2015 Crops at a glance (Spring)

As of Sunday the 6th of June, 90% of our 20 acres of crops are in. The planting
conditions for spring were overall quite favorable, though flea beetle pressure
(more on them later) and the hot and cold day and nighttime temps have had
some adverse effects. Feedback from last year’s CSA steered us clear of many of
the Asian leafy greens that we have historically planted for spring shares. Because
of this, you can expect to receive the well loved spring items more often, in addition to experiencing some brand new items, like puntarelle. That said, we are at or ahead of schedule on a panoply of crops that should be ready in late June/early July.

We’ve made many changes in our planting plan for 2015, resulting in many new
crops for both you, and us. Choi Sum and Celtus are 2 that appear similar, but I’m
presuming will taste quite differently from one another. Both are edible stalks, sort of like
asparagus. We are growing Cardoon for the first time, and thus far it looks great.
Cardoon is harvested as the midrib of an artichoke-like plant. Sun Jewel melons
are something to look forward to later in summer. These are oblong, slender
Korean type melons that are very productive.

It’s taken many years to get our weeding systems down, and thus far in 2015, we’re reaping the benefits. We have more than a mile of carrots that are weeded and growing right
along. Parsnips and salsify plantings, both of which have failed on me for the last
2-3 years are established and lush. We’ve expanded our Kalettes production and
put in some earlier maturing types too, so they are ready earlier in fall. We’ve
increased our beet and broccoli planting rates from last year, and have
quadrupled our broccolini production, a sexy newer mini broccoli/raab cross that
has chef’s a bit giddy. All in all, the fields and the outlook for 2015 is highly
positive. The one agrevation that still lingers is Canada Thistle, a weed only chemicals or pigs have a chance against. Otherwise, the fields are better tended than ever before.

This spring has been a record setter in the population booms of flea beetles.
These tiny black specks lay eggs in the soil and quickly emerge, insatiably hungry.
Their favorite food: arugula, bok choy, napa cabbage, and any other cabbage or
mustard family crop with tender leaves. Flea beetles won’t usually do enough
damage to mature crops to kill the host, but they will set it back, and make it
insultingly ugly to our American eye for beauty. They do so with 50,000 small
bites, in sort of a birdshot pattern.

The most common way to combat this damage is by using a woven product called remay or row cover. Essentially, new plantings of susceptible breeds are covered with this material, not allowing the flea beetles in. There is of course great risk of trapping the flea beetles in, making the damage potentially worse. Additionally, row cover traps heat. For summer crops this is
great, but for heat sensitive cabbage family plants, extra heat often leads to bolting, or a trigger in the plant to get out of vegetative state and start dumping seed, leaving the plant inedible or at least not choice. There are organically approved pesticides we can use, but they are broad spectrum, and can result in the additional death or lady bugs, honey bees, triptogramma wasps, tachinid flies, and many other helper insects on the farm. We will strive to give you the most beautiful produce we can, all the time, but won’t upset our bug balances for
beauty, for the balances of nature are where true beauty lies. So, you may need
to look past some holes, but know that no honey bees were spray killed in the production of the arugula you and your family eat.

Here’s to another exciting season of food. We hope you enjoy eating it as much as
we enjoy growing it for you.
Tim Huth
Managing Farmer