It’s been a busy week here at the TC3 Farm. I guess “busy” and “farm” kind of go hand in hand but we got a lot of things accomplished in the last week. Our hoophouses are now all completely planted with close to 1000 tomatoes and peppers. Even though we also plant both tomatoes and peppers in our field, we put a lot of time and energy in caring for the plants in our hoophouses. With the tomatoes, they should ripen earlier, produce a little longer and stay mostly dry and disease free. They also are a heat loving crop and they enjoy both the warmer soil and air temperatures. Did you know a green pepper is an unripe pepper? Every pepper, if given long enough, will eventually turn a different color and get sweeter (or hotter). That’s one of the reasons why we grow peppers in a covered space. It’s sometimes difficult to get peppers to field ripen with our shortened growing season so putting them in a hoophouse helps to speed up that ripening. This year we are growing 2 different varieties, a green to red bell and a green to red Italian frying. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a successful tunnel year. Since we are slightly more on top of things this season, we took a little more care in preparing the beds we were planting into. Last season we planted as soon as we could, we even planted one house before the plastic was put on. This year, we took the time to broadfork all three houses plus the greenhouse. If you’re not familiar with what a broadfork is, think of a giant two handled pitch fork with really long tines that you can stand on. Broadforking is extremely hard work but it is really going to help our beds and plants in the long run. It allows us to get down deep to break up the soil and incorporate our top layer of compost. We’ll keep you posted as these crops progress.
Another crop that we got in this past week was ginger. Wait, ginger in the Northeast? Yup. A lot of local growers in recent years have been using hoophouse space to grow ginger. We needed another crop for our rotation, so I figured why not give ginger a try. The seed comes from Biker Dude in Hawaii. They are the only place that I know of that has certified organic seed. I’ve been a little skeptical if it’s a crop that’s worth growing because we had the darndest time getting the seed to germinate. After hearing from other growers in the area that were having similar issues my skepticism diminished ever so slightly. It’s in the ground now, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Alrighty then, let’s talk about this week’s share. I’m just going to get this out of the way and let you all know that there will be more strawberries this week. I’m not sure if it will be the same as last week but it looks like there is a good amount out there. We had a saying at my old farm that “1 pint of strawberries was equal to 1000 bok choy’s”. I don’t want you to spend too much time thinking about that saying. Just know that we are psyched to be able to provide local pesticide free strawberries! This week there will be more garlic greens, some bolty bok choy, the first of the kale, the first of the lettuce, some potatoes that I’ve kept in storage and possibly 1 or 2 other items. The new item that I am really excited for this week are garlic scapes. We had the opportunity to go and harvest garlic scapes at Moore Family Farms in Lansing. Combine that with our own and we’ve gotta whole lotta scapes! Garlic scapes grow out of the center of hardneck garlic and form a little “curly q” pigtail. Harvesting the scapes tells the plant to start putting energy into bulb formation. Instead of being a waste product, it is totally usable and awesome!! I pretty much love all vegetables, some more than others, but garlic scapes are definitely in the upper echelon for me. They are so versatile. They are pretty strong if eaten raw (just like raw garlic cloves) but can be used just as you use garlic and more. Some of my favorite things to do with garlic scapes are to grill them, pickle them and make an awesome pesto out of them. A wise man once told me, “if it can’t be grilled then I don’t want to eat it”. Well, to grill scapes, all I do is throw the scapes in a container that I can put a lid on, add a few teaspoons of olive oil and some coarse salt. Shake that baby up and throw on the grill, turning until slightly charred. If you want to give scape pesto a try, here’s a great NYT recipe, http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015301-garlic-scape-pesto. One of the things I love about pesto is freezing all different types and having a steady supply all winter long.
Have a great week, folks!!