Now is the time to keep our neighbors in central North Carolina and the Outer Banks in our hearts! As your farmers, we are happy to hear the hurricane models show Dorian missing WNC. We are Blessed. There have been good crops and not so good this season, but right now we are getting pretty eggplant and colorful, sweet, bell peppers. These peppers have some of the thickest walls we have ever seen. Each one is loaded with Vitamin C and fiber! Saute or stuff them or eat them raw. They are delicious any way you decide to prepare them. Some years the hurricanes do come through and put an end to these late summer treats. We are grateful to be dodging this one.
Along with the eggplant and bell peppers and potatoes and carrots and cabbage and tomatoes and remaining corn and green beans, we have a variety of winter squash going into the CSA Boxes. The following photos will show you an easy way to get into the spaghetti squash which are the most plentiful this harvest season. First cut off the stem end to provide a stable cutting surface. Then cut the squash in half.
Next scoop out the seeds and place the spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking pan or dish. Bake at 350 degrees until the skin starts to brown and a fork pierces the skin–about 20 minutes should do the trick. Then you only have to rake out the flesh into spaghetti strands! Or you can eat right out of shell, if you prefer!! The pulp can be frozen at this stage, too, using a quality freezer bag.
Eat well. We certainly are!
In the CSA Boxes this week look for Yukon Gold potatoes–some are HUGE; savoy and ball head cabbages; perhaps the last of the cukes; tomatoes–Juliette variety and slicers; eggplant in traditional and/or Japanese; a sweet, green pepper and a long pepper variety which is also sweet; ears of tender sweet corn–with the corn worms removed thanks to Robert; and an individual spaghetti squash–this is a winter squash, so look there for recipes.
Oh, and lift the box using your legs since it will be heavy this week!
We got over two inches of rain recently–which we did not want or need. This is not good for the gardens–just so you know. The squash and zucchini are gone. The melons do not look good now even though they once did. This first wave of corn is as good as it gets–we are pleased. However, the second wave of corn was knocked down by the recent rains. Still the garden is providing a summertime bounty, despite it all.
In the CSA Boxes this week look for red potatoes–some are HUGE; savoy and ball head cabbages; cukes; carrots; green beans; the first tomatoes–depending on the day, Juliette variety and/or slicers; eggplant in traditional and/or Japanese; a sweet, green pepper; and 6 ears of tender sweet corn–break them in half and you’ll have 12. Note: Steaming for only ten minutes suits us just fine!
Robert has been working really hard this summer in case you have not figured that out. And so I decided to pick enough blueberries last evening to make him a blueberry pie. I dressed to cover my entire body so I was protected from the thorns and mosquitoes. Then I sprayed a healthy dose of Deet just to be sure and made the trek to the garden. I scouted around looking a for a good place to start harvesting and making note of the hornets nest in the ground at the end of row three or four. It is a big nest and would be difficult to miss, in my opinion.
I settled in and began my task immediately being targeted by a mosquito who could not resist my uncovered hands and fingers. Gloves are not helpful for harvesting blue berries, so I took the hit. Next I was buzzed by a Blue Jay who practically took my hat off! They think this is their private domain and humans are not allowed! The Jay spent the remainder time caw-cawing at me from a nearby tree.
A bit later the turkey hens and their poults came wandering along. They love the blueberry bushes. It seems the mothers use this as a training ground to teach the poults to fly–and they will fly onto the bushes knowing sweet rewards await. However, when they saw me with my big hat and other garb, they detoured into the woods to wait for me to leave. The sight of Robert would not have concerned them, but the turkeys are wary of anyone else. Also, turkey hens with poults are not quite as aggressive as the local Blue Jays and Crows. The turkeys are protective of their young. I picked on knowing I needed two full cups for a decent pie.
Next on the scene came deer. They stayed in the nearby thickets and blew at me. A blow is a kind of snort they give to let you know THEY KNOW you are present and not particularly welcomed. Still I picked on!
Just as I was reaching the amount of berries I desired, I heard a rustling and crashing sound in the distance. Did you ever read the Caldecott Award winning children’s story Blueberry Hill? It is about bears on Blueberry Hill. Okay, so this is Ploeger’s Garden and not Blueberry Hill, but I was taking no chances. I headed for the house with my harvest–pronto–to make a blueberry pie. This just might call for a scoop of organic, French Vanilla ice cream!
The point of this story? We have blueberries for CSA Members–only if you dare. Send an email or call me at 828-628-1601, if you are interested.
In the CSA Boxes we have green beans and carrots to go with the cabbages, cucumbers, potatoes, and the last of the patty pan summer squash, and zucchini. There may be the first eggplant by the end of the week! The plants are loaded with little ones. It is just a matter of how quickly they grow. We will have the traditional black eggplant and the deep purple Japanese eggplant, too, depending on the day.
These are the best carrots we have ever grown. What I mean is they are the biggest, straightest “one-legged” carrots! Robert has been removing from the best looking section of the 200 foot row, so the quality will no doubt differ as he gets into the not-as-good looking section of the row. There will not be a massive amount, but plenty for your cabbage salads and coleslaw.
In the CSA Box you will recognize summer vegetables. We are sending out the first new potatoes. They will be either Yukon Gold or Red, depending on the day. We have green beans to go with the cabbages, cucumbers, patty pan summer squash, and zucchini.
The sweet peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, winter squash, melons and corn are all growing and looking good. More good summertime eating is on the way! Wash, Prepare, Eat, Enjoy, and Repeat where the veggies are concerned.
The heat and the rain have been hard on the crops this season. We lost about one-half of our zucchini and patty pan squash. This is sad, but I believe we will still have enough to make everyone happy. Just to be safe, Robert did put a late planting into the ground.
Our heirloom apple trees are popular with the wildlife right now. We do not get any apples from these trees, but the critters certainly enjoy them. Apparently, they are tasty enough to make a deer stand up tall in the early morning twilight!
This bear tore down one of our small apple trees. He has never been destructive before. We are not sure what his problem was that day. He has been caught climbing the big apple tree. Perhaps he was attempting to climb the small tree and this was an accident? We sure hope he does not like sweet corn because we do not think the deer fence will intimidate this guy or gal!
Farmers like to think they are in control, but the reality is uncertainty rules on the farm! Too much rain–this week it is TOO MUCH rain in case you are wondering. Too little rain. Too hot. Too cold. Not to mention the weeds, insect pests, and wildlife issues. There is only one way to deal with all of the uncertainty and that is to admit we are NOT in control. We have a sign which says Wildlife Sanctuary to remind us the animals were here first. However, we DO install around a large portion of our gardens a seven-foot Deer Fence each season! We know this works for the deer herd. We are praying this fence will keep the raccoons from tearing down the sweet corn we are attempting to grow in 2019. I can just imagine raccoons with little cell phones and an app which says “Fresh Corn at Ploeger’s Farm. Details to be posted!”
The potatoes are looking great at this point in time. You can see below the foliage is touching row to row! The beans are flowering. The tomatoes are staked. The cucumbers are getting a foothold. We grow some of the sweetest cukes you will ever taste! It might be the soil and it might be the seed we plant, but if you like cucumbers, you will love the ones we grow!
The sunflowers have been planted, idle fields mowed, the sweet potatoes weeded. The winter squash and melon patches are in order. We must always be looking toward the next crops while keeping an eye on and harvesting the current crops. Robert is very good when it comes to production management and understanding the garden needs. And gardens are quite needy!
Still in the process of juggling so many different balls, some things will slip past our watchful eyes. This is why we ask you to especially keep an eye out for green worms on the broccoli. We are not certified organic, but neither do we drench our crops in insecticides. Any worms will be the exact color of the broccoli stalk. If you miss them in the preparation, you will find them in the bottom of your steamer! Might not want to show them to the rest of the family. Keep that little secret to yourself, please. Consider any you find a protein bonus. BTW, the second wave of broccoli looks even worse than the first wave. Wet? Heat? Either way, just too much stress on the plants this season. Get creative by cutting the “heads” into florets!
If you want to visit the gardens, send me an email with a couple of dates and times that work for you and I will attempt to coordinate our schedules. BYO sunscreen and insect repellent and come in appropriate footwear.
One last thing: Thanks for returning those CSA Boxes! We need them for the next surprise veggie box we harvest for our families. Local, seasonal eating–as good as it gets!