This is our second Saturday market with quite a solid harvest, both selection and quantity. Last week was fine, this week we’ve added the first of the fall spinach, also, an unexpected bushel of radish that sized up practically overnight, picked at the end of the day yesterday at the perfect maturity moment. For the record, we have: green onion (Ramrod), two kales (Red Russian, Nero di Toscana), green and yellow beans (Jade, Indy Gold), two carrots (Nelson, Touchon, mixed), radish (Rebel), cherry tomatoes (a mix of 7-8 varieties, hybrid and heirloom), Asian greens mix (mustards, mizuna, tatsoi, etc, our custom blend!), arugula, Swiss chard (Lucullus, a pale green heirloom), beet (Kestrel), salad mix (four varieties of lettuce), summer squash (Golden Dawn III, Baby Tiger and Raven zucchinis), cucumber (Fanfare and a few round heirloom Lemon), and spinach (Bloomsdale). For those who like lists!
Friday’s harvest to Saturday’s market is the way it is! We still go direct from field to stand, with no cooler in between, and that seems to work out. And the stand itself hasn’t changed much in the last few seasons: raw cedar bins on boards on sawhorses, baskets up front, under the 10’x10′ E-Z UP canopy. What’s new is our latest in DIY veggie sign technology: the usual cards printed in marker with description and price, but now mounted with tape on long, thin coffee stir sticks, stuck right in with the produce. Anyhow, good weather, a decent turnout, a fine morning all round!
A pretty satisfying second installment of our “experimental” Weekly Harvest Share: “Like CSA, but one week at a time…”! Satisfying because, for the first time this season, harvest day felt kinda normal, with around 20 items harvested, enough variety to have to pick what went into the shares. And the winners, the veggies that made it through thick and thin: kale (Red Russian—no worries about running out of RR…), beets (Kestrel), carrots (Nelson), zucchini (Golden Dawn III, always there in numbers), cukes (Fanfare, Lemon), baby leaf lettuce (house blend, and a nice first cut!), beans (Jade, Indy Gold, first picking of this planting), assorted cherry tomatoes, green onion (Ramrod), sweet pepper (Cubanelle, picked young and green), onion (yellow cooking, from sets, kinda…compact), peppermint & spearmint (bagged, for tea!), and eggplant (old reliable Dusky). So, better late than never!
Here’s one of the more extreme displays of crazily labor-intensive tiny farming technique. Andie surveys our work, the result of deciding to try landscape fabric in place of burlap to help carrot seed germination. It’s actually a double experiment, because one of the beds is green onions.
The burlap method has been the way to start carrots around here for the last two seasons: tried and true. The main purpose is to preserve moisture in the seed drills, and the increase in heat helps as well.
After a good run, the first round of burlap expired, and I couldn’t find rolls of it in time for this season (I know it’s out there, somewhere). But, I spotted this gear, landscape fabric, a porous plastic mulch used to permanently suppress weeds in…landscaping. It’s light, and just wide enough (3’/30 cm) to cover 4 rows of carrots (that’s a little closer than usual for the bunching onions). I tried it on two beds earlier in the season, and it works fine!
One little problem: it tears easily, so how to hold it down? With the burlap, we made wire staples out of heavy gauge wire. Here, we placed a LOT of heavy rocks, close enough together that there’s no room for the wind to get under and start really pulling. This does the trick for now, but overall, it’s a little TOO intense. The hunt for burlap: still on!
It’s a start. Whenever they reach 3-4″ (7.5-10cm), I trim back the onions to about 1″ (2.5cm), and now they’re thick enough to collect and EAT! I don’t have the greenhouse up yet, so didn’t start lettuce REALLY early, so it’s not a whole seedling trimmings salad like last year… But these baby greens are great: tender, with a delicate onion flavor and just a bit of bite. Taste-wise, they’re easily over-powered by stronger, heavier foods. We tried them on burgers and in a salad, but they’re best more on their own. My favorite: quite finely snipped and sprinkled on a boiled (farm) egg, with only salt and pepper. Tastes like the garden!
Friday harvests are getting quicker as the season winds down. This has happened at least for the last couple of years. Where earlier in the season, we finish around 8-9pm, we’re now mostly wrapped up by 5 or 6, and sometimes with less people than during the summer. I’m not quite sure why this happens. Probably, a big part of is that everyone out there in the field is now experienced and comfortably fast. Also, many of the crops in the weekly veg line-up are pre-harvested: garlic and onions first, and now, winter squash, pumpkins, potatoes and the new sweet potatoes. Still, it’s a pretty big harvest, and quantities are the same now as earlier in the year. Then there’s the shortening days—it’s starting to get dark around 7:30 pm now, down from 9:30 in late June-early July—and CHILLY WEATHER that likely speed us up! Anyhow, this is the most time I’ve spent wondering why—whatever the reasons, getting done quick is good! The trailer-load in the pic is about half of the day’s field haul, and there’s also the pre-harvested stuff. In this week’s harvest, in no particular order: carrots (2 varieties), cauliflower, beets (3 varieties), sweet peppers (several varieties), hot peppers (several varieties), green onions, spinach (2 varieties), summer squash (3 varieties), beans, tomato (several varieties), parsley, basil, all from the field, plus, pre-harvested, garlic, potatoes, winter squash (several varieties) and onions (2 varieties).