Saturday, November 06, 2010

Hazelnuts & Strawberries

FARM NEWS from Fred Owens

November 6, 2010

On my way to California I stopped in Eugene, Oregon, to visit some friends who just bought some acres on the outskirts of town. They have planted trees all over the property -- poplars, cedars, pears, and -- for an experiment -- they planted eleven olive trees.

Olive trees may or may not grow in Eugene's climate, and they may or may not produce fruit -- but you don't know until you try, and my friends won't know for a few years.

Isn't that exciting?

Olives are iffy in Oregon. Hazelnuts are what matter, and Oregon leads the nation with an expected crop of 38,000 tons this year.

Let us attempt to visualize a 38,000-ton pile of hazelnuts -- the mind boggles.

But that's peanuts -- I mean, that's nothing. Turkey is the world leader. The Turks will harvest 630,000 tons this year -- it's a Moslem threat. They will bury us in filberts! Oh No!

Italy is number two and will harvest an expected 100,000 tons, followed by Georgia & Azerbaijan at 85,000 tons.

Okay, the USA is number four at 38,000 tons, but Oregon hazelnuts taste better.

Thinking about all that, I visited a local farm stand and bought a sack of roasted unsalted hazelnuts -- got them for a road sack, because I left Eugene the next day and headed for San Francisco Bay.

Information from the Capital Press. You can find a wealth of information about agriculture in the Pacific Northwest by reading the Capital Press, either online or in print. This weekly journal is published in Salem, Oregon, hence the name -- but the content is all about farming.

Strawberries in California. I drove to Alameda, on the San Francisco Bay, to stay with relatives. We visited the Saturday Farmer's Market just a walk down the street from their house.

We saw such an abundance of late season vegetables. It was the end of summer squash and field-grown tomatoes, but they will have strawberries and raspberries through most of the winter, plus winter greens, broccoli, turnips, carrots, and lettuce. It never ends in this climate.

Don't forget persimmons! Actually, I don't quite understand persimmons, but I respect people who do.

Anyway, I spoke with a woman from Gilroy, the Garlic Capital, the home of the renowned Garlic Festival. She was selling strawberries and raspberries, and proud of her family farm in Gilroy.

"We don't grow garlic anymore. There's only one farm left that grows garlic now," she said.

t's because most of our garlic comes from China these days, more than 75 per cent. Especially if you buy processed garlic -- powder, flakes, minced garlic in oil, and so forth -- it will likely be the cheaper Chinese garlic.

California grown garlic costs more -- and tastes better, a lot of people will say -- but you have to look for it and ask for it.

It's Time to Plant Garlic. While we're on the subject -- now is the time to plant garlic for summer harvest next year. A good catalog supplier such as Filaree Farm will mail you some high quality bulbs to plant in your garden.

Or, at no cost whatsoever, take whatever garlic bulbs are in your kitchen, break them into cloves and plant them somewhere in your garden -- you might do very well.

Like I said in the beginning about the olive trees -- you never know until you try it.

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Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

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Fred Owens
Box 1292
LaConner WA 98257

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