Tomato Starts for the Ukiah Farmers Market Tomorrow 4/28

Tomorrow we’ll be loading up a bunch of tomato starts to bring to the Ukiah Farmers Market (so exciting, right?)…

Our tomatoes are all heirloom and specialty varieties that will grow well here in Northern California and look beautiful both on your dinner plate and in your garden.  The seeds that we use aren’t certified organic (many of these varieties aren’t available as organic seed) but we grow them completely organically from day 1.  We’ve grown almost all of these varieties here on the farm, so if you have any questions about them, feel free to ask.

This is the list of varieties we will be bringing tomorrow; the selection will change over the next few weeks. (The descriptions are taken exactly from the Baker Creek seed catalogue, none of them are my own writing- I thought it would be helpful for all of the market customers to see the full description written by the folks that are working hard to keep all of these great varieties around for generations to come).   Hope to see you at the market tomorrow!Ananas Noire: (Black Pineappple) A most exciting new tomato, it is wonderful in every way.  This unusual variety was developed by Pascal Moreau, a horticulturist from Belgium.  The multi-colored, smooth fruit (green, yellow and purple mix) weight about 1.5 lbs.  The flesh is bright green with deep red streaks.  Everyone loves their superb flavor that is outstanding, being both sweet and smoky with a hint of citrus.  The yield is one of the heaviest we have ever seen!

Big Zebra: “New! A stunning tomato that looks much like a giant version of our popular “Green Zebra,” this 8-10 oz. beauty has a vibrant green and deep gold striped skin, with delicious red-streaked, green flesh.  A superb home and market tomato, a must for all who love the beautiful and unique.  One of the most amazing tomatoes we have grown; so groovy and retro looking! 80-90 days.

Carbon: 90 days Winner of the 2005 ‘heirloom garden show’ best tasting tomato award.  These have won taste awards coast to coast in the last few years, so we were proud to locate a small supply of seed.  The fruit are smooth, large and beautiful, being one of the darkest and prettiest of the purple types that we have seen.  They seem to have an extra dose of the complex flavor that makes dark tomatoes famous.

Cherokee Purple: 80 days An old Cherokee Indian heirloom, pre-1890 variety; beautiful deep dusky purple-pink color, superb sweet flavor, and very large sized fruit.  Try this one for real old-time tomato flavor

Copia: 80-90 days  One of our most unique and beautiful large, striped tomatoes, these have lovely fine striped of glowing gold and neon red.  Inside the flavorful flesh is a mix of red and yellow that is swirled together in various combinations.  This new variety was developed by Jeff Dawson and named in honor of Copia, the American Center for Food, Wine and the Arts, of Napa, CA

Cuor di Bue: 70 days This oxheart type Italian heirloom has been a favorite in Italy for many years.  Beautiful 12 oz fruit have a delicious sweet taste; similar to the shape of a heart; great for fresh eating or cooking.  Large vigorous vines.  Hard to find.

Dr. Wyches Yellow: 80 days This heirloom was introduced to Seed Savers Exchange by the late Dr. John Wyche, who at one time owned the Cole Brothers Circus and used the manure of elephants to fertilize his heritage gardens.  The 1 lb. fruit is solid and smooth; their color is a glowing tangerine-orange that always stands out in the kitchen or off the vine.

Fox Cherry: Delicious large, red heirloom cherry tomatoes that seem to be one of the best-tasting large cherries around.  The vining plants are very reliable; even in years when the wilt kills about everything else, these seem to do great.  The fruit weigh about 1 oz. each and are perfect for salads.

Great White: 80-85 days Large, 1-lb giant, creamy white fruit, this tomato is superbly wonderful.  The flesh is so good and deliciously fruity, it reminds me of a mixture of fresh-cut pineapple, melon and guava.  One of our favorite fresh-eating tomatoes! Fruit are smoother than most large beefsteak types, and yields can be very high.  Introduced by Gleckler’s Seedsmen.

Hillbilly or Flame: 80-85 Days A huge, bi-color heirloom: brilliant yellow color with red marbling.  Very large with a rich, sweet flavor.  Beautiful when sliced.  An heirloom believed to be from West Virginia.

Lollipop: 70 days Delicious, light yellow translucent cherries.  The flavor of these is really good– both sweet and fruity.  Plants set good yields.  A real winner!

Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge: 80-90 days Stunning tomato is a vibrant, tangerine orange with shocking true purple splashed in various amounts over its upper half.  This is one of the few domestic tomatoes that have true purple pigment, although research is being done with wild purple tomatoes.  These have a mild taste that make them good for snacking.  Fruit weighing 4-10 ounces were produced in abundance and tended to turn more purple as the season progressed.  Some fruit may not be very purple, coloration varies.

Paul Robeson: 90 days This famous tomato has almost a cult following among seed collectors and tomato connoisseurs.  They simply cannot get enough of this variety’s amazing flavor that is so distinctive, sweet and smokey.  7-10 oz. fruit are a black-brick color.  Named in honor of the famous opera singer star of “King Solomon’s Mines,” 1937. This Russian heirloom was lovingly named in his honor.

Placero: A flavorful, small tomato from our friend Herb Culver.  He colected this tomato in Cuba from a man named Orlando at Mission Mundial.  This tomato also is said to have a very high beta-carotene content.  Tasty, red fruit grow on very productive plants.

Pink Brandywine: The most popular heirloom vegetable! A favorite of many gardeners; large fruit with superb flavor.  A great potato-leafed variety from 1885! Beautiful pink fruit up to 1 1/2 lbs. each!

Plum Lemon: 80 days Bright canary-yellow 3” fruit looks just like a fresh lemon.  … This variety was collected by Kent Whealy, of Seed Savers Exchange, from an elderly seedsman at the Bird Market in Moscow.  Delicious, sweet taste.

Purple Calabash: 85 days.  May be the most purple of all the “purple” tomatoes; a deep purple/burgundy and very colorful! The shape is also exciting, with the 3” fruit being very flat, ribbed and ruffled.  Flavor is intense, sweet and tart, with a lime or citrus taste.  A most uniquely flavored tomato! The plants give huge yields.  This tomato resembles tomatoes pictured in 16th century herbal diaries.

Riesentraube: 76-85 days This old German heirloom was offered in Philadephia by the mid-1800s.  The sweet red 1 oz. fruit grow in large clusters, and the name means “Giant Bunch of Grapes” in German.  It is probably the most popular small tomato with seed collectors, as many enjoy the rich, full tomato flavor that is missing in today’s cherry types.  Large plants produce massive yields.

Violet Jasper: When these little Oriental jewels ripen, your eyes will be stunned with color.  They have pretty violet-purple fruit with iridescent green streaks! Fruit weigh 1-3 oz., are smooth and have good tasting, dark purplish-red flesh.  This variety will also amaze you with its yield: It’s not only high, but incredibly high, being one of the most productive tomatoes we have grown.

Yellow Brandywine: 90 days Superbly rich and delicious tasting large fruit, the golden variety gives good yields and, in our opinion, the fruit are better tasting than pink brandywine.  Large potato-leaf plants are very sturdy and deep green.  This heirloom is delicious any way you eat it!

Yellow Pear: 78 days Very sweet, 1 1/2” yellow, pear-shaped fruit have a mild flavor, and are great for fresh eating or making tomato preserves.  Very productive plants are easy to grow.

_____________________________________________________

For some tomato growing tips from serious experts, I recommend reading this great article from Love Apple Farm. 

Advertisements

Grow It

Late Season Corn

Planting corn at the end of July turned out to be smart (even though I worried it was stupid).

Vegetables this precious should only be cooked briefly, a quick 7-8 minutes in the boiling water.  Slather the corn with butter, sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper, and serve to happy family and friends.

 

Garden Fresh: Carrot Soup with Ginger and Coconut

Our summer carrot crop is finally starting to come in, and I’m starting to see lots of nice big carrots at other farmers market booths too. Unique varieties are popping up in gardens all over the country, from the incredibly vibrant cosmic purple carrots from Baker Creek Seed Company to the rainbow carrots from Johnny’s Seeds.

This soup is all about improvisation, with rich coconut milk and fiery hot thai chili peppers and lime juice and garden fresh veggies.

Everyone knows that I’m the Queen of Lazy when it comes to keeping my fridge stocked with anything to cook with.  (I could say that I am eating local and right out of the garden if I wanted to sound like one of the cool kids…)  It’s really also laziness though, and being way too busy to go shopping.  At the end of a long work day, who wants to stop by the store and buy stuff for dinner? Not me.  This ends in a whole lot of improvisation, which I encourage the rest of the universe to participate in. I could have called this Farmers Market Reject Produce Soup, because it’s really just my leftovers from our booth at the market. You could do something similar and make this soup with from a CSA share or your own garden.  Feel free to substitute yellow summer squash for the cauliflower, or even some of the carrots too, it will still be delicious. (To really get crazy, you could actually substitute any winter squash for the carrots and cauliflower. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, you name it.)

Learn how to improvise when you cook and you can be Queen Lazy with me.  Free yourself from the grocery list, you know you wanna…

Carrot Ginger Soup With Coconut Milk And Lemongrass

Serves: 6 large servings

Cooking Time: 2 1/2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. roughly chopped carrots, about 3 small bunches
  • 2 small heads of cauliflower, preferably Cheddar*, cored and roughly chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tbs. unrefined peanut oil (or canola oil is a fine substitute)
  • 1 fresh onion, both the bulb and the greens, diced
  • 3″ section of lemongrass, left whole (to remove later)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 2″ section of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp. red mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 small dried thai chili peppers, crushed
  • 6 c. filtered water or vegetable stock
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • garnish: chopped scallions, basil, mint and cilantro (or whatever you have), a splash of tabasco sauce or hot paprika, and a big squeeze of fresh lime juice
In a large soup pot, heat up the peanut oil on medium-low heat. Add the coriander, mustard seed, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, lemongrass, and onion. Saute on low heat for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. The spices will become very aromatic as they saute in the oil. If you need to add another teaspoon or two of oil to prevent things from sticking, go right ahead. 
Add the chopped carrots and sections of cauliflower and saute for another 4-5 minutes.  Then pour in the water (or vegetable stock, if you have it on hand), turn up the heat to medium and bring everything to a simmer. Cook on medium heat for about an hour and a half (or longer, if you get distracted and forget about it). Add water or stock to make sure the vegetables stay covered as they cook. 
After the soup has simmered for the hour and half, add in the cilantro and coconut milk. Remove the piece of lemongrass and discard. Puree with a hand mixer, in a blender or a food processor until the soup is completely smooth. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. If the soup tastes bland (this part is important, it makes it taste like take-out Thai food) add fresh lime juice, tabasco sauce, and salt, alternating in small batches until it tastes right.
Serve with chopped fresh herbs, hot sauce and limes. This soup is delicious with summer rolls or a small cabbage and peanut salad; it makes a wonderful light meal out of the garden or the farmers market.
*Cheddar is a bright yellow variety of cauliflower that is becoming more popular at farmers markets. The yellow color blends nicely with the carrots, but you could certainly use any variety.
P.S. I know that’s a long ingredient list for supposedly not going shopping before you make the soup.  Really it’s just spices and coconut milk, though. If you do one or two big shoppings a year and pick up a nice variety of dry goods you won’t have to worry about it after that.

Market Flowers, July 2011

July is here, which means I am sleep-deprived, sweaty, dirty and sore, but that the garden is looking pretty lovely and the produce is rolling in at the farmers market. I take mental snapshots of these busy summer days to look back on during the winter…  Farmers markets and weeding and planting and oysters on the BBQ and elderflower cocktails.

Until I get time to write down a full recipe (my mom’s blackberry pie is up next, I think), I wanted to share a bouquet from our market table this morning with any gardeners that have their eyes peeled for new plants to grow. Bells of Ireland, flowering marjoram and my most favorite of favorite zinnias: Queen Red Lime, from Johnny’s Seeds.  These zinnias are wonderful cut flowers that last ages in a vase, and the maroon to lime green petals are truly stunning. Grow it!

 

 

Taste Of Mendocino

Hey Folks, I’ll make this short because it’s a blatant plug for an event that I’m doing.

Come to the Taste of Mendocino.  It’s on Monday at the Fort Mason Building in San Francisco from 5:00-8:00 pm. Tickets are $35 and available here and at the door.

In addition to saying hi and trying lots of jam, there are vineyards bringing wine down to this event that you literally cannot buy in stores.  To drive around and do wine tasting at all of these small tasting rooms would take days and days, and probably end up in a drunk driving arrest.

Oh, and I’m also bringing a few jars sweet peas, some veggies and our fresh eggs. Come early, I’m sure they’ll sell out fast.

Kimchi, And A Lot Of Hard Work

The farm has been a whirlwind of activity for the last few weeks. Late May through early June is always characterized by the frantic rush to transition everything from winter to summer. We’ve finally done it, though. Weeds have been wacked. Compost has been hauled from here to there.  Garden beds have been tilled and prepared for planting.  The irrigation system is back up and running. Starts have moved from the greenhouse to the ground. Seeds have been planted. The tomatoes are caged and the peas are trellised.  Flowers are blooming. Fruit trees are growing and ripening. The hens are starting to lay eggs like crazy.In another month, when we harvest all of the garlic, onions, cabbages, lettuce and peas, we’ll have another big round of work. Until then, though, I can breathe easy knowing the bulk of the gardening work is finished. (Now I’m switching to jam! I’m driving to the city this weekend to shop all the big farmers markets for berries and other fruit. I’m on a search for good, sweet organic strawberries and I think I’m going to have to leave town to find the organic part, unfortunately. That’s a story for another day, though.)

Despite the fact that I haven’t been cooking a whole lot, I want to share the one preserving recipe that I’ve been making over and over again. It’s so simple that you can make it even if you’re working back-breaking long hours and don’t even have time to bathe properly.

kimchi with savoy cabbage and garlic scapes

Whatever-Kind-Of-Greens-You-Have Kimchi, an adaptation of Ramp Greens Kimchi from the Hungry Tigress

I got the idea for this from the Tigress, who made a fantastic looking ramp greens kimchi. We don’t have ramp greens here but we do have lots and lots of other kind of greens. I particularly like this kimchi recipe because it’s vegan; a lot of recipes have anchovy paste or fish sauce in them. I don’t have any issue with those products but I’m a tired farm girl and I am not in the mood to drive to town for anchovy paste.

This recipe will work with pretty much any greens you have. I’ve made it with savoy cabbages, kale, garlic scapes, and rainbow chard.  I would avoid traditional types of cabbage because the leaves are so thick, but napa cabbage, collard greens, boy choy and mustard greens would all be fine.

Equipment needed: 2 quart jars

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. greens such as savoy cabbage or rainbow chard
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 dried cayenne peppers, crushed
  • 1 tbs. paprika
  • 1 tbs. fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbs. garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. unrefined peanut oil (or toasted sesame oil)

1. Sterilize two quart jars.

2. Wash greens and roughly chop into 1/2″ strips. 

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the greens. Mix together thoroughly. Add the greens to the bowl and mix well, making sure to coat everything evenly.

4. Divide the greens between the two jars. Loosely screw on lids and leave unrefrigerated overnight. The next day, give each jar a good shake. Put them into the fridge for a week to lightly ferment the greens. Each day or so, take the jars out and give the jar a shake and stir up the greens a little bit so that the ones on the top of the jar eventually end up at the bottom. The greens will shrink down and if you’ll probably want to combine them into one jar after a 4-5 days.

5. In about a week, the kimchi is ready.  You’ll know because the greens smell slightly sour and you won’t be able to resist digging in any longer.  Eat it in sandwiches, wraps, salads, as a side dish with stir fry or rice, or all on its own.  You will love it, I guarantee.

rainbow chard kimchi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainy Morning

It is raining. As frustrating as it is – I can’t spread compost or til beds in this weather – the quiet drizzle is soothing first thing in the morning. Part of me will really miss the rains and the cold winter months as we transition into the work-filled, 100 degree blazing sunshine days of summer.

the cala lilies are blooming

Without that sunshine, though, we wouldn’t have those big sweet tomatoes, and I couldn’t deal with the idea of that at all.