Looking forward

Greens, greens, greens!! There are a lot of greens in your share today, in true spring veggie style. Everything we are harvesting right now until the first spring planted radishes are ready (next week?!?) was planted last year in July, August, and September!! This is very exciting to us, to even have so much fresh food to eat in this season. Still, as we actually plan for next winter/early spring harvests at the beginning of the year rather than committing to growing year round in the middle of summer like we did last year, we are happy to be able to plan for potatoes and celery root for these harvests next year when they need to be planted rather than way past too late. With a grain restricted diet, we miss starchy root veggies to round out our meals. Still, on the menu last week with the veggies that your share included we had so many great and filling and more than sustaining farm meals. Goat and barley soup with leek tops, salad mix with nettle pesto, vinaigrette, and chopped hazelnuts, braised rack of goat and sauteed rapini, pizzas with nettle pesto and sheep’s feta and with olive oil, caramelized leeks, rapini, and Parmesan, coconut red beans and rice with baby perpetual spinach, oil and vinegar, and feta, falafel and chard cakes, rice noodles with kale, locally fished tuna, and buttery leeks. Spring eating is great, and now that we are harvesting again, and we are on the road to new crops, our own veggie intake gets to go up as we no longer have to wait to pick at the greens we have been wanting to grow more. Greens upon greens on our table, yeah!

But the season will move on, and we have to grow different greens and some not at all in the heat of summer, so we enjoy their sweetness and abundance now! Some of you have asked about what will be coming through the summer so that you can plan your own growing spaces, so this is one thing to consider. We don’t tend to harvest kale, arugula, or mustard and Asian greens in the summer, although you will have them through June, but we will continue to harvest chards and lamb’s quarters in the greens department. Traditionally, we have given out salad mix, which goes through minor transformations through the seasons, every week. We aren’t planning on doing this for 2009 even though our salad mixes have been called the best by many of you (thank you!). We do plan on giving out more heads of different, beautiful varieties of lettuce, and one or the other for each week is the goal. If you are a big salad eating family, please talk with us about adding a bag of salad mix to your regular share. By doing it just for those who have come to really want this every week, we can save some harvest time (our salad mix is very labor intensive). We are growing a lot and multiple varieties of these crops: beets, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, beans, winter squash, tomatoes, and peppers. We are growing the same delicious Italian zucchini we did last year along with a Lebanese variety, some heirloom crooknecks and patty pan summer squashes, and will have loads of these and straight slicing Marketmore cucumbers. The spring will bring radishes and snow and snap peas. We will have pickling cucumbers and canning tomatoes available for u-pick, half price for CSA members. You can also pick cherry tomatoes and a bouquet of cut flowers near the house at your veggie pick up on us, our way to show our appreciation for your support and to make the drive (on top of the veggies) worth the while!

We are going to try to grow small watermelons and muskmelons in a hot spot on the farm with a constant supply of safe greywater in an attempt to get a harvest at least for the family, perhaps to share with members if they would like, but not to sell. Melons like it hot, and they like a lot of water, and to this point we haven’t had any ripe ones in Oregon, but we know it is possible, so we are working on it! Our apple trees may produce this year, but whether it will exceed family needs and suitable for the CSA or only be enough for a market crop has yet to be seen. Our first planting will be three years old, our second, just two, some only one year old, so yields will still be small. That is it on the fruit front for now, our kids will likely eat all the strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries we get this year!

Our whole eggplant planting failed in the greenhouse this year, so we are purchasing just 50 organic eggplant starts from a Beaverton farm this year. Eggplant isn’t a heavy producer here in Oregon, so this will likely only translate to one or two weeks of eggplant harvests for the CSA. If you love eggplant, this would be a good one to put in your home garden. We also will not be growing any sweet corn for fresh eating. This could be the subject of a whole other newsletter since we have many things factoring into this decision. We grow only open-pollinated varieties, and this in and of itself makes fresh corn difficult. OP sweet corn is perfect for harvesting in about a one day window and then good for eating in about a one day window. This is hard for scheduled harvesting and weekly boxes. We also have a neighbor who grows genetically modified corn, so we have been unsure about growing open- pollinated corn for fear of cross-pollination. Now we have gotten variety and plant dates from our neighbor, selected a corn variety that will pollinate within the safe 3 week distance from the GM corn, but it will be for drying, and we will be using a lot of this for supplemental chicken and pig feed. However, we will also batch grind some for cornmeal and polenta for our family, and maybe for the winter CSA! We know that sweet corn is good, but it is also water intensive, space intensive, and poor on the nutritional scale, so this is where we are going with corn. We always buy or receive a few meals worth from other local farmers, and encourage you to enjoy this summer treat from Farmer’s Market or from you own garden! We are growing some Cannellini beans this year too, for fresh shelling and dry beans!

Of course, it is hard for us to know what this will translate to given our last two years…we have had problems with certain crops each year. Yet, there are a lot of things that make us feel more confident that all of these crops will be on our tables in abundance. We have learned so, so, so much in the last two years. So much of when we were just large scale home gardeners hasn’t translated, but we feel like we are learning a lot of what will make us great market gardeners. We now see that as we work to build and build healthy soil and bio-diversity to ultimately deal with pest pressure and plant health, we have to use things like row covers, trap crops, and nettle brew in the foliar sprayer pro-actively to fight pests, and that we have to add to the soil organic fertilizing amendments (compost, granular, and fish emulsion for the greenhouse and transplants). These are intermediate ways to help with the problems, not long term solutions nor our long term goals. Still, we love carrots just as much as all of you (who doesn’t!) and we want at least most of what we plant to be beautiful and harvestable. So this year, we feel like the crops we say and plan to have, we will, and that is a good place to be this year!

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