What a difference one half inch of rain can make. If I was writing this just a few days ago, I would bemoan the hot, dry, rain-less weather we had for over a month. June is arguably the busiest month of the year for us, as planting and weeding tasks peak, the harvest ramps up, and we open for business at the farm and at farmers markets. When you throw in irrigation tasks, it’s a heavy load. Luckily, we had a rainfall on Saturday (right after the farm stand and markets closed!) that brought us a very timely rain, which meant I got a nap instead of having to tend to irrigation chores!
If you visit the farm, you will see 30 foot aluminum pipes with sprinklers on them throughout the farm. After we plant, we place these pipes down the row and hook up to our wells to get clean water to our thirsty plants. For the bigger crops, we use a travelling gun that does a great job keeping our corn, potato, and establishing strawberry crops on track during a dry spell. For longer term, widely spaced crops like peppers, squash and melons, we use drip tape which allows us to very efficiently put the water right where the plants need it, even in the heat of the afternoon.
Of course, what we would really like is for Mother Nature to put down a gentle rain lasting 3 hours (but no more!), twice a week, delivering ¾ of an inch each time. Since that almost never happens, the next best thing is occasional rains which drench the whole farm, allowing us to “reset” the irrigation clock. The worst scenario is rainstorm after rainstorm, which leads to a lot of disease and damage to our crops. Sometimes it’s important to be careful what you ask for, lest you get too much.
And season marches on! We are done with the spring plantings and are now putting in the late summer corn, and early fall carrot, broccoli, and cabbage crops. We will continue weekly plantings of lettuce and salad greens right through mid-September. Our garlic crop looks great this season, and we project the big garlic pull date will be sometime next week. Cucumbers, squash, and carrots are coming in strong now, and we have super basil bunches for making pesto. Corn is tasseling now so we should be seeing the first ears in a few weeks.
Thanks for taking the time to put our produce in your kitchen, and we hope to see you at the farm or a farmers’ market soon.
Paul, Rebecca, Lauren and the Fort Hill Farm crew
Featured this week:
Rainbow Carrots: after much trialing of numerous varieties, we’ve chosen our own rainbow to make your eyes and taste buds sing. We especially love these roasted or grilled whole.
Cucumbers: Cukes are such a feast or famine veggie! Early this spring, we watched an entire greenhouse collapse and die from bacterial wilt. It was tough to watch after investing so much time and effort. The high tunnel and field cukes are finally in, we were extra careful to keep the newly planted seedlings covered with the white row covers you see around the farm. This keeps the cucumber beetles, which vector the disease, from munching on our crop. Keep in a cold, humid place—a loose plastic bag inside your fridge crisper should do. Eat within one week as these are not coated in yucky wax.
salad mix, arugula, head lettuce, curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, spinach, fresh basil, red and French Breakfast radishes, salad turnips, cucumbers, scallions, fennel, red beets, Chinese cabbage, radicchio, carrots, garlic scapes, sugar snap peas while they last
Pick Your Own:
Cilantro: This is a tough herb to get a stand of in the spring because it germinates along with the weeds. We finally have a beautiful harvest!
PYO Update for July 4: PYO patch taking a break….green beans and herbs coming soon.
PYO begins 30 minutes before and goes 30 minutes beyond barn hours.
Recipes, suggested by Rebecca Batchie. For more recipes, check out the Fort Hill Farm Recipe Database
To mix things up, I’m going to try to feature one farm classic recipe and one new one this year …
Quick Cucumber Kimchi
A slight adaptation of Bill Kim’s recipe, Food and Wine
Traditional Korean kimchi usually involves tossing vegetables with garlic, salt, chiles and other flavorings and letting them ferment for days. Bill Kim marinates these cucumbers for just two hours, so they’re still crisp.
2 pounds cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup untoasted sesame oil
1/2 small onion or 3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons finely chopped Thai or sweet basil
2 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean coarse red pepper powder; see Note)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
How to Make It
In a colander, toss the sliced cucumbers with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and let stand for 20 minutes. Rinse the cucumbers and drain well.
In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers with all of the remaining ingredients and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Season the kimchi with salt and serve. Note: Gochugaru is available at Korean markets
Orange-Roasted Rainbow Carrots
From the Barefootcontessa
1 pound orange carrots, unpeeled
1 pound rainbow carrots, unpeeled
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Remove the tops and scrub the orange and rainbow carrots with a vegetable brush. Cut the carrots in long diagonal slices. (You want fairly uniform sticks about 4 inches long by ½ inch wide.)
Place the carrots on a sheet pan, drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Toss well with your hands and spread out in one layer.
Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until the carrots are lightly browned and tender. Sprinkle with the orange zest, orange juice, and fleur de sel and toss well. Serve hot or at room temperature.