Veggie Bowl

Here we are in July, officially summer and we are in full swing at the farm. 
We may still be doing some planting, mostly to spread out what is harvested when, 
but we are pretty much planted for the season.
As you know, we consciously chose to go a little tomato crazy
but who can blame us? 
The farm at Imagery Estate Winery is just a perfect spot 
and then there's you and what we know you crave.
Heirloom tomato and watermelon salad photo by Steven Krause
for Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country
Heirloom tomatoes & mozzerella
at the girl & the fig 
 We've noticed something very interesting this year 
among the 800 tomatoes we are growing:
you can get lost in our "tomato alley"
Some of the tomato plants are shooting up so fast, from first planting day, to the next week, they were growing so tall—some of them are almost up to six fee already, 
even before the fruits are ready to be picked. Then there are others, 
that are certainly abundant, lush and healthy, but seem to be growing more slowly. 
The slower growing ones are all heirlooms and the faster growing ones 
are all the hybrids we experimented with this year. 
you can see the difference in heights of the tomato plants
Since this is our first time growing hybrids, we didn't know what to expect. 
In the past, we were purists planting only heirloom tomatoes, 
but this year, knowing we would devote so much of the farm space to tomatoes, 
we decided to give the hybrids a try. 
Executive Chef John Toulze
checks on the hybrids about 2 weeks ago
They were almost as tall as he is!
While you mostly think hybrids are a "dirty word," and only found in supermarkets, 
actually, we grew ours from seeds exactly as we did with our heirlooms. 
And for the real "tomato dirt" on the subject, check out what Tomato Dirt blog 
They are called hybrids because they combine two varieties
and you get the best qualities of both "parents."
KQED Science page shares differences between heirlooms and hybrids 
as well as busting a few myths about heirloom tomatoes—such as, 
they are not "old fashioned tomatoes," as much as they are 
varieties that have had no crossbreeding for 40 years. 
we hope to be serving these to you very soon!
Did you know that 93% of American households grow tomatoes? 
Do you? What kind?

But, as we've been saying, our veggie bowl has more than just tomatoes in it.
We are growing many varieties of squash, several cucumbers, 
beans, eggplant and peppers.
And the gift of summer is that we are now beginning to truly see
the fruits of our labors.

most of what's planted certainly has been planned.
And then, we find bountiful purslane just appearing
but our chefs get very creative with this
this purple flower will soon be an Ping Tung Eggplant
You have to look close but there are lovely padron peppers
amongst the leaves already
lemon cucumber growing in the Orchard bed

Now into our third year at the farm, we have a sense 
of what grows best where. And while we still like to experiment a bit, 
the deepening of our relationship with the farm (as well as knowing what our guests 
like to have at their tables), directs what we plant.
But it's hard not to get carried away and want to plant everything. 
We really related to a recent post by Smart Gardener
"Remember when you were a kid, and the holidays or your birthday 
rolled aroundthat excitement about looking through the catalogs 
circling the toys you just had to have
And then the excitement as the gift-receiving day got closer and closer,
 the wonderfully delicious wondering of what would be wrapped up for you? 
I think the closest thing to that hopeful anxiety is the feeling 
gardeners get as they spend the winter months pouring over seed catalogs 
and making endless lists of what they want to plant this year
and then waiting for the seeds to arrive."
Here's a rundown of what they finally decided to grow this spring and summer. 

We've shared our garden plan with you.
What are you growing in your garden?


The Green Stuff

When we think of our garden, the color that comes to mind is green
And certainly a green lush garden plot means our vegetables are thriving. 
The starts give us hearty leaves that lead to colorful blossoms 
which then evolve into the vegetable treasure.
you can see the green zucchini blossoming from the yellow flower
first of our tomatoes at the farm
Even our fruits, which ripen into luscious yellows and purples 
start out as leafy green trees. 
apricots in the Orchard
But then there is "the green stuff," the greens and herbs that 
reach perfection at that stage in the plants' growth 
rather than ripening or maturing beyond the leaves. 

The chefs at the girl & the fig rely on our 
herb greens to transform their dishes into the memorable meals 
we hope will keep you talking about your experience at "the fig." 
Besides the arugula which is the basis of our signature "fig salad," 
there are other herbal greens we grow at the farm.
fig salad photo by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country
We love our chives: Chives have been cultivated in Europe 
since the Middle Ages, although their usage dates back 5000 years. 
They were sometimes referred to as "rush leeks." 
The Romans believed eating chives could increase blood pressure 
and act as a diuretic, as well as relieve the pain from sunburn or a sore throat. 

Although we know they have good properties, 
we mostly celebrate how good they make things taste!
chives at the farm behind "the fig"
and chives at Imagery farm
Chives are in the onion family. 
What we eat is not the bulb, though, but instead the "scapes." 
They have a milder onion flavor, with a hint of garlic, 
and make a delicious addition to salads and vegetable dishes, 
as well as a topping for fish and chicken.
They are very easy to grow, and when they bloom
chives make a lovely flower for the garden.
In fact, many gardeners grow them as much for the flower as they do for the herb.
(the bees like them too!)

Here's a great primer on chives and check out 

Other herbs at the farm include two other stalwarts 
needed by every chef: Italian parsley and basil 

Flat leaf or Italian Parsley growing at the farm
And did you know you can use the stems too? 
Since they are sharper in flavor and less delicate than the leaves, 
they really hold up in long cooked stews, stocks, braised dishes.

If you don't have your version of a backyard "farm," 
you can plant herbs in pots and on window sills. 
If you are short on space, herbs can easily be planted in containers. 
 Here's a basic how-to for herbs in a container:

And if you have a bit more room in your garden, container planting can be expanded 
but is still a great way to go for growing herbs.
What herbs are you growing and where?
Any tips on how to grow them or how you use them?


Fruits and veggies

beans and melons co-exist in the beds
in the Orchard at the farm
The official line, as well as what your mother told you is 
"Eat your fruits and vegetables." Research shows why it is good advice:

  • Healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
  • Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health.
  • Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling.
  • psst: and they are delicious, right?

Ever wonder how many fruits and vegetables you should eat? 
Although of course, if you are as lucky as we are, 
having the farm or access to great Farmers Markets, 
we eat as many fruits and vegetables as we can, just because they taste so good.

So, while we've been caught up in our vegetables,
it seemed like a good time to put some focus on the fruits we have at the farm. 
some of the trees in
Orchard in early spring
Our orchard, which is about 1.5 acres has 49 fruit trees including 
5 varieties of peaches, 7 varieties of nectarines, 4 varieties of plums, 
4 varieties of pluots, 3 varieties of apricots, 2 kinds of apples, 
3 kinds of pears, two fig and two persimmon trees and a jujube tree. 
It can be quite beautiful, very fragrant and 
pretty delicious in the Orchard when it is in bloom.
Pluot almost ready to be picked
Last season's apple blossoms
are so beautiful 
And this year, things are getting started. As you see at the Farmers Markets, 
the apricots seem to be the first to burst out, and ours are very happy. 
In fact, we were surprised and delighted this year to find 
that the one apricot tree in the Insectary over by 
the vegetable beds is very ripe and abundant. 
Last year we got maybe 10 apricots total off that tree. 
The other day, we picked 50 lbs of fruit already, 
so that bodes well for our apricot bounty. 
Apricot tree in the Insectary
Adds color and attracts those good bugs

Of course one of all the bugs that are attracted to our Insectary 
are important for our biodynamic farm to flourish. 
This week, June 17-23 we especially celebrate 
these "good guys"--it's National Pollinator Week
one of our prolific apricot trees in the Orchard
And our chefs couldn't resist putting the apricots on the menu right away.
This week's plat du jour features ENTRÉE of spinach salad with
grilled apricots, bacon lardons, candied pecans, maple vinaigrette
and here are those same apricots at your table!
Arctic Star Nectarines looking good
The rare Indian Blood Peach is not yet ripe
but when it is, the flesh is a rich red 
Blenheim apricots are prolific
Naturally, not all the fruit trees ripen at the same time.
The apricots are the stars now and the plums and pluots are just getting started.
Since Pluots are cross between apricots and plums,
we may see them before the plums, but after the apricots!
Apples, pears and the fig tree will be our late summer and fall gems
We won't be eating these Pink Lady Apples
for awhile
and the Pear trees are
taking their right time
first one of our
Celestial figs!

We stumbled upon this informative but fun calendar "freshness" disc 
that helps you determine what's in season when. 
Obviously this varies depending on where you are, but it's a good overview. 
None of us are probably eating fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes in December! 

There we are, back to tomatoes (visions of these beauties on our plate 
are never far from our mind these days...almost there), 
but we can mention them in a post about fruits, 
"The confusion about 'fruit' and 'vegetable' arises because 
of the differences in usage between scientists and cooks. 
Scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit. 
True fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower, 
and contain the seeds of the plant." 
So, tomatoes like blueberries and raspberries are considered a fruit. 
As far as cooks are concerned, it seems tomatoes fall into the vegetable category
 because they are used in savory cooking more often than sweet. 
So, I suppose you could say that the very popular tomato watermelon salad 
at the girl & the fig is a "fruit salad!" 

And speaking of raspberries, they are the other fruit
we have growing in the lower farm beds,
so our fruits are not all concentrated in the Orchard area
did you know the "white" raspberries are not as tart
as the more common red ones
but we will be enjoying both soon
the raspberries love this spot in the lower quad of the farm
And, then we do have some veggies going in the Orchard beds
we will grow beans, cucumbers and melons
in the Orchard beds
We mix it up at the farm, just like we all are supposed to do with our diets
Makes for great balance, and that's what it's all about, right?

Let's do the hokey pokey and celebrate our fruits and veggies!

What fruits are you finding at the Farmers Markets these days?
Have any favorite recipes to share?