In your box:
–Cherry tomatoes or ground cherries
–Garlic, “Killarney Red”
–Lettuce, “Crisp Mint”
–Winter squash, “Delicata”
Full shares: Buttercup squash
Every fall, our family marks the beauty of the autumn harvest with a hay wagon ride out to our field to bring in our crop of winter squash, pumpkins, and gourds. Some years we have a good crop, while a few years have been less than satisfying. We look forward to this afternoon all year, when we work together to bring in my favorite crop. Winter squash and gourds grow on long vines and need to be separated with sharp pruners. Pumpkins have a thicker stem that usually requires long-handled loppers. Nathan and Adam have slowly been able to carry more and larger squash from the field to the wagon, while Nina organizes the transportation and unwraps toddler ankles from squash vines. I’m in charge of cutting and consolidating the crop into piles, and I’m also responsible for driving the tractor to the field and back with the wagon in tow. For a few more years, at least—I’m sure Nathan will start begging to drive the tractor not too long for now. Once all the squash and pumpkins are piled onto the wagon, we make a slow and bumpy loop around the fields and meander back toward the packing shed. We take pictures until Nina is finally satisfied, and then we decorate the yard and house with gourds and warty pumpkins until it’s dark. This ritual feels timeless and it’s been a familiar tradition going back for generations—just change the tractor for livestock pulling the wagon, and this could just as easily be 1917 or 1817.
Now that the squash are harvested, it’s time for our second favorite tradition—eating them! This week we start with a Delicata squash. These are the long yellow squash with green and orange striping. Delicatas have a softer skin, and can be eaten along with the flesh. To prepare, we just cut these down the middle and scoop out the seeds. Cook them at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes placed face-down in pans of water. Remove them from the water carefully, and enjoy! We like ours with brown sugar or honey sprinkled down the middle, but these are often sweet enough to enjoy plain. If the skin texture isn’t to your liking, you can scoop out the squash and enjoy like any other winter squash.
Full shares will receive one Delicata and one Buttercup squash this week. We had an incredible harvest of winter squash, so I’m optimistic we can continue to offer them for each of the remaining three boxes. Enjoy!
Even though our main crop of tomatoes is essentially done for the year, our cherry tomatoes have escaped any blight and are still producing a remarkably healthy crop. Ground cherries are genetically distinct from tomatoes to the extent that tomato blight doesn’t usually impact the crop, and so far those are in good shape too. So as unusual as it is to still find tomatoes into early October, I’m not about to move on from those delicious nuggets while their season still provides.
This week is the grand finale of sweet peppers, which had a pretty decent year this season. We didn’t have much heat in August when they needed it, which probably kept their numbers down a little. Eggplant are a mystery—they gave one decent harvest and then just sat out the rest of the year. Perhaps they heard that many of our CSA members don’t like them and just decided that they don’t like you, either. But if eggplant is my biggest garden failure in a given year, I can definitely live with that.
I was able to dig all of the remaining potatoes from the garden before the heavy rains earlier in the week, so thankfully cleaning them is a pretty easy task instead of scraping off mud. This week we are offering Kennebec, a standard white potato with a good taste and crispy texture. Kennebecs are great roasted or boiled and are also a perfect candidate for mashed potatoes. It looks like we’ll have enough spuds to offer them once more, probably in the final week of the season.
In case you’ve forgotten about komatsuna since it last appeared in your box way back in June, this is the cooking green with long green and white leaves. It is a good stand-in for cooked spinach and also works nicely in a stir-fry. I’m afraid some of the mud from our latest rainstorms will have dirtied the inside of the stems on these, so be sure to wash it thoroughly once you separate the stems from the root base.
Expected next week: Salad mix, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, carrots, Napa cabbage, rutabaga, and celery.