Field Notes - Cold nights! I am always ambivalent - great sleeping weather, but the cool nights really slow down the heat loving crops like tomatoes and peppers - even in a greenhouse. Ken has been dutifully clipping up the tomatoes so they can grow up, not out and break. He is also irrigating the greenhouses. Greenhouses mean that summer rainstorms no longer mean a break - one simply moves into the greenhouse to work! Last week's rain was welcome; the soil outside the greenhouses had gotten the driest this season.
Ken has also been dutifully cultivating. After falling behind last season due to a spider bite, Ken is particularly anxious not to let that happen again. June and early July are crucial times for crop maintenance. Once the crops have gotten large enough to form canopy they are large enough to stay a step ahead and shade weeds. Cultivating and weeding continues, but usually the crop is not at risk of being stunted and lost in the weeds.
Ken is also planting. There are many fall crops that are planted now. Sometimes this presents a challenge as the plants that love cool fall weather do not necessarily germinate well in summer heat.
From the Kitchen. Summer is here on many fronts - we had a glut of lettuce and now we have less. But there are other delightful vegetables to fill the gap - we have the last of the Chinese cabbage and the early sweet summer cabbage is starting. Both are wonderful for salads or cooked. Sometimes when Ken brings in the first of the summer cabbage he simply cuts it into quarters lengthwise and steams it. Then he either tops it with some butter, salt and pepper or umeboshi paste. Umeboshi are pickled plums so they have a great combination of flavors - sweet from the fruit and salty and sour from the pickling process. Although the container looks expensive, a little goes a long way so it is worth the investment. We use umeboshi paste or vinegar on many vegetables - brassicas, green beans even sweet corn!
Celery makes a great cream soup that can be served hot or cold. I saute onion and celery, simmer in stock until they are soft, process in a food mill or processor add herbs and salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a dollop of yogurt.
Dill is a nutritional power house. We have read that it surpasses parsley - wow. I like dill paired with fish, added to soups like borscht with beets, carrots, and a stir fry with chicken. This is dill's natural season, and now is when it is at its prime - many people dry or freeze dill to make pickles later in the season.
'Til Next Week, Judith