Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Mid-September and Spring Veggies?
It has been gorgeous dry, clear, dry, cool, dry, breezy, and dry weather. While we can’t complain too much about the weather we could stand a little more rain. Luckily enough we timed our last several plantings in the garden with the wet days we have gotten.
Our fall transplants of boc choi, chinese cabbage, lettuce, and kale are standing in vibrant green rows out in the field. However, you wouldn’t notice their bright little sprouts against the brown soil at first. What catches your eye are the giant white caterpillars, well not really caterpillars, but that’s what we call them. We have metal hoops about waist high and about 6 feet across from foot to foot. We set the hoops up over our garden beds and stretch a white spun fabric over them. Many of you have seen this row cover at the farm or in our photos. Right now we are using a lightweight cover for insect protection. Later in the fall we will switch to a heavy weight fabric for frost protection. Currently we have three of these hoops side by side running the 120 foot length of the field.
It is like entering another world when you lift the edge of these hoops and look under. The wind doesn’t blow; the air is moister and a little warmer. It’s like a little protected vegetable haven. Under each hoop are two beds separated by a narrow pathway. And down the beds are our little rows of bright green fall vegetables. Their green is almost incongruous with this time of year. Most grass, trees, and other plants are the dark rich, tried green of late summer. But not the vegetables, they have the bright almost neon green of spring in their leaves.
We tried something new with spinach this fall. Spinach is notorious for its poor germination. Ask almost any farmer or gardener about spinach and they will either tell you they have trouble growing it, or they have no trouble because of some complicated scheme they devised to make it work. Our new complicated scheme is to place the seeds between damp paper towels. We then put the towels in a plastic bag in a dark cool place for about three days. At this point almost all the seeds have germinated! They had little roots less than a quarter inch long. I then made small trenches about 1 inch deep and put the seeds down the bottom. I was afraid that the seeding might break off the roots and that the seed wouldn’t be able to regrow. But hey, farming is about trying new things. Next I put fish emulsion across them to give a little boost. Then I tamped the soil back over the seeds. Today we have rows of spinach with their two cotyledons (false leaves) reaching upward. Now the battle with the insects begins. We hope to win that one with the help of cooler nights. With any luck we will have some delicious spinach in a few weeks. Just in time for the last CSA week? We certainly hope it will grow quickly for Week 20, our last CSA box.
Pasta with Mizuna and Sausage
Mizuna is one of the primary greens in our stir-fry mix. I love its peppery flavor more than other spicy greens like arugula. Use stir-fry mix in this recipe (I thought it sounded better with Mizuna in the title) Feel free to substitute the sausage with cooked mushrooms.
1 large onion, cut into ¼ inch slices
1 tbl sp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup chicken broth
½ lb-1 lb of your choice of sausage, mostly cooked- a little pink is fine,
½ cup roasted peppers, cut into bite-size pieces
1 bag of Stir-fry mix, leaves chopped into 2 inch pieces, stems diced into ½ pieces
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
12 oz medium bow tie pasta
¼ shredded Parmesan cheese or Manchego
½ tsp. freshly cracked pepper
1. In a large skillet cook onion in oil until tender. Stir in garlic, broth, sausage, roasted peppers. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Add greens; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until greens are wilted. Remove from heat.
2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Toss pasta with sausage mixture, basil, cherry tomatoes,cheese, and black pepper.