Thursday, October 30, 2014


Tonight I ate 14 cloves of garlic. It wasn't some kind of fad diet (though I'm sure garlic is good for me in some ways...just not sure which ones). No, I did it because this week I planted seven different varieties of garlic on my farm, and I was just bracing myself for the inevitable questions.

See, when you're a farmer people expect you to be the authority on the produce you grow, and that includes most prominently its taste and use. But a good palate isn't necessarily in the skill set for many farmers. At least, I know it's not for me. I like to eat vegetables with good stories--stories about where they were bred or how they were grown--and I like to cook them with ingredients with good stories too. I think I'm a decent home cook with somewhat high standards, but I'm still just a home cook. I'm not sure my sense of taste is always up to par.

Nonetheless, I know the questions will come. Next year, after I've mulched and fed and weeded and watered and harvested and cured and cleaned my lovely bulbs of garlic, I will be asked about the differences between them--the tastes and the uses--and I will have to come up with something intelligent to say. So tonight, I laid 'em all out there and I tasted.

First, I tasted a sliver of each one raw. I'm kind of a wuss when it comes to raw garlic, so mostly I just noted the ones that were the spiciest. (They were all spicy.)

Then I threw a clove of each, in numbered order, on a baking sheet and put them in the oven. I promptly forgot them there, as often happens when I cook, so after pulling out the carmelized (aka burned) cloves I put one more of each into the oven. This time I remember to take them out.

two of each kind: one baked, one burned
tasting notes
Mostly, I have to say, they tasted like garlic. But I did discern some differences, which I promise to share with you when you ask me sometime next fall!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

rainy day farm

Today was the last Gresham Farmers' Market of the season, and although it was bookended by bouts of high winds (the kind that could impale people with flying canopies), the five hours of market were actually quite calm and at times even pleasant. I snapped this picture of my booth during a brief period of unexpected sun.

Meanwhile, except for one last bed that still needs planting (garlic), farm work has mostly moved indoors. Namely: bean shelling. It's a big job, but I have a lot more time now to do it.

the work ahead
the work behind

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

mid-october roundup

The past several weeks have been a flurry of activity: harvesting winter squash, shelling dry beans, pulling drip lines and trellises out of the field, seeding cover crop,  and transplanting--yes, transplanting--some winter-hardy greens like spinach, kale, lettuce, and chicories that will hopefully flourish sometime in the next 4 to 6 months. (The latter was a late-season, previously unplanned experiment. Prior to mid-August, I would have told you that one of the goals for my farm was never to have to slog around out there in the middle of winter. Then, kind of inexplicably, I freaked out and bought a bunch of seeds.)

Anyhoo, much of the hard work is now done for the year. It's been so wonderful these past few rainy days to get caught up on food preservation and office work in my pajamas. I also finally had time to sift through all the pictures I've been taking in anticipation of a bunch of blog posts I never had time to write! So here, instead, is a photo recap of the past few weeks.

Bean Dance
leftover bean plant material, about to be put back into the field

Winter Squash Harvest
Candystick delicata
from front to back: Hidatsa hubbard, Oregon Homestead sweet meat, Blue Kuri
beautiful variations in the Trampas hubbards
butternuts float butt-up in their bath
Trampas hubbards, then butternuts all the way to the horizon...
 Cover Cropping

my winter cover crop mix: winter rye and common vetch
the belly grinder: a simple seed broadcasting tool
the bean fields, freshly cover cropped and tilled
end of another day