Hot and Steamy!

We are melting over here on the farm! The weathermen on the radio keep advising to stay inside in a cool place. Hah!

But some things are worth the heat and the humidity. Like really huge tomatoes! Tomatoes are coming on strong. We now have cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, hybrid slicing tomatoes, and even a few paste tomatoes just starting. We will be bringing seconds tomatoes, that is, tomatoes with blemishes or scars, to market and sell them at a lower price. They're still tasty and wholesome - they're just a little ugly.

We're trying to stay with the times (have you heard of the ugly vegetable movement?) and waste less. Though really, the tomatoes that are too squishy to even come to market we don't waste - we feed them to the pigs. And if the pigs won't eat them, we compost them. Nature is pretty nifty that way. 

We are also benefiting from nature's niftiness in the field we are renting in Bowdoinham. It has top-notch soils for agriculture, which means the particle size and composition of the soil encourage good drainage but also retain moisture well. It has made a huge difference for us in this dry year. We have done what we could to get water over to Bowdoinham, but we worried that we weren't getting enough. We have been relieved to discover that the soil is able to hold onto enough moisture for most of the plants to thrive. You can see above the winter squash, on the left, and the brussels sprouts, potatoes, leeks, and onions on the right, from foreground to background. And below is a preview of what's to come: a sweet dumpling squash (like a delicata in flavor) already the size of a softball. Yum!

See you at market!

-Ailish

Sneaking Closer to Summer

Some of these days this week have really felt like it. The crew is showing up in shorts most days. And speaking of the crew, we have two new great crew members, Michael and Sophie, and we are really excited that they are joining us, Clark, Cassie, and Logan on the farm. We have needed their help! Many hands make light work, as they say. Though, for farming, maybe the saying should be: many hands keep you from falling so far behind on the to-do list. 

This week we have been able to catch up (almost completely!) on our transplanting, and we have been able to get quite a bit of weeding done as well. Next week it will be time to prune and trellis the tomatoes again, and urge them to send all their energy into those green fruits hanging on the vine. 

Speaking of tomato trellising, I would like to share two pictures from last week that did not make it to the blog: the first is a tomato before trellising and pruning - the white twine is what we clip the little white clips to, which we then when clip around the main tomato stem underneath a strong leaf (see the second photo). 

We have a couple of (fairly) easy meal ideas to share: lettuce salad with violas, and deviled duck eggs! The salad is as easy as pouring several bags of our lettuce mix into a bowl and then scattering the violas on top. I also usually add some chopped up herbs, like sage, chives, oregano, etc) and serve with some vinaigrette. 

For the duck eggs, substitute the duck eggs for chicken eggs in your favorite deviled egg recipe. Because the eggs are so fresh, we recommend sprinkling a teaspoon of baking soda in the water you use to boil them. It will make the eggs easier to peel. They will be extra rich and creamy! (Especially if you use homemade duck egg mayo - just saying!)

See you at market!

-Ailish

Flying Colors

Spring is quickly flowing into summer. We have been busier than we can think about; our to-do lists are multiple pages long. Fortunately, we have a new employee starting next week, and we have some likely prospects for more help in the near future as well.

In the meantime, we and the crew are doing the best we can to stay on top of everything and bring you fresh, tasty produce every week. This week, aside from harvesting and transplanting, we have spent a lot of time pruning and trellising tomatoes. The reason we do it is to channel the plants' energy into producing more fruit faster. How we do it is: we cut off "suckers," which are the stems that grow in the little crotch about every non-fruiting branch, and leave only the main stem, which we call a leader. 

Each of those suckers can grow into a main stem, which is a lot of extra leaf matter drawing energy away from the fruit on the leader. When we prune the suckers off, we force the plant to direct its energy into the leader and into the fruits already growing on it. And yes! We have fruit already! Here are some golf-ball sized heirlooms (that will grow to be bigger than baseballs):

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Edible flowers are starting up again this week. We are easing in with violets and pansies, and we will soon have marigolds, calendula, bachelor's buttons, and more! Sprinkle them on salads, decorate cakes and cupcakes, even infuse some vodka (I am trying out some violet-infused vodka right now!). 

See you at market!

-Ailish

Enter the Summer

That is how it has felt lately! It was 85 degrees after lunch on Thursday. It is pretty rough weather on the young seedlings in the ground, and we are doing all we can to keep them happy and healthy. That often means making some choices; we have to prioritize our long season crops like tomatoes and onions over ones that we plant on a recurring basis, like kale and lettuce. And we try to do all this while bringing our best selection to market. It was a busy week!

The ducks are growing larger by the day, and the pigs too, although they are not quite as fast as the ducks. The yellow ducks in the photo are the Pekin ducks (for meat) and the brown ones are the Golden 300s (for eggs). They look a bit scruffy now as they're at the stage where they trade their baby fluff for adult feathers. Some of them are quacking already!

We will have seedlings galore this weekend, as well as greens, herbs, duck eggs and pork - try grilling some pork chops and ham steaks this Memorial Day weekend!

See you at market!

-Ailish

Thinking Ahead

We hope you all have some fun R&R planned for this Fourth of July weekend. We will still be at the Brunswick Farmers' Market on Friday and the Crystal Spring Farmers' Market on Saturday. We hope to see you there!

July has been ushered in with more rain! Crops are growing well, since they are getting a chance to dry out between deluges, but the soil is so soft from the rain there are some places in our fields that we can't go at the moment. We are in the middle of getting a lot of fall crops in the ground - things like parsnips and brussels sprouts have been in for weeks, but we are just planting rutabagas this week. We are hoping for some sunny, dry beach weather to let us into those places again.

Last week we unexpectedly came into some ginger seed. We tried hard early this spring to get ginger seed (actually ginger rhizome - they look just like what you would buy in the store) from several different sources with no result. Ginger seed was in very high demand this year. We know we have talked to a few customers who were disappointed - as were we - because the fresh, organic ginger is such a treat!

Happily, our friend Ian of Stonecipher Farm in Bowdoinham had extra ginger seed after he planted his out, so we bought those from him last week. On Friday, we then tore apart two thirds of our propagation greenhouse (which doesn't have a floor, just landscape fabric over soil), to make room for the ginger. I have posted a before-during-after sequence of photos below. We went from three rows of tables to one, pulled off two rows of landscape fabric, broadforked, made furrows (that's Kev making furrows in the middle picture below), put down some fertilizer, planted the sprouted ginger rhizomes, and closed the furrows so that the rhizomes were at least 2 inches below the soil surface. 

With luck and TLC, we will have fresh ginger ready in about Octobeer. Ginger are needy plants, and we'll do our best to keep them satisfied. 

Lots of edible flowers are coming in now. Above we have calendula, sunflowers, and cornflowers/bachelor buttons from left to right. We will be bringing small bunches of edible flowers - just what you'd need for a recipe (like Calendula Cornbread Muffins from Mother Earth News) - all summer long.

See you at market, and happy Fourth!

Ailish

Summer is here!

And it has been ushered in by a great big rainstorm! Enough rain to make us a little nervous and hope that nothing got washed away. Everything seems to be fine, however, and we are hoping for a good bit of growth to come out of the rain and warmish temperatures. 

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So far, it seems as though the growth has been going on well. We have three different plantings of lettuce all getting to be the same size, so be ready to try some beautiful heads of red and green oak leaf, red and green butterhead, red and green leaf, and green romaine lettuces at market. We like to do grilled romaine ceasar salad: cut a large head of romaine in half, brush the cut sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt; place on a hot grill until the cut sides are just charred; place each half on a plate, drizzle over ceasar dressing, croutons, anchovies, what you will; and dig in with knife and fork. Also, you can cut up the grilled head before you put it on a plate, but it's fun to dive into the whole thing.

Later summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, and husk cherries are coming along well. Below you can see a picture of a Brandywine tomato the size of my fist.

We have a lot of edible flowers coming into bloom right now, too! This week we will bring to market calendula, dianthus, lavender, and violas. Soon we will have cornflowers, nasturtiums, and salvia, too. Edible flowers are fun and tasty. The simplest thing to do with them, and one we love to do often, is scatter the petals over salad. Check it out below:

New things at market this week include summer squash and zucchini, french breakfast and round radishes, and some purple daikon.

See you at market!

-Ailish