Out In The Potato Patch

Rows of Russian Bananas

Rows of Russian Bananas

This year, we planted nice wide rows and inter-planted a buckwheat, crimson clover and daikon radish mixture of cover-cropping in between potato rows. That way, when the potatoes were harvested in late-September, the cover crop residue remains over the winter to provide some soil protection and reduce nutrient leaching. Also, the clover produces nitrogen in the field for next year’s crop rotation. The potatoes were grown from tubers planted in late May and early June. The cover crop seeds were sown on July 2nd. Did you know that potato flowers are pollinated by bumble bees? Bumble bees nest in the ground and therefore lots of uncultivated areas allow for their colonies to thrive. Our local native plants (forests, hedgerows, meadows and fields) provide good natural habitat for the bumble bees and our cover crop planting add to that which is already available for them.

Berries on the Plant

Berries on the Plant

What treasure can be found by growing out botanical seed?  We aim to find out. This year there were many True Potato Seeds (TPS). They grew from the Purple Sun, Russian Banana and Papa Cacho. We picked them when the plants had vine and leaf die-back (indicating that the TPS berries were ready for harvest). We have been growing potatoes for 4 years. We have seen TPS berries on them in the prior years. However, we hadn’t collected the berries.  This is the first year that we collected berries, and we kept some of them and sent the remaining ones to the Kenosha Potato Project for further distribution to the group’s members. Within a short distance, we found 8 TPS berries on Papa Cacho plants. One plant had a cluster of 4 large berries as shown here.

Russian Banana TPS

Russian Banana TPS

Here are the Russian Banana TPS berries. There were too many to count. These TPS berries came from the Russian Banana Plants (~ 80# of seed tubers planted on May 26, 2014). There are about a quart of berries. They were harvested off the potato plants when the vines were almost entirely died-back at 101 Days maturity. Many of the berries had started to fall off naturally by then, and they had noticeable lightened in color, and they had a pattern of white dots or dapples.

How does one separate the seeds from the berry pulp? Answer: By hand mostly. Method used: Cut the berry in half with a sharp knife and pinch the seeds out of the berry halves into a glass or bowl of water. Then rinse and strain the seeds out of the water to separate out the bits of pulp seemed to work best. The seeds tend to sink to the bottom and this allows most of the water and pulp to be poured out of the glass without losing any of the tiny seeds. We gave it a try and successfully extracted enough seeds for our experiments next spring. After over-night drying, the seeds were packaged and labeled for storage. This is our first year that we collected berries and extracted seeds. We sent most of our berries to The Kenosha Potato Project to distribute to the group but kept a few here to grow our own plants. But from just a few berries, many seeds were extracted by us.  So, if someone locally wanted some to grow them, we would gladly give them some seeds. We plan to grow the seeds in the early spring, similar to growing tomato plants from seeds. Micro tuber production to start new strains of potato is the mission.

The Mother Earth News by Landrace Gardening: True Potato Seeds by Joseph Lofthouse explains the importance of TPS. Here are the main points given in that article:

Pollinated potato seeds are called “True Potato Seed” (TPS) to differentiate them from “seed potatoes” which are genetically identical clones of a potato tuber.  Growing only tubers introduces the danger of total crop failure due to too much genetic uniformity.  By also growing some potatoes from true potato seeds, we can introduce some genetic diversity into the potato patch and adapt the potato crop to the local conditions.

To learn more about the Kenosha Potato Project, and you can join the Project Facebook page to network with hundreds of Potato Gardeners.

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Where Food Comes From

What does a food company’s main building tell you about the food products, where the food comes from and how much support there is for local community?

Here’s our building. We’ll let you decide.

summer bean harvest 039

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Fall Field Work

As the autumn season rolls along, there are a number of important farm duties to accomplish before the cold season is upon us. For us the main tasks at hand are the potato harvest and garlic planting.  Each of these warm, sunny fall days are filled with these seasonal chores.

Shown here is the furrowing for garlic rows using our 1947 Allis-Chalmers model B with the precision belly-mounted cultivator configured with three chisel plow points. To celebrate this wonderful time of the year, we thought to write a poem Fall Field Work to share (see below).

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Fall Field Work

With summer wildflowers a thing of the past,

These warm autumn meadows won’t long last.

Knowing fall-time follies turn to foil,

And soon we can’t fork in winter’s soil,

We hurry fields with a furry of toil.

 

By wooleylot

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Very Local Food: Russian Bananas

Russian Banana Fingerling Potatoes from Wooleylot Farm are available at Costa’s Food Center in Coudersport, Pennsylvania in convenient 2 pounds bags.

Russian Banana Fingerlings

Russian Banana Fingerlings

Today we delivered some of our Russian Bananas to the Costa’s Produce Department. These savory banana-shaped yellow potatoes are delicious baked, boiled or in salads. Legend has them as first grown by early Russian settlers. We offer a select basket of other savory vegetables. Catering to those of you that have an appetite for locally grown vegetables because it is the best food.

We hope that it finds its way to your kitchen. Buy local as much as you can. You’ll be glad that you did. Start enjoying it today!

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Locally Grown Foods

Our agenda is quality. And, we like it when our specialty items find their way to a local plate whether it be on a home or restaurant table. It makes the difference between mediocre and excellent. Why does locally-grown food taste so much different? Mass produced food is shipped thousands of miles across countries and across oceans before it gets to the table. We’re growing food on fields near to the restaurants and the towns here in Potter County, Pennsylvania. It’s fresh, high quality food and it translates to a much better product on a plate. So, have that eureka moment, and search out a restaurant that buys produce from local farms.

Bees and trees 103Today, we picked and packed a box of quality food for farm delivery to The Hotel Crittenden, Coudersport, Pennsylvania. And, what was in that box of wholesome goodness? Ohman red garlic, Red Thumb potatoes and shallots were the featured items this day.

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Yes, Two Bags Full

So you don’t like the strong flavor of garlic, but still want that intrinsic essence in your cooking  — then shallots are the choice. Shallots are members of the same onion family as garlic but a less spicy seasoning with a sweeter aroma.

The shallot is particularly popular in French dishes. And to whom do we thank for bringing these the little darlings of French chefs to our local tables. Shallots are thought to have originated in Ascalon, Palestine. And, history tells us that Hernando de Soto first brought shallots to the United States during his Louisiana explorations. So with that did you know that these Mediterranean natives are now locally grown, and hope to find popularity in your home-cooked dishes too?

So, one might ask, “Shall it be a good shallot season?” And we would reply: “Oui, Oui! Deux sacs plein.”

Two Bags Full

Two Bags Full

Use shallots the same garlic:

  • Dice is nice. Chop shallots more finely then an onion.
  • Less is more. One or two shallots finely minced are usually all that is needed to add a subtle, slightly sweet flavor to recipes.
  • Go On low. Cook the shallots in butter or oil on a low temperature. Just like garlic, shallots over cook easily.
  • Pair them well. Shallots are tasty when cooked in recipes with white wine, cream and butter.
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Growing For Taste

Bees and trees 081

Costata Romanesco

Today, we had the first harvest of heirloom Italian zucchini —  picked for farm delivery to Olga Cafe & Bistro, Coudersport, Pennsylvania. It features a distinctive nutty flavor, clearly better texture, and is delicious, raw or cooked. And, we have no doubts much better tasting than the hybrids commonly sold in the food stores. Once again, long-held customs prevail here giving phenomenal taste much as vegetables did “in the old days.”

Farmer Tip: Give regular patronage to restaurants that buy produce from local farms. It really helps small farms when establishments serve local produce.  We realize that buying directly from farms versus through a through large food outlets requires more work to coordinate deliveries and interact with several small farms.  But, the food is so much better because it is fresher and healthier (without having to travel long distances or added shelve-life extending chemicals). Your customer support will give these “farm-to-table” eateries assurance that the people understand the importance of it. Discover the value in eating locally and tell your friends.

And, we hope that it finds its way to your kitchen. Buy local as much as you can. You’ll be glad that you did. Start enjoying it today! To help inspire here is the Chef At The Market recipe from Chef Butch and Chef Colin:

Zucchini Mock Crab Cakes

Original Recipe – Mock Crab Cakes

  • 2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon OLD Bay seasoning (Do not substitute)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Mix together, form into patties

Form into very small balls and deep fry or form into small patties and pan fry in butter & oil until golden brown.

Serve as an appetizer or with sides as a main course.

Chef’s Preferred Recipe – Mock Crab Cakes

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 – 2 ½ cups coarsely grated peeled squash (If using large sized squash seed also – optional with smaller tender squash).The squash must be have the excess moisture removed by either pressing firmly in a sturdy colander, or, spreading the gratings on a dish towel and wringing.
  • 2 tablespoon OLD BAY SEASONING (Do not substitute)
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed oyster crackers ( divided)

Or

  • 1/2 – 1 cup bread crumbs-(divided)

(Amount will vary due to moisture content of the vegetables),

If using seasoned bread crumbs, less will usually be needed, start with 1/4 cup.

  • 1 tablespoon minced scallion-green part
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoon finely diced seeded jalapeno (optional)
  • ½ cup each finely diced red and green sweet peppers
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced parsley

Liquid Ingredients

  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoon real mayonnaise
  • 1/8 teaspoon Tabasco – about 6-8 drops or to taste. (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Mix gently the squash and the Old Bay to distribute the seasoning throughout the squash, then add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix gently but thoroughly the rest of the dry ingredients and ½ of the oyster crackers or bread crumbs.

Mix lightly buttermilk, egg, and mayonnaise to blend, add tabasco and Worcestershire and add to dry mixture and gently combine with additions of remaining crumbs to result in a easily formed patty cake about ½ inch in thickness- not too wet or dry – as each cake is formed coat nicely with crumbs or *(preferred Panko bread crumbs)*

Fry in medium hot mixture of oil and butter ¼ to ½ inch deep, until nicely golden browned, drain on paper towels to remove excess oil and serve.

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