Crops Update: Late Strawberries & Early Chard

The second half of May was dry and hot, but it ended with two mornings of light frost on the first and second of June. Overall, the cold spring has delayed the start of pea and strawberry season, but we do hope to start picking sugar snap peas by mid-week. We still haven’t seen even a hint of pink in the strawberry patch; June 5 or 6 is usually when we pick the first fully red berry of the season. Hopefully, the weekend’s rain and the predicted sunny weather will speed up ripening.

We were planting flowers on Saturday afternoon when the first real rain in 21 days arrived in the form of a beautiful thunderstorm. We sheltered in the hoop house and caught up on some weeding and trellising there.

Earlier in the week, we were dismayed to find only about 30% germination under a greens row cover we had seeded during the dry spell. Our supply of arugula, radish, and other greens like baby kale and bok choi depend on our system of weekly seeding and covering to protect these crops from flea beetle damage. Each week, we also open the previous week’s cover to hoe the beds and check germination. While spring greens have been bountiful up to this point in the season, we may see a decline in availability starting next week as we begin to harvest from drought-affected successional seedings.

But all the dry weather has been ideal for transplanting, and in the past week, we planted more rounds of lettuce, basil, cucumbers, and scallions, the second succession of sweet corn, and the first round of cantaloupe, watermelon, and eggplant.

This Week's Harvest
This Week’s Harvest

After years of not very successfully battling the flea beetles and Colorado potato beetles that feed on eggplant, we’ve covered this year’s transplants with Proteknet—a lightweight nylon net that floats above the crop on a series of metal hoops. We’ve also used this method to keep leaf miners out of the chard patch, and not only has it excluded pests, but the additional heat trapped under the cover has given us full-size leaves earlier than in any previous season. Above, you can see a chard bunch we harvested yesterday along with some of the other good stuff coming out of the fields right now: clockwise from noon, Lacinato kale, scallions, chard, raab, turnips, basil, Chinese broccoli, and green garlic.

Volunteers Bagging CSA Shares
Volunteers Bagging CSA Shares

This past week, we were thrilled to have the help of volunteers with the bagging of CSA shares. Above, from left to right, you can see Anna, Kate, Sheila, Margaret, Mike, and Sandra (mio madre!) putting together 190 shares. Thank you! And additional thanks to Pam for coordinating the effort, and to Margaret for keeping track of all the crates of veggies and moving them out of the walk-in fridge and box truck to the packing area.

More help also arrived this week as my sister’s eldest, Margot, graduated from high school and started volunteering with the team. It’s great to have Margot here, and so far we’ve been motivated to cook with all this amazing produce—turnips and green garlic five nights in a row, and not sick of them yet! We vary the dressing but usually start with Drumlin maple syrup and Sir Kensington’s spicy brown mustard. Places to go from there: lemon juice/lemonade, rice vinegar, shoyu, plain yogurt, vanilla yogurt, apricot jam, peach kefir, ume plum vinegar, pepper, olive oil, sesame oil, vermouth, balsamic, etc.

Your Farmers

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About Ryan D.

Where: Mass Audubon Headquarters, Lincoln | Who: A Vermont ex-pat, lifelong skier, musician, photographer, motorcycle enthusiast, budding native plant gardener, and pun master | Favorite part of the job: Working with wonderful colleagues to make nature accessible to everyone