Because we host our annual Open Farm in November, we’re always racing to the finish line against the season’s first cold fronts. This year was no different. By the time November 6th rolled around, we’d already experienced three freezes in our valley – two of which blasted down on November 4th and 5th, meaning that in addition to trying to harvest every single piece of produce we could muster, there was also the matter of having to drape row covers over any temperature-challenged crop both of those nights.

And truthfully, even if the crop wasn’t entirely temperature-challenged, we wanted it covered anyway to protect against even minor freeze damage that could uglify the plants before the Open Farm. Consequently, the first Saturday morning guests were greeted not with green vegetable crops, but instead walked out to find rows and rows of billowy white – and not so white – fabric.

Anyone who stuck around long enough, however, was treated to a peek at what happens on a “petite farm” (as customer Barbara so appropriately referred to it later) that happens to lay low in a valley. Those who were here when the sun finally warmed things up enough to take the covers off watched as Farmer John and Mary rushed around expertly doing just that.

Add this activity to the previous two days (and nights), on top of the early morning set-up of the stand here at the farm and the constant flow of people for four hours…and well, to be honest, we were fairly pooped by the time it ended. In a good way, mind you, a truly satisfied and grateful way, but pooped all the same. Most certainly ready for the celebratory pizza, beer and farm workers/spouses/friends shuffleboard tournament, as is the post-Open Farm tradition.

By 9:30 that night, after the festivities had ended, John confessed that he hadn’t the desire nor gumption to put even one single row cover back on even one single crop. I agreed with him wholeheartedly. After two nights of freezes, we felt sure we were safe that Saturday night anyway, and good heavens, it was time for bed. We were, as I said, pooped. (In a good way.)

That night while both of us snored the darkened hours away, it froze in our valley for the third time in a row. The squash died.

The unprotected eggplant died.

And the unprotected peppers that were almost dead died completely.

Ah, but this is not a sob story. As everyone who visited the farm were witness, we have hoop houses protecting the newest peppers;

and the newest eggplant.

As for the squash, it was tired anyway. It’s November after all, and things must pass. Even these hoop house crops won’t make it through all the hard freezes to come, but at least we’ll have them for a bit longer. Besides, it’s time for the late fall/early winter crops to shine and they’re working on it as we speak.

The first beds of cauliflower were hit hard during the September flood, but the plants that survived are beginning to head up. The main broccoli rows are producing, along with Napa cabbages, kohlrabi, the next rows of head lettuces, and so much more. We aren’t crying over dead squash plants.

Fortunately, we’re not crying over dead potato plants either. While they too were left uncovered that fateful Saturday night, they weren’t completely frozen by Sunday. Bitten by the cold, for sure. Nipped,

but amazingly still among the living. Potatoes are the one warm-weather crop Farmer John would have truly regretted not covering – oh how he loves his taters – and they didn’t let him down. It obviously takes more than a little beer and pizza to do these guys in.

* * *

The tater plants don’t have full-size potatoes on them quite yet (hopefully that will happen soon!) but we’ll have loads of other goodies for you this Wednesday. And so you’ll know, the farm stand WILL BE OPEN the Wednesday before Thanksgiving!

In the meantime, here’s what we’ll be bringing to the stand this week:

Broccoli; sweet white turnips (see recipe, below); Butterhead lettuce, Romaine, Red leaf lettuce and Green leaf lettuce; spinach; white kohlrabi; pink & purple radishes; watermelon radishes; all-lettuce salad mix; European salad mix; Napa cabbages; bags of arugula; bunches of Dinosaur kale and Curly kale; bunches of chard; bunches of collards; bags of mixed Asian mustard greens; bunches of Brussels greens; escarole; heirloom eggplant and Italian eggplant; various peppers (mostly green bells and Cubanelles); cilantro; and tender nutty-sweet Farao cabbages.

**Many thanks to Linda, our Open Farm fashionista of the day decked out in her pink jammies, for providing the row cover photos (among others)…and this one:

As she pointed out to me later, the woman knows how to accessorize!

***Here’s a great TURNIP SOUP recipe from our neighbor Priscilla:

1 Tablespoon butter
5 medium turnips, cut in chunks
½ cup onion (optional) sliced or chopped
4-6 cups chicken broth or water
4 cups garden greens – turnip tops, collards, kale, arugula, etc.
½ cup uncooked rice
1 pound Polish sausage (optional – turkey, chicken, pork and/or venison work well)
Salt & pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Half-n-half (optional)

In the bottom of a heavy soup pan, cook the onions and turnips in butter until wilted or turning translucent. Add the broth (4 cups) and the rice and bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Chop the greens and trim away the tough, woody stalks, and add to the top of the pot and cover. Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, stirring once towards the end. You want the greens to retain their brightness in color and flavor so don’t overcook. Pull a green out and taste it.

Now comes the fun part. Get out your blender and use a cup or a ladle to blend up batches of the soup. It turns really pretty and green. If you aren’t using the sausage leave some of the turnips in chunks to add some additional texture and blend about ¾ of the mixture. I put it into a big metal bowl until I’m done.

Cook the sausage – if you are using – in a skillet. I chop it up after I cook it because it’s easier, or else I use pre-cooked sausage. Make the chunks about 1/4 – ½ inch

Transfer sausage and blended soup back to the pot where there will still be some unblended mixture. Add salt and pepper (pepper blend is best) and add the nutmeg. If you like a richer soup add the half-n-half but I prefer to do that only if I’ve omitted the sausage.

Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm
Farm stands:
Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light; and
Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center on Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)