That fellow flying by the Seagate farm is not an artichoke, just a seagull flying inland. While most people encounter these birds along the coast, following fishing boats or scavenging garbage, many of the different species of seagulls inhabiting Southern California nest inland.
Seagate is very close to adding artichokes to its product list. In September of 2011, Seagate planted a new field of artichokes. Due to the cool 2011-12 Winter, the artichokes that Seagate planted last finally producing. Artichokes are a very important vegetable that few people eat because of the extra work involved in getting at the pulpy “meat” inside each leaf. However, it is a very nutritious plant with many benefits including being high in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and as an aid to digestion. Seagate will be making it a lot easier to have artichokes on a daily basis in the near future.
A single artichoke plant can produce 6-8 heads (balls) or more. In order to encourage the growth of the numerous heads, it is important to cut off the largest one when they begin to appear in multiples on a single plant. This allows the remaining heads to grow more quickly and reach a larger size.
As with most of Seagate’s crops, this work is all done by hand. The seeds must be periodically pulled because no chemicals or herbicides are used on the farm.
Of all of the fruits and vegetables that Seagate produces, the artichoke field makes the most picturesque landscape. The initial harvest of a single artichoke head from each plant is really a lot of artichokes because this is a field of 10 acres. The first delivery of artichokes was made to Seagate’s factory in Ensenada in mid-May.
The freeze-drying and grinding operation have begun at the factory in Ensenada. Batch samples and laboratory testing for quality control and for labeling analysis will be performed by the end of June before the main harvest begins this summer, and the product can be packaged for sale.
Typically, only inside of the artichoke “bud” or leaf is eaten from a mature artichoke when cooked at home or in a restaurant. When steamed and dipped in butter or your favorite sauce, this can be a very tasty dish. However, it requires a lot of work to remove a very small amount of the material from the inside of the leaf. Seagate’s process utilizes the entire artichoke ball, which is freeze-dried and ground into a powder, providing all of the valuable nutrients available in this plant without the waste.
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The photo of the week is of a turtle skimming along over a bed of sea grass. Turtles are very shy creatures and difficult to approach and photograph. Although this turtle is swimming away, his eyeball is actually looking back toward the diver to insure that he is safely escaping. Unfortunately, sea turtles in Mexico are becoming very scarce even though fishing for them is prohibited … because Mexicans consider their meat to be a great delicacy.