Farmer spring cleaning

Freshly washed spring carrots glow!

May is a busy season on the farm — probably one of the busiest of the calendar year, as many different activities seem to overlap: lots of planting and seeding, harvesting for the CSA, working up ground, mowing, and farm tidying in general.

The last two items feel like they’re the farmer equivalent of spring house cleaning. This time of year, the grass grows faster than at any other time, and so we need to mow to keep roadways clear and general keep the forest from returning (which is the energy we feel out here sometimes — we routinely “weed” out Cottonwood trees as tall as us at the end of a summer!). During last week’s dry weather, we got a lot of all of this kind of work done, bringing the farm to one of its tidiest states in many years. It has helped a lot that I (Katie) have been pitching in more than in recent years, doing some share of the mowing and clean up. We now only have one field left to tend to in some way this spring, and that’s our field with our over-wintered vegetables. Most of them are long gone to seed, but there’s enough good stuff left there that we’re going to wait a few more days or weeks before mowing and working it up to prepare ground for planting or cover cropping.

We’ve also been doing some more hands-on kinds of cleaning as we’ve been cleaning out some of our over-winter storage spaces now that we’re moving into the main farming season. It’s inevitable that every year we end up with a few bins of apples or winter squash that we never needed and then went “funky” in storage. So, it’s part of the spring work to haul that out to fields, where it can be worked into the fields and become food for future vegetables!

Loading up very old, torn row cover (we got many good seasons out of it though!)

We have also been walking the fields, picking up stray bins and row cover from the fall or winter. “Row cover” is a wonderful light material that we sometimes use to cover plants to protect them from cold weather or insects. When used correctly, it can be almost miraculous in its ability to increase yields, improve crop quality, and save our crops from damage. However, as we pulled up some old row cover last weekend and found it ripping from age in our hands, we were reminded of why we’ve come to really love our high tunnels — which serve much the same purpose but without the same “clutter” effect in our fields. We will continue to use row cover judiciously, but we’re glad to be less wedded to it than we were before we built year-round high tunnels. The high tunnels now serve as the main space for our earliest crops. But, this week we also row covered some corn we’d sown to help it germinate quickly (and without being pecked up by birds). We’re grateful to have many tools for use in growing organically!

And, later today we will plant the potatoes! I’m writing the newsletter a little earlier than usual so that I can be fully present for the potato planting party (and potluck)! We’re looking forward to getting this crop in the ground, knowing that it will become a staple part of the CSA from late summer through next spring! We’re always planning for several seasons ahead!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Baby carrots
  • Apples
  • Sugar snap peas — We have sooooo many peas this week! There will be big bags of sweetness!
  • Seasonal salad mix
  • Radishes & salad turnips
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Potatoes
  • Leeks — Some of the leeks are beginning to “bolt,” i.e. send up a flower blossom. The upper green bolting part can also be a tender addition to cooked foods. Chop up any part that’s tender and add it when you sauté. Watch for a slightly woody core inside the lower leek, however. That can be a side effect of the bolts. I still use them, but I generally add them to simmering or slow-cooked foods in larger chunks to add flavor and then pull them out later.
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