What happened this week? I don’t remember. I seem to wake up in the cold mornings, already daydreaming of going back to bed. Although once I have a piping cup of coffee and bundle up I can muster myself out the door. And once I am pulling up watermelon radishes or digging through the earth’s treasure troves for Jerusalem artichokes, I am distracted by the glow of the bright orange autumn leaves, blinding, against the foreboding stormy dark grey sky.
While the season wraps up and we are anxious for the coming months of rest, an exciting item arrived in the mail today–a shiny new seed catalog to lure us in for next year’s planting. We read the names of varieties as if new planets have been discovered; Magenta Magic, Golden Frill Mustard, Little Finger Eggplant, Dragon Langerie, Rattlesnake Pole, Mountain Princess Tomato, Midnight Lightning Summer Squash!
Speaking of varieties, one variety of beet that we had intended to grow for you again this year is called Touchstone Gold. It is a lovely golden beet with green leaves, a sweet mild flavor, and growth characteristics far superior to other golden beet varieties. Unfortunately, the seed was not available this year and gives a glimpse into the fragility of seed supplies for unique varieties. Though we order from over a dozen different seed companies, it turned out that Touchstone Gold Beet is produced by only one large farm on one location by an international seed company and then sold wholesale to distributors (I think it is a patent protected variety). Washington and Oregon happen to be the best places in the world to produce beet seed (dry summers, mild winters) so they were grown right here. Unseasonable rains last summer however, ruined the drying seed crop before it was harvested and greatly diminished the supply of Touchstone Gold seed. Not wanting to be shorted again, we’re trying our hand at saving some of the seed. We had a handful of Touchstone Gold seeds left in the bottom of the package from last year that we planted out in July. This week we dug the mature beets and stored them in our walk-in. In the spring of 2010 we’ll transplant the beet itself and wait for it to send up a seed stalk. Touchstone Gold is listed in our new seed catalog but we’ve already had an order in for it from another company since June. Between that and the seeds we hope to collect next season we should be pretty well set with golden beets. Look for them in your box next season.
Meanwhile, here are the varieties starring in this week’s box:
Early Wonder Tall Top Beets
Andover and Harris Model Parsnip
Yellow Finn Potatoes
Wilson Street Rosemary
Rossa de Milano Red and New York Early Yellow Onions
Red Kuri or Kabocha squash
Pung Pop Mustard Greens
The Watermelon Radishes may be new to you. You’ll know how they get their name when you cut them open. They are a mild winter radish with a sturdy texture that holds up well in stir fries. Also try them sliced thinly and sautéed in olive oil or butter and served on toast with a nice coarse salt.
Lauren, Joseph and the crew at Wobbly Cart