This week’s Whole Farm basket includes a dozen farm-fresh eggs, plus your choice of one large and one small item from the following lists. Large items: eggplant medley, assorted peppers (1.25 lb), sweet potato greens. Small items: Asian eggplant, edamame, green bell peppers, sweet banana peppers, basil bouquet.
It’s official, summer tomato season is finally over. We ripped out the last of the summer tomatoes this weekend. No worries though, the tomatoes that were planted for fall are growing nicely. Completely unplanned and coincidentally, I took my first batch of this summer’s tomato sauce out of the freezer today to accompany eggplant parmesan. It was so good, and made me grateful for the time I spent blanching and cooking down those tomatoes many weeks ago to have an easy dinner tonight. And as some of this year’s goodies are coming out of the freezer, still more are going in. We froze about two gallons of finely diced bell peppers to add to chilis, stews, and pizzas over winter and also had time to pickle another batch of banana peppers.
In addition to removing the last of the tomato plants, we also cut back our basil this weekend to encourage continued growth. As I was snipping flowers, I happened to notice two honey bees foraging though the basil patch. Although pollinators of all kinds buzz in abundance among the basil, I feel like I rarely see honey bees visiting basil flowers. What was even more interesting was that the two honey bees seemed to have different strategies. One was only visiting flowers that were completely open, and in her brief visit to each flower she was pretty clearly focused on collecting pollen from the exposed anthers. The other bee was visiting mostly closed flowers, and she spent much more time at each flower, probing deeply inside to find something – pollen or nectar, I can’t be sure. In keeping with their different strategies, the bees had different colors of pollen in their corbiculae (the little basket on their rear legs in which they collect and store pollen until depositing it in the hive). The open-flower forager was carrying orange pollen, while the closed-flower forager had white. As I’ve said before, it’s so interesting what you can learn just by being still a minute and observing the world, and fascinating too how such an experience can leave you with more questions than answers. I’d love to know if there were real functional differences in how each bee was accomplishing her daily chores.
As summer winds down, if not yet noticed in decreasing temperatures, then at least in shorter days, we continue caring for the veggies that will go in for fall. As it turns out, the truly cool-weather crops like cauliflower, broccoli, and kohlrabi were not too happy in the trapped afternoon summer heat of the greenhouse. They have been moved outside to a spot that is shaded from mid-morning onward, and that seems to have helped their growth and appearance. The beets, Swiss chard, and tat soi, on the other hand, have no complaints about the warmth and seem content so far to remain in the greenhouse.