Monday, November 26, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
There they are, the tools of destruction: inverted buckets with the bottoms cut out and mounted on a backsplash, and loppers. Yep, turkey guillotine = loppers.
Turkey goes into scalder to loosen feathers...Turkey goes into the tumbler, which acts like tons o' fingers and plucks most feathers off.
Also known as Jerusalem Artichokes, these vigorous perennial tubers can be dug in the fall and stored in tight
containers to conserve moisture, or in the spring for an early fresh vegetable. Taste and texture resemble water
chestnuts. Also used as ornamentals for their 6' annual foliage with golden daisy-like flowers on top. Caution: plant sunchokes in an area that is easy to control; they will spread and are nearly impossible to eradicate."
So we read in the Fedco Moose Tubers Catalog last year. We were particulary interested in the Walspinel variety because of the promised rosy color. Waldspinel sunchokes are from Austria originally, wald means forest/woods and spinel is a gem. We liked the idea of planting an invasive forest gem because we have some great perimeter woods that needed something low maintenance. Besides, sunchokes are indigenous to NE, though the indigenous variety is called Stampede, and you can get that one from Johnny's. These guys are called Jerusalem Artichokes because of a misnomer. The Italian word for sunflower is girasole, and that sort of sounds like Jerusalem, and incredulously, the name seems to have stuck. We like calling them sunchokes because of their sunny faces all summer - a much more fitting name. We planted ours in early spring. We literally just dropped the tiller in the woods and tore up a 3'x5' spot for them. We planted 5 pounds and harvested nearly 30 pounds on November 13th. They key to keeping a nice productive sunchoke patch is to not harvest all of the little knobs, and they'll divide and proliferate in spring. Theoretically, we won't have to plant them again - unless we want to try some other varieties, of course. This year, they were the last crop out of the ground, and they all went to The Kitchen Table Bistro in Richmond for a Farmer's Dinner event on November 14th. Chef Steve Atkins roasted them and turned them into an amazing pureed soup with a brown butter drizzle and fried sage leaves. It was stupendous, and I can't help but think that they tasted particularly good because we let them sit in the ground through a couple of frosty nights. Search out sunchokes for winter eating - they're a great keeper and awfully tasty, too. They roast up nicely like potatoes and are good in gratins, soups and roasted veggie dishes. And in the spirit of the season, they think that the Wampanoag Indians of Plymoth Plantation fame are said to have eaten these and shared them with our intrepid pilgrims. Enjoy!!
You dig them up with a pitchfork, trying really hard not to spear them with the tines. Note my interested helpers standing by...
There they are! They just kept coming, and I'm sure I missed enough to ensure a good crop next year!
He does love hiking in the woods...
Bumping along Intervale road to the farm...
and howling with the pack!
Mr. S doesn't howl.
He's frisky and crazy and a lot of fun!
More as he grows up....
My whole Dia de los Muertos theme was going to be about the taking down of the mighty hoophouse trellis system accompanied with pictures of the mighty soldiers falling as we took them down. Well, at any rate, I get to show off my nifty Muertos figurines and we can remember our dedicated crops and how well they served us! This year we did only tomatoes in the hoophouse for the majority of the season - we did have mache in there in the winter, head lettuces in the spring, and then the tomatoes soldiered through the rest of the summer. We had around 500 plants in the greenhouse, which really turned into a jungle, they did so well! We did plant some tomatoes in the field, but after having such incredible quality in the hoophouse, we begin to wonder why we grow anything in the field! It's so nice to have to worry so little about diseases (it's not raining on the plants and spreading disease), pests (bugs have a harder time finding the plants) and watering (we set up the infrastructure in the early spring, so we're always able to water), and the marketability of the crops is so much greater - the fruits are much higher quality. So, there it is - we loved our hoophouse and plan to expand the amount of our acreage that is under cover in the very near future, barring approval through a lot of red tape with putting up agricultural structures at the Intervale. More on this later.
It was very satisfying to finally find our tomatoes dead on the morning of October 29th after a much awaited killing frost. We were so ready to be done with tomatoes, that we actually left the sides of the hoophouse open so that they would freeze. We were done canning, and ready to clean up and plant the mache for next year, so we were glad that Nature did the deed for us! It took us about four hours to clean it out after we harvested the surviving tomatoes - around 80#, I'd say. It's the latest harvest we've had of tomatoes yet, which is testament to the awesome power of the hoophouse! Now there's 12 quarts more sauce in our cupboard, and the hoophouse is spic and span! It is kind of sad to see the huge midden pile we've created with the dead tomato plants, but they have served us well, and we can't wait to see them next year! We planted the mache, watered it all, and called 'er done for the year. Thank you tomatoes! They were the number 2 crop this year, trailing behind the mighty micros, no small feat!
We had so many nice days this fall, it was hard to decide when to plant our cover crop this year, but we did decide to put it in October 11th, a task we always enjoy. This year we did a rye, pea, vetch mix on our main field - we hand broadcasted it as we do every year. Sure, we could use a tractor, but why do that when it is so much fun to just feel the grains slipping through our fingers as we purposefully fling it about? Remember in the movie Amelie when she described one of her favorite feelings - pushing her hand into a barrel of lentils or rice or peas at the market? It's sort of like that. Maybe that's why we grow microgreens the way we do - I really like the feel of the seeds in my fingers as I mini broadcast onto the seedling trays.... But I digress. Thanks for a great year, tomatoes! Enjoy your rest, we expect great things from you next year!