This season has rolled along nicely. We are producing about 1000# of tomatoes a week and our pepper and eggplant harvest has been excellent. We have managed to have carrots at the market every week for the past couple months, however we have had some poor germination in our salad mix that has forced us to improvise. One morning before market there was only a small patch of lettuce that could be harvested. The bed next to the lettuce was filled with purslane. Another portion of the field had tender lambs quarters growing between our kale. This opportunity yielded an amazingly colorful and flavorful salad mix. We added baby tender kale, beet greens, and some frisee that was otherwise unsellable because it had tip burn. We cautioned our customers at the farmers market that it was not your typical salad. People loved it! This experience really got me excited to continue experimenting with new mixes. Turning a problem into an opportunity is very fulfilling. Now we just have to keep our chefs at Agricola preserving tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and pickles to bring the summer bounty onto the fall plate.
We are now officially Certified Organic. Using the practices of organic agriculture for the past three years has made the transition smooth. I have become a better farmer because of the process. Record keeping, paying close attention to crop rotation, and contemplating and improving our farm strategy have all benefited the farm’s overall health. We are also concentrating on producing nutrient dense foods that are packed with flavor. This year we amended our tomato field with sea salt to yield a more flavorful tomato. Once they ripen we will let you know if it was successful! The weather has been nice to work in, however we have missed a couple opportunities to plant because of rain. When the fields are wet we do not work them because that causes compaction. Our CSA is entering it’s sixth week of pickup and our market at the West Windsor Community Farmers Market has been great. Weeds are popping up all over our fields, but we learn to live with them. After we make sure our crops are established, which requires weeding with tractors, scuffle hoes, and hand pulling, we let the weeds go. I have noticed the kale stays a little more tender when shaded by weeds. We try to maintain a balance on the farm for the land we care for, the people that work it, and what we reap. These practices and the proper balance produces great tasting vegetables!
Spring felt about three weeks late this year. It is always challenging playing the hurry up and wait game. Once we were able to get into the fields we have been planting ever since. In the ground we have potatoes, lettuce, radishes, turnips, artichokes, peppers, beans, corn, zucchini, tomatoes, kale, swiss chard, cucumbers, ginger, turmeric, collards, herbs, and carrots. With all of these vegetables in the ground we were hoping on an occasional rain, ideally 1″ per week. The rain never came and we have been irrigating around the clock. When one field is shut off, another is turned on and we repeat the cycle endlessly. I think about California and the devastating drought out West that will surely affect our nations vegetable supply and conclude that no one has a handle on the weather these days. It reaffirms that making a connection with your local farmer is important because they may be the ones that feed their local community when other parts of our country dry up or flood. As I write this it is raining outside…the rain dance worked…and now it’s time to stake the tomatoes, hill the potatoes, and weed, weed, weed. It is all so worth it, eating fresh greens everyday and seeing everything bursting with life.