CSA Week 29 — Fog. And The Story of Celery.

Fall is definitely here! Cabbages, Potatoes, Spaghetti Squash, Garlic, Stir-fry Greens (baby kale and pea shoots), Celery or Green Peppers, and Tomatoes or Eggplants.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Cabbages
• Potatoes
• Spaghetti Squash
• Stir-Fry/Smoothie Greens
• Garlic
• Celery or Green Bell Peppers
• Tomatoes or Eggplant

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

COMING SOON: All the Squashes, Baby Bok Choy, Kale

The nights are chilly, the leaves are changing and dropping, and the skies are blue once the fog burns off: Fall is here! Hard squashes, cooking greens, and soup vegetables have arrived, even as the last gasp of summer hangs on in the form of tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. And Celery is abundant, but more about that in a paragraph or two.

This week I’m digging “Strawberry Paw” potatoes. They’re beautifully red on the outside, and snowy white on the inside, and they were very productive this year. I have no idea why they bear this name.

Now is the time to start cleaning up the fields, planting cover crops to nurture and protect the soil, and plant all the garlic and shallots for next year. This week the lack of rain means that the soil is nice and dry for ground preparation, and the first few frosty nights have killed back the squash plants so the squashes can be cut and put away.

Some of you know that I took a five-day vacation last week, and it was incredible. I traced the Oregon Trail all the way to Wyoming, camped in Grand Teton National Park and saw wildlife,  including Grizzly Bears and Moose, and experienced the first snow on the Teton Mountains, then followed the Lewis and Clark Trail all the way home. It was glorious and cold.

So many green peppers. There’s a lot of greenhouse magic this year, and the peppers are loaded with fruits, but they’re only just now starting to ripen to red. I’ve been helping them focus on the biggest, oldest ones by picking several green peppers off each plant. It’s unlikely that they’ll all ripen anyway, given how late it is and the nights are pretty chilly now.

Here’s a funny story: Last year, it seemed like everyone wanted celery beginning in September. They wanted it for soup, for seasoning, for everything. I didn’t have much. So I decided, in my planting plan, to grow a LOT of celery. I’d start making it available in September, and have it until November or whenever the ground froze. And thus, I have A LOT. I spent a lot of money watering it, and I spent a lot of money on a weeding crew to weed it. Twice. And, surprise. Nobody seems to be interested in celery this year.

So, rather than curse the world for not wanting my celery, I’m going to write up a page on all the things one can do with celery. I’ll post the link shortly. Celery is delicious and nutritious, and it’s a huge investment in farm space-time, labor, and water. I love the smell and the flavor, and the vitality it gives me.

It is a member of the Umbelliferae family, with its many aromatic cousins the carrots, fennel, parsley, cilantro, dill, angelica, and lovage. Native to the middle-east, it thrives on alkaline soil with lots of water and nice, dry air. Sounds like the desert to me. It has a shallow root system, which means it needs regular watering, and it grows slowly, which  means regular weeding and cultivation. It can handle a bit of frost, but will shrivel to nothing once the temperature drops below freezing. Celery is a great source of folate, potassium, fiber, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and several B vitamins.

While it is an aromatic vegetable, and one of the trifecta of mirepoix, it’s also pretty tasty on its own, roasted, or sauteed with mixed vegetables. It’s

Celery takes eight months to reach harvestable size, as does its brethren, Celeriac.

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