June 10, 2021
The Lettuce Rejoice!
Firmly Rooted Farm's Newsletter for their Veggie Loving Farm-ily
On the Farm: Falling into Summer
Hello again my veggie loving friends,
Christina’s eggs have hatched (our name for the dedicated killdeer nesting among the squash). Four precocious fresh-faced babies were seen running from the nest as soon as their feathers were dry. In fact, killdeer young are precocial meaning they are “early ripening”, a word derived from the same Latin root for precocious. Killdeer are born more developed than most birds, with full eyesight and strong legs, allowing them to leave their on-ground nest almost immediately, avoiding the risk of attack from predators. They cannot quite fly right away, so they are guarded by their parents until their feathers come in. However, the young are quite self-sufficient; they fetch their own food, not acquiring and regurgitating partially digested food from their parents as many birds do. Thankfully the birds yell on, and the squash got planted in good time. All is well at Firmly Rooted.
The weather may say summer, but at the farm, we are already planning for fall. Farming is a long con, so to speak. The devil is in the details, but the end goal is a big picture. Farmers must always be thinking of the here and now as well as the far future. What is the schedule for the day, what needs to be planted for the week, what needs to be done by the end of the month? And what needs to be done today in order to complete a task this week that requires preparation for the end of the month, quarter, or year? And we always love to throw in some odd projects to shake things up, like a new building or a new greenhouse. There is a lot going on. Right now, we are thinking a lot about the fall. The squash that was planted last week was winter squash, not to be harvested until before the first frosts of the cold season. This year we are excited to be planting more squash, and some new varieties (to us) like spaghetti, buttercup, and pumpkins. Additionally, the sweet potatoes will be going in next week, not to be ready until the leaves start to yellow, roughly 100-110 days after planting. We also have started seeding our fall brassicas, like cabbage and cauliflower, which you won’t see in your shares until the winter CSA.
Yes, it may be June, but our eyes are already looking ahead to the bounty of fall. The land is being prepped for winter storage carrots, the crop succession and field placement has already been determined for storage beets and radish, and new vegetables are being integrated like chicory and radicchio! If you have a favourite vegetable you wouldn’t mind seeing on Harvie, just let us know, we might be able to work it into the crop plan.
We’ve also made some important decisions about what we grow and why. This year, we won’t be growing our own potatoes for a number of reasons. Firstly, potatoes benefit from some level of mechanization and as a small operation, it isn’t viable for us to invest in the machinery to dig potatoes. Alternatively, digging by hand is quite laborious. Also, we haven’t perfected our growing capabilities, often struggling with scab. So we’ve decided to focus on what we are best at, which is other wonderful vegetables such as salad greens, and have sourced a local organic producer that specializes in potatoes and can grow them for us. We get a wonderful crop, can use the space to grow more wonderful crops, and everyone still gets potatoes. It’s a win, win, win.
It can be quite complex organizing a year-round CSA and ensuring there is enough variety in each box. Often you plan as carefully as you can, down to the day, and a killdeer comes along to throw a nesting pebble into your carefully oiled machine (metaphorically, no killdeer or machinery were harmed during the writing of this newsletter). Honestly, the killdeer didn’t disrupt much, and the squash will still be ready on time. In this week’s photo, you can see some healthy growing garlic, mulched with straw and interplanted with a rye cover. Planted in the fall, garlic is one of the longest season crops we grow, taking 8-9 months from planting to harvest. But oh so worth it, especially since it gives us two crops; garlic scapes and garlic bulbs.
At Firmly Rooted we prioritize cooler season crops in the winter and early spring. This means we save a lot of energy and money on heating by providing seasonally appropriate vegetables. It also means we grow delicious early spring carrots. Seeded in February, these carrots have taken up a lot of space for a long amount of time, but the excitement fostered by their new growth and fresh taste is worth it after a long winter. I’ve shared a carrot top pesto recipe this week, which is really just a pesto recipe with carrot tops instead of basil. There is a fair amount of flexibility allowed within this recipe, so don’t be afraid to modify it to suit your tastes. After all, recipes often work as suggestions and guidance meant to encourage creativity, not as narrow instructions to be followed to the letter.
This week kicks off the start of our summer CSA! To the Bayfield cohort, we apologize for the lack of clarity, but pick up will be at Clan Gregor Square from now until Thanksgiving. I look forward to seeing you there!
That’s all for now folks, happy eating until next time!