28 Jun Carrot thinning and cucumbers
Last week on the farm the focus was tackling six 200 foot long beds of carrots that were engulfed in weeds (each bed contains three lines, which adds up to 3600 feet of carrots, but who’s counting?!). In farmer speak, we call it “thinning”, making space for the carrots to grow to full size by pulling out any growing tightly together. We thin them to about 2-3 inches apart, and since we got to the job a little later then we would have liked, we all enjoyed some tasty micro-carrots as a result of our labor. The process requires a lot of time on your hands and knees, time to listen to your I-Pod, get introspective with your fellow farmers, or wonder how those giant farms in California manage hundreds of acres of carrots (lots of equipment!). Carrots are probably one of the most labor intensive crops on the farm, and the main reason we don’t grow that many of them, despite how deliciously sweet and earthy they taste.
When we weren’t thinning carrots, we were harvesting cucumbers. This spring and early summer, we have seen a lot of bug pressure, especially from the Colorado potato beetle. But this season, thanks to our consistent use of those large white floating row covers, we have been lucky when it comes to the striped cucumber beetle, our arch nemesis. We plant numerous rotations of all our cucurbits (squash, melons, cucumbers), and use lots of row covers, hoping to keep those pesky bugs at bay. They can pretty quickly decimate the plants, but with the combined efforts of our crew wrestling with those row covers, and keeping the plants covered until flowering, we are seeing great results. We even decided to wash all those cucumbers in our barrel washer, as doing a thousand by hand seemed too daunting of a task!
This week’s recipe from Jana will feature some fresh ideas for cucumbers. I had always heard about people putting cucumbers in their water for a refreshing summer beverage, but had never tried it myself. Then on one of those hot days last week, I came across a delicious and simple recipe for “Cucumber Limeade” in the Fresh Times, the weekly newsletter of the Food Trust’s Farmers Markets. Lindsay Lidge, wife of the Philly baseball player Brad Lidge, and a regular at our stand at the Headhouse Farmers Market, does a wonderful seasonal recipe each week. You can check out the Cucumber Limeade recipe here: http://www.thefoodtrust.org/php/TeamUp/go/?p=391
Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. (Carrot photos by Jana Smart)