Thursday, December 29, 2011

Seed Mania

What is it about January that makes you wish you had a melon?  Maybe the thought that August is still eight months away and the only melons available come at a very high cost to the planet, because there sure are none growing in California in January.

Well I was thinking about this and so I've gone to the ends of the earth to try to locate the melons that are good stored.  These are melons that would be harvested in August and September and that you could hide in your garage, root cellar (just kidding, I'm pretty sure none of you have a root cellar), or fridge until January.

Well, storage melons are hard to find.  They are just not mainstream in this country, but in Spain, well that the melon de jour.   So last year we started with the San Juan Canary (big yellow top left) and the Valencia Winter (small green/yellow).  So this year we will add to these, the Juen-Invenizo, Helva de Invierno,  the Canary Island Villaconejos, Albecete de Todo El Ano, Cuenca Verde de Invierno, and the Tendral de Valenciano.

Don't worry, I'm not giving up the Hales Best or Eden Gem, or any of your other favorites, I'm adding to them.  Zatta- an ugly Italian melon, Ananas-a pineapple flavored melon that grew at Monticello, and a couple of French melons:  Melon de Luneville & a Charentais.

So, yes, there will be Melon Madness.  Get your spoons ready.  Well, that is if it rains....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Welcome the light

Happy Solstice 
Today is the darkest day of the year.  The day of the longest night.  So here at the farm we will celebrate and hope the light returns.

The year is almost over and seeds keep pouring in from all over the country.

It has been very very dry here.  With so little rain, most of the crops that come up now are very stunted.  We try not to irrigate in the winter as I like the house to be a little warmer.  So, I have to do a lot of baking to keep it warm in here.

The garlic is up, the onions and cabbage are looking good.  The broccoli, cauliflower and leeks have been a little shy.  They want more water.  So far the wheat and oats that I planted are not up yet.

I'm very excited about the possibilities of these new grain crops.  Other farmers have sent me spelt and emmer.  I hope that you all are enjoying your corn.  I've heard that it was ground a little to large.  I'm going to get a better mill and you'll all get corn flour and grits at the beginning of the season.

The last tomato is sitting in the field, as there have been a flock of birds flying through (some little cheep cheep) and we were providing a light meal for traveling.

So this year we are continuing with the Heirloom Italian Bean Trial, so everyone should get some of each of the beans to taste and help decide which ones we should keep growing at the farm.

We're very excited about other upcoming farm trials.  We are going to do an ice box watermelon trial (well at least there will be many smaller watermelons).  Other farm folks have been sending me their favorites, as well as I've been buying everything I can get my hands on and have even asked the good folks of GRIN, the USDA seed bank to let us trial some of the older varieties that are lost.

Other new to us crops are storage melons.  Yep, the Santa Claus Melon is coming to town.  We're going to grow several of these, so that the melon season can continue right on into November and December.  Some of these great melons from Spain are best set on the counter, like a pumpkin and not eaten till Christmas.  Now that's something to look forward to.

We are also fooling around with carrots.  I know you love the minis, but I'm looking for something bigger, something sweet and large that we can juice, eat fresh and dry.

We are putting in new artichokes this year.  I know, it was time.  We are hoping for some big globes.  I have received seed of a great seed breeder's own personal stock, some gorgeous purple Romanescos, and some of the small sweet purples we all love.  I'll be starting this seed in a few weeks.

The asparagus is looking really good and we should have bumpers of it.

How about capers?  Leo grew them once at the field station, so I'm going to give them a go.  They grow with no water and might be a fun condiment for us all.
Enjoy your holidays.
Holly and  Leo