Week of July 9th

Well, I always hear people say that summer doesn’t really start until the fourth of July, and that seems true enough this year. The weather’s been making up for lost time, it seems.

There’s always a point around this time in each season where I look at whatever I’m writing— whether it’s a CSA newsletter, blog post, journal entry or whatever— where if I’m doing it regularly enough, I realize I’m just talking about the weather. In my mind, I like to envision this blog as me and you, reader, leaning over a rickety fence (perhaps built by one or the other of our “Pa”s, some years ago) stray piece of grass and/or chew wedged firmly in both of our mouths, while we solemnly gaze out across a field of wheat/corn/soybeans. Our windswept Okie faces remain nearly motionless except for their slow reddening in the summer sun, our eyes, as hard and as quiet as the engine on a decaying farmall, take in the surroundings. A single hawk cruises the immense span of nearly white sky, without luck. A single low breeze swells wavelike across the field in front of us, fanning us, its sole occupants, with heat. One or the other of us thumbs a strap on suspenders or overalls. “Shore could use some rain”, one of us says. “Yup.”, responds the other, speaking a mono-syllabic mouthful. “T’aint likely to have no corn fer th’hogs without no rain.” “Nossir.” “T’aint likely a’tall.” “Nossir.”

If it was raining the next day, we would be complaining about our inability to plow.

The point is, the weather dominates the pursuit of growing food— obsession with it can become all encompassing. So consider yourself grateful that I’m at least aware enough of my tendency to discuss it to try and avoid doing so, as any writing about growing things can turn into, “Well, we had some hot days, and some wet days, and then a wet month, and then it got cold for a night…”. It drags on. But it did suddenly get hot, and that’s exciting because it means:

The peas are gone! No more of the pea harvest oppression. Of course, soon we will have beans to pick, and I will be excited about them for a week, and then grouse about them for four more, but this is the natural progression of things, so to speak. Anyway, peas are out, brussels are in, and the corn, depending on whose knees we’re using here, was definitely the right height by the fourth. The next round of basil is in, and what made it past the slugs from the last round is delicious. The turnips and daikons are getting intimidatingly large, we’re only a week or two away from carrots, and the second round of beets is almost here.

Other than clearing the peas, I did some further work on the tomato trellis this week, and on Sunday, we planted more beans, did some weeding, and picked cabbage. We’ve also begun spraying for aphids (using OMRI certified safer soap) to try and nip that particular problem in the bud. On Sunday night, Sasha helped me make sauerkraut with a couple of cabbage heads, so I’ll try and remember to post something about that when it’s done fermenting. I follow Sandor Ellix Katz’s recipe, which I’ve used with success ever since I first picked up his zine a few years back. I think he has a book now? Fermentation is cool, you should check it out! At the risk of becoming more of a Portlandia cliche, if you can grow it, you can, in fact pickle it (usually).

So, harvesting this week: Kale, Chard, Turnips, Daikons, Beets (sort of), Peas (sort of), Early Jersey Cabbage, Basil, and Cucumbers. It’s pickling season! I want to try making this, but there’s always the classic carrot/daikon pickle for bahn mi as well. Now I just need to go scrounge up a good source of grape leaves, and tragically, dill.

Thanks to everyone who came and helped out this week!

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