In Your Box:

–Lettuce, “Nevada”
–Red onion
–Sweet pepper

Many of you were no doubt excited for another week of sweet corn this week, but unfortunately the second planting is lagging behind and will need another week to catch up. But it does look like a healthy stand of corn, so I’m optimistic it will pull through next week.

But instead of corn we have: Fennel! Ok, so fennel doesn’t quite capture the essence of summer in the same way that sweet corn does. I wish it did—it’s much easier to grow, it actually has some health benefit, and doesn’t tax the soil like sweet corn does. Bonus points if you send in a picture of yourself eating fennel-on-the-cob this week…

Fennel is a member of the Umbel family, closely related to carrots, celery, dill, and parsley. It has a rich history, used in varied cultures as a cure for bronchial troubles, poor eyesight, and nervous conditions. It is also considered a digestive aid, and you’ll often find its seeds at the exit of Indian restaurants as a breath freshener for customers. It resembles dill with a bulbous root, but tastes comparably to anise or licorice.

The whole crop is edible, with the leafy fronds a common ingredient in soups and baked dishes, and the bulbs used for stir-fries and roasting.  The bulbs can be substituted in any recipe calling for celery.  For a good starter into the world of fennel, try it baked: cut into quarters, drizzle with olive oil, and bake until tender, about 35 min at 350°.

To store: The bulbs will last for two weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge.  The leaves will go limp, and should be wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge.

This week’s red onion marks the last fresh onion of the season. Onions are biennials, meaning they spend their first year growing and their second producing seed. Our winters are much too harsh for them to survive, of course, but thankfully they produce a perfectly delicious root in the only year they grow for us. Once they have completed their summer growth, the tops turn brown and fall flat to the soil. After they start laying down, they will not grow any more and it’s best to harvest them. We dry our storage onions for a couple weeks to cure them properly, at which point they can store for up to a year. The onions you’ll receive for the rest of the year will all be cured storage onions that keep best on the kitchen counter. Our crop of leeks looks very healthy this year, and we’ll have this close relative in the final weeks.

A belated thanks to everyone that made it out to the farm for our open house two weeks ago. Thanks so much for visiting!

We will still have our annual year-end potluck and farm festival. Mark your calendars for Saturday, September 27th from 4pm until dark. We’d love to have you out to the farm for a celebration of the season, yard games, farm tours, and a potluck. We will also have an exhibit of Interpretive Vegetable Sculpture Art—please bring in your best assembly, invention, or caricature made of fruits and veggies. And, as always, please bring it home with you afterward….

The Fall Festival does not mark the end of the year, of course. We still have six or seven weeks to go after this box, with many new crops yet to come. The exact end date will depend on how early we get our first frost—we will keep you posted.

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