So, I have been putting off this update for awhile. Not because I wasn’t looking forward to it, but because free time is getting more and more precious these days and blog updates don’t compete well with sleep and relaxing. Well, I finally got off my behind, went down to the field with my phone/camera and took some pictures. Here is what I found:
Onions, leeks and shallots – These little guys get get seeded at the beginning of February so they are already 3 months old and still not much bigger than a couple of hairs. With a little luck and ALOT of weeding, these members of the Allium/Lily family will become a large, juicy, eye-tearing vegetable which forms the basis of all great soups. Onions and shallots get harvested late summer and then must cure(dry) for a couple of weeks so you can expect this crop in the last couple of boxes. Leeks and sweet onions because they don’t need to cure, are ready earlier.
Lettuce – Starts so small and ends up so BIG! Lettuce is usually a staple crop on our farm, available from the end of may until the weather gets frosty. Fast to grow and easy to harvest, lettuce is somethings we can reliably produce at a bargain price.
Garlic – I hope everyone loves garlic, because there is lots of it this year. We planted probably almost triple the amount as in previous years and right now, it looks great. Garlic gets planted in November(last year), gets pulled out of the ground in July’ish and then cures for a couple of weeks. Expect green garlic in June, fresh garlic in July and dry, storable garlic in August.
Fabulous Florence Fennel – Florence fennel is the bulbing version of regular fennel which is the plant which produces the spice fennel seed. While not a common vegetable in everyones fridge, it should be. Fennel is fresh and fragrant and once you learn to like it, you will wonder why it took you so long. The challenge with growing fennel is keeping it from bolting(flowering) which means giving it lots of water. That means that the fennel is at it’s best in early summer and fall, when we have lots of water.
Spinach – While normally easy to grow in cool, wet weather, spinach is having trouble this year. Along with the trouble we are having getting good germination rates in the field, the recent mega hailstorm has caused havoc with our early spinach plantings. You can see the hail damage(ripped and torn leaves) on the young, tender spinach plants. I try hard be successful on these early spinach plantings because once the hot, dry weather comes, spinach is almost impossible to grow well. People have come to expect spinach all season but we are going to focus on spinach in the shoulder seasons when they should be grown and are at their best(taste and nutrition wise).
Potatoes – Other than garlic(which gets planted the year before), potatoes are usually the first crop to get planted outside every year. We used to aim for St. Patrick’s day(March 17) to start planting potatoes but over the past few years and our changing weather patterns, I am lucky to get them in by the end of March. The 2 pictures here are the difference between planting them outside vs planting them in a cold frame/hoophouse(quite the difference as you can see). With some nice weather(and no rodent damage), you might get some cold frame potatoes in the first or second box of the season. Potatoes are a gamble each year because of a devastating
disease called late blight which can acompletely destroy your entire potato crop. By growing early potatoes, you can beat the blight with earliness but potatoes are such a staple that we roll the dice every year and hope that the weather cooperates(blight is triggered by wet, warm weather) and will let us have a successful potato crop.
Reliable Rhubarb – Rhubarb is a perennial we grow lots and lots and lots of on the farm. Rhubarb is at it’s best now and you will get alot of it in your first box or two. Whatever rhubarb we don’t sell fresh in stalk form, we cut up and sell to a restaurant/bakery to use in pies in Vancouver(Aphrodies Cafe and Pie Shop). Technically a vegetable, rhubarb is usually cooked in sweet dishes and a famous combination is strawberry-rhubarb pie. You should be getting both of these this year so make sure you save some rhubarb(it freezes well) to use with your strawberries in June and July.
Strawberries – Speaking of rhubarb and strawberries, these are the first berries of the year(other than the native salmonberry which we don’t market commercially). The two biggest pests of strawberries are weather and slugs. Slug patrol and trapping starts now(when flowers appear) and goes until the first fruit is ready. Juneuary (cold and rainy June) is something that we can’t control and causes a poor harvest when it occurs.
Carrots – What is under that big, white cloth in the middle of the field you ask? Well, usually it’s carrots. Why you ask? Carrot rust fly. This pest is quite common in our area and without this cover (called floating row cover or Remay) we wouldn’t be able to grow carrots for sale. While a couple of carrots with a couple of worms would be acceptable, without this cover on the carrots, there is a good chance that almost all the carrots would have lots of worms by the end of the season. Carrots take a long time to grow, are hard to weed and need to be covered all the time. So why do we grow them? Because they taste so delicious and once you eat a Glen Valley carrot, you will understand why we go through all this trouble too.
Ok, I have lots of other pictures and there are lots of other crops planted and growing now but hopefully this is enough to get you interested and excited about the upcoming season. If you are interested in seeing more, feel free to come out to the farm and see things for yourself. While I may not be available to give a proper tour, if you are a CSA member, you are welcome here anytime to see YOUR food in the ground growing. Just give me some notice so I know to expect you.