News From the Farm | April 27, 2020

Artist in Residence, Anna Martinek Brait with an armload of citrus blossoms collected by her husband Andrew while mowing  —  

I’m sitting at our patio picnic table looking out across a cover crop field that was recently mowed and has already dried down in the last couple of hot days.  As I was sitting down to write in the Full Belly office, the power went out, the second time it has done so during the Shelter in Place.  Somehow, when there is so much emphasis on keeping everything clean, it seems cruel for the power to go out because it means no water for awhile out here where we rely on pumps to keep the water flowing.  Hopefully the battery in my computer will carry me through for this writing.

There’s a lot of News because the end of Spring is around the corner in the farmer’s mind. Instead of thinking about spring crops, the focus is on Summer crops.  As Paul and Miguel prep the fields, Andrew and Amon plant them.  The first planting of tomatoes already needs to be staked.  There are heirloom tomatoes, early girls, slicers and cherry tomatoes in our first planting.  We put our first tomatoes into a field that we rent from a friend — some beautiful rich, fertile, silty loam soil that holds moisture and has great texture.  We look forward to packing many a bag and a box of these tomatoes, come July.

In terms of other summer crops, we have also put in our first planting of eggplant and peppers.  We grow 10 or more varieties each of eggplants and peppers, and we plant several times in order to provide continuous crops throughout the summer.  Amon has planted sweet corn, sunflowers, green beans, zucchini and cucumbers.  In addition to planting up a storm, Amon and his wife Jenna supervise our kitchen and they have been sending out huge orders of their pizza dough, pasta, and citrus tea cakes.  When he isn’t rolling out pizza dough, Amon has been out on the tractor.  He direct seeded the first planting of melons, with 8 kinds of melons and about 4 kinds of watermelons.

Our garlic is getting ready to bulb.  May 1st is the magic date for garlic.  We will give the garlic field its last water and after that, the plants will put all of their energy into the bulb, the tops will fade and the bulbs will form and divide, as we get closer to the June harvest. 

In terms of the forecast for the immediate future, carrots and spring potatoes are on the horizon.  We will be putting them into our CSA boxes very soon. We will continue to put some of this year’s beautiful onion crop into the boxes and we expect to have spinach, cabbage, beets and Tokyo turnips during the next couple of months before the summer crops start to make a tentative appearance.  I hope that you have been enjoying the beautiful lettuce — The warm winter weather brought on lettuce 3 weeks early and our successive plantings may keep it coming through May.

More of Anna’s work.  This dynamic photo shows the process going from a fresh ranunculus flower to the drypoint plate, intaglio print without added color and the intaglio prints with monotype and/or watercolor.

The flowers are really booming — Ranunculus and Anemones were stupendous, now replaced by Snapdragons, Agrostemma, Batchelor Buttons and Nigella. There is a lot of bustle in the packing shed every afternoon as a large crew gathers to bunch and box up hundreds of bouquets.  Picking in the morning, packing in the afternoon — that is to be the rhythm for the next few months.

Amon did some interesting things with cover crops this year.  He planted a couple of fields of cover crops that included a tillage radish, clover mix.  The tillage radish is like a long white daikon.  It can help to fracture the soil, creating space and tilth when it dies and decomposes.  It can help to break up compaction — getting the work done biologically rather than mechanically.  Amon knifed a 12-inch strip down the center of each bed in one of his fields, killing only that center strip of cover crop.  Then he spread compost in the open strip and will soon plant into it. The cover crop on either side of the strip has been left in place.  It may naturally hit a summer dormant point and die back.  We will let you know how this experiment fares.  It is a reduced-till experiment that may benefit the soil, the crops and the climate all at once.

Anna Martinek Brait’s print of one of our cover crops.  To look at more of her work, check out her beautiful web site!

Spring on this farm is full of abundant growth, flowers and birth. No worries, the electricity has already come back on.  Farmers who need to shower tonight will be able to do so. Welcome to our new CSA members and thank you to all.  Many blessings on your meals.

Judith Redmond and Andrew Brait

That’s some BIG broccoli!