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Week 9, 2010

August 13, 2010
  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes, mixed
  • Red onion
  • Sweet corn
  • Sweet onion
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes

 I write to you from our farm’s submarine, passing through a giant lake covering what was once our fields. We have dispatched a scuba team to harvest carrots for the week, though sadly a shark has claimed the beet patch as its own. I was nearly devoured by an octopus this morning as I gathered corn, but thankfully it got stuck between the stalks.

 I actually wrote this in my draft for this newsletter last night: “Our precipitation has been nearly perfect for most of the summer…. the rains have been right on time.” Then came last night. We had already received 1 ½” of rain on Tuesday morning, and the fields were only starting to dry out from that. Last night brought 3 ¼” more rain, light hail (no damage), and the most amazing lightning dance I’ve ever seen. We plant all of our crops into raised beds, which allows for most of the excess precipitation to puddle in the aisleways between the planted beds. With a quick, dramatic rainfall like last night, however, even the raised beds aren’t enough. We had standing water in our carrots, chard, onions, kohlrabi, collards, parsnips, and celeriac. I’m not sure yet what will survive once it dries out, but it looks like most of the larger, summer crops should come through ok.

As much as I could keep complaining about the storm last night, I should whine about the heat and humidity of the past week. There’s a country church not too far outside of Watertown that’s become notorious for its apocalyptic messages, spelling errors, and all-around hellfire and damnation preached on its sign. This week, it has read simply: “So you think it’s hot here…” The message, I’m assuming, is that, as hot as it might be in Minnesota right now, we’re in for a lot more heat when we’re burning in hell, unless we repent of our wicked ways. To be honest, I do think it’s hot here. I don’t know how much hotter it could possibly be in hell than it has been here this past week. Relative humidity only goes up to 100%, no matter what dimension you’re in.

As you can imagine, it hasn’t been much fun to be out in the fields this week. We don’t have any imps or demons roasting us on a spit, but it seems to be a greater punishment to be blinded by sweat while digging potatoes or picking beans. We were going to experiment by getting up at 4:30am Thursday morning to get our day’s work done before it became too hot. Of course, the sun isn’t up yet at 4:30 and so we went back to bed. At 5:00, the sun still wasn’t up. So we went back to bed. We missed the 5:30 alarm, when we usually get up, because we had already been ignoring alarms. And so we woke up after 6:00 and didn’t start work until the sun was already unleashing punishment on sinful farmers.

This week we are giving the first of our garlic bulbs in celebration of the Garlic Festival on Hutchinson last Saturday! This was a lot of fun last year, with bizarre celebrations and garlic in everything. We will head there once again, with the main aim of buying more seed cloves. Garlic is planted almost without exception from the cloves, which means that it takes a lot of garlic simply to grow next year’s crop. Garlic is expensive, and so about a third of this year’s crop will be saved to increase our production for next year. Based on what we have left, I expect to give garlic twice more this year.

The humid weather has hastened the end of our sweet corn, sadly. We have lost lots of ears to a fungal growth that slowly envelops the corn. I have heard that this cotton-like growth is edible, but I’m too disgusted by the idea to look for recipes online. So no, you are not getting any fungus this year. At least, I hope—I would recommend checking your ears immediately for anything non-corn in them. Simply remove any growth that might have escaped me, wash the corn, and enjoy.

The Basil this week is rather dirty from mud splashed up by the rain. We never wash basil before giving it, because this causes the basil to wilt and blacken even more quickly than it already does. It should be washed before you use it, but for best results wait until just before eating it.

Sadly, this may be the end of beans for the summer. We are hoping that our summer squash will pick up their production, which has been slower than we had hoped so far. Some of the beans have been nibbled on, but are still completely edible. This has been a great season for pests, just as it has been for our crops…

 

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