The beets finally reached selling size. The compost made a big difference. Thinning them out like every gardening book tells you makes a big difference. It didn’t hurt that we have a seeder this year. They aren’t as clustered as they used to be. We actually got a number of very large beets that were pretty impressive. They were harder to manage cooking, but they were still as tender and tasty as the others.
Beets were never a top seller but those customers that like beets love them. It’s the standard heirloom beet called Detroit. It’s the preferred dark red color that comes with a richer taste. Many people shy away from fresh beets because they aren’t sure how to cook them. There is really nothing easier. You just slice them about 1/4 inch thick, put them in a sauce pan just covering with water, cover and cook Med High for about 15 minutes or until its tender enough to push a fork into them.
We ended up with excess that we will either can or freeze. We will have to grow less next year.
Last year we tried to grow zucchini with minimal success due to the shade. With the expansion into a sunnier area our zucchini plants were much more fruitful! The left hand side row is your standard green zucchini and the right is the gold zucchini.
All the plants consistently produced to order. We were able to cover all requests without waiting. As the summer went along we found we had to pick every evening to be sure the squash didn’t get too big. The day before it looked just a little too small, but the next evening it had grown too big! There were occasions where we they ended up with squash too big to sell. Those we made into zucchini bread. We had a lot of zucchini bread so I froze some of it. The longest I’ve kept a frozen zucchini bread is 5 months and after letting it defrost in the refrigerator it tasted just as good as the day it was baked! Just make sure it’s not a juicy bread. The bigger the squash is the firmer it is.The large firmer zucchinis were sliced and used as noodles for a vegetable lasagna.
Zucchini is now one of our easiest growers and better sellers. It also stores better than most of our other produce.
What started it all! Our famous heirloom green beans! We didn’t change a thing with our green beans this year. We still included yellow and purple pod varieties. They are easy to grow and everyone loves them. We have 4 rows and we can’t pull them fast enough. Luckily we have many customers who buy a lot at one time so they can freeze them and have them over the winter. We still have enough to collect plenty of dried seeds at the end of the season.
It does take a little time for the actual beans to grow so we tried to grow some as transplants this year to get a head start. Live and learn. The transplants did poorly and were quickly overtaken by the ones planted by seed later.
With so many extra beans at the end of the season we decided to pickle some. But that is for another post. Next year we will only plant half as many unless we get a larger up front commitment.
The tomatoes are starting to grow tall! In our old plot we built industrial tomato cages for each tomato plant but once you have hundreds of tomato plants that’s not possible. With the intensive planting they are too close together to have individual cages.
After doing some research we found a method called the Florida weave. This process holds tomato plants up and keeps them under control by weaving twine back and forth between plants. This is done at every 12 inches of growth.
It was a little difficult getting used to doing the weave and took awhile to do it but it seems to be pretty effective. Unfortunately with the tomatoes growing much larger than last year and although one sides of the plants were held up, they still slid sideways on the some of the tomato bound plants. In the end we ended up putting large stakes on 50% of the plants to keep them from leaning. It was a good problem to have with all tomatoes, but just an added chore. Next year we will stake every tomato plant right away and should not have that problem again.
You can see us try out the Florida weave on the farm YouTube Channel:
We planted snap peas last year with little reward for our efforts. This year we tossed out the collected heirloom variety which had been passed down from a friend. We purchased a Cascadian version which is known to be sweeter than most. We also planted farther out into the sun. We ended up with a decent spring harvest but the birds found them and ate every flower as it was opening. The plants barely recovered for a small fall harvest.
Now there are two opinions on next year. One of us wants to grow the peas covered to protect from the birds and the hotter summer sun. The other prefers to not to put in the effort at all. We’ll see who wins!