Before Jack chatted me up over eggs, toast, and the farm's first batch of green beans, I peeked into our warehouse to catch the crew in action washing lettuce in big tubs, then packing it for wholesale. On a hot day this must have been a bonus job to do in the shade.
Then it was off to take a peek at how crops were looking in the field - Jack Hedin style. This means pretty quick but informative. He gives me a brief synopsis of what he's excited about or what he's worried about and shows me why. First it was "the good news" as we bop about the Peterson acres:
The cherry tomatoes are looking amazing. They're well irrigated, nicely staked, and supple. There's plenty of fruit making it's way on the plant. The bok choy is also looking lovely and happy, as well as the baby cabbage planted for winter CSA shares.
We walk on and see more happy plants. Kale, for instance, the ever popular vegetable that moms can't get enough of, is flourishing and seemingly asking to be harvested.
Then on to the, well, discouraging news. "Tomatoes like hot and dry, and this season they've been getting mostly wet and cool, so they're not happy", says Jack in a nutshell. We head in the direction of the heirloom tomatoes and I can see what he means. The plants look droopy and a bit diseased. There are few blossoms. Jack theorizes it could be disease that's carried from the actual plant cages being used from year to year. That and the current climate.
After touring the ridge area, we head more toward the valley to Boyum's fields, where a variety of crops are growing. First Jack speaks to the garlic, which, for a variety of reasons is, "a total failure - F crop" (namely due to the drought from last year). But there are very bright spots in this same area. The onions he says are A plus - big and fat - perfect for summer boxes and, once cured, Winter Shares.
Another cool thing is what Evan recently had planted for winter shares: popcorn and ornamental flint corn, good for grinding and making polenta or corn tortillas! I love that there will be multi-colored treasures as you open winter boxes - what a treat! Another point of interest are the potatoes that will soon be tender and delicious in boxes; first new potatoes, then, as they get bigger and cure, will be cooking potatoes for winter shares. The purple flower tops blow in the wind showing themselves off.
After wandering around Boyum's, we head back to the office and I make my way around the fields just near to the farm itself. I see mostly positive things going on: tomatillos growing supple and happy in their papery skins, and peppers beginning to ripen on the stems. The eggplant, while rather potato beetle bitten, will make it through just fine with our stellar crew out there looking under the leaves of EACH PLANT for larvae.
Jack Hedin and other employees at Featherstone contribute to these posts. Find happenings on the farm, links to recipes, and interesting musings about organic ag today!