Things are trucking along here at Dandelion Ridge Farm, settling into the autumn rhythm. We don’t have to water so much these days (thank goodness!), and are doing our best to keep cold sensitive plants like ginger warm enough. Greens like kale, collards, romaine, and dandelions are thrilled with the cooler weather, though—summer heat is not their friend! We hope to keep greens and herbs going throughout the winter.
We will have very limited quantities of tarragon, lemon thyme, and marjoram this week. These plants are young and not producing much yet, but I think we can manage a small harvest. Tarragon can be a challenge to get established, but its licorice-y flavor adds so much to a dish. Lemon thyme has a fun, citrusy brightness against thyme’s savory background. And marjoram has similarities to oregano, but is more subtle, sweet, and nuanced. Stop by our farmers’ market booth on Saturday to try some!
Today, I went to a workshop at one of the University of Kentucky’s Horticultural Research Farms about agricultural high tunnels. We got our tunnel this spring, and while it has been wonderful to grow in a more protected and controlled space, it is definitely an adjustment, with its own tricks and challenges. We always benefit from these educational opportunities and I certainly learned a lot from the experts today!
Kevin’s presentation at the Hudson Valley VegFest in Kingston, NY this past weekend was a hit! He spoke about our journey into farming, from harvesting and weeding in his parents’ subsistence garden as a kid to learning about more sustainable practices as an adult; from our meager first harvests from our raised bed garden in Asheville, NC six years ago to this year’s harvest of 4,300 pounds and growing! Kevin discussed the array of problems with the current corporate food system and the need for each of us to do what we can to break with the industrial model and engage more fully with the food that sustains us.
In the kitchen, I’ve been playing around with different ways to preserve ginger, including dehydrating both the roots and the stalks and leaves. I’m also working on an intense Ginger Marmalade made with apple cider, so stay tuned for that! I think it will be a great addition to a holiday menu! Update: Try it in this Sweet Potato Hash with Ginger Marmalade for a perfect holiday side dish!
I hope you are staying warm in this cold snap! Our ginger and sensitive herbs are bundled up under blankets or tucked in the greenhouse as needed. This guy is enjoying the tropical environment among the ginger foliage, too!
Now that autumn definitely seems to be here, the kale and collards we planted for the fall are coming on and we will have our first small harvest this week! We will also have dandelion greens and romaine in the next few weeks.
We have another exciting new offering: upon popular request, we are now offering a very limited supply of Dandelion Ridge Farm dried herbs and pepper flakes! We carefully dry the best of what we grow for your enjoyment year-round. We’re offering epazote, thyme, sage, oregano, and rosemary, as well as ground jalapeño peppers and crushed habanero flakes for you heat-lovers out there!
We’re staying active with events this week, too! Kevin is on his way to New York’s Hudson Valley to present at the Hudson Valley VegFest, where he will hopefully inspire folks to move along the continuum from passive consumers to active food producers, whether it be starting a farm, learning to cook, or growing a few herbs on a kitchen windowsill.
We were also pleased to be part of a World Food Day celebration at Community Action Council’s Wilburn Center in northeast Lexington on Wednesday. Community members got to watch food demos, taste dishes from diverse cuisines, and take home fresh vegetables, including Dandelion Ridge Farm sweet potatoes.
We’re digging up a storm this week at Dandelion Ridge Farm! We harvested our sweet potatoes this week–much to the chagrin of this toad, who was living amid the jungle of vines! Curing sweet potatoes at 80-90 degrees for a week helps them to store better and brings out their sweetness, so we set up a curing tent in our greenhouse to keep our sweet potatoes at a steady warm temperature during this period.
We also started harvesting our baby ginger! It’s a rare variety called Bubba Baba from the renowned Hawaiian organic ginger seed producer known as “Biker Dude!” Fresh young ginger is more tender and milder than the mature ginger available in stores. It lacks the thick cuticle and fibers that mature ginger have, so there's no need to peel it. Add it to smoothies or stir fries, candy it or use it in sweets, but try this beautiful delicacy while you can! The stalks and leaves make a delicious tea or stock for Asian soups—just put leaves in your cup, muddle, and steep.
We’re going to use some to make Kevin’s Ginger Miso Sauce to have over stir fry tonight! Find the recipe here.
We went to a hugely informative field day last week put on by the Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK). Held at UK’s Horticultural Research Farm in Lexington, the field day was on soil fertility and cover crops. In addition to information-packed presentations from Drs. Rachel Rudolph and Krista Jacobsen, we got to see different types of cover crops UK’s Horticulture Department is trialing.
Cover crops of various types play important roles in regenerative farming: some feed the soil with nitrogen and organic matter, while others aerate soil and break up compaction. They minimize erosion, suppress weeds, and can balance soil nutrient levels. In addition, many provide habitat and food for beneficial insects. Here is our fall mix of cover crops—rye, peas, vetch, and clover—doing its thing in our high tunnel, preparing the soil for next spring’s crops!
OAK is an incredible resource for both farmers and consumers in Kentucky, providing educational opportunities and materials for anyone interested in sustainable agriculture. They just unveiled their Find a Farm Database that allows you to search for local sustainable farms--including Dandelion Ridge Farm!--by crop, county, or zip code.