Farm NewsLetter 08/01/06

Week of August 1st, 2006

Work parties are the first Sat. of every month and the next one is this Saturday!!
The Big Potato Dig: Aug. 5th, 1-5pm,Luscher Farm
Potluck to follow…

Our potato field at Luscher farm looks great this year! In some seasons, the plants would have already started to die back, but not this year. Most of the varieties still have sturdy deep dark green stems and they are covered with flowers. Potatoes are in the family Solanaceae, often referred to as the nightshade family. It is a large and economically important family of herbs or shrubs or trees often strongly scented and sometimes narcotic or poisonous. On the farm we grow several members of this family including tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos and eggplant in addition to potatoes. While these plants have many differences, their flowers are quite similar in structure. Almost everyone knows the characteristic bright yellow tomato flowers with its five petals swept back to expose a little beak formed by the flowers anthers where they protrude from the center. Pepper flowers are similar, but usually white. The eggplants flower is a lovely lavender with light yellow anthers. Tomatillo flowers have yellow petals but the center is dark brown or black. The color of the potato flower may be either white or lavender depending on the color of the tuber.

The new potatoes you’re getting in your share this week are a variety called Red Norland. They mature early, make lots of little tubers, and have tender thin skin. Not all varieties are good for “new” or “baby” potatoes. Some plants focus their energy on making a few large potatoes. If you pick these early you’ll only get a few little potatoes. Other varieties have such a thin skin at this stage that they bruise and peel and look terrible after even the most careful harvest. Russets, for example don’t make good baby potatoes because the skin isn’t meant to be eaten and who want to peel all those tiny little potatoes!

This season we have almost an acre planted to potatoes. The field starts with the earliest maturing varieties on the south side so we can harvest across from one side to the other. Since the potatoes have not yet died back, we won’t harvest the whole field at the work party this weekend. It will be nice just to harvest enough for the next few weeks. With the tractor we’ll pull a middlebuster shoe through the row to loosen the soil and toss most of the potatoes out to the side. Then we’ll do the fun part- a bit of digging for buried treasure to find those beautiful little jewels!

The Weather: Quite pleasant
Thank you everyone for all your help!

Your share this week may include:

Carrots Sweet baby bunches!
Chard Beautiful rainbow colors.
Cilantro Time to make salsa!
Fennel Plump bulbs are good shaved into salads or poached in broth and finished with a touch of cream and parmesan.
Lettuce Heads This green romaine is has beautiful dark green leaves and thick crunchy ribs. Unfortunately it suffered a bit in the heat, so in addition to the usual sweetness, you may taste a bit of spice.
Mustard Greens A bit on the spicy side they add a real zing! to salads, but mellow considerably when cooked.
Onions The tops are starting to fall, but these are still very fresh! Use them quickly or store in the fridge.
Parsley This tasty flat leaf Italian variety will be a staple throughout the summer.
Potatoes New baby red potatoes are tender and thin skinned so no need to peel- just steam the little ones whole.
Summer Squash All different shapes colors and sizes.
Tomatoes!! First of the season, these little Stupice tomatoes from the greenhouse are super tasty

Coming Soon… Cucumbers and Green Beans!

Sicilian Potato Salad
Foodday via Shareholder Allen Field
serves 4

6 medium new potatoes, peeled or unpeeled as desired
A handful of capers, rinsed
8 cherry (or Stupice) tomatoes
4 marinated anchovies, roughly chopped, or more to taste
8 marinated black olives, such as kalamata
1 small onion, roughly slice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
A sprinkling of fresh oregano leaves

Peel the potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks and boil for about 6 to 8 minutes until tender. Drain and leave to cool. Add the capers to the cooled potatoes, plus the tomatoes, anchovies, olives and onion. Season with salt and pepper, add the oil and oregano, and mix well. Serve at room temperature.