Monday, July 7, 2008

Harvest Updates

I have not been doing well at noting the crops ripening, other than in passing.

We have transitioned from spring greens and green onions to early summer things. Wheat, garlic, and shallots all reach the natural end of their life cycles and begin to wither as the days grow hotter and the nights begin, imperceptibly, to grow longer after the solstice.

We've cut some wheat, but more to go...and the sparrows are beating us to a lot of it. But, it's been a great experiment with cover cropping, and I'll surely write more about what we've done and learned in that regard, as well as what we do with the grain we harvest with a hand sickle.

Several crops have gone to seed, and we've saved seed from them. First, I noticed that turnips were germinating in profusion under a bolted volunteer turnip that was still in flower...and I realized that the volunteer turnips that were blooming had all started to "shatter"--their long, slender pods dry enough to bust open in the hot summer sun and scatter seeds nearby. So I pulled those plants and put them in a plastic tote in the barn to dry. We'll thresh them out and have them for both cover and cash crops this fall.

I used pruning shears to cut all the bolted cilantro that's nearly's full of round coriander seeds. That, too, will be dried in the barn and threshed, partly for replanting (these are the plants that overwintered, so in saving them we're selecting for hardiness), partly for use and sale as the spice. It's a refreshing taste treat to nibble on a few while I'm working in the garden.

The shallots suddenly declared their senescense by somehow ejecting themselves from the ground and mulch, lounging about on the surface to be picked up effortlessly! I want garlic to be this easy! There is a vast difference in how the several varieties did, but I think a lot of that is luck of the draw on soil history...part of one bed was long ago a sheep waste compost pile, and clearly is still much richer than the other end of the bed.

Haven't dug the garlic yet, but I need to soon. It's hip deep in foxtail and lambsquarters, and we need to put late potatoes in those beds.

Kale is doing well, some cabbage worms but not many. We pick and pick, and it doesn't seem to show in the lush bed. Today's 95 degrees had it drooping, but tonight it was straight and stiff again. Many plants droop in the heat of the day no matter how much you water minimizes leaf surface and reduces water loss. I just try not to look at them in the hot afternoon!

In other parts of the yard, we've moved from mulberries and apricots to black raspberries (along the front fence, seeded by the birds 3 or 4 years ago) and "Pristine" apples (by the parking spaces in the driveway). The apples are especially exciting--this is our first real harvest from them! At this point I'm picking up windfalls for applesauce. Since I'm not canning the applesauce but rather freezing it, I can do small batches in the evenings rather than making it an all-day ordeal. A colander half-full, quartered and cooked in a medium saucepan and run through the Foley Food Mill, yielded a quart jar full that has been supplementing breakfasts and snacks. Simple and satisfying.

Raspberries are accumulating in the freezer for fall jam-making, along with the apricot puree. But I took some and crushed them with a spoonful of honey from the farm's easy, tasty spread for a piece of toast, or topping for yoghurt!

It's easy to snag a few new potatoes from under the mulch on my way to the house for lunch. Then easy to slice them and fry them in a little oil--and top them with a little fresh sage and oregano. Nice with a fried egg, or some slices of mutton and pork summer sausage.

Suddenly I realize that, other than my convenience food indulgences, I'm eating mainly from the bounty of the farm.

It satisfies an appetite that has been hungrey since I left the farm, nearly 4 years ago.

No comments: