Saturday, October 30, 2010

What? It's Over Already?

 That's right folks, today is the last Bayview market of the season!  (Well, until we start the indoor holiday market on Nov. 27th!). But for the main season, well, today is it.  And with the close of the markets and shortening of the days comes a lot of reflection on the season - the good, the bad and the tasty.
So here's a quick run, down, by season touching on some of the highlights...
The Winter into Spring - Jan through May.  Was wet.  That's pretty normal.  Did have some quite warm/dry spells in early March, enough to get some plantings in of early greens.  Planted lettuce (about 3000 plants); sewed 3000 row feet of greens like mustards, arugula, spinach, planted about 1500 row feet of brassicas (cauliflower, cabbages, broc); planted about an acre of potatoes and about 1/2 acre of onions.  Weeded and fertilized 8000+ garlic plants.  Planted three acres of dry beans.  A 1/2 acre of winter squash.  Worked on building a 20x48 foot greenhouse.
The Summer - June through Sept.   Cooler and wetter than many of past years.  Although not an unusual summer for this Whidbey Island born and raised girl.  Finished the greenhouse and planted out 70 some tomato plants.  Seeded basil.  Weeded (or at least tried to), fertilized and bug-managed all the crops previously noted as planted (eek!).  Harvested garlic in July.  Sprayed compost tea.  Re-planted multiple successions of many plants - lettuce 2x (about 4000 plants),  planted about 4000 row feet of fall/winter veggies. Picked and picked and picked some more!
The Fall into Winter - September until now.  Wet, wet fall!  Our almost ALWAYS dry and beautiful summer we got buckets of rain causing havoc with all sorts of curing crops.  Harvested about 6000 pounds of potatoes, a couple more 1000 pounds still to be dug.  Beginning pulling dry beans and attempting to dry them in complicated fashions involving a semi-dump truck, lots of fans and a propane heater.  Onions same story - came out of the field WET.  Garlic almost all molded in the barn til we created a "dry room" installed we a heater and de-humidifier.  Amazingly enough, we got some winter squash all the cool summer meant production was off probably 50 percent. Planted another 2000 heads of lettuce for late fall harvest (not quite ready yet).  Kept picking.  And harvesting.  And picking.
What's Left?  Well..we start planting garlic this week and lots of that to do!  We have over-wintering greens to plant into the hoophouse, rows to be weeded and mulched for the winter and lots of cover crop to seed.  Still got some potatoes left to dig. Oh...and about another 1000+ dry beans to thresh, clean and bag! 
That's the great thing about farming in the Pacific Northwest - the fun never stops!
And now, since I know you are all drying to know what we'll be bringing to market is the list:
* Dry Beans - Rockwells and Black Cocos!  These sold out FAST last week so we stocked up quite a bit more for this week. 
* Mesclun bags
* Arugula bags
* Leek bunches
* Winter squash
* Potatoes - including our 10 lb storage bags at reduced pricing!
* Garlic - stock up your pantry and we will still have a bit of seed garlic as well - not to late to plant!
* Jerusalem Artichokes (aka sunchokes).  A tasty fall/winter crop!
* Beets - red, pink and golden types!
* Rainbow carrots from our good friends at Prairie Bottom Farm
* Cippolini onions
* Chard
* Kale
* Collards
* Kohlrabi
And probably something more I'm forgetting!
So hope to see you at market today!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Winter Squash - It warms your tummy!

I was talking to a friend a few days back who mentioned how good - and versatile - winter squash was.  She had just had a fabulous stromboli stuffed with one of our Jarradhale Pumpkins in a fabulous curry sauce courtesy of the ever-creative Chef Kim at Pickles Deli in Clinton.  It was yummy, yummy but my favorite comment was how the dish "warmed my tummy."
That's really a great description for Winter Squash and Pumpkins and perhaps that is why they are such a fabulous fall and winter food!  But so, so many folks seem intimidated by the Squash/Pumpkin family, maybe they buy them for a pretty display on their porch our countertop - but they never know what to do with them!

So...since ironically enough, we are bringing LOTS of winter squash to the Bayview Market today...Let's talk Squash (and Pumpkins).
First of all, their is no botanical difference between squash and pumpkins.  Pumpkins are merely a "culinary" (and usually appearance) designation with pumpkins usually earning the name for their orange color and round shape.  For culinary purposes, pumpkins are said to be denser and heavier than most "squash" varieties but I really don't find that true.  In reality, it's more just a tradition of what a particular variety has been called.  For instance, the fabulous Jarradhale "Pumpkin" is actually a beautiful blue/grey color rather than orange.  It does have a classic pumpkin shape, however...
There are four botanical classifications for winter squash/pumpkins - Cucurbita Pepo (mostly little ones like acorns and delicatas), Cucurbita Moschata (not so common, mostly "cushaw" types), Cucurbita Mixta (medium ones, includes butternut and lots of pie pumpkins) and Cucurbita Maxima (the big ones...hubbards!).
Along with colors and shapes, their can be a wide variance in the flavor and texture of pumpkins and squash (btw, "Jack o' Lantern" type pumpkins while yes, technically "edible" are usually so stringy of texture they are next to impossible to do anything with if you cook them...). 
Here's a quick run-down on some of the varieties we offer:
* Jarradhale.  Blue/Grey Australian pumpkin.  Very hearty, rich, dense flesh.  Great for savory dishes or soup.
* Winter Luxury Pie Pumkin.  Out of this world pie pumpkin.  Heirloom from the 1800s with orange "netted" skin.  Very light, sweet flesh.  Perfect for pie, cheesecake, ice cream, muffins...
* Red Kuri.  A Japanese "Kabocha" type.  Orange, tear-drop shaped.  Dry, nutty flavor reminiscent of hazelnut.  Great for savory dishes or soup.
* Spaghetti Squash.  Sweet, lightly color flesh that when baked, you can use a fork to make "strings" with and use in place of pasta.
* Sweet Meat.  A blue-gray hubbard type.  Known for it's dense, very sweet flesh.  Great for baked squash or in pies!
* Delicata - Small, striped winter squash.  Very pretty.  Thin-skinned.  You can steam whole and cut with the skins intact.  Sweet delicate flavor.
* Sweet Dumpling.  Relative of the Delicata only round shape.  Very sweet, thin skinned.  Great to stuff and serve individually.
* Australian Cheese.  Interesting pink-orange color.  Very sweet, dense flavor.  Good for baked squash, for desserts...
* Uncle David's Dessert Buttercup.  Dense, sweet and hearty.  Great baked type.  Smaller, dark-green color.
And probably a few more...
The other great thing about winter squash/pumpkins is THEY KEEP!  Keep them someplace where they will be in the 50 degree temperature and nice and dry (decorating a table or countertop is ideal!) and most varieties will last several months in not many, many months (the thicker the skin, the longer they keep) and not only will they keep, but most varieties get sweeter in storage.  So stock up - and enjoy!

And since you might want to know what else we are bringing to market today...Here is the list coming to the Bayview Farmer's Market
* Winter Squash and Pumpkins (in case you didn't read about wall o' text and just skipped straight here)
* The LAST of the tomatoes!  Ripe heirlooms, slicers, beefsteaks, green ones.  No more - we are pulling the vines next week!
* Mesclun bags
* Arugula bags
* Beet bunches
* Carrot bunches
* Potatoes of all sorts - including 10 lb storage bags at a better price - so stock up!
* Garlic - food grade and still seed grade available for planting
* Leeks
* Onions
* Kale
* Chard
* Dry Beans - Rockwell's and Black Coco's this week!
And we here Mikey from Whidbey Green Goods is bringing some green beanies (Roma's I think) he pulled from his hoophouse this week.  That's awful late for green beans so enjoy the special treat while you can get them!
Hope to see you at Bayview Market today!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie
P.S.  And a few recipes...

Jarrahdale Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Horseradish

The Jarrahdale cooks up very well with the potatoes and
adds a light and fresh flavor. The low sugar of the pumpkin
can't be tasted and the garlic and horseradish give a piquant
zing that spices up this old favorite.

1 Jarrahdale Pumpkin
6 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes
4 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 C butter
1/4 C cream
1/4 C chopped horseradish
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese to taste

Heat Jarrahdale in 250 oven for 25 minutes. Cool, halve and scoop out flesh.
Microwave potatoes with holes poked in them for about 12 minutes.
Skin potatoes if desired and then dice them.
Add potatoes, squash, cream and butter to a pot on medium heat.
Mash as the potatoes cook down and become tender, about 25 minutes.
Add more cream if the potatoes become stiff or dry.
Add garlic, horseradish, salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 - 10 minutes.
Serve in the Jarrahdale Pumpkin and top with parmesan cheese.

Nutty Renee’s Red Kuri Soup
(Named in honor of my mother, Renee, who came up with this recipe featuring the rich, hazelnut-reminiscent flavor of Red Kuri winter squash.  Peanut butter brings out the creamy sweetness of the squash but be careful to not overdo it as the peanut can also easily overpower the delicate flavors)

2 cups Red Kuri squash
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup pine nuts
¼ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup milk
¼ cup (no more) quality peanut butter (like Adams)
Baby spinach leaves or arugula, for garnish

Cut Red Kuri squash in half, scoop out seeds and roast until soft.  Roasting the squash is important as it partially caramelizes the vegetable, which is great for the flavors.  Cool and scoop out flesh.  Mix with chicken stock in food processor until smooth.
In large saucepan saute the pine nuts and onions in the olive oil until soft.  Cool and chop coarsely (in food processor if possible).  Add squash and simmer the entire mixture.
15 minutes before serving add milk and peanut butter, stir well.  Do not boil after this.
Garnish with baby spinach leaves or arugula and serve.  Other squash or pumpkins can be substituted, but be sure to roast!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Are we slowing down yet? Heck no!

That's what people keep asking me.  "Things must be slowing down at the farm?"  My answer is "yes and no."
Yes, they are slowing down in the sense there isn't as much daylight so we literally CAN'T be working out in the fields as much.  (Does anybody know a good source for floodlights to light up about 8 acres?  Just kidding!...Mostly.)  However,  when we do have daylight there is sure still LOADS to be done.
What Farmer Georgie looks like after a day digging potatoes!
This last week of dry/sunny weather has been a huge boon for FINALLY getting all the very late maturing dry beans pulled and to cure. We finished the last row yesterday so that means next week we can get back on digging potatoes, only maybe 2000 or 3000 more lbs of taters left to go!  Eek...
And then there are the overwintered crops that need to be weeded, fertilized and even planted....And garlic!  We must start planting garlic!  And overwintered onions!  And we need to pull all the tomato plants out and plant out the greenhouse to winter greens....And harvest the rest of the winter squash.  And pull up all the drip tape.  And disc all the empty fields and plant cover crop.  And, and, and....
Really...a farmer's work never REALLY ends.
And then of course, there are still three more Bayview Farmer's Markets to go as well.  And on that note (notice my very clever transition), let's get down to what I know most of you REALLY care about - what's fresh, young and vegetable like coming to market TODAY????
NOTE - There are NO MORE Coupeville Farmer's Markets til spring (wah-wah).  We have 3 more Bayview Farmer's Markets.  HOWEVER - soon (possibly next weekend) we will be starting "Endless Summer" with Rosehip Farm and Garden.  For those of you who haven't done this before, watch for an email from me.  We will combine available food from Willowood, Rosehip Farm and Garden and Prairie Bottom Farm (all 3 Coupeville area, organically grown - but not certified - small farms), and send you the list.  You order by the specified time.  We pick to order (first-come, first serve).  You come on Saturday to Rosehip Farm & Garden in Coupeville and pick up your food.   It's a GREAT way to keep on getting some great local harvest-time food, and for us local farmer's to keep on selling it!

ALSO - IF YOU PREORDERED POTATO OR BEAN BAGS DURING THE FARM TOUR IN SEPTEMBER - You are welcome to come by the market today and pick up today - what we have.  Due to our cool September we still don't have all the things on the orders ready (beans that still need to be threshed, and potatoes to be dug), but we do have some of it.  I will be emailing everybody shortly that hasn't already picked up at the markets about your preorder. 

And now, for the list...
Coming to the Bayview Market TODAY!
* Rockwell Beans!  That's right, the famous Rockwell Bean!  In 1 lb bags with my Grandma's amazing recipe on it!
* Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes. We LOVE our potatoes.  And we've got them in all shapes, sizes and colors - Yellow Finns, German Butterballs, Maris Pipers, Romanze, Mountain Rose, Purple Majesty, Peanut fingerling, Red Thumb fingerling, Ozette Fingerling....
* 10 lb Potato Bags!  This is a GREAT way to stock up for winter.  Reduced pricing and in mesh bags that are great for winter storage.
* Garlic - Food grade including 1.5 lb bags at reduced pricing!
* Garlic - Seed grade!  It's not too late to plant (we plant all the way up until Thanksgiving...).
* Chard
* Kale - multiple kinds!
* Collards
* Mesclun Bags - a new crop!
* Arugula Bags - a new crop!
* Onions - three flavors!
* Leeks!
* Winter Squash - oodles in gorgeous colors and shapes.  Perfect for fall decor and great to eat as well!
* Ornamental mini pumpkins and gourds
* Baby carrots
* Lots of BEAUTIFUL, SWEET HEIRLOOM TOMATOES!  Just about the last picking, so get them while still can!
And something we are surely forgetting....
Ah yes, Mikey from Whidbey Green Goods yes he has quite a few of lovely wild-picked mushrooms!
And since it's getting to be that time when I can actually start to see daylight, I better sign off and go pack the truck.  Hope to see you at market today!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Harvest Festival Today!

Well, based on the wind hollowing and the pitter-patter of rain at my door, it's going to be a wild and woolly one for the biggest, best, and LAST Coupeville Farmer's Market of the season - Coupeville Harvest Festival!
For those of you who haven't attended the Coupeville Farmer's Market, well this is the one not to miss!  There were be all sorts of activities, including a crazy "Harvest Relay" with teams doing things like bowling mini pumpkins, and shelling Rockwell beans in a rocking chair.  All good fun to raise money for the Good Cheer Food Bank. 
And there are all sorts of "Giant" vegetable contests.  Giant zucchinis, giant onions and giant Pumpkins of course!  The annual Coupeville Giant Pumpkin weigh-off happens at the Coupeville Harvest Festival and it is always an impressive site when pumpkins have to be unloaded on pallets with a pallet fork!
Willowood and Prairie Bottom farms put on our MOST impressive food display of the year.  And if we don't amaze with the amount of food we bring, well then, I don't figure we've done our job. 
I think we'll do it, however. 
We've spent the last week compiling TWO wagon loads full of food. 
Including a 1000 lbs of so of really cool and yummy winter squash, 100+ ten pound bags of potatoes, 100 or so bags of Rockwell Beans, 30 or so bags of garlic, 60+ baby bags of fingerling and mixed colored baby potatoes, oodles of ten pound onion bags and then all the other extras like chard, collards, kale, leeks, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets, corn, kohlrabi, fennel, green beans, summer squash, braising green bunches, onions, food and seed garlic and, and, and more we are sure!'s a lot of food!  We will be offering discounted specials on garlic, potatoes and onions to store for the winter.  We will also have a LARGE selection of all our favorite seed garlic available, so if you are thinking about growing your own this year, come down and check out what we've got.
Not to mention now is the time to buy the great heirloom pumpkins and winter squashes that will turn into fabulous pies, soups and other yummy dishes to warm your tummy as fall and winter weather set in for good.  So it is a great time to come down and stock up - no matter what the weather!
For those of you down at the Bayview market - we will have a limited offering down there.  Not to worry, back in force starting next week.
In the meantime - hope to see you in Coupeville!
Farmer Georgie,  off to brave the elements....
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Get Your Harvest On!

We've been in full-on harvest time mode here at the farm this past week.  Digging potatoes, curing (we hope) potatoes, drying beans, harvesting winter squash...It's a race against time as we desperately try to
"finish" the crops we've labored over all season, before the winter sets on in force.
The sunny weather we've had has been very very welcomed, of course!  We hear the weatherman is saying it might go away for a few days early this next week, but then hopefully come back for a bit longer.  So we hope!
So far, harvest time has been pretty good.  We've got somewhere in the neighborhood of 7000 lbs of potatoes dug and in the barn!  Yowser!  Probably another 3000 lbs or so to go?  Quite a potato yield we had this year!
We threshed out our first batch of Rockwell beans with much success and hope to thresh the rest today.  (And before I get a bajillion emails, yes we WILL HAVE SOME ROCKWELLS at market today.  Straight from the combine, not having received their final screening and bagging yet.  But if you are DESPERATE we will have a nice big basket for the Rockwell aficionados, you know who you are!...). 
We started harvesting some winter squash - granted they could be more "cured" and we are going to get a huge crop, but heck it's something!
So what does this mean you you? It means - fill up the pantry time of year!  I don't know about the rest of you, but there sure is something comforting about having a pantry full of healthy, nourishing, tasty food when the cold and dark days set come in earnest!
 We will be bringing this week the first of our 10 lb Potato Storage Bags.  These are mesh, 10 lb bags, by potato variety.  We still have some potatoes to dig, so we don't have the entire selection available this week, but we've got all the favorites - Yellow Finns, German Butterballs, Maris Pipers, Romance, Purple Majesty....Net bags are a great way to store potatoes for the winter - just keep them someplace dark, where they will stay cool but not too cool (in the 40s is perfect).  With those conditions, you should expect to have potatoes at least into January, if not longer.  I've stored them all the way until March.
We also will have our first selection of winter squash at the markets this weekend.  Yummy!  I love winter squash because it is not all GORGEOUS but it is so tasty, versatile and full of great nutrients (like beta-carotene) that are otherwise not easy to get in the winter.  And all wrapped up in an natural storage bag (no plastic needed!), it's hard winter shell!  We love to bake, mash, soup, roast, pie and just generally go crazy on winter squash!  I will caution, that with our cool, cool summer and wet fall, the squash is LATE this year and less "cured" than I normally like.  But that's okay, just use it on your kitchen table or countertop for a big of "fall color" and the warm inside temps will finish that ripening process.  Most winter squash only get sweeter the longer they age. 
So, hopefully we've teased your taste buds a bit and we'll see you at the markets today.  Only TWO MORE MARKETS LEFT IN COUPEVILLE!
Here's the "official" list coming to Bayview and Coupeville markets...
From Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie:
* Beet Bunches
* Leeks
* Torpedo, Ailsa Crag and Cippolini onions
* Garlic - food grade and seed grade
* Chard
* Kale
* Braising green bunches
* Collards
* Winter Squash
* Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes
* Shell Beans - probably the last week they will be available!
* Dried Rockwell Beans!
* Green Beans
* Tomatoes (Bayview only)
* Basil (Bayview only)
* Tomatillos (Bayview only)
From our friends at Prairie Bottom Farm
* Lettuce Mix
* Spinach - 2 kinds
* Arugula
* Cucumbers
* Winter Squash
* Carrots
* Beets
* Leeks
* Dill
* Fennel
* Summer squash
* Scallions
* Green Beans
From Mikey at Whidbey Green Goods (Bayview only)
* Cherry tomatoes
* Slicing tomatoes
* Mushrooms
* Apples
* Figs

Hope to see you at market!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie