From the Field: The Trials and Tribulations of Organic Farming
Ah, that splendid time of year at the farm: summertime! The heat index rises, thunderstorms come and thunderstorms go, the humidity is… well, anyone have a knife? The best part of the summer season, though, is the arrival of those sweetly-delicious summer veggies: tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and squash. Wait, where’s the squash?!
Squash Vine Borer eggs
Sadly, we experienced a bit of a setback with the squash this season thanks to our not-so-dear friend, the Squash Vine Borer. Despite all of the standard good organic farmer practices including crop rotation, creating nutrient rich soil, ensuring adequate water supply, and patience, this year’s squash crop has been severely damaged due to these evil Darth Maul Moths!
The Squash Vine Borer, a type of moth that flies during the day, are said to be attracted to the bright yellow color of the squash blossoms and will lays its eggs on the leaves of the plant. Once hatched, it is the larvae that cause the most damage. They will–as their name implies–bore into the stem of the vine and eat the plant from the inside-out. The damaged vine is then unable to take in any water, causing it to wilt and die under the heat of the summer sun. With hope, we can resurrect the vine by cutting away the damaged parts, replanting, and hoping it’ll take root.
In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy what we have available this week at the market:
Napa cabbage Bok choi Carrots Beets Tomatoes Zucchini Green beans Scallions Eggplant Basil Blueberries
Not sure what to do with all of that summer fresh eggplant and zucchini? Try one of my favorite French provincial recipes!
Ratatouille with Eggplant and Summer Squash
(recipe by The FruitGuys Almanac website)
1/2 cup or less olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced or mashed
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 bell peppers, seeded and chunked (optional)
Salt to taste
2 stems basil leaves, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
4 tomatoes, cubed
Heat halt the oil in a large frying pan or dutch oven over high heat.
Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring until onions are limp but not browned.
Stir in the eggplant, zucchini, peppers, salt, basil, and parsley; add a little of the oil as needed to keep the vegetables from sticking.
Cover pan and cook over moderate heat about 30 minutes; stir occasionally, using a large spatula and turning the vegetables to help preserve their shape.
If mixture becomes too soupy during this time, remove cover to allow some of the moisture to escape.
Add the tomatoes to the vegetables in the pan and stir to blend.
Add more oil if vegetables are sticking.
Cover and cook over moderate heat for 15 minutes; stir occasionally.
Again, if mixture becomes soupy, remove cover and allow moisture to evaporate.
Ratatouille should have a little free liquid but still be of a good spoon-and-serve consistency.
Add more salt if desired.
Serve hot or cover and chill to serve cold.
Serve over pasta or rice.