8.30.2012

The Local Food Report: starts & seeds

You know what? It's not too late. You can throw your squash vines in the compost (R.I.P, butternuts) and try to kill the army of borer beetles and what the heck even rip your spent tomatoes out, but it is Not Over Yet. There's still time! There are cold loving plants!


Natalie at Bayberry gave me the rundown the other day. She does all the ordering for the fall seedlings and seed packet sales at the nursery, and she's got some real gems. My personal favorite is Veronica Cauliflower.

Have you ever seen it? It looks like something out of science fiction. The florets are bright lime green and they swirl and point. Natalie thinks it looks like dinosaur horns. However you want to describe it, the taste is mild and sweet and a little bit nutty and a big hit. It's a bit late to start Veronicas from seed, but Natalie has starts.

Beets are another story. Natalie says beets are always better from seed—she likes Jewel-Tone and her dad likes Detroit Red and they also have a few packets of Early Wonder kicking around. Natalie says beets also like bonemeal and plenty of water, that if they dry out they can get a cavity inside. 

Then of course there are greens. Arugula and kale (lacinato up there and curly leaf are Natalie's picks) and lettuces of every shape and sort. For kale you want starts, but Natalie says it's not too late to start arugula and lettuce from seed. She recommends picking a looseleaf variety for lettuces, something that doesn't take as long as the heading varieties like Tom Thumb or Romaine. That way you can start cutting individual leaves pretty early on.

Finally, it's not too late for fennel or bush beans. Fennel will overwinter or stick around until you decide it's time to pull it out, and bush bean starts planted now will produce through the end of fall. 

Things around here are starting to wind down. The squash vine borer beetles hit us hard, and while we have arugula and fava beans coming in and kale and turnips in the ground, there's not much else going on. But Natalie's got me thinking, and what I'm thinking about is a second wind. The tomatoes are about done, the vines will be out of the hoophouse soon, and what's to stop me from transplanting baby lettuces and bean starts in? 

Bring on the seeds and let's march into fall.

ARUGULA BISQUE

It sounds unlikely, I know. But Natalie swears it's delicious, and so does her sister. It comes from their aunt, Christy Milliken.

1 onion, peeled and chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
olive oil
1/2 pound arugula
1/2 pound spinach
6 cups chicken stock
1 stick butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream

Sauté the onion, celery, leeks, and garlic in a little bit of olive oil in a big pot over medium heat. When the veggies are soft and translucent, add the arugula and spinach and stir until wilted. Next, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. In a separate melt the butter and slowly whisk in the flour to make a roux. Stir the roux into the soup to thicken it, then add the heavy cream. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Add more stock if needed. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot. 

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

Elspeth,
Next time you plant squash put in three or four radish seeds around the base of the plant and just let them grow and grow and grow. They will look pretty funky but they are a great deterrent for squash vine borers who tend to attack the vine at the base.
Darnell

Elspeth said...

thanks for that advice, darnell! i'll try that next year. i'd never had a problem before but this year was terrible.

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