This winter seems to be an especially long one with a few lovely spring days sprinkled between the cold and rainy ones. The soil has been too wet to work with so we have been channeling all of our energy into greenhouse planting and hoophouse preparation.
So far we have had some luck with transplanting bok choy, kohlrabi, collards, broccoli, and kale and have direct seeded a first succession of roots and greens.
The cover crops are thriving (as is Maxwell!).
I'll soon post some pictures of the strawberry plants, which seem to be the best yet, and fava beans, onions, and garlic. We hope to plant potatoes and fill up the hoophouse with tomatoes before too long. Slowly but surely spring will come and bring with it delicious new flavors we have been anxiously awaiting.
One of interns from 2011, Ted Wolfe, is now a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay and he is working on an agricultural project there that he describes best:
"I'm working right now with a womens committee building durable and sustainable gardens using chainlink fencing to keep out cows and pigs and chickens. People here usually make garden fences out of bamboo and they are just laughable after
a few months and never last more then a year. To buy the chain link fencing I filled out a petition through peace corps to raise money from people, organizations, and businesses in the states. Building the gardens is the first step of my project, the main focus is on saving all those seeds you sent me and teaching the people how to save seeds."
Here is a link if you would like to donate:
We hope this message finds you ready for a happy and healthy 2013! On the farm we have begun seeding in the greenhouse already and when the weather permits we are preparing the soil for spring planting. The appearance of the red-breasted robins and red-winged blackbirds always let us know that it is time.
An exciting change for this year is new CSA software that is much more farmer and customer friendly than our old methods. Visit the "Join Our CSA
" page for more information and to sign up.
The Tuscaloosa River Market is still open every Saturday from 7 am until noon and we have plenty of fresh, delicious vegetables for sale there.
Check back in a week or so for pictures and progress.
Many crops thrive in the cool weather of fall in Alabama. Greens and roots are abundant along with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and several herbs. We have already harvested and cured sweet potatoes and winter squash.
Early fall is great for growing beans. Pictured are 'Rattlesnake Beans'.
Below: Turnip Greens, just one type of cooking green we grow in the fall. Also grown are kale, collards, chard, mustard greens, bok choy, and rapini.
Red radishes are one of several varieties of radishes we grow, which includes 'French Breakfast', watermelon, and daikon. Other root vegetables we grow in fall are baby white turnips, 3 kinds of beets, carrots, and rutabaga.
Fall weather is perfect for salad greens!
Kale is gaining in popularity. It is one of the most nutritious vegetables out there. 'Lacinato' kale (pictured), also known as 'Dinosaur' kale, makes the best Kale Chips
We have been especially busy this fall because we were married on the farm on October 20th!
We are saying good-bye to all of the summer crops and hello to fall! This is our favorite season.
A great sweet potato crop is a wonderful start to fall. The largest sweet potato (larger than the one pictured) was 6lbs8oz, the size of our son when he born!
Butternut squash is another fall favorite that we have harvested and in storage.
The first of the greens and roots are now being harvested while many cool weather crops continue to be planted and maintained. There will be new vegetables each week in the CSA deliveries and available at the farmer's markets.
So far, everything points to a bountiful harvest this autumn.
Above: David holding farm record setting 'Persimmon' and 'Cherokee Purple' tomatoes
Tomatoes are a big crop for us and very popular with most eaters. The difference in a vine-ripened heirloom tomato and a store bought hybrid is vast. We still grow the red, hybrid tomatoes because their production and storage qualities cannot be beat, but the heirlooms have the flavor.
Here are some of the heirloom varieties we grow:
'Cherokee Purple' - rich, smokey flavor
The large, pink tomatoes are 'German Johnson'. This variety wins our farm taste test every year.
'Green Zebra' - a citrussy flavor and color that can't be beat
'Kellog's Breakfast' - a sweet, low-acid tomato
'Black Plum' - a small, rich-flavored tomato; perfect for sauces
David likes to make a sauce with this and hot peppers to go with smoked ribs!
'Aunt Ruby's German Green' - one of our personal favorites; a slight citrus flavor, very meaty
Samples of several kinds for our annual staff tomato tasting.
The dish we make most often with tomatoes is a tomato salad. Just add onions or leeks, cucumbers, basil, and Parmagaino Reggiano plus a light vinegrette. Other fine ingredients are croutons (that soak up the delicious juices) and, of course, bacon!
After the farmer's market we regularly make a quick lunch of tomatoes, basil, goat cheese, and slice of fresh baguette. A cool glass of Rose completes the meal.
You can find these tomatoes at all of the 3 farmer's markets we vend at:
Thursday 3 to 6 pm, Homegrown Alabama market on the grounds of Canterbury Chapel
Saturday 7am to noon, Tuscaloosa River Market across from the public library on Jack Warner Parkway
Saturday 7am to noon, Pepper Place Farmer's Market
Our 2012 crew from left to right: David and Maxwell Snow, Adam Renckly, Cordero Pack, Daniel Lovelady, Tyler Nix, Ginny Lawrence, Amy Goertz, and Mo Fiorella. They are working hard every day to help us produce delicious, healthy food for our customers! We appreciate them very much!
A popular farmer's market item we sell this time of year is baby squash and zucchini with the blossoms still attached. The blossoms are not only edible, but a delicacy. They are most commonly stuffed with cheese and herbs and fried. It is well worth the effort to eat them this way, but if you do not have the time try this less involved and healthier option.
Squash with blossoms layered on top of a pizza crust with fresh onions and tomatoes. The flavors cannot be beat. We did not have basil on ours, but it would be a nice addition.
Take a basic pizza crust (we recommend making your own, but store bought is fine) and spread olive oil across the top. Layer tomatoes, onions, cheese (we like fontina) and top with the squash/zucchini with blossoms (halved lenghtwise) or just blossoms. Add salt and bake according to crust directions, typically about 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
My mouth is watering at the memory of it and I cannot wait to make another one soon.
Sometimes we will make a similar pizza with a loaf of bread from the farmer's market cut in half lenghtwise. This is a quick and easy meal that also tastes fresh and healthy. With the farm in full swing and a 5 month old, I am always looking for fast meals that maintain a home cooked flavor. Of course, we are working with our raw vegetable ingredients it can be a challenge sometimes, but eating well is one of the most important things in life to us.
Please pass on any and all of your favorite fast, but delicious dishes like this.
Some summer favorites are beginning to ripen! Tomatoes are our most popular crop this time of year. Others early summer crops include zucchini, squash, beans, cucumbers, basil, and flowers. Soon to follow are melons, eggplant, and peppers.
Maxwell, our quality control expert ensures all produce is up to standards!
Available now at the farmer's markets: squash, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, beets, onions, spring garlic, basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, chard, kale, collards, bok choy, lettuce, arugula, flowers
Spring came early this year and as a result the harvest began 2 weeks ahead of schedule. CSA distributions began the first week of April and our first farmer's market was Saturday, April 7th.
CSA harvesting and packing takes up a good bit of our time these days, but everything is looking really great. It is a difficult time of year because we harvest 4 days a week and are still busy with maintaining spring crops and planting summer crops.
A new market opened up in Tuscaloosa right on the river. The facility is very nice and we had a good turn out for the first day. We will be selling produce there each Saturday morning from 7am to noon. It is located right across the street from the Tuscaloosa Public Library. Thursday, April 12th, begins the Homegrown Alabama farmer's market. We will be selling produce there each Thursday afternoon from 3pm to 6pm. It is located on the grounds of Canterbury Episcopal Chapel on the corner of Hackberry Lane and University Blvd.
Each spring we return to our original garden in search of asparagus and memories.
When we first began farming on Snow's Bend, 8 years ago, our garden was in a small nook enclosed by trees on three sides. We chose this spot because the large tractors of the farmer leasing the land could not access it and therefore it had not been chemically fertilized or sprayed with harmful herbicides or pesticides.
Above: Margaret Ann in the original garden, October 2006.
It was just David and I back in those days. We lived on the farm in a cabin that was built 160 years ago, the definition of "rustic". The days were long and exhausting, but fulfilling and interesting as well. After 3 chemical-free years the entire farm was opened for production and we moved to a larger, sunnier spot. Things are much different these days, with employees that help out a great deal and also create another job in their management. It was much simplier back then but we are proud of how we have grown.
We don't have much reason to return to this garden except for this time of year, when the asparagus spears shoot up. Many years ago we planted several crowns, but not enough for anything other than enjoying ourselves. The only maintenance
done is a quick weed-eat just before they begin to come up. It is a delicious reason to return to our original garden and remember our roots.