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We Are Amazed

Posted 11/17/2011 5:45am by Ty Zemelsky.

It is amazing to walk through our six hoop houses at this time of year.  We’ve been growing greens for 12 years now and I still can’t get use to the fact that we can eat fresh locally grown food every month of the year.  Spinach, kale and claytonia are our first choices for deep winter.  They seem to care less how cold it gets.  Mizuna, lettuce, tatzoi, tokyo bekana (to name a few)  are somewhat impervious to cold weather.  We make sure that we have a lot of these choices for early fall, just making sure to have an abundance of the three Winter Warriors (spinach, kale and claytonia) for the dead of winter.  This kind of growing offers huge benefits to farmers and a lot of surprises, too.  There have been many a cold January day that I will walk in our hoophouses amongst frozen greens in the early morning and think that our crop is doomed with no hope of bouncing back to life.  By 9 or 10 AM, it has warmed up enough so that the frozen plants have turned back into viable, energetic live plants.  Plants that can do this have the ability to concentrate the water in the plant cell, changing the density and therefore changing the freezing point.  The other amazing benefit of winter growing is that the winter greens are very , very sweet.  That is because the carbohydrates are increased when the plant feels that its life is being threatened.  Extra carbs in plants means extra sweet.

The cycle of growing on a farm doesn’t ever come to an end.  Currently, we are planting carrots, lettuce, chard and beets for an early harvest in late April and early May.  The object is to get the plants started in the fall, let them winter over and allow them to take off once the extra daylight returns in late January, early February.  All of these crops are being grown outside in low tunnels.  A low tunnel is a series of hoops put over a plant bed with an appropriate piece of plastic put over the hoops and weighed down with sand bags to keep the plastic from blowing away.  The most advanced of these crops(chard and beets) was planted on October 21.  They’ve already germinated and created  the first baby leaves.  Lettuce, which normally will turn to  mush below 25 degrees, does very well if the plants stay at a small size until mid winter.  We’ve planted a special mix recommended by Johnny’s Selected Seeds of Maine called 5 Star Greenhouse Mix.  The lettuces in this mix  stay healthy and are very beautiful when mature.

Anyone interested in getting salad or spinach for the holidays are welcome to call us up and we’ll get it ready for you.  Tuesday, November 22 is the last day of work for that week.  We can be reached at 860 463 0166.

We are also posting pictures of some of the greens that are mentioned above.  Hope that you enjoy them.