Our Fall Crops

Mizuna

Mizuna

Fall means a lot of new crops in the field. We’ve got five kinds of lettuce planted, as well as endive and escarole. We’ve planted several kinds of mustard greens and Asian greens, including mizuna. In case you’ve never had that Japanese green before, it looks a lot like a delicate dandelion with its dog-toothed leaves, but its taste is closer to arugula. You’ll want to get some stir-fry recipes ready for the Asian greens, although they are equally good in salads. Epicurious has a few pages of recipes for Asian greens here.

We’ve got more cabbage growing, red, green and Savoy, and we’ve got high hopes for our shitake mushrooms.. We’ve got six different kinds of radishes, including some that pack a really powerful punch, as well as three kinds of turnips and a lot of sweet peppers. The Swiss chard is coming along nicely.

The winter squash may be a different matter. The deer seem to be treating the rows of squash as their personal salad bar this year, taking a bite or two every few feet as they move through the rows. We’re going to hope they decide they’re sated soon. The beets don’t appear to like this crazy weather year at all, though we may get some beet greens.

Speaking of weather, the temperatures have been dipping rapidly already up here: We’ve had a few nights close to 40. But we’re doing what we can to nurture our crops along. Everything that has been planted is under row covers, reusable fabric that protects the crops from cold and bugs. We’re also taking full advantage of the irrigation system we put in earlier this year.

But Mother Nature has to do her part, and bring us the daily sunshine that all these crops need. If you know a sun dance, do it now.

This Week’s Share: Week 7

This Week’s Share:

Individual Shares Choose 6

  • Kale : White Russian or Lacinato
  • Baby Red Onions
  • Greek Oregano
  • Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce
  • Bok Choi or Pak Choi- These Chinese cabbages are are mild and sweet and packed with calcium. They are an awesome addition to any stir fry.
  • Blue Hybrid Napa Cabbage
  • Red Deer Tongue or Merlot Lettuce
  • Purslane
  • Escarole

This Week’s Extras: Forellenschluss Lettuce and Flowers

Week 5 Distribution.

Week 5 Distribution!

 

  • Siberian Kale
  • Cracoviensis Lettuce
  • Baby Red Onions
  • Red Deer Tongue Lettuce- An heirloom lettuce that was grown by early Native Americans, Deer Tongue is a mild succulent loose leaf lettuce with beautiful coloring.
  • Batavian Escarole– A nice zesty green with crunch, escarole is related to chicory and endive. This variety has a nice bite, and is great in the salad bowl or braised.
  • Parsley
  • Forellenschluss Lettuce
  • Collards-Related to broccoli to cabbage this awesome hearty greens are a good source of vitamins A and C. I’m on the look out for some good sustainable bacon to cook up with these this week.
  • This week’s extras: Nettles, Grape Leaves, and Flowers
Red Deer Tongue

Red Deer Tongue

Forellenschluss

Forellenschluss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeds And More Seeds–We Start Planting!!

To quote the late George Peppard, ” I love it when a plan comes together!” Megan and Bonnie finished the seed inventory last week. With 257 varieties in hand we are up and running in the greenhouse. So far this season we are up on the timing and making deadlines is seeming to be easy! Bonnie and her brother, Jason Grover, finished the re-glazing of the potting shed on Wednesday and spent Thursday getting  all of the the shelving set. With benches in place, Bonnie is starting to plant. First to go in are the Brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collards, etc.) and aliums (onions, scallions, leeks, etc.).

2006 lettuce flats in the potting house

2006 lettuce flats in the potting house

Next will be the lettuces and escarole. These will be set out in the field around mid to late April. This year I’m pushing the early greens earlier than I ever have since we have had bad luck in the past two years with a freak week of 80ºF weather in May. The strategy is to get them in and under row covers so that they can gain some size before (and if) a heat wave might drive them to seed. Bigger plants are sometimes more bolt resistant early on in the year.  When I first started growing commercially I did all my own transplants. In 1989 I first used a certified organic greenhouse grower called Silver Seed down in Maryland on the eastern shore. Jay Martin, the grower, devised a really neat hand-held wand that he used with a vacuum to plant into the plant flats rather than using one of the big commercial deck type units that cost thousands.

2006onions, parsley, cilantro in the potting house

2006 onions, parsley, cilantro in the potting house

I just found the same seeder for sale and picked up one for 72 cell trays and one for 128 cell trays; the two most common sizes I use. I started doing all my own transplants in 2007 again because shipping was just too expensive. This year we are planting over 300 flats and these new seed wands will save days of labor!!

Planting is a critical chore and one of the most rewarding when the seeds sprout and start to grow.  IF you are interested in helping, keep in mind that Volunteers are welcome! Contact Megan to schedule a visit.