Farm News- July 7, 2011

Circle Brook Farm
Circle Brook Farm

Hi Folks,

Happy Independence Day! It was a glorious week; plenty of sunshine, not too hot and no rain. That was until Saturday night when thunderstorms returned and dropped another 1.5 inches of rain on us. It was getting a bit dry and we needed rain, but this was a little more than we bargained for. I’ve been trying to plant the winter squash crop and it’s getting late, since most varieties need more than 3 months to mature. It will now be several days before the fields dry and I can begin seeding again. Here’s hoping for a warm September and a late October first frost!

We’re cutting lots of broccoli at the moment and it is some of the best quality that I have seen from a summer crop, one of the good consequences of all the wet weather. It does, however, seem to be turning yellow very quickly, so I recommend using it promptly. We’ve also begun to see a fair amount of cauliflower and we will include this in the shares as availability allows over he next several weeks. Some may be a yellow variety called Cheddar. We’ve been harvesting summer squash now for about 10 days; unfortunately, the deer developed a taste for it and are inflicting substantial damage. We put up a temporary fence around it but they still manage to find their way inside. If you have not yet received any we will try to send you some this week. We are still waiting for the carrots and beets to size up; the wet spring meant a late planting for these crops. In the meantime time you will have to endure another week of turnips or radishes as the root vegetable. In the allium category we have Elephant garlic, a mild flavored cousin of real garlic, more closely related to leeks than to true garlic. A favorite use for this bulb is roasting it whole and making a paste to be used as a spread on bread or crackers. We still have a lot of dill and cilantro but it is at the point of bolting and must be cut. Once it is done, it will be a while until we have it again as I have not been able to get a second planting in yet.There will be basil and other herbs in next week’s share.

Speaking of bolting, I’ve been asked to explain what the term means. Essentially it is the beginning of the flowering process of a plant. Many plants like lettuce and escarole grow in what is called a rosette form, a compact low growing plant. When the plants reach a certain age, or when stressed by heat or dry conditions, it begins to stretch out and send a flower stalk up through the middle of the plant. This process causes biochemical changes in the plant causing the leaf to become very bitter even before the stalk has fully emerged. We try to be vigilant and watch for the early signs of this process, but time and storage space sometimes preclude a timely harvest. At this point in the season we have lost hundreds of heads of lettuce and now have thousands of heads in refrigerated storage.

The share for this week will be:
Green leaf lettuce, broccoli, daikon or red skinned turnips, peas, Napa cabbage, kale, radicchio, Elephant garlic, and choice of an herb.

— Farmer John

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