In your box:
–Beans or Broccoli
This week we finally had a decent crop of tomatoes, even though we’re still behind average pace. But with the nice dry heat this week they should keep up their production going forward. We grow a lot of heirloom varieties, but they are slower to ripen and we had just a few of them this week. Most of the tomatoes going out this week are hybrid varieties specifically bred for optimal growth in a greenhouse or high tunnel. We used to grow some tomatoes under cover and others outdoors, but the results were so lopsided that we now grow all of ours under plastic. We have two 20′ x 88′ high tunnels dedicated to tomatoes, and inside each it’s a jungle of long green vines and 20 varieties of tomatoes. The plastic helps to trap the dry heat inside all day and even into the night, which the tomatoes really respond to. And more importantly—the plastic keeps rain from falling on the leaves, which often brings blight and other diseases. Our tomatoes get all of their water via drip tape right at their roots. All this shelter makes tomatoes our most coddled crop we grow by far—but it’s worth it!
This week we have Cherry Tomatoes for everyone. The orange ones are a sweet variety called “Sungold,” and the red ones are “Jasper.” Both varieties are great in salad or on a pizza, but act fast—they disappear faster than candy around our house!
I’m not sure what is ailing the green beans this year, but so far they’ve been absolutely pathetic. The plants look good and don’t have any weed competition, but for some reason they just aren’t producing much in the way of beans for us. I did notice some of the varieties with fresh flowers on them today, so I’m optimistic that they can still give us a decent crop this year. Thankfully we still have a persistent crop of broccoli coming in. Most of the broccoli are now side shoots and secondary heads from the same plants that have been giving us broccoli for the past few weeks now. It’s unusual to get such a volume of heads from the same plant, so perhaps this is the farm’s way of making up for the green bean shortage! It’s likely that the broccoli will be done after this week, however, so enjoy the heads while they last. And we did get a few beans picked so you will receive one or the other in your box this week.
We have finally finished off the last of the scallions for the year, so for the rest of the season we’ll be having bulb onions. The next few weeks will bring us Sweet Onions, which have a milder flavor and can be used in just about any recipe. These don’t have the shelf life of storage onions, so you’ll want to use these up within a couple weeks for the best taste. They should be kept in the fridge and the greens can be eaten as well.
I continue to find abundant cucumbers every time I walk out to their beds in the garden, and I hope they haven’t been overwhelming. If you can’t keep up, our best suggestion is to make them into refrigerator pickles. They don’t keep as long as canned pickles, but they taste great and you can tempt even cucumber skeptics with them. I’ve included a recipe, below.
Looking for something to do this weekend? I hope to see you at the annual Minnesota Garlic Festival this Saturday, August 11th at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. This is an all-day celebration of all things garlic (even garlic ice cream!) and features live music, chef demos, kids’ events, food vendors, and a pop-up cafe featuring a great menu from fine restaurants all across the Twin Cities Metro. For more information be sure to check out the website: www.mngarlicfest.com. Don’t forget to print off the 2-for-1 coupon. I’ll be there working all day at the admissions gate, so be sure to say hi to the guy in the straw hat if you make it out!
Expected next week: Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, beans, head lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, sweet onion, beets and garlic.