In what feels like a handful of days, this spring season went from cold and slow to appreciably warmer, and full of the great work that we expect! The high tunnel is protecting early beets, carrots, salad greens, kale, and more. We’ve planted potatoes and snap peas, and are preparing more garden beds daily, with outdoor onions, kale, scallions, beets, chard, and carrots soon to be in the soil.
At the same time, seedlings in the greenhouse are growing fast (especially the tomatoes!) and we are excited to get plants out to local gardeners starting next week!
Why do we love growing plants for home gardeners? Let me number the reasons.
1. Heirloom and other interesting varieties
What is possible most fun about all of this is sharing with gardeners some of our favorite vegetable varieties from some of our favorite seed producers! Some of the best conversations last season happened in May on the topic of plants and gardening.
Some of our favorite heirloom tomato varieties, which will be available to gardeners, are Rose de Berne (pink and juicy/meaty with rich flavor) and Jaune Flamme (red-orange, juicy French heirloom with a flavor that pops). For peppers, some notable options are Czech Black, which produces gorgeous, purple-black hot peppers similar to jalapenos, and Chimayo chile, which is known as a superb drying pepper, producing outstanding chile powder.
We are also offering some herbs and perennial flowers. We grow an uncommon variety of lemon balm called Quedlinburger Niederliegende (try saying that 5 times fast; or even just once), noted for its elevated essential oil content compared to common lemon balm. Among the perennial flowers we offer, milkweed stands out as a plant folks are increasingly concerned about because of its critical importance in the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Our milkweed plants are grown from seed produced by wild milkweed on our farm, collected this winter.
There are so many other great varieties: white cherry tomato, sweet Genovese basil, wild bergamot, Ellen Felton dark collard greens, and on and on! I have to stop somewhere. Please read about all of them on our pre-order page!
2. Certified Organic varieties from awesome producers
We have grown everything from seed, and all of the seed is Certified Organic or Certified Naturally Grown. Why is this important? From an ethical standpoint, conventional seed production is quite harmful; to produce seeds, plants must progress to the very end of their reproductive cycle, and this means there is even more chance for disease and damage, and thus the ‘need’ for more pesticide usage. This contaminates surface- and groundwater and poisons insect and animals.
Another great reason to grow from organic or naturally grown seed is that these plants are genetically predisposed to grow vigorously in organic conditions! So, unless you are coating your own garden in pesticides, choose plants grown from Certified Organic or Certified Naturally Grown Seed!)
Some of the lesser-known seed companies we purchase from include: Hudson Valley Seed Company, Adaptive Seeds, and Prairie Road Organic Seeds. I encourage anyone to check out their websites, even if not buying anything right now. Their work is life sustaining!
3. SKIP THE PLASTIC
Black nursery plastic, while usually sporting the #6 recycling symbol, is not widely recyclable, though most likely millions of people send them to recycling centers anyway. There does not seem to be any great recommendations, aside from reuse, for these matierals. One site I visited encourages readers to visit a plastic recycling company to see if they can take these pots. REALLY!?
Every one of our plants comes in a 100% biodegradable and compostable peat-based pot. This comes at a greater expense to us and also has required a bit of special care, as fiber pots don’t retain water as well as plastic. However, the advantage of completely eliminating plastic waste is a wonderful one. Additionally, root growth is more fibrous and branching than in plastic, and transplanting in the home garden is extremely easy – I recommend placing the potted plant in the soil with its pot, and then watering generously to help soften the pot so that roots can easily spread outward.
4. Delivery and Pickup in Menomonie and South Minneapolis
Plants will be available (along with the earliest spring produce!) at the Midtown Farmers Market starting May 2!
The farm will also be open for sales on Fridays from 2-8pm starting May 1.
Availability begins at the Menomonie Farmers Market on May 16.
Orders of $30 or more can be delivered to your home for free! This applies to folks in Menomonie or in the vicinity of the Midtown Farmers Market.
See you soon!
Thanks for reading.