Week 25, 2013

We’re at the midpoint now, the very climax of the year’s light. Today is the solstice, and tomorrow the days begin to get shorter. It seems like the seeds were just swelling to burst their coats, and now the plants are suddenly tall, the light under their leaves dappled, their blossoms setting fruit. The more seasons I see the faster they seem to roll by.

This week has been a crazy mix of wins and losses. We will put big stars next to the vegetable column. Growth, plant health, and weed control are all excellent. Peas are in bloom. So is the calendula. The green onions are perfect now, and garlic is gorgeous. We’ll have scapes in the share today. Greens are bountiful and the soybeans make me happy when I look at them. And strawberries in the share today!

The potatoes are in the middle column. One of the varieties had bad germination, but the others look pretty good. Also in the middle column, we have sweet corn. The birds got it, almost down to the last sprout. But we’ve replanted it, and have our fingers crossed.

In the losses column, we’re putting field corn. The rain finally stopped but as of yesterday, the undrained fields were still too wet to plant. I’m glad we didn’t put many resources toward it because the few acres we did plant germinated poorly, and the crows and the seagulls were waiting to pull those sprouts out of the cold mud. We’re going to look at those fields on Monday to decide if we should cultivate them or plow them up. The window for planting (or replanting) corn is effectively closed, so now we need to get creative and figure out the best plan to bring the stock through the rest of this year and next.

            Haymaking began this week. We put the chips down on a good forecast, and cut a thousand bales. Jane and Miranda and I took a picnic up to the field on Wednesday evening to watch the mower launch into a thick stand for its maiden voyage. Travis and Cory mowed all day yesterday. It looked like we’d have until Sunday to get it dry and in. This morning, though, the forecast changed, and we are looking at a 50% chance of thunderstorms tomorrow. So now we’re pinning hopes on today. The sun is out and the breeze is fresh and if we’re lucky and work hard and nothing breaks, we might be able to bring it all home by dark. I’m cooking team dinner to be eaten in the field tonight – lots of savory pies and strawberry shrub.

Watching the mower

I got a jump on next winter’s cooking this week. I blanched and froze about a dozen bags of spinach and beet greens. This week, you should all be getting your scapes in the freezer! I find them indispensible once the garlic heads run out. Just put chopped scapes in the blender with enough oil to make it wiz, add a little salt, and freeze in ice cube trays. When they are frozen, pop them out and store in zip lock bags. I put up two or three gallon bags every year and that’s plenty.

The Greenhorns are throwing the Solstice Mixer at the Keeseville Grange tomorrow. There are farm tours and talks during the day, and our own Matt Robertson is making the dinner, to be served at 6:30. Music follows. Details and directions at www.thegreenhorns.net. Hope to see you there. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this longest-day 25th week of 2013.           -Kristin & Mark Kimball

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