In You Share This Week:
- Beets, Red
- Kale, Lacinato
- Lettuce Mix
- Summer Squash Mix
Beets: These Early Wonder Tall Tops have no tops this time around. We seeded this variety back in March under an unheated hoop house with the plan of getting an early beet harvest with tops, which you already received in a prior week’s share, followed by a harvest of larger beet roots without the tops. Over the lifespan of our beet plants, as the leaves age, the once succulent leaves tend to get rougher in texture, suffer insect damage, and develop a slightly bitter taste. The older beet leaves do continue to function as sugar factories however pumping energy into the developing beet root, and that sugar is what you will be enjoying soon!
Carrots: Just as the seeding of our fall and winter storage carrots is happening, we are excited to be harvesting our first mature carrots of the season. Both orange varieties, Mokum is more slender, the Ya Ya a bit plumper, were seeded 12 weeks ago on April 13th into our sandiest field. Carrot seed takes up to 14 days to germinate in the spring’s cool soils. Those carrot seedlings are much slower to emerge than all of the weeds, so this affords us an advantage in early weed control. Ideally just before the carrot seedlings break through the soil surface a thick carpet of weeds have already blanketed the soil at a very young and vulnerable stage called the “thread stage.” At that very moment one of our field crew passes over the field using a propane weed flamer killing all the weeds and like magic the carrots then pop up with zero weeds to compete against.
Fennel: This crop that does really well on our farm and does a great job lightening up heavy meals at home. Sliced really thin and added raw to salads is by far my favorite way to eat this weird bulb of a stem. This year we will be transplanting a whole array of fennel varieties to evaluate as part of N.O.V.I.C. and Osborne Seed in Washington will be giving us fennel seed to trial and evaluate for very late transplanting that could potential survive overwinter in the fields. So, maybe winter CSA share members could see fennel in their CSA boxes this winter.
Summer Squash: The plants in our summer squash field are huge! We have a quarter acre of four different varieties of summer squash planted into a very thin green plastic mulch material. The green mulch feels and looks a bit like shrink-wrap and is applied to the soil surface with a mulch-layer implement mounted on the rear of our tractor. In one pass, drip tape is laid down for irrigating and then covered with the plastic. On June 1st, we transplanted into the plastic by hand and turned on the irrigation right away… and in just six weeks we have plenty of summer squash to harvest. The plastic technology is really nifty, the thin film allows the sun’s infrared light to pass though to heat the soil effectively below, but excludes all other wavelengths of light preventing weed seeds from germinating, and keeps the soil moisture from evaporating. The same method of using plastic is applied to all heat loving crops that prefer to get irrigated directly at the roots via drip tape instead of getting their leaves wet with over head sprinkler irrigation, the list includes, cucumbers, winter squash, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes. To help encourage pollinating insects to visit our squash field, miniature sunflowers, borage, and hyssop are interplanted throughout.
You are what you eat
The same goes for the vegetable plants we grow. To have the greatest range of nutrients available for you at meal time, we add literally tons of certified organic fertilizers to our fields for our veggies to “eat” every year. Based on a spring soil test taken from each of our 24 cropped acres, for 2015 we decided to spread a total of 10 tons of liming materials (either calcium carbonate or oyster shell flour), 10 tons of minerals (a Sauvie Island Organics’ custom blend of Dungeness crab shell meal, fishbone meal, sulphate of potash, gypsum, Redmond Sea Salt, Humates, manganese, boron, and zinc), and finally about 3 tons of organic nitrogen from feather meal. Most of our farm’s vegetable nitrogen needs are met from growing lush stands of cover crops. Each fertilizer is applied for a very specific and precisely measured reason to avoid instances of over application and the potential high environmental costs associated with leaching and run off of nitrate and phosphorus.