Elysian Fields Farm
Wednesday May 28th, 2003
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So we have received a good amount of rain this past week. A few of the effects of that have been beneficial to the crops while a few have been detrimental, but manageable. To start on the positive side, the veggies always love to get a good drink and of course not having to irrigate is always a nice bonus for me. On the other hand, the rain can be excessive to the point were most of the nutrients that have been put in the soil can be easily leached out. Now this is relative depending on what kind of soil you have, what kind of nutrients we are talking about and how much rain you receive. Here at the farm, the soil is very sandy, for those of you who have not been to visit (shame on you : ) !) you may be surprised to hear that the Cedar Grove soil is not the typical orange county clay that we are all so familiar with. The soil I have is very sandy and fine (good for growing long root crops like carrots!) and very low in organic matter due to years of conventional tobacco production. Sandy loam soil does not bond with nutrients and organic matter the way that clay soils do, and soils rich in organic matter.
What this means is that we just need to make sure that we are continually adding enough nutrients, the crops we want to grow, require. This is fine and manageable, just though I would give you some insight onto what we have been working on lately, and how much growing itself is run by, and a reaction to, the natural cycles. I enjoy the constant challenges and changes!
In addition to leaching, the rain helps grow a wide array of weeds here at the farm, with ragweed and crab grass among the worst in these warmer months. We typically try to knock out the weeding and fertility boosting in one shot by sprinkling feather meal on a bed first, then using a scuffle hoe to week in-between the rows to catch the weeds and work in the fertilizer. Feather meal is an organic fertilizer made from a variety of ground feathers, bones and a few other strange but natural byproducts of the chicken processing industry. It contains 13% nitrogen and is the main source of fertilizer we use here on the farm.
Oh yes, and can't forget the effect the rain has had on the strawberries. The berries, being such a soft and delicate fruit, are very sensitive to excessive rains. The fruits can rot very easily in constant rain, and even if they have not rotten, will not last as long once harvested. Who ever keeps strawberries hanging around though, the temptation is too great! Anyhow, you may receive some next week but at this point the season for them is also coming to an end here at the farm. Strawberries are good while they last, and fortunately we have blueberries to look forward to in about a month or so.
The full shares this week have received Sugarsnax carrots. The are your usual long orange and sweet carrot. The half shares this week have received Parmex carrots, and specialty variety that has a different and unusual look and flavor. The Parmex is nugget shaped, sort on round, pudgy and short. The look much prettier than they sound! The are also quit tasty with sweetness but also a nice more intense deeper flavor. See if you can put the flavor to words and let me know. Andy, one of the employees here, had mentioned once 'nutty' to describe them.
Daucus carota, the common carrot as we know it, belongs to the umbeliferae family. Among the other 2500 members are parsley, celery, parsnip, cilantro, fennel, caraway, dill and Queen Anne's lace. The first cultivated varieties of carrots were white and purple. The orange color we are familiar with did not appear until the 1600's in the Netherlands. Carrots are high in Vitamin A and beta-carotene, the substance responsible for their orange color. It is also high in fiber, calcium and potassium.
Remove greens and refrigerate carrots in a plastic bag. Undamaged carrots should last 2-4 weeks when placed in the refrigerator properly. You can also freeze carrots for long- term storage, blanch for 3 minutes, rinse in cold water, drain and pack into an airtight container.
You can, of course, eat carrots raw or cooked. Either way I encourage you to not peel the skin off, but rather just to wash the sand, if any, off prior to eating. Carotene and trace minerals are close to the carrot's skin surface. Also, since they were grown organically and locally you don't have to worry about what may be on them or how they have been handled. Fresh carrots can be chopped into a green salad or stir-fry. Light steaming will also retain most of the nutrients, about 5-10 minutes. Surprisingly, carrot greens can be chopped into green salad or stir-fry. They can also be dried or used fresh as an herb like Parsley, for those adventurous folks.
What to look forward to...
Next week we will have more carrots for folks. An exciting twist on the traditional carrot is the red and yellow colored varieties which I have tried this year. The don't seem as productive as the usual orange carrot, but are so fun and distinct that I couldn't help but try some. Beets will be given again as well as more lettuce. We will have cabbage next week so go ahead and look up your favorite coleslaw recipe. One thing that is very exciting to me is that yesterday I spotted the first tiny bean on the bean plants. it was not even a half an inch, but on its way. The summer squash is also in its infant stage, but will be a week or probably two before we will see them in the shares. Basil as well will be soon, yum, summer. Once again, please let me know if you have any thoughts, questions or concerns. I have received a few emails here and there, but would love to hear from more of you. I can only know how you feel about the shares if you tell me! Okay, no more guilt trip : ) Elise.
Elysian Fields Farm: Community Supported Agriculture