DIGGING DEEPER

Farm NewsLetter 07/17/07

July 17th, 2007

How strange to have rain this time of year. Usually I tell people it stops raining in Portland after the 4th of July and doesn’t start again in earnest until Halloween. The rain made the grass roadways pretty slippery, but otherwise hasn’t yet amounted to much. I definitely left the irrigation on. The only other thing to worry about if this weather continues is tomato late blight. Technically a water mold, it is only a problem in mild 60-70 degree weather when the plants are wet or humidity is high. In hotter weather, the spores dry out and can’t infect the plants. This is one of the reasons we use drip tape to irrigate our tomatoes. And keep our fingers crossed that the weather gets hot sunny again soon.

We’ve been working with OSU extension agent Nick Andrews on several projects this season. He’s running a cover crop experiment, helping with the Participatory Potato Project (more info at www.OSPUD.org ) and lately he has been out in our brassica fields marveling at the unbelievable amount of aphids and strategizing with us how to deal with them. If you’ve been wondering why there isn’t more broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage in your share, those little green and grey pests are the reason. Never in the history of the farm have I seen so many! We’ve just about given up on the current planting, but I think there is still hope for the newly planted field. The next step is to try spraying with a blend of rosemary and peppermint oil which attacks octopamine neuroreceptors in insects and mites. Octopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates movement, heart rate, behavior, and metabolism. I’ve heard it does a good job on aphids in hop and filberts. We’ll see how effective it is against the tremendous cabbage aphid population we’re currently hosting. Happily, there is lots of other food out there in the fields for us out that the aphids aren’t so fond of!

Students in Portland State University’s Sustainable Food Systems and Educational Farms class are compiling a cookbook featuring favorite summer vegetables. If you have a favorite recipe you would like to share, please send it to Celeste at kcalvarez@comcast.net. Thank you for sharing!

Weather: Warm & Wet!
Thanks to everyone for all your help!

Your share this week may include:

Carrots Seems like we can never grow enough of these sweet baby carrots. They should be around for a few weeks and we just seeded more, more, more!
Chard Beautiful leaves of all shapes sizes and colors
Daikon Radish Traditionally mild, this variety called Discovery, has some heat to it!
Baby Fennel Just a few to peak your interest. Shave them VERY thin into salads –or- split in half, poach them, reduce the liquid, add a bit of cream, sprinkle w/ parmesan.
Garlic Harvested fresh this week, these heads are not fully cured so they won’t store well. Just means you should enjoy their fat juicy cloves asap.
Walla Walla Onions Little & sweet- perfect for summer salads.
Potatoes Thought we were going to have baby Yukon Gold’s this week but as we dug them we realized there were some lunkers in there! In spite of their size they have very tender thin skins, and of course the characteristic sweet yellow flesh.
Lettuce Heads Out of this world red & green leaf lettuce with cosmic names like Galactic and Two Star

Coming Soon… Baby Summer Squash & Purple Potatoes!!

Braised Fennel
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
ß Wash 1 lb fennel, & remove any tough parts. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces.
ß Sauté in olive oil in a skillet for about 5 minutes; then add broth (chicken or vegetable, your preference) to make about 1/2 inch in skillet, so the fennel does not burn. Cover and simmer over low heat until tender, about 15-20 min.
ß Season the broth with salt and pepper; serve.
ß Optional: Remove cooked fennel, add cream and reduce. Pour sauce over fennel. You can also sprinkle with some freshly grated Parmesan or mozzarella before serving.

Fennel Salad Notes
From Vegetables, By James Peterson

Fennel is delicious in salads, but must be shaved into very thin slices or it becomes difficult and monotonous to chew. A vegetable slicer is almost essential, and the fennel must be sliced only just before serving or it will turn brown and loose some it’s aroma and crunch. The best flavoring for shaved fennel is extra virgin olive oil and a little lemon juice, but you can also add shavings of authentic Italian Parmesan cheese. Fennel’s subtle flavor and refreshing crunch make it easy to combine with other ingredients to come up with interesting improvised salads. It’s great with potatoes, mushrooms, thinly sliced raw artichokes, baby leafy greens and even truffles.