We had a slow start to our harvests. First, it took us a while to get everything prepped and planted. Thankfully, that ended up being a blessing in disguise since the unpredictable weather we’ve had included a late frost. Slow to start, maybe, but we’ve been pretty productive ever since. Here’s a peek at what’s been going up to the kitchen since June:
Pictured below- Lettuce mix, pak choi, garlic scapes, and serviceberries.
We’ve got two beautiful and productive serviceberry plants, and we hope to add more in the near future. These berries are sweet and delicious. They look a lot like a blueberry, but are not as tart. The seeds are large enough to spit out or just swallow, but if you happen to crunch one up it imparts a mild almond flavor. So fun! The berries can be prepared any number of ways, or just eaten raw. I believe the clients here at the farm enjoyed them on their cereal every morning for a while.
Garlic scapes. This is the immature flower of the garlic plant. In early summer, the plant sends up a tender stalk that begins to curl. People love to harvest this for two reasons- The first, it’s delicious and gives us a first taste of garlic for the season. It’s milder in flavor than an actual clove of mature garlic, but still packs a garlicky punch. The second reason to harvest the scapes is to help the plant to focus its energy down into the bulb, not into producing a flower/seed. When the plant realizes it won’t be able to produce seed for that season, the theory is that it redirects its energy into a stronger bulb that can withstand another winter. This means that when we harvest the garlic, it will be larger and store better than it would otherwise.
Pak choi. A delicious early green, and a member of the cabbage family.
We also harvested lots of beautiful lettuces until it was too hot for them. Lots of folks don’t realize that lettuce is really a cooler season crop, grown in spring and fall (and, with the help of our trusty hoop house we’ve gotten harvests in the winter). However, in the heat of summer it can be really bitter and difficult to grow. Thankfully, summer brings us so many other fresh options.
Radishes. We grew lots of radishes, and this was not because they are a favorite among the clients! Radishes are actually an excellent “companion plant”. Companion planting is an old method of planting based on the idea that some plants are beneficial when grown near other ones. They grow very quickly, so when planted alongside a slower growing vegetable it can help to deter weeds and keep the garden beds loose and productive. They also deter some pests- like the cucumber beetle. On the flip side, they can be used as a “trap crop”, attracting certain insects. The idea behind this is that, when planted with certain crops, the pest insects will prefer the radish over the vegetable we’re trying to cultivate. Flea beetles are a great example- they love a variety of plants and flowers and can do a lot of damage. However, they seem to show a preference for radishes! So, we plant them as a sort of sacrificial offering in the organic garden.
But then there is the obvious question- What the heck do we do with all those radishes? Well, while some can be eaten fresh, they can be tiresome after a while. So, recently I discovered that they can be roasted just like any other root vegetable. What happens is pretty remarkable! They lose that spicy intensity that so many find challenging, and become tender and mild. Best roasted with a little oil, salt, pepper, and sprinkled with fresh herbs. A perfect side dish!
This year we added two kinds of strawberries to the garden. This year the plants are just getting established, so we’ve had small harvests. The berries we have gotten? Oh my. Everyone agrees that the flavor of these berries is SO much better than the store bought version. We’re excited for the years of berries to come. Also pictured below are peas, mint, and garlic.
Summer harvests were a little delayed as well due to the weeks of rain that we got. On the one hand we didn’t have to water, but on the other it stunted some of the plants and made it difficult to tend to them. Thankfully most things are thriving now. Below are green beans and basil.
Garlic was one thing that suffered in all that rain, but we still got a good harvest in July.
So many cucumbers!
New potatoes, cucumbers, and basil.
Summer squash, scallions, and broccoli.
More to come!