The Best of Both Worlds

Looking at the baby beets and new lettuce in this week’s order, one would almost think we had drifted back to early summer. And yet the order also includes a beautiful array of tomatoes (a mixture of Oxheart, Russian persimmon, small early red tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes), a mountain of zucchini, honeydew melon (plus another muskmelon for full shares), and Hot Hungarian Wax peppers (for winter members). The best of both worlds.

Here on the farm, harvest continues to go well. We have thrashed an impressive number of dried beans, braided the garlic, dug all the onions, and have even begun the potato harvest. It goes so quickly when no cleaning is necessary, and with chances of showers later this week, Judy is out digging as I write, trying to get as many potatoes as possible in while the going is still good. This week’s orders include the usual potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic.

Unfortunately, the combination of dry weather and cabbage moths have slowed our greens. The kale is no longer of good enough quality to send, and is beginning to resemble a row of twigs. I am still holding out some hope that conditions might improve in the fall, but those hopes are dwindling. The Swiss chard and perpetual spinach are hanging in there, and we have been able to continue sending the usual quantity, but the plants are not the size we would expect for this time of year.

Herbs continue to do well. Our basil plants are lovely, and will continue to produce until a touch of frost withers the leaves. We don’t have the huge plants for pesto lovers that we have had the past few years, but if you would like bulk basil for pesto, please let me know. We will try to pull the plants before frost and send them out to those who are interested. The purple basil continues to grow slowly but steadily, and the parsley is producing well. Our final seeding of coriander is bolting, but we’re hoping you like it enough to pull out the tough stems and use the finer leaves. The green onions are starting to get a little brown on the tips, but we hope you are still enjoying them as much as we are.

As for the cucumbers and zucchini, I had feared they were slowing down, but in fact they continue to give generously. This morning was our biggest zucchini harvest yet, so let’s hope the frost does indeed hold off a little longer!

You may have noticed that I didn’t get a blog post up last week; I’m afraid that harvest pressures prevailed. However, I have the sense many of our members are also enveloped in the chaos of the season, as I’ve noticed that we have had far fewer bags coming back to us than usual. Our emergency supply is dwindling, and with fall pick-up on the horizon, we will be needing all the bags we can get. So please, do your best to send them our way!

I also have a confession to make: I have stopped receiving a CSA share. The initial impetus for the cessation was the arrival of mice in our cellar. Mid-summer is not a usual time for mice in the cellar, and I wondered if the aromatic produce (that we don’t normally store during the summer) was attracting little critters. I hoped that maybe if we weren’t storing as many vegetables, the mice would depart. (No such luck, I’m afraid, and they seem to be unusually adept at outsmarting our traps.)

The other challenge I was having is that making good use of the CSA share was competing with other food use priorities. Christopher had a booth at the Meota Farmer’s Market this summer, making a bit of spending money by selling our excess produce. It was always tough to predict how much would sell, and often what came back amounted to nearly a full share’s worth of produce for us to consume.

In addition, harvest season often leaves us with large quantities of vegetables that are either not high enough quality for our members or simply not ripe at the right time. During pea and bean season, we pick three times a week to keep the patch going. Two of these times coincide with vegetable pick-ups, but the third is ours to deal with (keep in mind that all three pickings are more or less the same size, and that the first two feed a dozen or more families and the third is for our two families!). When we harvest cucumbers and send each share as many as we figure people can eat, the remainder come to our kitchens. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, collecting tomato seed leaves us with a large number of tomatoes to enjoy. I’m sure that those of you who garden can relate!

So we are still eating lots of vegetables, but not necessarily the same quantities of each one as you are. I am quite sure we have not been eating our share of zucchini, for example, but we do eat a lot and with the late start, I’ve limited our own use in order to send as much as possible your way. After today’s harvest, I would imagine this is no longer necessary! I suspect our cucumber consumption has also waned, now that our chief snacker has moved on to apples.

Lately, our menus have featured a lot of chilis (with zucchini), beet salad, greens with peanut sauce, Greek salad, potatoes, and lettuce salads. One of my favourite dishes for this time of year is an adaptation of the Summer Garden Ratatouille in Simply in Season. We don’t grow eggplant (which the recipe calls for) so I just add extra zucchini.

Summer Garden Ratatouille

2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

Saute in 3 Tbsp oil for about 5 minutes.

1 medium eggplant, chopped

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh basil (or 2 tsp dried)

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried — I often use summer savory instead)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp fresh marjoram (or 1/2 tsp dried)

Add and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is soft, about 15-20 minutes.

2 summer squash, chopped (I use zucchini, and double the quantity to replace the eggplant)

2 sweet peppers, cut in strips

2 cups tomatoes, chopped

Add and simmer until peppers and squash are tender, about 10 minutes, Serve over pasta or polenta (or I often serve with potatoes) sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley, black olives, or Parmesan cheese.

Another seasonal recipes recommended by one of our members is Mellas Family Lamb Stuffed Zucchini (from And check out the recipes page of this blog for zucchini salsa, zucchini brownies, and Syrian beet salad. Yum!

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