Seeding, Farming Cooking
May 20, 2020
We’re almost finished seeding the wheat crop. I hope that’s finished by the time we get our mailed copy of the Courier. We’ve been watching the forecast, and so we decided to work on Sunday (a rarity for us). That’s thrown me off schedule, because now Monday (deadline day) doesn’t “feel” like Monday. It’s as though I’m still waiting for the weekend and that day of rest. (It should have felt like a Sunday, though. The winds were fierce, as has become usual for Sundays lately.)
Speaking of farming, I’d like to remind everyone to please slow down when meeting or passing farm equipment on the highways. I know we’re going slow (usually less than 25 mph), and we’re taking up a great deal of the road, but that’s why we use flagmen and have our flashers going, to give you warning. It scares us when you don’t slow down. It endangers not only us, but also yourself. We really don’t want to be involved in or witness easily avoided accidents. Please, take a moment or two to allow us to safely traverse the roads. The life you save could be your own. (PSA #1.)
The garden is slowly coming along. I’ve put out the brussel sprouts, broccoli, and red cabbage, my cruciferous veggies. The celery plants went into the ground the next day, along with a couple of parsley plants and a ginger mint. All of those got covered with large, plastic go-cups, modified by having the bottoms cut out. I upend those over bedding plants, both veggies and flowers, to protect them from the harshness of the sun and from the wind. I push the cup down into the dirt around each plant to a depth of about 1”, and build up the loose soil around the outside of the cup. That helps keep the cup in place when the wind blows. This method means I don’t have to harden off the plant before putting it where I want it to grow.
I’ll leave the cups in place for a week or two. If you do this (other things work, also, such as large yogurt or cottage cheese containers, or half-gallon milk jugs), remove the cups carefully. Our gumbo-ey ground tends to set up around and stick to the cup, which might try to dislodge your delicate bedding plant. The cups get recycled every year. They stack nicely for storage. I use them on all my bedding plants. The cups stay in place on the tomato plants. Being pushed in an inch deep, they prevent cut worms from attacking those stems. I did sprinkle crushed egg shells around the cups. They’ll add calcium and maybe repel deer and bug pests.
Rhubarb and asparagus are going strong right now. Some of the rhubarb is trying to send up seed stalks (bolting). Those stalks need to be cut out of the plant, as close to the ground as you can manage. That will help your rhubarb keep producing the desired stalks instead of using their growth to flower and produce seed. Of course, you could use those seeds to start new rhubarb plants, but it’s quicker and easier to simply divide the roots. That root division should be done every four to six years anyway.
I’m enjoying this libation made with rhubarb:
Polish Rhubarb Honey Drink
4 C water
1/2 C honey
1 pound rhubarb, chopped
3 C hot water
Orange slices for garnish
Mint springs, also for garnish
Boil the 4 cups of water; remove from heat and stir in the honey. Set aside to cool. Put rhubarb in processor and mix to pulp. Place in a bowl, pour the 3C hot water over the pulp. Cover. When cool enough to handle, put it in the fridge for 2 hours, or until cold. Strain pulp through a sieve into the honey water. Press as much liquid out as you can. Pour into a pitcher. Fill a tall glass with ice, pour drink over the ice. Garnish with orange slices and/or sprigs of mint.
I’m also expanding my asparagus repertoire. If you want to expand yours as well, you may enjoy the following recipe:
Roasted Asparagus and Shrimp Salad
1 small bunch asparagus
8 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 Tbl EVOO, DIVIDED
1/2 tsp kosher salt, DIVIDED
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, DIVIDED
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
2 Tbl red wine vinegar
2 C salad greens
1 Tbl fresh basil, shredded
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 C grape tomatoes
Shaved parmesan, optional
Heat oven to 400°. Cut asparagus to bite-sized pieces. Put on foil-lined sheet. Make a foil bowl for the shrimp, put that on the same sheet pan. Drizzle 1 Tbl EVOO over both, plus 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Cook in oven 7 minutes. Remove shrimp, cook asparagus another 8 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, vinegar, and remaining salt and pepper. Add the remaining 2 Tbl EVOO, whisking slowly until emulsified. Place greens, basil, and oregano into 2 medium bowls. Add enough dressing to moisten. Top with shrimp, asparagus, tomatoes, and a few shavings of parmesan.
My basil and oregano are not even planted yet, although the basil is started. It’s just still too cold for it to be outside. So I used some I’d dehydrated last summer, so it came from last year’s garden. I keep it in the freezer. Just use a smaller amount, as dehydrating intensifies the flavor by concentrating it. I lacked salad greens, but had a bag of coleslaw mix, so I used that. I think salad greens will be better, but it was still good. I grated my parmesan on top. If you use frozen shrimp, you might want to just turn it over after the first 7 minutes, and let it continue roasting with the asparagus. My shrimp were large, and needed the extra time.