Saturday, October 30, 2010

Carving Pumpkins

Last year a friend gave us some seeds from a large pumpkin. This year Ken planted them and we invited some friends over to carve pumpkins.

First cut out a top and scoop seeds.

Then plan a design to cut out.

Cut carefully.

Light a candle and place inside.

And now it is Jack O'Lantern time! What fun!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Weekly CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This week's box has peppers, eggplant, leeks, potatoes, radicchio, lettuce, teen kale, baby greens, a kohlrabi, carrots, pie pumpkin or squash, fennel and parsley.

Field Notes. Ken has moved into two fall tasks in the field: clearing the hot weather crops from the high tunnel and digging roots for us to store in the root cellar. He plans to plant more crops in the high tunnel, and plant green manures as he takes out root crops.

In the garden Ken is setting up spaces for hoops and getting hoops over crops. Planting continues for fall and spring greens.

And meanwhile, he is also moving and sorting bags of leaves for various tasks - placing bags around the base of the chicken coops and dog houses for insulation over winter and then mulch next season.

From the Kitchen. We lit the cook stove and have begun baking and roasting - the house smells like fall as Ken takes the squash with blemishes and makes pie.

This week's vegetables have some summer foods like eggplant and peppers and some winter ones like leeks. The eggplant and peppers would be tasty cooked kinpira style. See the August 31st blog entry for that recipe.

The fennel is too late to bulb, but would be delicious with some carrots. These smaller carrots are the ones that were not big enough to store in the root cellar. They would be lovely boiled and then combined with wilted kale - beautiful texture and color variation.

Happy Halloween to all who celebrate it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Frost photos

The other morning the we got a heavy frost. Although the temperature did not drop dramatically, it dropped early, so it was cold for a longer time. I went out with the camera while Ken was making squash pie. And here are some garden shots.

The cabbage family like kale actually get sweeter with a light frost.

And lettuce can take frost as long as it gets above freezing during the day.

And the sage is beautiful, too.

Big Breakout

This morning I walked out to get the Sunday newspaper in the dark. Later at first light I looked out and oh no! A big chicken breakout! I knew I couldn't get them all back in alone, so I got Ken up and he leashed Oscar the dog.

Then he moved the hoop coop to fresh ground and put fresh feed where he would like them to go. And once it began to rain again, in they went.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weekly CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This week's box has potatoes, red oak lettuce, endive, spinach, micro greens, daikon radishes, green onions, winter squash, and Chinese cabbage.

Field Notes. October is a month of many changes - crops coming out to go to the root cellar and crops going in - green manures like winter wheat and winter rye, and the garlic. So as Ken takes crops out, he is also working up beds for planting.

Since crops are rotated from season to season, Ken is already planning for next season - like planting the garlic for example. That bed will have a crop in it til the middle of next season, and he wants the garlic in a spot where he did not have any onion family planted this season. The ancient Celtic calendar saw October as the end of the year, and as we plan to put the garden to rest for winter, I can see how an old agrarian culture viewed the year this way. Ken has also been hauling more manure to mix with leaves for compost.

From the Kitchen. We grow several varieties of potatoes, and each has qualities that set it apart. Last week everyone got a mix as those surfaced after we had dug potatoes. This week we have Russian bananas - a buttery flavored fingerling potato that really shines when roasted in the oven with olive oil and herbs or baked with a roast. Fingerlings are smaller finger shaped potatoes with great flavor. Most have lower yields than standard varieties commonly found. But great flavor is the reason we grow them!

Daikon radishes are a long white Asian radish; they are mild and versatile. During winter festivals in Japan, there are vendors selling boiled daikon on a stick with your choice of mustard. Daikon are found in winter soups, shaved as a side to sushi, grated and topped with soy sauce as a condiment. We also pickle daikon with some turmeric for color. Daikon are a nice zippy addition to a stir fry.

Micro greens are a vitamin power house. They can be added to salads or tossed into soups just before serving. Ken made a delicious salad Monday with garlic, cheese and vinegar and olive oil.

Chinese cabbage can be used so many ways. I often saute onion, add cabbage to wilt and add a dressing or interesting vinegar like umeboshi vinegar. We add the outer leaves to soups and stir fry. The tender hearts sliced thin make a great ripply salad ingredient. A friend says Chinese cabbage are good for cabbage rolls, too.The green onions, daikon and Chinese cabbage would make a great stir fry.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall has arrived

Today as I headed out to the field I noticed that most of the leaves have fallen. Fall has arrived.
And although we know cold and winter are coming, it is nice to see the woods and sky open up as the leaves fall.

Splitting wood

This year we have to cut wood. Since 2002 we have been working on piles cut after a bad storm in June of 2001. Ken has modified some old pottery shelves to form a woodshed for the shorter cook stove wood.

He has brought trailer loads of dry wood cut to length and as he runs it through the splitter, I stack it. We are on the third rick on the south side.

Ken is also using old screens for a space for small non-stacking pieces. We will fill that as we go.

What beautiful weather we have had to cut and stack the wood!

Geese in the Field

Ken has moved the geese to a corner of the field to glean and clean up a section; it also gives the grass in the yard a rest. They seem quite content as they jockey for position on what remains of the compost for this year. So, who is king of the hill?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekly CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This week the box has Italian Savoy Cabbage, winter squash, lettuce or endive, parsley, bok choy, carrots, leeks, garlic, and the first rutabagas and potatoes.

Field Notes. Last week we dug potatoes. Ken planted later than usual, but yields seem good. We dig potatoes later than many other farms as we more than fill the boxes with summer's bounty. We had beautiful weather to dig the potatoes, and this has made it a delight to work outside; last year October was rainy, grey and bone chilling. We are hoping for some rain, so digging goes more smoothly.

Ken moved the geese to the field yesterday. I regret I was focused on getting ready for the Amery market, so no photos of the big move. The geese are happy with the grass in the field, and we are happy to see the grass in the yard get a break as it grows more slowly and needs some recovery time. Geese will also weed areas of the field that have been harvested. This will make Ken's job of planting fall green manures easier.

Ken is still planting and transplanting, and planning more green manures as he takes out crops. He is thinking about next year's rotations for crops, and deciding where he will plant garlic this month.

From the Kitchen. POTATOES! RUTABAGAS! It must be fall. Rutabagas are another cousin in the brassica (cabbage) family. We usually boil rutabagas in soups and stews, but cooks use them raw in slaw, baked with cheese au gratin, mashed with or without potatoes, and in cream soup combos with other vegetables like carrots.. Rutabagas are high in vitamin A and C and calcium.

Potatoes and leeks conjure up potato leek soup. Saute leeks, add stock (I use chicken), add cooked peeled potatoes and process in a blender or food processor to a creamy texture. Add cream, milk, or yogurt and warm, but don't boil. I add a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a garnish like parsley before serving. And there is always boiled potatoes with butter and parsley.

Fall is also a great time for cabbage as the cool weather sweetens all the brassicas. I make slaw by finely chopping cabbage, grating some carrot, diced onion, salting, mixing well, and letting it rest about a half hour. Then drain the liquid, rinse cabbage if it tastes too salty. My slaw dressing depends on what I have - usually my mayonnaise, or yogurt, or sour cream, a bit of honey, a bit of vinegar, a bit of pepper. We also add cabbage to soups and stews. I saute leeks, add chopped cabbage and stir to coat with oil, cook to wilt and add either a vinegary dressing or a creamy dressing depending on what else I am serving.
And with Octoberfest, one could serve pork with sweet and sour cabbage, and spaetzle.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Digging Potatoes

People often ask us after Labor Day if the garden is done - hardly. We follow the familiar sequence - first onions are harvested and cured for storage. Next squash is harvested and cured. Then we start the "big dig" with the potato harvest. Thursday and Friday we harvested potatoes.

It was beautiful weather. Ken ran the tractor with v plow and then picked potatoes - I helped, but he did the bulk of the picking.

Then all the potatoes come into the yard where I sort, grade and box up for the root cellar.

The big dig continues as we dig sweet potatoes, celery root, rutabagas, beets, carrots, and radishes for root cellaring. Of course we will have a couple breaks in digging as the garlic has to be planted and Ken continues planting for this fall and next spring.

New Hog Accomodations

Thursday Ken and I moved the new pig shelter aka (also known as) the Hog Hilton to the pig yard. Ken hauled it in with tractor while I nervously opened and closed the gate to get the tractor inside the pig yard and again to get the tractor outside the pig yard.

I did not want any escapees on my watch! All Ken purchased was some screws!

Once the mission was accomplished, Ken got in for picking rocks. The pigs dig up rocks, but they don't make tidy piles of them - yet! So, Ken does this on a regular basis.

As you can see, the pigs are not an aggressive bunch...

And today as I went to the field to pick beans, the pigs were way across the pig yard in a damp spot - cooling off.

But as I approached they became a thundering herd.

Who says pigs can't run?

Or turn on the brakes...

From Chicks to Pullets and Cockerels

Well, today I headed out to try and get some new photos of the chicks we got in August. They have their feathers now.

Gone are the little puffballs that arrived, and gone are the gawky tweens with new feathers.

These chicks are now small adults - full feathers and Ken is starting to know the pullets - young hens - from the cockerels - young roosters.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Weekly CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden! This week's box has Romaine lettuce, winter squash, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, peppers, parsley, arugula, turnips or rutabagas, beans, chard and raspberries.

Field Notes. FROST on Saturday night and again on Sunday night. We still have some heat loving crops in the box this week from the hoop house. And we are not complaining - average frost date is mid September, so we have had a longer season than average for many vegetables.

Now we move on to the "Big Dig" as we start digging and storing roots for fall and winter boxes. The plan is to dig potatoes later in the week, and then move on to the sweet potatoes and the ones we store in sand in the root cellar.

And Ken has carved out more time to work on the new pig shelter - check the blog in near future for the photo once completed and moved on location for habitation.

From the Kitchen. This week we have an interesting mix in the box. Ken has been making white sauces and cheese sauces for members of the brassica family - cabbage, cauliflower, turnips and rutabagas. Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a heavy skillet, saute chopped leeks and peppers, add and cook a couple tablespoons of flour. Add milk, stirring to avoid lumps. For cheese sauce add some dry mustard with flour and grated cheese at the end.

And previously on the blog I have posted another cauliflower recipe. Enjoy.

These beans are a real treat - it is the latest we have ever had fresh green beans. I like beans with ginger and garlic, or with umeboshi vinegar or just butter.

The Romaine lettuce is a classic for Caesar salads. I also like to make a dressing with garlic and feta cheese, a bit of vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. I use this on spinach salads and even cooked chard as well.

Photo is of me in many layers at Turtle Lake Farmers market last Saturday.