Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Big Bolt @ High Star Farms

* Every Wednesday, I volunteer at a local organic farm - with high hopes of learning a whole lot more about growing my own veggies.
The Arugula is bolting. Which means we need to whip up a yummy salad quick! I've got you covered. There's a recipe in here, somewhere...

When salad greens 'bolt' it's their way of saying life in the greenhouse is too hot to handle. They send up pretty flower stalks, hoping to go to seed. Their leaves turn bitter quickly -- the best solution I have for such a dilemma is to compost these beauties and start all over again.

It's a jungle in here!
Twine dropped from the ceiling keeps the heirloom tomatoes upright.

They say if you do something 7 times it becomes a comfy new habit. On my 3rd volunteer day at High Star Farms, I was already feeling like the 2 managers didn't hate me nearly as much as I originally thought. I only made one faux pas - and that was to grouse about the exorbitant cost of heirloom tomatoes. Spoken like a true cheapskate. Heirlooms are worth their weight in gold. A lot of work goes into their goodness. So, I decided to shut up and prune them properly.

Pruning Tomatoes:
Tomatoes produce the best fruit when all of their leaves are exposed to the sun. If they get too thick and bushy then they switch their sugar production away from the actual tomatoes and back into the leaves.
* Remove the suckers and leaves below the first flower cluster. Let a second stem grow from the node above the lowest flower cluster and voila! In a couple months you'll need a booth at the local farmer's market.
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This week's fab harvest included fresh, baby carrots. They lounge on these screened tables after I give them a bath:
Rubbed, tubbed and scrubbed: first baby carrots.

Roasted Carrots and Arugula Salad
- Slice young carrots in half lengthwise (Remove the greens and feed them to my eternally grateful horses)
- Drizzle with olive oil
- Sprinkle with minced garlic, salt and pepper
- Roast at 400 F until the carrot tips have browned

* Create a bed of chopped arugula for your fancy carrots.
* Garnish with Feta cheese, walnuts and craisins.
* Add the finishing touch - your favorite vinaigrette.
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Every Wednesday, I volunteer at this very fun organic farm ~ located in Kamas, Utah. I've never had great luck growing my own veggies so this might help me discover everything I'm doing wrong. :)

33 comments:

Amy said...

Wow, things are really thriving in the greenhouse! I've also been volunteering at a local farm weekly, and it's been a huge help to see what vegetables should look like when it's time to harvest. Plus, that whole picking while chatting thing is fun.

Melospiza said...

I LOVE argula. I must make this salad!

Kate said...

Hi, Amy;
I'm learning lots, too. I come home exhausted, though it hardly feels like work while I'm there. :)

Kate said...

I think you'll like it a lot, Melospiza -

Hope you're snapping out of your unhappy mood and beginning work on that fab new book! :D

sweet bay said...

That Arugula flower is rather beautiful. Great advice about the tomatoes and the carrot and arugula salad looks delicious.

Wendy said...

THose carrots are gorgeous!

Funny comment at the farm. ha!

There's always a debate about whether to remove suckers or not. I'm still not sure what to do, maybe I'll do an experiment this year.

Another reason for the leaves to be exposed to the sun - to prevent sunscald. I lost a bunch of tomatoes and peppers last year!

Shady Gardener said...

And we can benefit because YOU will pass along all the information you learn!! :-) (Great greenhouse!)

Amy B said...

Kate, I like that tomato pruning tip - especially since I now have only a 6'x10' raised bed and a barrel for my tomatoes! What a great place to play!

jan said...

I don't think any amount of lovely baby carrots would make bitter greens appealing... I would pay $10 for a good heirloom tomato (sometimes I do, at the grocery store and I carry it home in my hand.)

Kate said...

Hi, Sweet Bay;
I'd never seen arugula flowers before -- I thought they were pretty cool, too. :)

Kate said...

Hi, Wendy;
I was struggling a bit with this pruning action, too. It was hard to remove so much healthy growth. However! Once I finished, it made a lot more sense to me and I think we'll get some amazing tomatoes from the clipped plants. :)

Kate said...

That's the plan, Shady! :)
I feel pretty savvy about perennial flowers so I think it would be fantastic to get to a point where I feel the same way about the veggies...

Kate said...

Hi, Jan!
You beat me by 4 bucks. :) The most I've ever spent on an heirloom tomato is 6 dollars. And, to get my money's worth out of that poor tomater I saved it's seeds and have been growing the same variety ever since.

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Kate, thank you for the tomato tips! I thought I knew everything about tomatoes...ha-ha! Also, thank you for the arugula recipe - mine is bolting ,before we started to eat it!

Kate said...

You're very welcome, Tatyana. You are a very brave woman, taking a bunch of 5th graders to the East Coast!!

Nursery Industry said...

Good post, Beautiful Carrots.

Kate said...

Why thank you kindly Industry Person. :)

Lesley said...

Kate--I love the fabulous sound effects. I felt like I was enter the most sacred of spaces!

joey said...

Count me in for this tasty 'right up my alley' salad, Kate! Kudos for your time sharing gift.

Rose said...

Lol, Kate, I'm sure the managers don't "hate" you:) But I understand the feeling--I was given the job of pruning the new lilac in the Idea Garden this past week and wondered the whole time if I was doing it right:)

Thanks for the tip on the tomato plants; I would think this would make them less likely to have fruit on the ground as well. It would be nice to be able to support my plants in the veggie garden from a ceiling:)

Kate said...

Hi, Lesley;
Glad you enjoy the bird and bee sfx. Now if only I could figure out how to get the scent of lilacs on this blog... :)

Kate said...

Thx, Joey;
My volunteer gig is inspiring me to test out all sorts of new recipes.

PS: I voted for you!

Kate said...

Hi, Rose;
Funny how that works, don't you think? I never think twice about the 'how tos' in my own garden but when I have an audience I'm always worried I'm doing things all wrong. :)

Melanie said...

Great advice about pruning tomatoes Kate. The recipe looks yummy and I will have to try i when I get some carrots. I haven't even planted them yet, LOL.

Kate said...

Thx, Melanie;
Good to see you back in the blogosphere after your marvelous get away. :)

Friko said...

arugula? what is that?

Kate said...

Hi, Friko;
Arugula is a popular salad green over here. Very aromatic. It would probably do well in your climate. Sow a little patch by seed, every 30 days or so. It grows super fast but tastes the best when the salad greens (leaves) are quite small.

Priscilla said...

I can't wait to get my tomatoes I grew from seed outside. They're getting so big indoors but today we had a sudden snow storm arrrrggh!

Kate said...

Hi, Priscilla;
I have the same problem. Huge veggie seedlings sitting in the sunny window, waiting for decent weather to get transplanted outdoors. I wonder if it will ever stop raining...?

Gail said...

Kate, Where did you get that fab background of birds and bees! I love it. The other thing I love are the flowers of bolted lettuces and cabbages~so pretty. gail

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I had no idea arugula had such cool-looking flowers. Kinda prehistoric. So if you can't eat it, at least it's ornamental!

Kate said...

Hi, Gail;
I found those sound effects at playlist.com. (It's free!) Got the idea while working in the garden - the birds were serenading me - I wanted to mimic that on the blog. Glad you like it. :)

Kate said...

Hi, Monica;
This is the first time I've seen arugula flowers, too. I kind of liked their unusual flowers wouldn't mind having some in the garden...