Jerusalem artichoke is the crop least fazed by this crazy, slow-growth summer of cloud and rain. The chokes have been in the ground since May, through the whole thing, and thrived through it all. This bed is right in the middle of the open field, but neither unchecked wind nor nasty hail has set it back. The tallest plants are approaching 8′ (2.4 m), a record for anything in this garden!
Archives for August 2008
Somehow, I always forget to take enough pictures at the market, of things like setting up the stand. It’s really great, how a plain old small town street, in about an hour, turns into a…farmers’ market. For our stand, basic set-up and teardown—canopy, table, sales gear—is only a matter of maybe 20 minutes at each end. Because I don’t drive, our stand is different from most, where a truck or trailer is the usual veggie stand backdrop. Bob drops us off in the morning in a pick-up: a self-contained veggie sales outpost. When it’s all over, with empty containers nested and packing volume much reduced, we get picked up by truck or smaller mini-van. Here, Lynn and I wait for our ride. There are garlic and potatoes left in a basket and a trug, and the four bins contain mostly crop residue, a bit of miscellaneous garbage, and odds and ends of unsold produce. Neat!
Just a few sunny days and the new planting of snap beans have sized up perfectly for the Friday harvest. They’re the crop of the week, a shade on the young side, maybe 2-3 days from being fully filled out, super-long and slender, with firm, thin pods (compared to the sturdier skins of the slower-growing first set), and only a hint of the actual bean inside. Cool! Because everything is fresh-picked on Fridays, regardless of when the “perfect” picking day may’ve been, it’s interesting to see what the luck of the draw brings to certain crops. These beans are an example. By being a little early, I lose a bit of yield, maybe 10-15%, but the beans are at that elusive, slightly young stage. Mesclun may reach that perfect first cut, when the leaves are still mild-tasting and almost melt-in-your-mouth, on, say, a Monday or Tuesday, and, especially if there’s sunny weather, grow past it by the Friday—still excellent, but a little firmer and stronger-tasting. Same for some of the fastest growing summer squash, like the zucchinis, which can practically double in size in 4-5 days. I’ve found the picking window for tasty veggies is usually quite forgiving for even the fastest growers, at least a week in summer and longer in the fall. As always, it’s mainly about the weather: how much heat, sun, and moisture they get. Since I’m not harvesting or sorting for uniformity—I don’t NEED carrots of a certain length and diameter and so forth—there are no worries on this front, and it’s fun to see and eat the variations of each crop and planting at each harvest all through the season….
Can’t quite seem to stop planting! Lynn and Libby put in a last 200 or so lettuce seedlings to see how far they’ll go in fall growth. The soil is still moist an inch (2.5cm) or so down, but the surface is way DRY from a few days of sun and breeze, so we watered in these guys—the weather’s been great, sunny and warm this week…and it’s back to the hoses!
It took a while, but I finally dragged out the classic no-frills barbecue and continued the simpler BBQ approach started last season. This time around, I stumbled onto lump charcoal, which is pure wood carbon, and a step back from additive-rich preformed briquettes (I’m not all that serious about this, I just grabbed a bag and…discovered lump!). And so, on to the basic, quick-lunch-in-the-field experience, with garden veggies plus meat that the local independent butcher declares to be “local” (at least, from around us here in the province of Ontario). Chicken, pork, and several types of pork sausage, plus zucchini, onion, sweet and hot peppers, and cherry tomatoes from the garden. Also tossed rosemary branches right onto the coals for some aromatic smoke—between the breeze and the open grill, it didn’t do much flavoring, but it smelled nice! Cooking time is made easy by putting only one type of meat or veg per skewer—just slide off what you want and combine in your mouth! Simple and…tasty!!
Not much to look at, yet, but the last plantings of 50-day-plus fall crops are doing fine. Here, carrots and, protected from flea beetles by floating row cover, one of two sections of brassicas, including broccoli, cauliflower and kale. There’s a bit of timing risk here, depending on the weather, if growing goes slow, they might not make it to maturity in time for market. But the sun’s been shining for a couple of days now, and the long range forecast is for more of the same. If all goes well, these will be ready for harvest through October!
And the summer-seeded spinach couldn’t be doing better. There are two plantings, the first on July 22, and the second (left of the photo) a couple of weeks later. Here, Lynn hoes the first set: in this summer’s wet, cooler, cloudier conditions, germination was absolutely solid, as good as or better than regular spring seedings. Fall spinach has never been this good, by far. Excellent!