Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Corn Smut and Other Surprises

My blossoming peas
Without a doubt, I am a much better farmer than I was last year. I still sleep more than the average dirt lover but at least weeds-wise, I'm ahead of the game. I greet my exploding plants every day ("Hi, babies!"), inspect everyone, pull the beetles off the eggplants, encourage the tomatoes and redirect the over-achieving squash vines, often in vain. When things don't come up, I don't waste time and replant with lettuce, spinach, onions or herbs - something with a short maturity time.

My table at last week's Farmers Market
During yesterday's plant check, I came across a disturbing sight on my Painted Mountain ornamental corn:

A bulbous alien invasion on my cob
Something evil is attacking my plant! Tragedy! But after some research (meaning I posted a photo on Facebook and got informed), it's less disastrous than originally thought. Yes, it's a fungus but it's called Corn Smut (technically huitlacoche, pronounced "weet-la-KO-chay") and is actually a delicacy that tastes like mushrooms. And while I may not get the beautiful patterned corn I was hoping for, I did get introduced to a whole new crop - a natural disaster I can eat!

Once I figure out how to cook it, that is.

Ripening canola field off Hwy 29
Yesterday, I also harvested lots of sage. I planted two bunches right at the end of the carrots, an effort at companion planting. The sage is thriving, however, the aforementioned greedy squash (3 kinds) vines are taking over like an insatiable Audrey II so I wanted to harvest while the plants could still be located.

I hear things about using sage for seasoning, especially turkey stuffing, but really, all I want is to make sage bundles for burning away bad juju. The smell evokes both my beloved California desert home in Twentynine Palms and Colorado Circles, held with friends of spirit and laughter. I hope to burn many a bundle, send off a few, save some for gifts or maybe even sell 'em. We shall see.

***UPDATES***

Approximately 30 minutes after I posted my bit about not being ready for bigger markets and lacking things like, y'know, adequate produce quantities and food scales, Brent pulled up and whipped out a fancy scale for me to use:

Ta-da! Spinach not included.
Talk about service! I still have to get enough baby spinach leaves to make the delivery to Grand Forks worth my gas but I may do it regardless. Can you imagine? SCRANCH produce for sale in a real organic store? Do you know how long this milestone would take in California? It boggles the mind.

Me with a wind turbine arm - it's like a whale
Here's the big headline for this week: I'm getting an intern!! (And yes, I just used more than one exclamation point, something I am otherwise vehemently against, but this calls for additional punctuation.) I won't state her name or use her image in this space until I have her express permission but she is the daughter of a longtime friend and she arrives on Monday for a 5-day visit. I am PSYCHED.

Edge of a wind turbine
I can hardly believe it, the very first intern at Second Chance Ranch. While she is here, I plan to harvest the garlic and test out of the solar oven, among other things. It's unbelievable to me that such a bright young woman (a botany student!) would willingly visit my empire of dirt but if she's that crazy, I'm open to providing all the entertainment and plant-related enlightenment she can stand.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"What an opportunity! Maybe you should do one of those Internet fundraising things where you describe your project/ need and people donate. Then you can get the scale and bags.

Also you could do a produce club with either locals or to CA/CO members ( friends). There are clubs for buying parts of a cow why not for produce? I know I would buy in.

Your Doing Great!


McSchmoinks"


p.s Your lettuce heads are beautiful.

Eleni Jacobson said...
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