Thursday, July 30, 2009

Another Chert Hollow Adventure

I spent another weekend at Chert Hollow Farm, and came home with a bounty of pole beans and pictures to share.

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Saturday morning is market-time, meaning that while Eric went into town early to sell the last week's goods, Joanna and I got a late start (at 7:30 AM). The geese were particularly wary of me this morning.


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We then went about the business of planting. We planted a bed in alternating chinese cabbage (some of which will be bound for sour kraut) and red onion. The Market Garden is right by the house (with the half-constructed shed), making it easy to access. It is in the shade for a good part of the morning, making it cool, easy working.


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We did some weeding in the garden before heading out to the field. We were clearing out beds that had previously held several varieties of potatoes, and now offered prime space for some late-season and fall crops.


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Joanna decided on beets, which I was all too happy to oblige. We planted five different varieties. While unrealistic, I can still dream that maybe a few of these will be ready (or need to be tested) before I head back to Wisconsin at the end of August. I found the shape of the seeds to be fastinating, as well as large and nice to work with while planting.


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For lunch, we picked an ear of sweet corn for testing. The verdict: delicious! But still needing a couple more days to fully flesh out the kernels at the ends. Chert Hollow currently isn't growing any sweet corn for market, since sweet corn in the midwest goes for such deflated prices that small, organic operations like theirs can't compete or even recoup their costs on the crop. This bed will make a nice personal stash, if the coons continue to stay away.


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I forgot to photograph the rest of our lunch, but we spent some more time in the morning weeding in the field and garden. One of my favorite field crops of their is the sweet sorghum, which is the midwest equilvalent of sugar cane. The stalks are sweet and can be cut and chewed for a treat, or pressed and boiled down into a syrup. It additionally produces a seed head in the fall, and the sorghum grain can be ground up and used as a flour or meal for baking and cooking.


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One of the great features of sorghum is how hardy it is. Joanna described the growing process as planting it in the ground and barely touching it since. It grows very tall, which means that it need not compete with weeds underneath for sunlight, and is more drought-resistant than other crops. I love walking through the towering rows. They remind me of being 7 years old, when everything was so much taller than I was, and corn mazes in summer and fall were like big jungles to navigate.


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Eric came home in the afternoon bearing some delicious finds: an Uprise Bakery baguette and two enormous, ripe cantaloupe melons from another local farmer. The cantaloupe made a sweet chilled soup, with some fresh peach salsa to dress it up. Combined with some Kohlrabi-slaw and a dipping plate of reduced balsamic and olive oil, it made for a delicious summer meal.


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We went for a night walk after dinner, and found some interesting biology to investigate. With the help of google and an insect song CD, we got so far as identifying this guy as some sort of Katydid.


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We also found a frog on the porch! My favorite part of frogs is probably their toes, which are like little sticky bubbles allowing them to adhere to essentially any surface.


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On sunday we did some more weeding and harvesting, picking a hefty crop of Fin de Bagnol, Soy, and Pole beans. The cool weather this summer has been a boon to the bean crops (and bean lovers such as myself). For lunch we cooked some fresh edamame, made a white-bean salad, and gladly continued consuming more fruit soup and bread from the night before.

I went home that afternoon. All in all, another fabulous farm adventure.

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