Spring Week 7—Summer in May!

Is there anything sweeter than the first carrot harvest of spring? We get a jump on it by planting the first week of March, in a greenhouse.

Is there anything sweeter than the first carrot harvest of spring? We get a jump on it by planting the first week of March, in a greenhouse.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• Baby Lettuce Mix
• Baby Carrots
• Pea Shoots
• More Pea Shoots
• Chervil
• Tiny Rapini

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Pea Shoots, Arugula, Mizuna, Green Onions, Spinach

This new weather cycle is not completely bad: one week of rain, one week of sun, etc. The rain is a little excessive—2-3 inches in a week requires a lot of drying time in order to get ground ready, but it takes the pressure off of irrigating.

The downside of sunny, warm weather is the first emergence of Flea Beetles. They love all things brassica, and anything in the potato/tomato family. We go to great lengths to keep our spring brassicas free of the nasty little biters. Our number one line of defense is floating row cover, but sometimes we have to do a quick spray of Pyrethrin to knock them down first. You can tell they've already been busy by the holes in the leaves.

The downside of sunny, warm weather is the first emergence of Flea Beetles. They love all things brassica, and anything in the potato/tomato family. We go to great lengths to keep our spring brassicas free of the nasty little biters. Our number one line of defense is floating row cover, but sometimes we have to do a quick spray of Pyrethrin to knock them down first. You can tell they’ve already been busy by the holes in the leaves.

This week we are busy covering the crops in the ground to protect them from insect damage. Flea Beetles are by far our worst pest—really the only one that requires us to do anything. Other pests we can avoid by not planting crops that they enjoy, but Flea Beetles love all things Brassica, and since nearly everyone relishes that family year-round, intervention is necessary. This large plant family includes not only the bigger Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage (and others), but also the delicate Arugula, Mizuna, Napa, and Mustards (and others). How can we live through the summer without any of them? Not going to happen. So we use row covers, and when the flea beetles emerge before we can cover, we use a spray of Pyrethrin, a short-lived botanical pesticide derived from Chrysanthemums. Unfortunately it kills all insects that it touches, but fortunately it acts quickly and disappears in 24 hours, so it is relatively safe. When we spray, the only insects around are flea beetles anyway. Nothing else is interested in tiny brassica seedlings.

This is how the row cover looks when it's secured. We have pretty steady wind blow through every evening, so they need to be anchored well or they blow away.

This is how the row cover looks when it’s secured. We have pretty steady wind blow through every evening, so they need to be anchored well or they blow away.

We are hoping to get all of our first big planting of Broccoli (five exciting varieties this year) and Cauliflower, and some juicy Cabbages planted. They will be so happy to get out of the hot greenhouse. Also, the first planting of Radicchios and other Chicories. Friday we hope to finally get our Potatoes planted. The ground has been so wet, Mike hasn’t been able to plow yet.

Bright green and delicious! Pea Shoot Pesto!

Bright green and delicious! Pea Shoot Pesto!

For now, we have lots of Pea Shoots! You probably noticed. We are short of greens for ourselves as well, so we had Pea Shoot Pesto for dinner. You can follow the recipe on our Pea Shoot page, but I winged it and added a cup of toasted walnuts and a few sprigs of mint instead of limes, since I didn’t have any of those.

We got our Fava Beans in nice and early this year, and they're already starting to bloom. Should have beans mid-late June! Those notches around the leaves are from the dreaded Cucumber Beetle. Usually not too horrible a problem, but this year they are voracious. We're not convinced they are doing any real harm, so we are hoping the birds start feasting on them.

We got our Fava Beans in nice and early this year, and they’re already starting to bloom. Should have beans mid-late June! Those notches around the leaves are from the dreaded Cucumber Beetle. Usually not too horrible a problem, but this year they are voracious. We’re not convinced they are doing any real harm, so we are hoping the birds start feasting on them.

The benefit of early planting is early harvest, and it’s looking good for the Fava Beans. We planted a full month ahead of last year, and they’re blooming already, hoping for beans to harvest in late June. The Peas should be getting close to blooming as well, which means early- or mid-June harvest.

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