In your box:
–Lettuce, “Crisp Mint”
Full shares: Spaghetti squash
This week has been a muddy mess here on the farm, as we’ve tallied several days of rain and some impressive thunderstorms. Overall we’ve had just under five inches of rain, making this our rainiest week since late June of 2011. At this point in the growing season the rain isn’t too much of a problem. Most of the crops that would be susceptible to diseases brought on by rain and humidity are already dead, and I don’t have any plants or seeds I need to get in the ground. It is a nice recharge for our groundwater and it’s allowed me to bring in all of our hoses and irrigation equipment early. I am concerned about our final harvest of carrots, which I fear to be rotting in the ground. And I do need to plant garlic in a couple weeks, for which I’ll need the ground to dry out enough to get a tractor into the fields to prepare the beds for planting.
I’m sure our neighbors are much more concerned—their acres of corn and soybeans need heavy combines for harvest, and with all this mud it could be a few weeks before they resume their work. It’s yet another reason I’m thankful that my farm work is spread out so evenly throughout the entire growing season.
This week we have our only non-edible crop to appear in your box: decorative gourds. Gourds are one of my favorite things to grow, especially because the pressure is so low—a crop failure here doesn’t lead to anyone starving in the winter. They take no work, they yield easily, and they help to decorate the house during the peak harvest season. I always had a couple gourds on my windowsill growing up, right up to the point where they rotted and left a big mess of decomposing gourd stinking up my room. Now that I’m in charge of cleaning them up, we always make sure to compost them after Thanksgiving before they start rotting. We grow warty gourds, smooth gourds, and mini-pumpkins for your boxes this week.
This week we also welcome the first of our three servings of Brussels sprouts. If I were to give awards to vegetables, which is not a thing that I actually do, Brussels sprouts would have to win a “most improved” award. Like just about everyone, I grew up thinking that these were a cruel trick invented by grown-ups to punish children who leave gourds out on their windowsill to rot. And indeed, if you cook them for too long they are a cruel punishment. But as soon as I sampled my first properly prepared sprouts a few years ago, I’ve been hooked. I crave these all season, and I would rate these my second favorite vegetable after spinach. In case you’re still a sprout sceptic, give them a try with the proper treatment. Our usual way to eat them is just to boil them in water for 4 minutes and add a little pepper or eat them plain. We’ve also come to enjoy them baked—just coat them lightly with oil and bake them for 30-40 minutes in an oven set to 350 degrees.
Most of your box is taken up with a pie pumpkin. Purists still use these for baking their pies, but any can of “Pumpkin Pie Filling” will usually list its contents as butternut squash. Our butternuts will be coming in the final box of the year, so for now you can try your hand with a true pumpkin pie pumpkin. To cook these, slice it in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the halves in a casserole dish filled with an inch of water and bake at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes. After that, remove the pumpkin from the water and allow to cool. Scoop out the guts from the skin and puree in a blender, if needed. This can then be measured out for pie, pumpkin cookes, or—our family’s favorite—pumpkin pancakes. Full shares will receive one pie pumpkin and one spaghetti squash. These are yellow rugby balls that have a true noodle-like texture once they are cooked. I’ve included a recipe, below.
Expected next week: Arugula, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, acorn squash, beets, cabbage, radishes, leek, and garlic.