Typical January weather includes snow, frozen ground, wind and lake effect snow showers. On Saturday the 12th we had record high temperatures and spring fever. Climate change is wacky sometimes.
During our warm day the kitchen scraps were added to the compost pile. Many honey bees (Apis mellifera) were working through the heap looking for sustenance. The weather had them out of the hive and foraging. We have no flowering plants at this time of the year so they scavenge for edibles. I watched as they worked over squash goop, and other partially decomposed compost ingredients. With the weather as mild as it’s been I’m sure the bees are doing what they are genetically inclined to do, gather food when weather warms. It’s still early winter so the spring fever is temporary.
Back in December I had ordered seed for the main crops. What remained were trial items. I enjoy trialing different crops to see how they might contribute to the farm offerings. The tempting descriptions and possibilities are fun to explore. Some trials succeed , some need to be repeated to better gauge value, and some fail. For example one time I ran across an Italian herb/green called Agretti. The description was tempting and a packet was ordered and planted. The agretti grew and was harvested as recommended. It was cooked and presented. The overwhelming response from all who tried it was that it tasted like a pine tree! No one could imagine how it would contribute to their table and food enjoyment. So agretti was a non-repeater. It may be of value in Italian kitchens but unlikely to be of value here.
One conclusion has come from the trials. Seed vigor and plant viability varies from lot to lot and from variety to variety. Many of my trials are searches for more vigorous and better producing varieties. For example I’ve grown Rosa Bianca eggplant for quite a while. I was often disappointed with production and plant vigor. A shift in supplier resulted in healthier more vigorous plants. Production was the best ever. Was it the season or the seed? Clearly I had run across seed with more vigor. The last few years I’ve trialed Open Pollinated(OP) seeds searching for plant vigor and eating qualities. Many of the “new” and “organic” seeds lack these features. A Golden Zucchini was glowing in description but a poor producer in the field. Given a couple of years and careful attention it still lacked qualities for future inclusion. This season trials will include new zucchini varieties, a wax bean, a traditional eggplant, OP carrots and rapini. What fun….
Posted by Farmer Pete @ 08:37 AM EST