Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Grow Baby Grow Garden Fun

Tuesday = farm day. The best weather yet. 80 degrees, sunny, a cool breeze. Glorious.

When 24 and I arrived....after the 20 minute car trip which found us enjoying every beautiful minute ... we found that half the work had been done. Two additional rotating volunteers and a regular who came early had already harvested the lettuces and prepped the boxes.

We just had to wash and sort and weigh and label and place the correct items in the correct boxes.

This sounds easy. Now. The number of boxes total is 25, half of which are full-share, half are half-share. Which is exactly what it sounds like. Half-share boxes are half of the content. This process takes hours. Each item is weighed in ounces and divided into per share or per box ounces and bagged. Lettuces (7 or 8 varieties mixed in together) asparagus, rhubarb, two herbs, kale, chard, radishes, braising mix, arugula and a beet.

Four hours later (which was a record, I might add) we were ready for one more task before heading home. Out to the high tunnel we hiked. The high tunnel is exactly like a greenhouse...a half tunnel shrouded in filmy plastic...but with other benefits like sides that open. Basically, it's a protected area to work and grow in that gives growers more days in the season.

This is where it gets interesting. One of the growers showed us the wheat bits that she'd planted that had been decimated by turkeys. Not a happy grower! But on a positive note, we checked out the baby onion shoots in the ground, and then entered the tunnel to gander at the tomatoes. Each tomato plant was fastened to a nylon cord by rings that clamped, gently, around the tomato to keep it growing the direction the farmer wanted it to grow. Six rows of tomato plants, all of them healthy and happy, so happy and healthy that many even needed another clip to keep them in line. We grabbed handfuls of clips (some of us were more creative in ways to carry lots of clips and others just had to borrow from the clever ones....) and then set out to subdue unruly vines. And there was another task that we needed to do at the same time. Each plant that had bright yellow blossoms also needed a good shaking. Apparently, breeze is important to plants as well as sun and water. In the high tunnel the plants don't get enough wind. They are not able to release the pollen without a little help. So, you have to give them a good, gentle, shake to get the pollinating process going. So we shook and clipped our way through the tomato house. I spied a tiny green tomato start, too. Yum. Just a few more weeks til tomatoes start showing up.

We also met a man who has been an organic farmer for thirty years. Thirty years? Whew. I didn't even pay attention to the word until a handful of years ago. Who knew?

Oh, and we also found out that a very common weed, one detested/hated/reviled by farmers and lawn guys everywhere, is delicious. Lambs Quarters. Seriously. I "harvested" some and brought them home. Rob, the patient trooper, tasted a leaf. He didn't agree with my assessment. Oh well. More for me.

Another box of delicious veggies, some oregano and cilantro, and a bonus batch of rhubarb. Yum. A little rocking and rolling or shaking and clipping adventure....a good day all around.