Many CSA customers and market shoppers were surprised to see that spinach was no longer available this week. We do grow a lot of spinach, however, it has very specific time periods of optimal growth. Our first spinach plantings take place in January and we continue to plant beds of spinach through part of April. The best spinach harvests actually take place in April when the weather is cool, and will continue to thrive through May. Once June arrives, spinach tends to bolt (produce seed) and at this time the flavor changes. Therefore, we finish harvesting spinach by the end of May or first week of June and do not plant it again until August. Unfortunately, you will have to wait until September to see spinach back in the share.
This week you will be able to try the first cucumbers of the season. We are experimenting with a different variety and pruning method in our high tunnels and have seen good results thus far. Cucumbers will be a more consistent item in the share once the field plantings mature which will take another couple of weeks. Zucchini looks to be right around the corner along with the first sweet onions, and new potatoes. It will only be a couple more weeks before the first peppers and eggplant are available.
As a farmer we are always thinking a season ahead. We have already started our first two sets of fall broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, along with brussel sprouts, celery and leeks. We start them in seed trays called flats and will begin transplanting them the week of July 4th. We are a small farm, therefore, space is at a premium. Each of the 400 growing beds on the farm are planted 2 or even 3 times throughout a season. By the time the season ends we will have planted roughly 1000 beds. To do this efficiently we use specialized tools that are built for our scale of farming.
When a bed is finished being harvested (arugula bed in the picture) we mow down the remaining plant debris with a flail mower. This is a special attachment for our BCS (small walk behind tractor) which turns the remaining plant debris into a pulp. We then place a black tarp over the bed and leave it covered for two to three weeks. At this time, the soil life decomposes the remaining plant debris so that when we lift the tarp we have a bed that is clear and ready to be planted. We will then quickly broadfork the bed, which is a tool that looks like a 3 foot wide pitch fork. This loosens the soil without disturbing the soil so that we do not bring weed seeds to the surface. Finally we rake and plant. This method is a huge time saver. Instead of having to pull out all the crop debris we let the earthworms do it for us. And instead of rototilling the bed which will cause a weedy mess, we gently broadfork the bed so that we won’t have as much weeding to do. We have been employing these no-till strategies for a couple of years and have seen very good results.
This idea of minimal soil disturbance is being used by large scale corn and soybean farmers all over the country. The only difference is that instead of using roundup to rid our bed of debris and weeds, we use a flail mower and tarps. Therefore, we get the benefit of minimal soil disturbance without having to spray chemicals on our field!
This week's share consists of: Full Share- cucumbers, celery, red kale, head lettuce, golden beets, hakurei, cauliflower, scallions, carrots, fennel, red cabbage
Half Share- cucumbers, celery, red kale, head lettuce, golden beets, hakurei, cauliflower
What can I make with my share this week?? Here are a couple of ideas!
Roasted Carrot, Beet and Chickpea Salad- https://karamarshall.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/roasted-beet-carrot-and-chickpea-salad/