This harvested parsnip root only hints at the massive root systems that plants have down there. Mature parsnips can root down to 9 feet (2.7m), and spread up to 3′ (0.9m) in the top 10″ (25cm) of soil. Other garden veggies are generally as impressive in the root department. When we harvest, most of the delicate root network is torn off, and we only get to see the bigger, tougher parts, the taproot or the root ball. This pic is from an old post I ran into, a flashback to Oct. 2008: there’s more words and another long-rooted-parsnip pic at Root love! (The arm-and-hand model is Lynn.)
During the growing season, tiny farming can be kinda all-consuming—lots to do!—and it’s easy to wind up in a rather pleasant local bubble, especially if you’ve turned the daily news OFF: watching this documentary last night, RIP: A Remix Manifesto (2008), popped that bubble for me, for a while. Although this doc is on the surface mainly about music, remixing and mashups, copyrights and intellectual property law, it’s REALLY about…EVERYTHING, and independent, small-scale farming fits front and center. I could go on (rapidly vanishing control of SEED comes to mind), but it’s more of a watch-it-and-see-what-YOU-make-of-it deal—at least catch the last 30-40 minutes. It can be a little scary, that feeling of larger human forces and events surrounding you just a little beyond your ability to focus clearly on what’s going on or how it’s affecting you on the day-to-day. Still, you don’t have to be an activist or on a mission from God to save the food system or the entire planet, I think we all need to feel our place in the larger scheme of things. On that basis, this film can definitely be energizing and…inspiring. (Yikes, it’s that word. :) So there you have it: you can also download the doc DVD, for $0.00 or more, you choose, at RIP: A Remix Manifesto (click “you name the price”), or link to the online version at Canada’s National Film Board. Now, I’ve gotta pick up a new front tractor tire for the little Kubota and till up this year’s garlic patch. Back to the local… :)
[Fri, Sep 16, 2011] First frost wasn’t too bad at all, a patchy frost that hit the field lightly, and in some areas, hardly at all. Still, the row cover, over some beans, peppers, eggplant, and a couple of beds of cherry tomato, worked out well, the exposed plants in those areas did get mildly to quite well…toasted. In the pic, we have Dusky eggplant, under its thin layer of salvation. Raising the floating row cover with a few non-pointy sticks, so it’s not pressing on the leaves, is a good idea—moisture often collects where the leaves touch the cover, freezes, and can deliver some pretty severe leaf burn. But for mature plants at this point in the season, I usually don’t worry about that—it’s different with seedlngs at the other end—and just float on the cover and leave it at that!
Checking in on the fairly massive time investment we made in thinning 800′ of late-planted Touchon carrots—and it’s paying off! Not that there was any doubt that thinning works, it’s just so…tedious. After laying down carrot seed thick (in other words, after using the Earthway seeder), we spent hours removing thousands of extra seedlings. Because these guys went in so late, I wanted to give ‘em every shot at making the best of good weather and sizing up while they could. Now, the effect of 1″ (2.5 cm) spacing really shows. We still kept them pretty tight, thinning a few short stretches to 2″ (5 cm) for comparison, but mostly did them like this, aiming/hoping for a big yield of fairly slender full-size carrots towards the end of October. You can see, second from right, a little one that escaped. It may seem obvious, I’ve found appropriate spacing is easy to overlook or downplay. When you’ve actually seen the massive difference it usually makes, it’s hard to ignore! Think better seeder. :)
OK, perhaps not the MOST appetizing of food photos, but the point is, that’s how it looked, and it tasted great—more all-local, dead-simple cookery! Here we have my first time with this grass-feed beef honey garlic sausage from a few miles down the road—I could actually taste…honey; unusual and good! Alongside in the cast iron pan, sweet orange pepper (Orange Sun), the very last, slightly green zucchini (Golden Dawn III), and a mess of yellow cooking onion, all from the field. A little imported olive oil, salt and fresh ground black pepper, let braise-simmer for a while—an hour or so, with the zucchini added near the end—and…Bob’s yer uncle! Delicious, nutritious (I’m pretty sure), fun. :)
Red and orange peppers! It’d be nice if this was a normal sight, but with our short season and often as not inconsistent heat and sun—peppers love decent heat—peppers that fully turn color are fairly unusual in this market garden. Because they’re more uncertain, I’ve tended to give them lower priority, often transplanting them at the end of the queue, which doesn’t improve their chances. I also usually don’t mulch—peppers appreciate decent mulch of any sort (plastic especially, it’s so…efficient), the heated earth seems to really help them grow.
This year, we lucked out with the weather—unfortunately, we also planted the smallest amount of peppers ever. Oh, well, that’s how the garden gambling goes! Here we have Gypsy, a tapered hybrid that has a rather quick 65-day maturity, but takes longer to go from its pretty yellow-lime green starting color to…sweet red. I’ve grown this for a while, it always comes through, a tasty, prolific, all-purpose pepper that’s nice even when it’s not red. And then there’s the open-pollinated, heirloom Orange Sun, from seed I’ve had for years, a blocky bell pepper that needs a full 80 to 90 days, that I’ve seldom seen beyond its dark green initial color, now in a satisfyingly deep, rich orange. Taste changes with color, smoothing and sweetening—these guys are delicious!