Field Notes: Volume 16, Number 4
This Week’s Harvest
While we strive for consistency at the Ecosystem Farm, we ask that our SHAREholders please keep in mind that Friday and Tuesday harvests will not always be the same.
For your convenience, an exact harvest list will be posted in the packing shed.
Although the weather has warmed up, the Ecosystem Farm staff continues to play the waiting game that, in between the mad rushing moments of spring, can characterize life on a farm: waiting for a tractor part, waiting for wet fields to dry, waiting for green tomatoes to turn red. After all, not everything can bring with it the same instant gratification afforded to us by the fast-growing summer squash that has been a part of our harvests these past few weeks; these plants pump out harvestable fruit from a flower in a matter of days. Oftentimes, life calls instead for the same patience that we use when we watch a bed of green tomatoes week after week, waiting for their shoulders to blush.
During this mellow week, the farm staff has spent time cultivating beds, tying up tomato vines, and working to keep ahead of the weeds. As the staff assesses the work that lies ahead of them, they have also begun to assess their work thus far, considering, for instance, to forgo this season’s experimental method of snap pea planting. The snap peas (so beloved by the staff as a refreshing summertime treat) were interplanted with a grass-like plant called triticale, and were expected to trellis themselves up the wheat-and-rye cross. This the sowed-a-little-late peas finally did, but not as well as was hoped. But a “failed” experiment is still a valuable experiment on the Ecosystem Farm, and the staff has continued to learn how to improve their work as high summer has continued to come near.
Up Close With Kohlrabi
This week marks the Ecosystem Farm’s first harvest of kohlrabi (kol-ROB-ee), a member of the Brassica (or cabbage) family whose shape somewhat resembles that of a hot air balloon. With its round, turnip-like base and its tall-reaching crown of cabbage-like leaves, its strange name (from the German words kohl and rube, meaning cabbage and turnip) begins to make sense.
Purple globe and apple-green varieties are grown on the farm, both of which reveal pale green flesh when cut open. Kohlrabi leaves can be cooked like collards or other cooking greens; the bulbs can be eaten a number of ways. From a post about the vegetable on Farmgirl Fare:
Sweet and mildly flavored, kohlrabi can be braised, boiled, stuffed, sliced, scalloped, steamed, julienned, roasted, and sauteed. You can grate it into slaw, toss it into salads, slip it into soups and stews, snack on it raw with dip, and stir-fry it. You can even wrap it in foil and grill it. I’ve seen recipes where kohlrabi was covered in cream, sauteed with anchovies, stuffed into empanadas, fried into cakes, served with hollandaise sauce, and turned into a cinnamon brunch bake. This vegetable is versatile.
To get our SHAREholders started, we’ve included a simple recipe for roasted kohlrabi later in this post.
Below, photos from this week on the Ecosystem Farm. Click images to enlarge, or view them on Flickr.
This Week’s Recipe: Roasted Kohlrabi
Recipe from A Veggie Venture
1 1/2 pounds fresh kohlrabi, ends trimmed, thick green skin sliced off with a knife, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic
Set oven to 450 degrees F. Toss diced kohlrabi with olive oil, garlic, and salt in a bowl. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and put into oven (it needn’t be fully preheated). Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every five minutes after about 20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with a good vinegar.
National Trails Day and Captain John Smith Geotrail Kick-Off: Saturday, June 4, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Accokeek Foundation at Piscataway Park: Celebrate National Trails Day with a geocaching adventure! In collaboration with volunteer geocachers, the Chesapeake Conservancy, and the National Park Service, the Accokeek Foundation will host the launch of the Captain John Smith Geotrail with a kick-off event featuring geocaching demonstrations, bonus caches, and activities for kids. A geocache (pronounced “geo-cash”) is a hidden treasure that one locates by using a GPS device. A geotrail is a series of geocaches linked by a common theme or topic. The Captain John Smith Geotrail is a unique journey across Chesapeake landscapes evocative of the scenes and stories experienced by Captain Smith 400 years ago.
Local Food Forum: Tuesday, June 7, 2011, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Education Center: The Local Food Forum is a monthly meeting of producers and consumers interested in local food. We discuss locally-grown fruits, vegetables, eggs and meat—from where to find them to how to make them more available.
Ecosystem Farm Volunteer Day: Thursday, June 9, 2011 (Recurring, Second and Fourth Thursdays), 1 to 4 p.m., Ecosystem Farm: Volunteers will join the farm crew in their work and, in the process, learn about organic and sustainable agricultural practices. Please wear appropriate clothing, including long pants, sturdy shoes or boots, sunscreen and/or a hat. Bring snacks and a refillable water bottle. Work will vary depending on the weather.
Organic Gardening Workshop: Weed and Pest Management: Saturday, June 11, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Education Center: Controlling weeds and pests can be a gardener’s worst nightmare. This course—part of our season-long Organic Gardening Workshop Series geared toward backyard gardeners—will provide you with the information needed to identify several common weeds and pests, as well as the most effective ways of getting rid of them. We will discuss both biological and mechanical methods of control. Feel free to bring along a problematic plant or an unknown insect for identification by our instructors.