Patchwork Green is a hillside and ridgetop farm overlooking the beautiful Canoe Creek Valley several miles north of Decorah, Iowa. Our family grows five acres of vegetables on a farm near Decorah, Iowa. We grow a wide variety of high quality, chemical-free vegetables using sustainable techniques.

Monday, July 19, 2010

In the Garden Mid-July and a Pasta Recipe

In the Garden...

It’s critter season. There are baby animals and their hungry mothers everywhere we look on our farm this month. A mom raccoon has a batch of five unruly babies that we see scavenging near our house almost every day. One evening I found them all in an apple tree, eating and dropping green apples. Young coons are fairly clumsy on small branches, and, with all of their slipping and

wobbling, I was amazed they didn’t fall right out. There is another family of raccoons that wanders through the gardens every night. I see their tracks, but rarely find much damage to the plants except melons and tomatoes which they love.

The girls hiked up to the garden one evening last week and discovered a skunk in the tomato hoop house. I had noticed a few half-eaten cherry tomatoes on the ground some mornings and had assumed it was the raccoon family. Luckily, the girls were very calm about their striped find, and all parties were able to calmly go their way without incident. Now the skunk has really got a taste for the sweet sungold cherry tomatoes, and I’ll find evidence of nighttime gorging regularly. Luckily, the tomatoes are ripening higher on the vines now and the skunk can’t reach most of them anymore! I was not quite sure how to evict that particular visitor!

The deer are a constant source of entertainment and concern. There are several young families around our farm, and the fawns really are beautiful. But, the larger animals browse and destroy an awful lot of plants and we expend much effort trying to keep them in check. The night we planted a new apple tree near the house they ate half of the leaves before we could erect a fence around it. Four of the five garden acres are fenced with a 10’ electric deer fence, which works quite well. The remaining acre gets a rotation of crops that are less tasty to the deer. This year, that includes tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and summer squash. They don’t touch the squash, and they will nibble a bit on the tomato vines and sometimes the fruit. I was surprised to find that they will eat the spiky vines of cukes and melons, and even more surprised to find that they seem to relish the fruit! After an initial 40-pound cucumber harvest, I went out to the patch a few days later hoping for 60-80 pounds, only to find lots of deer tracks and half-eaten fruit. I got about 10 pounds total and discovered that they had decimated the early melon crop. Argh! Luckily, the second planting of cukes and melons are inside the deer fence and are setting fruit well.

Best of luck with all of your critter adventures!


Sara’s Pasta Dish

I made this up because I had bought Harrington sweet corn but had no idea what else to have and our frig was filled with random veggies and no meat and we have had all of my other quick meals this week. Best of all, it was actually pretty good!


olive oil

onion and garlic, diced

can of garbanzo beans, rinsed

handful of green beans, snapped into pieces

two medium summer squash, cut into rounds

4 leaves of chard, cut really small

basil (dried or fresh)

black pepper and salt

lemon juice (1 or 2 tbls.)

balsamic vinegar (1 or 2 tbls.)

bouillon (a friend turned us on to a kind called Better than Bouillon. It is a chicken base and comes in a jar so you can just add a tiny bit. You can buy it at the Coop.)

Parmesan cheese

pasta (Have you seen the Barilla mini noodles? The girls love them!)

• you can add any other veggies you choose to or need to use up

1. Start the water for the noodles.

2. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil.

3. Add all veggies and the garbanzo beans. Season with the basil, pepper, lemon juice and vinegar (if you like it).

4. I probably added 1 tsp. of the bouillon base and a 1/4 cup of water to help the veggies cook.

5. Cook for about 10 minutes. Also cook the noodles.

6. Drain noodles.

7. Assemble how you would like to and sprinkle with cheese.