It’s Randy this week. Many of you have asked for more information about my growing processes, so Vic tasked me with taking photos of everything I’ve been up to so that you can see what my job entails.
I’m the only one on the farm who is responsible for the tractor work, aside from my dad, who does most of the mowing on the farm. A crew member or two will also drive the tractor to and from the compost pile to dump inedible veggies.
My dad helps with mowing in between some of the rows where the tractor will fit and mowing the drive rows, where we use trucks to get in between fields. Here is an example of the mowing work, like in between the grape trellises in the fruit field. Every few weeks, the grass is long enough on the farm that it needs to be mowed with an attachment on the back of the tractor called a “brush hog.”
Within the last couple of weeks, one of the lettuce fields was exhausted for the year. Here’s what it looked like.
We need to use the land for something new in order to keep cranking out veggies as much as possible all season long. So, I used a harrow on the back of the tractor to turn it back into the soil, plastic and all. The plastic is biodegradable, which is easier on us and better for the environment. Definitely a cool invention.
Here’s the field afterward.
I then made new raised beds and the crew helped plant brassicas (cabbage family crops) for the fall: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and a new one… Romanesco.
After we pulled up the garlic last week, I wasted no time replanting it. I had to start by plowing since the leaves we use to mulch the garlic are so thick the plow chops them up better and reintegrates them into the soil and adds carbon (a natural fertilizer) back in. I then harrowed, which breaks up and smooths out the dirt.
Then I spread fertilizer.
Harrowed that into the soil.
Made raised beds with plastic for beans.
Seeded beans with this cool device that punches holes in the plastic and drops seeds into the hole. I actually made my own invention with seed plates so that it would drop 2 seeds per hole, which is always the way I plant beans as my grandfather taught me. We used to do this by hand until we were able to invest in this device. I also use it to plant spinach and peas on plastic.
The rest of the garlic field was used to plant beets, which I did with a similar seeder. I only use this to plant beets. I got this device so that I could drive the tractor in between the beets with the cultivator, which weeds in between them and saves us a lot of time on hand weeding and is an eco-friendly option, too.
While I work on these tasks, the crew is busy with their delegated tasks. Usually it’s harvesting, but sometimes we need to do things like string up tomatoes, plant new seedlings, weed, or set up and take down plastic irrigation. Sometimes I join them, but most of the time my own tasks keep me busy. I am thankful that many of them have returned over a few years because they know exactly how these processes go on their own.
Most of my life consists of scribbling little notes of tasks to work on or items to seed. Here’s an example. Laina has worked alongside me to understand more about growing fruit, so she knew what this meant and was able to lead the crew in it this week.
And I think most people would be surprised to know that we are still seeding a lot of items weekly. Sometimes it’s direct seeding of new cucumbers, squash, and zucchini right into the ground and sometimes it’s starting them in trays in the greenhouse as we do in the spring.
I have all of my seeds organized in bins based on the family they belong to. To be honest, I have no idea how many varieties of crops I grow. Sometimes it’s for obvious reasons like growing red versus green lettuce and sometimes it’s to preserve biodiversity and sometimes to trial a new variety to see if it will grow better in our area. Sometimes I just like the name. And sometimes there’s a shortage with my seed supplier and I have to pick something new, like with the carrots this year.
This piece of paper lists lettuce, romaine, and escarole. Part of my job sometimes entails referring to my notes from earlier years and staying on track with when I need to seed and plant, and then I locate the seeds and delegate how I want them seeded to the crew.
There are so many levels to the work here, from the business management, to working with the Department of Agriculture on various projects like the land restoration grant, to learning to grow more resourcefully, to plotting out the fields and ordering seeds, to keeping the growing on track, to solving a problem when there are pests and diseases, and then sometimes carrying out the tasks themselves where I can.
I admit it’s a lot of work. July is hard because I’m still planting in addition to taking care of the plants and making sure they’re healthy with months in the season left to go. While we were working at the fields up at Booth Hill, I climbed up on top of a huge pile of topsoil that we’ll use to restore another field and snapped a photo. This is the farmer’s equivalent to the gardener’s stopping and smelling the roses. Moments of peace are few and far between, but they’re so important in appreciating the beauty of this profession. Thank you as always for supporting our family’s farm.
A couple of quick notes from Vic:
This week, you are receiving cutting celery in your share. This is a variety of celery that is grown as slender stalks with beautiful leaves, and you can use the whole thing. It is incredibly flavorful and fragrant. Think outside the box when it comes to using it: chop it up into a tossed salad or chicken salad, sprinkle it on top of a buffalo chicken stuffed baked potato, or incorporate it into a wrap.
Secondly, below you’ll see that you’re receiving a “pick a pint” in your share. This refers to your choice of the following options: shishitos, grape tomatoes, hot peppers, or husk cherries. At some point everyone will receive all of them to try, but this week it’s your choice as all of these items slowly come into season. At pickup, please remember to take your bagged pint from the swap table.
In Your Share (Listed approximately from shortest shelf life to longest)
1 bunch of basil
1 bunch of celery
2 lbs. of cucumbers
1 bunch of collard greens
1 bunch of scallions
1 bunch of basil
1 bunch of celery
1 lb. of cucumbers
Caring For Your Share (All of this information, plus long-term storage info, can also be found in our Vegetable Library of Resources).
Trim the bottoms of the celery and place in a jar of water in the fridge, like a bouquet. Put a plastic bag over the leaves to protect them.
Store eggplant at room temperature, like out on your counter, but keep it away from other fruits and vegetables that will emit ethylene gas, as this will cause it to rot faster (tomatoes, melons, bananas, etc.)
Store zucchini and cucumbers in the crisper drawer of the fridge for approximately a week. Wash when ready to use.
Store collard greens in a plastic bag in the fridge. Or, snip the ends and store in a glass of water, like a bouquet. Wash and spin out when ready to use, within a few days.
Store scallions roots-down in a glass of water in the fridge, like a bouquet. Cover the greens with a plastic bag. Or, store in a plastic bag in the fridge and use within the week.
Trim the bottoms of basil and place the stems in a glass of cold water, like a bouquet. Keep it out of the fridge, as basil leaves can turn black when exposed to cold temperatures. Use within a few days.
Keep husk cherries in a bowl on your counter, where they will get plenty of air flow. Husk cherries will last for weeks and will continue to ripen; the husk will turn brown and dry out while the cherry will turn a deeper golden yellow. Peel the husk and wash when ready to eat.
Store hot or shishito peppers in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Wash when ready to use.
Store grape or cherry tomatoes in a bowl with lots of airflow on your counter. If stems are still attached, don't pull them off until you're ready to eat the tomatoes. Wash before using and enjoy within a few days.
The LGF Cooking Club (Recipes to try in addition to those in the Library of Resources!)
Shredded Adobo Pork and Shishitos (includes celery)
Blueberry Chicken Salad (uses celery)
Additional Large Share Ingredients
Please note that Victoria does not work on Thursdays this season. Emails received on Wednesday night through Thursday will be answered on Fridays.
How to Change Your Pickup Day
If you need to skip your share for the week, or change your pickup day, you must provide us with 48 hours notice since we pack shares the day before pickup. Once your share has been harvested and packed, we can not cancel your pickup.
For Tuesday pickups being changed, we need to know by Sunday. Wednesday pickups, we need to know by Monday. Saturday pickups, we need to know by Thursday. You have the option to choose another of those pickup days: Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Or, you can skip a pickup and double the following week.
If you miss your pickup, we will hold your share for 24 hours after your pickup day (Monday for Saturday members), and then it will be donated to a local food pantry. With more members than ever before, we don't have the cooler space to hold onto shares longer than this. This is a great option if you accidentally miss your pickup - just come the next day.