5/17/06 Vol. 3 #10

The endless lettuce season rolls on.  At least it feels endless these days as I go out to cut four mornings a week.  The staff arrives each morning and I brief them on the days jobs and end with “of course I will be cutting lettuce if you need me”.  Mondays and Thursdays I cut for delivery to Weaver Street Market, Wednesdays and Fridays I cut for the markets and the restaurants.  Usually two, sometimes three, hours each morning.  We are now into the fourth week with one big week left to go.  Lettuce is one crop that I do all the harvesting of.  It is such and ephemeral plant that it takes sometime to develop an eye for which head is large enough and tender enough to cut.  In a few days the heads that I pass over will be big enough to then take, in a few more days they will be too far gone, getting tough and bitter.  The hotter it gets the faster this progression occurs.  The weather of the past few weeks has been about as ideal as we get in North Carolina as far as lettuce is concerned so the pressure has been off a bit.  It is easy for me to train the staff on what is the right size of turnip to pick and how big a bunch is but the lettuce thing is more like “is this flower at the right stage to harvest?”, it is subjective (hence the reason why Betsy cuts almost every flower stem on the farm).  Twenty four heads to a case, six cases and hour if I have to search around, ten cases and hour if the planting is really uniform, that is one head every fifteen seconds!  I am counting the seconds until the season is done.

Big event at the Market this Saturday.  The Market is having a fundraiser for our sister market in New Orleans and all of the farmers and fishers who where devastated by hurricane Katrina last fall.  Like the Carrboro Market which was open two days after hurricane Fran crippled this area in 1996, the Crescent City Market was up and running only weeks after the water receded in New Orleans.  Markets are an important social component for towns and cities as well as sources of food.  Muffulettas and Gumbo prepared by a dozen Triangle chefs will be available to go for $10/serving, for more details go to the Carrboro Market websiteAll proceeds will go to the Crescent City Markets and their efforts to bring their vendors back into production.  Come on out for the good food!

It has been the normal orchestrated chaos this week with more planting of summer crops, more zinnias, sunflowers, celosia, cucumbers and another planting of Cherokee Purple tomatoes.  Weeding, trellising of flowers and vegetables, mowing, harvesting and on and on.  The turkeys got so wild last week that we had to trim the wing feathers on all of them.  After chasing the little miscreants all over the farm, including one that spent the night out because we couldn’t catch him at all, we decided we had to make sure none of them could fly until they learned better behavior, maybe this is where the term “grounded” came from that our parents threatened us with as kids.  Well this was no idle threat for these birds!  They go out to the field permanently tomorrow.

Picture of the Week
Sugar Snap Peas already loaded up with many more blooms on the top of the plants
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