Field Update: Frost, Storage Tips, and Wrens!

by Molly on October 18, 2012

Week 32, October 8-15, 2012, Week 42 of the Year

Good News! Our tomatoes and peppers did survive the frost with some tip burn, but still plenty of plant left to produce. All the squash did bite the dust, so enjoy your last bites of summer squash. There will be more delicious butternuts to come though. At first, when I thought the tomato plants were gone for, I was sad that I would no longer be tasting sweet, rich, fresh tomatoes. Then, later in the day when I realized that the tomatoes were not gone, I was again saddened by the thought of having to pick them, yet again! I spoke to some other farmers who totally understood where I was coming from. We all worked so hard this summer, at some point it just feels okay to let things go, rest the ground, and ourselves… but that day isn’t today!

Tomatoes, bush beans, Japanese turnips, purple-top turnips, arugula, romaine lettuce, sunchokes, etc… are all still waiting to be picked.  With all this abundance, here is a storage tip website for some tips on how to store your produce so it lasts as long as possible. In general, always remove greens from root crops and store the two in separate plastic bags. Turnip and radish greens are edible. Everything that I can think of right now that we have coming out of the field will benefit from being stored in a plastic bag with the exception of tomatoes which should be stored at room temperature for maximum flavor, sweet potatoes and butternut squash which should be stored in a cool dark place (both can keep for several months). Sophomore Farmy, Faith LaBeaume gives the tip of re-cutting kale and storing it in a glass of water (like cut flowers), in the fridge. Refrigerators work with evaporative cooling and will dehydrate leaves quickly. We may dig sunchokes this week. Please store these in a plastic bag, with a paper towel/clean rag. They store for up to one month. Here are some recipe links (and information):

Turnip Greens with Pecans
Mustard/Turnip Greens Curried
Japanese Turnips with Miso
Roasted Japanese Turnips
Sweet Potato Burrito
Sunchoke Info. & Recipes

Wildlife of the Week-  Carolina Wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus

The Carolina wren is one of the smallest songbirds we have in the field, but it is big in song and appetite for insects.  Wrens are easily distinguished by their small size, little to no neck, loud song, and upturned tail.  The Carolina Wren has a white eyebrow stripe and cinnamon colored plumage, This particular wren proclaims “teakettle teakettle!” as a part of it’s song.  Most often you will hear a wren before you see it so take a moment, stand still, and wait. The males (unlike other wrens) are the only ones to sing but they fiercely defend their territory with song, so if you are too close you will be scolded. This species mates for life and stays in the nesting area to forage throughout the winter. These birds are sensitive to cold weather and since they do not migrate a severe winter can reduce the population. Warmer winters in recent decades have them taking territory in more northern areas than historical. These birds like brushy overgrown areas around farms or in residential areas. Insects and spiders make up the bulk of the Carolina Wren’s diet, which is a big benefit to any farm or garden. They also may eat lizards, snakes, frogs, and a small amount of plant matter that includes poison ivy berries.

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