From the Farmer

Week 26 – 11/9/2016
In Your Share
This is the penultimate week of the 2016 main season.  Next week is the last, and the Farm Stand closes on Tuesday, November 22 at the end of the Thanksgiving Market.
 
Strawberry Jam.  Remember spring?  Remember spring!  Jam makes a great gift, too.  If you like, come to the Farm Stand this week, next week, or Tuesday the 21st before we close for the season!
 
Butterhead lettuce and spicy salad mix.  These two can live alone but make great companions.  Butterhead lettuce may be my favorite.  The heart is filled with the tenderest, sweet leaves, and if you cut just so they all fall together into their own salad.  Take these and mix with the spicy mix, which is filled with a variety of mild Asian green- and mustard-shapes, colors and textures.
 
White sweet potatoes.  These are for RD.  White sweet potatoes?!  Oh, yes.  Cook these just as you would an orange sweet potato and you will taste the difference.  My easy sweet potato is whole, washed sweet potato on a baking sheet, a little olive oil on top, baked at 350°F until I smell it caramelize and I can put my fork through it. Whites are not as sweet like orange ones; they have a drier flesh and a more complex, nutty flavor.  With that little bit of caramelization, mm mm mm.
 
This has been our best sweet potato year to date at Willowsford Farm.  Not only did we experiment with new methods of growing them, but we are happy with our yields: we had very little loss to damage, and the general shape and size of our sweet ‘taters is right and pretty uniform.  If you want to stock up for the winter, drop us a line and we’ll take care of you.
 
Daikon Radish.  Where to begin with Daikon radish?  We grow daikon as both a soil crop and a people crop. They’re huge, right!?  Daikon takes up all the nitrogen and other nutrients left over in the soil solution in fall, grows that fat root, and send another tap root from the bottom down into the subsoil.  We call it bio-drilling, and research shows it can do a better job breaking up compacted layers than pulling steel with a tractor.  We often use both, first the steel to disturb the compacted layer then immediately after seeding plants like radish to get roots and oxygen into the deep.  Once we’ve done that we can lay off of the steel and let plants do the job. 
 
But wait there’s more.  Those roots scavenge more nutrients from deep, and bringing those nutrients into its leaves and root, when it dies in the coldest of the winter those nutrients are now at the surface to cycle between the surface microbes and the next crop of plants.  With the right equipment, we can seed directly into the radish residue in spring, where the spring crop can access those nutrients.  Win for all of plantdom, microbe-dom, and humanity. Hoorah for Radish!
 
Wait, so I’m eating a cover crop?  Oh yes.  Daikon is a staple vegetable in Japan.  It’s most famous in kimchi, which is one of the healthiest foods to eat during cold season (if you want more daikon to make a bigger batch, let us know and it’s yours).  But it’s more versatile than that.  
 
Daikon has a thin skin, so while it may need an extra wash it doesn’t need to be peeled.  Chop it, grate it, cube it, bake it whole, attack it as you like.  It’s good raw, but it shines when it’s cooked.  There are a lot of good recipes for it online and a couple here in the newsletter, but to open your mind, here are a few ideas: 
  • bake at 400°F with carrots, peppers and onion/shallot/leek; 
  • kimchi or overnight pickles
  • daikon chips: mix with oil (olive oil works, but try toasted sesame), salt, pepper and paprika, then broil or bake flat on a cookie sheet
  • radish cakes
  • mooli paratha, an Indian stuffed pancake 
Embrace the Daikon and tell us about it.
 
As always, be great,
 
Mike, Deb, Al, Lex, Anya, Jen, James, Sonya, Kelly, Julia, and Bella and Radish, Camillas x 500+, goats x 12, Roscoe RIP and Popcorn, on his way to breakfast
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Willowsford Conservancy

41025 Willowsford Lane, Aldie, VA 20105

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23595 Founders Drive, Ashburn, VA 20148

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