Is it safe now to set out your tenders – especially tomatoes? Just when you think it is safe, a cold snap will wipe you out. This last Tuesday morning brought us just that throughout most of northeastern Oklahoma, with early-morning lows in the high twenties.
If you got zapped in the wee hours of last Tuesday, we still have plenty of beautiful tomato plants for sale. The old timers would always wait till after Easter to set out their tender vegetable starts. That doesn’t always work out as Easter floats on the calendar in a 30-day range, but with Easter falling about as late as it can I think it’s safe to set tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant out.
We have all of those in a wide variety, so give us a call to schedule a time to come visit. We would love to see you, and help you with your replacement tomatoes.
What to Do?
Past weather records do indicate hard frosts as late as the first of May, which would spell disaster to your tender vegetables. The lesson here is that life gives no guarantees (except that it will be dry as a bone, and as hot as blue blazes in August.) So as you set those replacement tomatoes in it is always a good idea to keep a few used one-gallon nursery pots or large coffee cans/produce cans around to cover your tender plants on those cold nights. Five-gallon buckets work great too. Just remember to uncover them the next morning.
p.s.: No pictures with this post. How exciting does a tomato plant look, anyway? What excites me is to see those red globes of juiciness all over a tomato vine. Come by and get your replacement tomatoes today! Happy gardening to all.
Here’s What You Really Want to See.
Rhubarb Shoots Up Like a Rocket in the Springtime
It’s amazing what a difference just a few days make in the springtime. This pair of photos is of one of our Rhubarb plants. The first was taken about four days ago, and the second was taken today. The first shot was taken much closer, so if I had used the hoe in both shots for a reference, you would be better able to tell the change a few days make. If I hadn’t mentioned it, you probably wouldn’t have noticed the swan-neck hoe in the second shot. It is my favorite garden tool. I generally do not walk out into the garden without it.
Back to the Rhubarb: It won’t be long until it will be ready to pick. Supplies are always limited, so if you want some you had better call and reserve some for yourself today. Traditionally Rhubarb is paired with Strawberries, but I’m not sure where that happens. Certainly not here in northeastern Oklahoma. I’m sure there are plenty of recipes out there on the inter-webs that make great use of Rhubarb without Strawberries. Let us know what your favorite Rhubarb recipe is. We would love to post it for you if you like.
The calendar doesn’t lie, but the weather hasn’t been fully convinced yet that it’s spring. One day will produce sunshine and 70, while the next will bring 40’s and blustery wind/rain. You can rest assured that it won’t be too long before spring-time temperatures catch up to the spring-time season.
We are already experiencing enough warm days with sunshine that we need to pull some plants out of the greenhouse just about every day. Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and salad crops out tend to get soft and leggy under these conditions. When the sun pops out a greenhouse can get hot in a hurry. With the cooler outdoors and a light-to-moderate wind action exercising their little stems, these vegetable starts toughen up so that they will transition out into the garden without any trouble.
Well, we have arrived at planting time for those early garden vegetables. In fact, because of the way the weather has been, we have missed the first week or so of early planting. It’s time to get those green salad-type plants in the ground. As you can see by the photos we are fully stocked. Here’s our list of spring vegetables to plant in Oklahoma right now:
- Broccoli ‘Emperor’ & ‘Premium Crop‘
- Cauliflower ‘Snowball‘
- Brussels Sprouts ‘Long Island Imp.‘
- Collards ‘Vates‘
- Spinach ‘Bloomsdale‘
- Romaine Lettuce
- Green Leaf Lettuce ‘Grand Rapids‘
- Red Leaf Lettuce ‘Red Sails‘
All of these varieties are well suited to north-eastern Oklahoma, and are recommended by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.
Come out or give us a call this week end. We would love to talk to you and get some of these beautiful plants in your hands and into your garden. Maybe we could even swap Collard recipes.
The salads and greens plants are $1.00 each, and we do charge county/state sales tax. If you want a large quantity of plants then we can haggle over bulk pricing when you get here.
This morning my wife and I were researching recipes that use chestnuts and we stumbled across a great one in Marcella Hazen’s The Classic Italian Cookbook. Going to the internet to dig deeper we sadly discovered that this great Italian cook and author passed away just yesterday. I am ever amazed at the convergence of events. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hazen family.
On pages 440-442 of The Classic Italian Cookbook Marcella Hazen lists a most interesting desert recipe using chestnuts, titled Monte Bianco, which includes instructions on how to prepare raw, unpeeled chestnuts for inclusion in the recipe. The dessert looks delicious but we’re not sure yet if we will make it–we are still working on perfecting cooking the raw chestnuts for uses in recipes.
Here’s the process we are currently experimenting with:
- Take about a pound of fresh chestnuts. You can find a number of sources on the internet, or you can come out for the next couple of weeks and get some fresh from our farm.
- Wash the nuts in cold water. It is best to place them in standing water with a teaspoon of household bleach added for each gallon of water for sanitation purposes. Any nuts that float to the top are duds and need to be discarded.
- Pull the nuts out of the water and set out on cloth or paper towels to drain.
- Place each nut on a chopping board and score the nut with a large x across the rounded side of the nut with a knife. Make sure you make it through the shell, but try not to score too deeply into the meat. This is a dangerous job and great care should be taken not to cut a finger off. This is definitely not a child-friendly activity. Special chestnut knives with a hooked blade are available that make the job much easier.
- Place the scored nuts into a covered pot of boiling water for 10 minutes.
- Remove the nuts from the boiling water with a slotted spoon–a few at a time–and peel the shell and skin from the creamy-white nut. This is a hot job but the shells and skins peel much more easily while they are still quite warm.
- Place the peeled nuts back int0 the boiling water for an additional 15 minutes to finish cooking.
- At this stage the nuts can be incorporated into many recipes such as Monte Bianco right away. If you don’t intend to cook with them right away they need to be stored sealed in the refrigerator for up to a week or so. They can be kept for months sealed in a container in the freezer.
I know the above title would never make a hit Christmas carol, but for us guys anyway, the microwave is the quickest and easiest way to enjoy chestnuts. Here’s how to do it.
- Take a sharp knife and cut a dozen fresh chestnuts in half as shown in the photo. Don’t use any nuts with brown streaks in the nut meat, only clear and creamy, as you can see to the right.
- Moisten a paper towel and wring out the excess moisture.
- Place the nuts in the towel and fold the four corners over each other into a loose package.
- Pop the chestnut package into the microwave for one minute. You may have to adjust this setting with a bit of trial and error. The end result should produce a slightly mealy chew. Slightly crunchy means you need a bit more time, and slightly rubbery means you went too long.
- Have a small bowl of melted butter handy, in which to dip the nut meat. The best way to extract the meat from the shell is to use a fondue fork. The meat becomes more difficult to extract out of the shell as they cool down, so eat the nuts while they are hot.
There are many other–and more traditional ways–to consume chestnuts, but this is the best for me.
Oh yes, this is chestnut season here, and we have yours waiting for you. Give us a call.
Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. Pick-your-own apples this year was a big hit. Over the past two weeks we had quite a few families with little ones running all over the orchard. Unfortunately, all of the pick-your-own-able (low hanging) fruit is gone. Due to safety concerns we can no longer allow picking by the public, as all remaining fruit is way too high up in the tree.
We do still have apples to buy for the next week or two, so call and let us know you would like to have some of these delicious on-the-farm apples.
This last weekend we grilled out on the front porch. When the meat’s all done and the coals have died down a bit we always throw on the vegetables. Squash is always a favorite with us, sliced length-wise about a quarter of an inch thick. We only leave them on long enough to get good grill marks on both sides. Any longer than that and squash begins to fall apart. Brush a little olive oil on both sides and season before you place them on the grill. Take them up gently and place them in a pan. Cover to keep them hot until they are ready to be served.
One vegetable you might not think about when grilling is okra, and since okra is just beginning to become available this time of year, you should give it a try. It’s almost impossible to get grill marks on okra since they roll around and refuse to rest across the metal, so the main objective is to soften the pods to the perfect point of table consumption. Like squash, okra needs to be lightly coated with olive oil to grill properly. Add a few dashes of your favorite seasoning salt, and toss the trimmed okra in a bowl with a small amount of olive oil. Lay them all out evenly on the grill top, close the lid, and don’t walk away. If you do you are sure to scorch them. After only two or three minutes covered, turn the okra and cover again for just a few minutes, or until they reach your desired texture. Take them up, rush to the table with them and let the feast begin!
We should have a good supply of okra for a good while, so give us a call for a time to come out. We would love to make your next outdoor grilling session a feast fit for a king.
What an odd plant! Is it a vegetable, or a fruit? Rhubarb is not everybody’s favorite, but for those who love it there is no substitute. It is very tart by itself, but mixed with strawberries or some other fruit, it makes a delicious dessert. Repeat after me: “Coffee Cake.”
If you are looking for fresh/local rhubarb, we have it, and it is available right now. As with everything we grow, supplies are limited, so get yours while they last. In another few weeks they will all be gone for another season. The price for rhubarb this year is $2.00/lb. and we will wait till you arrive to pick them.
Rhubarb is easy to put up in the freezer. Simply cut up the stalks as if you were about to cook with them, and then store them in freezer bags. Squeeze out as much air as possible and throw them in the freezer. They should keep well that way for up to a year.
Come see us. We will be waiting for your call.
It IS blueberry season here in Northeastern Oklahoma. We have been receiving calls daily about it for a couple weeks now. Unfortunately, we just don’t have the berries to pick. Last year’s hot, dry summer — with the aid of gophers and voles — has seen to that.
Keep in mind we are out of berries, not out of business. There is always next year, and we do grow other things besides blueberries. Stay tuned and check back often.
Nothing says Italian like fresh basil, and there is no better way to save your extra basil than by turning it into a pesto base. There are very few rules when it comes to pesto recipes, except that it should contain basil and olive oil. Beyond that add what you want . . . what you like. We like to add pine nuts and garlic. Blend your mix in a food processor, adding enough olive oil to make a medium-thick paste. Parmesan cheese and butter can be added later, if you are wanting a traditional pesto.
Once you have all of your desired ingredients thoroughly mixed up in the food processor, proceed to portion it all out into ice-cube trays and pop it in the freezer. Once your “cubes” are frozen you can dump them all out into a zip-lock freezer bag or glass jar and return them to the freezer. When ever you need a bit of basil just retrieve the required number of cubes and add them to whatever you are cooking.