nightshades

Dear Readers,

Everyone says that it is a “great growing year.” That means that the plants are doing fabulously… including weeds. We are way behind in our weeding. We lost a bed of carrots to the raging weeds, and we haven’t had time to thin (make room for the roots to grow) the beets or the carrots in at least a month. Bad news! Hopefully, we’ll get some more volunteers to help us with the hand-weeding jobs. As the season goes on, we have more and more and more to do.

Tomatoes, for example. Oh my goodness. Tomatoes. We grow some pretty incredible ones. Have you ever had a ground cherry? I tasted one for the first time last week. You harvest ground cherries once they’ve fallen to the ground in their papery sheaths that turn pale pink when ripe. You peel open the paper to reveal a cloudy-beige tomato that is about the size of a blueberry. To me, ground cherries taste like sherry and strawberries with a hint of rich red wine.

Ground Cherry (courtesy of Google)

Aside from ground cherries, we are harvesting sungold cherry tomatoes, which are quite acidic, green tomatoes (unripe tomatoes for frying), and some other early tomato varieties. Soon we’ll have my favorite– heirloom tomatoes.

Another amazingly abundant crop of ours is, like tomatoes, in nightshade family: peppers. We have a bunch of different sweet pepper varieties, including green, pale yellow (which I personally think look like alien embryos), and get this– purple peppers! Here are some interesting pepper facts:

-Peppers are unrelated to the spice, black peppercorns. According to the all-knowing source of Wikipedia, Christopher Columbus named them “peppers” because some of them were spicy like black pepper.

-Sweet peppers are a “cultivar group” of the hot pepper family– meaning they did not occur naturally in the wild before they were cultivated by people.

-Often, red and yellow peppers are just ripe versions of green peppers. The more you let the pepper ripen on the plant, the more they will change color. Some of our green peppers, if left too long, turn bright red.

-Other members of the nightshade family aside from peppers and tomatoes include potatoes, tobacco, petunias, eggplant, and poisonous plants like mandrake and belladonna (eating just several belladonna berries can kill a child).

We had an incredible potluck the other day at work. One of my coworkers made stuffed peppers– yum! She stuffed them with potatoes that had been lightly boiled and sauteed with onion in olive oil. Then she put them in the broiler so that the peppers softened and the tops of the potatoes became crispy. Add wild rice and cashews to the potato mixture to make the meal completely nutritional.

Thanks for reading, as always. Your support and enthusiasm go with me into the field and encourage me as I (barely) lift 75 pound boxes of potatoes and get up at 5 am on Saturdays for market. Keep the questions and comments coming!

With love,

Laura

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One thought on “nightshades

  1. When are you coming to Balto and cooking those stuffed peppers??
    Wait to you try Janet Ruth’s lemon potato recipe where you boil the potatoes and then bop them on the head, and then drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over them. Those are yummy too.

    Headed to Maine in two days.
    love sue

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