Summer Week 8—Broccoli and Basil

Dulce is here with her first calf, Charlotte (on the left), and Juniper's calf, Darkwing (on the right). Beauty (Dulce's 16-year-old mom) is due any day with her 12th calf.

Dulce is here with her first calf, Charlotte (on the left), and Juniper’s calf, Darkwing (on the right). Beauty (Dulce’s 16-year-old mom) is due any day with her 12th calf.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• Broccoli or Cauliflower
• “Red Norland” New Potatoes (best steamed, roasted, or boiled)d
Cucumbers
• Green Onions
Summer Squash or Zucchini
• Baby Lettuces
• Napoletano Basil
• Thai or Lime Basil

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

COMING SOON:
Spinach
Romano Beans
Arugula
Cilantro
U-Pick Beans

The U-pick area is open for cut-flowers. Herbs and more beans are coming soon!

It’s crunch time here, so my apologies for the lack of update last week. Not only are we taking care of and harvesting summer crops, we also are working furiously to get all the fall and winter crops in the ground, since we only have a couple of months of growing time left. July and August are by far the busiest months. Add to that the ever-growing cow population, Della’s new goat, and the need to move the turkeys, and it’s a very long to-do list.

Clubroot is a fungus that affects mainly the Brassica family (all the broccoli, cabbage, turnips, kale, etc.). Once it's in your soil, it's there for seven or so years. The fungus inhabits the roots of the plant, making it impossible for it to uptake water and nutrients.

Clubroot is a fungus that affects mainly the Brassica family (all the broccoli, cabbage, turnips, kale, etc.). Once it’s in your soil, it’s there for seven or so years. The fungus inhabits the roots of the plant, making it impossible for it to uptake water and nutrients.

Last year's Cauliflower and Broccoli crop—decimated by Clubroot.

Last year’s Cauliflower and Broccoli crop—decimated by Clubroot.

The broccoli is in full swing now. I held my breath for several months, waiting to see if we would have any this year, after The Great Brassica Disaster of 2012.  We lost our entire drop of thousands of cauliflower and broccoli plants to the dreaded Clubroot, a fungus that inhabits the roots of plants in the brassica family and slowly starves them. It affects other plant families as well, but it’s really evident in the brassicas because they have such a small root system to support a lot of top growth. The fungus lives in the soil and can remain there for decades. So, our organic control method is to not grow any brassicas on our farm. WHAT? That means no kale, turnips, cabbage, arugula—it’s a long, long list. We depend on brassicas here.

This year's Broccoli crop—beautiful and Clubroot-free on the neighbor's property. These plants are behind T & M's raspberry plants.

This year’s Broccoli crop—beautiful and Clubroot-free on the neighbor’s property. These plants are behind T & M’s raspberry plants.

The good news? We have wonderful neighbors, who are renting us plots to expand our crop rotation. (We hope to eventually assimilate those properties, and expand our farm, so watch for news.) We have planted our entire crop of summer and winter brassicas next door, on T&M land, which has been fallow (well, it’s had a sod of clover and dandelions on it) for several years. The results are beautiful. We once again have a lovely crop of broccoli. The cauliflower, not so much because we lost control of weeds, but the fall cauliflower will be delicious come October.

Here's a tidy little broccoli crown. The broccoli this year is amazing!

Here’s a tidy little broccoli crown. The broccoli this year is amazing!

Our favorite variety of broccoli is "Packman". Don't know why it's called that, but it's several decades old and produces a nice first crown. But the real reason to grow it is for the successive crops of side shoots—those little heads of broccoli that come in waves after the main crown is cut off. Look at all of them!

Our favorite variety of broccoli is “Packman”. Don’t know why it’s called that, but it’s several decades old and produces a nice first crown. But the real reason to grow it is for the successive crops of side shoots—those little heads of broccoli that come in waves after the main crown is cut off. Look at all of them!

There has been a tragedy in the broccoli seed business. Our favorite variety, Packman, is no longer available. We’ve grown it for 15 years, it’s the best for us. It makes a nice little crown, and we can pick it for three more weeks, harvesting little side shoots of tasty broccoli. Makes the entire business of broccoli growing worthwhile. But sadly, the breeder has discontinued it. How do you replace something like that? I’ve been trying other varieties, but none are quite as perfect.

This week in FarmKids Club, the kids inscribed their future Halloween pumpkins.

This week in FarmKids Club, the kids inscribed their future Halloween pumpkins.

The FarmKids Club met this week, and we made ice cream from Juniper’s milk, picked blackberries to eat with the ice cream, and inscribed their names on green pumpkins. Those pumpkins will have their names emblazoned on them in the u-pick patch, come October.

This little girl keeps me company in the cucumber greenhouse. I think she enjoys the bed of nasturtium flowers when I'm not watching. She may have a nest in there, but I can't find it.

This little girl keeps me company in the cucumber greenhouse. I think she enjoys the bed of nasturtium flowers when I’m not watching. She may have a nest in there, but I can’t find it.

And here’s  a nice moment captured in the greenhouse. This little female Anna’s Hummingbird spends a lot of time with the cucumbers and nasturtiums. She chirps at me while I’m working in there, but doesn’t leave. I’ve been able to overwinter a little group of them for three years now, with careful feeder maintenance. I wonder which generation she is.

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One response to “Summer Week 8—Broccoli and Basil

  1. The broccoli really was amazing this week and we were so happy to see it too! We’re growing some on our condo balcony, but its not ready yet. A little taste keeps us anticipating 🙂

    For dinner we had a Vietnamese inspired steak salad. We made a dressing of lime juice, fish sauce, sugar (brown or turbodino is best) with some saambal oolek (a chile paste). We used 1/2 the dressing to marinate thinly sliced steak. While it marinated, we made the salad – lettuce, cucumber, thinly sliced carrot, green onions, Thai basil. You can grill or quickly stir fry the meat, then toss it with the salad and remaining dressing. Yum!

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