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Succession Rivalry

Posted on June 26th, 2020 by Ashley Swensen

In our downstairs hallway, there’s a corner with pencil marks and dates on the painted wall, commemorating the height of our boys. Do you have something similar? In some households, there comes a season where a younger sibling suddenly catches up to (or sometimes surpasses!) an older brother or sister. In the fields on the farm, we have successions rather than siblings. Succession planting is starting the same crop in different parts of the field at regular intervals; it allows us to have continual harvests and a larger harvest window for some of our favorite foods.

2020 is treating us to a rather strange phenomenon on the Farm this year: we’re watching our second successions of tomatoes, zucchini, and some of the other fruiting vegetables overtake their “siblings” in the first succession. The culprit behind the slowed growth of the earlier veggies is that unpleasant cold spell that fell on us in May. For this growing region, our last frost is typically late April. Most of our spring crops, particularly those with better cold tolerance like kale and beets, are in the ground even before then. May generally feels like a safe time to start seeding our first successions of summer. This year, we saw frosts in mid-May followed by lower than average temperatures.

Some plants, like garlic, we overwinter. Garlic requires cold exposure in the ground in order to grow seeds in the spring. The scientific term is “vernalization”, but the laymans’ version is that the cold is actually an environmental cue to the plant to flower when temperatures rise again. Not all plants have a vernal response; zucchini, squash, and berries all need heat to fruit. As a result, our earlier successions were so slow to grow that their younger siblings will be harvested alongside them. Even our field tomatoes are catching up to those we started weeks beforehand in insulated high tunnels.

The delay of the earlier crops is combining with the quick growth of the newer plantings to create a deluge of delicious produce. Our farm shares will be flooded with abundance of the vegetables effected by the cold. Now is a good time to start rummaging through the recipe tin for your family’s secret tomato sauce technique, so you’ll be prepared in few weeks to start making big batches of marinara.

From season to season, fickle weather keep us on our toes. Challenges like these make harvest days all the sweeter. We hope you’re enjoying the ride as much as we are!

Eat well and be well,  

Ashley, Collin, John, Lex, Alexandra, Rory, Nate, James, and the hens, hogs, and dogs

Meal Plan Week #5

**Pastured Meat Shareholders this week can expect broiler chickens, beef skewer meat, and an assortment of bacon and sausage**