It feels like spring is officially on it’s way: day light savings has kicked in, the sun is higher in the sky and we seem to have lost about a foot and a half of snow cover over the last week! We at Sleepy Root are waking out of our slumber and are itching to get back outside and get our hands in the dirt.
It’s been an active winter for us: not only have we been planning for another season in which we hope to grow our farm business by 50%, we are seeking our USDA Organic certification this year. It’s a lot of work and big step in showing our commitment and dedication to the principles we hold to our members and our farming community.
We also had the happy event of our wedding in February! We were so grateful to have so many friends and family come out and celebrate with us for a beautiful snowy weekend at the farm.
Late Winter and Spring around here start getting busy pretty fast. We will start growing our onions (all 15,000 of them!) the week of March 17th in trays in a neighbor’s greenhouse which should give us enough time to finish building our new greenhouse that we started last fall. Once that is completed we will begin a steady stream of seeding transplants in the greenhouse at the beginning of April. Once it warms up enough, and if it’s not too wet, we (hopefully) will be working the soil and seeding in the field by mid to late April.
We are starting to fill up our CSA shares, so if you know anyone who is looking for a quality CSA or if you are a previous member who wants to renew for the 2014 season, please do so soon to secure your spot! As usual we are adding a few new exciting varieties to the line-up of vegetables this season and have integrated feedback from members into our box plans including earlier tomatoes, more cherry tomatoes, and my personal promise of this being the year of the melon! You’ll all be happy to know there will be considerably less eggplant this year as well. Any more feedback or suggestions are always welcome.
We are still looking for two employees to come work with us this summer, if you know any one who might be interested in working on a small scale vegetable farm with organic practices feel free to point them to our website.
We are looking forward to another great season and hope you are all enjoying the warmer weather!
Another relatively cool week on the farm. The tomatoes keep stacking up their green fruit one after another on the vine. I keep expecting to go out and see a flush of red dotting the lower layer of the tomato aisles…but…not…quite…yet…but soon! Until then, there has been enough of a trickle to give modest amounts to some members, but unfortunately not all.
In the box this week:
Onions: red zeppelin
Broccoli or Cabbage
Tomatoes or Tomatillos or Eggplant (small)
Cut Lettuce (medium and full)
Mustard Greens: Scarlet Frills & Mizuna (medium and full)
Tomatoes/Tomatillos and Eggplant (full)
Snap Peas (full)
Eggplants are also starting to come along in larger numbers and peppers are getting close to full size. Signs of the hail from a few weeks ago are still present on some of the crops. You may notice some items in your box with a dent or two still. The lucky ones who pulled the long straws and got tomatoes this week will see obvious signs of it.
We recommend eating those tomatoes sooner rather than later, as damaged tissue will start adversely affecting the tissue around it as it continues to ripen off the vine. Simply cut the small affected portion off when preparing to eat.
We’ve started tilling in our earlier plantings and planting in cover crops. Cover crops are planted to help control weeds, add/hold nutrients and organic matter, and keep the soil from being bare for large periods of time when it can be vulnerable to erosion from rain. Some of the cover crops we planted (this week it was buckwheat and clover) also function as attractors for pollinators and beneficial insects, giving them a healthy stock of pollen and nectar to feed on. Pollinators are such a hugely important part of the growing system. You may have heard the often-quoted statement that one out of every three bites from your plate would not be there if it weren’t for an insect carrying pollen from one plant to impregnate another. Even despite the fact that bee populations dropped between a third and two thirds for many beekeepers across the nation last year, it is important to us to do what we can to make sure part of the landscape is dedicated to our tiny friends who do so much of the important work around here. You can see/hear some bees cruising around our Phacelia cover crop patch here.
Our second patch of beans have started to come on. We hardly ever cook with beans on the farm because we eat so many in the field–one of the most snackable items on the farm. Some of you may have gotten
Romano beans from our first planting: originally those were supposed to be for restaurants, but cool soil temps this spring kept our member patch of haricot beans from having good germination. This batch has both green and yellow beans mixed in. They are excellent eaten raw or slightly cooked. In fact, these babies are big enough you could grill them. Marinate with a little olive oil, salt and herbs, grill along-side other delicious veggies and serve on a platter with a dipping bowl of aioli. Yum.
Medium and Full shares are getting a mustard bunch with the beautiful mizuna and scarlet frills. Mustard greens seem to be one of the most usable/unusable produce items out there. Too many a CSA-er has a yellowing bunch hidden with shame in the deep dark corner of their crisper. It’s time to let go of your mustard fears! Sure they’re a little spicy, maybe you don’t want a whole salad of it, but a little mixed in adds some adventure. They are tough greens, you can cook them and they mellow a bit. Or maybe you’ve been looking for the perfect green to add to your grilled or broiled sandwich that can hold up under the heat yet still be tender. A very diverse, assertive yet amicable leaf that can fit into almost any meal situation. Enjoy!