Week 8

Lots of new crops coming in this week!  Carrots (finally!), green beans, new potatoes!

  • Carrots (“napoli” is our one and only carrot variety this year because we just love it!)
  • New Potatoes (“Yukon Gold” is this week’s variety – good for boiling, baking, roasting, mashing…)
  • Green Beans (“Provider”)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Summer Squash / Zucchini
  • Swiss Chard (Josh selected and saved seed of this rainbow variety “5 color silverbeet” that we’re using.  We’re also saving a new batch of seed with a new selection this year from last year’s overwintered plants.)
  • Italian turnip – these are more of a cooking turnip than a salad turnip and they are an experiment so let me know what you think.
  • Cucumbers – (“Tasty Jade” is the long one and “Marketmore” is the more standard length one)
  • Walla Walla sweet onions.  Their skins are more cured now so they shouldn’t need to go in the fridge.
  • Parsley

In the field we are continuing to trellis up our tomato and cucumbers so they don’t get out of hand.  When we get through one round of trellising it basically feels like we need to go back to the beginning and start the next round!  Everything just grows so fast this time of year.  I was pleasantly surprised to find some decent sized carrots in the troublesome first carrot planting we harvested from today.  I know my family will be happy to finally be eating our own carrots again.

We pulled the rest of the Walla Walla onions out of the beds they were in as their tops were fallen over indicating they were done growing (and the beds were getting weedy).  We placed them in a long narrow row in the shady grass for half a week to let the skins dry and cure a bit, and then today cut their tops and roots off for storage.  We’ll be metering them out over the next few weeks interspersed with garlic which we’ll be harvesting soon.

The rest of our onions have a ways to go yet and are usually harvested in August and September.  Mostly they look pretty good but there is one area where the onions have just not been growing at all.  They basically have stayed the same size since we put them in the ground in April.  Josh suggested it could by a “symphylan” issue, which is an insect that lives in organically-rich soil and feeds on plant roots.  I pulled up a few of the stunted plants today and the roots definitely looked like they could have been eaten.  If it is symphylans it will be the first I’ve ever noticed them at the farm, and it is a significant issue for organic growers.  There is not a whole lot of proven methods to deal with them, as far as I know, except perhaps planting potatoes in the area for a few years in a row and using bigger transplants that can outgrow their appetite.  For now, I will do some monitoring to assess if there are actually symphylans by putting out some cut potatoes on the ground as symphs are attracted to potatoes.

And now, for some info on potatoes and a recipe, from Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook, by Mi Ae Lipe

History

Potatoes are native to the mountainous Andes regions of Bolivia and Peru in South America, where they have been domesticated for over 7,000 years. The earliest wild potatoes were small, wrinkled, and extremely bitter, which challenged the native peoples to find ways to make these tubers edible. In the 16th century, Spanish explorers introduced the potato to Europe and other countries that they colonized.

Despite their obvious value as a potentially nutritious, easily cultivated sustenance crop, potatoes were not welcomed with open arms in most of Europe. In part this was due to a predictable resistance to strange, new foods and also because of the potato’s kinship to the deadly nightshade. Indeed, contact with the plant’s toxic leaves can produce skin rashes, and before advanced medical science proved otherwise, it was believed that potatoes could spread leprosy. The fact that one of Queen Elizabeth I’s chefs, inexperienced in the way of the potato, mistakenly cooked and served the poisonous leaves instead of the tubers for a royal banquet certainly did not help.

Even after confusion over which part of the plant to eat was cleared up, much of Europe regarded the tuber with disdain, calling it suitable only for lowly riffraff. However, many governments, wanting to take advantage of this economical food source, practically ordered their citizenry to eat these unfamiliar roots or devised ingenious psychological means to overcome public resistance to them.

By the 1800s, potatoes were being widely consumed across Europe. The degree to which humans can be dependent on a single food source was dramatically and tragically demonstrated during the Irish Potato Famine of 1845–49. A blight triggered by severe plant inbreeding caused a total crop failure, which (along with the forced exports of other foodstuffs from Ireland to England) led to the starvation of nearly a million people and a massive immigration of a million more Irish to American shores.

Ironically, despite the potato’s origins in the New World, it was the Scotch-Irish who brought potatoes to America. Today, Idaho is the top potato-growing state in the United States, which annually produces 45.6 billion pounds valued at over $2.6 billion.

Nutrition

Potatoes are unfairly maligned nutritionally, usually because of how they are prepared—deep-fried into french fries, made into potato chips, or mashed and adorned with plenty of high-fat toppings such as butter, cheese, bacon, and sour cream. Actually, potatoes by themselves are extremely healthful for you; they’re high in fiber, low in calories, and rich in vitamins C and B6, as well as copper, potassium (more than bananas), manganese, and tryptophan, all for just 132 calories per cup. In addition, researchers have recently identified compounds called kukoamines, which may help lower blood pressure. For maximum nutrients, leave the skins on your potatoes, where most of the tuber’s vitamins, minerals, and fiber reside.

Storage

New potatoes should be stored in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator vegetable crisper and used within 1 to 2 weeks.

Peppery Potato and Zucchini Packets on the Grill

Serves 4

  • 1½ pounds potatoes (about 6 medium), scrubbed and thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. Heat the grill.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Divide the mixture among 4 pieces of aluminum foil, placing the mixture near one end. Fold in half to form a packet; then fold the edges to seal completely.
  3. Grill the packets 25 to 30 minutes, turning over once, until the potatoes are tender when pierced.

— Featherstone Farm, Rushford, Minnesota, as appears in Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook, by Mi Ae Lipe

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