Summer Week 11: Blue Moon

We let the baby pigs out to explore dirt and mud when they’re between 3-7 days old. This is when they start instinctively looking for iron, and they love to root around in dirt and eat quite a bit. Pig milk (all milk, for that matter) lacks iron, but the growing little bodies need it, so once their immune systems are ready, out they go. When it’s too cold outside I bring shovels of dirt into the barn for them to root in. Commercially, baby pigs are given iron shots at 3 and 10 days old to take care of this issue. I don’t like giving tiny pigs shots—dirt is easier and makes them happy.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• Lettuces
• Snap Beans or Tomatoes
• Swiss Chard
• Zucchini or Summer Squash
• Beet Greens with Baby Beets
• Cucumber
• Lemon Basil
• Fresh Dill
• “Romanian Red” Garlic

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON:
Carrots
Cabbage
Basil
Shelling Beans

I think August is probably our busiest month. It is the height of the summer harvest season, with so much to pick every day, and it is also the height of summer growing season, with so much needing weeding and watering. And, it is also the end of the planting season—the last big planting push of all the fall and winter crops. If we want to pick it before next May, it’s got to get planted by the first week of September or there won’t be enough time for the plants to get to a mature size before our daylength wanes to the point that there is just not enough hours of light to allow for plant growth.

It’s been such a busy, wonderful summer, that we’re actually a little behind in planting. And we haven’t pulled the onions and shallots for winter storage yet. I apologize for the state of the farm right now—the edges and flower garden are a weedy, dry mess. We’re trying to keep up, but the priority is planting right now. And feeding YOU!

The hens are also noticing the change in seasons. They have gone on egg strike, as they usually do in August. We are only getting about two dozen eggs a day right now, and that means that if you want eggs, you better reserve them ahead. Priority is given to those with an egg punch card, of course.

Honeybees love all members of the Buckwheat family. Japanese Knotweed is the giant of the family, bearing loads of nectar-rich blooms. Smartweed is a common weed around here too, but Buckwheat is the one we plant as a cover crop. It grows quickly in hot weather, doesn’t need much water, AND produces a lot of bloom for the bees.

It’s time to crack open the bee hives again too. Time to check and see if there’s any honey to spare for the humans. They’ve been so busy the last few weeks, I can’t wait to see. They are really enjoying the 1/2 acre of Buckwheat we planted as a cover crop and bee forage. I remember noting last summer that once the blackberries were done blooming, there really wasn’t much for them to feast on, so the buckwheat is filling that gap, giving them one last nectar source before cold weather comes. Besides, I love the dark, tangy, molasses-like honey that comes from Buckwheat.

These cone-head cabbages are an improved version of the heirloom, “Early Jersey Wakefield”. They taste just as sweet as round cabbages, but the pointy head is fun. Why improve it? Because the heirloom doesn’t always head-up consistently, and not many people want a headless cabbage.

Look for these pointy-headed cabbages in your share in the next week or so! I just like to grow them for the unique shape. Why make everything round?

Speaking of round things, enjoy the beautiful Blue Moon tonight. A blue moon is the rare second full moon in any given month. There won’t be another one until July, 2015. Take a look and bask in its’ glow.

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One response to “Summer Week 11: Blue Moon

  1. Oh the little pigs are so adorable! I love the orange and black spots and that they get to root around in the dirt – all critters should be so lucky. Its also fascinating to know they get iron from the dirt. It makes sense, plants get their minerals and vitamins from the soil, but animals getting their nutrients directly from the soil wasn’t anything I’d thought of before.

    This week I’m super focused on putting up fruit and other goodies for the winter – so I haven’t been as creative with my veggie box. We did have a lovely lemony basil pasta dish with sauteed yellow squash, shrimp, garlic, and onions. I also had a hearty salad with the romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, cucumber, dill, and some hard boiled eggs.

    We’ve been getting so many wonderful cucumbers recently, I actually started having to ponder what to do with them! I remembered a cooked cucumber dish from a PCC Cooks class that I assisted with eons ago. It was quite tasty and I remember being amazed that someone would even think to cook a cucumber, I’ve only ever eaten them raw or pickled. I grilled last week’s eggplant and squash for sandwiches, which got me thinking about trying to grill a cucumber…

    Sauteed Shiitake and Cucumber
    Recipe by Seppo Farrey, PCC Cooks instructor
    Makes: 4 servings

    2 Tbs. roasted sesame seeds
    Salt
    1 cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced
    6 fresh Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, cut into 3 or 4 slices
    1 Tbs. Oil
    1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. Mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
    1 Tbs. Tamari or soy sauce
    1 tsp. Maple syrup

    Crush the sesame seeds with a healthy pinch of salt, with a mortar and pestle. Heat oil in sauté pan. Add cucumber and mushrooms and stir-fry for 2 minutes with mirin, tamari, and maple syrup, until the cucumber is cooked, but still crisp. Arrange in four small bowls and sprinkle with crushed sesame seeds.

    For more recipes or to check out the PCC Cooks program go to: http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com Maybe I’ll see you in class sometime!

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