Tomatoes are here!

Forgive me for my lax posting. Alas, the work is getting to me. Tomatoes are ripening. We had our first batch at the market Thursday and even though they were meager and a little green they got swooped up rather quickly. Hopes are that I can produce, produce, produce, with a little help from the plants themselves, and other aspects of nature and maybe a little respite from the unforeseen. The single stem pruning seems to be working. Some of the plants are even needing to be lain down already. But some of that is also due to my trellis wire being a little bit (tiny, weenie bit) under supported making them sag a bit. Of the two, I have added additional supports (3 in 200 ft rather than 1) for one of them and that helps. I need to add another row immediately and have scoped out enough peeled and dried sticks to use. I need to start popping maters off the vines today and set them up to complete ripening.

The green beans are overwhelming! I took about 12 pounds to market and ended up selling about 4 pounds, then Gracie (another vendor) bought 6 pounds at half price and I brought the rest home. I am thinking $5 a pound is too much but that is what other vendors are charging. I should talk to them about reducing the price.

Radishes. What can I say? I planted too many at once, and now there are thousands of giant radishes. I should have staged the planting, succession planting it’s called. Okra is almost ready to pop out. Beets are producing slowly, but last market there was not a big demand for them. Some of that could be because of stiff competition from Ottmar Farms. I will likely need another outlet.

Radishes, radishes

So, we ran out of beets to sell at the market (or a while it was a big seller). There are only a handfull trying grow to respectable size and Spring plantings which are much farther behind. So, what did come up recently were the thousands (probably) of French breakfast radishes. Now I hear people might like radishes in salads and that is ok, but when folks eat ‘em raw like they were jalapenos or something I have to draw the line. I only test myself with radishes, typically finding out in the end that I prefer fewer than I dared eat.

But, then I was able to ask people at the market who seem to like them what they did with them. Roasted ‘em. Like beets! Sort of. And it was really good!

  • Clean radishes and slice into circles, slice up the greens as you go
  • Toss with EVoO, then salt , pepper, thyme, sage
  • Bake for 25 minutes at 400F or more, flip over half way through
  • Simple, right? And oh so tasty.

    Artichokes revealed

    I haven’t been able to post in a while, but then there hasn’t been much to say either. We tried the Golden beets last night, baked with butter and salt as a market customer suggested, and they were pretty good although I think I used too much butter. They are a bit milder than the red ones but still beety! Strange, I can voraciously gobble down several large chucks without a pause but when it comes to thinking about preparing them I usually balk. I wonder if others think the same way – a hangover from having been fed pickled beets as a youngster I suppose.

    The market is going exceptionally well! The move to Thursday I suppose has been the driving force which has brought in quite a few new vendors and the customers curious to see and shop. Income is up but woe is me I am running out of winter produce to sell. But, we saw the first live tomato today, not that there were any dead ones before. We shored up the plants after the 20+ mph winds last night knocked a few sideways. Only one breakage that I could find.

    I figure I should explain artichokes. I have been selling them for the past few weeks. Most people are amazed that they can be grown in Texas at all (whether I can carry them over to next Spring will be the litmus test) and many people are unfamiliar with them (other than the pickled, yuck, variety). So, I have been explaining

  • Pick ones that are large and still closed (something I just found out)
  • Get a big old pot big enough to set all you are cooking in
  • Smash the top of the ‘choke on the counter to spread out the leaves
  • Cut the step in 2 inch chucks and toss in pot, set the ‘chokes in there too
  • Add enough water to cover half way about
  • Sliver some garlic cloves and stick them between the leaves throughout
  • Put some butter,margarine or olive oil between the leaves too. Salt and pepper
  • Put bread crumbs between leaves too
  • Cover, heat to steam, add water as needed, baste with pot water to cook more evenly
  • They are done when the inner and outer leaves pull out easily and are tender
  • And of course EAT! by pulling leaves, meat down, across your lower teeth

  • If you don’t get any meat off a leaf it is generally not cooked but the outer leaves have less meat on them too. Towards the center, the leaves are so tender that you can just bite the end off. Be careful if there are thorns on the end, you might hurt your fingers! In the center you will find the “choke” which is a fluffy, fibrous, tasteless stuff that clings to the heart. You’ll need to pull, scoop, or cut this out to get to the heart. If you are an artichoke addict you will suck or nibble the heart stuck to the bottom of the choke. Then what is left is the prize for all your hard work, the heart. Eat, enjoy, you earned it.

    And the rain came and it was …

    I have no idea whether or not the rain destroyed anything last night of if the accompanying winds did the most feared of damages – breaking in half unsuspecting tomato and pepper plants. Two days until the Dripping Springs farmers market opens. We have a half dozen or so veggies left over from the winter to take:

  • Swiss chard
  • collards
  • Bordeaux spinach
  • carrots
  • read and golden beets
  • red Russian kale
  • The broccoli has all gone to flower long ago, and though the cabbage has started to grow new heads from the old roots (who woulda known!) the old heads are best kept for the test kitchen.

    Wow! I can’t believe winter is over

    But, it looks like that is just what it is. Too much of the year has been spent putting off what I could do later because it’ll freeze again. But, it really does not look like it will again, until, what November?!

    So, I am definitely in full catch up mode. Even though there is a nice winter garden still surviving (so far) and I have started hundreds of new plantees, there is still much work to do. The disk bedder is in pieces waiting for me to come up with that one solution that will allow the box blade to be used as designed and function as a tool bar for the disk bedder when needed. Ho hum.

    The chickens are doing well and at 4 weeks old are trying to fly inside the 2 foot high (5ft x 4ft) brooder. I have finally got the chicken run and coop usable (there are a few minor touch ups yet to do) so it is ready for the birds when they transfer in a couple of weeks.

    Now I have to decide which is more important – working on the Spring garden or selling the winter crop (which is going to seed as I write this). I found a great place to part the “farm truck” along RR12 but my lack of artistic ability means I have don’t have a neat sign to advertise with. I guess both are worth the time, right!