Grow, baby, grow

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Essex Farm Note

Week 28, 2014

We are all rooting for the pullets to come into full lay, and for the older hens to regain their composure, stop going broody, and get back down to business. The hens have been through a series of ordeals this year. First, they were roosting outside the coop at night, and an owl discovered them. We close them in at dusk now, but their pasture is plagued with tall thistle that was difficult to fence, so they began escaping underneath the netting, and a few more became owl feed. Scott got the whole field clipped with the horses this week, so now the thistle is gone, and the flock is contained, safe, happy, and hopefully focused on laying. Every day, the egg buckets come in a little heavier, but we are still barely keeping up with demand.

We have a lovely summer share today, with a few vegetable newcomers, and lots more waiting in the wings, two or three weeks from ready. We harvested the first of the conical cabbages and the first savoy cabbages today, two of my favorites. Also, the first of this year’s beets, with their beautiful nutritious greens. We have put the entire final harvest of bok choy in the share today, as it was about to bolt. It looks a little rough around its leaves due to flea beetles but it is so delicious and so very good for you. I ate it three times this week, sautéed with garlic scapes and dressed with a little soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Please take extra for the freezer. Most people recommend blanching bok choy for two minutes, then cooling in ice water before freezing, but I think it does better (and is much easier) simply washed, chopped and frozen in zip-lock bags without blanching.

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Bok choy selfie. This is the week to put some in the freezer.

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Savoy cabbage ready for harvest

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Ah, summer!

Strawberry season is over for the year. The old plants have been disked under. Next year’s plants are coming along, but have been under assault by deer the last week or so. This is the first time in many years that we’ve had significant deer pressure in the vegetable fields, and I find it rather surprising, given how harsh last winter was. Speaking of harsh winter, we’ve lost our summer raspberry crop. This year’s summer bearing brambles were killed by the deep cold. cold. However, the summer variety will give us some fall berries, and the fall-bearing variety looks fantastic, so hang in there for a double harvest.

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Deer prints in the strawberries

You may have noticed the colorful kite-like things hanging from the trees around the farm. Our friend Ezra is an entomologist, and has a grant to test different designs of emerald ash borer traps. The ash borer is an invasive insect that could decimate all the ash of the northeastern forests in the coming years. I don’t know which trap is working best on the ash borer but I can tell you that the green one has caught a cow. One of the traps fell out of the tree into the dairy cow pasture this week, and Francis, ever curious, managed to use the trap and its rope to securely cleat herself to a tree by her horns.

Thank you to everyone who helped make last weekend a big success. Special thanks to Griddles for a wonderful picnic on Friday, and to all the visitors who came to the tour on Saturday. We’re looking forward to the next Griddles picnic on July 25th, and the next tour on August 16th. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this grow, baby, grow 28th week of 2014.

–Kristin & Mark Kimball

Here’s a photo tribute to tools, marvelous tools.

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The arsenal

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We love you, finger weeder.

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