What it takes to grow organic food in healthful ways for the Earth
Visiting an organic farm 5 times bigger than we are (as I did this week) was sobering. Plant disease and insect specialists from a research station also attended this field day. They were not at all quiet about signs of pests and blight they discovered in almost every vegetable bed we walked with the host farmers. The growers in turn described all the many things they do to combat the aphids, worms, fungus, moths, beetles and bacteria that intensify when one grows volumes of crop varieties in huge blocks such as I saw at this farm. It tests every skill, knowledge and ability of an organic grower. I returned to Scotch Hill convinced of the importance of many things we do here to break up plant pest and disease cycles. I was challenged to think, think, think with Dela, our family and friends of how to be better organic growers. First cutting of hay – Right through the July 4th weekend, we cut, raked, dried, baled and stored more than 1,300 bales of hay. We completed this work even as we harvested, tended and planted vegetables. Some hay compensated a couple who rent us machine shed space for our equipment near fields we also rent a mile from our farmstead. Some was sold to help pay machinery, gasoline and haymaking expenses. Some hay is already feeding animals here at Scotch Hill. It was a beautiful week for putting up hay, and many folks helped out before heat and storms of this week. Thank you! Anti Cancer: A new way of Life – Dr. David Servan-Schreiber’s experience and insight in this book, from surviving two bouts of cancer, resonates with us here at Scotch Hill. Dela had surgery for malignant melanoma about 12 years ago. We commend this book to you for all its research-based information. It can help us fend off cancers that afflict so many in the Western world because of our diet, lifestyle and use of so many chemicals. In one University of Montreal study, researchers found that “The more fruits and vegetables these genetically at-risk women ate, the lower their risk of developing cancer. Women who consumed up to 27 different fruits and vegetables a week (and variety does seem to be important here) saw their risk diminished by fully 73 percent.” What is your health and that of those you feed worth? Is it worth the time and expense we all invest in growing, cooking, eating organic vegetable varieties? Keep working what we grow into your diet. It’s vital! Coming soon – Summer squash, eggplant and peppers are forming on plant and vine now. Look for them in your share bags soon. And get ready for tomatoes! Please keep recycling brown paper grocery bags our direction. We need plastic 5-gallon buckets and yellow bowls of any size, too.
This Week’s Vegetables are:
- Lettuce mix
- Beans (1/2 lb.)
- Broccoli (Marathon and Green King varieties)
- Celery (Red Venture heirloom variety; use the leaves in soups and stir fry; add great flavor to salads with the stalks)
Cooking Tip for the Week
Cucumbers with Cream and Mint from Alice Waters “The Art of Simple Food” (2007):
There are many varieties of cucumbers, each with its own flavor and texture. I especially like Armenian, Japanese and lemon cucumbers (Your varieties this week at Scotch Hill include “Parade” from Seed Savors and H19 Little Leaf – trellising toward the sky in our hoop house) For this dish, peel and slice up to 2 cucumbers. If the seeds are large and tough, cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with as spoon before slicing. Place in a medium-size bowl and sprinkle with salt. In another bowl, combine ¼-cup heavy cream, 3 tablespoons olive oil, juice of ½-lemon and fresh-ground black pepper to taste. Stir well. If water has accumulated with the cucumbers, drain it off. Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and combine. Coarsely chop 3 mint sprigs, leaves only (you can substitute basil from our farm). And toss with the cucumbers. Taste and add just the salt as needed. Serve cool.
Cabbage – We grow Copenhagen and Early Jersey Wakefield varieties. Try braising your cabbage with other vegetables, with a favorite meat if you prefer. Or, make up a cool coleslaw. Beans this week are Kentucky Wonder, grown in the ground and climbing to the sky in our high tunnel greenhouse, and Provider, just starting to yield in beds we weeded this week by hand outside.