Yes, celery root and parsnips are making an appearance on our table at the farmers’ market this week. We’re all longing for cooler, wet weather. Wandering around the fields this early evening, I am speechless for the beauty.
Tag Archives: beets
Rain is in the forecast, a novel situation for us in “Droughtville” (California). We’ve had a couple practice storms roll through, dropping an inch, more or less, just to tease us. But this week, we’ve heard up to 7 inches could fall. The whole community is excited, hoping this will open the storm door and eventually lead us out of the dry conditions we’ve experienced for several years now. The reservoirs are low and steps are being taken to monitor ground water supplies. We have two good wells on the property we use to irrigate year-round. And so far, that’s been enough. Paul has also switched most crops to drip lines for most of their life cycle, rather than overhead, sprinkler-type watering. We trade off using less water for more plastic and more labor.
The farm prepares for winter rains every year, whether they come or not. As the day length shortens and the nights cool, fields are cleared of finished tomatoes and eggplant, tilled until smooth and flat, composted and finally cover crop seed has been planted wherever we want to give the beds a carbon boost. Ditches are checked and regraded where necessary.
Hoops are set up over beds in case the rain becomes too much for small plants. Plastic covers can be pulled over the top of the hoops, if need be. We’re ready and waiting to have time in the shop, to clean and sharpen tools, to change the oil for the many machines, and to get to the projects that await, like the recently purchased cultivating tractor that needs a new front axle and for the whole under-belly apparatus to be rebuilt and mounted.
So we wait to see how much will fall.
Fall is coming on strong, as the summer crops peak. What to do? Just work a little harder, longer and stronger, knowing that rain will come, things will slow down. There will be time next to the wood stove, with a book and a cup of tea. But for now, it’s go, go, go. So glad we are up to it. And thanks to everyone that works for us or buys produce from our farm. We couldn’t do it without you.
Today we were presented with a beautiful fall day, lots of big fluffy clouds, lilting through a big sky, over hill and dale, casting moving shadows on the undulations below. With just a hint of moisture, as the clouds misted the fields, dampening the dust, sweetening the soil and doubling the scents. It’s teaming with life out there!
It was premature to think that summer had begun. It’s sprinkling now. The greens are greener when seen under a grey sky. Many summer crops have been in the ground for weeks, and are struggling to stay ahead of the insect pressure. Cucumber beetles are very active and making a mess of the first bean crops, beet greens, cucumbers (natch). Once the heat comes, the plants will outgrow the damage. We believe in history and the power of positive thought.
Here’s a virtual “Walk-Around” of the farm today.
So much is happening. The weather, the great dictator of what happens on the farm, has been very generous to us. It must have been over 70 degrees F. today. Beautiful. We’re planting spinach, turnips, radishes, lettuce, pea seeds in the field. Once planted, some are covered. We may plant beets and carrots this week.
The greenhouse is starting to really fill up with freshly planted flats, some covered, some not. The first planting of tomatoes have blasted out of their flats and pushed the remay into puffy pillows. So have the peppers. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, fennel and onions were all started in the greenhouse flats last week or before.
Lettuce, chard, kales and collard are all being transplanted. Once in the field, they are also covered to insure against wild weather swings. We hope they will feel secure enough to take off.
There is an experiment in the new field with planting oats, wheat and barley, side-by-side. Which will be the most beneficial to this soil? We’ll see.
Walking slowly around the farm, it’s obvious that summer’s bounty is beginning to decline.
We’re selling a lot of tomatoes, melons and cucumbers this year through various marketing paths. It’s great to see all this vibrant food moving into the community. Our farm stand has been a wonderful addition. We anticipate staying open until either the weather or lack of product, forces us to close. Thank you all for folding us into your Saturday routine.
The transition from summer’s full heavy crops to the more intense, longer-in-the-ground, cooler-season foods, is happening. Kales and cabbages, beautiful brussels sprouts and feathery fennel and asparagus, are all looking very fresh and new.
This is the time of year things move around in the shops and storage areas to make room for winter squash, onions and shallots.
Additionally this year, Paul is renovating some of his growing fields to make things easier next year.
Yet there is plenty to do at the farm.
The morning is cool and quiet.
Rain is expected later today.
Paul has been prepping the new fields and likes what he sees. At least half of the ground appears to be rock-free. That gives him many more planting options down the road, including lettuce which wants the smoothest of soils.
Keep in mind, these soils have had nothing intentionally grown in them for as long as we know, at least 20 years. Here he is irrigating half the field overnight. The water ran for 11 hours with a number of goals. One obvious result is that the multitude of grass and other weed seeds that are in the right strata of the soil, will germinate. Another consequence of the long irrigation is the ground will “settle”, alerting us to structure issues. It will also hopefully wake-up the micro-organisms, so important in our system.
This photo shows an interesting truth concerning timing. We see left to right, lettuce, several varieties of beets, parsnips and, on the far right, collard. And they were all planted from seed on the same day! Beets are ready to pick and the parsnips are just one inch tall. I’m sure looking forward to the parsnips which need more than a month until harvest.
We’ve sold all the large carrots. These are very small but big enough to start picking.
All of a sudden, it’s gotten warm, hot even, in the 90s today. Even the evenings are pleasant, in the high 60s. Last night’s farmers’ market was packed with the community, out enjoying the music and food after a very long, wet and cool spring. The soil is now warm deeper than 2 inches which will finally give the summer crops the push for which they have been waiting. Paul even brought home a few padron peppers last night, off a dying plant which struggled to set a little fruit. Even so, it was great to see the first ones and my mouth waters for the little devils, still at least a month away from market.
But we do have a new crop of carrots and beautiful red beets (gold coming maybe next week). I’m often asked about the beet greens. Sometimes we take the beets to market bunched with the greens. Most of the year, they are clipped and sold individually, by the pound. Some people beg for the greens. Others want them clipped off. They are tasty and quite good for our bodies, similar to spinach in taste and nutrition. We bring them to market when they look good, which is to say, once it warms up, the leaf miners will begin to nibble little holes through and through. They are also much easier to handle without the greens and require more careful washing. So enjoy them while they are here. The greens from the gold beets are especially delicious.
Nothing quite beats the heat like a nibble of Kimchi. I have a batch I just put up tonight. I’m dying to try the recipe from Dr. Ben Kim at http://drbenkim.com/recipes-kim-chi.htm. And the napa cabbage is perfect too.
Every Friday, at the Farmers’ Market I am asked when a certain, favorite vegetable will be ready. Beets were yesterday’s question of the day. I “guestamated” 2-3 weeks, judging by the way they look in the field, but without digging anything up.
Paul brought tempting this array of things to come, home last night. He figures small bunched beets might be ready in a couple weeks. We have both red and gold beets to look forward to. Cauliflower, fennel and red spring onions will likely be on next week’s stand!
It would be nice to get a little heat to push the summer crops along, but until then, we’ll enjoy the greens that are truly flourishing.
Thanks so much to all those that are signed up for our new CSA. We are very excited about this new way to reach out with our produce and to make the valley even healthier.