Run like an antelope

Our favorite spring crop! This smallish planting of asparagus is still in the early years and not producing at full strength yet. We hope to plant an even bigger planting next spring!

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Salad mix
  • Parsley, walnuts & garlic — A seemingly funny combination, but these are all the ingredients for making a parsley version of pesto — a favorite spring treat on our farm! You can find the recipe in this week’s newsletter.
  • Chard — Are you getting tired of “brassica” vegetables yet? We love cole crops, but there are so many in the winter season that we get really excited about a “new” flavor of greens, in this case swiss chard!
  • Purple sprouting broccoli — We picked lots this week. We have been eating more broccoli than I ever imagined this week. It’s our “go to” vegetable when time is tight — Casey and Rusty go out to pick while I start the oven heating and make the rest of dinner. We can get the broccoli in and roasted by the time everything else is ready to go, and it’s always delicious!
  • Rapini (various) — Rapini from Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale! Some rapini is starting to flower, so our fields are full of yellow blooms!
  • Yellow Finn potatoes — These are the last of the Yellow Finn potatoes for this year. Last year was our first year growing this particular variety, and we think it is a clear winner. We ordered even more of this seed for this upcoming season, so we hope you like it too!
  • Leeks

Knowing that this week would be very full thanks to the first extended warm, dry spell and an off-farm family obligation, I wrote a lovely thoughtful newsletter on Sunday afternoon — a day ahead of my usual schedule.

My essay pondered the value of patience when waiting for spring and the importance of gentleness in all aspects of the farm, but specifically in how we deal with soil prep. It was very much a slow day newsletter, written by someone still in a holding pattern of waiting.

And, then today (Monday arrived), with day three of temperatures over 70° (and day two above 80°), and suddenly the tone and content of that earlier draft was completely out of context with our reality. So, here I am, racing to write a new, more applicable newsletter at the end of a harried feeling day.

We are no longer waiting. In fact, we are now running. Full speed ahead.

There’s a quote I’ve always loved from a Phish song: “Set the gearshift of your life for the high gear of your soul; you’ve got to run like an antelope, out of control.”

We have definitely shifted gears. And it feels maddening. And yet so so so good.

So, what have we accomplished so far? Last week the folks managed to plant out some first rounds of transplants into beds that Casey had partially worked amidst our spent leek field. It was in no way ideal — the transplants were overgrown from waiting and the bed prep was minimal because Casey was being gentle and avoiding pushing the ground into clods. But, plants were finally in the fields!

And, yet, the fields were still green. A friend visited this weekend and commented that things were “really greening up.” Yes it is green, but for us the fields stay green all winter, since we are diligent about cover cropping (and where we don’t, winter weeds come and do the job for us). A better sign of spring’s arrival is squares of brown, where the beautiful soil beneath that cover crop has been turned up and over by the tractor.

Today was that day! Brown arrived on our farm (it will of course be short lived, since we will refill those fields with crops imminently!). Casey mowed two large sections of our east field on the home farm and then worked them with the chisel plow, our primary tillage tool.

Similar to a subsoiler, the chisel plow has five large shanks that run gently through the soil, lifting and turning it and aiding in the drying and crop residue breakdown processes.
The timing was perfect — there was just enough moisture for the soil to retain its workability, and yet there was no resistance and no clods were formed. Hoorah! Finally!

He worked up another smaller field too, and when Rusty and I walked to pick the first of our asparagus for dinner tonight, we were both amazed by the significant changes in our farmscape! Rusty summed up the working in of the cover crop as such: “Vetch all done.” At two years old, our son knows the word “vetch.” My heart is full!

There are more green fields to be worked in due time (one remaining cover cropped field has oats and vetch taller than Rusty right now!), and these first fields will need time to break down and then require more working. But according to long-term forecasts, we will have more of these deliciously warm windows, when plants just want to grow and we just want to work.

And, work we will. When we were still in a holding pattern, Casey jokingly wrote on the white board “to do” list in the pole barn: “Plant 5 acres of vegetables.” Not really a single item kind of goal, but it’s true that it’s something we need to do. We are on our way now.

The sun over Easter weekend felt like a turning point in the season, but this is the first day we feel as though we have really jumped into our spring work. Feeling sticky and over-heated at the end of the day is such a welcome sensation after what felt like a very long winter. I know that in several months, we will crave autumn with all our soul, but not yet. Not even close. Right now I can’t even imagine going back into strings of cold, wet days.

When Rusty and I stopped by Lowe’s this morning to pick up a few supplies, we walked through the seasonal outdoor aisle (a hammock was on our shopping list!) and all the patio furniture and grills just made me smile hugely. In this house, on this farm, we are so ready for warm weather!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
… and the rest of the farm crew!

~ ~ ~

Next week’s vegetables (probably!)

Radishes • Bok choy • Kale • Rapini • Fingerlings • Celery root • Leeks

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One Response to Run like an antelope

  1. Meredith says:

    Katie, I am so excited I will be able to put some of your wonderful writing on my bookshelf now with the ‘greenhorns’ book! I have been enjoying your blog/newsletter writing for many years after reading your article in Growing For Market in 2008. Thank you so much for sharing your views online. I hope someday you will publish a full book of your own writing… you are quite talented. Best wishes as your farm vision grows and expands. Your CSA members are lucky to have you guys growing for them!

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