Friday, July 31, 2009

Weekend in New York

Gifts from the Garden

I'm leaving town tonight to visit some good friends for the weekend in the Thousand Islands region of Upstate New York. I'm really looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend. One of the great things about visiting friends in the summertime is that the question of what to bring as a gift of appreciation for your hosts is a no-brainer... everything comes straight from the garden!

Yesterday I picked some hot cherry peppers and stuffed them with sharp provolone cheese and prosciutto ham. They went into a large glass jar and then I filled it with some good Olive Oil, some additional sweet and hot peppers, and some fresh Oregano and Basil from the herb garden. These Cherry Poppers will be perfect for munching on while the house full of great chefs prepares dinner. (Everyone who will be staying at the house this weekend is a talented cook, and we all have a wonderful time preparing meals as a group production!)

This morning I went out and harvested some Detroit Red Beets, some Baby French Carrots, and some Cherry Tomatoes. These will be perfect in any type of salad we choose to make.

My weekend hosts are avid gardeners themselves, although living in upstate New York, they have had even cooler conditions than I have experienced here in the Mid-Atlantic, so I know they will appreciate anything that I can bring them straight from the soil. I had really expected to be bringing some nice ripe tomatoes with me, but I still do not have anything to harvest. (Except of course the container grown Cherry Tomatoes)

Detroit Red Beets

Baby French Carrots

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Crazy Summer

This photo is the perfect visual proof of the crazy summer weather we have had here in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Cool and rainy and windy conditions have resulted in reduced and delayed crops, especially Tomatoes. It is almost August 1st and I still do not have a ripe tomato! These conditions have also contributed to the devastating spread of Late Blight that is reeking havoc on Tomato and Potato crops.

And yet, there is always something that will manage to thrive when other crops are suffering. This season that applies to Strawberries. I typically do not have much success with Strawberries because they do not get enough direct sun in May, and then it gets too hot by the time June rolls around. This year has been more like London weather around here, and as a result, I am currently swimming in berries! Not even the rabbits can keep up with the abundance and so I am enjoying a nice bonus on a daily basis. I picked these berries this morning.... July 29th. I have never picked berries this late in the summer, and there are plenty more green berries out there.

So while I patiently wait out the arrival of red tomatoes I will continue to enjoy the pleasures of picking Strawberries in what will soon be August!

Monday, July 27, 2009

CSA Week 9

More spectacular produce from my CSA!

Just got notice that the fruit shares are going to start one week from today!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday in the garden...

I was tending to the Tomatoes this afternoon and panicked when I found a small green tomato that was half rotten. I'm so worried about Late Blight that I immediately thought the worst until I realized it was just a case of Blossom End Rot, which is not unusual in the weather conditions we have been having this season. Seems to be the only tomato that is suffering. I checked out all of the plants and couldn't find any other cases of any rotting fruit. I'm crossing my fingers keeping a careful watch.

I've been meaning to get some Fall season crops started and finally had some time today. I sowed some Arugula and Baby Bok Choi seeds in some small clay pots. I'll transfer these in early September after I harvest the carrots and beets in the new raised beds...

The Carrots seems to be doing well, but I know if they got more direct sun they would be much bigger...

The Beets don't seem to be as adversely affected by the lack of all day sun...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Late Blight Arrives!

Late Blight has arrived at Pennypack Farm, the CSA I belong to. Here is the news sent out by email yesterday from the farm...

Late Blight Arrives in Horsham
By Farmer Andy

Recall the horrible Irish potato famine of the mid 1800s - when thousands starved and countless others fled for a better place to live (and eat). None of us were around at that time, but by all accounts this was a disaster of the highest order. Basically, much of Ireland had become dependent on potatoes as their food staple and when the crop failed one year, there was not much to eat.

The cause of this historical famine is known as late blight. It is a fungus that attacks potatoes and tomatoes, and over a period of several weeks, kills its host and launches spores into the air to find new victims. It spreads quickly and thrives under cool, moist conditions. The kind of conditions we have been experiencing throughout the spring and into the summer.

There is no sliver bullet for late blight. Conventional growers use a number of highly powerful and toxic synthetic fungicides to stop the spread of the disease, but for us in the organic farming world, there are few options. We must remove any infected plants and treat all others with an organic copper fungicide, which helps slow the disease. Hot, dry weather, the kind we usually have at this time of year is our best ally. But, in the current moist conditions, this fungus is thriving.

We have been vigorously scouting our tomato and potato crops this week and removing diseased plants. So far, we have not found any evidence of the late blight on our potatoes, but it has infected approximately ten percent of our tomato crop. These plants have been disposed of and all others treated with the copper.

At this time we simply do not know what affect this will have on our overall tomato crop. I would expect, at the very least, a smaller harvest than in past years and it is unlikely that we will be able to offer tomato canning shares this season.

However, we are hopeful that by removing the diseased plants and treating the others, we will still have a reasonable tomato harvest in the coming weeks. We will keep you posted on updates on this situation as they become available. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

Monday, July 20, 2009

CSA Week 8

Summer Squash, Turnips, Onions, Cabbage, Carrots, Lemon Cucumbers, and I bought some fresh eggs just laid this morning!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Vegetable Party !

The National Constitution Center has invited Metro Farming to participate in A Vegetable Party on Friday, August 7th from Noon- 4PM at Independence Mall, and we are inviting you to come out and join the fun!

This event is part of the Into The Open exhibit running from July 15 to September 7th

The Edible Schoolyard/Yale Sustainable Food Project Model Schoolyard Garden

A Vegetable Party
Friday, August 7, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The public is invited to join in a celebration of edible education on Independence Mall. Visitors will learn about the origins of the food Americans consume, and the principles of modern ecology, as the Center showcases the efforts of local urban farmers, chefs, and activists who are working to inform students and the public about what we eat and where it comes from. Participants include The Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, the Pedal Co-Op, and Slow Food USA .
This event is inspired by the work of Alice Waters and the Yale Sustainable Food Project. Waters, a renowned chef, created this project in response to the lack of nutritious food served in California public schools. As part of Into the Open, a model garden, located in front of the National Constitution Center, will feature local seasonal vegetables and flowers. Campers attending the Center’s American Adventure Summer Camp will help plant and tend to the garden throughout the summer.

Into The Open

National Constitution Center

Monday, July 13, 2009

CSA Week 7

Turnips, Zucchini, JalapeƱo Peppers, Onions, Lemon Cucumbers, Beets, Herbs

Photography as Sequence

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Giant-Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Every summer the Bumblebees go crazy for my Russian Sage Giant-Hyssop and I love to just watch them buzz from flower to flower...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Squash Curry

Yellow Summer Squash looks so good at the farmer's market, you bring it home and then think "what am I going to do with it?". Well, my simplest recommendation is to just quarter it and then steam it and serve with some butter and a little salt & pepper. Absolutely delicious! But if you are looking for something with a bit more kick, then you could give this easy curry a try. The basic ingredients for this Thai style curry are Red Curry Paste and Coconut Milk...

Start by cooking some sweet onions in some butter (ghee) and oil...

When the onions have begun to break down, I add some freshly grated Nutmeg and Cinnamon...

Now equal dollops of Chili Sauce and Red Curry Paste...

Let this cook down. The Curry paste needs to fry to release it's flavors...

three or four diced Summer Squash...

Garlic Scapes or minced Garlic...

Some chopped Mushrooms...

Chopped fresh Basil...

Let everything simmer together for a few minutes...

Now add one can of Coconut Milk...

Gently simmer on very low flame for about 10 minutes. Do not bring the Coconut Milk to a boil...

Serve over steamed rice with some Tandoori Naan on the side...

Note- With the Chili Sauce and Red Curry paste this has quite a bit of heat and spice to it, but not what I would consider overpowering. It is a gradual heat that comes on slowly. Back off of the amount of Chili Sauce if you want less heat.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

CSA Week 6

Goodies brought home yesterday from my CSA, Pennypack Farm in Horsham, Pa.

Collard Greens, Basil, Cabbage, Lemon Cucumbers, Green Cucumbers, Yellow Summer Squash, and Zucchini.

Monday, July 6, 2009

heavenly scents...

This is a wonderful combination of herbs for drying. Lavender and Mint. Select the Lavender after it has flowered, and the mint just before it flowers. In my herb garden that is happening simultaneously. Just hang them together in a cool dark place, or dehydrate them in a convection oven as I do to save time.

The scent of the Lavender and Mint combination is incredible. I used plain old Spearmint here, but you could create some really interesting combinations with some of the hundreds of varieties of mints that are available at garden centers these days.

Lavender flowers and leaves make a nice tea, especially when mixed with mint. Lavender is also used in aromatherapy for stress relief and to fight depression.
Sprinkle some of these dried herbs into a hot bath or just keep them in a small dish in the bathroom or bedroom.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

go bee go!

tiny bee pollinating one of my future pumpkins...

Turnip Miso Soup

A friend of mine asked me what I do with Turnips. My quick answer would be that I simply steam them and then toss with a little butter and black pepper. How can you go wrong? But here is another way to use Turnips in a Miso soup where the diced Turnips substitute for Tofu and the Turnip greens substitute for the seaweed that would typically be found in Miso soup.

The only thing you will need for this soup is some Miso paste, some chili sauce, and some chicken or vegetable stock. For Miso soup I would normally use a vegetable or mushroom stock, but all I had on hand was chicken stock...

Start by cooking down some onions and garlic (here I am using Garlic Scapes) in some oil...

Then add about a tablespoon of Chili sauce. You can skip this if you want a milder tasting Miso. This Chili sauce will definitely add some heat to the soup...

After the onions have turned translucent, add some diced yellow squash and turnips...

Then add chopped Turnip Greens...

Let these ingredients cook down a bit...

Add about a cup of stock and a good dollop of Miso paste...

Add water as needed and gently simmer until the vegetables are tender. Do not allow Miso soup to boil... just a low gentle heat...

This is a wonderful version of Miso soup... Enjoy!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!!

I can't think of a better way to spend the Fourth of July than to putter around the garden, enjoying the sunshine and freedom! Thank you USA!

While waiting for the fireworks to start I cut some Oregano stalks just before they started to flower. This is the best time to dry them, as this is when they have the most intense flavor. If you wait until after they have flowered, they will lose quite a bit of intensity.

dried oregano

I have a dehydrate setting on my convection oven. I just spread the Oregano stalks out on a cookie sheet covered with foil, and in about an hour at 160 degrees, the Oregano is completely dried out. You could just as easily hang the herbs upside down in a dark dry place and achieve the same results in a couple of days.

All you have to do when they have dried out is pull the stalk gently through your hands while holding over a wide mouth jar or bowl. I now have enough dried Oregano to last until next summer, and I plan to do this with all of the herbs in my garden.

These are perfect for herb butters, infused oils, and herb vinegars. Look for future posts on how to use fresh garden herbs for these and other gourmet creations.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

free grounds...

I've mentioned this before on this blog, but it is worth a reminder that you can walk into any Starbucks coffee shop and ask for used coffee grounds for the garden. This morning I scored two nice sized bags! Adding coffee grounds to your garden soil adds Nitrogen and acts as a pest preventer...

thank you Starbucks!

Walking around the garden tonight I noticed the first real tomato on one of my seed started Amish heirlooms...

Amish baby

... and a rare sight in my garden. A juicy red strawberry! Almost every ripe strawberry gets eaten by the squirrels and skunks, so finding a ripe one for myself is a real treat!

a rare find