Located at the base of Buckhorn Mountain at 6700' elevation, Buckhorn Gardens is a small, organic vegetable farm 13mi. south of Montrose, Colorado. Our farm is an active part of a 12,000 acre ranch; however, we only manage 3 acres with intensive vegetable gardening.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We got the plastic on the greenhouse last week, and the 74 tomato plants inside are looking happy! Last Thursday morning was remarkably devoid of wind, so we took a little break from harvesting to get the plastic cover over the high tunnel. On such a calm day, it only took five of us to get the plastic up and well secured over the frame. After Jon and Evan finished up the doors and sides, we were ready to transplant tomatoes. The beds had already been dug by the crop mob, so all we had to do was amend the soil, lay down drip, and put down red plastic over the beds. The red plastic helps tomatoes grow by reflecting far-red light up into the plants, which triggers the release of a natural growth protein in the plant. We lay down sheets of red plastic over the beds, cut holes where we want to plant the tomatoes, and drop in the tomato starts. Next up in the new greenhouse: peppers!

Harvest day went incredibly smoothly this week, thanks in large part to our great volunteers! Christel, Lisa, Rachel, and Sarah all came out to help pick, wash, weigh, and bag greens. With the weather getting warmer, it's all the more important to get the greens picked and clean early in the day, so they can go in the cooler before the heat really hits. With all these extra hands to help we had a nice easy harvest and got to take our time enjoying lunch with friends.

Another big timesaver during harvesting is our new washstand. We'd previously been washing greens inside the dome, in a low, two-basin sink. The new washstand is outside and has two three-basin sinks. No more bending low to wash pounds and pounds of salad mix! We also bought a second salad spinner, so now with twice the sink space (and our wonderful volunteers!) we can almost double our greens-processing throughput.

This week in the CSA we are adding in a few bags of collard greens to choose from, and we'll have some fresh basil and cilantro available as herb selections. We've also got quite a lot of carrots, radishes, turnips, parsnips, and leeks! Evan, our resident chef, came up with an interpretation of green goddess salad dressing featuring herbs and leeks from the farm. It got raves at a recent potluck, so here's the recipe, with items available from Buckhorn in bold.

Green Goddess Dressing (version 2.evan)

2 c. Extra virgin olive oil
4 oz.
Oregano, de-stemmed
2 oz.
2 oz.
Basil, de-stemmed
4 ea.
Egg yolks
1/4 c. Vinegar (I like apple
cider vinegar, but any will do)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste (approx. 1 t. salt, 1/2 t. pepper)
Juice and zest of one lemon
Juice and zest of half an
3 ea. Leek tops (the green part), blanched
Sugar to

Gently warm the oil until slightly hot to the touch but certainly not hot enough to burn. Pour over half the herbs, and infuse for as long as possible (preferrably overnight but at least for a few hours). Strain. In a blender, combine egg yolks, salt, pepper, vinegar, citrus juice, and citrus zest. Blend on high for a few seconds. While blending, slowly pour in about half the oil in a thin stream. Add the leek tops and remaining herbs. Continue blending in the remainder of the oil. If at any point the dressing becomes too thick to blend, thin or "loosen" it with a small amount of liquid (vinegar, lemon juice, water, etc. - a tablespoon at a time) with the blender running, and continue adding the oil. Taste the finished product, which will be very thick, and adjust the seasonings as you like. You might find a little sugar useful here. Since salad dressings tend to used in relatively small amounts, they are generally very strongly flavored and seasoned. I enjoy Green Goddess because it derives its potency from fresh aromatics rather than an overabundance of vinegar.

About blanching: To blanche a green vegetable, bring very salty water (approximately 1/2 - 1 cup salt per gallon of water) to a full, rolling boil that you can't stir down. Plunge the leek greens into the water for 15 to 30 seconds, until the green becomes very vivid. If cooking something other than leeks, simply leave it in the water until it attains a texture that you enjoy, almost never any more than two minutes. Strain out the greens; plunge them immediately into ice water, and chill them well. The leeks have now been blanched. If I were condemned to perform one and only one task in the kitchen for eternity, it would probably be blanching green vegetables in a huge pot. Nowhere else in the kitchen is proper technique so readily and noticeably apparent.

Buon appetito!

Rest in Peace Raja


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