Farm News, JULY 14, 2020

In mid-July, each week is a bit of a blur.  Irrigation took a back seat for another week as storms seemed to roll in every other day or so.  While that made it tricky to find some dry days to harvest, we did manage to pull in about 80% of the 18,000 garlic bulbs we planted and mulched last fall.  Our crew deserves extra commendation for sweating it out in the heat.  After we lift the beds with a horizontal blade attached to a tractor, each bulb has to pulled, gathered, bunched, loaded onto a truck, and hung in a greenhouse covered with shade cloth.  It’s a hot and dirty job, but the rewards are worth it.  Our German hard neck garlic is a type you can’t find in stores, grown from seed stock we have been saving for almost two decades now.

The garlic gang make garlic teepees for piling onto a truck – this was the only cloudy day they were gifted in this massive harvest.

In other big news, our first sweet corn is ready!  How do we know?  You walk in the patch and trip over the dozen ears that a family of raccoons has piled up for you.  Rebecca and I found this mini disaster on Sunday night and spent several hours in the pitch dark cobbling together a baited electric fence to convince the varmints to hit the river for some crayfish instead.  We’ve managed to preserve enough ears for human folk.  

Justin and Zoe hang some garlic in a fragrant allium jungle. Greenhouse 1 will retire at the end of this year … here’s to 18 years of seeding, winter washing, and garlic curing!

Come to think of it, it’s quite a gauntlet that our corn has to run. Because we don’t douse the seed with the synthetic insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides that most “IPM” and conventional growers use, in order to get a good stand of plants, we painstakingly hand sow in the greenhouse and later transplant the corn in the field. Once in the ground, we fertilize it, cultivate it with our special contraptions, hoe it, water it, and release some special parasitic wasps and spray some BT for the “worms”.  Then we keep out the raccoons, deer, blackbirds, and woodchucks.  I’m tired just writing this!  We are one of the few organic farms in Connecticut crazy enough to grow corn, and because we start it in the greenhouse, it’s about the earliest corn you’ll find grown in CT.  But we love eating it, and we know so many of you do to.

I’ve never used the flatbed quite like this before, but given the flat nature of these cabbages, it worked well while waiting for another cabbage bin!

With garlic almost wrapped up and corn on the way, Rebecca declared it was time to have a cabbage round up, so she took Emma, James, Connor, Dana, and Adam into the patch and they cut, piled, and corralled 300 jumbo heads into the cooler.  At which point the refrigeration unit broke…farming is quite the roller coaster ride.  Not to worry, with some percussive maintenance and a bit of cleaning it was back to chilling in no time, so now we have several tasty varieties for you to sample: the flattened and aptly named Tendersweet, and red and green “pointy” cabbages.  Time to make some cole slaw, everybody!     

We hope you enjoy the farm and the harvest,

Paul, Rebecca, Lauren and the Fort Hill Farm crew


Featured this week:


Sweet Corn:  We are thrilled to offer the first of our delicious corn – we’re not shy to admit this one. But we’re not happy that the raccoons came out to party in the patch, effectively announcing “IT’S READY!” It is best eaten as soon as you can, although it will store for up to 3 days with little loss of quality in your fridge.  If you feel you can’t eat it all fresh, cut the kernels off the cob and freeze in a bag for a winter’s reminder of the farm. 

Fancy Beets:  Chioggia is a sweet Italian heirloom beet with red and white concentric circles that form a distinctive ‘bulls eye’ pattern-slice raw for dipping for a gorgeous treat! Gold beets are also sweet like our Red beets but not quite as ‘earthy’ tasting and don’t bleed like red beets. Gold beets are noticeably less robust and come in more sporadically, so if you don’t see them on your next visit, you will soon.  We are always happy when the foliage is good enough to bunch, as it gives folks “2 for the price of one!” Grate fresh into a salad with nuts and goat or feta cheese or see recipe below!

Tendersweet cabbage: a flattened disc of a cabbage. The name does not lie- it’s truly delicious and promises endless refreshing summer salads.  It is also beautiful enough to cut in half and gift to a friend! Store up to 3 weeks in the fridge crisper.

Also available:

salad mix, arugula, head lettuce, curly green and lacinato kale, rainbow chard, fresh basil, red and French Breakfast radishes, Asian and slicing cucumbers, scallions, red beets, Chioggia and gold beets, Tendersweet cabbage, red bonehead cabbage, radicchio, carrots, rainbow carrots, fresh garlic, garlic scapes, Purplette onions, Patty Pan, Zephyr, Yellow Squash and zucchini, sungold and red cherry tomatoes, heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes


Coming Soon:

Ailsa Craig fresh onions, eggplant


Pick Your Own:

Flowers – they are starting to open!

Cilantro – trim the tops

Perennial herbs – for your fresh summer salads and grilling:

Chives– clip a few stems at the base

Oregano, Sage and Thyme – Trim the tops 4 ” down

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 …

Summer Corn Salad

From Taste Of Home

Ingredients

  • 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn, thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

  • 1. In a small bowl, whisk 4 teaspoons oil, lime juice, salt and pepper sauce; set aside.
  • 2. In a large skillet, cook and stir corn in remaining oil over medium-high heat until tender. Transfer to a salad bowl; cool slightly. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and basil. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat.
  • 3. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving or refrigerate until chilled. Sprinkle with cheese just before serving.

Greek Beet Salad / Pantzaria Salata

From the Greek Vegan

Serve with skordalia (puree of purée of potatoes, walnuts, almonds, and/or liquid-soaked stale bread with olive oil) for a super traditional presentation, or all on their own as a main dish with warm from the oven hard crust bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 large beets (softball sized) / about 4 cups chopped
  • 2 tbsp (3-4 large cloves) very, very finely minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds (grind fine) or 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp excellent quality Greek olive oil
  • 2 tbsp good quality red wine vinegar

Boil beets in a large pot of water for approx 1 hour until easily pierced with a fork. Make sure they are covered with water the entire cooking time! Let them cool in their own cooking liquid if you have the time.

Once cooled, chop beets as desired and transfer to large mixing bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients and GENTLY stir to combine completely. Take your time and don’t rush this step.

Serve immediately or keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They are wonderful the next day especially as the herbs and spices have had time to all come together.

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