Waltzing through the watermelons

Steve planted the watermelon patch where the potatoes were hatched last year, and my oh! do we have melons! I made a test run of watermelon bread for the weekend market and will tweak the recipe in hopes of improvement for Wednesday’s sales.

Watermelon juice can be boiled down just like maple syrup or made into sugar! When Mountain Lake was being settled in the 1870′s there was a group of entrepreneurs in California who attempted this but the sugar cane industry had too much power (a dark history which still continues) and all such schemes failed. An outdoor fire with a large hubbly-bubbly kettle will inspire some sweet incantations – maybe next year.

Nathan has been tilling up new plots of land in order to prepare the soil a full year before planting the next crop. It is an exercise in patience! A four-year rotation, which includes a year of rest, makes for complicated planning. These plots need access to water – cistern, pond or city – which takes into account the expense of pumps and tubing. After a soil test is made, amendments are added to the soil and a cover crop is planted.

This week’s harvest should include: scarlet turnips, stir-fry mix, the last cucumbers, watermelon, carrots, red bell peppers, tomatoes, kale, Swiss chard, onions, and maybe some eggplant and herbs. Salad mix will be for sale along with potatoes, Hakurei turnips, hot peppers and raspberries. Wild plum jam and a hot pepper relish are new additions.

Searching for a model

Communication, that is what I have been researching over the past months: how to promote what we offer as well as encouraging a community discussion. Facebook feels raw to me, it is too public though I may head in that direction. Feedback on how we are designing our new farm market and greenhouse would be awesome but it is a bit awkward since we don’t have a true way for a roundtable discussion.

I would love to expand the theme of jams, jellies and pickles – I found a recipe for dandelion jelly! Imagine! Now there is a reason to harvest all the bright yellow blossoms instead of pulling out some nasty spray thinking to rid the planet of loveliness. There are oodles of other interesting discoveries that may be worthwhile acting upon…if they can be put into practice outside of the books I read.

An apron is a must for serious work in the kitchen or shop. I’ve been pondering who could model, other than using ourselves, to show off our selection of aprons and hey ho! I found her! Right outside my front door with her pitcher of nectar in hand. Haha. You should recognize Hebe. Check out “photos” on the menu bar, click on aprons, and you will get a short slide show. There are many more styles to capture, but the sun, clouds, wind and rain (snow?) need to be in their respective places.

Our spinach crop is the best ever and will be ready to harvest in about a week. Give me a call if you are interested in buying some. If I were to chronicle each “aha” or “oops” moment with every crop we plant, it would feel like a rough sea. Oh my goodness. We use soil blocks, some the size of dice, to germinate the longer maturing plants to give them a jump on the season. These are all carefully tucked in under lights beginning in January with the leeks. Fortunately, most crops germinate and mature well but its the ones that don’t, which are some of the profound mysteries to life.

We’ve been asked to provide produce for a September wedding! Whoopee for the lovely bride, the happy groom and the sweet carrots from 4 blocks away! Now that is a model that can be followed: a way to support regenerative localized agricultural.

Hebe’s Coming Out

Our large maple tree in the front yard came down Saturday since it was showing its age by growing several conch fungi. It was a beautiful tree in its prime but needed to be removed before we woke up with it in bed with us! Hebe, the goddess who greets you at our front door, is lacking her leafy bower. She weighs many hundreds of pounds so I think it will be easier to grow some vine for shade around her instead of moving her to another nook. Her nectar for eternal life that she is offering did not reach the maple!

The plans are to change our manner of yard care into a permaculture mode…starting with the front yard! What that means exactly, I’m not sure, since Nathan is the instigator of all of this. The main thought is that there should be several life-giving purposes to the placement of things in relation to my front door. A lawn is mowed at least once a week, using fossil fuels that are nonrenewable and polluting the air faster than we care to think. My take on all the discussions is that nut and fruit trees will be the top story with a perennial carpet of plants giving nutrients back into the soil.

In light of that, we are needing LARGE sheets of cardboard, if you happen to have it sitting around. Once the tree is cleared, the ground is to be covered with cardboard and mulch, similar to what I’ve done in all the flower beds to keep the weeds down.

On to tasty delights of local harvests! I have enjoyed the crisp flavor of Tokyo Bekana in my sandwiches and in salads. The midribs of Mei Qing Choi and Joi Choi add a sweet juicy crunch to carrot salad. Steamed buttercup squash is less hassle than a pie and richer in flavor, oh my goodness! The season for salsas is coming to a close when my cilantro finally decides it is frozen, though I am going to try and freeze some in ice cubes to see if the flavor holds.

Harvest this week should include: a choice of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage or Brussels sprouts since there was not enough of one type of brassica for everyone. There should also be a small bag of greens including: claytonia, spinach, lettuces and bull’s blood beet tops and then head lettuce, buttercup squash, onions, radishes, carrots and a variety of Asian greens.