Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Food: Cucumber Salad, Green Bean Tomato Salad

Farmer No. 2's Mom's Cucumber Salad 
Large cucumber (20") quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4" slices

Combine in a bowl:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sugar
2 hot peppers sliced (dried chili flakes work too)
Salt and pepper

Add cucumbers and toss
Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour, overnight is better.

Harvest: Tomatoes, Beans, Peppers

We have enough plants working on the farm to do small harvests like this two or three times a week. There are two types of tomatoes that we picked this morning. The smaller darker ones are heirloom Black Plum tomatoes. The second type is a hybrid tomato suspiciously named Health Kick. This tomato is engineered to have 50% more of the anti-oxidant lycopene than the typical tomato. There is an in-depth review of Health Kick tomatoes grown in Cleveland, Ohio  here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Harvest: Cucumbers and Thai Hot Peppers

The 2007 cucumber season was extremely productive and 2008 is looking good so far. We harvested five of the biggest cucumbers with many still on the way. The three red dots on the bottom represent the first harvest of the hot pepper plants we have. 

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Food: Grilled Eggplant and Green Beans

The eggplant that the farm just harvested was on the chopping block last night. 
The search for a recipe took awhile. Which of Le Techniques would showcase eggplant best? It originates from India and naturally that seems like a good starting point. Partly out of pantry supplies and partly out of laziness Le Indian Technique was quickly ruled out and grilling was decided on. Some nobody name chef Bobby Flay wrote a recipe with a chili pepper and fresh oregano dressing. So that's it piled on top of the eggplant. Farmer No.2 is 80% positive the measurements were correct but the dressing was a little strong. In small doses it tasted delicious. 
Trivia: Eggplant is richer in Nicotine than any other edible plant. However, it would take 20lbs of eggplant to match the nicotine in the average cigarette. Wikipedia

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Harvest: Eggplant and Tomatoes (two of them)

We've been monitoring the progress of this one for a month now (see June 24, July 9) The first eggplant is in and there are more on the plant.
We actually harvested two eggplants but it turns out an army of tiny white bugs has been using the Antigua as a cafeteria. It's our fault. We need to make sure none of the produce touches the ground because the pests will get to it. Combining clipping the lowest branches and using stakes/trellises will help out.
The farm also brought in two tomatoes the size of golf balls.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Food: Quinoa Salad, Grilled Peppers, Onions and Potatoes

Red Potatoes - try grilling them, it is delicious and fast. Coat with olive oil, sprinkle salt and grill for 10 minutes on each side until soft.
Grilled Peppers:
Grill with olive oil until charred and tender.
Dress with olive oil, fresh basil and rosemary, and balsamic vinegar. The balsamic tastes amazing with the grilled pepper because it adds a little sweetness.
Quinoa Salad: GREAT recipe
Cook quinoa.
Add chopped arugula, grilled onions, crumbled feta and S&P.
Delicious and very healthy.

Harvest: Beets, Peppers, Beans & Tomato

Our biggest harvest yet - 3 banana peppers, 3 BIG Great Stuff peppers, beans, Chiogga beets and our first tomato!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nick the Farmer's Basil

Last night Farmer No. 1 went out to pick up a slice of pizza. She ran into Nick the Farmer who gave her a bunch of his fresh basil for the pizza. Now, we grow our own basil but when we saw his… that's his basil on the right… we know there is no doubt that we are making more mistakes. A taste test confirms, Nick's basil is soft and tastes like basil. The little leaf on the left that at one point was basil smells nice but has a tough texture and it tastes of air.How hard can it be to grow basil? It's not difficult to grow, it can survive mediocre conditions, but to make the leaves taste better the plant requires maintenance. It is important to limit the height of the plant by regularly pinching off branch tips and cutting off the top of the main stem before it flowers. The flowering screws up the oil content in the leaves so a bushy basil plant is happier than tall leggy one. This image shows post grooming. 
Farmer No. 2 lobbed off a good 8 inches and turned it into a big green bouquet. The grooming should probably go down even further but it already might be too late for the plants. Nick the Farmer said he'd give us some of his.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Infarmation: Skyscraper Farming

Interesting article in the NY Times today about creating "verdant, self-sustaining towers where city slickers cultivated their own food." It seems a bit strange to have a farm behind glass and 20 stories high...this is taking the idea of eating local to the extremes.
Check it out and tell us what you think.

Photos by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mithun and SOA Architects.

Update: Corn

The corn that we planted two months ago are now almost chest high.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Harvest: 1/50 Bushel of Beets

A new unit of measurement needs to be created for farms that measure in square feet instead of acres. It would be nice to record how much the farm is harvesting but the official unit, the bushel, is too large a unit. A bushel of beets is around 50lbs, and we pulled four beets; two golden beets and two chioggia beets.
For two mouths, 1/50th bushel is perfect for Beets In Vinaigrette. The recipe didn't call for this, but the beet greens were steamed and it was all tossed together. Parsley was also picked on the farm. 

Thursday, July 10, 2008

R.I.P. Golden Giant Plant, Young Peppers Orphaned

These brothers and sisters are orphans.
Their parent, Golden Giant Pepper Plant was mysteriously severed at its base today. Total tragedy. 
One possible explanation are those cats again. Border Security may have scared the cat so much that it jumped right into the plant breaking it and forcing us to prematurely harvest its peppers. 

The other pepper plants appear in good health. The Bananaramas are out and we have harvested one so far. The pepper on the right we found on the ground and are not sure which plant produced it. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Update: Beets and Cucumbers

After the mishap a couple weeks ago, Farmer No. 2 has left the beets alone save for watering them. The time was spent well. You can see the bulbs popping out of the ground now on both the chioggia and golden beet crops.Nick's Giant Cucumbers are on their way. If they live up to last year's staggering growth they will hit 20+ inches.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Brooklyn Farm Border Security

Those cats are still at it. Every morning as we walk the rows Farmer No. 2 is on the lookout for traces of the cats. Their new favorite spot is our brand new boxes where they bury fresh poo. This forces us to look out for the concentrated swarm of flies. The feral cat community continues to multiply and until these cats start practicing safe and responsible behavior, or until we get the Mayor's Alliance on NYC's Animals on it, we contracted out a sniper. For 24 hour protection a motion-activated sprinkler is strategically placed to watch over the crops. The ASPCA endorses The ScareCrow as a humane method of addressing this pest issue. 

We will be monitoring the placement and the sensitivity dial.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Competition

Farmers No1 and 2 scouted out a farmer's market over the weekend. Everything is grown within a couple hours of the city but we are confident that we would be the nearest vendor. We would undoubtedly have the smallest acreage of any vendor as well. 

This year we planted one row of broccoli. It was a row eight feet long that produced seven full heads of broccoli with a handful of smaller offshoots. The farmer below has the broccoli market covered.
Presentation matters. There are a lot of distressed boxes and wicker baskets holding produce tied together with twine. This is a table of different cherries.
The swiss chard looks corn fed. We have chard as well but we've had to pick the leaves before they get this large or they get sun burnt.
The search tool on LocalHarvest.org will point you to markets near you. 

Friday, July 4, 2008

Drying Lavender and Making Sachets

I planted a lovely lavender last year, and this year it has tripled in size and is nearly taking over the beets. In full bloom now, it scents the garden and is ready for harvest. The best time to harvest is early morning before the sun warms the buds and they emit their oils.

I rinsed out the lavender with the garden hose to remove any dirt or insects and left it to dry inside on a clean towel. Within minutes, our entire apartment smelled of real lavender (not a fake air freshener) and made it worth growing just for those few days of scent.

After drying for four days, I separated the buds from the stems and put a few scoops into a little sachet. The sachet is small pouch made from simple muslin - a fabric that is light enough to allow the scent to pass through and fill clothes drawers and linen closets with a fresh scent.
I sewed a little heart on the sachet for cuteness. And made a few more from a Japanese fabric I've been waiting to use. Very sweet and they smell great.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pepper Inventory

Our largest crop by far is the pepper plant. We have 13 pepper plants ranging from sweet to hot. 

The Thai Hot Pepper plant has dozens of little peppers coming up.
The Great Stuff Pepper plant.
The A-Z Inventory:
Ancho Pepper (2)
Fatalii Hot Pepper
Golden Giant II
The Godfather Pepper
Great Stuff Pepper
JalapeƱo Pepper (2, both from seed)
Jamaica Hot Yellow Hot Pepper (hot 2x in the name?)
Peach Habanero
Red Delicious Pepper
Thai Hot Pepper