San Fan Bok Choy
Baby Daikon Radish
Hakurei Salad Turnips
Yu Choy or Mustard Greens
It has been a few weeks since we have provided any updates and in that interim we have experienced some of the most extreme and bizarre weather in our seven seasons of farming here in Green Bay Virginia. Early September bounced between grey and cool conditions and extremely hot and humid conditions. Then we waited with anticipation to see what Hurricane Florence would do. Over the weekend it was grey, wet, and a bit windy; but overall pretty mild with only 1.5” of rain. On Monday though, the aftermath of the storm hit our farm, as well as many others throughout the region, pretty hard. It was a harvest day, we worked outside for 12 hours, trying to get our orders together while receiving a whopping 4” with occasional strong winds and tornado warnings. In hindsight we should have not been out in the fields, as it was not helpful for the soil or crops, not to mention unpleasant and slow for us. Walking in the pathways and messing with the soil, while it is so wet compacts the soil in a way that is difficult to reverse. But we are so habitual about harvest days and always attending every scheduled market that we always work regardless of weather. Plus we had already had our previous Saturday market cancelled, so we needed to get to market and move some produce. Overall though, we were really lucky that the storm was not more harmful and our thoughts go out to all the lowland farmers in North Carolina as well as all those in the continued path of the storm that got hit really hard. These unpredictable storms can make or break a farms season, meaning peoples livelihood. It should be recognized that this is a risk farmers have to take, we have no way around the weather, all we can do is try to prepare and mitigate whatever risk we can.
In our seven seasons we have never received more than 2” of rain in a day, so managing 4” with our extremely heavy clay soil was beyond nerve racking. We had spent some time the previous week readying our farm; but there is only so much we can do. Over the past three years we have been making long-term adjustments to our tillage systems, soil health, and drainage capabilities; because we experienced a storm one October that destroyed a large portion of our Fall crops and left standing water for over a week. This storm also exposed how much soil loss we were seeing with heavy rains, so it woke us up to needing to make some serious changes. Perhaps some of these methods have paid off as we are definitely seeing some damage to Fall plantings; but not in such an extreme way as we expected. It takes weeks to truly understand all the damage though and last week’s continued rain and grey did not help the plants take off. We look forward to this coming week though, some beautiful weather that will help the fields dry out and perhaps let the crops breathe.
Prior to the big storm, we were looking at one of the best Fall stands we have ever had, meaning even with being hard it, we are still in an ok spot with oncoming successions of crops; but it is meaning that we have less flexibility with our produce. Right now our Summer stuff is not really producing (too much grey and wet), the last of the beans and tomatoes just petered out to nothing. We hope to see more Okra; but it stood dorment for the past two weeks. Our fall crops also got a beating and stagnated a bit, so our choice of crops in the shares has become pretty limited. Hence the condensed amount of radishes and turnips, lack of cut greens (we lost three successions of Arugula and are seeing bolting in all our lettuces), late oncoming of broccoli (first heads are rotting from the rain) and less variation with the bunching greens (we lost a succession of broccoli raab and the Russian kale was devastated). All of this may mean smaller shares or less variety coming later in October; but overall we feel pretty good about our prospects. We hope you do too. Enjoy the share……Brian and Autumn
New Potato Tempura –Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu
(Try this recipe with Yu Choy, Daikon, or Mustard Greens as well)
½ lb medium-sized potatoes
Best quality rapeseed or peanut oil
½ cup unbleached cake flour
½ cup cold sparkling water1
8 tsp fine white sea salt
3 ice cubes
organic soy sauce for dipping
Cut the potatoes into ½” wedges (measured on the thick side). Drop the potato pieces into a small pot of salted cold water. The potatoes should be covered by about 1”. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the centers still have some give but the outsides are soft. Drain and cool.
Line a cookie sheet with a thick layer of newspaper and top with a layer of paper towels. Set next to the stove. Over low heat, warm 4” of oil in a medium-sized heavy, stainless steel saucepan. Whisk the flour with the sparkling water and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Take out two pairs of long cooking chopsticks or tongs. Use one pair to dip in the batter and one pair to remove the tempura from the oil. Increase the heat on the oil to about medium-high; the oil should not be smoking. Test the oil with a drop of batter before starting. It should sizzle and immediately form a small ball as it hits the oil; but should not brown. Adjust the oil temperature as needed.
When the oil is hot, drop the ice cubes into the batter and stir once. Add 5 or 6 pieces of potatoes at a time to the batter. Pick up one piece at a time, let the excess batter drip off, and slip into the hot oil. Roll the tempura pieces gently as the batter turns a pale (slightly) golden color. When all sides are cooked, remove to the prepared cookie sheet. Continue cooking until all pieces have been fried, but (if possible) serve each batch immediately. Dip in fine white sea salt or soy sauce before eating.