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August 20, 2017 Newsletter
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In this issue:
  • Reaching Our Goals - An Update on Progress
  • Gardening Year Round - When to Harvest and What to Plant Mid-Summer and Fall
  • Too Much Zucchini?  Here's a Recipe!
  • NNC Website
  • Resource Links
Food for Thought - Reaching Our Goals
a note from Chad Darby, Director
Many of us were wondering if the weather was ever going to lead to a good garden crop this year. All of my plants were slow to get going. It seemed as though peppers and tomatoes might never take off. Then we had a stretch of really hot weather. Like all garden years, some things do better than others, but this has been a particularly good year for donations so far. NNC has not significantly increased the number of gardeners (we have one more than last year), but the level of dedication of our home gardeners and the involvement of businesses has really been impressive. And I couldn't be more grateful.  In 2014, our first year, we had donated 297 lbs by August 15. This year, it's 1289 lbs, from 14 of our 39 gardeners, so far. The chart below shows how our donating members have done.
The most productive weeks are yet to come. In 2015 and 2016 we finished with about 2,000 lbs in donations. So at our current pace, we may easily hit our goal of 2,500 lbs! Many thanks for all the hard work and expenses that all of you have contributed to help those in our community. I hope this also means that you are getting some great produce for you and your families so that our community as a whole is healthy and thriving.
Gardening Year-Round in the Pacific Northwest
By Caitlin Blood
 
Gardening year round can be done! Making the space to plant and staying ahead of the curve of cool weather are the first steps to fall and winter gardening success. To make room for your fall and winter crops, start by harvesting some of the plants that are ready to be pulled from the soil.
When to Harvest?

Many of the plants that were planted this spring like potatoes and onions have likely been showing signs of yellowing since July. This indicates that they have reached maturity and are ready to be dried, cured, harvested and cleaned up for storage, or if you can’t wait, for tonight’s dinner!
 
Potatoes should be cut off from watering and the plants allowed to die back all the way – until they are crispy and brown. When they have had one to two weeks to ‘cure’ in this dry soil, dig them up and brush the dirt off of them. To eat them fresh, wash them off and prepare them how you’d like. To store them for up to a month,  don’t wash them, and store them in a paper bag or box. If you’d like to hold on to them longer, store them in the fridge.
To harvest onions at their peak, wait until the bulb has reached about fist-size and their green leaves begin to yellow, turn brown and die back. This should be about mid-July to mid-August. At this point, bend but don’t break the neck of the onion, just above the bulb. This stops the green leaves from transferring energy into the bulb, or the bulb from transferring energy back into the greens. If you have noticed your onions flowering, that is what we are trying to prevent. Cut the irrigation to the onions, and let them sit with their necks bent for about a week. The tops should have died back even more. Pull the onions out of the ground, and put them in a shady, but very dry space with good circulation.
 
Let the greens of the onions fully dry up. This should take about 2 more weeks, give or take. When they have finally cured, trim the dead greens and root hairs off and clean up the clumps of dirt. You may have to remove one layer of skin, but that is okay. Onions can be stored similarly to potatoes. Make sure they have good circulation. Depending on the variety, they can store longer without refrigeration. A good rule of thumb is to eat sweets first, torpedoes and shallots next, then reds, and finally yellows and whites. Always check the seed packet for recommendations on storage capacity!
Preparing Soil for Fall Planting
 
Now that you have reclaimed some space in the garden, it is time to prepare it for fall and winter crops! Make sure to feed the soil with more compost, and an organic fertilizer.  If the garden has already been fertilized this year, an organic source of nitrogen like feather meal, blood meal, alfalfa meal, or neem meal are great options. 
Fertilizers made from organic materials are plant-available within a week, but break down at a slower pace than synthetic fertilizers, and so they last longer in the soil.  Nitrogen is an element that is used the most and the fastest by plants to put on green growth, so it is worth replenishing in your soil if you would like to replant. To learn more about soil testing for Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium and other trace minerals in your soil, please stay tuned for the next NNC newsletter!
 

What Can I Grow in the Fall and Winter?
 
Fall and winter crops that can be planted right now from starts are all of the brassicas: kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, etc. Spinach, chard, beets, carrots, turnips, storage radishes, and rutabaga are great fall and overwintering crops as well.  The following is Pam Dawling’s “Winter-kill List”. She is one of my favorite farmers and an incredible resource. Her website is www.sustainablemarketfarming.com. She has a blog and a book of the same name, Sustainable Market Farming from New Society Publishers. Check her out! See the end of the article for the list of kill temperatures.
This should provide a good picture of how fall and winter harvests will look, as long as one keeps in mind the temperature lows. Most plants can handle cooler temperatures, especially if they are acclimated to those temperatures over time. If we have a sudden freeze, or a heavy rain and a light freeze, some plants may not make it. The main goal for a successful fall and winter garden is to get enough growth on your plants so that they will be large enough to harvest by the time cooler temperatures and shorter day-lengths set in.
Plant growth slows and stops when the climate becomes less than ideal. For example, to harvest from a kale plant in mid-December, its stalk and leaves should be at their ideal size around mid-October. That is when most cool-weather crops will slow their growth and begin to enter a dormant period, when the life in the soil is too cold to make nutrients available and the sun does not offer enough rays for a plant to photosynthesize.
 
That being said, get your spring crops cured and harvested, and your fall and overwintering crops planted as soon as possible. You too will be able to enjoy homegrown potatoes, onions, kale, carrots, and beets for holidays and gatherings throughout fall, winter and into early next spring! For more resources, specifically on particular varieties that do well in the PNW, please refer to those mentioned at the end of the newsletter.
The following plants will thrive down to these temperatures:
35°F (2°C):  Basil.
32°F (0°C):  Bush beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, okra, some Pak Choy, peppers, potato vines, squash vines, sweet potato vines, tomatoes.
27°F (-3°C): Many cabbage, radicchio.
25°F (-4°C): Chinese Napa cabbage, dill, annual fennel, some mustards and Asian Pac Choi, onion scallions.
22°F (-6°C): Arugula (may survive colder than this), large leaves of lettuce (protected hearts and small plants will survive even colder temperatures).
20°F (-7°C): Some beets, broccoli heads, some cabbage heads (the insides may still be good even if the outer leaves are damaged), some head lettuce, some mustards/Asian greens, radishes, most turnips with mulch to protect them.
15°F (-9.5°C): Some beets, beet leaves, some cabbage, celery (Ventura) with rowcover, cilantro, endive, fava beans, Russian kales, kohlrabi, some lettuce, especially medium-sized plants, curly leaf parsley, flat leaf parsley, large leaves of broad leaf sorrel, turnip leaves.

Extra Zucchini?

In the height of the growing season, most of us have no idea what to do with all the produce. The plants can easily get away from us, and it’s probably a familiar experience to accidentally find a giant zucchini hidden among the leaves. Stuffed zucchini boats are an easy solution. While generally large zucchini are not ideal for eating, they are encouraged for this recipe! 

Stuffed Zucchini Boats
  • 4 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces sweet loose Italian sausage
  • 8 ounces hot loose Italian sausage
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, shaved
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

With a teaspoon, scoop out the flesh from the interior of the zucchini, so they resemble boats. Place the zucchini boats in a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Chop the zucchini flesh and set aside.

In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and let heat through. Add the sweet and the hot Italian sausage, and cook for 4 minutes. Add the garlic, onion, chopped zucchini flesh, tomatoes and some salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes.

In a medium bowl, add the Parmesan, mozzarella, breadcrumbs and parsley; mix to combine.

Spoon in and mound the sausage mixture into the zucchini boats. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over top. Place in oven and bake until golden on top, 20 minutes.

Resource Web Links:
 
Vegetable - Winter Kill Temps
 
OSU - Summer Planting
 
OSU - Fall Planting

Have You Checked Out the NNC Website?

Have you seen our new Neighbors Nourishing Communities website at www.neighborsnc.org ? Thank you to Chris Davis for donating countless hours of his time to develop the site.
We will be updating the site with gardening tips, important events, progress towards our season's produce donation goals, and recipes for using your produce, so check back frequently!
Neighbors Nourishing Communities (NNC) is an organization of neighbors gardening to raise fresh produce for local families in need of food support.  We provide plants, seeds, instruction and site consultations in exchange for 20% of the produce raised.
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