Not only is it harvest time for some of our most popular crops (tomatoes, peppers, melons, summer squash), but it’s also a key moment to observe conditions, take stock of our efforts over the last year, and plan for the coming seasons.
Getting through our first full year of farming all 28 acres of this historic property is a big milestone for our organization. It’s even more rewarding when we see the positive results of all the close observation and strategy we’ve been working on. Last summer, we saw some damage to our crops from insects and crows. In response, we worked hard to develop much greater diversity on the farm, with the goal of attracting a greater diversity of wildlife that would mitigate these pest pressures.
The difference has been dramatic. Our native bird population has noticeably multiplied, from swallows to ducks to songbirds. This is a major deterrent to the pesky crows, who are very territorial and tend to gather in places where they are the dominant species. But with so many varieties of birds now present on the farm, the crows have taken their schoolyard bully tactics elsewhere. After putting so much work into creating an agricultural model that supports nature, it’s really exciting and motivating to see nature cooperating with us in return.
Early Summer Harvest
Thanks to the mild temperatures we’ve had thus far, we’re still harvesting springtime greens well into June! This elongated season is a rare opportunity to enjoy those sweet salad greens as well as collards, mustards, and dandelions…so eat up!
Our tomato crop has had a nice, steady trajectory and is just at the cusp of ripeness. Along with a ton of Early Girls and tomatillos, we’re trying some fun new beefsteak varieties including Caspian Pink and German Green. And, of course, it wouldn’t be summer without a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes! Look for favorites like Sungold and Black Cherry, as well as Orange Singer, Indigo Blue Berry, and variegated Blush Tigers.
Look for a harvest of summer squash and cucumbers around the same time, as well. We have four varieties of pickling cucumbers coming in this year. These small, thin-skinned cucumbers are a favorite summertime snack, so make sure to check out our online recipe archives for the perfect pickle recipe.
Bring On the Heat
As much as we appreciate the cooler temperatures in the fields, we’re actually looking forward to those summer scorchers that bring ripe color and sweet heat to our pepper crop. Speaking of which…
It’s not even summer solstice yet, and we’re already seeing a surprisingly prolific season for peppers. Right now we have have over 30 varieties coming up, from sweet snacking peppers to hot varieties like habanero and jalapeño, to medium-heat frying peppers like shishito and our house favorite, the Jimmy Nardello. We’ve also had fun seeing the result of some specialty varieties requested by our new Chef-in-Residence, Tim Byres. We can’t wait to taste the results of these heritage peppers, such as Aleppo, Aji Gold, and guajillo.
Our melon crop is looking equally positive—we’re delighted to report that melons will be available at the Farm Stand in time for the Fourth of July. Along with longtime favorites such as French Charentais melon and the beautiful Moon and Stars watermelon, we’ve planted a few new varieties such as the Kiku Chrysanthemum, an heirloom Japanese melon with creamy flesh and a flavor that has been compared to Greek yogurt with a hint of lychee. We also have several different types of honeydew coming this year—if honeydew melon has never been your favorite, you’re in for a delicious surprise.
In Full Bloom
The end of the hot season brings in our corn and eggplant harvest. We’ve focused our efforts this year on varieties from Siskiyou Seeds, a new partner for us, and we’re very excited to taste the results of their Xanadu sweet corn. We’re also trying out new varieties of yellow and blue flowering corn, and we’ve planted some indigenous cultivars to save for seed for following years.
We’ve got eight varieties of eggplant starting to sprout, with a mix of Asian and Italian varieties, as well as those cute little “fairytale” eggplants that are perfect for skewering whole, blistering on the grill, and tossing with a mix of fresh summer herbs.
Finally, the finishing touch for any summer table: flowers! Our Farm Stand will be overflowing soon with sunflowers, cosmos, amaranth, and celosia. With their cartoonish size, color and texture, these flowers are like nature’s own fireworks—better, in fact, because they stay fresh and vibrant for a week or more.