Things continue to be busy on the farm. In addition to tending our existing plantings, I am sowing transplants and direct seeding our fall and winter crops in preparation for our winter CSA. It feels like I am starting over, and in some ways, I am.
The challenge for winter production is that the weak light slows growth tremendously. So what might take three months to reach maturity during the summer can take six to nine months when grown through the winter. To be fair, many of our winter plants do most of their growing now through October and just sit in the field until we harvest them. But crops like leafy greens that are cut-and-come -again do not regenerate quickly once cut. So to make sure we have a good supply of these throughout the winter, I have to plant a larger number of these plants now.
It is also exciting to try new, hardier varieties of plants many of us are familiar with. Cabbages that head up in February, purple and white broccoli that flower in March and April, and cauliflowers that are ready March through May. I am also planting kale–ten different kinds to see what works for us and what our customers prefer. (Many of the other farms have kale for sale now, but I am a Southerner, and now is collard season! I also think kale tastes so much better after a few frosts.)
On our farm, we strive to have as much diversity as possible, but most of the winter hardy vegetables are brassicas, a group of closely related plants that includes cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, collards, kale, turnips, mustard greens, Asian greens, rutabagas, radishes, arugula, and kohlrabi. Devoting such a large fraction of our market garden to this family of plants will make crop rotation a challenge next year, though not impossible. We’ll leaven these plantings with beds of chicories, hardy lettuce, overwintering beets, carrots, and parsnips, and some more unusual plants like claytonia and mache.
For a plant fanatic like myself, the opportunity to grow crops year round is exciting. Though I wish I had a little time right now to catch my breath, I enjoy starting the next round of planting.
Anyway, enough talk about winter, when summer just started a few weeks ago!
Take care and eat well.
This week at market we will have Caribe potatoes, jalapenos, tomatoes, green beans, mustard greens, scallions, zucchini, cauliflower, ficoide glaciale, collard greens, spigariello, cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, sorrel, parsley, basil, beets, chard, erba stella, lettuce, endive, purslane, kohlrabi, catnip, Persian cress flower arrangements, and our braising mix.