Rain! Close to four inches of it, thanks to a few electrified showers that have given new life to our soil and our crops. The fig trees, in particular, have been revived after losing some of their green fruit and leaves in response to the heat of the past several weeks.
Of course, it was right before the rain that the Ecosystem Farm staff worked to clean out the farm’s irrigation pumps, in expectation of increased—and immediate—use. The staff has finally had time to complete this and other “Wish List” projects, and looks forward to hosting this weekend a group of FFA (Future Farmers of America) volunteers who will help them accomplish a few more, from mulching the small grove under which the crew often eats their lunch to removing some of those ever-present weeds.
The staff has also had time to notice some of the smaller parts of farm life: a new weed among the beets, a small white mushroom in a bed of onions, and the molting of an assassin bug from nymph to adult, now capable of munching up some of the cucumber beetles that would otherwise munch on our crops.
U-Pick: Ground Cherries
Ground cherries (also called cape gooseberries) are now ripe and ready for picking in the New Field (the fenced-in area next to the gravel drive that leads to the packing shed). Ground cherries are a husked fruit, similar in appearance to the tomatillo (a close relative). When ripe, the once-green husk and fruit turn a tan or golden color. Their sweet and mild taste is akin to a pineapple and tomato blend. Removed from its husk, the fruit can be eaten raw or used in salads, desserts, jams, and jellies; later in this post, we’ve included a recipe for ground cherry and tomato salsa.
The bed of ground cherries will be marked with white flags; please do not forget to clip the New Field’s entrance gate closed when you leave.
The Ecosystem Farm plans to host a potluck dinner for SHAREholders and their families this September. Exact time and date to be determined; be on the lookout for a more detailed announcement soon!
Below, photos from this week on the Ecosystem Farm. Click images to enlarge, or view them on Flickr.
This Week’s Recipe: Ground Cherry and Tomato Salsa
Recipe from Straight From the Farm
1 pound ripe ground cherries, halved (about 2 cups)
1/2 pound ripe Roma or cherry tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
1 large jalapeno chili, seeded, flesh finely minced
1/2 cup minced red onion
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 to 6 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice (1 to 2 limes)
Sugar to taste
- Place tomatoes in colander and let drain 30 minutes. As tomatoes drain, add to colander in layers ground cherries, jalapeno, onion, garlic, and cilantro. Shake colander to drain off excess juice. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add salt, pepper, and 2 teaspoons lime juice. Toss to combine. Add more lime juice and sugar to taste.
Note: salsa can be made up to three hours in advance. Do not add the salt, lime juice, or sugar until just before serving.
Monthly Foodways: All My Dreams Are of Indian Corn: Saturday, July 16, 2011, Noon to 1 p.m., National Colonial Farm: Nothing was more important to the colonial diet than corn. Join us as we take you through the many uses of this remarkable plant and the labor that went into its cultivation. This month’s menu will included Baked Indian Meal Pudding, Johnny Cakes, and Native Succotash.
Sprouts: Thursday, July 21, 2011, 11 a.m. to Noon, Education Center: It’s never too early to get out and garden! Sprouts is a garden-themed educational program geared toward preschoolers. This one-hour, once-a-month program will spotlight fruit, vegetables, and other parts of a backyard garden, and will feature fun activities for parents and children to do together, from singing songs and reading stories to making crafts and playing games. We will spend time outside when weather permits. This month, we will learn about pollinators in the garden.
Organic Gardening Workshop: Planting For Fall: Saturday, July 23, 2011, 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Education Center: Gardening doesn’t have to end with the summer. This course—part of our season-long Organic Gardening Workshop Series geared toward backyard gardeners—will provide you with the information needed to plant a fall garden. We will discuss what plants can tolerate cooler temperatures and how to time your fall planting schedule, as well as how to extend the growing season.