Week 6: S-s-s-s-s-cythe!
Click here for the preferred veggie form and see the full list of the contents of the box below (including some more discussion about what's available/in abundance/scarce).
You may remember a couple of weeks ago we briefly alluded to our plans of using a scythe. Well, the time is here to talk more about our near-future of acting like the grim reaper, or at least like a Civil War veteran in a new field. So, why are we doing this anachronistic activity? For context, here’s a picture of our field, taken this evening:
All those plants that kiiiiiind of look like cannabis are actually giant ragweed (which we have also previously mentioned, or bemoaned, as it were). We basically have a forest of ragweed growing in our back 17 right now, and we’d like to prevent it from spreading its seed.
It’s hard to see in the above picture, but we also have a lot of buckwheat growing out there. Buckwheat is a fast-growing cover crop that is good for rejuvenating overworked land due to its ability to grow in poor soils, quick turnaround, and weed suppression (through we missed the boat on timing it correctly for this purpose!). When we got our cover crops planted at the beginning of June, we used a mix of buckwheat and red clover on the southern half, and a mix of perennial grasses and oats on the northern half. We wanted plants that were either perennial or self-seeding so that we wouldn’t have to continuously replant the field over and over. Unfortunately, the ragweed took over a little more than we anticipated, and our current plan is to allow the buckwheat to reseed itself as much as possible, but also scatter some new cover crop seeds on the southern half of the field and scythe everything, ragweed and buckwheat alike, allowing the fallen plants to mulch the new seeds.
This brings us back to the scythe. One of the reasons we are going to use a scythe on the field to take down the giant ragweed is because, as much as possible, we want to eliminate running any heavy machinery across the field. Years of conventional farming using huge tractors and combines has compacted the soil. Compaction decreases water’s ability to be absorbed into the ground (which exacerbates the problem of topsoil loss from water runoff), and makes it harder for plants’ roots to grow deep.
Another reason for the scythe is its slower, more meditative nature. Rather than run big, noisy, polluting machinery over the land in an indiscriminate way, we’ll be methodically moving over it on the ground, able to see what we’re doing, perhaps opting not to cut that patch of buckwheat yet because it needs more time to grow, perhaps leaving that sunflower so it can bloom. And, though we’re describing the scythe as slower here, it is actually an efficient tool for cutting down plants. So far, we’ve been using a machete for localized ragweed control, which, while fun to swing around, is perhaps not as ergonomic for long-term use.
We’ve selected an all-purpose scythe that should work well on weeds like the giant ragweed, but isn’t so heavy that we couldn’t also use it to mow grass or even harvest hay. All in all, we’re quite excited to add this scythe to our arsenal.
In the Box
Week 6 and a lot of this is going to look familiar. Good news is on the way though! We just found our first ripe cherry tomato. It seems to be a bit of an overachiever so likely won't have enough for next week's box, but are expecting them to roll in after that! In addition we've had a great blossoming of squash varieties!
- Salad mix (lettuce mix, lamb's quarters, arugula, sorrel)
- Green onions
- Carrots with tops (half of the shares will get them this week)
- Shell Peas (eat the peas, not the pods!)
- Beans (for some!)
- Eggs (for some)
*We have lots of this! Want only purple basil? Only Thai basil (if you haven't tried this or noticed, it has a distinctly different flavor...kind of like licorice)? Double the kale? Just let us know on the preferred veggie form!
- Beets (if you don't want something above and want beets instead, just fill out a preferred veggie form) we don't have enough beets for everyone but we have enough for some!
Green Bean Sautee!
This is a recipe from our housing co-op days. If you haven't been able to tell, Brad (writing this week's recipe) likes dishes with a lot of flexibility. This one certainly fits the bill. Play around with it! Have some fun! If I am making this just for myself I double the garlic and peanut butter and add a healthy dose of spice.
4 garlic cloves minced up
15-20 "green" beans (or purple or striped beans!)
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of sesame oil (or olive oil)
crushed red pepper, or fresh chillis to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1. Crush the garlic and chop it up (let it sit for ten minutes before adding it)
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and stir until the peanut butter has become less of a chunk and more of a sauce.
3. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more.
Note: I like my eating experience to be as unchallenging and straightforward as possible when I sit down to eat it (I may not be hungry the minute before I have food in front of me, but I am STARVING once it is in front of me). What this means for this meal is that I will cut the green beans up to simple bite size pieces before sauteing.
Take the same recipe above but switch out the green beans for peas (individual peas, not pea pods), double the soy sauce, oil and peanut butter and serve over a spirally pasta like rotini. This was a go-to meal for us and I am now salivating wondering why we stopped making it!
Brad's Food Philosophy Corner
Brad shares his reasons for farming, one per week!
I stole some inspiration for this week’s reason from this op-ed piece. While farming for us has had its stressful moments it has also allowed for many de-stressing moments. Many of the tasks we need to do have a quiet meditative quality to them that is hard to describe. The setting, being outdoors surrounded by green things, definitely helps (science says so! Or you can just trust this drug commercial). Also, although I am not sure how much weight to put behind this, soil bacteria gets you high (or at least activates serotonin-producing neurons in lab mice)! Mostly though, I think it has to do with the slow rhythmic progress you make which is usually both guaranteed and evident. For instance when weeding a row you steadily, at whatever natural rhythm you want, make your way down a row. You are almost always going to have succeeded in this task (there are always those exceptions, like when you accidently “weed” something you planted or the act of pulling out a weed hurts the desired plant). You also can see this success directly with a freshly weeded (and hopefully mulched!) row of plants. This is the sort of immediate gratification I can get behind!