Many of the vegetables we grow on our farm are transplanted. That means they are seeded into containers, usually in the greenhouse and when they reach a certain size we transplant or replant them out into the field.
There are several reasons for doing it this way. Starting seeds in the greenhouse means we get better germination & growth because we can somewhat control the temperature & water that the seeds receive. Giving the seedlings their ideal conditions means stronger, healthier plants. We can also start earlier in spring. And transplanted seedlings can better compete & hopefully outgrow weeds.
The challenge is that when the seedlings are ready, we have to get them planted out quickly. If they have to wait – due to bad weather or field conditions or until we have time – they can outgrow their pots, lose their vigor & then have difficulty getting established & growing well in the ground. Sometimes they never recover.
And transplanting is a lot of work! It’s hard on the back!
Enter the paperpot transplanter.
This is a new piece of equipment we purchased this season – and we LOVE IT!!
Developed in Japan for the sugar beet industry, it came to Canada a few years ago. I’ve had my eye on it ever since & now we have one. It saves an incredible amount of time & effort.
Seeds are grown in special paperpots that look like a honeycomb. Then this rather simple yet ingenious machine that we pull by hand (no noisy motor required!) makes a furrow, unwinds the paperpots, plants them, mounds soil around the seedlings and firms it down. You have to see it to believe it. Pictures are not enough. (check out a short video on our instagram account – instagram.com/thiessenfarms). What used to take us several hours of hard work can now be done in several minutes. It’s that fast!
We can use the paperpot transplanter for onions, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, bok choy, arugula & other herbs & greens … Bigger vegetables that must be spaced further apart like tomatoes, peppers, zucchini … are still transplanted by hand. It’s been fun learning how to use it and trying all sorts of different vegetables to discover what works & what doesn’t.
And our backs are thanking us!
What’s in the box?
Broccoli, garlic scapes, kohlrabi, kale, lettuce, green onions, radishes, snow peas.
- The broccoli plants got in the ground early this year, and then grew well – and grew & grew. But the heads sure were slow to appear. Now finally, we have broccoli and it tastes great!
- Garlic scapes are a favourite for many. They are the top of the garlic plant. We cut them off so the garlic puts all its energy into forming a nice big bulb underground. Leaving the scapes to grow would produce flowers & seeds instead, which we don’t need or want. Use them wherever garlic bulbs are used – raw or cooked. Their flavour is a bit milder. They are also great on the BBQ. Coat the whole garlic scape with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Grill for a few minutes on each side until well charred & tender. As usual we have included our recipe for garlic scape pesto below.
- It seems that kohlrabi was something new for many of our CSA members. Did you like it? You will find another kohlrabi in your share this week. In addition to the serving suggestions we gave in last week’s newsletter, try it on the BBQ. We slice it about 1/4″ thick, brush with olive oil & grill it until it starts to be tender. Delicious! We have also included the link to a recipe for kohlrabi fritters which is always popular. http://honestcooking.com/kohlrabi-fritters-vermont-csa/.
- We have included a bunch of kale in your box, either plain or curly. We enjoy kale raw in our salads, but it is good cooked too. Kale tastes great with olive oil and garlic, onions or leeks. Combine it with sweet vegetables like corn or carrots. Unless the kale leaves are very small & tender, remove the tougher stems before using. Store kale in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper for 3-4 days. But be aware – the longer it is stored, the stronger the flavour becomes.
- Lettuce, green onions, radishes & snow peas all prefer cool temperatures over warm. We have had both this past week. The lettuce & green onions continue in good shape but the radishes are going to seed quickly. This means that while the radishes still taste good, the green tops might not look as good. This 2nd planting of snow peas is winding down quickly. There will be snow peas this week – but not a lot. There is still 1 more planting that is 2 or 3 weeks away from picking right now. Something to look forward to!
Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tbsp lemon juice (or lime)
1/4 pound roughly chopped scapes
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste
Puree scapes, olive oil, & lemon juice in a blender or food processor until nearly smooth. Gently stir in cheese. Taste & adjust juice & salt to taste.
Serve as a spread on bread or crackers, a dip for vegetables, or on pasta or pizza.
Store in refrigerator for 2 -3 days. Pesto can be frozen for longer storage.
Thank you for all the comments & feedback on the CSA boxes so far. We appreciate hearing your response and suggestions.