Bidding Farewell to the Strawberries
Most likely this is the last week you’ll be seeing that sweet little pint of strawberries in your tote. We had an INCREDIBLE September – sunny and hot – which has kept the berries going longer and stronger than we ever hope to hope! All told, you’ve received 24 pints of strawberries this season, equal to two flats per Harvest Basket!
Usually by now a rainstorm or two has wiped the berries out and we move on – somewhat gratefully - to other autumn crops. Those first rains are also usually our cue to begin focusing on cover-cropping on the farm: planting “green manure” crops like oats, rye, vetch, field peas, and clover that will sprout this fall, grow through the winter, and get incorporated into the fields next spring. Cover crops provide a host of benefits to our little farm ecosystem, including protection from soil erosion in the winter, an annual boost of natural nitrogen and organic matter, and fodder and habitat for pollinators and farm critters of all stripes.
Cover crops are as critical to the ecological health of the farm as cash crops are to its economic health, and they are tops on my list of things I love to grow. Sowing wide swaths of oats and peas on a crisp Fall day has a nostalgic feel to it, especially with Maude, my draft horse, plodding away in front as we disc and roll in the seed. Practically all of the cash crops we grow require labor-intensive transplanting or precise direct seeding. Cover cropping, on the other hand, is a chance to throw bushels of seed to the wind, roll it in with the horse, and then watch as our “second spring” arrives: the greening of the fields as thousands of cover crop seeds germinate.
This year, in the absence of any rain thus far, we’re having to bite the bullet and pull the plug on certain crops – like the strawberries – that might yield for another few weeks of good weather, but at the peril of missing our primo cover cropping window (which is the next three weeks). After late October, the chances of getting a good stand of cover crop are practically nil: the days are too short and the temperatures are too chilly to encourage good growth.
So enjoy this last pint of berries, knowing that a healthy stand of peas, oats, vetch and clover will soon be growing in their stead, bringing long-term benefits to the farm.
P.S. There might still be some berries for sale at the farmstand on Saturdays while the weather holds, picked from the few beds we are not tilling under this Fall!
New Fall Farmstand Hours: Saturdays ONLY from 10 am to 2pm
The end of the strawberries – including the u-pick strawberries – means we are switching to our once a week Fall farmstand hours as of this Saturday, October 6th. We will be open every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm, through November 17th! The autumn abundance is awesome right now, as summer crops collide with fall food: peppers, tomatoes, chard, kale, onions, potatoes, leeks, spinach, salad mix, melons, apples, beets, carrots, zucchini, herbs, and much more. We might even be harvesting our first mini crop of table grapes in the next few weeks!
Lacinato Kale & Leeks This Week
The dark blue-green kale in your tote is Lacinato, also called “Dinosaur” kale, Tuscan kale, or Cavalo Nero. Beloved in Italy, this is also one of our favorite autumn varieties. It gets nothing but sweeter and tastier as cold weather sets in, so you should see it again in a month or so. The easiest way to strip the dark leaves from the tough mid-rib is to grab either side of the rib at the base with one hand and use your other hand to pull the leaves off in the other direction with one quick swipe.
Leeks are the other newbie in the tote this week. Long and lean and lovely, leeks are a quintessential fall food. They can be used exactly like onions in any application (they’re not just for potato leek soup!). Here’s a trick for prepping leeks in the kitchen, because they can sometimes hang on to field dirt: Cut the root end and top off your leek (you can use these for making your own veggie stock if you’re so inclined). Cut the leek in half lengthwise. Then cut the leek into slices cross-wise. Put into a colander and run under cold water to rinse any dirt from the inner “rings” of the leek. Shake dry and proceed with your cooking….
Store in the fridge in a plastic bag; should hold for a couple weeks at least.
Cranky Baby Hot Sauce: Put some spice in you life!
This year’s Serrano hot pepper crop is coming on strong, which means Bets is at it again in the farm kitchen, brewing up batches of her infamous Cranky Baby Hot Sauce. Handcrafted at the farm with homegrown hot peppers that are vine-ripened to a sassy red in her greenhouses, this Tabasco-like hot sauce strikes the perfect balance between hot, sweet and tangy. Makes a great gift, or a standby condiment in your own kitchen (we go through it by the gallon!).
Available by the bottle, half case, or case:
- $5/bottle (5 oz)
- $27/half case (6 bottles)
- $48/case (12 bottles)
To order, please email us your: name, pickup location, and the quantity of bottles you would like. We will deliver to your pickup site.
In your share this week:
- Head Lettuce
- Lacinato Kale
- Sweet Peppers
- Hot Peppers
- Tomatoes – Red Slicers
- Red Beets
This means that some pickup locations will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.
- Cherry Tomatoes
The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your Share Next week
Remember, no promises!
- Head Lettuce
- Sweet Peppers
- An herb of some kind
- Napa Cabbage
- Red Potatoes
Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.
For recipes and ideas, check out these links:
Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites
Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient
A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients
A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient
A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes