Do Over?

I think we’ve all had this impulse to take back time and do-over a moment in life. I’ve had this so many times in my life with so many things.

Farming produce has made me get over these regrets more than anything. In large part because a produce season is like life in hyperdrive. I’m on the schedule of a plant whose life begins and ends in less than year. For example, I was out looking at some spindly peppers we had saved from towering weeds and I thought, “Darn, if only 4 weeks ago I had pulled those weeds…” Well, in 4 more weeks those peppers will be close to a first frost so no need to beat yourself up, Ryan.

There just isn’t time to mourn the state of the garden. Certainly no chance of wallowing about a crop. I used to do this. I’d beat myself up about a crop, but now I just cold-heartedly mow the thing down and move on. I still worry plenty – that worry is a motivating factor in getting things done, of course, but, like life, we must see things to the end and worry more about our next moves rather than the moves we’ve already made.

Sylvia Adrift in Weeding Last Summer

In the box:

  • Sweet corn: Just starting to ripen. Archer and I had to do some hunting and pecking to get these to you today.
  • Sweet onion
  • Broccoli
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Some regular tomatoes: Like the corn, just starting to ripen. We waded though quite a jungle to find these hiding down low in the field.
  • Green pepper
  • Arugula: This peppery green is an acquired taste, but I love it, especially in pasta. Give this a try:
  • Carrots
  • Red potatoes

Gather Round the Fire

Any farm worth its salt continually grows a large pile of stuff. When sufficiently large, the farmer sets a match to pile and said large mound of junk disappears, transformed to ash.

We have had such a pile for a year and a half, awaiting some occasion. Sylvie lobbied for burning it when we hosted the cross country team last night. Every Sunday the team goes to a team member’s house and runs a route together; Sylvie had staked out the township road – really boring as far as a route, but the landscape is beautiful.

As the team started to come in, I knew now was my time. One piece of paper and a lighter was all it took to start the first waxed produce box, which started as a sizzle and quickly became a solid flame. The many dozen, maybe hundreds, took off like a jet fuel and in no time a roaring 50 foot fire greeted the runners back to the farm like a signal fire set ablaze by some survivors desperately trying to catch the attention of an airplane from their deserted island.

Way too hot for smores, instead we pulled down the long hose I was using for irrigation to wet down the fence that kept starting on fire. The creosote electrical pole kept smoking, but it was just a bluffing, I guess. Luckily, we had just received our second shot of rain just an hour earlier, so it was really safer than I’m making it out to be.

On the produce front, that rain on Saturday night was just a godsend. I had started irrigating in earnest on Saturday, pumping water to move these crops along. When they get too dry like that, all the sunshine and good growing temps don’t mean a thing. Somebody super dehydrated doesn’t have the get-up and go to do much and neither do vegetables.

In the box:

  • Norland Red Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Green Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Napa Cabbage: This stuff is kind of ugly – that part of the field apparently was too short on fertility, but there’s still something here to chop up and put to use. This person put together 20 recipes for Napa –

Turning a Corner

Got cold didn’t it? I went and got a jacket in order to sit outside last nigh. But wonderful working weather…I can do anything when it’s 75 degrees!

Seems like we are inching into high season finally, but it certainly has take some time. I’m excited that we got some green beans and cherry tomatoes in the box, but this is still a super late start. I put seeds in trays to start these cherry tomato plants way back in March. They got into their high tunnel home about May 10 after waiting for snow to clear and only now are they starting to kick out enough ripe fruit to get into the box. I see peppers on plants maturing, many regular tomatoes forming fruits, and those potatoes are getting to golf ball size size. And, yes, tassels started on the sweet corn a good week ago so cobs are getting formed.

I like high produce season where we get the full bounty of the garden. It really is the main event for me when produce is just everywhere, but I really dislike waiting for the time to come. Than anticipation of these main crops gets me to treating the plants like my kids when in elementary school: “come on, already…we got to get going…get your shoes on and get out the door!”

  • Green Beans
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Green Cabbage
  • Beet Bunch
  • Green Garlic: This is just uncured garlic. Use however you’d use garlic…if you want to cure, just leave out in a dry, warm place for a 5-6 days.
  • Fresh Fennel: These are a bit smaller than they typically should be – if you are unfamiliar with using fresh fennel, you can use the frilly fronds in salads or both the bulb and fronds in sauces like a light italian sauce or marinara or pizza sauce.

Puppy Terror

Things are going pretty good here at Lida Farm. We’ve had some nice rains lately and some great growing weather. 80 during the day, 60 at night. Sure, it’s a bit of a slog to go hand weed another row of peppers, but we’re making headway. The only frustrating thing lately has been this darn dog.

When a person gets a puppy, they think that they will quickly mold this new member of the family into being dutiful and productive. One doesn’t think that they are welcoming someone who is a deranged mix between a terrorist and a comedian into their household. I don’t know what’s in this dog’s mind, but he’s certainly too smart for his own good and he certainly likes to mess with me.

I’m out bunching beets yesterday. We need 54 bunches for the boxes this week, so I’m counting them as I pick them up. Hmm, three bunches short. Could it have been Miso who I’ve already seen pickup a bunch of beets and run off down the bed at breakneck speed? Suspect number one again. And for good reason. Walking back to the packing shed, Mar stumbles upon the evidence. Three beet bunches together in a pile and chewed on. Maybe those aren’t HIS teeth marks, but I don’t need forensics to solve this crime.

You get the picture. Cute? Yes. Fun at times? Sure. Driving me crazy? No doubt. I’m now estimating that this dog has made the farm about 5% less efficient. This balances out, however, as the farm is also at least 5% more interesting 🙂

  • Green ‘Farao’ Cabbage
  • Beet Bunch: See hummus recipe below
  • Swiss Chard
  • Cucumbers
  • Little Parsley
  • Little Basil
  • Green Onions
  • Lettuces

Beet Hummus – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it:

The Magical Even Rain

Well, wonders never cease. We actually had a nice constant rain this weekend. Not a deluge. Not a rain with a 70 mph wind. A constant rain that just fell from the sky – a true soaker. I’m very thankful and I’m sure you are as well. Throw in 80 degrees during the day and 60 at night and we’ve got some serious growing weather on our hands. I expect plants (including the weeds) to really go into light-speed growth stage.

Spinach in June at Dusk

Our history of rain so far this season hasn’t been the best, in keeping with the bad pattern of no precipitation followed by downpour for the last 5 years or so. Last year the rain gods were simply on strike with no rain at all. One big issue with rain and vegetable farming is the timing. A big downpour when corn is waist high is not nearly as big of a deal as those May and June rains we got when most plants were the size of my fingernail. The crops can’t deal with that much water at that stage – it’s like blasting a toddler with a firehose. If a crop is big when the rain comes, lots of water can be taken up into the roots and into the plants.

So, here we are in the first half of July and these beautiful rains couldn’t have come at better times. The beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes are flowering and corn and squash are getting into their big growth stage. These major crops are getting ready to produce and a well-timed rain together with pretty good control of weeds to date should make for some serious production. Stay tuned!

  • Salad mix
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Dino or Curley Kale
  • Green Onions
  • Kohlrabi
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers: A variety called Diva, which is an English type grown in the high tunnel. The recipe below uses the same variety for a simple cuke salad.
  • Parsley