Week 8: July 26
What’s in your Share This Week?
Sugar Snap Peas
The New Stuff: How to eat it, cut it, cook it, and keep it:
Purplettes are our earliest-maturing onion on the farm. They are meant to be harvested with green tops, which you can enjoy just like green onions. As for the onion bulb itself, it’s fairly mild – wonderful raw or cooked. We sliced some up the other night and grilled them with olive oil and salt – alongside some fennel, beets, and zucchini. Yummers. They will store for a week or two with tops in a plastic bag in the fridge.
The purplettes kick off the Allium harvest on the farm. Maturing behind them this year are Walla Walla Sweet Onions, a red storage onion, a yellow storage onion, three types of shallots, and two varieties of leeks. In general, I’ve noticed that onions take much longer to mature here on the southcoast than they did on Sauvie Island (where I farmed near Portland) or in California (where I worked for another organic farmer for a season). We were often pulling out the storage onion crop in mid-July in those places, whereas here we usually don’t pull the storage onions until mid-September – most likely due to our overall cooler summer temperatures.
Some of you may be wondering about the other key member of the Allium family: garlic. We haven’t grown garlic in years, after getting wiped out time and time again by white rot, a soil-borne disease that seems to thrive on our place. We may make another attempt on a new piece of ground this fall and see if we can out-run the rot.
Baby “Betty Olson” Carrots
You’re all enjoying the first carrot harvest this week, thanks entirely to Betty Olson of Port Orford – your fellow Harvest Basket member who has been coming to the farm and rescuing beds of carrots from the weeds. The carrots we dug for you this week came from the very first surviving bed we seeded in early May. It BARELY survived, which means we dug every last carrot in the bed in order fill your totes this week. They are mostly Mokums, an early sweet orange carrot variety, but mixed in you might also find a Rainbow carrot or two – purple, white, red and yellow roots. For best storage results, top them and keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Overall, the carrot field is starting to look better thanks to all the weeding we’ve been doing AND thanks to excellent germination in the more recently seeded beds. My guess is that it’s going to be a great carrot year, but a late one. I’ve seeded a bunch of extra beds to make up for our spring losses, and they’re coming on thick. We’ll do our best to get you carrots as often as possible in the coming weeks, but the steady, heavy harvest probably won’t be here until late summer.
I won’t even bother to tell you how to prepare these little orange candy sticks: after months without homegrown carrots, we go into a fever over the first carrot harvest. Most of the time we eat them straight out of the ground with nothing more than a cursory dirt swipe on the leg of our already dirty pants! Nevertheless, they are great prepared in all kinds of other manners: steamed, sautéed, soup-ed, carrot caked, salad-ed, etc. There are lots of carrot recipes to be found on the Recipe Wizard, including a recipe for carrot top soup…..enjoy!
You can thank my mom for these little morsels. She’s the cucumber/zucchini/tomato/pepper/basil diva at Valley Flora – and in that niche she grows the truest tastes of summer. The tomatoes and peppers are still a ways off, but the cukes and zukes are starting to come on strong. You should see them almost weekly for the next couple of months.
Zucchini and summer squash don’t store very well in the fridge. They’ll keep for up to a week refrigerated in a plastic bag, but often start to grow scum after that. Outside the plastic bag, they often go limp in the fridge. The fact is, they prefer to be kept at about 50 degrees – which can be a hard temperature to find in the summertime. Your best option: eat them within 4-5 days and look forward to the next batch!
The Hakureis aren’t new to any of you, but take note: this later planting is spicier than the spring plantings we sent out a month+ ago. They’ve got a little more of a radish kick, but still have that same wonderful creamy texture.
On the Farm…
Last summer a wonderful thing happened: my dear friend Marisa from Hilo, Hawaii, got on an airplane, flew to Oregon, found a ride from Portland, and arrived at the farm for the month of September. She dug potatoes like a machine, pulled carrot weeds until dark, got up at 5:30 am on harvest mornings, and picked so many strawberries her index fingers cracked. Then she would come home, can all the tomatoes, freeze all the berries, bake a cobbler, cook dinner, wash the dishes, and rub my shoulders.
She referred to it as a “vacation.” (!?!)
I referred to it as “crazy.”
This year, she came back for more, proving that I was right.
But what a godsend! She and I farmed together for two years on Sauvie Island before she moved back to her native Hawaii, and she knows her stuff. She is an ace greens buncher, a lightening fast weeder, an expert pipe mover, a devoted food preservationist, and Valley Flora’s biggest berry fan. She’s also a mere 5’ tall (hence her nickname, “The Littlest Farmer”), an occupational therapist, and the most rock steady friend, companion and fellow farm-mate I’ve ever known. (What I would do to ensnare her here in Langlois forever!).
She’s here for two and a half weeks this summer – a visit that is fast flying by for us - which means we are constantly hatching plans for how she can quit her job in Hilo, live in Langlois for half the year, open a homemade local, seasonal ice cream shop next to the Greasy Spoon, and farm with the Florettes. We can’t help ourselves.
In the meantime, we revel in the good homemade dinners, dunks in the creek, and long productive days on the farm together – and hope, hope, hope that someday our lives are able to collide for months at a time - not weeks - on the banks of Floras Creek…(or on the shores of the Big Island – that doesn’t sound so bad either.)