Muddy Days & Sweet Greens

-Erika Rumbley

jeremy springThe glorious days of spring are here! As the temperatures continue to rise and days lengthen we’re hitting the ground running at Langwater Farm. While we’ve been busily seeding in the greenhouse and repairing machinery since February, these days the Langwater crew is out in the field. Lovelock lettuce, Lacinato kale, Napa cabbage and Bright Lights chard are among the cool-weather seedlings that have found their footing in the newly prepared fields over the past week. Many vegetables are seeded directly into the cool soils. We’re watching for our spring carrots, beets and radish to pop up in the coming days. Deliciously fancy fava beans are also rejoining our repertoire this spring. Passing by the farm, you’ll see long, white swaths of fabric in the fields. This row cover adds an extra layer of warmth, giving our spring greens a boost of growth.
Spring is also primetime for infrastruture projects around the farm. This season, we’re tackling barn renovations at the greenhouse2Wheaton Farm and fencing around the post office field to protect our strawberries, greens, and carrots from nibbling deer. We’re assembling a high tunnel (unheated greenhouse) at our home base near the farmstand. The moment this tunnel is sheathed in plastic later this week, we’ll fill it up with onion and tomato seedlings that are eager for more space.
With muddy rubber boots and a hopeful spring outlook, we can’t wait to welcome you back to the farm for opening day on Saturday, May 2nd. Until then!

Sharp Shovels and Crispy Kale

-Liz Nolan
“Why is the shovel regarded as a symbol of drudgery? Perhaps because most shovels are dull.  Certainly all drudges have dull shovels, but I am uncertain which of these two facts is cause and which effect.  I only know that a good file, vigorously wielded, makes my shovel sing as it slices the mellow loam.”

-Aldo Leopold, from “A Sand County Almanac”

As always we follow the whims of the season.  November brought hard frosts, and we raced old man winter to bring in our storage crops.  Last Wednesday we harvested the rest of the beet crop at Wheaton in the rain and sleet.  We’ve harvested all but one bed of our storage carrots, making quick work of it with the under cutter implement on the tractor.  Now that our storage crops are nearly all safely tucked in for the months ahead we can breathe a sigh of relief.  Yet the harvest continues.  Our fields are still flush with winter hardy kales, the most burly of leeks for winter harvest, and baby greens.  We are able to extend the harvest for the kale and some greens by diligently applying a row cover on the coldest of nights.  The row cover is like a big blanket.  We cover up the greens and tack down the sides with generous spoonfuls of soil.  We remove the covers frequently for harvest and to prevent excessive humidity. The on and off of the cover is a big task and the greedy wind often attempts to wrestle the cover from us- but we are not fazed.  We have sharp shovels and great recipes for kale.

Fall Farming

-Erika Rumbley

pumpkins2012-carol-lundeen.jpgNothing says autumn like a big ol’ squash. Before we even get to the smooth, sweet flesh, we’re drawn in by stripes and warts and splashes of color. From palm-sized Pumpkins to hefty Hubbards, these New World cucurbits inspire wonder.

Over the past ten days, the Langwater Farm Crew has faithfully stored 20,000 pounds of squash. We cut each squash from their vines and build long piles (or windrows) out of them, giving them pause in the field before they are crated up and delivered to the greenhouse for curing. For some varieties, we remove the stems (also known as ‘handles’) to ensure safe storage. On several startlingly chilly nights, we covered windrows of squash with fabric to protect their sweet, delicious flesh from damage. This season we grew 8 winter squash varieties from the traditional Acorn to the silky Kabocha and squat Buttercup. We’ll encourage you to eat butternut when it’s at its sweet best at Thanksgiving, but Delicata is sweet in September! The squash to slice open when the leaves begin to change is undoubtedly Delicata.

Delicata’s distinctive green stripes adorn a thin flesh that’s tender enough to eat! Unlike its cousins, Delicata does not need to be peeled. After it’s halved, a swipe with a spoon removes those nutty, nutritious seeds. Roast it up and you have autumn on a plate. A perfect supper after you get home from your Langwater Farm hay ride this weekend!