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August 2005
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October 2005

Sorting garlic

<p>Although we have several weeks of harvesting left, the coming of autumn also means that it is time to start working on next year's garlic. The preparation of the field and the planting itself will take place in a few weeks, but first we have to select our planting stock (seed garlic) and then, right before planting, we do plenty of &quot;clove popping.&quot; </p> <p>Right now we are at the seed garlic selection stage. This means that we climb into the barn loft where our garlic is stored. Then we move from variety to variety and select the largest, healthiest looking bulbs for our planting stock. The bulbs that do not make the grade are slated for food. In other words, the best garlic is planted, not eaten. </p> <p><a href=""><img title="Bei_sorting_garlic_6" height="262" alt="Bei_sorting_garlic_6" src="" width="350" border="0" /></a> </p> <p>Above we see Bei up in the loft sorting German Porcelain garlic. Bei is a statistician, so we are quite confident in her sorting prowess.&nbsp; </p> <p><a href=""><img title="Sorting_garlic" height="262" alt="Sorting_garlic" src="" width="350" border="0" /></a> </p> <p>The first one on the left is Todd, who is clipping the stems of garlic destined for food. The pile of stems behind him will eventually end up in one of our compost piles. Jennie, Olivia (with her back to us) and Nina are involved in the sorting. Tyler, back on the right, is also clipping, but his bulbs are the ones that were selected as seed garlic. </p> <p>Once all our garlic has been sorted, the planting stock is &quot;clove popped.&quot; That is, the seedbulbs are broken up and separated into individuals cloves, a process that can take some time to complete. By then the field should be ready for planting. After planting the cloves, the field is covered by a fairly thick layer of straw mulch. At this point the garlic cloves are ready for a cozy winter. One of the exciting signs of early spring is to see garlic shoots poking out of the straw.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; </p>

Dry weather

<p>The little rain we got at the farm this evening was welcome, but it was just too small of an amount to make much of a difference. August was on the dry side for us, but September turned out to be much worse. On average the farm gets about 4 inches of rain in September. Counting today's rain, we probably got less than 1/10th of an inch this month. And this is affecting our CSA crops as well as the cow pastures. The grass is not growing so the cows are not getting enough of it. This means that unless we get plenty of rain within the next couple of weeks, the cows will end up eating hay much sooner than expected. As to fresh greens, we have much less than what shareholders usually get at this time of the year. But we've been busy laying down irrigation drip tape on many of our beds, so even if the dry weather continues our production of greens should pick up substantially before the end of the season.</p>

Sweet and Sour Okra

<p>Loraine DiPietro sent us an okra recipe she likes. This is what she says about it:</p> <p dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"><em>Here's a recipe for okra that shareholders should know about. ... It's easy and wonderfully delicious. Folks who are hesitant to try okra, or who are turned off by its mucilaginous texture will be converts.</em></p> <p dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"><strong>Sweet and Sour Okra (<em>Kutchhi Bhindi)</em></strong></p> <p>From Madhur Jaffrey’s <em><strong>Indian Cooking</strong></em> revised 1994.</p> <p>400 g (14 oz) fresh, tender okra</p> <p>7 medium-sized cloves garlic, peeled</p> <p>1 dried, hot red chili (use half if you want it very mild)</p> <p>7 Tbsp water</p> <p>2 tsp ground cumin</p> <p>1 tsp ground coriander</p> <p>1 tsp ground turmeric</p> <p>4 Tbsp vegetable oil</p> <p>1 tsp cumin seeds</p> <p>About 1 tsp salt</p> <p>1 tsp sugar</p> <p>About 4 tsp lemon juice</p> <p>Rinse off the fresh okra and pat it dry. Trim the pods by cutting off the two ends. The top end is usually trimmed with a paring knife to leave a cone-shaped head. A tiny piece of the bottom is just snipped off. Cut the okra into 2 cm (3/4 inch) lengths.</p> <p>Put the garlic and chili into the container of an electric blender with 3 Tbsp water. Blend until you have a smooth paste. </p> <p>Empty the paste into a small bowl. Add the ground cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Mix.</p> <p>Put the oil in a 9 inch frying pan or sauté pan and set over medium heat. When hot, put in the cumin seeds. As soon as the cumin seeds begin to sizzle—this happens within a few seconds—turn the heat down a bit and pour in the spice mixture. Stir and fry for about a minute. Now put in the okra, salt, sugar, lemon juice and 3 Tbsp water. Stir to mix and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover tightly and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes or until the okra is tender. If your okra takes longer to cook, you might need to add just a little more water.</p> <p>Serves 4 to 6</p> <p></p> <p></p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"><p dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"></p> <p dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"></p></blockquote>

State of Chesapeake Agriculture

<p>The Chesapeake Bay Foundation released a report on the state of this region's agriculture. Michael Heller, who has managed Clagett Farm for over twenty years now, was a project leader of the report. To mark its publication there was a news conference at the farm yesterday. To read what the Washington Post wrote about it, click <a href="">here</a>. To learn what the Chesapeake Bay Foundation says about the report and to download the report itself click on the following link, <a href="">State of Chesapeake Agriculture 2005</a>. </p>

Winter squash

<p>Monday last week we harvested pumpkins, this Monday we harvested winter squash. By no means all of them. There are plenty more in the fields and we even didn't touch the butternuts, of which there are many. </p> <p><a href=""><img title="Pile_of_ws" height="262" alt="Pile_of_ws" src="" width="350" border="0" /></a> </p> <p>We would gather them in piles and then load them up on the wagon as it drove next to the piles. Incidentally, black widow spiders love to shelter in the underside of pumpkins and winter squashes. Only yesterday we flicked four of them from the squashes they were sheltering in. </p> <p><a href=""><img title="Load_of_ws" height="277" alt="Load_of_ws" src="" width="350" border="0" /></a>&nbsp; </p> <p>Going to the wash station. Carrie driving the tractor and Joe riding the wagon.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p>

Fast dwingling tomatoes

<p>Shareholders no doubt noticed that the amount of tomatoes in their shares has been going down drastically. We are approaching the end of our tomatoes quicker than we expected. Last year we had tomatoes until mid October. We don't yet know whether we will have tomatoes in our share next week. Why are tomatoes quitting on us so early? We are not quite sure. The drought conditions we are experiencing had an obvious detrimental effect, but there may also be other factors involved. Here is a view from earlier today of our shrunken tomato plants.&nbsp; </p> <p><a href=""><img title="19_sep_tired_tomatoes" height="262" alt="19_sep_tired_tomatoes" src="" width="350" border="0" /></a> </p> <p>But let's put things into perspective. Our tomatoes had a great August. And although greatly reduced in number, as the September 13 photo below shows, they still look great:</p> <p><a href=""><img title="19_sep_tomatoes" height="262" alt="19_sep_tomatoes" src="" width="350" border="0" /></a>&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; </p>

A little help wanted

<p>&nbsp; &nbsp;Lately we've noticed that our leftovers from the Saturday pick-up aren't getting donated as quickly as we would like because the agencies we serve don't have access to transportation and volunteers on <strong>Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings</strong>.&nbsp; If anyone is willing to ferry some boxes of vegetables to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter on weekends, we might be able to get more of it into needy hands before it goes bad in our washing station (particularly tomatoes).&nbsp; You can choose an agency near you or we'll link you with one we already work with.&nbsp; We would be happy to count any hours of your help toward a work share.&nbsp; <br />&nbsp; &nbsp;Also, a Food Bank staff member and friend, Andrea Merritt, just moved to Austin Texas.&nbsp; That's left us short-staffed at the Anacostia Farmers Market (3-7pm, Southeast DC).&nbsp; If anyone would like to spend a few hours each <strong>Wednesday</strong> helping out at one of the farm stands re-selling some jams and sauces, or perhaps helping us with various errands during the market or closing down at the end, we would love the help.&nbsp; And of course, that time could count toward a work share, as well.&nbsp; The market is a 10-15 minute walk from the Anacostia metro.</p>

Festival date set for October 22nd

<p>Mark you calenders, folks!&nbsp; We've set a date for our fall festival on the farm.&nbsp; The steel drum band is booked to join us on Saturday October 22, 2005.&nbsp; We'll have hay rides and a pot luck and who knows what else.&nbsp; Everyone is invited!&nbsp; If you have any ideas for fun things we should do this year, let us know.</p>


<p>Those who like it hot are in luck, we are having a great chile year at the farm. Jalapenos, sugar chiles, long cayenne, habaneros, Thai dragons and Bulgarian carrot chiles are all doing well at the farm. No doubt some of our chiles will participate in the <a href="">2nd Annual Chili Bowl Bonanza</a>, which takes place today at the Anacostia Farmers Market. </p> <p>Here is a sample of some of our chiles, in increasing order of burning power. (The pictures were taken after yesterday's harvest.)</p> <p><a href=""><img title="Sugar_chiles" height="241" alt="Sugar_chiles" src="" width="350" border="0" /></a> </p> <p>Sugar chiles. Mildly hot and sweet.</p> <p><a href=""><img title="Bulgarian_carrot_chiles" height="303" alt="Bulgarian_carrot_chiles" src="" width="350" border="0" /></a> </p> <p>Bulgarian carrot chiles. There is more heat in these ones. </p> <p><a href=""><img title="Thai_dragons" height="322" alt="Thai_dragons" src="" width="350" border="0" /></a> </p> <p>Thai dragons. Small but as fiery as they look. </p> <p><a href=""><img title="Habaneros" height="356" alt="Habaneros" src="" width="350" border="0" /></a> </p> <p>Habaneros. Proceed with great caution. </p>

Calliopes resting on a bed of Nadias

<p><a href=""><img title="Calliope_1" height="262" alt="Calliope_1" src="" width="350" border="0" /></a> </p> <p>Colorful Calliope and the more traditional Nadia are two of the varieties of eggplant we grow at the farm. Right now our eggplant crop is at its peak. </p>