Last week Maree was telling me that I shouldn’t go off on some tangent in my newsletter all the time. Just stick to the weather and how things are growing…that’s what people want to hear about. So, this week I’m going to do just that.
Basically every season is a mixed bag. There are always crops which do really well and others which do terribly for various reasons. This year is no different. I’ve laid out the three main reasons for problem crops:
Soil Compaction: As you may have noticed, the potatoes are coming in interesting shapes—a sure-fire sign of soil compaction, which is causing the plants to be stunted and the potatoes to be small, misshapen, and few and far between. The whole issue comes back to the wet spring….We have really heavy soil, and, when you plant in less than ideal conditions, you get cement, which we have. Compaction has also made carrots a bit short this year.
Heat Stress: Some plants have been hurt by our dry conditions with lots of heat. Leeks are just barely holding on and our red kale bit the dust because it couldn’t handle the stress. Last year, for example, we had our kale plants produce right through September. Also, remember how short that spring lettuce season was? We typically can spread out a lettuce over 3-4 weeks, but late June heat destroyed that plan.
Damn Bugs: Just like last year, my main enemy is the cucumber beetle. They are small black and yellow striped bugs which love anything in the cucumber family. They crew on things, but the biggest problem is that they spread a disease called bacterial wilt. This has brought the first crop of cucumbers to an end and has taken out 15 percent of the melons. Potato bugs do injure potatoes and eggplant, but not too bad this year.
Hey, don’t let me get pessimistic…like I said, it’s always a mixed bag. I do put a number of crops on this year’s excellent list: beans, corn, tomatoes, and arugula. I also predict a good winter squash crop too, but that’s not a sure thing yet. Tomatoes just loved this summer heat and can do fine without much water. Beans seem to be giving high yields because we have a bunch of bees hives in our pasture for the first time this year. Those bees are doing their job of pollinating every flower they find! Corn I transplanted this year, which really allowed it to get a jump on weeds and produce a good canopy; corn also liked the heat…anytime you can’t sleep because it’s too muggy and hot is good corn-growing weather. The arugula turned out great this spring because we just didn’t have many flea beetles out there—they typically crew a bunch of little holes in everything.
Otherwise, a lot of the other crops are doing alright. Nothing to write home about. We still could use some rain though.
IMPORTANT NOTE: We’re having a harvest party at our farm. Mark you calendars for the afternoon of Sunday, September 16. More details to come next week.
IN THE BOX:
I put in a real slug. I was thinking of this a good time to make sauce.
I put in one sweet (light colored…tear-drop shape), one red, and two yellow storage onions.
A Bunch of Carrots
This is supposed to be a yellow variety called Bodacious, but it sat a bit too close to the bi-color and turned a bit bi-color itself. I tested it…still tastes good.
This is considered a “frying pepper” although it’s got great sweet taste raw too.
Traditional Italian style. They come in slow, so if you didn’t receive one, you’ll get one next week.
An all-white variety. Seems like it’s good for frying, but I like for mashing.
*No flowers this week
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 strip of bacon
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 large carrot, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 celery stalk, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 cups milk
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed from the cobs (about 2 cups), cobs reserved
1 In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the bacon strip (skip this step for vegetarian option, just add more butter) and fry until the bacon renders its fat, but doesn’t begin to brown, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 4 or 5 more minutes.
2 Break the corn cobs in half and add them to the saucepan. Add the milk and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. Make sure the heat is as low as can be and still maintain a gentle simmer (on our stove we had to use the “warm” setting) to prevent scalding the milk on the bottom of the pan.
3 Discard the cobs, the bacon strip, and the bay leaf. Raise the heat, add the potatoes, red pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, fresh ground pepper to taste, bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost fork tender.
4 Raise the heat, add the corn kernels and the thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.