50’s outside meant 70’s in the high tunnel and plenty to harvest. What a wondrous day for the last day of January. Once I got done with my have-to’s in the AM, I made an executive decision to ignore my need-to’s in the house and spend a few hours working in the high tunnel and the garden. I was richly rewarded. Salad greens, edible flowers, and Jerusalem artichokes will be heading to the restaurant with the chef tomorrow. The weekend’s Jerusalem artichoke chowder was a sell-out hit. It was great to get my hands into the earth and go treasure hunting for them. Mother Nature does a great job of keeping them crisp and fresh for whenever we need them. The “candy carrots” are sweet and crisp. In addition to the harvest, I loved seeing a dandelion in the high tunnel and some beautiful magenta kales.
We have picked cherry tomatoes by the gallon this summer. We also use them by the gallon at the restaurant. For the past month or so, Small Wonder Farm has been able to produce nearly all of the restaurant’s needs. Tiny “currant” tomatoes are the Chef’s favorite. The 2 red currants and 1 gold currant planted in the high tunnel have taken a superhuman effort to pick. We can easily spend an hour or more on each plant every other day. We also grew and love our Chocolate Cherry tomatoes and a new variety for the farm–Tomatoberry–both spectacular.
The small cluster of onions pictured are from Egyptian Walking Onions, a perennial onion that forms clusters of onions at the top of the plant to be replanted and a larger bulb at the base to be harvested. These have been on my radar for a while now. I have read about them and then I saw them growing at Connor Prairie. I was delighted when I saw them offered by Daniel Fagerstrom ofGreen Gate Garden. Daniel is an inspiring farmer who often offers things just a little out of the ordinary. I was delighted to have gotten some Jerusalem Artichoke plants from him this spring as well. His Green Gate Garden at Fair Oaks Farm is a marvel of diversity, beauty, and bounty.
I purchased the scalloped squashes from Ginny Markle of Markle Farm for the restaurant. They were too beautiful to pass up and too lovely not to photograph before sending them with the chef. Many locals know Ginny and her amazing array of beautiful fruits and vegetables.
Ginny and Daniel are enough reason to attend the Saturday market in Lafayette.
Too much to do to blog it all.
This is life on the farm now:
Get up before the sun for coffee and a piece of fruit
Pick from dawn until done (about 2.5-3 hours)
Water, prune, other maintenance 1-2 hours
Sort and clean produce
Pack produce for restaurant for the chef to take or for me to deliver
Can, dehydrate, freeze what is to be used for the family.
Water, check crops, barn chores
Preserve everything that could not be done the day before
I was laid low over the weekend by pain and intense heat, so it was wonderful (and sorely needed) to get out yesterday early AM for three hours of harvesting and weeding. Here is what I am harvesting now:
fingerling potatoes (Russian Banana)
purple, orange, white, and orange carrots
kale (Lacinato and Fizz)
Rainbow Swiss Chard
onions (Bridger–harvesting them all and they are drying on the driveway)
purple bunching onions
basil (Mammoth and Genovese)
For supper last night, I used all of the above to make a green salad, antipasto plate, and stir fry. It was delicious and oh so nutritious. Everyone loved it and Lily got creative with her rice noodles. Kale, strawberries, chard, and carrots went to the restaurant with the chef this morning.
One of the challenges of growing produce for the restaurant is cleaning and prepping it for their use. It’s easy to send a basket of zucchini with the chef in the morning, but harvesting, cleaning, spinning, and storing a 10 gallon spinach harvest is another thing all together. I wish I had a commercial 3 bay sink, but I did purchase one tool last fall that is a great help. I ordered a used commercial salad spinner off of eBay. I used it Thursday to triple wash and spin spinach, spinach, spinach, and raddhicio, chicory, mache, and arugula. The chef uses the spinach in many sauteed pasta dishes and the rest was blended together to be added to the leaf lettuce used for side salads. All of it gets washed again at the restaurant and gets used first. The chicory in particular is a delicate green and gets bruised easily. We want it to be as fresh as possible and use it the same day it goes to the restaurant. After I triple wash and spin, I bag it up and store on the back fridge (also indispensable (thanks dad!)).