13 September 2019 04:41PM
Pictured above: Protecting the leeks
People ask us if we have problems with deer eating our veggies. We don’t have a permanent deer fence around the farm because it would be too large of an area to fence in. Deer really aren’t that big of a problem. We put up temporary fences around head lettuce and sweet potatoes. And once the fence is up the deer stay out. Woodchucks are a much bigger problem and this year has been especially crazy. The cute pudgy creatures can do a lot of damage in just a few hours.
One of our fields borders the Martin Van Buren National Historic site and the woodchucks have made an underground fortress in their hedgerow and under one of their maintenance buildings. They best way to control woodchucks is hunting or trapping. We can’t hunt or trap in that field so we put up two layers of fence to keep them out of the veggies. One of the fences was electrified. And the woodchucks laughed at us. We would watch them pushing up the fence and crawling under it. Or one would flop on the fence so other woodchucks could climb over – the adult woodchucks teaching the young ones the ways to conquer the fence. Then they would be happily munching away on our cabbages and parsley. If we came upon them eating our crops then they would scamper to the electric fence and bounce off it because of the electrical charge. The fence seemed to be better at keeping them in our vegetables than out. Woodchucks out smarting the farmers.
Once it was warm enough we moved the transplants from the heated greenhouse to our new greenhouse with roll up sides. The roll up sides provide ventilation for the plants. But they leave a 96 ft long by 4 ft tall opening along both sides of the greenhouse. So, we attached plastic chicken wire netting along the sides. We should have known that woodchucks would need more than that. We found them digging holes along the back wall and chomping on our brassica and cucumber transplants. They wiped out a whole planting of cucumbers in a couple of hours. We put concrete in the holes. Then they started chewing through the chicken wire netting to get to the lettuce transplants. We put up an electric fence around the whole greenhouse and attached it to a fence charger that can electrify up to 10 miles of fence. That 300 ft of fence was super hot. A win for the farmers, no more woodchuck damage in the greenhouse.
Now they are sampling the Brussels sprouts and head lettuce. More fencing but it is less successful in the field than around the greenhouse. It seems anywhere there is a shrub or a tree in our fields, a woodchuck clan moves on in. A very hungry woodchuck clan. And in this field the trees and shrubs are right next to the road so hunting again isn’t possible. The fences are working better than they did in the spring but not quite as well as we would like.
We are happy to share our crops with our wild neighbors and we do plant extra to give ourselves a cushion. But, this year the woodchucks are eating a bit more than their share in some of the veggies. We will be doing some more clearing around our fields this fall and winter so there are fewer places for woodchucks to hide. We can also be more creative with our crop rotation and plant onions or scallions around crops the woodchucks find extra tasty. And the fence will definitely be installed early around the greenhouse in the spring. Crossing our fingers that we can outsmart the furry beasts next year.
COOKING TIPS AND RECIPES
Savoy Cabbage and Chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
½ head savoy cabbage, cored cut into 1″ strips
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon crused red pepper flakes
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook shallots and mustard seeds, stirring occasionally, until shallots soften and mustard seeds begin to pop, about 3 minutes. Add chickpeas, cabbage, and 2 cups water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until cabbage is very tender, 10–12 minutes. Uncover and cook until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in vinegar and red pepper flakes; season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if desired.
Season yogurt with salt and pepper. Spread yogurt onto a serving platter and top with cabbage and chickpeas. http://www.bonappetit.com
Savoy Cabbage Salad
1/2 head medium-large savoy cabbage (about 4 cups sliced)
1 firm but ripe avocado, cubed
1 blood orange, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup of dry currants (or raisins)
For the Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
For the Optional Add-Ons:
Grated carrots, crumbled goat cheese, toasted nuts or sunflower seeds
Slice the cabbage as finely as you can. Add all the ingredients and toss together, gently so as not to squash the avocado pieces. Place all the dressing ingredients in a small lidded jar and shake vigorously. Pour over salad and toss. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, as needed.
Protecting the leeks from insects.
COMING NEXT WEEK: onions, arugula, head lettuce, kale or chard, plum tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, red cabbage, cilantro, spinach, garlic, and peppers or eggplant
FRUIT: pears or apple
Full Share: beets, slicing tomatoes, eggplant or green beans, head lettuce, savoy cabbage, acorn squash, hot peppers, garlic, plum tomatoes, arugula, red onions, kale, and parsley.
Small Share: beets, savoy cabbage, acorn squash, head lettuce, plum tomatoes, eggplant or green beans, garlic, and red onions
Please bring a bag to take your small share home in and leave box at your CSA site. Thank you!
Monday morning harvest
Plum Tomato Salad
6 medium plum or heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup sliced red onion
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 fresh basil leaves, snipped
In a large bowl, gently combine tomatoes and onion. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Pour over tomato mixture; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with basil. Serve at room temperature with a slotted spoon.