Beating the Beetles at Their Own Game
This week we practiced some radical triage on the farm. Colorado potato beetle is one of our worst pests year after year. They over winter in the boundaries of the field emerge and find our potato crop -no matter where we have moved them each summer. Starting in June we pick them off one by one and then at some point in July we usually reach the point where this method of control is no longer possible on our almost one acre potato plot. The next solution is to use an organic soil-born bacteria that we spray on the crop and knocks the beetles back, usually setting them back enough that we can get a good crop. The day we should have used this bacteria this year was day one of the most recent nine day stretch of rain we had. Needless to say we missed our window. In those nine days the beetles went to town and while we were able to apply the bateria, Last weekend it was very late for many of the rows. Much of the crop will bounce back but about 1500 row feet were virtually skeletonized by the beetle. When this happens there are just a couple options. Leave the plants as they are and hope for some leaves to regenerate or mow them off completely and harvest those rows early. You may have guessed by this point that we decide to mow off these rows and work to give the rest of the crop the best chance. The up shot is that we will we have potatoes starting in mid August -rather than mid-September! We are planning a mini potato harvest party on Saturday August 10th at 9am (more on this event as it get’s closer…) to pull these early spuds. -Don’t worry we will also have our annual labor on Labor Day potato harvest as well.
Roll Out the Onions
Sweet summer onions appear this week and we are all so happy. Ailsa Craig onions are the north’s answer to the Georgia Vidailia, large and sweet, they lack the pungency of the storage red and yellow varieties coming later. Best suited to using raw or barely cooked, the sweetness is the real prize here. If you prefer your onions cooked try brushing these with butter/oil and grilling/broiling them or chopping them on top of something that will be in a high heat oven like focaccia or fritatta. This beautiful crop will be in regular supply for a few weeks and they will keep well in your fridge for a month or so. This open pollenated variety has been a prize winner since it was introduced in 1877…
We are teasing you with a few small leeks this week. We have several beds of leeks planted and one has been giving us a hard time, filling with weeds again and again. Rather than continue this battle we decided to harvest this one bed a bit early and give you something exciting to throw on the grill. Like so many things in life it is the preparation for, rather than the actual cooking that makes or breaks the experience. Leeks have a unique ability to gather soil on their leaves that then settles alongside the shaft of the plant and is almost impossible to wash away without destroying the leek. The trick to cleaning this vegetable and also keeping it together on the grill or under the broiler is using the roots. Most of us are taught to cut the roots away first off as we prep any vegetable -don’t do it. Instead take the point of a sharp knife and starting 1/4 inch above the roots, slice the shaft longways all the way through the leaves. Now you should be able to clean the leek under the faucet, removing all of the dirt from between the leaves as the root end holds everything together. After this you can separate the two sides, again leaving the root in place to hold the leaves on each half together. If you are headed to the grill pat each side dry and generously bathe them in olive oil, adding salt and pepper just before they hit the fire. We like to cook them until the are almost black on the outside and the inside starts to caramelize. A hot pan or the broiler work well here too or you can also just use this sweet mellow member of the onion family as you would a scallion…
What’s In Upic?
What’s In The Share This Week?