In your box:
–Broccoli shoots or summer squash
Every growing season seems to have a theme animal or insect—some living thing that stands out and is the memorable presence of the season. So we have the year of the small toads (2014) and the year of the mysterious small black mammal (2013) as well as the year of the frogs (2012). As long as we never end up with a “year of the plague of locusts” or “year of the rabid bears” this will continue to be a fun way of telling the years apart.
So far 2015 is coming down to either the year of the dragonflies or the year of the butterflies. We have monumentally more dragonflies this year than we’ve ever had before. We have big blue ones and little green ones and tiny orange ones so thick I have to slow down while I’m mowing the yard so I don’t get a face full of them. They buzz by at all points of our field and land on me throughout the day.
On the other hand, we’ve got a beautiful assortment of butterflies all over the farm this year. We’ve got a great population of Monarchs, but there are also a lot of Painted Ladies and Swallowtails. We’ve heard a lot about the collapse of the Monarch population recently, but so far this looks to be a great year for them in these parts, at least. We have hundreds of milkweed plants in an unused field that the Monarchs have been flocking to, and even our neighbors that aren’t the least bit concerned with conservation and threatened species have been intentionally mowing around milkweed plants in their field. Both dragonflies and butterflies are easy to love, so my hunch is that 2015 will be remembered as the year of flying things.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that our sweet corn is already ready for harvest. I thought we had at least another week until the ears ripened, but indeed the first planting is ready to go. I thought the corn was a goner after the tornado a few weeks back. The next morning it was completely horizontal, all in a big pile on the ground. But by the following day the stalks had started to right themselves, and were at a bizarre looking 45 degree angle. The day after that, the stalks were once again vertical. However, they still have hockey-stick shape to them, with the lower stalk projecting sideways before it shoots up to the sky. The ears are just a couple feet off the ground, which means a lot of stooping over for me and an even easier grab for raccoons—which thankfully haven’t found our corn this year.
The head lettuce I had planted for this week was pretty unsightly after the heat and humidity last week, so I will pass on that in favor of endive. Endive is much more heat tolerant than spinach and lettuce, making it perfect for harvest in the height of summer. It has a little more bitterness to it than head lettuce, but it can be lightly wilted over water or oil on the stove for a sweeter taste. Endive can be used in salads or cooked up like spinach—just don’t overcook it.
Our zucchini and summer squash are still puttering along, but I’m hoping that at some point they’ll decide to participate this year. The plants look healthy enough overall, but they’re simply not producing much fruit. On the other hand, cucumbers are gearing up for a great season. Hopefully their squash cousins will see how much fun it is to make babies and follow suit soon.