In the farming business, timing is everything. Well, timing and weather. As it turns out, we’re having a great year, weather-wise. Even with our relatively late start in the planting department, some things are maturing ahead of schedule and we can barely keep up. The warm dry spring means that we’re now seeing the fruits – er, veggies – of our labor.
Unfortunately, sometimes the sun is too much of a good thing. A few weeks ago we were surveying the fields for our first box and thought the spinach would be ready for harvest. We had been eating it at home, excited to share it with our CSA members. Then we had several warm sunny days and the spinach took off, hitting its peak about a week before our first delivery.
Once spinach is past its prime, it turns bitter and woody. Obviously, we couldn’t put that in the boxes. Had we known this would happen, we might have spent more energy trying to find channels to distribute the goods. Or figured out how to freeze it. Or just eaten copious amounts of it until we all turned green.
Instead, out came the tiller and our once-lovely spinach was returned to the earth. Alas. The good news is that our second planting will be ready for harvest later this season.
I’m gaining a huge appreciation for how a few days can make a huge difference in the quality of our produce. Naively I thought that harvesting the vegetables weekly would be sufficient to capture the best of the best. I’m quickly learning that vegetables don’t care if it’s Friday, Monday, Tuesday, or a holiday. There isn’t any amount of cajoling or bribing that can keep the lettuce from bolting or the zucchini from growing to the size of baseball bats.
We planted a lot early on, unsure of what would succeed in our first year. Apparently, everything is growing like crazy and we have yet to establish ways to sell it all. (To all the restaurateurs reading this: Call us. We have more lettuce, onions, and potatoes, than we know what to do with.) Lesson learned. We’ll be making some modifications to next year’s planting schedule. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to get used to seeing the ole tiller out doing its job.