Week No. 3 News. Vegetable list, Recipes
Tony & Dela Ends family at Scotch Hill Farm, Brodhead, Wis. – Our 20th Season
Every time we plant seed, as tiny as a pin head or as big as a dime, it feels like a big, lovely risky experiment.
- Sometimes in plastic cells, by tens of thousands, in greenhouse flats. Sometimes in prepared beds 3 feet wide, and 50 to 250 feet long. Sometimes across acres, disked or tilled clean of any vegetation.
- Out of hand-size packets and 50-lb. sacks, poured carefully into seedling start trays or hopper boxes of planting equipment. Thousands of dollars of seed that Dela ordered from Johnny’s or Federated Co-op of Maine, or I ordered from Albert Lee Seed House, in planned rotations together over winter.
I hold my breath. I set my mind and hands to the task. I follow carefully the dictates of packets, my excellent partner Dela’s training, reliable volumes of books, the instincts borne of decades now of succeeding and failing, and I launch out across an empty space.
Dozens of things can go wrong. Dozens have gone wrong. We’ve learned to control for a lot. We humbly cannot do much in face of some. We’ve had a few plantings taken or damaged already since March and April. Cold snaps, frost, deluges of rain, flea beetles, slugs. We do not use poisons, chemicals and fungicides that can make some mass plantings appear so pretty.
Other of our plantings and transplants are coming along beautifully, or calling to us for weeding and mulching, or even beginning to be harvested. It is a transition for some varieties on verge of yielding greatly, yet just flowering, notably snow peas in a first week.
We’re still feeling delaying effects of that harsh winter. Everything seems very late, unfolding slowly. Weed pressure is intense from hot weather and bursts of rain. Feeling pressure of packing schedules, Dela says as we work together that she has trouble weeding and harvesting at the same time. Feeling pressure of weed maintenance schedules across four fields, I have trouble harvesting without weeding.
I spent almost an entire day this week, weeding and mowing, untangling and training vines, of dense snow peas at the same time I tried to harvest them enough for a first delivery. Sunset was approaching by the time I went to a second field 6 miles away from the farmstead to check on Cherry Belle radishes. I cobra hoed along the rows of radishes and could not resist trying to hoe their neighboring fall squash rows. Gathering storm clouds brought out the mosquitoes from neighboring marsh and creek land. I draped cloth under my hat over my neck and ears. I worked as quickly as I could, digging and feeling for readiness, trying carefully to discern before pulling radishes out of the ground.
I thought of another time in another field 14 years ago, and two young interns visiting from an institute for sustainable agriculture research and education. I worked as a grant writer there full time in addition to farming. One from Texas, the other from Iowa, they were so cheerful, diligent, hard-working, despite a swarm of mosquitoes that vexed us that long day.
Where are they now, approaching 40 years of age? Did they ever get their own farms? Did they even stick with vegetable crop production? What big, beautiful gamble did they take with their lives?
My thoughts turn to you and what Dela and I are trying to do for your health. Nature dictates, in the genes of each seed type, what can grow in a space of time to give 8 to 10 varieties weekly. Yet each variety contributes uniquely minerals and vitamins to the human body, as well as healing, preventative medicinal properties. For this, there can be no gambling. On with the garden and farm. On with meal preparation together another season.
This week’s vegetables: Lettuce mix, early onions OR leeks, spicy greens mix, Bright Lights Chard, snow peas, garlic scapes (an early cutting from the plant to enlarge the bulb; chop or mince and use same as you would cloves), oregano, radishes, turnip greens.
Recipes: Third-year Madison subscriber and dear friend Megan Adams has gathered recipes for you at www.scotchhillfarm.com and on a farm facebook page; Dela posts a photo of the vegetables to help identification; and 4th year Madison subscriber Karen Ebert blogs weekly about what she and her lovely family does with our vegetables. Questions? Call us at 897-4288 (farmhouse) / 354-3243 (cell), or email firstname.lastname@example.org Let us know when to expect your volunteer visit.