What a lovely week it has been on the farm. A long list of chores were finally accomplished, and we managed to have perfect weather for planting the spring garden. Onions, beets, Swiss Chard, collards, kale, mustard greens, pak choi, spinach, fennel, parsley, dill, cilantro, carrots, lettuce (leaf, romaine, and iceberg), arugula, peas, cabbage, and broccoli were all planted. While we will not be able to harvest from them this year, we are also adding 250 asparagus plants, and 250 strawberry plants to our perennial beds. We will begin harvesting from these in 2015.
Now that we have finished planting the majority of the spring garden, we can finally predict the start of the CSA program.
Members can expect the CSA program to begin on either May 16th or 23rd.
Cabbages were carefully transplanted just before an afternoon shower began. By timing our transplants to be just before cloudy, rainy weather we can push the odds much more in our favor. Transplanting is very hard on plants, especially cabbages. They tend to readily wilt, and they are much more sensitive to their planting depth and handling. Because of this, we hand plant all of our brassicas. It ends up taking us about 30 min for a 250' row, which will hold about 100 cabbage plants. Compare that to planting tomatoes, which is done with a transplanter pulled behind the tractor. It takes us about 3 minutes to plant a 250' row.
Thankfully, most of the spring garden is planted by seed, and that is easy work thanks to our Jang precision seeder. It can separate the tiniest seed so that there is no overplanting, and thus no wasted seed. After selecting the correct spacing, and seed wheel (for seed pickup), you load the seed, set the depth, and begin pushing. It takes about 2 minutes to plant a 250' row, which includes opening the ground, setting the seed, and covering the seed with the proper amount of soil.
A panorama of both of our gardens on April 1 2014, which total about 1.75 acres in size.
The first crops to be ready will be lettuce, arugula, radishes, baby carrots, bunching onions, petit beets, Swiss chard, spinach, dwarf pak choi, mustard greens, parsley, and dill. The next big addition of variety will happen around June 1st (~week 3 of CSA program). It will add the following to the existing availability: rapini, sugar snap peas, garden peas, and red cabbage. In mid June (~week 5/6 of CSA program) life is good: Romaine lettuce, green cabbage, fennel, cilantro, broccoli, new potatoes, green beans, cucumbers, collards, summer squash, zucchini, scallop squash, and kale. Around July 1st, most of the summer garden will be producing, and the spring crops will slowly be retired. Don't worry though, most of them come back for a repeat appearance in the fall!
Members, I hope finally knowing the starting date will help ease your anticipation of the first harvest. If you are taking the challenge of eating seasonally, now is the time to look up recipes and preservation techniques for all of the produce you will be getting. I cant say it enough: You can never have enough recipes for summer squash & zucchini! Take the time to google different cooking techniques. Thai, Indian, Chinese, and mediterranean styles of cooking tend to be more vegetable heavy, and have much more variety of uses for each vegetable type. For example, you aren't going to find very many American dishes for eggplant, but there are hundreds of asian dishes that feature it. These styles of cooking are also generally more healthy than many others. Of course, I will feature many of my favorite (and not so healthy) southern recipes throughout the year: Fried green tomatoes, green beans with new potatoes, fried corn, and many others. I will also be sharing step by step guides on preserving some of the more plentiful items we offer. We will cover everything from making dill pickles, pickled pepperoncinis, chili powder, sun dried tomatoes, and much more.
Until next week...