Friday, June 18, 2010

June 18-Harvest

Happy last week of spring. Spring is going out with a wonderful burst of energy and growth in our gardens. The weather has been perfect knock on wood and it is as if Nature is apologizing for last year. The weather pattern has been near perfect for great growth with warm days punctuated by weekly rain spells. Once the night time temperatures start to get up into the 60's consistently we'll really start taking off.
Several things in this week's share are repeats and do not need any explanation. However, one new thing is this beautiful head lettuce pictured below. The variety is 'Nancy' and it is coming out wonderfully. It certainly looks great in the garden. Please ensure yours looks good and lasts longer by using the following tips.

Each week when you get your share home you should open the bag and take everything out. Don't just put the whole thing in the fridge. Different items need to be treated differently. We'll give tips in specific instances but for the most part one of the most important things you can do is take things out, open up the plastic bags and fluff things a bit before closing them again. Remember that the veggies and herbs have been crammed into a plastic bag and then into a cooler in tight spaces. Not the best situation for them.
Specific to this 'Nancy' lettuce, please take it out of the plastic bag carefully. Turn it upside down so the stem is facing up and run the faucet lightly over it to remove any extra garden soil. If there happen to be any leaves on that side showing signs of rot, remove them and compost. Once the bottom of the lettuce is cleaned you can put it back in the bag and into the crisper in the fridge. There is a lot of beneficial bacteria in the soil so leaving soil on plants after they've been harvested is a cue to the natural enzymes to start breaking things down. Prevent this by following the steps above.
Here is the first of the broccoli. This is the first spring we've had it. I usually save it till the fall but last year's season was so bad that our fall broccoli didn't come in until three weeks after the CSA was finished for the season. So I decided to plant in the spring too. That being said, I learned some lessons. I planted it out too early and that stressed the plants a bit too much. They are starting to flower and go to seed too fast. Therefore we'll have to put the broccoli on a rotation. This week Bangor members received what we had in the garden. Next week it will be Newport and then Winterport and we'll keep rotating until it's gone. I'm hoping to plant a lot more in the next few weeks for fall broccoli.

Other than that and the usual other things you will find the first harvest of snap peas which is very exciting. The general rule of thumb for a very, very successful year is that you want to have peas by the 4th of July...if you're lucky. Haha. My growing experience, Brittany's help and the cooperation of Nature have helped us blow that out of the water. My other farming friends have indicated to me that they are experiencing the same trends regarding weather patterns helping them out.
These particular peas are 'Sugar Ann' and they are an edible pod pea. You can put them in all sorts of things, from stir-fries to salads to soups. However, if you're like me they were probably gone by the time you got home. How anyone can wait long enough to cook these things is beyond me. In our home we eat them raw as an appetizer.
Also this week is the first of the baby carrots. We're having some trouble with our summer planting of carrots not germinating so I'm going to have to order new seed. The ones in your share were planted in March in the greenhouse before Brittany and I moved it to the new, summer location. They are coming along nicely. Don't forget that the tops (the leafy green, fern-like part) are very good for you, high in potassium and other minerals and make an awesome spring pesto. A google search for 'carrot-top pesto' will yield some recipes. You will likely use your garlic scape for it. That's the curly thing that's in with the carrots. For those who don't know the scape is the garlic sending up a shoot to release seeds. If you want garlic bulbs of any size you need to remove this as soon as it comes up. However, it tastes like garlic and when young and tender like those in the shares, they are a great substitute for garlic cloves. I use scissors to cut mine to manageable sizes.
Now that this week's share has been addressed, let's discuss some great things that are happening and coming up. The following photos are enough to give me lots of hope for this season, especially after last year. Returning members will recall a few things that were missing from last year's share. Things that are a staple of the summer garden. One was summer squash. Our plants waited and waited for sun and when it didn't appear they started to fruit. Unfortunately they were only as big as my hand at the time. I had a few plants that had fruit bigger than the plant. Plants that small can't support fruit and it instantly rotted on the vine. Big disappointment. But this picture shows how well ours are doing this year. Wahoo!!!

Also, tomatoes were a no show this year. I've already discussed my unwillingness to dump copper-sulfide on my plants and soil and that leads to a total loss of crop when the blight is brought into the state (however it got here whether from big box stores, nurseries or however). This year I'm trying some hybrid tomatoes in the greenhouse. Here they are chomping at the bit to form fruit. You can't see it in this photo but many of these are setting their first set of blossoms right now!
Emily says I have a strange love affair with tomatoes. She's totally right. I love them. All kinds, all sizes, all flavors, colors and shapes. That's another reason why last year was such a disappointment. But this year I have hope. the photo below will hopefully fill you with some too. Especially our returning members. Even though I'm growing hybrids in the greenhouse to try to ensure a crop, I can't give up on the heirloom varieties. The tastes, colors, smells and interest are too great. Plus, this is our heritage. Heirloom crops are the ones that are pollinated by nature (bees, wind, etc.) and have been passed down through the generations. Hybrid crops require a seed company and a laboratory each year. The variety below is someone's attempt to de-hybridize a standard yellow cherry known as 'Sungold'. This variety is 'Sungold Select II'. Hopefully, they'll be starting to turn in a couple of weeks! Enjoy!

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