2016, July

Farm update – 7/17/2016

IMG_20160717_223245This week’s Whole Farm basket includes a butternut squash, ⅔ lb. okra, mixed peppers (including a green bell or Marconi, a purple bell or red gypsy sweet pepper, a Cajun Belle, and several jalapeños), a head of garlic, and a bunch of basil.

A note on storing basil: putting it in the fridge is not recommended, as it will quickly develop unsightly black spots.  Simply leave it on the counter in a glass of water, where it will keep for several days. If unruly housecats rule your home and would happily eat your unattended basil (ahem, Phoenix), you can close the bag and leave it as packaged in a non-sunny spot on your counter too.

If you haven’t discovered the joy of jalapeño poppers, then I highly recommend this recipe. I modified it by using whatever cheese I had on hand (Laughing Cow Swiss cheese instead of cream cheese, shredded Italian blend cheese, no feta), and topped it with panko prior to roasting. So delicious! And once the seeds and internal membrane were removed, they really weren’t too hot. Thanks to Drew for the inspiration!

One question I get asked frequently is whether the field is irrigated. The answer is a definite yes. Without irrigation, I feel certain that we would have lost everything in the field during the dry period in May and June. Four overhead sprinklers cover almost the whole field, but only two can be running at a time. We’d been watering in the evenings after work, but trying to get in two cycles of irrigation meant that the sprinklers were often running well after dark. It was so dry that even watering in the evenings for a couple of hours wasn’t enough to keep moisture in the soil for a full day. Watering in the evening isn’t ideal anyway, as plants that don’t dry out overnight are much more likely to develop diseases. But we have actual day jobs, so what to do? Enter this week’s field innovation: an automatic four-zone faucet timer. Now the garden sprinklers come on automatically, each morning. The plants are dry by harvest time in the late afternoon, and, as important, stay dry overnight. Coincidentally, however, we’ve been getting quite a bit more rain since the arrival of the water timer. Go figure!

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 It’s been a productive weekend, including a hive inspection of the “woods hive,” our younger bees, lots of weeding, and lots of planting. The bees are doing great, but they’re testy little creatures, literally biting (ok, stinging), the hands, foreheads, and legs that feed them. By doing no more than approaching the hive and removing a mason jar from the entrance of the hive to refill it with sugar water, we’ve accrued five stings in recent days, even in spite of starting to wear some protective clothing. But the hive inspection shows that they’ve built up three frames of comb, brood, and honey in the past four weeks, and will soon be ready for the addition of a second brood box.

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