. Acorns and butternuts will soon go on the list. If used right now, they won’t have sweetened up and will taste pretty bland.

Try the mustards and mizunas. In the mixed patch are some arugulas if you’d like to get them. The larger curly mustards are at the back of the row. If sampled from the field they taste pretty “mustardy”. When cooked, they’re more like a spinach or kale, losing the characteristic flavor. Mizuna, with the pointy leaves, is great in salads and can be used like arugula.

Watermelons are still great and abundant with a few yet to be harvested. Cantaloupes are a disappointment. Too much moisture in the fields makes it hard to get them before they get a soft spot on the bottom. Cantaloupes need to be harvested ripe so the window of opportunity is super easy to miss, especially on the small ones. Take as many as you wish, prep as soon as you can.

Summer squash is done, cucumbers and tomatoes are slowing, peppers are holding on, lettuce is great! It’s still a good pick. How about grabbing some “Fried Green Tomatoes” tomatoes? Still plenty of cherry and small tomatoes.

Change happens, clean up is starting as we clean harvest beds, rows, and fields. Cover crop will go on selective areas. Keep picking! And grabbing from the cooler and hay racks and wagons.

I really need to do this more often!